May 18, 2011

Telecanter's Tumbler - The Map

I mentioned previously that saw tumbling dungeons over at Telecanter's blog.  My initial thoughts went something like this...

A tumbling dungeon!  How novel, how fun.  I'm going to build one! 

um...  How do I map it?

Putting a three dimensional object on graph paper is ... possible... but what I really need is a 3-D model that I can keep at the gaming table.  Something small enough that I can hide it behind the DM screen.  Even then, I worry that someone might see it.  Part of the fun will be watching the players try to map this thing, so I don't want a model sitting around for someone to catch a glimpse of and say "Ah HA!  I understand it now.".

If only there were a way for me to camouflage the model.  Ideally, I'd want to make it so inconspicuous that my players could stare right at it, watch me turn it to match the tumbling of the dungeon, and never think there was anything strange about it at all.

Oh!, here we go...

Problem solved!

I'll just reverse engineer a tumbling dungeon from this handy model of one that is disguised as my trusty d6.

Done!  Now I've got the layout in my head, all fifteen rooms, fourteen passages, eight tiny tubes to allow water and sand to flow between rooms, an entrance, and a different exit.

Huh, that wasn't so bad.  Now all I have left to do is populate and decorate the rooms and... oh, wait.

I have to describe all this on my blog using only pictures and text so that other people can understand it well enough to use in their own campaigns.  Hmmm, let me think....

Alright, grab a d6 and set it in front of you so that it matches my picture up there, 6 is on top, 4 facing toward you.  Imagine a room at the middle of each of the six sides of the die.  Your d6 has conveniently numbered them for you.  Now imagine a 7th room in the very center of the die, each wall, floor, and ceiling there has a passage leading to one of the first six rooms.  Good so far?

Now imagine eight more rooms, at each of the sharp corners on the d6.  The four corners closest to room6 are named 6A, 6B, 6C, and 6D.  Room6 has a passage in each wall leading to each of it's lettered rooms, and a passage in the floor going to room7.  The four corners closest to room1 are named 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D.  Room1 has a passage in each wall going to each of it's lettered rooms, and a passage in the ceiling going to room7.  The similarly lettered rooms line up above and below each other.

Yeah, that's confusing.  How about a poorly drawn picture?

That compass is pointing North, and shows the direction of the tumble as Dropward and Riseward.

That picture isn't to scale by any means and the rooms aren't all cubes, but I hope it gives you an idea of the layout.  Now I can talk about individual rooms, and if I say "Passage 6 to 6D" hopefully you know that I'm talking about the hallway on the top left side of the map.  I also have a compass there pointing North, and showing that the direction of the tumble is from East to West like the sun traveling through the sky.

Let's start tumbling!  Get your d6 ready if you want to play along at home.  Right now room6 is above room7, next tumble room5 will be on top, the tumble after that room1 rises, the next tumble puts room2 on top, the fourth tumble puts room6 at the zenith and now our dungeon matches my drawing again.  So, let's refer to the four different tumble orientations as 6up, 5up, 1up, and 2up.  If I forget to specify, it's pretty safe to assume that I'm thinking in terms of 6up, just like the map.

Room3 is always North of room 7, room4 is always South.

I neglected to show the entrance, which I imagine to be a spiral staircase coming from the ceiling of room6.  The exit is another set of spiral stairs set into the floor of room1.  About twenty feet past the rooms, these stairways have a gap, like a straight crack going around all four walls.  The gap is just large enough that you can squeeze your fingers into it, but not your hand.  PRO TIP: You want to be on one side of the gap or the other when the dungeon tumbles, not half and half.  This entire dungeon is inside a giant stone sphere, the gap is the edge of that turning sphere.  Mind the Gap!

Also, I didn't show the tubes that start from the eight corners of room7.  One tube going to each of the lettered rooms, leading to the middle of the sloped floors in 6A, 6B, 6C, and 6D and the middle of the sloped ceilings in 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D.

Last thing, I'm also considering adding more passages.  I don't like that most of the rooms have a single entrance/exit, but that does makes it easier to keep track of all the water and sand moving through the dungeon.  Maybe I'll put curved passages in a ring around room7 connecting rooms 2 and 5 to rooms 3 and 4, or maybe I'll add some secret passages connection rooms 6, 5, 2, and 1.  The point is, I'm probably going to be making changes to that map. 

.... and if anyone is still reading this, I salute you.  We have the bones of the dungeon now.  Next time I'll start talking about individual rooms and it'll be less of a chore to read, I promise.

Oh, and Telecanter did advise me to keep the layout simple, so don't blame him for this monstrosity.  He tried his best.

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