A blog about Gaming, Teaching, D&D, and Fatherhood. By Rufus Scott.
Author: Rufus Scott
I am a long term Gamer, a full-time History Teacher and a part-time geek.
I enjoy writing about the positive aspects of gaming, especially when it comes to education. My posts are sometimes nostalgic, occasionally irrelevant, largely meant to provoke further discussion. I'll sometimes punctuate these whimsical ramblings with a random comment on gaming and/or teaching.
I knew, going into the creation of my ‘megadungeon’, that the first layer would have areas that were sealed off. I didn’t actually know why they were cordoned off, but I had a vague image of a clan living in the rear of the dungeon, cut off from several rooms because of prior events. This was because ‘Cut’ was my week 1 prompt, and I liked the idea of a dungeon clan that could be befriended if these areas were cleared of their dangers.
Last week, I built up one sealed off area based around the ‘idol’ prompt and the residential sector rend asunder by the former android guards. This week, I knew I wanted to make a laboratory sector, with the ‘mask’ prompt, but I couldn’t decide what was the cause of the abandonment of this zone. So I asked the lovely people on Mastodon to help me decide:
So this week starts out with a lab containing a monster grown from a failed experiment, with ‘mask’ as the key word. The week ended with me moving on to the rooms where the party can first interact with the clan that lives in the rooms not currently infested with monstrous plants.
I’m not a fan of the Harry Potter werewolf. It’s far from the hottest of takes, but I’ve always had a particular expectation of what a werewolf should look like. American Werewolf in London, great look for a more wolf-like monster . Underworld, I didn’t like beefy muscle boys. My personal favourite werewolf movie will always be Dog Soldiers, which in my opinion has the best looking version.
The spindly, fleshy, CGI thing in Prisoner of Azkaban barely registered on my good-bad spectrum of werewolves. It’s definitely a monstrous thing, but it just isn’t lycan enough for my liking.
The lore of the Fantastic Beast werewolf does, however, do something I appreciate: it goes for the old-school ‘transforms only on a full moon’ version of the curse. If D&D, the werewolf has to change on a full moon, but they can also turn ‘shapechange’ whenever they feel like it. As curses go, most players would actually quite like to be bitten by a lycanthrope. The extra strengths and abilities quickly stifle the negative aspects of the curse.
So this monster conversion means that I can actually create a ‘true’ werewolf for your D&D game.
One of the options for this lengthy creative project is to turn to random tables and generators for inspiration for what can be found in each room. I haven’t needed to do this (yet) because I have a reasonable grasp of what I want to do on this month’s layer. Yet, the original post about Dungeon23 came with a list of key-word prompts, and I’m inclined to use them. Not so much to inspire me when I’m stuck, but to see if I can add a twist to the idea I already have.
In week 1, the prompt picked for me from the list (my wife picked a number from 1 to 52) was ‘cut’. So some of the first seven rooms have doorways cut off from fallen debris, and there are strange lazer burns in the floor and ceiling that all suggest a great battle once surged on the land above , adding a layer of intrigued to the dungeon I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Finally, with just four beasts left in the book, I’ve finally hit a monster that has an ability that stumped me. Two words in the description had me scratching my head, trying to figure out how that could possible work on a mechanical level:
I googled how fast medieval arrows could travel. Opinions were varied, but 150 to 180 feet-per-second was a good average. A creature’s turn is six seconds. That would put the Wampus Cat’s base speed as ‘1080 ft.’. The fastest speed I’m aware of in any D&D monster stat block is 150 feet, and that’s rare. Most characters move at 30 feet around.
A monster that can move over 30 times faster that the average hero is problematic. I think I found a solution that sort-of works…
Last week I converted Harry Potter trolls into D&D monsters. They have their merits, but they lack some of the cool abilities of what is already in place. I’ve got to do the same this week. The unicorn in Fantastic Beasts is elusive and mysterious, but the description lacks the plethora of abilities the D&D unicorn is decked out with.
Teleportation, spellcasting, healing abilities… the D&D version is ready for anything. It evens has ‘legendary actions’, a thing usually reserved for creatures 2 or 3 times for powerful.
So this creature I’m about to make is going to have nothing on its D&D counterpart, but I’ve made a commitment to do every Fantastic Beast as accurately as possible, so here we go.
I was seeing a lot of cool dungeon ideas online over the last few months, more than usual, with the hashtag #Dungeon23. I appreciated the creativity, but I did not think of google what this meant.
Then, just before Christmas, a friend introduced me to Dungeon23 and what the exercise was. Here is the original post, which explains the very simple concept:
A little bit of dungeon designing, every day, for a year. I was on board immediately. Some people are well into their ‘Megadungeons’ at this point, but I decided to what until the 1st to begin, alongside the friend who clued me in.
I’m onto room number 10 today, below is what my Dungeon looked like by the end of Day 7:
One downside of converting Harry Potter critters into D&D monsters is that sometimes you have to make a plainer version of something that is already in place. Trolls exist in Dungeons & Dragons, and they have a fun regenerative ability that makes them a dangerous for at lower levels, whilst also providing to fun moments for the uninitiated:
DM: what do you want to do on your turn? Player: Wuh? The troll is dead. Why are we still in initiative? DM: …no reason. Troll: [on the ground, about to regenerate] Tee-hee-hee.
At first glance, the Fantastic Beast troll is a much plainer creature. A big slab of dumb meat. It’s not going to be as fun to tinker with this stat block. However, the fact that they have “prodigious strength” means we have something to distinguish this new version.
When I first started creating these stat blocks, I did become concerned that I was seeing a lot of very mundane creatures in a list of supposedly ‘fantastic’ beasts. I just had to remind myself that further down the line, there were some very dangerous monsters, including a bird that could summon storms.
There’s a snail you can encounter in Dungeons & Dragons. It’s called a Flail Snail. It’s called that, because it has organic, spiky flails where it’s eye stalks should be. It definitely exists purely because ‘snail’ and ‘flail’ rhyme.
At least the snail from Fantastic Beasts is a significantly different monster. Not like the hippogriffs and griffins, where I was having to split hairs to make a monster that was distinctly different from what was there before. The Streeler is a very different kind of strange snail.