First Experience with Tome of Adventure Design

In my preparations for #Dungeon23, I ran across a YouTube Stream by Hexed Press, where Todd makes the argument that solely making 365 separate rooms and putting them together into one larger map runs the significant risk of creating an inconsistent experience. Aside from not wanting to create a little hexcrawl with separate dungeons rather than one megadungeon, I also see the same risk in just creating separate rooms.

So, yesterday, I did a first test of using the Tome of Adventure Design to set a theme and central idea for a dungeon. I used chapter one to come up with a major location for the dungeon (“The Ancient Castle of the Hollow Apparition”—how evocative!), and then used chapter three to start fleshing out the idea a little more by generating a single-sentence backstory along with clue, rumor, and note prompts. In just a short while, with a few dice rolls, I had a skeleton of an adventure in my hands. Not only does this give me good handholds to work with, it also made the idea travel in a direction I normally never think of: the dungeon is not just a place under a cool-sounding castle but the prompts also tie in a legal dispute, receipts, ownership issues, and so on. So now it’s not just a castle but also tied into a smaller world around it.

This has been so tremendously helpful to me. I’ve found that I struggle coming up with something just from a blank sheet of paper; I tend to need something to work off of. These prompts are broad enough yet evocative enough to help give the necessary impetus for me to start working with it. I’m interested in using the rest of chapter three to see what their actual map generation prompts are like.

Lastly, two days ago I bought a lovely second-hand secretary desk that I just love work on:

The secretary desk midway through generating some prompts

It has been so enjoyable having a wonderful workspace dedicated to working with pen and paper. Also, my tablet is really starting to shine in that workspace for its form factor and ease of use—it’s a wonderful reference device while I’m working on things there.

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