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Spurred by comments from Alex over at Cirsova, I thought around dungeon scores some more and have revised my list to follow different criteria from before. I think part of my problem is that I haven’t been “framing” dungeons correctly.

A classic dungeon ranges from a prison to a tomb. They can be natural or artificial caverns, and typically found underground. A dungeon is generally a closed system. Though some are centers of activity, it’s probably better to use the settlement system to describe a dungeon that houses a significant population.

After I hit a couple of dead ends trying to determine dungeon scores from the bottom-up, I decided to approach them top-down. The most abstract terms I came to define dungeons by were “security,” “facility,” and “reputation.”

My new approach saw encounters (monsters and such) and obstacles (traps & hazards) as the intangible elements of a dungeon, in direct contrast to my previous assumptions that monsters and traps made the dungeon, and that mystery and reputation were more ephemeral concepts.

I tried to think of a dungeon in structural terms.

A dungeon is designed to keep inmates in, and intruders out. Therefore its most important abilities are going to be related to its size, location, and architecture.

Parallels to the other ability scores are important — originally I liked “obstacles” compared to a PC’s Dexterity or a Rumor’s Urgency, but I realized I should compare Dungeons to Settlements, as they tend to be fixed locations.

Isolation is a dungeon’s best defense. A tomb constructed in the middle of a city is going to be readily accessible unless its builders take extraordinary precautions. A flying fortress on the other hand, is going to be highly defensible.

Dungeon don’t tend to produce anything of value. Some dungeons may be self-sustaining, or have denizens (such as the undead) who require no sustenance, but many dungeons will require some kind of stockpile of goods — and here I found an ability to reflect a dungeon’s sustainability: “material.”

I tried “Resources” and “Stockpile,” but neither that worked for me. Material suits my aesthetic sense (at least for now), in that it can be used to describe everything from labor to components used for construction, to food stores.

If the PCs siege a dungeon, they whittle down its Material — which can be used to repair damaged portions of a dungeon or replace personnel.

Security is the same, and is a parallel to Strength in a PC. Obstacles are the Intelligence parallel. “Denizens” replaces Encounters, as soon as I realized not every inhabitant of the dungeon is going to rush to meet the invaders.

“Notoriety” replaces Reputation as the Charisma parallel. I think Notoriety suits the dungeon better thematically while retaining the same basic meaning.

Scoring up a Dungeon might look like this now:

  • Security 9 (-1)
  • Material 13 (+1)
  • Isolation 14 (+2)
  • Obstacles 8 (-1)
  • Denizens 11 (+0)
  • Notoriety 14 (+2)
  • Dungeons will have some derived attributes, much like characters — however some of their attributes will also be modified by whatever Rumor “spawns” the Dungeon. More about that at a later date, now… I have work to do! *flees*