We've been building a dungeon together, and over the last couple of days have made basic maps for the three levels of this dungeon. Today we get a little bit into scope creep as from the rolls we made, and the decisions made from those rolls, we ended up with something very different from a 'classic' dungeon. This isn't a bad thing, it can still work, but when it comes to populating this dungeon we have to answer a basic question: do we want to set this up for a specific quest, or do we want something infinitely re-usable?
Before we get into that, for anyone looking you can find the maps here:
Why They Are Different
The big difference between the two is that in a Quest Specific use, we are coming to this dungeon as part of a plot. Considering the origin of this being a temple converted to a stronghold by Chaotic Good Elven Monks and then taken over by an invading force, the quest is likely along the lines of taking the temple back for those monks or some allied group.
This gives us a different setup from if the dungeon is there to be found, used, and re-used. And both options give us different potential story beats and use cases. I'll go into those more below.
The Quest Specific Use Case
if we go with the quest specific use case, specifically the one of taking this stronghold back, it paints a different picture for the dungeon. First, it makes it more of an active stronghold. It is a place of strategic importance that is being actively defended. This means sentient/sapient defenders, people manning the walls on the surface and watching the gates in the underground entrance. It means there is likely a military leader of some sort in charge of the place. It could mean that this stronghold is a staging ground for an invasion, or to defend against advances from an enemy.
The Re-Usable Dungeon Case
With a re-usable dungeon case, we could just use that quest, but more likely we say that story we have of the dungeon is something from the far past. It is the backdrop, stuff that can be found out about the location in the exploration. However, the dungeon itself is not so much actively defended as a stronghold as it is a place where whatever monsters have moved in live.
The re-usable setup gives us more freedom when populating things. We can have open, unmanned gates. We can have monsters that have just moved in and made a nest. We can have different enemies on different levels based on where they moved in and what they need.
That Classic Dungeon Feel
Of the two, I feel the re-usable dungeon is the one more in line with the feel we started this project with. And so it is the one I am planning to go with. Less a manned and held stronghold, and more a lair or series of lairs for monsters (sentient and otherwise) that may have made this there home.
As such, we'll go forward with that in mind.