Friday, 28 August 2020

Stocking dungeons with one die roll

Some History

In OD&D, Gygax lays out his procedure for randomly stocking a dungeon in "Section 8: Referee Information," beginning on page 68 (Single Volume Edition from 2011). 

  • "Thoughtfully place several of the most important treasures, with or without monstrous guardians."
  • Roll 1d6 for each remaining room: 1-2 indicates a monster.
  • Roll 1d6 for all rooms again: 1-3 on "those rooms or spaces with monsters in them indicates some form of treasure is present." A 1 on a "room or space which is unoccupied indicates that there is some form of treasure there."
He then provides monster tables for stocking level-appropriate monsters, and treasure tables for level-appropriate treasure. To me, this procedure feels a bit clunky because of the multiple die rolls. The percentages don't map out exactly to any standard die sizes. 

Result (d6)%total
1. Monster16.67%33.33%
2. Monster16.67%-
3. Empty16.67%66.67%
4. Empty16.67%-
5. Empty16.67%-
6. Empty16.67%-

But with a little difference it can be mapped to a d10. 

Result (d10)%total
1. Monster10.00%30.00%
2. Monster10.00%-
3. Monster w/ Treasure10.00%-
4. Monster w/ Treasure10.00%-
5. Empty10.00%60.00%
6. Empty10.00%-
7. Empty10.00%-
8. Empty10.00%-
9. Empty10.00%-
10. Empty w/ Treasure10.00%-

So we have some appropriate treasures and monsters placed by the referee, and then 50% of remaining rooms are "empty." Overall we have two-thirds or 66% of all rooms empty (aside from the ones placed by the referee at the beginning). This feels like a lot of empty rooms. I know that "empty" doesn't necessarily mean EMPTY, it simply means no monster, no treasure, no traps, and no special things. Courtney Campbell's On Tricks, Empty Rooms, and Basic Trap Design is a brilliant reference to make your "empty" rooms shine. They don't have to be boring. But they're not very interactive. And interactivity is fun. 

The procedure was simplified to a single roll in some later editions. In the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide (pg. 171), we find this table:

Table V. F.: Chamber or Room Contents
1-12 Empty
13-14 Monster Only
15-17 Monster and Treasure
18 Special
19 Trick/Trap
20 Treasure

This simplifies the stocking procedure to one die roll. This method provides 60% of all rooms to be "empty." So slightly fewer empty rooms than before. But we also see the addition of "Special" and "Trick." Not sure what exactly that might mean to all referees, but I sure do like the idea of "Special." Special can be anything I want. Extra creatures, something weird to play with, inspiration to add something odd and wonderful. 

In 1981 Moldvay Cook Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (page B52) we find these tables:

First Roll: CONTENTS
1-2. Monster
3. Trap
4. Special
5-6. Empty. 

Second Roll: TREASURE?
1. Monster = yes. Trap = yes. Empty = yes. 
2. Monster = yes. Trap = yes. Empty = no. 
3. Monster = yes. Trap = no. Empty = no. 
4-6. Monster = no. Trap = no. Empty = no. 

Here are the percentages:

4Monster w/ Treasure5.56%16.67%
5Monster w/ Treasure5.56%
6Monster w/ Treasure5.56%
9Trap w/ Treasure5.56%5.56%
18Empty w/ Treasure5.56%5.56%

With a little tweaking this can be mapped to a d20. 

5Monster w/ Treasure5.00%15.00%
6Monster w/ Treasure5.00%-
7Monster w/ Treasure5.00%-
10Trap w/ Treasure5.00%5.00%
19Empty w/ Treasure5.00%10.00%
20Empty w/ Treasure5.00%-

If we write it out in the same format as the 1st Edition AD&D table, we see some differences. 

Chamber or Room Contents
1-5 Empty
6-9 Monster Only
10-12 Monster and Treasure
13-14 Trap
15 Trap and Treasure
16-18 Special
19-20 Treasure

Now we only have 25% of rooms truly empty. That's way less. And now it feels like too few maybe? I'm not sure. Older editions of D&D really seemed to love the d6. Maybe because it's common and familiar. They seem equally fond of the d20. Excellent spread, I'll admit. We all have personal feelings of different dice and their combinations. 

Monday, 24 August 2020

GLOG: Town & Country Wizards

For my fantasy medieval-esque GLOG hack I don't want to overwhelm players with too many class choices. I'm designing my hack with my friends in mind, because I'll be the one running it, and they'll be the ones playing. And I know that if there are too many choices they'll focus on those choices too much, or not read them at all. So for wizards, I wanted to distill it down into two schools, both of which are appealing for different reasons.

Instead of an Orthodox wizard and then other themed schools, I decided to go with the Town Wizard and the Country Wizard. This feels to me like a good social division in a medieval-esque fantasy world. The Town Wizard has some more social spells and classic D&D wizard spells, whereas the Country Wizard has some more nature-based spells, including some of the custom ones I designed for my one-stat GLOG hack Sword Ferns & Salmon Flesh. Some of the material is taken from Skerple's Garden Wizard, which was a big inspiration for the Country Wizard. 

*only spells with asterisks are new and listed with full descriptions. Anything else can be whatever GLOG version of it that you prefer. I've definitely seen at least three different versions of Light floating around. 

School: Town Magic

Set up shop in a clapboard storefront, charge a pretty penny for charms and potions, and you've got yourself a career that mommy and daddy will most certainly not be proud of. You love walking through market stalls, seeing the whispers and pointed fingers, as you flick your long robes here and there. You love the city and the city loves you back. 

Granny by Nathan Park

Starting Equipment

  • Spellbook
  • Quill & Ink 
  • Dagger (d6 damage)
  • Blank scroll
  • Red robes


You always know where the best and worst inns are in every town you visit. 


To regain your magic dice, you must meditate for 10 minutes each morning somewhere indoors. Even a tent or lean-to counts. You must describe this to the other players.

Spell List

  1. Lock
  2. Knock
  3. Feather
  4. Floating Disk
  5. Grease
  6. Gutter Snipe*
  7. Light
  8. Sleep
  9. Illusion
  10. Levitate
  11. Charm Person
  12. Wall of Fire

Spell Descriptions

6. Gutter Snipe

R: 200’ | T: creature | D: instant

A pile of alleyway garbage conjures in the air and flings itself into the target creature, dealing [sum] + [dice] damage. (this is basically Magic Missile)


  1. Your Magic [dice] only return to your pool on a result of 1-2 for 24h. 
  2. Cough up soot. Take d6 damage
  3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds. Save CHA or permanent.  
  4. Brain lobe smoothens. Lose 1 Magic die for 24h. 
  5. Lungs convulse from soot. Agony for 1d6 rounds. 
  6. Cannot cast spells for 1d6 hrs. 


  1. Your face is marked with a painful brand. Take d6 damage. Members of civilized organizations (e.g. trade guild, city guards, wizard college) shun and mistrust you.
  2. Cannot cast spells for 1 day. Speaking to civilized folk is straining. Your brand grows and you lose 2 CHA. 
  3. Flames erupt and burn all your hair away. Your scalp and hands are marked with painful brands. Take 2d6 damage. You are wanted. Members of all civilized organizations, openly and secretly pursue you for debts, arrest warrants, and vigilante justice. There is no escape.  

School: Country Magic

Relax in your rural cottage; the customers respect you and your craft. Plenty of time for knitting and drinking tea when only bumpkins bother you for crop advice and sheep sorcery. Stroll through bucolic landscapes along dirt roads, and breathe pure forest air near riverbanks and lakes. 

Crone by Lane Brown. Her hut looks like Shrek's swamp house. 

Starting Equipment

  • Spellbook
  • Quill & Ink 
  • Staff (d6 damage)
  • Waterproof boots
  • Green robes


You can identify mundane plants and animals by sight.


To regain your magic dice, you must meditate for 10 minutes each morning within sight of natural beauty. Even mold growing on a rock counts. You must describe this to the other players.

Spell List

  1. Fog*
  2. Weave*
  3. Tree Talk*
  4. Locate Animal
  5. Woodbend
  6. Black Beak*
  7. Light
  8. Smoke Step*
  9. Battering Beam*
  10. Levitate
  11. Wall of Stone
  12. Uproot

Spell Descriptions

1. Fog

R: 30’ | T: self | D: [dice] hours

You breath out a bunch of fog. Everything up to 30’ away from you is obscured. Sunlight, wind, or heat dissipates the fog in 10 minutes. If you cast this spell with 3 or more [dice], other casters cannot cast spells within the fog.

2. Weave

R: 50’ | T: plants or rope | D: [dice]x 10 minutes

You weave plants into a rope [dice]x 30’ long. The rope animates and you can move it [sum]x 10’ in any direction, including levitating in the air. It will tie itself into knots, pull itself taut, etc. You can target existing rope, provided they’re made of natural materials. 

3. Tree Talk

as Dendrigraphy from Skerple's Garden Wizard

6. Black Beak

R: 200’ | T: creature | D: instant

A sharp black beak conjures in the air and flies into the target, dealing [sum] + [dice] damage. (this is basically Magic Missile)

8. Smoke Step

R: 100’ | T: self | D: instant

You teleport to some place that you can see, leaving behind a puff of wood smoke. For each [dice] above 1, you can take someone with you.

9. Battering Beam

R: 30’ | T: object, creature | D: instant

A beam of light pushes target [dice] x 10’ straight away from the caster.


  1. Grow fish eyes (blurry vision) for 1d6 rounds. 
  2. Salmon roe hatch in your belly. Take d6 damage. 
  3. Grow fins for 1d6 rounds. Save CHA or permanent.
  4. Weak fish flesh. Lose 2 STR for 24h.
  5. Gills. Agony for 1d6 mins as you cannot breathe.
  6. Gain a fish mouth for 1d6 hours. You cannot speak properly or cast spells. 


          1. Cannot cast spells for 1 day. Permanent scales. 
          2. Cannot cast spells for 1 day. Permanent fins and weak fish flesh (lose 2 STR).
          3. Permanent gills, eyes, and fish mouth. You are a salmon.

            Thursday, 13 August 2020

            Lapidary Ossuary Megadungeon (Level One — Topaz)

            EDIT: after finally posting this after two months of sitting on the 90% completed map and key, I've decided I hate it and I'm going to rework the whole Megadungeon from the start. For months I was brainstorming specific encounters or room contents and ended up just mashing them all together. I'm dissatisfied. I'll leave this post here because nobody is looking at it anyways, and I'll maybe start a new series where I document my process of making the whole dungeon. 

            I am finally posting the map and key to the first level of my eponymous megadungeon, the Lapidary Ossuary. The megadungeon is themed off gems and burial sites—I'm trying to jam in cultural gemstone themes for each level, and cram every possible human burial method into the ossuary as a whole. 

            The first level is Topaz—with themes of Opulence, the Sun, Charisma

            There are three entrances to this level, all found on the craggy hilltop outside of whatever small town you like. Because of these entrances, this is the most accessible level. Each entrance is only a couple hundred meters away from each other. Two are sealed by trapped doors, but one has been smashed open recently, exposing the Lapidary Ossuary to the outside world to a greater degree than it has been before. 

            When I eventually run this dungeon, I will use the rumour tables found in my original post. I may expand these as I key more of the dungeon. Right now they're based on the notes I have for theming each level. 

            Level One of the Lapidary Ossuary — Topaz.

            I made this map using Adobe Illustrator. I decided to use a simple point-crawl type map since I was having trouble fitting all the rooms together in a way that satisfied me when I was using a graph-paper styling. For this megadungeon I believe that the room contents are the star anyways, and I don't really care about the corridors between rooms. The whole point is that the dungeon is the enormous necropolis of a fallen empire, full of bones and bodies, warped over time by the potent magicks of the ancient empire and their burial rituals. It is a mythic underworld and it don't make no sense. There is a total of 3000sp worth of treasure, enough to get a party from level one to level two, assuming 1sp=1xp and you're using 2000xp as the level threshold. (I also let party members share treasure for XP so finding one silver piece means everyone gets one experience point). 

            Dungeon Key: Level One — Topaz

            1. SMASHED ENTRYWAY. Stone door, smashed open. Scattered debris. 

            2. ANTECHAMBER. Stone pedestals. See-saw pit trap. Secret door East. 

            3. TOOL SHED. Iron tool rack (pickaxes, chains, trowels). Three Spinerel, swinging on the racks (3HP, claws d6, MOR 8, shatter upon death dealing 1 damage). Stone door East. 

            4. PEASANT OSSUARY. Stone shelves of peasant bones. Cold campfire. Stone door North (stuck). Stone door East (stuck). 

            5. SLAVE OSSUARY. Stone shelves of slave bones. Stone door East (trapped with ceiling rubble). Secret door North (spinerel shavings). 

            6. BRICK PILES. Piles of bricks. Stone door West (stuck). Stone door East (stuck). 

            7. MOSAIC STAIRS. Mosaic depicting the great deeds of Emperor Ekaf Enam. Three Spinerel picking at the mosaic stones (3HP, claws d6, MOR 8, shatter upon death dealing 1 damage). Stone door West (stuck). Iron door East (locked). 

            8. EMBALMING CHAMBER. Stone table, simple embalming tools, empty jars. Iron door West (locked). Iron door East (locked). Secret door South (streaks of brain fluid). 

            9. TOPAZ ENTRYWAY. Large stone door (Glyph: Sunbeam). 

            10. WARDEN STATUE. Black marble statue holding Emperor’s Gem (worth 85sp). 

            11. GLASS FOYER. Glass floor (deep cone pit below). Stone door East, West, South (floor-shattering trap, sending standers into the deep cone pit). Secret door North.

            12. GOLDEN SKULL DOOR. Ornate golden skull covers the entire doorway. Golden doorknob within the mouth. Bloody severed arm lies inside the mouth opening. 

            13. GOLD SARCOPHAGUS GALLERY. Ten stone sarcophagi gilded with gold foil. 

            14. SILVER SARCOPHAGUS GALLERY. Ten stone sarcophagi gilded with silver foil. 

            15. IRON SARCOPHAGUS GALLERY. Ten stone sarcophagi banded with iron. One has an alms bowl at the base containing 15sp and Merchant Cords (any package tied with these cords stays fresh forever, worth 100sp). 

            16. COPPER SARCOPHAGUS GALLERY. Five stone sarcophagi gilded with copper foil. Five smashed sarcophagi revealing five Gummy Zombies (5HP, claws d6, MOR 11, bladed weapons stick in gummy flesh). Each has topaz gem buried inside (5 x 20sp each). 

            17. EMPEROR TOMB. Topaz-inlaid sarcophagus holding ancient emperor Ekaf Enam. Stone shelves along the walls with mosaic backings and treasure items. Hologram-generating topaz orb (800sp or wizard quest). Holo-Ekaf Enam (12HP, fists d6, MOR 11, commands his lions, Spell: Leap). Two Orange Lions (3HP, bite d8, MOR 10, very fast and huge). Copper bracelets (10sp each), chest full of 5000cp, 3 bottles of ancient perfume (3 x 10sp each), ten topaz gems arranged in a decorative wire frame (10 x 10sp each). Stone archways North, West, South. Secret door East (poison gas trap). 

            18. MISTRESS TOMB. Sexy sarcophagus. Gold jewellery (75sp total), set of ceramic urns (50sp), Cornberry oil and sweetwater flask (glows when sitting still, 75sp).

            19. RUSTY STAIRS. Rusty iron stairs. Iron door West, Iron door West. Secret door South (poison gas trap). 

            20. NOBLE OSSUARY. Stone shelves with noble bones. Tripwires releasing bone darts from wall slots. Stone archway South. Stone door West (locked). Stone door East (stuck). Stone door North (locked). 

            21. LADY OSSUARY. Stone shelves with noble Lady bones—exaggerated gender presentation with dresses and carved ivory “wigs” (5 x 30sp each). Slurping up some gold jewelry (worth 75sp) in the corner is the Giant Golden Worm (10HP, bite d8, MOR 10, non-gold metal weapons cannot penetrate its skin). Stone door South (locked). Stone door West. Stone door East. 

            22. CHILD OSSUARY. Stone shelves with little baby bones. A little animated child skeleton is sitting up on its shelf, crying for its mummy. Stone door East. Stone door West. 

            23. IDOL. Gold and copper statuette of an ibex god on a huge stone pedestal (worth 100sp). Entire room is a spiked pit trap triggered by touching the idol. Stone door East. Stone door West. 

            24. CHANDELIER. Dusty crystal chandelier suspended from the ceiling illuminating an iron chest with 150sp inside. Stone door East. Stone door West. 

            25. SOLDIER OSSUARY. Stone shelves with soldier bones stacked alongside spears. Two eyeless ghouls (6HP, claws d6, MOR 10, paralysis on hit, save STR each turn to break out) are licking femurs in the corner. Beneath some bones lays a silver longsword, etched with wolfsbane (versatile d6/d8, Enhanced[1d12] against werewolves, wolves, dogs, canine sorcerers, etc.; worth 500sp). 

            26. SPINEREL NEST. Smell of dust and ozone. Little nests made of rock fragments, each with a light dusting of purple crystal dust. Sparkling beneath one pile is a handful of blue spinel gems (5 x 40sp each). 

            27. SPINEREL HOLE. A thin deep hole scratched into the floor. Smell of dust and ozone, light purple crystal dusting around. 

            28. CRUMBLY CAVERN. Back half of the room has collapsed: a red glow is coming from a wide crack in the floor. You can crawl down to the level here.

            Stay tuned for Level Two — Ruby... Might take me another couple months. Who knows.