I’ve been thinking of my old modern dungeon crawling idea more, and have thrown together a couple of DJs for an XCrawl like event. I found that the information on the DJs in the xcrawl book was a touch bland, with a couple of very interesting DJs, but most of them rather bland. I find that this is one of the most interesting ideas of XCrawl as the DJ designs the dungeon. I think that every DJ will have some sort of trademarks and themes they like to place in the dungeon, to let the fans watching instantly recognize them. This will also help make each crawl feel a bit different, so that the players don’t encounter dungeon after dungeon of 10×10 rooms.
The first idea I had was DJ Elemental. Elemental themed dungeons are not a new idea, I mean, look at the Temple of Elemental Evil, so it struck me that someone in the dungeon crawling league must enjoy elemental themed dungeons. They would have a very distinctive visual element, allow lots of dramatic special effects, and have a number of very obvious monsters. So without further ado: DJ ELEMENTAL!
DJ Elemental likes things based on the 4 traditional elements. Fireballs, waterfalls, giant rocks or plain old fashioned shoving people off cliffs. When he first began running dungeons he started with 4 level dungeons, each level based on an element, however he found this got repetitive very quickly when the part faced room after room of fire traps, fire elementals, lava, etc. The audience just couldn’t stay interested, and to make things worse it made it far too easy for the party select what spells to prepare and what defences to use. Now he mixes elemental themes within one dungeon, while keeping the element each features belongs to distinct. One recent crawl he ran took the form of a pirate ship, with a treasure and the key to the hold in the crow’s nest, guarded by flying monsters. Around the ship was water, filled with sharks, eels and several other things. Once the key was retrieved the ship was set alight and the party was forced to race through the hold into the caves of the reef below, where they must find another exit through monster filled caverns.
A river flowing through a room: giant gar and pike live in the river, while air elementals attempt to blow you off a rickety bridge into the river.
Placing keys on top of ‘cliffs’ so that the party watches for flying monsters, of which there are none. When the party is a significant portion of the way up xorn and earth elementals attack from within the wall, attempting to shove the party off.
A fire room with a single safe path through the fire, however winds cause the path to change, though there is always a way forward. This will however split the party and force them to take alternate paths. Then the fire elementals hiding in the flames attack.
An aviary, with the key to progress on at the top of the room. Flying brooms, rugs or such allow the party to reach the key, however there are only enough available for half the party. The birds are just harmless songbirds, though it is likely that the party will suspect attack from them. However if any of the party stay on the ground they will be attacked by some sort of ground based opponent once the party is split. Additionally the key however is trapped, possibly in multiple ways, as least one of which traps will dispel your flying device, sending you back to earth the hard way. Hopefully someone can catch you before you hit the ground.
A room filled ankle deep with nice conductive salt water and with several arrowhawks overhead to hurl lightning bolts down upon you.
A steam trap the functions off high pressure water being sprayed through a flame.
A fire hose trap that damages and moves the players, quite possibly into a flame, cliff or body of water. He would only place a large body of water at the bottom of the cliff behind a wall of fire if he was feeling REALLY evil though.
Deadfall traps that block off the passageway with rocks, forcing the party to take a longer, more dangerous route. This works best in timed dungeons with multiple paths.
You remember the big rock that nearly ran over Indiana Jones? Speculation is still rife with how much DJ Elemental paid for the rights to have the theme playing while the party ran for their lives.
DJ Elemental has the very bad habit of putting clues to an encounters elemental composition in the rooms decorations and arrangement. Bold geometric shapes usually indicate that an earth based threat while high, vaulted ceilings indicate and air based threat. Given that many of his encounters rely on mis-direction a smart party can keep an eye on this. It is not infallible however, as DJ Elemental is growing wise to this and has been doing his themes in more dramatic fashions such as the pirate ship scenario. Many fans however enjoy his use of subtle clues in the type of rock (Obsidian for fire, stalagmites and flowstone for water and such) as clues to what they will see in the encounter before it happens, so he has continued the practice. Afterall, his goal isn’t to kill the party: it is to get people to tune into the crawl. Besides, it is amazing how oblivious adventurers can be, especially if they use a fighter as the pointman…
Treasure and sponsors.
DJ Elemental is very fond of themed treasure. He magic items often include elemental based items: Flaming swords, boots of water walking, flying brooms, rings of water breathing and so on. However, he often sprinkles magic items that are useful only to the most creative parties throughout the dungeon: Decanters of endless water, dehydrated water, everburning torches and such litter his dungeons. He does show a special fondness for those parties that manage to use such items to overcome challenges, and doing so will almost always earn the party an invitation to future events he holds and a favourable review to other DJs.
DJ Elemental dislikes breaking up his themes with sponsors and thus places less advertisements in his crawls then most DJs. However he does need money, and smart sponsors will craft advertisements to his tastes, often working them into the dungeon. Grillmaster BBQ once sponsored an entire room based on a giant version of their new Burninator Grill, with the party forced to fight inside of it as the temperature slowly rose. At the end each party member received a bruninator and a year’s supply of charcoal. This was considered in somewhat poor taste given how many adventures had friends cooked inside of that room, though sales went through the roof.
More subtle suppliers will often place simple product placements within the dungeon: You can bet that someone paid big money for the right to have their brooms used for the aviary room or their speedboat used in the fight with the kraken. This is not without risk however, as the footage of the completions boat spilling a hapless party into the water and the jaws of hungry diresharks has led to some very effective advertising campaigns. More utilitarian supplies for his dungeons are also open game, with menageries and aquariums competing to provide the exotic birds and tropical fish that give his dungeons some colour. A number of dwarven companies have done quite well after providing the stunning stonework from which a xorn or elemental will emerge. Even the rocks and dirt that fill his traps has to be provided by someone, whom of course would get a mention at the first commercial break after the trap was sprung.
Well, that wraps up DJ Elemental. He isn’t a hard DJ to write dungeons for, and it is easy to play up the aesthetics and showmanship of his dungeons. Next time: MC Clockwork and his dungeon The Clockyard.
Until next time, Stay Geeky