I’m kind of conflicted about drawing my own dungeons for these little adventures. On the one hand, I have a lot of fun making them, and I think I’m getting better. Sketching dungeons in this style is easy and addictive. Also, when I draw my own dungeons, I can tailor its layout to the story I want to tell. On the other hand, there is a great amount of inspiration that I get from looking at someone else’s dungeon (without looking at its story) and asking, “Why is this dungeon laid out this way? What are those features for?” It’s a challenge to explain every piece of someone else’s dungeon, and a challenge I relish. In other words, the question I’m asking myself is: do I start with the story, and make the dungeon, or do I start with the dungeon and make the story? I’ve found both ways work for me, but that starting with the dungeon and making up a story about it is often more fun.
The dungeon in this adventure was made by me, and I did struggle with it a bit. Ultimately, I’m happy with the results, though it felt like it took a while to get there. It was also entered into the D&D dungeon contest held by WotC; it didn’t make it into the finals, but I’m ok with that because it was a good exercise. Turning it into a One Page Dungeon for the One Page Dungeon Contest was another good exercise. Being concise with just enough flavor to give another DM a toolbox is more difficult that it might seem.
If you remember the Two Page Mini Delve “The Deepwood Memorial” that I did a while back, this dungeon’s theme will seem similar. And it is – intentionally so. I am intrigued by the idea of a common use, public building becoming a dungeon.
In the case of this adventure, a museum has become a dungeon because the dwarven city in question was a sort of Pompeii – a volcanic eruption forced the sudden frantic evacuation of the city. In retrospect, “Lost and Buried City” isn’t a new theme in fantasy, and I probably should have thought about that. On the other hand, it was an idea that I wanted to toy with, and tropes be damned.
Certainly, the backstory for this locale could be extended to other areas of the abandoned city, and turned into a series of adventures. Extending the idea even further, maybe there’s even a tent city erected on the mountainside that adventurers from all over use as a base camp from which to delve into the forgotten city. It would lend a sort of “Wild west/gold rush” feel to the location, while competition for delving sites could add some fun NPC interaction and a sense of urgency.
At any rate, I hope you enjoy it. I intend to eventually expand it into a Two Page Delve for 4e, though whether that will happen sooner or later is kind of up in the air. I have a new Gamma World monster to design for next week.
You can download the delve here.