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Author Topic: Fortress Maps for RPGs  (Read 4691 times)

GreatWyrmGold

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Fortress Maps for RPGs
« on: September 10, 2011, 04:57:59 pm »

I play D&D as well as DF--not at the same time, of course. I was thinking that it would be interesting to make an adventure set in a dwarven fortress. Therefore, I'd like to ask for links to DF fortress maps and/or something that can easily be copied to graph paper. Does anyone know of a site that would make for an interesting adventure?
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freeformschooler

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2011, 05:01:21 pm »

I highly recommend you check the DF Map Archive's more ridiculously fleshed out maps/fortresses. There's some really good stuff in there. But you should still create items and encounters and stuff yourself, that always makes it more entertaining.
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GreatWyrmGold

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2011, 08:02:00 pm »

[sarcasm]No, reeeally? A low-fantasy computer game might need some additions by me to make t into a good site for a different type of high-fantasy game altogether?[/sarcasm]

Yeah, I was planning to do that. I just wanted a layout idea.
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EveryZig

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 01:18:48 pm »

Have a dungeon shaped like BoatMurdered. See if anyone recognizes it.
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GreatWyrmGold

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2011, 06:14:20 pm »

Hm, where can I find a good map?...well, this seems to have the best...

EDIT: Holy Armok, that's big!
« Last Edit: September 11, 2011, 06:18:37 pm by GreatWyrmGold »
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TurnpikeLad

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2011, 03:02:09 am »

If you make an account on cartographersguild.com , you can see the images on their mapping forums... there are some really talented people who make a bunch of well-polished stuff there
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Tevish Szat

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 12:35:27 pm »

I actually tried this.  The problem is that your average fortress and your average D&D dungeon, in fact, serve very different needs

1: Ease of access.  Once you get into the meat of most fortresses, so to speak, they're intended to be easy to navigate/pathfind, with all the important areas off major traffic areas.  though failed projects and such can get a little nuts, fortresses ultimately strive to be logical places.  Not so with dungeons: the meta-point of your average D&D dungeon is to conceal something: Treasure, the boss, et cetera.  The reason why the PCs are in the dungeon is going into be the farthest, hardest to access, middle-of-nowhere sort of place, except it's probably also going to be impressive.

2: Linearity.  Fortresses are often not linear: they branch off in every direction to try to keep the steps-from-center minimal.  A dungeon, by comparison, is very linear: there may be a few branches to go off in, but ultimately there is an idea of "forward" to progress.  This might be de-emphasized in your average D&D game as opposed to most CRPGs (where there is one path, and some side rooms if you're lucky), but filling out a non-linear space is extra needless work for the DMs if the players don't encounter it, and frustration for the players in not being able to discern "forward"

3: Size.  Fortresses are big.  I mean, really big, compared to a D&D dungeon.  If I design a dungeon for mid-level PCs, it will generally have 3-5 important rooms/zones (the places with fixed, relevant encounters) and twice as many unimportant ones along the way or off it.  It's all essentially on one z level.  A truly massive dungeon, the big multi-session show-stoppers I can pull out once a campaign or so, might feature between seven and ten z, each probably somewhat smaller than the "average" dungeon.  The largest dungeon I've successfully run had about thirty rooms -- it's not the largest I've designed, but I haven't had a chance to pull out anything more titanic.  A fortress?  Well, let's look at a good early fort.
At the start of my latest fortress's second year, It extends across 7 z-levels.  Two of those are decently minor: the "surface" and "entrance" levels would have 2-3 good encounter sites per.  The next level down features a massive mechanics area that, in D&D terms, would consist of another 4-5 rooms, as well as the underground tree farm.  The level with the actual farms, ten rooms but they're all uninteresting by default.  the stockpile level below that is small again, and then we get to the meat of the fortress: the "living" floor has fifteen rooms in three directions, and the work level below that has another dozen.  This would be decently insurmountable, except that everything below mechanics/tree farm is within 20 steps of the main stairway (and almost every room can be accessed in under a dozen steps from the stairs).  I might be able to tool this fort into a dungeon, but this is a minimal fort that's only had a year to build.  A "real" fort, one that's 5-10 years old and supports 100+ dwarves, is orders of magnitude more complex and big

What I've found I CAN do is apply principles of fortress design to dungeon design, especially when it comes to supply chains.  Dwarf Fortress tells you what a self-sufficient enemy lair needs, but you have to think D&D to put it together in a manner that's enjoyable to run for both players and DM.  The stockpiles move to the bottom, behind your arena/royal throne room/boss chamber.  Food production is all put off in a wing, probably with the jail next to the butcher's shop to keep things "interesting".  Living quarters are all rendered barracks to reduce the number of "rooms" the players have to worry about, and they're probably put 'behind' prime encounter sites (like the meeting hall with artificial waterfalls) so that PCs/invaders will enter from one end and 'locals' from the other.  The central staircase/borehole is done away with in favor of having a few defensive emplacements on every z level that need to be gotten through to reach the next ramp/stair down (this is done to preserve the DM's sanity as well as player fun.  The players don't just want to walk to the bottom, hit the objective and leave.  The DM doesn't want to design a massive dungeon and have it not even remotely explored).  the number of workshops is probably minimized: gone is the masonry, carpenter's workshop, and dozen craftsdwarfs workshops, while a single room holds the entire magma metal industry (with plenty of magmatic death pits to fall in bull-rush enemies into).  Fortress workings like the underground tree farm, pump-stack, and water reactor are either MIA or (in the case of the mechanics) sealed off while their effects (magma cistern, mist generator) are visible features.

I could build this in DF, and it would probably run as a fortress, but it wouldn't be very effective or well designed compared to more usual fare.

TLDR: Don't just grab a fortress map and expect it to make a good dungeon.  Do use your DF knowledge to make dungeons better, more logical, and/or more ‼Fun‼
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Sizik

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 05:42:08 pm »

3: Size.  Fortresses are big.  I mean, really big, compared to a D&D dungeon.  If I design a dungeon for mid-level PCs, it will generally have 3-5 important rooms/zones (the places with fixed, relevant encounters) and twice as many unimportant ones along the way or off it.  It's all essentially on one z level.  A truly massive dungeon, the big multi-session show-stoppers I can pull out once a campaign or so, might feature between seven and ten z, each probably somewhat smaller than the "average" dungeon.  The largest dungeon I've successfully run had about thirty rooms -- it's not the largest I've designed, but I haven't had a chance to pull out anything more titanic.  A fortress?  Well, let's look at a good early fort.
At the start of my latest fortress's second year, It extends across 7 z-levels.  Two of those are decently minor: the "surface" and "entrance" levels would have 2-3 good encounter sites per.  The next level down features a massive mechanics area that, in D&D terms, would consist of another 4-5 rooms, as well as the underground tree farm.  The level with the actual farms, ten rooms but they're all uninteresting by default.  the stockpile level below that is small again, and then we get to the meat of the fortress: the "living" floor has fifteen rooms in three directions, and the work level below that has another dozen.  This would be decently insurmountable, except that everything below mechanics/tree farm is within 20 steps of the main stairway (and almost every room can be accessed in under a dozen steps from the stairs).  I might be able to tool this fort into a dungeon, but this is a minimal fort that's only had a year to build.  A "real" fort, one that's 5-10 years old and supports 100+ dwarves, is orders of magnitude more complex and big

The problem you're addressing tends to crop up with more experiences players, who know the basics of fort building and therefore build things faster and plan better than newbies. Another issue that makes for not-good dungeon design is that the entire fortress is designed by a single person (the player), and thus has a more efficient layout compared to somebody who doesn't know exactly what they're doing.

These problems are mostly eliminated by using succession fortresses. The design tends to be more patchwork and arbitrary than single-player fortresses, due to each player having a different vision of how the fortress should be constructed.
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EveryZig

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 07:24:14 pm »

If the fortress has multiple paths to places, you could go with the old video game trick of collapsing paths that are too convenient in order to make the players take a properly scenic route. That would work for both cutting down on room count and for making a path properly dramatic.
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Neyvn

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2011, 08:46:31 pm »

You could always use the method of advancement to explore a fortress. Make it a campaign where at the start the players can only choose from the crapiest weapons and their metal (copper say) and only smaller parts of a fort are available to be searched, a goal to be reached and then when thats finished, Make the fortress become repopulated by NPCs that are reclaiming it. Have it that the Adventurers are reestablishing a fort for these people and after a few "Weeks" have passed they unlock the next section of the fort to investigate.

Allow your players to choose which direction the NPC's open the fort to them and their advancement, like at the start.

They discover entrance via the Farms. Here they will find overgrown crops and mushrooms that touch the ceiling and when cleared the farms are more upkept and the mushrooms have been harvested. Next they discover the Trade area and entrance, now when they have cleared that out more Merchants come and set up stalls around the Farmstead. Next they can choose from the Crafts area or Weapons area or even deeper for more gold/ores. Unlocking each section opens more gear to buy from the merchants if they need it and if they unlock the Forges the NPC's will start making better weapons and armour that have modifiers over what they could have found. Go as deep into the fort until they become bored, and because you have time between sessions, build up the fort via Ascii draw or something...

Its something I always wanted to do if I could have found the Basic material (which is noexistant in my area) and players (which is like Unobtainium too)
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tolkafox

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Re: Fortress Maps for RPGs
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2011, 10:48:07 pm »

I was trying to find the combat calculations that Toady uses for somewhat of the same reason: My D&D peeps are bored of our 'same old' adventurers and more complicated combat styles and realistic wounds are the things that everyone seems to want. I don't want to steal his algorithm, but use it as a general layout. Coming up with an algorithm is half the fun, right?

As for a fortress map, create your own. That way you're already familiar with it and you can construct it in the manner you find best. If you need randomness, get drunk then do it.
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