Thursday, November 18, 2010

More Megadungeon Thoughts

Today I'm thinking about the "funhouse" aspect of Megas.

1. Chutes, from one room to the next, or even one level to the next. Surprise chutes, or intentional chutes.

2. Slides. These are fun with a collapsing corridor, especially if they dump the payers into a pool filled with crocodiles or green slime.

3. Elevators. I penciled two of these into the dungeon, one from level 1 to 2, and one from a sublevel of level 2 down to 4. I'm going to make them rickety, deafening, terrifying contraptions, with bottoms that occasionally flip open and dump you into an abattoir or something.

4. Reverse gravity rooms and corridors. Hey look at all the cool furniture on the ceiling! Is that a bottomless pit, or a corridor with unusual gravity? And will the unusual gravity cut out halfway down and dump you the rest of the way down what has suddenly become a bottomless pit again? Maybe timed periods of opposite gravity, facilitated by dropping a valuable gem into a slot, giving you just enough time (if you're lucky) to run across the ceiling and get past that chasm with the ruined temple on the other side.

5. Stairs. Not 100' stairs from one level to another, but constant 10' and 20' flights of stairs up and down that block lines of sight, confuse mapping, and make the place seem a whole lot bigger than it really is. I put these everywhere, but have to be careful that my elevations add up properly.

6. Pits. Not 10' pits, but 100' wide, 2500' deep pits that run from level one all the way down to the balrog on level 15. Weird noises, horrid shrieks, and cold drafts waft up from below. Balconies are dimly visible at the very edge of the light cast by the torch tied to the end of that 50' of rope. Shadowy shapes cling spiderlike to the sides and scurry off when the light gets too close. Sickly, albino wyverns occasionally rise up from the lower levels to seek easy prey. And so on.

7. Stone Circles. Who knows what will happen when you step into the middle of that stonehenge-like structure on level 4? Or the one in the mushroom forest? Teleport to another level, heal all wounds, turn you into a troglodyte, teleport you to a matching stone circle outside the dungeon, drain a level to feed some forgotten god? Does it happen automatically, or must you splash blood on the hoary stones, or dance a jig, or meditate?

8. Teleportals. These are fun, but shouldn't be too plentiful. I like to put a bunch of one-way teleportals in one spot in the dungeon so adventurers keep coming back there to find out where they all lead to. Invisible teleporters at the end of a bland corridor that send you seamlessly to another bland corridor are a fun way to mess up maps and get characters lost!

9. Whirlpools. No subterranean reservoir, river, lake, or cistern is complete without a threatening whirlpool. This usually dumps adventurers (those who don't drown, always make sure at least one red-shirt drowns) out into a body of water in a different level or sublevel. I also like waterfalls, rapids, geysers, and spouts.

10. Magically Keyed Doors. These doors have distinctive, obvious "keyholes" (like a three-pronged depression in a brass circle in the middle of the door, etc), and are pretty much unlock-able and indestructible. The "keys" for these doors are located elsewhere in the dungeon, usually obvious as to their purpose, giving the characters a good reason to go back. Doors locked in this way are a good way for referees to have abit of control over how far or deep the players explore (but you never want too much control! That's no fun, and not deadly enough), or temporarily block areas you haven't fully mapped or detailed yet.

Please share some funhouse ideas of your own!


  1. My last DM used teleportals as a nice, dangerous trap once. Wasn't fun for us trying to get out.

  2. The above are all great. I especially like number 10. How about a plain looking dungeon door that opens onto a vast open steppe, a beach and the ocean, a forest, or jungle.

  3. Mirrors: Another room on the other side of a mirror. Mirror twins sometimes step out to fight those reflected. Some magic scrolls only work right when held up in front of special mirrors.

    Paintings: A monster/NPc steps out of a painting.Paintings with eyes that follow and voices that mock, and sometimes go boo! Paintings can be questioned about what they've seen. Some occupants of paintings mesmerize victims and they swap places with a viewers, this is really only fun-house if there is a room, sub-level, whole other world in the painting some of which may be entered without swapping with a painting's occupants.

  4. If your talking about a funhouse, whats a funhouse with-out a evil toy factory with evil gnomes running it. Polymorph trap to turn the adventures into kids as well.

  5. A rollercoaster that crisscrosses and spans an entire level, or goes up and down in levels. Obviously, you will want to set it up so that the kobolds end up hopping in the cart behind the PCs to chase them around the dungeon, strategically placed archers firing arrows at the PCs, plummeting them into water, etc. Just watch nearly any episode of Scooby-Doo and you will come up with 20 things to put in your next dungeon!

    Also, might as well throw in the Rat on a Stick stand too!

  6. Statues! Never know what they'll do (a la Judges Guild tables)

    Pillars! Lightning bolts between them! Eyes on them!

    Thanks for the list!

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