Sunday, January 16, 2011

One Hour Dungeon Map

Pat from the excellent Henchmen Abuse asked me how long it takes for me to make on of my megadungeon maps; my estimate was one hour...with the caveat that I spend hours afterward idly adjusting and altering the maps (usually while watching the boob tube with the Warden); dungeon mapping is a two phase affair with me: first the preliminary map, and than aforementioned adjustments

As an experiment, I decided to see how much dungeon I could map in an hour. I set a timer for one hour and took pencil to paper, with the end result below (I cheated and numbered the rooms after the time limit expired).
Apparently, the biggest influence on my dungeon maps seems to be the fire escape plans in large buildings... Anyways, although I like this map it seems to be screaming for "The Adjustment Phase." There's far too many samey rectangular rooms; it's lacking in architechtural features such as fountains, statues, and pillars; there's only one connection to another level; many of the rooms are far too big (a lot of these maps would make more sense at a 5-foot-per-square scale); and some of the empty spaces are screaming for "shadow complexes" of rooms accessible by secret door; and I prefer blacking about the solid areas surrounding corridors and chambers for easier visualization of the layout.

I didn't have any idea what the theme of this level would be before drawing it, but the layout makes me think of museum (top right-hand section) meets Resident Evil scientific complex...video & computers games seems to have a strong influence on my dungeon levels.

The obvious next step in this experiment is to give myself one hour to stock and key the map...

18 comments:

  1. Nice. One Hour Dungeon Mapping. That sounds like something that we'll have to try. It's kind of like Iron Chef meets Megadungeons...

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  2. Totally disagree with 'far too big' - gigantic dungeon rooms are wonderful. Players should know fear when their torches (or flashlights, or cesium facepaint, or whatever) can't fully illuminate a room. "What's that in the shadowed corner? Oh, right, it's DEATH. No, not my face!"

    I'm looking forward to the one hour dungeon stock... that will be a trick if you go by the "1 in 6 rooms must be 'Special'" rule

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  3. Is it cheating to tape the graph paper together first if you don't have one of these giant pads? Oh, and the rooms aren't too big. I have one in my current dungeon that's something like 5000-6000 square feet.

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  4. Nice.

    I did a recent similar experiment while watching Stargate SG-1 Season 2 (not the best season). Over a period of 2 episodes I drew the following dungeon:

    The Dungeon Project

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  5. That's a big level for just one hour. I could create a map in that time, but probably a much smaller one.

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  6. Well, I tried this out. I got quite a bit of work done before I ran out of time, though I may have gone over by one minute - I should have checked the clock more often - but not as much as you. I only got "one-and-a-bit" sheets of graph paper done. In my defense, the Dungeon of Reversals is incredibly fiddly, and packs a lot of stuff in to that space, but I think I can make a bigger dungeon when I try this again. Oh, and it's not keyed yet.

    Capcha: Malinger.

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  7. Also, are there going to be any more adventure logs past Chapter 17?

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  8. @ Netherwerks: Thanks, the Iron Chef principle, i.e. being forced to work out of your usual, comfortable parameters, was an inspiration; would love to see what you come up with :)

    @ Pat: I probably wasn't eloquent enough...I dig the giant, creepy rooms as you so well expressed, but I worry overmuch about maintaining a proper claustrophobia/cyclopean ratio... Regarding the stocking, I do generally halve the frequencies of dungeon features, so that would be 1-in-12 special in my case.

    @ C'nor: I wouldn't think that was cheating in the least, it's the equivalent to arranging your pencils and erasers beforehand. I found myself being far less fiddly on this map as a consequence of the time limit, but I think that operating under these circumstances you've got a choice between size OR complexity. Nice capcaha!

    @ Dyson: Thanks; most of my mapping is done while "watching" TV shows; are you going to stock that dungeon in a Stargate theme?

    @ Melan: I imagine that your smaller dungeon would be a lot more architecturally complex/interesting based on what I've seen of your maps. :)

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  9. @ C'Nor: Possibly, but I've really fallen out of the habit :(

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  10. I hope so. It's not fair to leave us huddling out of an Acid and Radiation storm, surrounded by unsavory mercenaries! :)

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  11. I don’t think numbering the rooms after the hour is cheating. The numbers aren’t really part of the mapping process. I agree that there are a lot of boxy rooms, but it still has a lot of potential.

    As far as stocking the map in an hour?!? I know there is no way I could do it that quickly.

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  12. The adventure logs on this blog blew my mind when I first read them. I'd only just started considering getting back into D&D and wondering if I should buy a retro-clone and they pushed me over the edge. I wholeheartedly support a resurgence!

    Also: On night shift today and tomorrow so I'll be attempting the one hour dungeon challenge at some point, believe you me.

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  13. You've started a fad, you know.

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  14. @ C'nor: It was so long ago that I couldn't write it up properly, but things turned into a horror movie siege with all sorts of grotesqueness as a result of the cannibalistic madness :)It was awesome!

    @ David: Numbering after the hour up is definitely not cheating :) I'll post the results when I try one-hour stocking. Glad to see teh idea has caught on!

    @ Andrew: Thanks for the encouragement, I'll try! Looking forward to said map :)

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  15. Seems like your Burn Out is lifting to me.

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  16. @ Scrounger: ? I'm not sure I understand your comment?

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  17. Finally did an actual one-hour-dungeon yesterday before heading out to play Carcassonne.

    My One Hour Map

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  18. @ Dyson Logos: Way to make me look like an untalented hack... ;)

    Love the background fill pattern!

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