Wondering Monster

d12 Things the Dungeon Takes Away

Off the back of my post on encounter dice in the living dungeon, I wanted to expand the list of things the dungeon takes away from the party. After all, the dungeon has a 1:3 chance of taking something away every dungeon turn, and a 1:6 chance of taking away double. It’s worth thinking about what we are prepared to lose.

This table can be used when a 2-3 is rolled on the Encounter Die, but also any time you want something unfortunate to happen to the party.

d12 The dungeon takes away…
1 Your tools (Lockpicks, crowbars, or other specialised tools break; or metal weapons go dull and rusty: -1 to all damage rolls.)
2 Your armour (Metal armour goes rusty, making quiet movement impossible. Use a flask of oil to clean it.)
3 Your way (The characters’ maps - and the players’, if you want to be particularly sadistic - go blank.)
4 Your magic (An ongoing spell effect ends; the target of a spell effect is allowed to make a check; or a Magic-User loses a prepared spell.)
5 Your faith (Cleric spells stop working until the party stop for a turn for the Cleric to pray.)
6 Your resolve (One of your Retainers or Henchmen rolls for Morale.)
7 Your energy (Everyone becomes Fatigued until the party stop to rest and consume rations.)
8 Your warmth (Everyone takes 1 HP damage as ice covers all surfaces; everyone becomes Cold until the party stop to rest and light a roaring fire.)
9 Your fresh water (The water in 1 waterskin turns to air, mud, or blood.)
10 Your sustenance (1 ration is filled with maggots, rots, or turns to dust in your hands.)
11 The last of the oil from your lamp (A torch or lamp goes out.)
12 Your torch flame, nothing more (A torch goes out.)

Some of these outcomes use the excellent and very simple Conditions rule from Buildings are People, which runs as follows: Fatigued, Soaked, Cold, Overheated, Starving, Famished, and Thirsty use 1 Inventory slot each. Buildings are People has further effects for some of these conditions which I leave out - this one by itself is already bad enough! It does require that your game uses inventory slots to track encumbrance. The easiest way I know of doing this comes from Brendan of Necropraxis:

You can carry a number of items equal to your strength score (very small items like fishhooks don’t count, but things like daggers and scrolls do count). Every extra item carried imposes a -1 penalty on physical rolls.

It’s an entire system in two sentences! That’s the sort of superhuman clarity and brevity we should all strive for. There are many other slot-based encumbrance systems, including the one in Ben Milton’s superlative Knave - in a future post I’ll make a summary of my favourites and offer a remix of my own.

If you want a bit of flavour for your retainer or hireling morale failures, I cannot recommend Rotten Pulp’s ‘Cowardice, Treachery, Ineptitude, Insanity’ highly enough. 4 d10 tables of all the things a person might do when faced with the sheer awfulness of trying not to die, again and again, in the dark, in the angry skeleton of the world. Why do we do this again? Ah, yes. Gold.

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