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    Pixie in the Playground
     
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    Default A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Most dungeons are horizontal, a series of rooms interconcected by corridors.

    But what if instead of doing a horizontal dungeon the players ahd to dela with a vertical one.

    Has anyone ever doen thatw If so how was it if not why not?

    Spoiler: Exemple
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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    I believe the word you are looking for is "Tower". That is a very common theme in many video games, including some dungeons and modules.

    Going underground, it's also totally possible. Many "roguelike" games take this route, making the player delve deeper and deeper into lower levels of the dungeon, which are otherwise like a reverse tower.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    There's a classic module out there which was a buried pyramid, and the top few levels certainly played like a vertical dungeon.

    Then there's the 3.5e module where you traverse a giant spider web up & down a chasm in the Underdark, probably one of the Drow modules.

    Also in 3.5e there's Sharn, city of towers, where the towers ascend to absurd heights and some of them even just plain float in the air thanks to the local manifest zone.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Dungeons are almost always multiple levels. They are laid out horizontally and vertically. Sometimes it helps to draw a cross-section view like in that drawing, if it has a complex layout (not just floors on top of one another.)

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    I've done a few. Not the 'horizontal levels stacked on top of each other' kind but rather the 'this dungeon consists mostly of swaying rope bridges, unstable platforms and yawning, black abyss' kind.

    Works best in E6, btw, or at least lower level play. As soon as players are able to make the fall into darkness a non-issue, the attraction of highly vertical dungeons become null and void.

    It's surprisingly easy, even. Quite simply put, there's a lot less to map. An example: The orcs of Underbrook decided to expand, and built a series of stairs, bridges and platforms up through a deep chasm into a rocky outcrop called Kelsen's Fist. On the fist, they built a fortress. That didn't last long, because a human army counterinvaded, razed the fortress and threw large rocks down the chasm.

    When my adventuring group came here - centuries later, of course - there were partial stairs down the chasm, a few scattered platforms, ladders and rope bridges, but large areas that required climbing checks or some other skill challenges to pass. All the while harassed by minor critters.

    Halfway down the shaft is a side chamber, which the orcs used for storage. It still holds broken barrels of arrows and spears. It also holds the remains of large, leathery eggs. At which point a very loud 'SKREEE' echoes down the chasm, and there is a rush of wind as something with very large wings starts descending - mama wyvern, returned from hunting.

    And that's basically all there is to it. You could run this dungeon with nothing more than those 8 lines of text.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Oh, boy, that picture in the original post. I wonder if every D&D player doodled such stuff in their middle school notebooks?

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Dungeon Master had 12 levels to it.

    Mostly there were stairs, which were basically teleports, nothing happened on the way up or down, but there were also pitfalls, where you took damage on landing.
    The end of what Son? The story? There is no end. There's just the point where the storytellers stop talking.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    A 5th Edition adventure for 4th-level characters!
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    I've seen a few AD&D dungeon modules where the vertical layout was as significant a part of the mapping as the horizontal layout, but none quite like the picture shown.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    it wasn't a full dungeon but i ran a series of encounters on a cliff face, where i had the battle mat represent a vertical space, so the lines that would normally represent walls instead represent ledges of varying widths and players jumped or climbed from ledge to ledge fighting foes.

    It worked fine, it was interesting people enjoyed it. I dont know how well it would have worked as an entire adventure.
    Last edited by awa; 2018-06-28 at 12:29 PM.

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    ElfRangerGuy

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    I see somebody else watched Made in Abyss .

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    The issue is that most maps are top-down. So verticality means multiple maps (floors) which can be annoying to work with, especially if your party ends up split across multiple floors. Having them split among multiple rooms in the same floor is much easier. Thus, dungeons tend to be wider than they are tall, at least in terms of levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    The issue is that most maps are top-down. So verticality means multiple maps (floors) which can be annoying to work with, especially if your party ends up split across multiple floors. Having them split among multiple rooms in the same floor is much easier. Thus, dungeons tend to be wider than they are tall, at least in terms of levels.
    It's frankly not that hard to draw 3d maps. Also, you don't particularly need them. At least, not if you do what I did - I just know what challenges the players will face. I can even swap them around as I like, and no one will ever notice anything amiss.

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    It's frankly not that hard to draw 3d maps. Also, you don't particularly need them. At least, not if you do what I did - I just know what challenges the players will face. I can even swap them around as I like, and no one will ever notice anything amiss.
    Good for you, but speaking for myself, I can barely draw 2D ones. Besides, most of the ones in modules are 2D and that's what we end up printing out, tracing, or importing to roll20 depending on the medium of play.

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    But really, the important lesson here is this: Rather than making assumptions that don't fit with the text and then complaining about the text being wrong, why not just choose different assumptions that DO fit with the text?
    Quote Originally Posted by gogogome View Post
    Cheers to Psyren the MVP "naysayer".
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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Psyren View Post
    Good for you, but speaking for myself, I can barely draw 2D ones. Besides, most of the ones in modules are 2D and that's what we end up printing out, tracing, or importing to roll20 depending on the medium of play.
    Well ... I'm not saying they're pretty. Just functional. I do not, however, ever play modules. And I don't use maps at all in pbp. It's entirely possible that sort of invalidates everything I'm saying here =)

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    It's frankly not that hard to draw 3d maps. Also, you don't particularly need them. At least, not if you do what I did - I just know what challenges the players will face. I can even swap them around as I like, and no one will ever notice anything amiss.
    Yeah, I'm not sure you can call that a "dungeon" in the traditional D&D sense. That's a scenario involving some fights in an environment with cliffs and rope bridges. A dungeon needs a map; if you can do it without one it either isn't complex enough or there aren't enough decisions for the players to make.

    I am skeptical that a 3d drawing can be used for anything other than very small and simple dungeon layouts or small sections of a dungeon. When you're talking about floors layered on top of one another, that is going to become difficult. If the dungeon has many smaller areas each accessible only from a floor above or below, you can fit the top-down map of several floors on one piece of graph paper, with both horizontal and vertical links between them indicated by numbers or letters or symbols.

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Yes, my DM often uses such dungeons, he says he's inspired by Castlevania symphony of the night.

    About maps all you need to do is a change in perspective, a horizontal map like this:

    Spoiler
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    It can be easily used as vertical map like the one the Khloros posted in the original post.
    Last edited by Zurvan; 2018-06-28 at 06:39 PM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    A dungeon needs a map; if you can do it without one it either isn't complex enough or there aren't enough decisions for the players to make.
    That is just patently wrong. On so many levels.

    For one thing, complexity does not make a dungeon. Being underground is the essential quality of a dungeon. Complex often just means boring.

    For another, there simply isn't any connection between number of decisions to make, and size or complexity of a map. Seen only in isolation, a complex map makes for more decisions on which path to take - but that is the only thing. Number of enemies, challenges, moral choices and so on are entirely disconnected from the size and complexity of the map.

    But hey - you can test me on this.

    The fortress on Kelsen's Fist, the chasm below it, the waterfall in the chasm, the chamber at the bottom where the wyvern lairs, the river that leads from there to the original orc settlement - now dubbed Underbrook - the mind flayer colony in the old silvermines connected to by yet more tunnels.

    None of it is mapped. Not an inch of it. All part of the same dungeon, even if only the chasm fits what we discuss here: Vertical dungeons.

    Absolutely any detail you want for it, just ask. It's all there. What was the original purpose? What lives there now? How did the ecosystem work? I know pretty damn near everything you could ever possibly want to know about this place.

    This single dungeon held spirits of the dead, wyverns, undead orcs, living orcs, url-gech (sentient hive-mind beetles of necromantic disposition), spiders, some sort of blind, poisonous eels I haven't named yet, humans, mind flayers. It held moral decisions concerning a dead elf girl, about the wyvern, the url-gech, mind flayers, the local cleric, the local orc tribes. There were any numbers of skill challenges.

    Go ahead and ask me the most devious question you can think of =)
    Last edited by Kaptin Keen; 2018-06-29 at 01:21 AM.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    We once raided a Beholder's lair. It was a clever one and had dug tunnels with its disintegration in all kinds of angles. For a hovering creature no problem, of course. Good times.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    I use 3d maps quite regularly, but given I am an architect, I am willing to accept I might find it easier to visualise and put together (plus I have all the software in the office to do the maps!) than some. That is slightly offset by the fact I just can't bring myself to make a structurally unstable dungeon, so I might sometimes make things a little bit harder for myself than I really need to.

    I have once seen an adventure map done like the OP's image - I took part in a Hackmaster tournament at a GenCon probably ~10 years ago, and the first tournament adventure was some giant insect warren. The DM showed us the map after the adventure, and it was drawn side-on like an ant farm.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khloros View Post
    Most dungeons are horizontal, a series of rooms interconcected by corridors.

    But what if instead of doing a horizontal dungeon the players ahd to dela with a vertical one.

    Has anyone ever doen thatw If so how was it if not why not?

    Spoiler: Exemple
    Show
    Beholders often excavate threedimensional lairs with their eye beam to take advantage of their flight.
    Thanks for Zefir for the custom avatar.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    That is just patently wrong. On so many levels.

    For one thing, complexity does not make a dungeon. Being underground is the essential quality of a dungeon. Complex often just means boring.

    For another, there simply isn't any connection between number of decisions to make, and size or complexity of a map. Seen only in isolation, a complex map makes for more decisions on which path to take - but that is the only thing. Number of enemies, challenges, moral choices and so on are entirely disconnected from the size and complexity of the map.

    But hey - you can test me on this.

    The fortress on Kelsen's Fist, the chasm below it, the waterfall in the chasm, the chamber at the bottom where the wyvern lairs, the river that leads from there to the original orc settlement - now dubbed Underbrook - the mind flayer colony in the old silvermines connected to by yet more tunnels.

    None of it is mapped. Not an inch of it. All part of the same dungeon, even if only the chasm fits what we discuss here: Vertical dungeons.

    Absolutely any detail you want for it, just ask. It's all there. What was the original purpose? What lives there now? How did the ecosystem work? I know pretty damn near everything you could ever possibly want to know about this place.

    This single dungeon held spirits of the dead, wyverns, undead orcs, living orcs, url-gech (sentient hive-mind beetles of necromantic disposition), spiders, some sort of blind, poisonous eels I haven't named yet, humans, mind flayers. It held moral decisions concerning a dead elf girl, about the wyvern, the url-gech, mind flayers, the local cleric, the local orc tribes. There were any numbers of skill challenges.

    Go ahead and ask me the most devious question you can think of =)
    I think a dungeon is the style of adventure, not a descriptor of any place underground. It's secret doors and hidden treasures and monster lairs and traps. Players making their own maps so they can find their way out.

    Moral decisions are obviously not the sort I'm talking about, but exploration decisions. Decisions about which path to take are the main sort of decision I mean. Knowing the purpose for everything and a sensical ecosystem is nice, but not the essential component of making it a dungeon.

    Knowing that you have no map, asking any question is pointless. You just make up the answer however it suits you. Of course you have all the answers, it's all in your head. I'm not saying that it isn't possible to do things without a map, just that it is essentially a different kind of game than the classic dungeon adventure.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    Knowing that you have no map, asking any question is pointless. You just make up the answer however it suits you.
    See, you're just plain wrong, again.

    The map is not what happens. The map is where it happens, nothing else, and that just means you lose the option to interact on impulse with the players.

    It's going to seem like I'm just going to contradict you no matter what you say. That's not the case, we're just on opposite sides of the discussion. I see all the advantages to this type of play, because this is how I do it - and you're the opposite.

    Not having a map means if the players come up with something clever, I never have to tell them 'no, that's impossible because ..' the walls are lead lined, or whatever. It also means I never wrote something clever into the map - but that's irrelevant, because I know in advance what the situation is.

    These two guards are on patrol, four are gambling below, the players are in the guest wing, there's no one here, but on the other hand there's no way from here into the mansion proper that doesn't go right past the guards. Again I have zero need of a map, and that results in a fluid situation where I'm free to react to the actions of the players.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khloros View Post
    Most dungeons are horizontal, a series of rooms interconcected by corridors.

    But what if instead of doing a horizontal dungeon the players ahd to dela with a vertical one.

    Has anyone ever doen thatw If so how was it if not why not?

    Spoiler: Exemple
    Show
    Yes! My husband ran a tower module for his first time DMing 5e. He made it so that you had to solve the puzzle on each floor before going to the next one.

    However, there was a twist. We were entering the tower from the top because it was old and now in the middle of a lake. We worked each floor backwards, and we had to get a couple pieces to a puzzle that ended up opening the front door... which then meant that the tower began filling with water. We then had to rush back up the tower to escape.

    It was very fun, and he did a good job at making his first dungeon.

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    BarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    See, you're just plain wrong, again.

    The map is not what happens. The map is where it happens, nothing else, and that just means you lose the option to interact on impulse with the players.

    It's going to seem like I'm just going to contradict you no matter what you say. That's not the case, we're just on opposite sides of the discussion. I see all the advantages to this type of play, because this is how I do it - and you're the opposite.

    Not having a map means if the players come up with something clever, I never have to tell them 'no, that's impossible because ..' the walls are lead lined, or whatever. It also means I never wrote something clever into the map - but that's irrelevant, because I know in advance what the situation is.

    These two guards are on patrol, four are gambling below, the players are in the guest wing, there's no one here, but on the other hand there's no way from here into the mansion proper that doesn't go right past the guards. Again I have zero need of a map, and that results in a fluid situation where I'm free to react to the actions of the players.
    Having a map doesn't affect whether players can have creative ideas nor whether someone can improvise and react to players decisions. It does mean that there is a fair and objective way to determine the results of certain actions and no ambiguity about where things are and how long it takes to get there.

    It's a different style of play, what you're describing. That's why I say it isn't really a "dungeon" in the D&D sense. It isn't better or worse, you've got different goals. "Don't bother with a map" isn't helpful advice for designing a classic dungeon.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Uh. Vertical dungeons are, in fact, the most traditional way of creating them?

    Half of the gameplay of 1st edition involved the DM trying to trick the players into descending further into the dungeon than they meant so they ran into more dangerous encounters. It's why one of the dwarven racial abilities is the ability to detect subtle inclines, so he can catch the DM pulling sly tricks like that.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    Having a map doesn't affect whether players can have creative ideas nor whether someone can improvise and react to players decisions.
    Yes it does. If you map it out, you're locked. It's only there if it's there. Say, the teleportation chamber, or the pantry, or room full of leather eggs. I can describe all of those if I want - but if the players come up with something, 'say, if he's a necromancer, does he have a giant pile of discarded bodyparts somewhere - like a bit box in a workshop?' I can only pop one in there if there isn't a map.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    It does mean that there is a fair and objective way to determine the results of certain actions and no ambiguity about where things are and how long it takes to get there.
    What you're looking for is an equation, a problem>solution kinda thing. What I'm looking for is interaction. Also, it seems you have trust issues: I'm fair and objective, and I have my players ambitions in mind much more precisely than any map ever could.

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    If your way of playing the game is to change from your pre-existing design or make up what exists in your game world in response to player questions, then you can just as easily erase your map and redraw it to add something in. Or leave space for additional passages and rooms as needed. A map doesn't mean you can't play that way. It just means a trade off of a little more difficulty in changing the pre-existing design on the fly, in return for consistency / not forgetting what it was like last time once it has been established.

    Unless your players are fine with some stairs suddenly not being where they were last time, because you forgot they were there? Or because one ask at a session asks if this is where the stairs were and they suddenly get moved from the previously established (and known to other players not at the session) location? The latter would be particularly interesting on a trip back later with both players at the session at once.

    Or I suppose you can just rely on player maps to "establish" and lock in the reality of your setting once you've made it up in response to their questions.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-06-30 at 10:21 AM.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    If your way of playing the game is to change from your pre-existing design or make up what exists in your game world in response to player questions, then you can just as easily erase your map and redraw it to add something in. Or leave space for additional passages and rooms as needed. A map doesn't mean you can't play that way. It just means a trade off of a little more difficulty in changing the pre-existing design on the fly, in return for consistency / not forgetting what it was like last time once it has been established.
    What you're essentially saying is 'if you have a map, you can just pretend you haven't'.

    Yes, that's true. However, why would I want to do that? It's a LOT simpler to just not have one in the first place.

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    Default Re: A vertical dungeon. Has anyone ever tried that?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    What you're essentially saying is 'if you have a map, you can just pretend you haven't'.

    Yes, that's true. However, why would I want to do that? It's a LOT simpler to just not have one in the first place.
    It's also a lot simpler to have one done in advance, and not have to add to your creative overhead burden while running a game. As well as not have a game of Quantum Ogre: The Dungeon Map!

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