What Tech Level is Dungeon Fantasy?

After putting together my Dungeon Fantasy Campaign Planning Form a friend asked me, "Isn't DF TL4 by default?" He followed up after seeing that I had listed the exception for TL4 weapons and armor, but this still had me thinking.

DF1 and DF2 neither mention what is the "default" TL (unless I've missed it). Of course this should be obvious that it is TL3 right? Well, not exactly. Pretty much all TL4 armor, melee weapons, and gear are available for use in DF.

It is also worth mentioning that DF2 states: "Assume that dungeon fantasy is TL3 for the purposes of first aid."  But what should we assume it is the rest of the time?

In DF3 the Wildman template lists Low TL 3, and in the description limits them to TL0 gear. This implies that DF is in fact TL3. 

Now, why does this matter? Well first off, the Barbarian template lists Low TL, so I'd like to know it means to be Low TL 1 vs, Low TL 2. Second, TL says a lot of what isn't said about the world. It's short-hand for all the things that it would wasteful to list. And lastly, DF as a genre has often borrowed from Sci-Fantasy. Dying Earth (series and sub-genre) was (and is) a major influence. So, there is a chance that the players might find a "Strange device of unknown magic!" that is some sort of gizmo, and need significant TL penalties to attempt to use or understand.

For my game, I'm going with TL3 with some bits of TL4 blending in (but treated as TL3 for game purposed, ie no penalty to use TL4 gear). Of course, who knows what strange things the dwarves have dug up? Or what vile techno-magic is used by some Elder-Things?


GURPS DF Campaign Planning Form

With the start of my "third season" of Dungeon Fantasy, I have a new player joining, and three returning players who are going to reroll new characters. With this being sort of a "reboot" of the game, I put together an updated Campaign Planning Form. This has been tweaked a bit, but still mostly follows the official form.


GM: Joseph Mason
Date: 2014.06.23

Campaign name: Zerst (DF Season 3)

Starting year: 3A, 137
Rate game time passes: 1 week between sessions.

Genre: Dungeon Fantasy
Realistic or cinematic?: Cinematic
General theme of campaign: Kill things and get loot! Oh, and vanquish evil or something.

Campaign Background:

Campaign’s base city: Zerst
Society/government type: Feudal

Tech level: 3
Exceptions to general TL: Some TL 4 armors, tools, weapons (not guns)

Brief description of important neighboring powers, political/economic situation, etc.:

  • Zerst (base town): This recently un-cursed town lies in the wild lands beyond the boarders of the old empire. It has had a long history of crazy rulers and savage attacks, and other misfortunes.
  • Nustaad: Town to the south. Self governed with a city council. Some friction as the town has suffered as folks return to Zerst.
  • Turnwall: Town to the southwest. This is the major trade zone between the western areas and the borderlands.
  • Elbenvald: The "elf wood". No non-elf has ever seen the fabled elf cities, and the elves don't give too many details, but they certainly exist. Elves mostly keep to themselves and are generally self-sufficient. This limits the other races interactions with Elbenvald.

Suggested or required reading for players: Basic Set, DF1, DF2

Information for PCs

Starting point value allowed for PCs: 250
Disadvantage limit: -50/-5 (-50 from disadvantages and attributes/sub-attributes, -5 from quirks)

Especially useful/useless character types:
Templates are ** Mandatory **
  • Barbarian
  • Bard
  • Cleric
  • Druid
  • Holy Warrior
  • Knight
  • Martial Artist
  • Scout
  • Swashbuckler

Especially appropriate/inappropriate professions:
  • Adventurers/Non-adventurers

PC races allowed:
Races are from DF3 unless noted otherwise.
  • Human
  • Arakun*
  • Cat-Folk
  • Dwarf
  • Elves:
    • Half-elf
    • High Elf
    • Mountain Elf
    • Sea Elf**
    • Shadow Elf
    • Winged Elf**
    • Wood Elf
  • Faerie Folk
    • Faun**
    • Leprechaun**
    • Nymph**
    • Pixie**
  • Gargoyle
  • Gnome
  • Goblin-Kin
    • Goblin*
    • Half-orc
    • Hobgoblin
    • Orc
  • Minotaur
  • Half-Ogre

* Custom race

** Uncommon race – I’m not going to require an Unusual Background, but these race will draw attention since they stand out. This can help or hurt (so no point cost) depending on the situation.

Starting wealth: $1000
Starting Wealth levels allowed: Dead Broke ($0), Poor ($200), Struggling ($500), none ($1000), Comfortable ($2000), Wealthy ($5000), or Very Wealthy ($20000)

Starting Status levels allowed: none

Starting TLs allowed: 3, 2, 1

Languages available:
  • Arcane
  • Common
  • Celestial
  • Dragon
  • Dwarven
  • Elven
  • Goblin
  • Infernal

There may be other languages that are unknown and unavailable.

All characters start with Common as a native language and one extra free language based on Race:
  • Humans, Arakun, Cat-Folk, Gargoyles, Minotuars, Half-Ogres: Any other language.
  • Dwarves, Gnomes: Dwarven
  • Elves, Faerie: Elven
  • Goblin-kin: Goblin

Cultural Familiarities available: N/A

Required advantages, disadvantages, and skills: Templates are required.
Especially appropriate or inappropriate advantages, disadvantages, and skills: See templates

Appropriate Patrons (and base value): Deities for Clerics and Holy Knights [36], see template.
Appropriate Enemies (and base value): None

Special Abilities Allowed for PCsExotic/supernatural traits: See Templates
Cinematic skills: See Templates

Are PC mages allowed? Yes
General mana level: Normal
Do areas of higher/lower mana exist? Yes
Are any of the spells from Chapter 5 off limits? Yes, see restrictions in DF1 and Pyramid 3/60

Are PC psis allowed? No.
Are any of the powers from Chapter 6 off limits? N/A

Are PC gadgeteers allowed? No (may revise if we add Artificer later)
Are there special limits on gadgeteering? N/A

Unusual Background cost(s) for these abilities: None
Legal or social restrictions on these abilities: None

Other Notes

Book 1 optional rules or variants (advantages, disadvantages, skills, etc.):
  • See DF1 and DF2

Book 2 optional rules or variants (success rolls, combat, injury, etc.):
  • See DF2
  • Using hit location rules, but any non- "called shot" hits the torso.
  • The following options are used:
    • Deceptive Attacks
    • Telegraphic Attacks (MA)
    • Rapid Strike (only 2 hits)
    • Retreat Option: Slip (MA) 

This form is based off the official GURPS Campaign Planning Form, which can be found on Steve Jackson Games website here:


Recaps: DF Session 16, Castle Von Dark 04



Farthing, Faun Wizard
Noide, Celestial Cleric
Phelix, Cat-folk Swashbuckler
Ryder, Cat-folk Warrior


Once again the party rests up then heads back into the halls. This time they find and take the broken roof entrance.

As they retraced their steps, Farthing caught sight of something behind them. The party turned and found a group of four Shadows that had been trying to sneak up on the party. A few strikes and sunbolts later, and the shadows are gone. Inexplicably, these creatures seemed to have had some way of holding coin pouches! The party grabbed these and moved on.

The party then starts exploring the next room beyond the areas they had been to before, and find a large room with some slime on the wall. After searching a bit, they find a secret passage that leads south and decide to follow that into a hidden hallway.

This lead to another room, and in here they found a mosaic on the wall and some writing that had a color combination that when used on the mosaic, opened a door back to the previous room.

Deciding that just because a room has a secret door, doesn't mean that great treasure is necessarily going to be hidden behind it, they decided to get back on track and find the key.

The next room was large and dark. As they started to head in, Gaz stopped and told them that they should run! Everyone asked why, and Gaz shouted “Driders” as 4 of the spider-men attacked.

Once again, the party made sort work of these foes, but not before Farthing took a nasty wound. Noide was able to heal him back up, and after the monsters were dead, they found some more copper, some healing potions, and a jar of some sort of magic oil.

Then the moved into the final room. Here there was a large square pit. As the party moved toward it, a light appeared on the far end of the room. It was a demon, who had created a fire in his hand. He greeted the party and flew over the pit.

He was able to guess that they had come for the key, and Von Dark addressed him asking that he give the key to them. The demon showed that he too was chained and bound to this place, but that if the party set him free he could get them the key. Otherwise he would simply “bring the key up” and they would have to get it themselves.

The party declined to help him, so he flew back and began to turn a wench that began to lift some sort of platform up from the pit (using the same sort of ethereal chains that were on the demon). When the platform was fully risen, on it there was another, much larger demon who attacked.
Farthing was able to identify this as the same sort of “Demon of Old” that they had encountered before (the other demon being a lesser summoned demon). And where it’s heart might be located. Once learning this, the party had not problems taking it down.

While this was going on the other demon had flown around the room to attack Noide and Farthing, but once the large demon was dead, he offered surrender, but was killed anyway. Once he died, his body disappeared into smoke and his voice said, “There is more than one way to be set free.”

The party searched the room finding some coins and a potion, but not the key. Then, they remembered the writing on the wall from when they first entered the halls, and checked the Demon of Old’s mouth (as this creature’s body was still here).
Sure enough, it’s tongue was key shaped, and the party cut it out. After this they made their way out of the dungeon finding that they were not that far from the initial entrance.

At last they had the key! Von Dark commented how excellent the group was doing, and now they just had to get rid of the dragon….



XP: (base 5, +1 key, +2 for boss): 8

This session was pretty much a cake walk. Need to look into new ways to challenge the group.

Overall, the “random dungeon experiment” didn't work out very well. The space didn't make any sense and didn't feel interesting.

Now I am going to take some time, write up some interesting loot for the party to find, and start building some dungeons!


My Dungeon Fantasy Setting

When I decided to run Dungeon Fantasy, I purposely went with a "generic setting" instead of doing my normal months of detailed world-building. So it was basically what a lot of folks think of for a fantasy roleplaying game: Faux medieval world with fantastic races, monsters, and magic.

Of course there is always more to it than that, so here are a few more details of the setting.


The game date starts long after the fall of a great empire that ruled all the known lands for hundreds of years (perhaps thousands). Following this empire came a "dark-age" where the many places were left to slow decay without the support of the empire, and others began to fight among themselves.

For hundreds of years the great temples, castles, cities, and towns of the old empire were destroyed, left to ruin, or lost.

In the center of the known lands is the Spiral City which is the old capital of the empire. Here all the various races still are welcome. And there folks can usually find an elf or two who will tell them that the city is much older than "that most recent empire".


There are many gods that are worshiped throughout the lands. The most common in the human areas is Lys, the god of light. The people generally accept that there are other gods, but only concern themselves with their chosen god (unless faced with a servitor of another god, which could happen).

While gods can grant gifts to the faithful (Power Investiture, Holy Might) and intervene when asked through prayer, they do not seem to involve themselves in mortal affairs otherwise. When they do, it tends mean something historic is going to take place.


Most religions have some variation on the same origin story. In most cases the belief was that an earlier world existed "under" this one. In most stories there were 4 previous worlds, each under the next.

The story goes that the gods created their people in the first, world, but that it was inhospitable. The reasons varied from one belief to the next, but some examples are that the worlds were dark, frozen, burning, nothing would grow, etc. In each case the gods took pity on the people and opened the sky. Then a ladder was lowered (or a tower was built, or a rope was made, or wings were given, ...) and the people climbed into the new world. The next world would have another problem, and the people would move on.


Still fairly "generic" in many ways, I tried to seed a few excuses for why there might be strange structures underground. Even if the origin myth had nothing to do with actual history of the world, it could have been an earlier peoples explanation for finding whole worlds underground.


Recap: DF Session 15, Castle Von Dark 03



Farthing, Faun Wizard
Noide, Celestial Cleric
Phelix, Cat-folk Swashbuckler

Back in Town (or off in the woods):

Ryder, Cat-folk Warrior - didn't show up
Roseshic, Half-elf Scout - taking some time off from the game.


The party rested up and was itching to get back and find that key. Since they didn't need a week to recover and get items charged, they just had to pay a “daily” cost of living of $25/each.

Since Roseshic had gone back to the woods, they knew that traps might be an issue for them, so they decided to ask around town for some help. Soon they learned that there might be a guy who was crazy enough to go stomping around with the group and setting off… er, detecting traps. The were told they could find this guy, “Deadfish” in the alleyway next to the tavern. And there they did find in a drunken huddle, a goblin!

After picking himself up, the goblin introduced himself as Gaz Deadfish. The party decided that they needed to get this guy cleaned up and sober, but the innkeeper didn't want to have the goblin in his establishment. Eventually, he allowed it, and the party had to pay for the “deluxe suite” which was just another crappy room, but cost them quite a lot.

Once Gaz was cleaned up, they talked terms and he was hired on for a full week.

The next morning the party arrived back at the Halls and started to retrace their steps and get back to where they left off. Before they got there though, the found the door to the “Dryder” room shut and sounds coming from the other side.

Peeking in, they saw a group of 12 Orc-Infernals standing in a circle chanting. After taking a few seconds to prepare, Phelix charged in (flaming sword in hand). The infernals immediately started to try to surround him, and he was quickly put in a more defensive possession.

Gaz tried to flank but was spotted and never never got the jump on anyone. The other also moved in, and started to engage.

The fight took quite some time, with enemies bunching up to surround party members, and playing very cautiously. Waiting for the party to make a move then striking. Farthing kept casting lighting wall which forced the infernals to move around and split up.

Eventually, the part wore down their opponents and started to gain the upper hand, at this the Infernals started to run, and were struck down as they did. Two did manage to get away though.

After the fight, the party decided they would rather try to find where the infernals when instead of continuing on where they were exploring before. They moved into the next room, and there saw signs that the infernals had gone through a door to the north, which they hadn't been through before.

Gaz found a trap on the door and was able to disarm it, but the infernals had a good head start by this time.

Peeking into the next room they found another Bodak. They stepped back into the hall and started to debate on how to deal with it as it began to move towards them. Eventually it entered the hall and the party all attacked it. It got one good look at the group, but was quickly killed.

At this point the party lost the trail of the infernals, so they just picked a door. Following the hall, they found a door to a room filled with huge centipedes. They decided that this room was not likely where the infernals when, so they simply closed the door back and continued down the hall.

Further down they found part of the dungeon that had collapsed revealing the sky above. They noted this as a way to escape (or re-enter) if they needed it later. Then they continued on.

In the next room they found a couple of statues and a bat-winged woman softly crying. When they addressed her, she told them that she was Vexanna, and was being held prisoner. Some sort of ethereal chain would appear around her ankle when she moved. This very attractive woman (aside from the wings) started to bat her eyes and Noide, and Farthing deduced that she was a Succubus.

The party decided it was not a good idea to free her, and she began to mock Noide, and told them that she knew were the key was. Resisting here, they decided to leave and continue their search.

After passing through an empty room then avoiding a pit trap in one of the halls, the party found a secret door that lead to a room with a Gargantuan Centipede. It was not immediately aware of them so they got the jump on it and though it was strong, they dealt enough damage to cause the creature neutralize it.

Once the bug was dealt with, the party searched this room and found that there was some sort of scrying system built into the walls. This game Noide an idea, and he cast Seeker which seemed to work exceptionally well in this room, and he was given a vision of how to navigate to the key. He also saw that there was something guarding it.

At this point it was getting a bit late, and the party decided to head back to town to rest up. They would be able to return and only have to deal with two unexplored rooms before they entered the room where the key was held.


XP: (base 5, < half explored -2, +2 for worthy monsters): 5

The random encounter at the start took too long, I should have made most of the monster fodder so that the players could clear through them.

They only explored 4 new rooms, but still found some of the the dungeon features. It would have been nice to finish up this session, but things are looking good for the next one.

You can do it!

I love being the GM. Playing is fun, but I would prefer to GM over playing most of the time. There are a lot of reasons for this, but it mostly boils down to a desire to entertain. But that is just me. I understand that there are (probably a lot more) folks who prefer to play. Sometimes, though, that isn't an option.

Recently, I've seen (especially in the VTT circles) many folks who want to play, even some that "have a great idea for a game", but also say, "I don't GM". I've even see some folks who seem angry that the GMs of these communities are not running their favorite game!

This kind of thinking floors me! If you like game X, and nobody is running/playing it... then why don't YOU GM! Maybe you prefer to play, but when that isn't an option, you need to do some work.

To get others to GM your game, the first step is to get people interested in it. You can talk up a game system till the sky falls, but there are not a lot of folks that are going to pick up a new game to start GMing based on that alone. The best way to get folks involved is to run it for them. Show it, demo it, run it. You can't expect the world to simply conform to your desire with no effort on your part!

Maybe you feel that you wouldn't be a great GM? I felt this way often. But trust me, if you are making an effort to entertain others, they typically will be forgiving and even help you out. There are lots of great blogs, books, pod-casts, etc., that are dedicated to giving advice to GM's new and old.

So, give it a shot! Who knows, you may get others excited to run your favorite game!


Recap: DF Session 14, Castle Von Dark 02



Farthing, Faun Wizard
Noide, Celestial Cleric
Phelix, Cat-folk Swashbuckler
Ryder, Cat-folk Warrior
Roseshic, Half-elf Scout


The party was rested and didn't have any need or desire to do much in town so they set outwith Froggy Von Dark to find the Forsaken Halls. There they hope to find the key that would unlock the hidden tunnel that leads into Castle Von Dark.

At the Halls, there were two entrances, one of which was sealed, but another hidden entrance was just a ways down from there. Outside they saw two figures speaking in an unknown Elven dialect. Roseshic approached and asked the elves what they were doing. They told him that they were scouting the area and that he should stay away from the Halls. The others joined and proclaimed that they were going in anyway. The elves wished them luck and moved on.

Once inside the party moved around into the first main hall, Phelix unfortunately hit a javelin trap and took some damage around the second turn. It did some pretty heavy damage, so Noide healed him up and they continued on.

Roseshic found another trap at the first door, and was able to bypass it. They moved into the first room. Here there was some writing on the wall that they recognized as Goblin, but nobody knew the language. Noide decided to cast Gift of Letters and read, “Beware the demon’s tongue” or something very close to that.

They continued to explore the area and found a room with a hanging skeleton, a set of stairs down, and a large room with several pipes and pressure plates (that they marked to prevent stepping on).

Then they came to a room with a Dyrder in it, which proved little threat to the group on his own. After finishing him off, the players found a chest with some treasure, including a Ring, which Phelix promptly slipped on his finger… and found that he couldn't take it off… then found he was at DX-1. There was also a Levitation Potion and a Scroll of Grace.

In the next room they found a pair of strange creatures that appeared to by flying heads with tentacles coming off of them. They took out one very rapidly, but the second one let out a scream that paralyzed a couple of members. It was soon taken out though. In the corner there was a pair of old corpses missing their heads.

The party continued on, avoiding some traps then found a Shadow. It got a hit on Ryder which drained his strength. After a few good hits on it, Noide hit the shadow with a Sunbolt and destroyed it. In the corner of this room they found a small chest of treasure.

Continuing on they explored another room and found a hall that ended in a magically locked door. Being unable to open the door, they backtracked some to another path, finding a few more rooms then a hall where a rain of needles traps was set off.

Beyond that door they found a room that connected to another. From there wondered in a Bodak. Half the party charged it before Farthing had a chance to shout out that a Bodak can kill with a simply look. It tried to hit both Phelix and Ryder, but the resisted and were able to kill the monster.

After this the party was tired and needing to recharge. They decided to head back out, with Farthing mapping the path that they had taken so they could return later and continue to search for the key to the castle passage.



XP: (base 5, < half explored -2, +2 for worthy monsters): 5

This was my first attempt at using a random dungeon generator, and thought the structure and flow make is pretty chaotic, it fits the crazy idea that his was built by some pretty nutty folks.

At times it felt slow going be we covered 10 rooms, 4 combats, and a lot of traps. I felt that not using a large map to deal with each hall and room sped things up a lot, but I need to get better at stating where the door that the party enters in from is located in the new room.

Over all I was happy and am looking forward to the next session.


Dungeon Fantasy Rules Issues

Recently I had to reevaluate a few of the rules I had been using in my DF game that were causing some problems and ended up needing to be "nerfed".

Luck House Rule

For some time I have been using a house rule for Luck. Each "level" of luck gave the player 3 "Luck Points" to redeem whenever they wanted. I did this because I really didn't want to have to keep track of real world time for a game mechanic.

The problem came when a character had Extraordinary Luck, and thus six Luck Points. These were simply too powerful, especially combined with a very high skill character. He only needed to use the point on the rare critical failure, or extreme situation.

I spend some time trying to figure out how to fix this house rule, but ultimately decided to just scrap it and go back to the RAW.

More Than Two Hits with Rapid Strike

This is not a rule that I normally used, but I figured that this was over the top heroic fantasy, so why not? Well, because it really makes short work of just about monster, especially after a few points are spent to bring up ST.

I felt that this was fine for awhile, but after my last game where my other players were mostly marginalized by the the high skill character performing 4 rapid strikes (on top of an extra attack) I've decided to cut this and go back to just 2 hits for rapid strike.


These two rules were overpowered on their own. Combined they compounded and created a way over powered character. I hate to "nerf" a character after rules have been decided, but if the rules are causing it much harder to make a balanced game where all the PCs feel they can contribute and feel useful, then things have to change.

As always, I consider GMing an evolutionary process where I learn from each experience and adjust to make an even better game.


Recap: DF Session 13, Castle Von Dark 01


This is the start of the new campaign, tentatively titled "Castle Von Dark"


Farthing, Faun Wizard
Noide, Celestial Cleric
Phelix, Cat-folk Swashbuckler
Ryder, Cat-folk Warrior
Roseshic, Half-elf Scout



The party returned to Turnwall as heroes. They had not only averted some sort of doomsday, but had also ended all threat from the Caverns. The creatures that were not turned into the undead, had either died when the cliffs fell or fighting the undead, or they fled and dispersed into the woods to the east.

Trade once more picked up in the town and the roads were safe. The party was treated like heroes, towns folks would buy them beer for a retelling of their adventure. The inn let them stay free. Life was good ... good and boring.

There were no more threats, no more monsters, no more adventure. The requests for stories were getting fewer. The inn keeper greeting was beginning to become a bit strained.

It was clear to them, that it was time to move on. Travelers were heading out east again, and a few stories made their way back. Strange things were reported. Ruined towns, mad mages, roving bands of elves, dragons!

Then came reports of a village deep in the wild lands. Nustaad was settled by the survivors from Zerst, a town which fell into ruin some time ago.

What peaked the party's interest was a tale of some old mad alchemist, who use to rule the town, Baron Von Dunkel. The story was that he had one of the Chaos Stones.

The party took off into the wild lands to the east. Following the directions to Nustaad. Unfortunately, the trail was at times broken and split in places they had not been told about. Before too long they were lost in the woods. Running low on provisions, and starting to get a bit desperate.


While trying to find their way in the woods the group heard a voice call out to them. At first they saw nothing, but soon realized they were speaking to a frog. He introduced himself as Frederick Worthington Von Dark, heir to the Von Dark name and castle. He claimed that he was cursed by gypsies and in needs a princess to kiss him and end this curse. He looked at the party and realized they were adventurers and likely to do things like save princesses from dragons or what not.

The party said they would try to help but needed to find Nustaad. The frog wasn’t sure where the town was, but directed the party to a half-elf ranger that stayed in the woods nearby. The party found the elf, Roseshic, and he joined up and directed the group into town.

When the party found Nustaad, they realized this was much more “rugged” than they would have liked. The was filled with folks that looked like brigands. Fistfights broke out in the streets, drunks passed out in the alleys… even the horses looked mean.

In the town the party was approached by a burly man with a peg-leg and scars all over his face. Expecting trouble, the party was cautious, but he only introduced himself as, “Greeter” and welcomed them. They got basic directions around town then quickly went to the inn, “Bloody Stud”.

There they group spoke with Von Dark and learned a bit more about him. It seems that his grandfather once ruled this area (under the name Von Dunkel). He went insane and started to perform dark alchemical experiments on the people. Eventually the rebelled and killed Von Dunkel, but with his dying breath he cured the castle and town it was in (Zerst). His son escaped the people’s wrath and went on to sire Frederick.

The curse on the town has led to undead, dragons, and all sorts of other misfortunes to fall on the town. Von Dark believes that if he can reclaim the castle, and sit on the throne, it will lift the curse and that the people will accept him for doing so. Unfortunately the castle is inaccessible from the front gate, which is magically sealed. But, there is a hidden passage that can get them inside.

The hidden passage also has a magic lock on it, but the key was hidden by loyal retainers to his grandfather. Again, there is a catch. The retainers were as mad as the Baron, and hid the key in a dungeon filled with the worse horrors they could conjure up.

The party got rooms at the inn and decided to prepare to enter these “Forsaken Halls of Horror



XP: non-dungeon session, points for being there, good RP, and getting to town: 3 CP

This was just our kick-off for the new campaign arc. We met some NPCs, found a new town, and set short term and long term goals.

Everyone seemed to like the two NPCs added. So, that is good.


My New Dungeon Tool: Google Spreadsheets

I've been struggling with how to create dungeons that can: 1) be easy to use, 2) easy to upload to a virtual table top, 3) works with my limited time/space/skill. Jotting down dungeons on graph paper is nice, but doesn't scan very well. Drawing them up in paint can be more of an effort than is worth while. The various software packages that are based on dungeon design tend to have cumbersome UI, and don't always let me export the way I want.

So, I started using Google Spreadsheets. I'm already a big fan of Google Drive and use it for sharing and storing game materials.

Here's how I do it:

First I do still tend to jot down a quick sketch of the dungeon. Just a few square rooms and labels. This gives me a good idea of how I want rooms to relate to each other and what the general purpose of the space is used for.

Then I create a sheet of 35 columns and 42 rows, and resize them to 20x20 pixels.

Now, I like to use "subtractive" design. I find this faster than additive and filling in the null spaces. Your millage may vary. To do this I fill the whole sheet using the Fill Color. I choose black, but dark grey also works (or any other color, you like).

Once this is done, I'll start to carve out rooms by selecting the area and changing the the fill color back to white. Tip: once you have one white space, you can copy/paste. I tend to copy one cell and just select areas to paste into. (Again, this is subtractive design. If you prefer, you can just start to fill in the walls instead of filling the whole space then placing rooms back in.)

Now I use both 5x5 and 10x10 feet maps, depending on what I need. Let's say that this is a 10 foot grid map. Sometimes I don't want to have 10 foot walls, so I use the Grid boarders to create small wall lines. I'll fill in some of the large rooms to make them into sets of smaller rooms.

I might find that I need to add some other walls or halls also to make sure things are working as I designed. For doors I sometimes use the vertical bar, backslash, forward slash, or other characters. For bars I tend to use the broken boarder line.

Then I just need to add any other features. Sometimes I just add a lowercase letter then add a dungeon legend somewhere. I use a filled block with a '$' in it (in white) to show hidden doors. If a room has to have a label, I can also just place that in by merging cells. I use bold U and D for stairs.

And there you have it. I use an image printer to print out the sheet to an image file that I can then upload to a VTT. Remember to hide grid lines when you print!

Another map I made.