John-Michael Gariepy

Archive for the category “Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters”

The Random Dungeon: Room Zero and The Theme

In my Previous post on Room Negative One,  I argued that you should Dungeon Master your game as if the world outside the dungeon is as exciting a place as the dungeon itself. ‘Dangerous dungeons do not exist in a vacuum,’ I implied, ‘and the players should be harried at every turn when approaching their destination.’  Now I’m going to argue the exact opposite.

Room Zero represents the first room upon entering the dungeon.  In many ways, it may be the most important room out of the one hundred or so rooms that your players explore.  That’s because the first room will frame the rest of the dungeon.  Players will subsume what to expect based upon what they see, or don’t see in this room.  If your players see an empty room with four doors, they can assume that your dungeon will be sparse, low on detail playground for a series of miniatures combat scenarios.  If, however, the first room they encounter is rich with details – from the mutilated bodies of dead orcs on the ground, to the cryptic runes etched into the wall, to the more crude taunts from one goblin tribe to another scratched below that – then your players are going to assume that your dungeon has a lot of important intricate details in it and they will advance appropriately.

You can do a lot with player expectations.  You can play against them, luring them into a false sense of security, or trick them into trusting in the wrong non-player characters, with some well-timed false clues.  You need to be careful when doing this, though.  If you subvert a player’s mental process too often, you’re inviting them to stop thinking about the consequences of their actions.  After all, if nothing follows its logical progression in your game, then its best to take everything at the point of a sword.  Just smash everyone or everything.  It’s probably a monster or a trap.

More often, you should seek to justify your player’s expectations.  Just like Chekov’s Gun, if your party sees evidence of orcs in the dungeon in the first chapter of your journey, then they should attacked by orcs in the second or third chapter.  “If it’s not going to be fired,” instructs Chekov, “It shouldn’t be hanging there.”  Playing within the realm of player’s expectations is a rewarding experience, even if it sounds counter-intuitive.  Giving your players what they expect, after all, doesn’t sound imaginative.  But finding a way to reward your player’s insights, while maintaining an engaging plot, is a very imaginative task, indeed.  Anyone can perform the unexpected.  Performing the expected, and maintaining excitement, is an earmark of good story-telling.

In this spirit, you should let your players have Room Zero, the first room of the dungeon, as a room to acclimate themselves, group Read more…

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Random Dungeon Generator: Room Negative One

Do you recognize this?

Hey!  It’s the start area example chart for Appendix A of the DMG for the original Dungeons and Dragons game!  For people who played the game in much of the seventies and eighties, this was probably the first place you explored.  Some crazy room with multiple branching hallways (Except stunted Number Four.  Nobody likes you Number Four!) leading to various doors.  The point was to find some neutral ground between the way back home, and the various twisty turning branches that would be your adventure.

Cool, and evocative, huh?  They also hold a high nostalgia value for Dungeon Masters.  You see, in many of my fellow DM’s eyes, they see these six shapes, and they just want to get drawing, or rolling for random rooms to attach to these suckers.  These six shapes (well, five of them at least) are practically calling for you to scribble away, attaching doodads and doohickies, until you wake up in a fever pitch, with a pencil clutched in hand and a finished dungeon.

But, secretly, as good as five of these shapes are for your imagination, they can stifle your creativity.

Everything in your dungeon will spawn from how you begin your dungeon.  But these strange starting shapes you’re presented with only encourage you to draw more goofy shapes.  It doesn’t explain why the players are here, or who built this dungeon, or what the theme of this setting is.  It’s just a weird shape, devoid of any emotion besides the symbolism you put into it.

That’s why I made this random room generator.  Room Negative One is a quick two rolls that mold the purpose of your dungeon.  First, roll on the “Dungeon Location” chart to determine what environment your dungeon takes place in, then roll on the “Dungeon Purpose” chart to determine why, exactly, this dungeon is here, and what role it takes in the world your characters play in.  Or don’t roll anything and just choose from the list.  That’s cool, too.  Oh an you’re more than welcome to roll multiple times.  Many of these entries are better when combined with other entries.

While we’re here and talking about it, I should remind you that every step which brings you closer to the dungeon itself can be an adventure.  If you roll up a Volcano Wizard Fortress, I think you owe it to your players to describe what it looks like on your travel to the volcano, create some small adventures before you get to the fortress itself, and deal, somehow, with the guards who are outside the fortress.  I mean, if I was a wizard, and I owned a volcano fortress, I probably wouldn’t leave the front door open, leading down to a set of stairs into a safe and cool start area.  I might, however, leave an open door that leads down a set of stairs to an empty Start Area Four, in which all doors lead to veins of liquid magma.  That’d show ’em.

Oh, and when you get done making your dungeon, maybe you’d like to populate it with Random 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons monsters?

Where is this Dungeon located?

01 – 03 At the heart of a city

04 – 06 At the heart of a ghost town

07 – 08 The Dungeon is a City

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Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Levels 27, 28, 29 and 30

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature comes up, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

When rolling on this chart, if the party is level 29 or 30, add 20 to their roll.

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 25 and 26 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 15 (Elite Brute) Balor (Demon)

16- 21 (Brute) Shadowraven Swarm (Sorrowswarm)

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Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Levels 25 and 26

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature come up, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 23 and 24 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 12 (Solo Artillery) Primordial Naga

13 – 16 (Elite Brute) Death Titan (Giant)

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Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Levels 23 and 24

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature is a, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 22 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 15 (Artillery) Efreet Cinderlord

16 – 19 (Elite Brute) Glabrezu (Demon)

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Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Level 22

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature is a, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 21 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 17 (Artillery) Rot Slinger

18 – 23 (Elite Brute) Bluespawn Godslayer

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Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Level 21

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature is a, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 20 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 15 (Artillery) Ghaele of Winter (Eladrin)

16 – 20 (Elite Artillery) Larva Mage

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Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Level 20

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature is a, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 19 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 13 (Solo Artillery) Elder Blue Dragon

14- 20 (Artillery) Fire Archon Ice Disciple

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Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Level 19

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature is a, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 18 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 13 (Solo Artillery) Beholder Eye Tyrant

14- 19 (Elite Brute) Angel of Vengeance

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Dungeons and Dragons Random Encounters: Level 18

For an explanation and introduction to Random Encounters, go to Why would anyone make a giant chart of Random Encounters?

Roll once for each adventurer in your party.  Whenever you roll a Brute, or a Soldier, add two of that creature and roll one less time total.  If the last creature you roll is a brute, or a soldier, your players will have to suck it up.  There will be more experience for them anyway.  Whenever Minions are rolled, add the number of minions shown to the encounter and count them as one creature for the purposes of generating an encounter.  Whenever an Elite creature is rolled, count it as two separate creatures for the purpose of generating an encounter.  When a Solo creature is a, stop rolling, since a solo monster by itself is a good challenge for characters of that level.  If you’ve already rolled up three creatures before the solo joined the party, you may want to indicate to your players that now would be a good time to run…

01- 05 Roll again in the Level 17 Random Encounter Chart.

06 – 10 Roll on the Random Hindrances Chart.

11 – 14 (Artillery) Cambion Hellfire Mage

15- 18 (Artillery) Fire Giant Forgecaller

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