Monday, December 9, 2013

Never Enough Swank: Swankier Dungeons 2!

I'm going to make a series about Swankier Dungeons. Fair warning. XD

That said, lets talk about expanding your idea of what exactly is a dungeon and why Swank is important for these 'alternative dungeons' too.

The Super Villain HQ - Did you ever see the Cobra Base Playset? You should.

Say hello to the Terror Drome!

Now isn't that bloody awesome? A good Super Villain HQ is part Bond Villain base, part action playset, and all molded plastic action. Computers everywhere, secret doors, hidden bad guy gear, rec rooms, launch many launch bays. Ever wonder why Bad Guy organization X can field so many mooks? This is why! And let me tall you something, nothing feels quite so good as say taking on Xanatos in his Corporate Tower/Castle..oh wait, I'm talking about Disney's Gargoyles. But you get the idea right? No?

* Include a command room, make it nice and big with huge view screens. Odds are you main villain will have a command chair here where he lords over his minions.
* Place plenty of 'crew rooms' around the central part of the base. A great place to stow KOed baddies if you are being sneaky.
* Freaky Underground Labs where they are building new supervillians, have one break out when the PC's invade the base.
* LAUNCH BAYS! And bad guy crafts and such sitting around.
* Prison facilities for hostages.
* Death Traps!
* Bonus points if the Bad Guy base is mobile. Flying Carrier, dome, etc. Super sub.
* Self-Destruct systems. Obvious and dangerous. Why do they keep building these?

The Lost Colony - Go watch Aliens, take notes, pay MORE attention to the sets. Especially the layout!

Congrats on your space game. Be is Stars Without Number, Eclipse Phase, Traveller, and such you are now out among the stars only to be called down to investigate a colony world that has gone dark. Before you drop players into said colony it's time to think about what exactly they are going to run into.

Most colonies have a reason for being there. The colony from Aliens was a homestead world for farming. They had: Main building with admin, medical, and living quarters. A landing field for shuttles. A massive atmosphere terraforming system build by machines before the rest of the colony got there. This is essential! This is the building blocks for your space colony dungeon.

Other layouts might be like Dead Space: Giant Planet Cracker ship with refineries on board, including landing bays for ships, medical wings, and lots of engineering bays. A bridge with crew living quarters. And the lower mining colony with the massive Marker sitting there in a fresly dug out pit. All ripe for what comes next.

First you find out what the colony SHOULD look like. Then you infest/alter it!

Time to Zerg the place up! In Aliens, the Xenomorphs built a massive nest structure into the underbelly of the Terraforming system, right up against a massive reactor core! Yay fun! The rest of the colony now shows signs of battle, desperate attempts to secure the admin wing of the main building, and Newt turning the crawl ways into a secret tunnel system. Oh and if the players are feeling adventurous after dealing with the aliens, a massive crashed alien ship the next valley over. But...a disturbing lack of bodies, at least until they find the hive.

Or in Dead Space. All sorts of organic bio mechanical growths all over the Massive ship, alien living tendril 'things' in the main loading bays and reactors. Crasy piles of dead bodies everywhere that jump to life and attack you. Then below you have the Market, the slowly growing wall of flesh around it's base. Etc.

Mind you, colonies can die/change from more than nasty xeno infestations. Nano attacks, mad AIs, alien invasions. Again, think of HOW the setting gets altered by the hostile force. Give players partial information and then turn things on their head when they find the changes. LOADS of fun. Now if you want to do something more like a secure military location/colony that's a subject for a later blog. Swanker Dungeons 3: Swank Goes to War.

Temple Of The Mind - Ever play a psionic game? Or gone to the astral plane and wondered into the mind of a god? Hacked someones head trying to dig up information? Welcome to the Temple Of The Mind.

This is a play on the idea of mind palaces. A memory technique where people create a 'home' in their heads and they fill the home with memories, data, etc so they can walk through these memory palaces to pull up information they need. In this case the Temple is a structure built on the memories of the person who's mind you are inside.

A good Temple has the timeline of a person as wings of the building. More secure, of older memories locked up in dusty, or more dangerous locations. And the Temple is defended with memories of the person. A guild thief might have black clad attackers boil out of nowhere to back stab invaders. A hot decker mind have Black IC sitting there lording over paydate in their head.

The real risk is the active mind of the person you are inside. They might have a mental avatar fighting against you. Or they might 'hide' memories making parts of the Temple disappear or be VERY tricky to find entrance too. Worse, if actual brain damage happens while in there whole sections of memory (Temple) disappear! Nothing make me grumpier when a dying mans mind starts shutting down around me while I'm digging through his memories like a 2nd Storyman.

Mix it up with invading thoughts. Like 'mind control' from a badguy is in there ruling the place. You can team up with your 'zonked' buddy and battle the control to free them. An interesting experience for a player who suddenly has to face their demons in the form of memory attackers. It's a cool place to change up expectations. Just remember, you the only thing you can take form there is memories...or data. Nothing physical unless you are THAT good. (or have access to that kind of magic/tech.)

There you go. 3 Swanky examples to get your dungeon more interesting. Have fun!