• Justin Handlin

Let's Build a 5 Room Dungeon Together



Join Crit Academy Live on Sunday 12/13/20 as they support the 200th episode of their Dungeons and Dragons show! What better way to do that, than to help them build a dungeon? Join them at 7pm EST (GMT-5) as they walk through the 5 Dungeon format and take concepts and ideas from you, the viewer. Together, we will make a fantastic dungeon to the delight, or potential misery of our players.


Let’s talk about _______!

Raising Money - Child’s Play


What is Child’s Play? Since 2003, they’ve set up and organized Child’s Play, a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in their network of over 185 hospitals worldwide. Over the years, you as a community have answered the call and come together to raise millions of dollars. Your donations support seriously-ill children in hospitals by distracting them from their illnesses, and help them cope with fear, anxiety, and boredom!


We will be giving away a handmade Dungeons and Dragons themed blanket to one lucky supporter. To be Entered, just send proof of donation snippet to our email at critacademy@gamil.com with Child’s Play Charity in the subject line.


Give Away: Loresmyth: Modular Dungeon Tiles - Arcania

The Arcania digital tile set lets you make dark, shadowy dungeon maps, rich with the fumes of arcane secrets.

Winner: Jessewhogames

Didn’t win? Np, head to www.critacademy.com/loresmyth for a free set of digital terrain.


Main Topic: Let's Build a 5 Room Dungeon Together



We will follow the 5 room dungeon format presented by Johnn Four of roleplayingtips.com.


Why do we like 5 room Dungeons?

  • They can be ANY location.

  • Short and Sweet.

  • Easier to Polish and Refine.

  • Portable between different locations.

  • Flexible Size.


Room One: Entrance and Guardian

There needs to be a reason why your dungeon hasn’t been plundered before or why the PCs are the heroes for the job. A guardian or challenge at the entrance is a good justification for why the location remains intact. Also, a guardian sets up early action to capture player interest and energize a Session. (Traps, cleverly hidden, special key, ritual or command word, golem or other monsters, hazardous entrance)


What will our Room One be?


Room Two: Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge

The PCs are victorious over the challenge of the first room and are now presented with a trial

that cannot be solved with steel. This keeps problem solvers in your group happy and breaks the action up for good pacing.


Make Room Two a puzzle, skill-based, or roleplaying encounter, if possible. Room Two should shine the limelight on different PCs than Room One, change the gameplay up, and offer variety between the challenge at the entrance and the challenge at the end.


Note, if Room One was this type of encounter, then feel free to make Room Two combat-oriented. Room Two should allow for multiple solutions to prevent the game from stalling.


What will our Room Two be?


Room Three: Trick or Setback

The purpose of this room is to build tension. Do this using a trick, trap, or setback. For example, after defeating a tough monster, and players think they’ve finally found the treasure and achieved their goal, they learn they’ve been tricked and the room is a false crypt.


Depending on your game system, use this room to cater to any player or character types not yet served by the first two areas. Alternatively, give your group a double-dose of gameplay that they enjoy the most, such as more combat or roleplaying. (PCs reach a secret artifact to defeat the big bad, but it's broken, cursed, or is missing a piece.)


What will our Room Three be?


Room Four: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict

This room is The Big Show. It’s the final combat or conflict encounter of the dungeon. Use all the tactics you can summon to make this encounter memorable and entertaining.


As always, generate interesting terrain that will impact the battle.


Start or end with roleplay. Maybe the bad guy needs to stall for time to let PC buffs wear out, to wait for help to arrive, or to stir himself into a rage. Perhaps the combat ends with the bad guy bleeding to death and a few short words can be exchanged, or there are helpless minions or prisoners to roleplay with once the threat is dealt with.


What will our Room Four be?


Room Five: Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist

Here’s your opportunity to change the players’ bragging to “we came, we saw, we slipped on a banana peel.”


Room Five doesn’t always represent a complication or point of failure for the PCs, but it can. Room Five doesn’t always need to be a physical location either - it can be a twist revealed in Room Four.


Room Five is where your creativity can shine and is often what will make the dungeon different and memorable from the other crawls in your campaigns.


In addition, if you haven’t supplied the reward yet for conquering the dungeon, here is a good place to put the object of the quest, chests of loot, or the valuable information the PCs need to save the kingdom.


As accounting tasks take over from recent, thrilling, combat tasks, this would also be a good time to make a campaign or world revelation, or a plot twist.


What will our Room Five be?


After the show, we will compile this new dungeon into a professional writing format and make it available to everyone.


This episode is brought to you by our generous sponsor, Kobold Press!



Unearthed Tips and Tricks! We bring you new and creative content for you to bring with you on your next adventure.


Character Concept:

Griff "The Complete" Patron: Louis M. Gaudio


Griff resents the term "halfling" because he is, in his own words, a complete creature. If anyone calls him a halfling within earshot, Griff will stop everything to ask the perpetrator whether they mean to say he is only the left or right half, or perhaps just the legs and feet of a creature? What, precisely, DO they mean by “half”-ling?

Griff is a traveling mercenary, willing to offer his services as a bodyguard to anyone who pays well enough and isn't too disagreeable, morally speaking. Griff and his four brothers: Graff, Greef, Gruff, and Kevin, started a mercenaries-for-hire business in a small pioneer town that quickly grew into a franchise. Griff's current plan is to find strong warriors to travel alongside and hone his skills, while simultaneously increasing his presence in a competitive market.

Griff is a Fighter who almost exclusively wields a crossbow. He has high INT but very low CHA, which manifests in his ability to come up with great tactics to ambush or trap enemies, but his skills as a battle-planner don’t translate socially. He considers himself smart, and tries to investigate mysteries he or his group encounter, but is usually unsuccessful due to him being unable to navigate social norms when questioning witnesses. Griff is not mean or cruel, just practical. In some ways, his personality is based on the character Mike Ehrmantrout from Breaking Bad.

Griff and his brothers were once employed by the Zhentarim, but at the end of a long job they were cheated out of their pay. Griff has held a personal grudge against the organization and any of its agents since that day, as he feels they still owe him a great debt.


Monster Variant:

Fatal Fern

Origin: Giant Toad


Lost Features: Swim Speed, Standing Leap, Amphibious


New Features:

False Appearance. While the fatal fern remains motionless, it is indistinguishable from a normal fern.


Vine Whip. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 20 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4+2) slashing damage and the target must succeed a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be pulled up to 20 feet toward the fatal fern. If the target is within range, the fatal fern can make one swallow attack against it as a bonus action.


Entangling Roots (Recharge 6). Grasping weeds and vines sprout from the ground in a 20-foot square sprouting from the fatal fern. For 1 minute, these plants turn the ground in the area into difficult terrain for all other creatures.

A creature in the area when this feature is used must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be restrained by the entangling plants until this feature ends. A creature restrained by the plants can use its action to make a DC 13 Strength check. On a success, it frees itself.


Encounter:

Warrior’s Unrest

The characters, as well as many other adventurers, have been hired to delve into a recently discovered sunken temple in a swampy marsh. After the first group unlocked the temple's main gate, the area became flooded with a variety of undead such as ghasts, ghosts, ghouls, mummies, and zombies. Many heroic adventurers delve inside, but none have returned. A successful DC 15 History check reveals that the temple was once a Paladin temple. A powerful Lich brought it to its knees and sank it below the salty marsh.

As the characters enter and fight the waves of undead, with a successful DC 17 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) quickly reveals strange dark arcane sigils and magical circles throughout the temple. A successful DC 17 Intelligence (Arcana/Religion) check reveals the symbols to necromancy bonding magic. The magic is designed to bind the souls of those freshly slain to their dead corpses. In doing so, it twists their minds and fills them with anger and hate. All the monsters are the remains of heroes and paladins who have fallen in battle and are trapped in the temple, wandering aimlessly.


Peppered throughout the dungeon are fire-breathing statues(DMG) that deal radiant damage instead of fire damage. Two wraiths guard this temple as ordered by the Lich. Converting heroes into dark slaves. So long as they survive, they protect the power source of arcane magic, a crystal ball (DMG) that has been harnessed to power the warrior’s unrest spell. A creature who dies within the temple randomly becomes an undead (DM chooses which one or decides randomly).


Magic Item:

Orb of Augmented Stasis

Wondrous, Uncommon (requires attunement by a spellcaster)


When you use this orb as an arcane focus to hold a foe in place, the orb hums with power. Reinforcing the spell.


This elegant pommel-sized sky blue spherical gem is imbued with magic to enhance the user's binding magic. While holding the orb, your spell save DC and spell attack bonus each increase when you cast spells from the school of enchantment. Additionally, as an action to cast the hold person spell from it at its lowest level. You cannot use this feature again until the next dawn.



Dungeon Master Tip:

Evolving Hazards

There is no reason terrain dangers must stay static, though we often “Set it and Forget it”.

A great example could be green slime(DMG). While it only covers a small 5-foot square and designed to catch the characters by surprise, you could easily give it a move speed and initiative and have it move towards/chase an enemy.



Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick

Roleplaying a Goliath

Goliaths tower over even Dragonborn, standing between 7 and 8 feet tall. Their skin is gray or brown, mottled with darker patches that they believe hint at some aspect of each goliath’s fate or destiny.


Goliaths are driven by a fierce love of competition. Anything that can be conceived as a challenge invites goliaths to keep score, tracking their progress against both their comrades and themselves. A goliath fighter might remark on how many times he has drawn first blood in battle within a particular dungeon compared to the party’s rogue, and he’s certainly mentally tracking his own performance against his last adventure. This competitiveness takes the form of good-natured rivalry among goliaths. As a race, they have no patience for cheaters or sore losers, but goliaths can be very hard on themselves when they fail to measure up to their own past accomplishments.


Daring that borders on foolhardiness is also a common trait among goliaths. They have no fear of heights, climbing sheer mountain cliffs and leaping great chasms with ease.


Goliaths respect and revere the natural world, and goliath adventurers commonly draw on the primal power source. Invoking the spirits of nature and their ancestors far more often than they call on the distant gods.


Give Away: Jeff Stevens Games: Scourge of the Nightingale: Part 1 A Song of Love

A masked menace terrifies the region. The adventurers stumble into her scheme: the kidnapping of a famous performer known as Devon Artis. Their mission is to deliver a ransom and collect Devon.

Winner: stidham.charlotte

Didn’t win? Np, head to www.critacademy.com/jeffstevens for more phat lootz.


Closing: Please join us on our next episode. We will be joined by special guests from the phenomenal actual play D&D Podcast Unlikely Heroes to talk D&D Improvisation!


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