Friday, January 11, 2013

Making a Linear Dungeon Non-Linear (and therefore much more cool and useful)

One of the reasons that I haven’t been posting this week is that I have been furiously drawing maps (I had an aha! moment about The Chateau des Faussesflammes, which is one of those projects I have left fallow for too long). A curious byproduct of this creative avalanche was that all my kids wanted to get into the action, particularly my eldest daughter. She took one of my pieces of graph paper, carefully tried her hand at a dungeon level and proudly produced this:

Though nicely drawn and quite creative (I particularly like the crooked bridge across the big hole) it is very linear and I said so. I then had to explain how there was no real choice about where to go. She went back to the drawing board and produced this:

While there are certainly more choices than her first attempt (and even a false door!), this is still a rather linear dungeon level. Once entered, there is really only one direction to go and most of the choices made by adventurers are false ones — they lead to a bunch of dead ends and they are therefore still forced in one direction.

It was at this point that my daughter made her cute face and asked if I could pretty please use her map and make it all pretty in the computer — something that I could not say no to; however, I insisted that we make a few minor changes into order to make the dungeon level less linear and the choices made by adventurers meaningful.

Here is the result:

Besides the obvious graphic enhancements, we also made the following changes:

  • The former entrance is now a stair leading to a lower level.
  • The new entrance is a stair leading to a room with two doors that lead to two distinct sections of the level.
  • Each of the dead ends now have teleporter squares which will take adventurers to other levels.
  • The hole over which the crooked bridge crosses is now a huge pit which connects to other levels.

The result is a small dungeon level that I would be excited to add to one of my dungeons — it has the potential to offer all kinds of adventuring goodness because it allows player choice and each choice has real meaning.


Oakes Spalding said...

What application do you use to draw it with the computer?

Telecanter said...

Collaborating with her like that is awesome. Moving the entrance to the center was smart.

Andrew said...


Did she like the result?

Anthony said...

Very nice! Your daughter has talent as a dungeon architect. :)

FrDave said...

In this case I used old copies of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop from my days as a graphic designer.

FrDave said...

Oh yes...I will be posting more on this later.

FrDave said...

More than you know...

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic.

My idea for teleports 4 & 6 is to have a mural in that hallway hinting at the fact that these two teleports will take you to other worlds. My idea is that they are dead worlds like in the Magician's Nephew... and that they contain either pandora's box type scenarios and/or a complex puzzle locking down a powerful artifact. (Impossible to solve without clues and tricks from deeper in the dungeon, of course.)

The creator of the dungeon was a refugee from both of these worlds.