Monday, March 4, 2013

Dens of Iniquity

I've been on a map craze lately, spending hours designing and refining them. I don't even have scenarios planned out for them yet, I just want to be able to pull something out at a moment's notice, if need be, and say "yeah, that's the map of the kobolds' lair". To that end, I've been looking at various ways of coming up with layouts quickly. Failing that, I hope at least to come up with cool looking floor plans.

Although there are excellent random dungeon generators out there, and I've gleaned inspiration from them from time to time, I wanted something where my own sensibilities would guide me. Slower, yes, but at this time that's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

The first thing I wanted to do was create a set of lairs: small, self-contained mini-levels that I could drop into a hill in the countryside or on the side of a mountain somewhere, where a small-to-medium sized clan of humanoids dwell. And the idea hit me to use small enclosures where humanoids dwell as my inspiration.

Behold, the House-to-Map-inator!

hand drawn house map
The house where a certain self-important blogger grew up.
(The second story is smaller than it should be. Sorry.)
Now converted to a general-purpose humanoid lair.
All I did, in case it isn't obvious, was take the rooms and their basic spatial relationships, stretched them out with a few corridors, and threw in a few extras like secret doors and trap doors. I changed things liberally, while staying true to the basic idea of the layout: the second floor now simply extends from the first, I removed a bedroom, and I added more connecting hallways where it seemed to make sense. The basement, rather than being reached by a stairwell, now can be found under a trapdoor in room 5.

Although I know very little about real-world architecture (unlike this guy), it's not hard to see how existing structures can be plundered for inspiration. It works well for houses, and I've got a few of those drawn up. But since I don't have instant recall of real-world monumental structures, I still needed to come up with a system that worked for bigger dungeons; more on that the next time.


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