It was my second Zweihänder session with my group where I planned a short dungeon exploration in a dark cavern. However, Zweihänder as a system doesn’t quite support that approach. On page 13 in the core rulebook the designers note that the system isn’t designed for the traditional dungeon romp. At that point I didn’t understood why, but after our game everything got clear for me. Zweihänder’s combat system is a deadly one. Add some close quarter encounters to the equation in a narrow cavern, and you get an even more bitter and deadly combat. The other hand I didn’t want to add a multi level dungeon to our game, just a tiny cavern-type outpost where my players can explore a bit further.
We play our combat encounters in theatre of mind style and this time I wanted to make a refreshing change. Usually, we make a rough sketch on a piece of paper for the given combat situation where we place or draw the players, the enemies and the overall environment. I started to search for random dungeon generators in the hope to find a proper option to make my cavern type dungeon. My first hit was donjon’s brilliant D20 random dungeon generator. With its smart algorithm you can generate a whole dungeon within minutes, even multi leveled ones. It was a good starting point but I wanted to have a memorable experience. So I continued to look up for dungeon tiles and I ran into Inked Adventures printable hand drawn Simple Caverns Cut-Up Sheets on DriveThru RPG. The hand illustrated sheets blew me away and I knew that this would be the best choice for my players. On the other hand it cost me a few bucks, meanwhile I was supporting an indie developer with my purchase. After I printed a couple sheets and drew random lines on it, I cut out the cavern tiles. Marked where the entrance is and the connection points are. In the end I had a full cavern outpost – or dungeon if you like – based on cut up tiles.
During our game when my players discovered the dungeon entrance, the time has come to present the cavern to them. When I started to place the first piece I saw big and wide dumb smiles at the table. They lost it on the experience. As they were exploring deeper and deeper, I placed the whole cavern tile by tile. We agreed how far they can see with their torch in the dark and we placed a pencil where the borderline was from complete dark to dim light. I planned a few combat encounters for this specific cavern the main purpose was exploration. However, after three giant spiders and two goblin-like creatures one of them grievously injured. The others also had some moderate injuries despite the help of some NPCs. But the overall experience was priceless for everyone and we had laughs and bare fun.
My overall goal was to shake up the overall gaming experience at the table. Pull them out from the same old sketching encounters type of play. If you want random, inexpensive fun that blows away your players, you should check out Inked Adventures map tiles.