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MoonHunter Sayeth 20180711


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Setting: The Ochre Door
Urban Fantasy meets D&D

“It is a door, a stout wooden door with its frame, just standing there in the middle of the field. Why would someone put it there? And the important question, does it actually open to anything?”
Journal of Thomas Mccannon.

It is a stout freestanding door and frame. The door is a good four inches thick, the frame a solid six inches (10cm and 15cm). The door and frame have a light ochre wash. The large ring handle is thick and brass. This one has no keyhole on either side.

The Door is usually tucked away to some place easy to get to but not easy to notice. It is usually in an alley or hidden in a back grove of the local Park - chronicle dependent.

The Ochre Door by itself is not all that amazing. (Well it is basically invulnerable and unmovable, so that may make it seems amazing). Where it leads to is somewhat amazing. Pulling it open, brings you to a small set of stairs leading to a place many called The Maze.

(Oh from the Stairwell side, there is a key hole.)

What is The Maze? It is a seemingly infinite collection of underground hallways and rooms, filled with traps (some fiendish), hidden places, and a variety of monstrous lifeforms right out mythology (or a higher quality monster guide). Trolls, Goblins, Boggins, and other fey creatures, as well as some genuine monsters, are in the Maze.

Tucked in the rooms are various treasures, some gold, and most prized - special keys.

As for the reason for The Maze? Some think it is a testing ground. To others, it is a training ground. Still others think it is a game set up for the amusement of “Other Beings”. Whatever its purpose, it provides risks and rewards to those that enter it. If one survives the experience of the maze, one can come out quite wealthy in gold and highly skilled. However, survival is often the prime issue.

Things change in The Maze. People who enter have been known to change to a bigger, older, or better form (or another species.). This is uncommon (buy a gift for another form).

Things also change coming out of The Maze. There are other “treasures” that can be found beside gold and silver: items that are useful in your continued adventuring. Upon leaving The Maze, many of the items will turn into very mundane equivalents: plate mail might become a leather jacket, a sword becomes a bat or a necklace that looks like a sword, potions turn into candy or sodas. You get the idea. A few items do not transform (gold being one of them). However, certain special items (campaign specific… as the campaign might revolve around it… ) might function outside.

The Maze is always challenging. Perhaps not so much right by The Ochre Door, but the further you go from the door, the more dangerous the threats. Of course, the more dangerous it is the more rewards.

Note: It is everchanging. Every time someone re-enters The Maze, it is somewhat different. Consulting the map of your previous visit will only partially guide you. You will need to explore every time you return. In areas that are “new” to your experience, they will be fully stocked with threats and rewards. In areas you have previously explored, some threats and rewards will return, but it will be much as you left it. (Given the time, if you come back years later, it will be fully restocked).

Finding the Keys should be one’s real goal. They come in a number of colors and six basic shapes. The keys open up special doors in The Maze.

Most of these special doors will open up special themed sections. In these sections, treasures that are near and dear to one’s heart will be found. (If nothing is specifically near or dear to one’s heart, it will just be a cool item or another key.)

Others will be dangerous challenges different than most found in the maze. So instead of fighting monsters, you might have to run a race on a collapsing track or fight mounted (mount to be provided) in a tournament.

The rarest door will be Doors Out. It will lead you to another door much like yours. That door leads outside to another world

Note: The Keys can be removed from The Maze. In fact, it seems many of them have already been removed, given their scarcity.

Frameworks and Chronicle Story Arc
You and your friends - all older kids or teen- have begun to move through the Maze. It starts as a game. It turns very serious as you find out there are “Others” who are adventuring there. You will find out that The Organized Monsters are trying to find a special key, so they and their dark forces can pass through an outside door - The one which leads to your world.

The Organized Monsters are looking for one more thing - the Sword of Harmony Light. They need to find it before it can be found by “others”. The Dark Lord can only be vanquished by it. If you can find it and the path back to the Organized Monster’s home, you can defeat the Dark Lord.

Note: The Door just randomly appears and will someday disappear just as randomly. There might be some children’s tales and vague legends about it (having appeared before).

It seems the door moves before it becomes well known. If you reveal the door to be exploited by "those in authority", it “poofs”, however, it might return where only you and yours can find it again.

Happy Slurpie Day

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I have found this to be one of the few ways I would run a "classic dungeon". I have always visualized this chronicle as Urban Fantasy meets D&D. You could put it another way: Spiderwick meets D&D.

The Urban Fantasy mode really is determined by the location of the door and the people around it. You could easily make this a straight fantasy by having fantasy world or historic world kids who will grow up to adventure. (Or just have the door appear somewhere for regular adventurerers. You can change it up with any setting behind it.

Assuming you have kids in an urban or suburban area (the default for the setting):

It starts as a live video game in many ways. Sure you can get hurt, even killed, but if there are enough potions stashed away, that is less likely. You get things out of it and your gear builds up.

Think of it as a more story oriented D&D Dungeon Dwell of moderate difficulty and low fatality on the players' side.

There will be two sets of stages going on in this game... kids in the real world, dealing with real-world problems/ plotlines and The Maze. Adventure sequences followed by roleplay/ domestic drama scenes.

There are plot lines that will advance in this version of The Maze.

You find out about the Organized Monsters and the Keys.
Inside the Maze, you can make new friends/ contacts, get new rumors, then discover the Organized Monsters are the scouts for an invading army. It is up to you to solve the problem.

There is also the safety in place, the Deus Ex Machina of some supernaturally empowered police force on your world (The Wardens for examples) popping up and kicking the enemy army's butt when they exit.

Important safety tip. Many people will try to keep ransacking the same section of the map (since they will know their way around) or stay within the same radius of the door, to make sure the threats are not that threatening. The power of the threats will slowly increase every time one returns to The Maze, so the same old, same old, will eventually get pretty dangerous.

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Okay, let's get meta-game here. The Maze seems to be much like a computer generate RPG dungeon. It is random, so get some tiles and just deal them out. You can populate it as you wish (though I have some suggestions, see suggested submissions in the original post.) Oh and all that realism and sense of ecology that people mention when you make a dungeon? Completely ignore them. Monsters are in a stasis of some kind before adventurers come near. Then they seem to move about. Orcs, Goblins, Skeletons, Slimes, Bats, ROUS (rodents of unusual size), and so on, are the traditional maze residents.

Keys lead to “special mapped” areas of the dungeon where things are not random. These themed zones are specific challenges designed for the campaign. There is normally a purpose to someone’s adventuring, these zones should try to fulfill those. Keys out are great ways to live up a chronicle with some unique cultures or interesting play.

Eventually, Doors out can really open up the chronicle. New worlds, new ideas, new exploration.

As you can see, there are lots of options. New Plotlines you can add. Change it up with more teams running The Maze (perhaps several doors on your world). Change it up to find the McGuffin to solve some problem in your real world. Maybe you are the organized monsters, looking for the keys and other doors for your patron.

This could also be the beginning of an Amber / Lords of Gossamer & Shadow chronicle. Actually, it would make a great section of the Grand Stairs.

Note: I have used The Door in a straight fantasy chronicle... It was found for a while in the city of Antioch on Arth (my fantasy world). They were charging a fee to go into the door. (My players complained that I didn't have dungeons in my fantasy world... so I threw this in.)
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