Thursday, July 04, 2013

Preparing for the dungeon crawl, intelligently

Most of the time when we prepare our party for a dungeon crawl we think of ropes, 10' poles, healing potions and maybe some henchmen as cannon fodder, err, assistance.

But what about information and intelligence gathering prior to the adventure? Getting stories from the local bar? Learning what lays ahead can save a character from certain death. Certainly some parties have already ventured into the dungeon. It's hard to believe your party is the first in eons to journey in. So why not get some help from those who've been there?

Here's is a list of ideas to provide your players with intelligence prior to entering the dungeon. It's done in the hopes that it not only saves a character or two, but it also adds more flavor to the adventure.

  • Bar (or Inn)
    • "You meet in a bar (or inn)", is a common kickoff point for most adventures. Why not provide information there if so many parties take off from there and surely come there to quench their thirst after a long and arduous dungeon crawl.
    • The bar tender might have overheard stories of what's in the dungeon.
    • He might know the names of people who went in before as well as their fate, see the points below. These names may prove to be contacts that will provide intel to the party for a price.
  • Local cleric
    • Where do adventurers go to heal their wounded or resurrect their dead? To the local cleric who will at least know what killed the poor fool.
    • Maybe a local cleric once went in as a henchman and knows something or two about the dungeon.
  • Stores
    • If others adventurers have been in the dungeon before they've surely come out to trade treasure. The local stores should know a story or two or have artifacts from the dungeon itself for sale!
    • Arcane parchments and scrolls may be laying around with scribbled maps and information.
    • A piece of paper, wood or other artifact of low value has something scribbled on it. Some language nobody knew, but one of the party members understands it and it provides valuable information. It's actually a map of traps written in goblin!
    • Characters may cast magic on artifacts to know who they belonged to or where they have been. Revealing valuable information of the insides of the dungeon.
  • Cemetery 
    • The unfortunate souls who may not be resurrected or die of their wounds will be here. Powerful and obscure magic can be used to gain information from the graves.
    • Speak with the dead may reveal information of what killed the poor soul and also what that character went through in the dungeon.
    • Resurrect and raise dead, animate dead or other obscure spells may provide ghoulish henchmen for the less scrupulous parties who may need help on the fly. Nothing better than a walking zombie map to guide you through the though parts of the dungeon.

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