I had an idea this morning which got me thinking.
The “Non-Entity General” is one of those weird tropes that I imagine most people don’t consider. I mean, I didn’t. I always thought it was weird when I was actually given a character to play in a strategy game.
And it took me a while to get used to “Hero” units.
Since I’ve been playing a ton of new and classic strategy games for the PC, I had this weird thought about the dungeon as a base, with the dungeon’s villain as a base commander of sorts. Hardly original, of course.
I mean, Dungeon Keeper is based on the premise.
What made this approach in thinking different was imagining the dungeon’s villain training units to send against the Player Characters. How often can a villain train units? What’s the resource cost? How powerful a unit can be produced?
Specifically, I have a powerful drow matron who’s holed up at the bottom of a corrupted temple to a God of Magic and Knowledge.
It’s basically a setup for Master of Magic.
In this case, the PCs represent a barbarian faction or wandering monsters, and the drow matron is the Player-wizard. What kind of unit does a squad of 6-12 dark elves represent? Are they a significant investment? How often should they be sent against the party? What cheap fodder is available to wear down the PCs?
Here’s a better question: what’s the villain’s intelligence like in the dungeon? She’ll essentially be playing a defensive game — she has an evil plan and only needs to stall the PCs long enough to complete her objective.
In that case, I should consider next how her scout parties will work, and where they’ll be. How do they report in? How effectively can she scry on the heroes to keep track of where they are?
As much as I wish I could make greater use of traps, I’ve honestly avoided them more than ever because my thinking is they pose a greater ongoing threat to the dungeon’s INHABITANTS than to invaders (the PCs in this case).
I suppose I should be more lenient and allow the inherent weirdness of D&D to fill in some of these gaps, but I have a logical mind and my thinking tends to be fairly linear, so I want to answer these questions.
Incidentally, I have contrived circumstances that will allow the villain to do things like train new units to send against the PCs, because time is one of those things that should always be on the villain’s side (never the players’).