Saturday, November 30, 2013

Signs your party is not the first in the Dungeon.

Sometimes players decide to keep returning to the same picked over part of the dungeon because it's safe rather then delve deeper.  This is especially common if it's a mega-dungeon.  best way of dealing with this is rival packs of murder hobos on a spree.  Treasure gets grabbed, enemies slain, allies turned hostile and a new extremely dangerous entry goes on the random monster table - the rival adventuring party.
Add this to your random encounter table...
Here's a table of  hints that the party might not be alone anymore.

Signs that Rival Adventurers have Discovered this Location
A lockpick hanging loosely from a keyhole on the door.  50% door is trapped with a poison needle.
Graffiti on the wall, written with a torch stub (D4) 1- Obscene cartoon 2- Arrow or similar marker 3- Name of adventurer “Lovejoy Beast Throttler” 4- Symbol or motto of rival party.  
A tortoise with a lit candle waxed to its back – crawling slowly about as a distraction.
Crude grave with broken sword headstone (or corpse covered in rubble) -  dead adventurer within has been thoroughly looted/mauled.
Walls, floor and ceiling are splashed with combustible oils
Unhappy pig tied firmly to the end of an 12 foot ladder.
Backpack containing: block of lard, iron filings, sack of flour, six iron spikes, mallet, lump of tar, flask of lye, 25 copper slugs painted gold, parchment and charcoal
Signs of desperate melee with blood and glob of flesh in surprising places
Room or hallway with furnishings burnt, blackened and incinerated
Sack with hand of fancy marble statute (12 GP)
Amateurish attempt at circle of protection written in chalk
Gruesomely mutilated corpse of dungeon inhabitant (or possibly fellow adventurer)
Dungeon vermin carcass spitted, cleaned, grilled and with one bite taken out of it.
All doors of this room are spiked from inside with long iron nails, room is empty.
Ten foot pole cut into crude stilts tied together with tarred rope.
Abandoned familiar seeking new master – will kill rival familiars. (D4) 1-Common Stoat 2- Large poisonous spider 3-Diposmaniac floating skull 4- Rat King (knows a level 1 spell)
A smashed picnic basket, checked cloth, silverware, scattered fancy potted delicacies and broken bottles of claret.
Sack of dead monster bits (roll random encounter for type of beast)
Message on wall, written in blood trailing off (D4) 1- “Balls!” 2-“Throg, I will always love yo…” 3-“L,L,L,R” 4- “The Yellow King Com…”
Broken chests, torn sacking and a single gold piece caught in a floor crack.


  1. Very handy - gets lots of foreshadowing done - i prepared several parties as rivals In my game including one from the leftover villains - but party managed to make quantum leaps in power and let their flunkies beat up the rivals - in one case party sat back and let flunkies burn a party as witches in heroes names (bunch of cultists and sorcerers they had licked). I am trying to make more bosses and sub bosses show personality and rivalry with party.

  2. I did the rival party in my Back to the Dungeon Zine for LL/AEC. It is amazing how it brings a party together when another party is trying to muscle into "their" dungeon.

  3. Having other adventurers competing with the PCs keeps them motivated and keeps the action moving. The "15 minute workday" is foolish and a great way to be shorted loot if other are able to plan and endure a 30 minute workday.

    Years back in one dungeon the PCs were bumping into orcs with some degree of frequency, sometimes these orcs had a fair amount of loot they were hauling. when the players realized the orcs were looting the dungeon also and hauling the loot off-site the players became very focused on the orcs and stopping the pillage of "their" dungeon. The other party doesn't have to be PC types.

  4. Long years ago I had a friend with a modem... we arranged to have game night on the same night and each group ran into a 'party of NPCs'.

    Dear gods the carnage was phenomenal. It was only when the players got together and told about the epic battle they barely survived that they realized what had happened -- Jeff and I were playing the groups off against each other, passing messages back and forth via the modem.

    1. I some day dream of doing this. Sort of a Holy grail among GMs.

  5. I don't know why, but all of my favorite entries from this table are animals. The tortoise, the pig, the dungeon vermin, and the familiars.

    Consider it looted and used in my next dungeon. Thanks.

    1. The Tortoise is a thing from the history of Near Eastern thievery that Legacy of Bieth put me onto. The pig tied to a ladder was something that happened in Pavelorn (though the pig was released at the end of the session and rather then becoming giant ant food was transformed by a lich (now ex-lich) into "Fustion the Great" a minor pig deity of the kind worshiped by shamans and animal cults. The familiars are all mine though...