Timing style for a typical d20 dungeon

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Enpeze
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Timing style for a typical d20 dungeon

#1 Postby Enpeze » Mon Mar 16, 2009 5:28 am

Just out of curiousity about the different styles in respect to timing GMs do employ in their SW dungeon conversion. (representing a typical d20 dungeon)

Lets assume a standard situation.
PCs finally find the entrance to the dungeon. Time for the GM to set up the corresponding map tile showing the entrance...

...how do you proceed as GM?

1. From the moment on where you setup the dungeon entrance do you play each sngle turn and laying out the whole dungeon step by step? So players do move 6 pace per turn regardless if in one room are monsters or it is empty?

or

2. Do you go over this and just describe the empty corridors and monsterless rooms verbally untill the players come to the next room where monster are inside? And then you set up the "encounter" environment?

another style? Maybe a mix of the 2 above?

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TatteredKing
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#2 Postby TatteredKing » Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:28 am

My players like to see what is going on.... even when I just describe a room, they start setting up the walls and floors (We use Hirst Arts walls and floors that I made up). It kind of slows things down but they like to see it all. My feeling is if it isn't a tactical situation, you don't need to have everything visual. But hey...they outnumber me, and I don't have to set up walls and such. I give them a brief description, they set it up and ask me if it's right, and I say yes...even if it isn't...cause it really doesn't matter in a non-tactical situation.

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#3 Postby Jordan Peacock » Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:49 am

I have no standard way of doing it; it changes with the situation, based on a number of factors. I have Hirst Arts dungeon pieces, too, though I use a mix of complete rooms (with defined walls), and "plain" floor tiles (where the edge of the tile represents the "wall," unless I've put a doorway or a continuing tile piece there).

For non-combat "narrative" situations, I will frequently abstract the layout, reducing it to just describing the setting if possible, without breaking out detailed map tiles and props. By "abstracted," I mean that my players have a habit of splitting up when they get to a town, to do their own business.

If there's a chance that it will MATTER that Renard the Foppish Bard and Ent the Paladin are over at the church, while Sister Paenitia and Lothar the Obnoxious are at the pub when something goes down, then I may pull out a simple floor tile to represent each location - just as a "box" to put miniatures in so, at a glance, we can see that Bard and Paladin are HERE, while Cleric and Warrior are WAYYYY over there. (So if Lothar the Obnoxious starts trouble, and Ent's player has stepped back into the room after getting a snack, there's a visual aid to help make it clear who's where, and who's involved in the action.)

For my steampunk campaign and my current pulp campaign, I've made representative sheets of the PC transport (a print-off showing a top-down view of an airplane or a retro-tech Nautilus-type sub, for instance). That's handy for keeping track of who's "back on the ship/sub/airplane," especially if the PC group has some tagalong NPCs who spend a lot of time sitting quietly in the background.

For the more traditional "dungeon" setup, where exploration is important (and combat may happen at any time without warning), then I prefer to reveal the area room by room if possible. Unless there is an immediate round-by-round time pressure, I'm a lot looser about exact movement and passage of time when we're in non-combat - or, to borrow an old Advanced Heroquest term, "exploration turns." In times like that, I'll go around the table (rather than pulling initiative cards) and ask players what their characters are up to.

The room is already on the table; the closed doors indicate possible routes for further exploration. We all know that unless he's doing something else, the rogue will be checking for traps. Once that formality is out of the way, if there are no monsters to fight, I ask people where they're hanging out, searching, or whatever, and I move their minis accordingly, without bothering to carefully measure out movement.

If someone's opening the door to a new room - well, there's the CHANCE that something might happen, so I want to make sure I've figured out what everyone's doing, where they're located, before I resolve that. Who's next to the door? Who's got weapons ready? Who is busy doing something else? It might well be that the next room is empty, but I know that and they don't (yet).

I wing it in terms of passage of time. Depending upon the sorts of actions PCs are engaged in, I may treat the passage of time as being in 15-minute blocks or so. That accounts for the amount of time a rogue spends giving the new room a once-over, and others spend searching for secret doors and loot and whatnot. In that given time, if a single PC wanted to leave the others and rush back to the dungeon entrance to get some supplies, it's possible he could make the whole trip in a single 15-minute "turn" ... unless, of course, one of those rooms wasn't really cleared after all, and he gets ambushed along the way, in which case we'll suddenly switch back into action rounds. The passage of time still matters, due to spellcasters getting their Power Points back, PCs eventually needing to set up camp and rest, and the possibility that if they take TOO long, other events might occur (such as critters that wake up to go out hunting at night, or returning orc war parties).

I only have everyone draw action/initiative cards, and carefully measure out movement when there's some real action going on - either PCs fighting monsters, or trying to get things done before spell durations expire, or perhaps a couple of crazy rival PCs want to rush to get to the treasure first (despite all the intervening traps).

For especially large layouts - multi-level dungeons, for instance - it can be a real hassle to clear off the table and set up a previously explored area - especially for crazy PCs who are prone to split up. I only have so much table space, after all. Previously explored areas may just be represented by a map on the table ... though if a fight breaks out in a room where a "wandering monster" encounter caught a careless PC by surprise, then I'll bring the relevant floor tiles back to cover the immediate area where the action is taking place.

At other times, I've employed "mini-maps" to cover especially large areas. In particular, I've used tiles from games such as "Zombies!!!" (to represent a monster-infested modern city), and "Betrayal at the House on the Hill" (to represent a haunted mansion). The tiles are big enough for me to put minis or other markers on to represent the group's current location (or individual PCs if they SPLIT UP) - and when "action" takes place (zombies attack!), I may put down a larger battlemat or floor tile, and put a few props on it to represent any relevant obstacles.
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Enpeze
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#4 Postby Enpeze » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:57 am

Thanks for detailing some of your GM techniques. There is always something one can learn from others.

BTW: IMO there is much too few of such interesting stuff on the internet (or maybe I am just looking at the wrong sites).

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Re: Timing style for a typical d20 dungeon

#5 Postby blusponge » Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:07 am

Enpeze wrote:1. From the moment on where you setup the dungeon entrance do you play each sngle turn and laying out the whole dungeon step by step? So players do move 6 pace per turn regardless if in one room are monsters or it is empty?


Oh GOD no! Kill me now!

2. Do you go over this and just describe the empty corridors and monsterless rooms verbally untill the players come to the next room where monster are inside? And then you set up the "encounter" environment?


This. And then, I try to be smart about it. I don't draw an area just because it has a secret or a trap in it. Only if the players are spending a lot of time extracting physical details about the room and drawing it would be helpful to the situation. Otherwise, I'm content to describe things. The only time I will draw something is if a fight occurs.

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Enpeze
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Re: Timing style for a typical d20 dungeon

#6 Postby Enpeze » Tue Mar 17, 2009 11:51 am

BluSponge wrote:
Enpeze wrote:1. From the moment on where you setup the dungeon entrance do you play each sngle turn and laying out the whole dungeon step by step? So players do move 6 pace per turn regardless if in one room are monsters or it is empty?


Oh GOD no! Kill me now!



Ok. What toughness do you have? :)
In my dungeons I do it like you do, but I have seen on the internet pictures of groups which DO indeed setup each room and playing the whole beast round per round with dnd 3.5 and 4. (on giant tables)

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Tuesday
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#7 Postby Tuesday » Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:45 pm

... round by round *noncombat*?

I'm with Tom, kill me now.

But yeah. Description, quick mapping, opening up the real map and real minis when something happens.


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