Friday, April 6, 2012

Dungeon Part 1 – Goal

When I start making  a dungeon, the first thing I think about is the goal.
I know some people start with other parts first, but I feel the goal deserves the first part, because it’s something people often forget.

Thesaurus tells us this about it:
aim, purpose

See the word I underlined? That’s right, the goal is what makes the player/character go inside.  It’s the reward that baits them into entering the dungeon, into your clutches. A dungeon without a goal is meaningless. If there’s no goal, there’s no incentive (or bait). And if people don’t enter it, your dungeon might as well not exist.

Goal is a broad term and while the first thought that might cross your mind is treasure, it certainly is more than that.

Here are some examples of what a goal can be:
        - Story advancement (be it main plot or side information)
       More world (if the dungeon is a tunnel towards a new part for example)
       Power (in the form of a good exp/time ratio or new skills)
        -  A new character (though usually tied into plot, it might just be a random character)

Usually, a dungeon will have more than one single goal. Most have treasure in some form or another, but having only treasure can be boring.

Doing it the other way

       -Consider a dungeon devoid of treasure. What would have caused this?
      A goal is what draws the player in. What if it turns out the goal isn’t true (either a lie, misunderstanding or trap,…)? It’s usually a good idea to add an alternate goal to not waste people’s time.

Consider the story

      -   Suppose you decide to add the +3 Flaming Club of Maldritus as the end goal. What could a character’s motive be for getting it and braving the dungeon’s danger? Usually, for special items, you’ll want at least some backstory. However, don’t overdo it. Sometimes, loot is just loot.

Example dungeon

In this section, I’m going to flesh out a dungeon from start to end. This will give you an example to see the growth of a dungeon and might give some inspiration for your own dungeon.
This dungeon will be optional to the main story, so I won’t be packing any key-items needed to progress.
I’m going to add 2 goals:
       -Treasure: Aside from the usual potions and what not, I’m going to add a set of weapons the characters might find useful in a later dungeon.
      Story advancement: I’ll add a room/location which will shed some light on history and might also foreshadow an optional character. The jury’s still out on the details, but I’ll decide once I get to just before implementing these.

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