I come bearing gifts

Hey guys, I'm happy to report that I've been busy with ACKS lately. In addition to finally, finally being able to run a campaign (two sessions in! I hope I don't jynx it!) I've been putting up videos of our sessions (three hour blocks if you've got the free time to watch 'em!) AND here's the dungeon we've been playing!

Now, in true ACKS style, I do have a profit angle for this dungeon: you see, I'm making a "dungeon of the month club" thing as the basis for my patreon, and this is my sample dungeon. The more eyes I get it on (with more experience than me no doubt!) and the more feedback I get, the more I can improve it and it's subsequent dungeons. 

(I do want to be super clear here, I'm here to recruit you fine people for feedback, not to shill for my crowdfunding. This dungeon is my profitable gift for the ACKS community)

Please feel that you are under no obligation whatsoever to do anything for downloading it! It's 100% free and written specifically for ACKS (although its broadly compatible with all OSR stuff, and it's going to be 5th ed compatible after the next pass).

You would do me a huge favor if you want to leave some feedback, but you don't have to!

If you do like it, you would also do me a huge favor by giving it to your friends. Spread that dungeon love!

Finally, if you want to see us plunder this thing, It's the basis for our Random ACKS of Violence (Fair warning, these videos are entire 3-hour sessions!)

And lastly, because from my lurking I have noticed that the creator of the game frequents these fine forums, I wanted to extend a huge wave of gratitude and praise on behalf of myself and my players. This game is amazing, and I'm trying to spread the good word about it!

Thanks for the kind words! Where can I find your Patreon?!

I could, and do, gush about your game regularly. Thank you for making something so incredible.

The link to my patreon is actually in my profile. There aren't signatures on this board so I just tacked it on there. Like I said, I didn't intend to shill ;-)


And after a healthy night of sleep, I've decided to unpack the dungeon a little, and to give you guys some idea of what's going on in it, and what great things you should expect from it in play!

Some of the thought and effort that went into this dungeon

1. The Jaquays technique (http://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/...ng-the-dungeon)

This series of articles inspired the nonlinear layout of the dungeon.

There are multiple entrances to every level, allowing players to explore the dungeon in a unique way each time they encounter it.
Also, as you guys can see here (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...jvdu7h7pJTnSXE) (if you’ve got a few hours) the dungeon plays different depending on how it is approached. This is one of the coolest things offered by the Jaquays technique.

Removing the linearity of the dungeon means that there is no set “encounter path”: the story and history of the dungeon is learned holistically as it is explored. Each room and level reveals a little more.
The dungeon reveals itself through play( http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com...r-setting.html ). When you crawl through this ancient, monster-infested church, the nature of it sinks into your bones. 

You don’t just encounter an ogre: you encounter a Fomor. Rather than attacking, he engages you with an impossibly cultured voice, constructing a case for his loathing of the gods.
You don’t just find a magic item: You find a Tathlum, made from the head of an ancient bloodline’s kin.
You don’t just see a painting of Arawn, the god of death: the skeletons in this room see it to, and they’re spellbound.

2. Get some mileage out of the Deities and Demigods (http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com...ally-book.html)

That blog post really inspired me to take another look at Deities & Demigods. Thumbing through it, I realized just how gameable its contents were.

The unique features in rooms, most of the items, enemies, wolves, waterfalls, statues with hideous faces: all of it comes from the Celtic God’s section of that book.
Like, did you know what a tathlum is? Because I didn’t. But now I’m glad I do!

3. Something cool in every room

No article link for this one, because I can’t find the quote that inspired it (drat)

But the basic idea is this: if a room is in this dungeon there has to be something cool in it.

Just to throw out a single example: there is a stone pair of hands that crushes anything placed between them to powder. There is another room where 3K GP’s worth of gold is sitting on the floor but oops: it’s cursed, and turns into flesh-eating scarabs every night.

My players took the cursed gold and crushed it with the giant hands: bam, 3K’s worth of gold dust. Brilliant

And I didn’t design that. I would never have thought of it. Players are rewarded for being imaginative and combining the unique features of the dungeon in unexpected ways.

4. More than one thing going on (http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com...-chart_30.html )

The core of this dungeon looked a little like this when I started:
Chaos sorcerer/Cursed sword/ Troll/ Magic healing fountain/ Ghost

Then I used the technique outlined in the linked article to define all of these element’s relationship to each other. For example:
Chaos sorcerer: Covets the cursed sword, controls the troll by bribing it with the water from the magic healing fountain, which he manipulates. Fears the ghost, which guards the sword (like a ringwraith, because those are the best ghosts) 

The Fomor came in at a later design stage, when I was trying to give the dungeon rival factions. But he fits really well (Like, it makes sense that he can’t overcome the sorcerer’s troll despite his fire attack, because it’s not possible for it to do enough damage to slay the troll. But his power is enough that the sorcerer wouldn't just attack him outright)

That final level with the wraith is creepy as hell too. It’s the deepest layer, and it’s cramped, and you’re alone. And all of the entries to the hero’s tomb are ominous (and if you’re smart, you’ll realize that they’re keeping the wraith trapped in his grave!)
This kind of churning factions/rivalry angle is pretty forgiving on players, because they can stack factions against each other and loot the place in the chaos.

5. Everything seems hostile

Nearly every single room has a feature (or an environment) which could house a trap. Or be cursed. Or have consequences if it’s screwed with.

The big rocks blocking the doors on level 1? If you move those, then the goblins raiding from the northern mountains will have two ways to harass the troll. The rock by the stairway is discouraging the Fomor from continuing his war with the Chaos sorcerer.

This dungeon is silly with ancient, blood-streaked statues. Adventurers have to balance their curiosity (or good intentions) against the very plausible possibility that interacting with these statues can call down the wrath of the gods (Don’t mess with those stone pillars of Dunatis, you could cause a landslide!)

Again, speaking from experience (and you can watch this on our playthrough) this makes the dungeon a place that players tend to crawl inch by inch, which gives it a great table presence.

6. More stuff

But frankly that’s enough bragging for now. Trust me in that a lot of thought and careful construction went into giving this thing a reason to be at your table!