how to design a dungeon 5e | Photoshop Services

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how to design a dungeon 5e | Photoshop Services

Dungeons take satisfaction of place as the primary ‘D’ of D&D, and it’s simple to see why. They condense the motion right into a restricted house with each alternative forward, each step into the unknown, fraught with the promise of riches or hazard.

There’s a wealth of dungeons in printed adventures for Dungeons & Dragons 5E, and many extra if you happen to draw from earlier editions and different fantasy dungeon-crawler video games. However ultimately, most DMs will get the itch to create considered one of their very own.

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To provide budding dungeon designers a hand, listed here are 10 tricks to contemplate when crafting a D&D dungeon your gamers will keep in mind.

  • Why (and the place) does your dungeon exist?: Arising with the origins of your dungeon.
  • Hook ‘em in: So, your dungeon exists – however why ought to the gamers delve into it?
  • How robust are we speaking?: Holding monsters and different threats simply difficult sufficient.
  • Map issues out: Give your creation some physicality by placing pen to paper.
  • Disguise a couple of secrets and techniques: Guaranteeing your dungeon is greater than meets the attention.
  • Give monsters their very own story: Making monster extra than simply sword fodder.
  • With difficult traps and horrible hazards, much less is extra: Being sparing together with your dungeon’s threats might be more practical than operating a gauntlet.
  • Pose a couple of puzzles: Breaking apart fight with some battles of the thoughts.
  • Tempt with treasure that’s definitely worth the danger: Rewarding your gamers for his or her harmful delving.
  • Convey your dungeon alive: With every part in place, it is time to guarantee it is greater than a static backdrop.

1. Why (and the place) does your dungeon exist?

The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your dungeon. Dungeons in D&D aren’t essentially simply underground corridors and gamers will recognize some selection. So long as it has passages and rooms, virtually something might be run like a dungeon: temples, manors, pure caves, a metropolis block, catacombs, crashed spaceships – you title it.

The ‘why’ of the dungeon comes from its historical past. Why was it constructed? Does it nonetheless serve its authentic objective or has it fallen into smash and turn out to be squatted by monsters?

The dungeon’s idea determines its aesthetic theme – the ‘dressing’ to remember while you describe areas. Is it darkish and gloomy, scattered with dusty relics of bygone inhabitants? Eldritch and bizarre, bending the legal guidelines of nature with weird dimensions and mutated flora abominations? A lived-in stronghold, formed by the sensible each day lives of its inhabitants?

When putting the dungeon in your marketing campaign world, contemplate its results on its wider environment. Monster incursions, environmental corruption, native rumours and legends can all be gas for hooks.

Dungeons & Dragons 5e Players Handbook artwork 8
The reward of treasure (or no matter you would possibly dangle on a stick) ought to be definitely worth the danger. Picture: Wizards of the Coast

2. Hook ‘em in

Dungeons are typically nasty locations that most individuals would keep away from. Even adventurers ought to have a motivation for risking their lives in a single. Among the greatest story hooks don’t simply depend on transferring a plot alongside but in addition tantalise gamers with one thing that they actually need.

Energy-hungry gamers might be drawn to rumours of mighty magical weapons or spells misplaced within the depths. Keen roleplayers might be hooked by a household connection to the dungeon, or their organisation’s curiosity in it. A favoured NPC may fall sufferer to a illness, with the one remedy being a draught from the enchanted fountain of the misplaced metropolis. A villain escapes an encounter and retreats to the dungeon, making ready for vengeance.

Every time you possibly can, make it private. You may also dangle a number of hooks for various gamers. (Some) inter-party battle on the priorities of an expedition can result in enjoyable roleplaying moments.

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Guaranteeing your dungeon is a residing, respiration world is essential to immersing gamers. Picture: Wizards of the Coast

3. How robust are we speaking?

Earlier than placing the dungeon down on paper, spare a thought for the poor participant characters who shall be subjected to its terrors. It is best to have a sure stage vary in thoughts when designing the dungeon and calibrate the problem accordingly.

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The problem scores for encounters given within the D&D 5E Dungeon Grasp’s Information are baseline to work from, however you don’t must completely steadiness each encounter to PC stage. Some encounters might be ‘pace bumps’ there to empty assets, however probably the most memorable ones are these during which gamers really feel like they’ve overcome an actual risk.

‘Lethal’ encounters ought to guard the very best rewards, however don’t power gamers right into a hopeless combat. Trickery, negotiation, allying with NPCs or retreat ought to all the time be an possibility.

One thing that newbie DMs can typically overlook is the results of attrition, particularly in longer dungeon crawls. A dungeon journey during which gamers can afford to take a protracted relaxation, purchase objects and replenish their assets performs very in another way from one the place they will’t.

DungeonsandDragons_playtabletopRPGsonlineDice.jpg
Usign a digital tabletop resembling Roll20 might be a method of mapping out your dungeon.

4. Map issues out

Now’s the time to bust out the graph paper and unleash your interior architect. Measurement issues right here. What number of ranges? What number of rooms? Contemplate room dimensions, entrances and exits, and so forth.

Huge, sprawling mega-dungeons might be the main focus of complete D&D campaigns, however when designing your first bespoke dungeon, it pays to begin small. A one-page dungeon of 5 rooms with three monster encounters, a lure, a hazard and a puzzle or secret makes one-shot journey location for a few hours of play.

For larger dungeons, assume vertically in addition to horizontally. Multi-level dungeons ought to have a number of methods to go up or down. Shafts, chutes, elevators and teleporters can present alternate routes to easy stairs, and may ‘skip’ some ranges for a shortcut. Revisit your idea – every stage ought to have a unique flavour to the others.

For those who’re caught planning a bigger dungeon, use the D&D 5E Dungeon Grasp’s Information’s random tables (or the varied on-line instruments) and regulate the elements that you just don’t like. a random map and ‘fixing’ what doesn’t look proper gives you an concept of the logic you need in your individual creation.

Lost Mines of Phandelver Dungeons and Dragons 5E artwork
Hold threats affordable – in case your dungeon is a literal deathtrap, your gamers could find yourself feeling exhausted. Picture: Wizards of the Coast

5. Disguise a couple of secrets and techniques

Each dungeon ought to have one thing that’s greater than meets the attention. It may be tough to make ‘missable’ content material, but it surely does make exploration extra rewarding. A secret ought to be one thing attention-grabbing that requires some effort to find.

This may be the standard secret door resulting in a hidden space or one thing else that isn’t what it appears – an phantasm that makes treasure appear like junk, or a shapechanged monster.

Scatter hints within the type of written clues, maps or diagrams that may hook gamers into on the lookout for the key. A monster may additionally supply a clue as a part of negotiations. Secrets and techniques ought to be principally helpful however sometimes unleash a horrible consequence. Some are greatest left buried, in any case…

6. Give monsters their very own story

Now that you just’ve deliberate out your dungeon, it’s time to populate it. Monsters ought to suit your idea however have their very own causes to dwell there. Contemplate how monsters relate to one another. Do the troglodytes concern the close by carrion crawlers? Or have they ‘tamed’ them by means of choices of meals?

Teams of clever humanoids may have areas for sleeping, storage, headquarters, shrines, labs and so forth. Giant beasts may have their lair but in addition hunt close to extra susceptible creatures.

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Group your monsters into two or extra factions with conflicting objectives. Maybe they’re combating for management of a useful resource or artefact, or territory. Even in small dungeons with just one monster kind, there might be rivalries. Perhaps the orc champion is plotting in opposition to the chieftain and cultivates their very own following in secret.

Participant character actions disrupt the steadiness of energy between factions and alter up dungeon politics. Good gamers who discover what’s occurring will see an amazing roleplaying alternative to strike alliances – or divide and conquer.

Tasha
Puzzles – resembling these devised by Tasha – can assist to interrupt up fight and problem brains as an alternative of brawn. Picture: Wizards of the Coast

7. With difficult traps and horrible hazards, much less is extra

Until being a gauntlet of traps is the dungeon’s idea, attempt to not overdo these – the denizens will hardly recognize having to disarm 5 separate traps on their approach to the latrine and again.

The D&D 5E Dungeon Grasp’s Information lists the best hits of traps and hazards (pits, poison needles, inexperienced slime, and so on.) and has tables for traps by injury kind. However don’t restrict your creativeness to hit level injury. For memorable traps, attempt to design some that put the victims in a tough state of affairs.

A lure that immobilises characters by way of adhesive or magic, for instance, and sounds an alarm to alert monsters, creates a extra attention-grabbing state of affairs than knocking off hit factors. Monsters ought to work in tandem with traps; it’s their dwelling turf benefit.

Explorer
Discover a cause on your dungeon to exist within the wider world – and a cause on your gamers to go to. Picture: Wizards of the Coast

8. Pose a couple of puzzles

Puzzles are a good way to interrupt up the standard D&D rhythm of assault rolls and skill checks and get the gamers considering outdoors the field. Attempt to keep away from counting on recreation mechanics as an answer to puzzles; as an alternative, let gamers remedy them by way of lateral considering and a few trial and error.

Most puzzles depend on sample recognition and ought to be one thing that gamers can determine utilizing common data or your recreation world’s lore. It may be particular to D&D – “These symbols characterize the 9 alignments! However shouldn’t legislation and chaos be reverse one another?” – or to the dungeon itself.

Puzzles might be mixed with traps for added hilarity or with secrets and techniques to make them tougher to search out.

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Dungeons do not need to all be dank underground techniques. You would possibly plot out a fortress, enviornment or one thing solely totally different. Picture: Wizards of the Coast

9. Tempt with treasure that’s definitely worth the danger

Minor treasure might be liberally sprinkled round a dungeon to maintain gamers looking out for extra. The actually great things ought to be arduous to get – a reward for overcoming a difficult encounter, lure, puzzle or secret. Place your alternative prizes accordingly.

In order for you your dungeon to be memorable, embody a singular magic merchandise of your individual design, tied to the historical past of the dungeon. A number of iconic D&D objects, just like the soul-sucking sword Blackrazor, have been launched in particular dungeons.

10. Convey your dungeon alive

When you’ve got your dungeon deliberate, it’s time to consider the way it comes alive. Monsters gained’t essentially sit twiddling their thumbs (or tentacles, claws or what have you ever) within the face of the carnage that sometimes comes with an incursion of adventurers. Attempt to anticipate the celebration’s seemingly routes by means of the dungeon and plan acceptable reactions from the inhabitants.

Your gamers will inevitably shock you, however monster exercise resembling shoring up defenses, securing treasure, setting new traps or actively searching invaders will make them assume twice earlier than taking their brief rests with no consideration. Lots can occur in a single hour, and it all the time provides a bit of rigidity when adventurers discover {that a} room isn’t fairly the identical as they left it.

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