Dungeon Montage

Dungeon Montage – Collaborative Dungeon Design

~ Inspired by John Wick’s video on Dirty Dungeons and his article in Play Dirty 2~

Welcome to the Dungeon Montage. J-M has used this technique multiple times in a variety of games and swears by it. One of the great things about 13th Age is its collaborative storytelling, drawing the players into the design process normally reserved for the GM.  Backgrounds, One Unique Things, and Travel Montages all work together to support this collaborative process. But what about the dungeons of the Dragon Empire?

The Gamemaster, being the prepared person that they are, will have foreshadowed the group’s journey to a dungeon, living or otherwise. For the great curse can only be broken there, the item forged in the 3rd Age which holds the key to slaying the grand evil was buried there, a dragon load of gold is horded there, you get the idea. All that’s needed is for the group to travel there and clear it out. Well that and the Gamemaster needs to design it first.

The Dungeon Montage operates under the assumption that the characters are not the first people to delve any dungeon in the empire. After all, the empire goes back 12+ ages. Bards tell tales of the ancient crypts. Wizards pack libraries full of lore of the previous ages. And taverns are full of NPCs who were adventurers just like you, before they took a trap to the face. All of these provide avenues for characters to do their research and prepare for the delve.

To use the Dungeon Montage, you’ll need to set aside an hour or so of your game session, preferably a session or two before the characters will arrive at the dungeon, to allow them to do their research. Much like a travel montage, each player will add a piece of lore that their characters discovered, collectively crafting the dungeon. One player may add the rumor that the dungeon is guarded by constructs of the Dwarf Lord from the 7th Age. Others may turn up tales of a magic spring which provides sanctuary to delvers. Round and round the rumors go, adding to the group’s knowledge of the dungeon.

The rules are fairly simple. Each round, the players are each allowed to add one piece of information concerning the dungeon. It cannot contradict another player’s or the Gamemaster’s ideas, but it may build on those ideas. After each idea, the Gamemaster rates the danger of the addition:

  • Cosmetic ideas are worth 1 dungeon point.
  • Foes or traps or interesting set pieces are worth 2 dungeon points.
  • Really cruel or interesting choices might be worth 3 dungeon points.

You can keep track of these points in different ways; J-M uses poker chips, adding them into a bowl with each addition. The Gamemaster should dutifully record the rumors (and if they are cruel, the name of who created them).

At the end of every round, the Gamemaster adds one black chip to the pool. We will get those chips later. Play continues for any number of rounds the Gamemaster or group decides. Two to three rounds will generate sufficient information for a small set of encounters, perhaps even a full heal-up’s worth. Eight to ten rounds will give the group enough to explore for a whole level. Once the montage is complete, the players total their dungeon points. These represent the abstract understanding of the dungeon that the characters have gained through their research.

While in the dungeon, the points may be spent as follows:

  • X points to add +X to a hit roll. If you rolled a 1, too bad. No amount of dungeon points can help you.
  • X points to add +X to a skill roll.
  • 5 points to gain a free recovery
  • 10 points to gain and spend an immediate icon relationship

Players have final say for all dungeon point spent. If they feel a spend is too costly, put it to a vote. The majority rules.

The Gamemaster, at the end of this, should have a list of great ideas for their dungeon, as well as a number of black chips. The black chips serve two purposes. The first is that there are a number of false rumors equal to the number of black chips. The Gamemaster gets to choose how to twist and turn those rumors to their own nastier specials. Additionally, they function in the same way dungeon chips do for players, but for NPCs. J-M recommends adding –

  • 3 points to steal the escalation die for a round

This method, much like many of the above-mentioned mechanics, adds player buy-in to the dungeon. It is no longer just a dungeon they have to delve, but one which they already know and are prepared for. At the end of this montage, the players have done much of the design of the dungeon. So, when the balor jumps out to attack the 4th level party of adventurers, it is not your fault as the Gamemaster. No, it is Christopher’s fault for adding it in.

For more inspiration and advice, J-M highly recommends purchasing John Wick’s Play Dirty 2.

S2-E11: Go Berserk!

This week we take a close look at one of the new classes introduced in 13th Age Glorantha – the Berserker. This class is divided into two paths: the Storm Bull and the Zorak Zorani. While both come from the same core class, they play very differently from each other. Listen in as we talk about the differences, why you might want to play one, and some ways to bring them into the Dragon Empire!

If you enjoy listening to the Iconic Podcast, please consider supporting us by becoming a patron or by using our Amazon shopping referral link.

Special Announcement: Patreon

Hello Iconic Listeners! We’re excited to announce that we’ve launched a Patreon for the show! We have some great ideas for how we could improve the show and give more 13th Age resources to the 13th Age community, but we can’t do it alone.

If you are a fan of the Iconic Podcast and would like to benefit from things like early access to outlines and episodes or voting on show topics or even being a guest, consider being a patron of the show!

You can do so by going to https://www.patreon.com/iconicpodcast and clicking the ‘Become a Patron’ button.

Thanks for listening!

S2-E10: Adventure Site Creation: Swamp

This week we’re trying something new for the show! We brainstorm encounter ideas centered around a location that you might find useful in your campaign. The location we chose this time is a champion-tier cursed swamp that’s consuming a nearby village.

Listen in, take notes, and be inspired to use it at your table. And if you do, we’d love to hear about it, and what you named the swamp and village.

And let us know how you liked this sort of encounter-creation brainstorming session!

If you enjoy listening to the Iconic Podcast, please consider supporting us by becoming a patron or by using our Amazon shopping referral link.

S2-E09: Magic Items

Every player loves good loot, especially if it’s magical. And in this episode we talk about about that magical loot: how much is too much, when it’s appropriate to take it away, making your own items, and more!

Since recording this episode, Pelgrane Press opened up the pre-order for Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures – a book chock full of magical items ready to be used at your table. July’s not quite over yet, so you can still receive a 10% discount off your pre-orders of Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures and The Book of Ages by using the promo code POD#ICON18LHBA

S2-E08: The Book of Demons

On the heels of last episode’s discussion of the Diabolist comes a review of the 13th Age Book of Demons. In this episode, we talk through what’s found between the covers: the new Demonologist class, hellholes, more demon stats, and the citadels of a couple Icons. All in all, this is a great book!

We had previously discussed using demons in a campaign in Episode 10 of last season, so be sure to go back and listen to that for additional inspiration!

If you want to pick up a copy of this book, you can purchase it at your FLGS or online at Pelgrane’s store. And don’t forget that in the month of July, you can receive a 10% discount off your pre-orders of Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures and The Book of Ages by using the promo code POD#ICON18LHBA

Since the publication of this book, Pelgrane Press has released an errata for it, which you can access here: http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/the-book-of-demons/

S2-E07: Campaign Creation: The Diabolist

This week we focus our attention on one of the 13th Age Icons of the Dragon Empire: the Diabolist. We discuss various perspectives of who she might be, what might motivate her, and even toss around some ideas on a campaign arc with her as a primary feature.

If she is prominent in your campaign, leave a comment, and let us know what your take on her is!

The 7 Icon Campaign article discussed in the show is actually one of the 13th Age Monthly installments. You can find out more about that here.

And don’t forget that in the month of July, you can receive a 10% discount off your pre-orders of Loot Harder: A Book of Treasures and The Book of Ages by using the promo code POD#ICON18LHBA

S2-E06: 13th Age Glorantha Review: Part 2

In our last episode (13th Age Glorantha Review: Part 1), we looked at the player-focused aspects of the book. In this episode, we move to the other side of the screen and look at the rest of the book through the eyes of a GM for what might be of interest. We conclude the episode with our review of the book as a whole and our recommendation on whether or not you should pick up the book.

S2-E05: 13th Age Glorantha Review: Part 1

In this week’s episode, we crack the cover of the 13th Age Glorantha sourcebook and begin our review of the massive tome. In part 1, we talk primarily about the player-focused aspects of the book, including the new classes, tweaks to existing classes, runes, and more!

If you haven’t listened to it yet, be sure to check out the conversation we had with Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet about 13th Age Glorantha in Episode 1.

S2-E04: Interview with Aaron Roudabush

This week, we sit down and have a chat with Aaron Roudabush (aka WolfSamurai), who has done work on a number of 13th Age products such as the Roll20 content, Organized Play, Nocturne setting, Bestiary 2, and more! He’s also continually producing 13th Age content through his Patreon.

If you haven’t checked out his Patreon, you need to do so! He’s coming out with some great stuff!