Dungeon Crawl, Meet The NPC

Dungeon Crawl Time!

This is going to be a 1st level adventure so it is not going to be big or overly dangerous.

I have my locations in my mind.

The starting location is an end of the line village. it has more empty houses then occupied ones. The problem is that their priest went mad and has been spreading all sorts of End is nigh! ravings and that has upset the neighbouring villages to the point where they stopped coming to the market. A couple of months ago the priest finally disappeared, presumed run off into the wild. The village feels better off without him.

The temp where the priest lived over looks the town and is now a dark and foreboding place and shunned by all.

The village is in a spiral of decay. As people leave the few remaining businesses find it harder to make a living. As they close then it becomes harder to live here.

Now people have started to disappear. Not just leave but disappear not taking any of their possessions, not saying goodbye. One day they are here and the next morning gone.

Those are the two locations, village and temple.

The temple has four levels. It is a Dyson Logos map. This version lacks the grid but it will be with the grid when I publish this in the fanzine.

This is the upper section. As you walk in the entrance you have a sloping passageway down below ground or the left and right entrances to the chambers on this level. You cannot get to the upper floor from here.

The advantage of the ground floor is the ease of escape and it is obviously of limited scope. As soon as you go underground there is no telling how big the place is.

These are the underground parts. There are two underground levels. The route to the upper storey is down to the underground level take the first right and then follow it round to the left.

We know the monsters in this adventure are the Daedhel as the villains with skeletons and the odd mindless animated corpse. That is going to give the temple a certain smell.

There is no need for the undead to see and there are no windows so this place is dark.

I have not specified the religion for this temple so the GM can adorn the walls and wall hangings with scenes from their favourite religion to add a bit of game setting flavour.

The villains headquarters will be the upper level I think. That means crawling their way through a lot of the complex, in the dark, fearing attack.

Fear

I want to make fear and the aura given off by the demons a real feature. To this end and to boost the starting party I want to give the party a couple of battle tanks to increase their fighting ability.

When they are in the village they will be lent the taverners guard dogs to take with them to the temple. Brutus and Spartacus are his pride an joy.

A large dog will whoop a starting PC’s arse at the drop of a hat. They are 4th level, 65hits, AT3 with a 70DB and a Medium bite and 45OB. In RMu The Medium Dog serves the same role.

The beauty of having dogs and not NPCs or dogs as NPCs are that even if they do outshine the PCs in combat they cannot reason, the PCs or players will not ask their opinions as locals and they are unlikely to be elected leader by the new party.

On the other hand, if you want fear to be a factor a dog wears its feelings on its sleeve. If it is scared then it will show you instantly. It has no compulsion about running from a fight and it doesn’t understand the plan. I just want to players to make a wonderful plan based upon stealth, followed by amazing stalking and hiding rolls, and then have the dogs start barking their heads off at the first sign of movement in the dark.

These will be big brave dogs until something bites back and then suddenly they turn tail, literally, and run. Of course good dogs may comeback into the fight is someone who has treated them nicely is in fear or pain. Dogs are very empathic.

The GM can use the dogs as signals. If the dog is reluctant to enter somewhere will the players pick up on the cue? If they start whimpering and shying away will they force them on or set them free?

If a dog suddenly disappears into the darkness chasing something and then comes back with a bone what will the players think? Is the bone human?

What do you think? It is a big enough ‘dungeon’? Do you like the dog idea?

The post has sparked another thought and I want to look into that in different post. It has to do with low level demons.

8 Replies to “Dungeon Crawl, Meet The NPC”

  1. I think the dog is an excellent idea for the very reasons you listed. The players can’t rely on the GM using “god knowledge” to have NPCs solve issues or magically have the answers to puzzles. There is only so much you can rely on with an animal vs. a human.

    As for the size of the dungeon, that’s really all relative. It has more to do with the frequency in which the encounters occur, the level of the baddies, and number/location of safe havens to recover and to rest.

    I like the premise for the adventure. The nay-sayer gone mad. Very cool.

    1. For monsters we are talking Skeletons, Animated Corpses and a few Zombies. The ‘bosses’ are Daedhel, elven Demons. They are 2nd level beasties chan/essence hybrid casters. Depending on how the RMu Grace/overcasting rules end up they could be casting 2nd-4th level spells, although that is up for discussion right now.

  2. I think whether or not players appreciate the dogs might depend on whether or not they have had to do pain in the neck escort missions in Elder Scrolls games (or similar) where you are trying to sneak up on the enemy and the idiot NPC that you have to keep alive runs straight into combat. Other than that, it does nicely get around the problem of deus ex machina NPCs.

    1. I am seeing these dogs as an unpredictable double edged sword. If the players are too worried about being stealthy that they end up doing nothing then the dogs may start to growl and bark at something they smelled further in the temple. If the players start throwing the dogs into fights like cannon fodder then the dogs will turn tail from something they don’t like and end up whimpering behind the fighter for protection.

      If the players get fed up with the dogs making too much fuss and tie them up then they may come bounding out of the dark to rescue them, having chewed through the rope holding them.

      If the players start being obsessed with looting then the dogs could chew the corner out of a sack if they are left unattended. Or left hobbling back to the village after a dog chewed up one of their boots. 🙂

        1. The dogs are intended to be a help for the PCs not a hindrance. Also you have the social interaction with the tavern owner who would be upset if Brutus & Spartacus don’t come home.

    1. Two answers to this…
      1. At this level the demons cannot possess anything.
      2. I have a post planned for Saturday about these and other low level demons and adventures.

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