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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Death's Kiss Tower: Notes

You may have noticed a few things about yesterday’s Death’s Kiss Tower dungeon:
  1. It’s in trifold brochure format (pamphlet dungeon.)
  2. The full title is “Watchtowers of the Golden Hills: Death’s Kiss Tower”.
  3. The main monster and supporting monster are specially made for this dungeon.
Pamphlet dungeons seem to be a hot new trend at the moment. See, for example, the pamphlet dungeon jam. I’m not sure who came up with the idea. I thought I remembered someone making dungeon modules that fit folded up in a standard business-size envelope, but can’t find the reference.
I decided to give it a try.
The reason for the two-part title? I thought that if this turned out to be pretty easy to do, it might be a nice recurring feature… so I thought of it as a potential series. I picked towers as a theme because it’s a nice, small, standardized structure. If I do a couple modules like this, a GM could drop hints about a unique abandoned tower in the wilderness and players would need to investigate several towers to find the one they are looking for. So, I named the wilderness area “Golden Hills” because it’s generic-sounding, so it could fit into almost anyone’s campaign (and because it’s vaguely based on the nearby foothills of the Sierra Nevada, sometimes known as “gold country”.)
If I did such a thing, the towers would all have to be nearly identical, but have something unique for each one, either a unique monster or an unusual combo of standard monsters. There wouldn’t be much room in a pamphlet dungeon to explore unusual environments, so the dungeon maps themselves would be fairly bland.
It turns out there may be some problems with these plans, although oddly not the problems I was expecting. I wasn’t sure how easy it was going to be to do a trifold pamphlet using LyX or LaTeX, but it turned out there’s a LaTeX leaflet document style that was pretty trivial to add. I set up an Inkscape document to use as a template for dungeon maps that would fit in one panel of a pamphlet.
I started working on this project about two weeks ago. I went through multiple maps, scrapping them for one reason or another. First map had rooms that were a bit too irregular in size, but because of the limited amount of space, some of my maps were going to be scaled down, making traditional grids hard to read. Second map thus tried to use just a few standard room sizes (20-foot square, 30-foot square, and rectangles made from two or three of those squares.)
The real problem was keeping the content short enough to fit in the available space. Among other things, this meant “fewer rooms”. So I scrapped my second map and started a third with only a few rooms on each level. Here’s one of my maps for the third iteration.
And that was still too many rooms to describe effectively, which is why I scrapped those maps and did the fourth map, which is what I actually used. One big space for each level, minimal notations on the map itself, no need for numbering on anything but the dungeon level.
This raises doubts about whether I could actually make my original concept of multiple tower dungeons work. But I may still give it a couple more tries before passing judgment.

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