Biblyon the Great

This zine is dedicated to articles about the fantasy role-playing game Gods & Monsters, and other random musings.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Xel-i-tec: the random dungeon of doom!

Jerry Stratton, May 26, 2006

Dungeon of Doom: Dungeon of Doom on Xel-i-tec: the random dungeon of doom!

Welcome to the Dungeon of Doom!

By way of Miniature Wargaming, Jamis Buck has a random dungeon generator that not only draws the dungeon but puts things in it. It was a bit of a surprise to see that name in gaming circles.

Jamis is also, or has been, involved in the Persistence of Vision ray-tracing application that I use for most of the Gods & Monsters cover images.

This thing is a lot of fun to play with. It looks quite useable, too. You’d need to add some flavor text, and maybe use Clinton R. Nixon’s adventure generator to get some plots going, but it’s pretty interesting.

The one thing I’d like to see (besides a command-line version for Linux, Mac OS X, and other forms of Unix) would be an SVG version of the map. This would allow me to open the map in any vector-drawing application (such as Inkscape) to make modifications. It looks like the drawing portion of the code is set aside in a special DungeonPainter class, so this ought to be possible.

Right now, about the only editing you can do is changing the colors. There are five colors in the map: two whites (one for rooms and one for halls), a grey for the “rock” areas of the dungeon, and a black for the outlines and numbers. You can open the map in a paint application and modify those palette entries to change those colors.

A Random Dungeon Adventure

So, my first thought was, could I use this, combined with the cheep and cheesy adventure generator, to create a usable Gods & Monsters adventure in less than a day? In time for a game if we were going to have one tonight?

First, I made a high quality map on Jamis’s page, then I went over to Clinton’s page to get some ideas. The first set didn’t really grab me, except for a slender but commanding war-sorceress. So I kept that one and reloaded the page a few times until I got:

  • Items: A copper basin, to which are enslaved spirits of the air. (Magical)
  • Locations: A poor home shared by many families of beggars. (City)
  • Items: A cask of honey wine, tribute to a fierce bandit-queen. (Countryside)
  • Locations: An underground chamber, eerie with blue-green lights. (Magical)
  • Characters: A war-sorceress, slender but commanding, with golden hair. (Military)

That had possibilities. What did it bring to mind? Joan of Arc. The decline of Rome. A secret hidden away. Refugees. Honorable enemies. Strange rites underground.

So now, in a couple of minutes, I have a map, a rudimentary map key, and some high points of the adventure.

From here, I wrote up a quick summary from the top down: the state of the world, the actions of Condurat (the “war-sorceress”), the plight of the player characters. I wrote this almost stream-of-consciousness, just getting it down, confident that it would be short enough that I could fix it later.

Then, I went through the randomly-generated map key and added my own notes so that the map would conform to the adventure needs. For the most part I did not alter what the random generator produced, I only added to it. The biggest alteration I made was to switch a few of the keys around to point to different rooms. I switched room 7’s key to be room 5, room 5’s key to be room 6, and room 6’s key to be room 7.

I’ve provided the original dungeon of doom so that you can see the changes.

Once I had the basic idea for each down, I outlined the series of events that would lead to finding Prince Seneal in the depths of Xel-i-tec, and then wrote the flavor text for each room and the Adventure Guide’s text.

The only part that still needs to be changed is the name of the fading empire. I’ve left it at Rome because most likely I’ll be merging this to another game world and I don’t yet know which one. I might place it in the waning days of the Barcelas empire, for example.

All in all, it took about two hours in the morning, a long, leisurely lunch break at noon, and then about three hours in the afternoon—and that includes writing this accompanying article. I wouldn’t want to do this for every adventure (and frankly, I should have spent the day finishing The Vale of the Azure Sun) but it was a lot of fun and a great way to make a simple dungeon-style adventure.

I hope you enjoy Xel-i-tec: The Dungeon of Doom.

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