Oh yeah, I am running a game tomorrow. LOL Suppose I should at least pretend to get ready...
A big part of the design philosophy with Zent-Mer is doing some design work on the front end (lots of customized random charts, cheat-sheets, etc.) to let me run on the fly with next-to-no prep. There's still a ton to do in that department, but let's look at what I actually did do so far.
- Master encounter table, encompassing encounters with nearby monsters (i.e., "LOOK AT THE MAP, DUMMY"), encounters with "cleanup crew"-type monsters (vermin/nuisance encounters), and references to the level-specific tables, as well as calls to "event/dungeon dressing" tables.
- Level-specific wandering monster tables (with a B/X-modified version of the "DUNGEON RANDOM MONSTER LEVEL DETERMINATION MATRIX" table from the 1e DMG attached). Most intelligent entries here have at least one possible faction listed, common encounters(like goblins) have more than one.
- Compiled dungeon dressing tables (mostly C+P'ed out of the DMG). The tables here encompass lost items, inscriptions/graffiti (big nod to Nethack, here), sounds, air, and "weirdness".
- Master rumor table and example rumors. (These are in an extremely embrionic state, but there's enough there I could run a few sessions before using them all.)
- Faction "cheat sheet" done up in Excel. This contains any and all human, demihuman, and intelligent monster factions, and their relationships to each other. Knowing from the get-go that goblin tribe A hates goblin tribe B but pays tribute to Bugbear gang C while hiding from Gnoll band D can be super hella mega useful. Also helps immeasurably with city intrigue adventures. This sheet is also where I flesh out a lot of my random encounters - a nameless group of thieves has a guild to belong to, a group of acolytes becomes cultists of [EXPUNGED BY THE INQUISITION], etc.
- Random leftover stuff, like the "quest/geas" generator from JG's Ready Ref Sheets - great little mission generator, there.
And, of course,
- Dungeon levels. Originally drawn up in 5' scale (because I apparently hate trees and slim binders), now being transferred to "One Page Dungeon Template" format (see the link on the right side of this page) in 10' scale. Big props to everyone involved in this project, BTW - it's really helped me boil down my dungeons to what needs to be on the page.
I actually only have the "rat-whomping newbie level" and a few pages' worth of levels 1 and 2 mapped out so far, but there's enough there to occupy tomorrow's group (nobody who'll be there has been past Level 0 yet). Anybody falls down a chute, I'll pull out Appendix A from the DMG, no worries. The nice part is that the upper levels are nice and familiar to me, now (I've run several parties through them at this point), so they run pretty smooth in my head. Not having to refer to the key when describing a room is a cool feeling - I haven't been able to do that since I was a kid, when I used to run the example dungeon from the 1e Realms set again and again. (I still know the Halls of the Beast-Tamers pretty much by heart.)
So what I'll do in my spare time over the next day or so is to organize what I've got into a "DM's packet" where it's all in one place, and (in theory) that, the B/X booklets and my map binder should be all we need. I'll have a post-game up at some point on Wednesday. (Probably.)
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1 year ago