Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Dungeon Process: Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep (Part 5 - Encounter Tables and Treasure)

In this fifth post of my dungeon process series, I will be writing the encounter tables and managing the treasure for Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep (SBLUK). 

Last time, I discussed Writing the Key


Encounter Tables

I decided to write only one encounter table for this whole dungeon. Often I find it compelling to write different tables for different levels. But this dungeon has very easy access between levels, the rooms are close together, and movement between areas is fast. 

I love writing Bastionland-style small tables for my random encounter tables. Basically it rolls on a d6, with three variations on a common creature, two variations on an uncommon creature, and one result for something rare and special. 

Here are the different creature types and 'factions' found in Unterbranch Keep:

  • Animated objects
  • Brigands (undead and animated)
  • Slimes
  • Goblins
  • Ogres
  • Miscellaneous creatures (carnivorous plant, goat kid, Mama Boar, servants, spiders, legsnake, etc.)

I believe that I have sufficient animated objects, brigands, and slimes placed throughout the Keep. So for my three common variations I will use Goblins:
  1. Three Goblins (HD 1, DEX 15, knife d6, on CD it slices off an ear/eats a finger) eating something strange found in the room (e.g. legsnake eggs, plates, a tapestry). 
  2. Ten Goblins (as above) carrying a large, heavy object towards the Goblin Crypt, p. X (e.g. bench, wardrobe, wheel of cheese).
  3. One Goblin (as above) sleeping, with a child's hat over its face. 
Even though I don't want more slimes and animated objects, I did have an idea for them. Instead of a full creature which could be fought, it would be a little version of a slime, which then lays a trail leading to the Slime Bath and the Slime Baroness. And another one which is an animated object leading downstairs to the Sorcerer's Capsule and the Lady Unterbranch. Basically a trail of breadcrumbs leading to the two interesting NPCs. So these will be my two uncommon entries. 
  1. Slime boot limping along, leaving a trail of black slime (which leads to Slime Bath, p. X).
  2. Animated spool of thread, unravelling slowly (which leads to False Tomb, p. X). 

For my sixth entry, the rare and dangerous one, I am thinking of something that will show the decay and overgrown nature of the Keep. I have a couple aggressive plants placed in rooms already, but no real 'Feral Animal' like I had on one of my spark tables. What if the brigands had had a pack of rowdy dogs, now gone feral without their owners? The pack travels together, looking for trouble. 

  1. Pack of feral dogs (HD 1, Bite d6, on CD you get an infected bite wound, which drops STR 1 point per day if unattended by serious medical help) looking for food and trouble. They have tasted freedom and will never obey a master again. Leather collars stamped with the maker from Barter Town. Pack has as many dogs as there are player characters. 


Treasure

I have been placing treasure as I write the room descriptions, but it has been a bit slapdash. If I rolled a "Treasure" result on my dungeon stocking roll, or "Bulky Treasure" on my spark tables I would include some treasure in the room. For other rooms, like the different Crypts in the lower levels, I purposefully included extra treasure hidden behind trapped sarcophagi. 

Now I have gone back and totalled the full value of all treasure: 26,610 silver pieces. 


Value (sp)

Description

Location

150

Golden eagle talon (clutching a bell). 

Chapel, p. X

1500

Celestial globe (glass sphere held aloft on the back of two silver and brass hunting dogs). 

Drawing Room, p. xx

510

Doe-leather bag (with 51 golden coins, stamped with a deer and an eye). 

Vault, p. xx

400

Silver dagger (with onyx pommel).

Vault, p. xx

5000

Diamonds (10; in Brigand Puppet pockets).  

Grand Hall, p. xx

350

Doe-leather bag (with 35 golden coins, stamped with a deer and two eyes).

Guard Apartments, p. xx

800

Pearl necklace, earrings, and ring (in the false bottom of a travel trunk). 

Guest Apartments, p. xx

2000

Ten polished silver goblets (set with amethysts)

Servant’s Apartments, p. x

200

 Embroidered ladies’ slippers (bejewelled).

Servant Storage, p. x.

550

Silver ingots (eleven one-pound bars).

Ingot Spider, p. x

250

Small black treasure box inlaid with glass picture (needle piercing an eye). 

Wool, p. x

1500

Glass eye with onyx-inlaid iris (prize taken from Ogre War-Queen Black-Eye). 

Wool, p. x

400

Platinum elbalming tube (inside a coat pocket).  

Morgue, p. x

500

Three gold chain necklaces (on mushy bodies).

Wet Crypts, p. x

500

Etched gold slippers (on dessicated bodies).

Dry Crypts, p. x

1200

Diamond eyes (in three fungus faces). 

Fungus Crypt, p. x

300

Carved goat drinking horns (inside slime sarcos). 

Slime Crypt, p. x

1100

Onyx goat statue (inside animated goat ribs). 

Slime Crypt, p. x

3900

Platinum and iron urn (weighs 150kg and its banded decorations will be ruined if it’s rolled). 

Skeleton Crypt, p. x

5500

Black goat idol (marble and platinum, weighs  over 200kg). 

Dark Chapel, p. x


That feels like quite a lot. I have been writing monster stats for Catacombers (my Electric Bastionland/GLOG hack). Here is the Level Table for that game: 

Level Table from Catacombers

I do 1 sp = 1 XP in my games, and you have to spend the money to get the XP. And this is per character, so a party of four needs to collect a total of 8000sp to all reach level 2. 

This means if a party of four finds all the treasure in this version of Unterbranch Keep, they will have 6652 and a half sp each. That's enough to get up to level 3, and about two fifths of the way to level 4, the maximum level. That's pretty high. 

I don't think players would find all the treasure. But I'm not sure if I have enough experience to make a call on how much treasure they would be expected to find. Half? Three quarters? If they found 75% of the treasure they would end up with 4989sp each, almost at level 3. That still feels a bit high. 

I will stick with my assumption of players finding 75% of all treasure if they clear the Keep. I want them to reach level 2 and get about half-way to level 3 if they finish the whole dungeon. So working backwards from that value (3500sp x 4 characters ÷ 0.75) we get a total of 18,666sp. 

I'm happy with that total. I could go and just drop every treasure value by 70%, but I also feel like the distribution is a bit wonky. I want the lower-value treasures to be a bit lower value, while keeping the high-value treasure nice and high. I also want all the Crypt treasures to be in the same value range, to keep the Crypts thematically consistent. So I will adjust some values, leaving me with final values as below: 

Value (sp)

Description

Location

150

Golden eagle talon (clutching a bell). 

Chapel, p. X

300

Celestial globe (glass sphere held aloft on the back of two silver and brass hunting dogs). 

Drawing Room, p. xx

310

Doe-leather bag (with 31 golden coins, stamped with a deer and an eye). 

Vault, p. xx

250

Silver dagger (with onyx pommel).

Vault, p. xx

5000

Diamonds (10; in Brigand Puppet pockets).  

Grand Hall, p. xx

290

Doe-leather bag (with 29 golden coins, stamped with a deer and two eyes).

Guard Apartments, p. xx

350

Pearl necklace, earrings, and ring (in the false bottom of a travel trunk). 

Guest Apartments, p. xx

200

Ten polished silver goblets (set with amethysts)

Servant’s Apartments, p. x

100

 Embroidered ladies’ slippers (bejewelled).

Servant Storage, p. x.

550

Silver ingots (eleven one-pound bars).

Ingot Spider, p. x

150

Small black treasure box inlaid with glass picture (needle piercing an eye). 

Wool, p. x

700

Glass eye with onyx-inlaid iris (prize taken from Ogre War-Queen Black-Eye). 

Wool, p. x

300

Platinum elbalming tube (inside a coat pocket).  

Morgue, p. x

300

Three gold chain necklaces (on mushy bodies).

Wet Crypts, p. x

300

Etched gold slippers (on dessicated bodies).

Dry Crypts, p. x

300

Topaz eyes (in three fungus faces). 

Fungus Crypt, p. x

300

Carved goat drinking horns (inside slime sarcos). 

Slime Crypt, p. x

900

Onyx goat statue (inside animated goat ribs). 

Slime Crypt, p. x

3000

Platinum and iron urn (weighs 150kg and its banded decorations will be ruined if it’s rolled). 

Skeleton Crypt, p. x

5000

Black goat idol (marble and platinum, weighs  over 200kg). 

Dark Chapel, p. x


My total is now 18,750sp. Close enough—I like having the round numbers for ease of bookkeeping so I didn't aim for the exact goal. 

I should mention that this treasure total does not include magic items. I don't usually put a value on those, because finding a buyer is rare and difficult. In my games people usually keep magic items. And if they don't want them, it is more likely for characters to trade them for other magic items, or favours, rather than selling them for cash. If someone really wanted to sell a magic item, I would come up with a price for it then, rather than pre-determining a price. 


Conclusion

I really feel like the dungeon is coming together. There's some big treasure easily accessible from the front door, enticing players to delve deeper. I've got thematically appropriate encounters to roll on my table. All six results feel like they would be fun to roll, and would push the action forward. Not just be random monsters without something interesting going on. 

In my next and final post, I will tie up all my loose ends and finish this dungeon. 

The Series

Part 5 - Encounter Tables and Treasure (this post)

Unwritten: 
Part 6 - Revisions and Final Layout

2 comments:

  1. I'm really loving this series! I to have been dungeon obsessed and trying to improve my technique.

    Your method is really inspiring. Are you happy with the results you're getting?

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    Replies
    1. Hey thanks!

      I have been happy with many of the results, but examining my decision-making so closely is also making me realize the things I'm not happy with.

      I'm hoping the final post in the series will include a nice synthesis of the things I like and the things I want to learn from.

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