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Friday, August 14, 2009

Eerie Gaming IV, Continued: The Eerie Dungeon

My previous post on a fae-touched OD&D variant described the mundane world and how adventurers wind up in fairy-land. This post describes fairy-land and how to escape it.

Whether you enter fairy-land in the wilderness or through a fae-touched door, you are considered to be on Dungeon Level 1 of a mythic underworld, only moreso.
  • Fantastic creatures (ignore logic or ecology;)
  • Traps of all sorts, which magically reset themselves;
  • Doors open for monsters by themselves;
  • Stairs (and chutes or shafts) allow you to change levels, even if "Dungeon Level Two" turns out to be a mountain range or seacoast;
  • Monsters, even humans, see in the dark;
  • Adventurers, even charmed or befriended monsters, do not.
Secret doors can be anywhere. If there is something that could serve as a switch or trigger, such as a torch holder or a loose stone, you can search for a secret door; on success, a door opens when the trigger is activated. On a 1 in 6, the region behind the door is a randomly-selected dungeon or outdoor geomorph or the equivalent; otherwise, it leads where the map would logically indicate it should (solid stone becomes a temporary tunnel to the nearest room.) In either case, if you pass through the door without fixing it so that it can't close, it closes ... and there is a 1 in 6 chance it disappears.

Even on the deepest levels of a fairy-land dungeon, it is possible to open a door and step into a sparkling forest or moonlit desert. Time and space have little meaning here. Failure to map travel means a 1 in 6 chance of being lost (I prefer using my 2d6 risk mechanic for this, but a single d6 is fine, too.)

Getting lost in fairy-land means that the landscape changes; you push your way through some bushes and find an ice-field, and the forest behind you has disappeared. The same effect occurs in an underground setting. The best way to handle either is to have some geomorphs handy; when the party gets lost, choose a geomorph randomly and select which direction the party enters from.

A lost party can attempt to find its way back to a familiar area. The players describe where they are trying to go and what they are doing to find their way back (for example, if they are in a desert and they are trying to get back to a cavern they were in earlier, they might say they are looking for a rocky outcropping.) Roll 2d6 and pick the higher die result, then triple it; if the Wisdom of the leader/guide is higher than the die result, the party is one stage closer to getting back to where they wish to be. The GM judges how many attempts are necessary to get back based on broad degrees of difference between where the party is now and where it needs to go.

Example 1: Party is in a desert looking for caves in general. Their guide looks for a rocky outcropping. First success means the outcropping is found; they can then search for a cave entrance and get back underground.

Example 2: Party is in a desert looking for a specific cave. First, they need to get back underground, as in Example 1. Then, they wander through the tunnels, making a second 2d6 roll to get to that specific cave.

Example 3: Party is in a desert looking for a specific clearing in a forest. The guide looks for an oasis; success finds the oasis. Pushing through some dense brush at the oasis allows another 2d6 roll to find woods; searching through the woods is worth a third roll to find the clearing.

A good plan to find their way back grants the guide a +1 to Wisdom.

The players can exploit this feature of fairy-land to get from one known area to an unconnected area: head into a maze or wilderness area without mapping to get lost, then search for the second.

Getting out of fairy-land counts as finding your way back after being lost. First, if you are technically on Dungeon Level Two or lower, you must get back to Level One, one level at a time. Then, you must find your way to an area of fairy-land that resembles the place you came in; once there, roll 2d6, pick the highest, and double it; if your character level is higher than the result, you escape fairy-land; otherwise, you must wander away and return to try again.

Time in fairy-land doesn't flow the way it does in the mundane world. When you return, take the deepest level you reached in fairy-land and roll that many d6s (up to 8 dice.) Find the highest result and multiply that number by the base time unit, determined by how many dice there are with that result:
  • 1 die: minutes
  • 2 dice: hours
  • 3 dice: days
  • 4 dice: weeks
  • 5 dice: months
  • 6 dice: years
  • 7 dice: centuries
Then, make a save vs. death; if failed, your character ages the same amount.

Characters earn extra experience for traveling through fairy-land. Multiply the deepest dungeon level reached by a number based on the amount of time you experienced in fairy-land (as opposed to the real time rolled for above.)
  • Turns: x10
  • hours: x100
  • days: x1000
Monetary treasure from fairy-land is good, too, but there's a chance it will turn to leaves, stones, or other worthless items. Roll a number of d6s equal to your hit dice and find the lowest result, then triple it; if your Wisdom is higher, the treasure is real; otherwise, the glamour fades after a number of hours equal to the die result.

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