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View Full Version : Why is my dungeon laid out like a d20?

johnbragg
2019-06-17, 04:57 PM
Obviously, the builder of the dungeon was big on mathematics and numerology and arithmancy. So it/they used wibbly wobbly noneuclidean geometries to build a set of 20 linked "rooms" with 3 exits each (except of course for room 1, with access to outside, and maybe room 20, with access to whatever the dungeon exists to lock away?)

This sets up lots of neat encounter rooms--environmental hazards, puzzle traps, guardian monsters that can be defeated, guardian monsters that are better off avoided. Plus a couple of encounters worth of XP just for figuring out what the heck is going on--pythagorean solids in rooms 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12; obvious clues in each room to figure out what number room it is (which gets much easier when you know you're trying to figure out a number); something cluing the PCs in that the map is in fact a 20-sider using standard numbering.

The challenge is, why did my dungeon builder do all this? What was/were it/they doing with pythagorean solids anyway?

2019-06-17, 06:49 PM
Obviously, the builder of the dungeon was big on mathematics and numerology and arithmancy. So it/they used wibbly wobbly noneuclidean geometries to build a set of 20 linked "rooms" with 3 exits each (except of course for room 1, with access to outside, and maybe room 20, with access to whatever the dungeon exists to lock away?)

This sets up lots of neat encounter rooms--environmental hazards, puzzle traps, guardian monsters that can be defeated, guardian monsters that are better off avoided. Plus a couple of encounters worth of XP just for figuring out what the heck is going on--pythagorean solids in rooms 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12; obvious clues in each room to figure out what number room it is (which gets much easier when you know you're trying to figure out a number); something cluing the PCs in that the map is in fact a 20-sider using standard numbering.

The challenge is, why did my dungeon builder do all this? What was/were it/they doing with pythagorean solids anyway?

A great mage nearly driven mad by the loss of his/her lover, resorting to pure logic and mathematics in an attempt to retain their sanity. The 20th room links to their own personal room (the center), which in turn links to the exit and a room with the remains of their loved one. Attempting to leave the personal room or the grave room to go to the entrance is a one-way trip.

Zhorn
2019-06-17, 09:18 PM
I'm always a fan of 'a wizard did it'
I like the reasoning that magic users tend towards madness over time. Not all, but the mortal mind was not made to naturally withstand the chaotic nature of magic and people without a sufficiently above average strength of mind are having their mental faculties slowly twisted and warped by the spells they employ; thus the Old Mad Mage stereotype.

From there, it's only natural for any lairs they construct will have a design that seems nonsensical to anyone of sound mind.

King of Nowhere
2019-06-17, 09:19 PM
perhaps the whole dungeon is like a giant diagram. the noble icosaedron, the last of the regular solids, resonates with arcane energies empowering [whatever stuff you feel like].

A great example here is the plot of Elantris, where there is a magic based on drawing specific symbols, and it turn out the whole city was designed to be one of those symbols and to empower all its inhabitants

johnbragg
2019-06-18, 12:23 AM
perhaps the whole dungeon is like a giant diagram. the noble icosaedron, the last of the regular solids, resonates with arcane energies empowering [whatever stuff you feel like].

Yeah, that's the ballpark I'm in. Stuff like, the map of the dungeon looks like a demon skull, because that configuration is a rune of power, which allows the dungeon to summon more beasties / empower magical traps / etc.

Why do puzzle traps exist? What is the point of gating treasure behind the sort of thing that adventurers are good at, rather than just sealing it away? Because difficult-but-possible magical curses and riddles and puzzles are a way to lock away (To Be Determined), with the difficult-but-solveable access path as part of a ritual or incantation or epic spell to guard (TBD) against being scryed on, teleported to, wished for, plane shifted, etc.

Hiding (TBD) in a haystack of 20 small demiplanes connected by 30 planar portals in a matrix defined by a theme means that Elminster or Iuz or Zagyg can't just teleport in to the final room and claim (TBD) and teleport out.

Elvensilver
2019-06-18, 06:05 AM
-An insane but perspective wizard build it: After a catastrophy, personal or larger in scale, he discovered a fundamental rule of the universe: One out of twenty. One of twenty will suceed in doing the impossible, one out of twenty will fail the easy. Having figured out that Twenty is a magical number, he build a fortress that should chanel energy due to its form, empowering everyone who is in the middle. The euclidian fluids are another part of their research: improbable things, possible consisting out of a material that harvested the power of Twenty, to gain strange properties.
-Or it was build as a monument to a deity with twenty laws/faces which are all of the same importance. To really drive this point home, the building was rolled/rotated everyday, for each facet to be displayed equaly.
-Or it was a simple but well crafted die, that was magical enlarged by a freak accident/a badly worded wish/someone really proud of his lucky die and afterwards people dug in to build homes inside.
-Or insects: they are known to build symmetrical, and in this case some big ones build a strange system.
-Or whoever build it is really obsessed with hierarchy and intelligence, and came up with a complicated system that almost no one can understand(different castes may dwell in different rooms, some obscure laws pertaining room numbers), to satisfy a desire to opress their minions in a lawabiding, intelligence based manner.

Malphegor
2019-06-18, 07:29 AM
They've cracked the code. Some facet of reality seems to work along platonic solids.

A dagger has 4 potentias, 4 possible phases, and can be represented thaumaturgically with a 3 sided pyramid. 1d4.

A fireball seems to reach its maximum in multiples of 6. d6s.

And so on.

But the key determiner of reality seems to be the stable point of phasic potentials- a 20 sided decision. If you were to rerun reality over and over again, it is this phasic array, represented runically as 1d20, is the most common variation of any luck-based event.

This is this universe's fibonacci sequence. Its pi. Its plank constant. The universe has fixed variations, fixed probabilities, a fixed quanity of potentia, of random.

And as such, it can be manipulated. It is known that some people live their lives according to the whims of fate, and somehow manage to manipulate the unmanipulateable. Charismatic rogues and certain spellcasting traditions caress the tender bosom of the universe and get rewarded with time rewriting itself- Fate is fickle, but it can be bribed, it can be tricked, it can be persuaded.

So. If it can be manipulated... What happens if you build a structure that represents it? Worshipping each facet of fate. The terrifying low rolls, the middlish mediums, and the much-lauded high? 20 places of worship, each connected, an edifice, no, a shrine, no, a glorification of all possible fates, praising constantly the concept, the domains, of luck and fate. Structure, ergo sum. You build a thing in its image, and the image is the thing.

The dungeon is fate. or luck. Or something close enough.

Psyren
2019-06-18, 09:53 AM
"Crazy Wizard" is fine, but in case you wanted some alternatives:

1) It's a(n un)natural phenomenon - in actuality or intention, a completely regular dungeon, that happened to be built on a leyline conflux, reality tear or temporal cascade that caused it to go fractal, leading to multiple variations of itself all overlaid atop one another. You get to choose whether the construction existed before the phenomenon, whether that happened later, or whether they somehow occurred at the exact same moment (perhaps in two or more different realities.) Perhaps there is an artifact at the center that is causing the phenomenon, and removing it will restore the structure to some semblance of normalcy.

2) It was built by a more supernatural entity, like a deity, great old one, or vestige, for artistic reasons or inscrutable ones. (Halphax would be a good choice for this if you go with the latter.)

3) Same as #2, but it's a multidimensional prison for something really nasty. It had to be built all non-Euclidian or {thing} could escape and wreak havoc.

4) Same as #2 but it's a test or puzzle. Solving it could lead to the entity's favor, or could be an elaborate ruse to accomplish #3.

JeenLeen
2019-06-18, 10:08 AM
For something rather serious, the idea of a Pythagorean cult, or that Pythagorean solids can channel energy and thus this building is a focus for such an act. Can combine with "crazy wizard", such as "crazy wizard trying to channel power to save his dead wife, but will actually turn the corpse into a monster."

For a cool but tongue-in-cheek, the d20 joke-based ones are neat.

For something rather anticlimatic, it could just be a final exam by a very prestigious wizarding school. Or perhaps the masterpiece by a gnome or dwarf builder, just to show he could do it. No real point except it was hard to do and is cool.

Imbalance
2019-06-18, 10:12 AM
Why, to model the Hand and Eye, of course.

If the collected wrist bones are 1, the finger bones would each inhabit their own room, and could conceivably be mapped in the shape of a hand. When the hand closes, the fingers lose distinction as the perfect polyhedron takes on the form of the all-seeing orb with the iris at 20.

DavidSh
2019-06-18, 10:18 AM
Resonance effects from the high degree of symmetry strengthen the magics needed to confine the Wumpus.

Max_Killjoy
2019-06-18, 11:45 AM
Obviously, the builder of the dungeon was big on mathematics and numerology and arithmancy. So it/they used wibbly wobbly noneuclidean geometries to build a set of 20 linked "rooms" with 3 exits each (except of course for room 1, with access to outside, and maybe room 20, with access to whatever the dungeon exists to lock away?)

This sets up lots of neat encounter rooms--environmental hazards, puzzle traps, guardian monsters that can be defeated, guardian monsters that are better off avoided. Plus a couple of encounters worth of XP just for figuring out what the heck is going on--pythagorean solids in rooms 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12; obvious clues in each room to figure out what number room it is (which gets much easier when you know you're trying to figure out a number); something cluing the PCs in that the map is in fact a 20-sider using standard numbering.

The challenge is, why did my dungeon builder do all this? What was/were it/they doing with pythagorean solids anyway?

So the rooms of this dungeon actually connect the way the faces on a d20 would connect, but from inside the rooms there's no sense of slope or vertical displacement as you move between rooms -- so that from outside the floors all might appear to face the inside of the "d20", but from the rooms the floor is always "down"?

Man_Over_Game
2019-06-18, 12:20 PM
4th wall level divinity.

As in, the Wizard knew that an alternate dimension would come across his dungeon and its schematics as a simulation, and built his dungeon according to grand design. He recognizes the icosahedron as a symbol of cosmic force, of destiny, and fate. So he builds his dungeon around the symbol, in an attempt to control this abstract form of chaos.

The mobile game, Pen And Paper Knights, kinda plays around a similar concept, where players play a game, until the bad guys start becoming more powerful and start referring to the players...as players.

Fable Wright
2019-06-18, 02:18 PM
Triangles.

Everyone knows that triangles are the foundation of the universe. Combat, Exploration, Interaction. Fighter Mage Thief. Why do you think the Pyramids where the mummies are entombed take the shape of octohedrons? (The pyramid extending both above and below.) Eight triangles, and look at the power.

But we can go further. Triangles can come in quadrohedrons, harnessed in the pain giving caltrops. Or octohedrons, which harness the power of life and death. But I, I shall be the first to wield the mastery over the universe that an ICOSAHEDRON BRINGS! REALITY WILL BE THE CANVAS ON WHICH I PAINT MY IMAGINATION! Only those wielding the power of the icosahedron themselves could possibly alter my narrative!

TaRix
2019-06-18, 02:42 PM
There's a wumpus hunt afoot. In case you're not as ancient as someone who'd know just what one o' those are... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunt_the_Wumpus)
-edit: Agh, too late to the party. Oh, well.

johnbragg
2019-06-18, 02:59 PM
So the rooms of this dungeon actually connect the way the faces on a d20 would connect, but from inside the rooms there's no sense of slope or vertical displacement as you move between rooms -- so that from outside the floors all might appear to face the inside of the "d20", but from the rooms the floor is always "down"?

In my idea, the rooms are all separate demiplanes connected by portals. The PCs should figure out pretty soon that it's not a standard 3D space--portals are often wider on one side than the other(1) the internal angles or dimensions of a room have no relation to the layout of the dungeon as a whole, etc. The standard d20 is the map, the way you can navigate the branching and reconnecting pathways. But there are a few steps of "clue" before the players should figure that out.

(1) The portal widths are keyed to the room numbers--the portal to the lowest numbered room is 6 feet wide, the median 8 feet wide, the highest is 10 feet wide.

The room numbers tell you room categories--primes are rooms with (semi) unique monsters, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 either are polyhedron-shaped and therefore a challenge to get across from portal to portal, or just enormous cube shaped rooms with big honking polyhedrons sitting in them as clues. And the rest of the rooms are environmental encounters--the three portals are free floating islands in a pocket of the Elemental Plane of Air/Water/Fire, a room with an orb of Dispel Magic at the center that recharges every few rounds, a room of feywild with even more variable geometry than the dungeon as a whole, maybe an room of despair, etc.

But I like a lot of the ideas people have put out in the thread. I might swap out for some of those

johnbragg
2019-06-18, 03:02 PM
Resonance effects from the high degree of symmetry strengthen the magics needed to confine the Wumpus.

There's a wumpus hunt afoot. In case you're not as ancient as someone who'd know just what one o' those are... (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunt_the_Wumpus)
-edit: Agh, too late to the party. Oh, well.

Thank you, fine sirs. We have our random encounter, should the party dally--superbats.

johnbragg
2019-06-18, 03:53 PM
I have decided why and where the dungeon exists.

An E6 setting called Thaumasia, where the natives have developed a ritual that summons heroes from across the multiverse, to fight the various enemies of their civilization. (This allows kitchen-sink characters, without having to build the social backstory of how My Little Pony OCs and Jedi knights and shaolin monks coexist with a pseudomedieval fantasy kingdom).

Some time ago, the archmage who built the dungeon did so as a way to get home. Years before, he had died in his home plane, thinking "I wanted to be a hero", which is the usual trigger for an adventurer to be summoned to Thaumasia. After many successful adventures, he plowed his wealth and his power into building the dungeon, "borrowing karma" by building clues into the dungeon for those who would challenge it, and spending that karma on auto-spawning monsters, auto-resetting traps--and the power to return to his home.

(Due to the local planar conditions of Thaumasia, creating demiplanes is much less difficult than it is in most areas)

Jay R
2019-06-18, 04:39 PM
When I did it, it was the dungeons beneath the ruined palace of the Mathemagician. In fact, the second through sixth levels were a tetrahedron, a cube, and octahedron, a dodecahedron, and an icosahedron -- the five Platonic solids.