Gloamhold is massive, and (rightly) impossible to completely detail. Thus it’s important to include the material GM’s need to stock the megadungeon and to make it their own.
This week, I’ve started work on designing the general concepts for the tables I’ll be providing for the GM to stock Gloamhold. It’s important to not provide too much or too little detail. While I haven’t started work on the actual tables—that’s some way off as each will be customised to reflect the flavour of each level—I think it’s important to lay the groundwork so I know what I’m working toward.
Ideally, for any given level or sub level, the GM has the same suite of tables to generate areas and encounters. Customised for each level or sub level they’ll provide a great jumping off point for the GM’s creativity. Obviously, some levels will need different types of tables—the Breathless Narrows is likely to require different information to the Twilight City, for example—but each set of tables will provide a solid base for the GM’s imagination to build off.
At the moment, I’m planning to include the following tables designed specifically for each level of Gloamhold:
Area’s Original Use
This table presents a range of uses for which the area was originally designed. This enables the GM to design an area’s permanent area features such as staircases, pillars, balcony and so on. This in turn provides the players with insight into the history and changing role of Gloamhold and its various precincts.
For example, a prison might have barred doors, rings in the wall for manacles and so on while a chapel might feature an altar, carven pillars, ancillary shrines and such like. Some locales may also have yet functioning ancient traps, tricks or even hidden treasures.
Area’s Current Use
This table enables the GM to determine the area’s current use. For example, it could be used as a storeroom, barracks or prison or it could lie abandoned. Determining an area’s current use is a prerequisite to designing area features such as furniture, decoration, illumination and so on.
The table also needs to handle any traps or tricks the occupants have set up to warn or protect from intruders. This table probably won’t deal with treasure—that’s more a function of who (or what) claims the area as their own.
Is the area occupied? If so by what or by whom? This will actually likely be a collection of tables because some rooms will be claimed by a given group—smugglers, a troglodyte tribe and so on—while others might be the site of a temporary camp, the lair of a solitary predator and so on. Each type of occupant will require their own table.
In Game Tables
It’s also important to include tables to use in-game. For example, when the PCs reach a given area, the occupants won’t always be doing the same thing (or necessarily even be present!) Providing tables to simulate their behaviour is vital to breathing life into Gloamhold. Its folk have lives and goals of their own, after all, and don’t just sit around waiting to be slaughtered.
Given my well-known love of dungeon dressing it should come as no surprise that each area will also have tables comprising minor points of interest. These tables can be used in game or as part of the GM’s preparation. Entries can serve as nothing more than minor window dressing but could also spark mini-quests, subplots and more!
Note, this isn’t a fully-fledged random dungeon generator, and most of it is not intended for use during actual play. Rather, its goal is to give the GM practical tools to help stock his version of Gloamhold.
Have I missed something? Should I include any other tables? Let me know in the comments below and help design the tables GMs need to generate exciting adventures in Gloamhold.
3 thoughts on “Gloamhold: Plotting GM Tools”
One benefit of doing this “by the tables” is that you can create tables for different systems, allowing you to expand beyond the Pathfinder crowd.
(yes, I know all my posts are about you releasing stuff for other systems than PF. It’s because you do great products, but there’s a lot of third party publishers for PF, but not so many for fx 5E. Honestly, I think you should release some of your great great adventures for 5E and see what happens – people are clamoring for quality adventures for 5E. I was looking at Retribution the other day, and I think it could be converted relatively easy. Just saying.)
I’ll stop blog-jacking now 🙂
I am seriously considering redoing some of my adventures for 5e. The lack of a definite legal framework to do so, though, makes me a little edgy. I know some people are going for it without a 5e specific agreement (an OGL or GSL) but that seems a bit of a risk to me! Hopefully, WoTC will sort this out in the near future.
I would love to see some 5e conversions of Raging Swan adventures; one of my two gaming groups has embraced the new edition. Hopefully WotC gets a license out there soon, preferably one that is less restrictive than the GSL. With the slow release of first-party materials (which I personally think is great), the fan base is hungry for quality support that the third-party market could provide.