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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Static Encounter Locations or Variable? Thoughts from the Edge of Sleep

Sometimes when you lay in bed, just as you reach that cusp of sleep, something happens that jars you awake. This time it wasnt a sense of falling - instead, it took a small dungeon area I'm working on and tossed it on its side.

I've got two undead races, each mostly on it's own level. They are cursed with a sort of Raganarok effect - perpetual war where each side's fallen arise again at the start of the new day. When not at war, they are desperately mining for a magical gem that can release them form this curse - but each morning, their mining efforts are also reset.

So, the idea is now, to determine what state the "dungeon" is in when the PCs arrive. Is one undead race or the other waging war, thereby leaving one level mostly underpopulated and the other in a chaotic state of battle? Are they peacefully mining and apt to ignore PCs that are leaving them alone? Can the status change in the middle of the PCs exploration? Can the PCs actions tip the tide of battle and allow the winning side the time to finally recover the gem they are looking for?

Probably won't play out the same for any two groups. Is that good or bad? Damned if I know...

I need to write this out in a coherent fashion ;)


  1. When they're mining efforts reset, does that mean all the rock gets put back into place? If yes, then I think the only way to break the curse becomes outside intervention, aka PCs.
    BTW I think the term you want is Valhalla, where the Warriors fight all day and are resurrected for roast boar and mead, rather than Ragnarok, the final battle where even most of the gods die. Except Vidar, he gets to hang around afterwards for some reason.

  2. Love it! Sounds like a lot of fun.

  3. That's not Ragnarok; I think you're thinking of a "Valhalla effect". Most of the gods (and giants) die in Ragnarok. In Valhalla, the dead warriors fight all day, the slain are brought back to life to feast and drink, and they start over the next day.

    /pedantic Norse mythology reference

  4. The first time the PCs encounter a given location, it makes sense (to me) to roll the dice, so to speak, ahead of time, so that the encounter can be made as bas-ass as possible. The party won't know that anything is dynamic until the second time they arrive - then the dice can come out and make the decision. It seems the only bad methodology is making the decision based on actions the PCs take that the NPCs don't know about. This is where making the decision early or using dice is nice, as it relieves the DM from worries of bias. In this case, I would choose whichever state seems most interesting for the party for the first time they arrive.