Home RPG Games Journey Design: Construct From The Monster’s POV

Journey Design: Construct From The Monster’s POV


Roleplaying Suggestions Publication #1108

When constructing crafty places on your adventures and encounters, construct out from their denizens’ viewpoint.

Right here’s a means you are able to do this in 5 steps:

  • Step 1. Authentic Use
  • Step 2. Who Constructed It?
  • Step 3. Rooms
  • Step 4. Map & Key
  • Step 5. Recycle

Step 1. Authentic Use

Many places have an origin story, which is likely one of the most compelling story varieties.

Why was the place constructed?

If a pure location, what was its most vital and formative use? What or who added new areas, tidied up the place, put in issues, carved artwork into the partitions, crafted stairs, and constructed fires?

For instance, let’s take into consideration a dungeon. It began as just a few caves linked by slender tunnels. The caves had a number of stalactites and stalagmites.

Many animals laired within the caves for years.

Then clever creatures moved in. These creatures made important adjustments to the place, so I’ll use them for the origin story.

(Enjoyable truth: I keep in mind which is which as a result of stalactite has a C in it and stalactites hold from Ceilings. And stalagmite has a G within the phrase, and stalagmites are positioned on the Floor.)

Step 2. Who Constructed It?

Who had been the architects?

What minds selected the structure, feng shui, the dimensions of areas, and the spacing of areas?

Most necessary, what traits did the architects have?

  • Intelligence
  • Physique sort and construct => top, weight, limbs, power, fortitude
  • Motion => varieties, pace
  • Organic wants => sexes, replica, meals, water
  • Social wants => group, household models, hierarchies, meals acquisition

For instance, let’s say our cave dwellers had been giant lizard folks.

  • Intelligence: Average
  • Physique: Slim, tall, robust, versatile, massive tail
  • Motion: Bipedal, common pace, swimmers
  • Biology: Oviparous, male/feminine, carnivore, soiled water is okay
  • Social: M/F hunt, elders elevate younger, tribal id, lead by strongest

This isn’t a deep or scientific method. We simply want just a few attributes to resolve on how the placement was constructed, modified, or used to match its function.

Step 3. Rooms

The architects’ wants will have an effect on how the placement was used.

What we wish here’s a record of important places, locations, and rooms the place would wish to serve its inhabitants and function.

Take into account:

  • Local weather and climate
  • Geography
  • Relaxation areas
  • Meals areas
  • Protection
  • Waste and hygiene
  • Social areas
  • Management zone
  • Ceremonial locations
  • Device use and manufacturing areas
  • Bizarre and distinctive spot

That final bullet you add in to make sure your journey location has one thing particular about it. It’s the right place for Room II: Puzzle, or Room V: Revelation or Twist.

For our lizardfolk, let’s brainstorm:

  • Local weather: sizzling summers, chilly winters, moist spring and fall
  • Geography: low floor, liable to flooding, limestone and dolomite
  • Relaxation: slept in communal areas, leisure was finished in nature
  • Meals: shared uncooked meals in a single place they saved clear
  • Protection: an outdoor layer after which the primary cave
  • Waste: outdoors
  • Social: nature or the remainder space
  • Management: no particular place
  • Ceremonial: sure, they’d a shaman who wanted an area
  • Instruments: weapons, easy armour, carving instruments, constructing instruments
  • Bizarre: a room the place they shed their pores and skin

Notice that we aren’t matching rooms to the placement or a map but.

As an alternative, we’re gathering fundamental necessities with a fast brainstorm so we will key the placement within the subsequent step.

I discover decoupling the architect’s wants from map helps me assume higher and offers me much less nervousness about turning a map right into a Tetris recreation.

Now we match location thought with wants of the architects.

Slot every room want into your map and make a numbered key to notice places with makes use of.

It’s at this step we additionally tweak our map to go well with the architects.

For my lizards, the pure tunnels between caves had been tough terrain as a result of the creatures had been giant and tunnels slender. Floor was additionally uneven, cracked with giant gaps in locations, had a few flooded sumps, and was partially blocked by stalagmites and stalactites.

One thing I do a poor job of is just not considering large enough. I let my inside critic and sense of shortage cut back my map designs.

So I’ve to remind myself to offer my origin tales plenty of time, tons of labour, and no matter assets and results I need to make a cool location.

Subsequently, over a interval of many years, my lizard peeps used their intelligence and instruments to widen the tunnels, filter out the particles and obstacles, carve off aspect caves the place the rock was softest, and arrange an excellent drainage system.

Additionally they acquired a style for the cave mushrooms they found and put aside an space to domesticate them.

They cleared a bunch of the stalagmites and stalactites (nobody needs to bang their head towards a petrified mineral cone in the course of the night time, not even lizards.) They carved ones they saved into wonderful serpentine artwork.

Winters had been robust, in order that they made warmth obstacles. These finally turned doorways, which kickstarted the concept of privateness.

The moist seasons had been problematic, in order that they carved out culverts to guard their particular rooms.

The pores and skin cave (eww) featured plenty of crystals, excellent rubbing up towards whereas molting. Shamans turned this cave into one with non secular significance.

Armed with these particulars, I make adjustments to my map. Some spots look pure, some look “artifical.” I additionally notice I want an outside space for his or her defenses, searching grounds, waste, and so forth.

We’re now prepared for our dungeon or location arrange for marketing campaign use.

We’ve acquired our origin story. And we’ve used the architects’ viewpoint to construct the unique location out.

I went a bit overboard with the small print. You don’t want to write down all that stuff out except you take pleasure in it.

You actually simply want to consider who used the placement and why it was constructed or what it was used for.

We use this POV for a nod to realism, but additionally to set an fascinating stage on your journey.

Our location now has historical past. And a layer of considering and element you need to use to boost your encounters.

To construct out our journey location, we repeat the steps! Simple peasy.

Authentic Use

We tweak this to be present use. What’s our beautiful location getting used for now?

Who Constructed It?

This turns into, Who’re the Present Occupants?


Right here’s a giant boon from this method: we get an current map that’s already been custom-made to a monster’s POV.

We are able to re-use many rooms from our first brainstorm, making this step even quicker.

Step 4. Map & Key

We once more map present room must the map. However this time now we have an current map to work with.

And right here’s a possibility for us.

We need to juxtapose previous rooms with new makes use of for unusual and weird mixtures. This gives you recent new encounter places, generally curious, generally wondrous, generally horrifying.

For instance, let’s say our lizard lair has turn into a bandit hideout.

  • Wild mushrooms develop all over the place — be sure you create plenty of mushroom results
  • The drainage system is refined however slimy and blocked up creating an encounter hazard
  • The artwork and carved rocks — a hook to be taught concerning the lizardfolk who additionally may need hidden a horde of treasure someplace within the caves
  • Lizard eggs — maybe petrified, maybe in magical stasis — twisted over time and if disturbed, about to hatch a brand new Hazard
  • The pores and skin room (eww) for bizarre threats, hazards, or treasure

The bandits occupy the protection space, the social and relaxation cavern, and have discovered cool stuff within the chief cave, however haven’t explored the opposite areas out of worry.

We’ve acquired a double story right here now, which provides depth to our adventures.

Step 5. Recycle

We are able to do that as usually as we like.

First it was the lizardpeople.

Then it was bandits who had been nuked by the fungi and was shroom monsters who nonetheless dwell within the complicated, some discovering deeper areas the lizards by no means discovered.

Then it was a sleuth of owlbears who most well-liked the pores and skin room. They found the traditional lizard eggs and ate some and hatched some with their very own.

At present it’s residence to 10,000 dire bats who’ve coated the entrance caves in two ft of guano. A queen bat dwells within the previous lizardman chief cave.


Too usually I see adventures with one-dimension: the present occupants.

And the design of the place, alas, comes from the journey designer’s viewpoint, not the denizens’ of previous and current.

I noticed a mine map the opposite day the place the cart tracks had a number of 90 diploma corners. Not solely arduous to construct, however very arduous to push carts like that.

We don’t must go a real-life check with our journey location designs. A nod to realism solely, primarily based on the steps on this article will serve you properly.

As well as, comply with this recipe to offer your adventures thriller, deeper tales, and better depth of element.

I discover this recipe turns into an thought generator. It takes so much off the inventive stress.

Even for those who make the primary use fairly boring, you get numerous selections and concepts if you layer on the following or present use.

You don’t want to make the origin story wondrous or stuffed with hooks. However by having an origin story, your Recycle step will inherit many particulars and offer you a lot inspiration.

Strive the GM Map out your self:

  • Step 1. Authentic Use
  • Step 2. Who Constructed It?
  • Step 3. Rooms
  • Step 4. Map & Key
  • Step 5. Recycle

Let me know the way it goes!


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