Grimwald Keep: Week 2
Updated: Jan 23
The second week of Dungeon 23 has now passed, and I'm still keeping up. Fifteen days, 15 rooms. Having done this for two weeks, I feel like I'm starting to get into a rhythm and am more confident that I'll be able to keep this up. So what did I do last week?
As you can see, the gatehouse, courtyard and one of the towers are complete now, and a second tower is only missing its top floor. The ruined keep is really starting to take shape.
While working on the courtyard, I really started to regret not having a proper map. Because it is right in the middle of the map, the overall layout becomes a lot more important. I simply hit the limits of what I could easily visualise in my head, even with the help of the note graph. So I procrastinated by creating three NPCs connected to the courtyard: a halfling gardener and his adventuring gnome partner and a dwarf carpenter who retired from adventuring after taking a sling bullet to the knee. It is great to have some more people to populate the space, but that didn't really solve my courtyard problem. So I went and sketched out the keep. That helped me clarify some things, and I managed to put down a description and keep going. And walked right into the next problem.
Each tower of Grimwald Keep is associated with an element, or at least it was way back when it was still inhabited by its builders (more on them soon!). The first one is the Tower of Air, for example. When creating a dungeon, I find it is always useful to think about its history (who built it, for what purpose, how was this room used originally?, how is it used now?, etc.). Although I had given this some thought at the outset, this was the first room where I really had to make decisions about how the Shapers (the builders of this dungeon) utilised the keep beyond the obvious and how their culture shaped the spaces they inhabited. So I worked out some of those details, figured out how the current inhabitants might make use of the resulting room and moved on (phew! that's two tricky rooms in a row). The elemental theme isn't as strong as I had initially intended, but luckily the towers extend underground, so I can strengthen the theme there. It sort of makes sense, anyway. The lower levels retain more of their original character as they haven't been exposed to other civilisations and looting as much (that is the player's job!).
You want Stats? We've got Stats!
The Tower of Air I worked on for much of the week is home to a spell caster. Until I got to her room, I had mostly avoided thinking about stats too much. But I eventually reached the point where I felt that was holding me back. I had to make a decision. Do I want to keep things system agnostic or pick a system and stat everything accordingly? There certainly is some appeal to the general approach, but it can also get a bit vague. And if I ever want to run this thing, I'll need stats. So I decided to pick a system. What did I pick? Pathfinder 2. Why? Mostly because I'd like to play it more and because I'd like to give the encounter-building system a workout. Well, and also for reasons ...
Creatures, Creatures everywhere
With that in mind, I went ahead and worked out the stats for said spell caster, the Witch Raina Fosbergs. But there is more. The next tower, the Tower of Earth, is occupied by what I initially thought of as "goblins with an earth flavour". They are now the Rock Folk. Small humanoid creatures with grey skin and a knack for climbing. They aren't all the same, of course, so I'll need multiple stat blocks to cover different roles. I've completed the first of those for the Scout. There is more work to do now, filling out stat blocks for NPCs and any new critters I want to add, but I'll do that as I have time.
So what's next? I should be able to finish off the Earth Tower tomorrow and then complete the Tower of Fire and get started on the Tower of Water. I'll try to squeeze in as much work on NPC stat blocks (and backgrounds) as well as background information on the Shapers as I can. We'll see how it goes.