Friday, January 6, 2023

The Mushroom Garden

Thank you everyone who invited me to participate in #dungeon23.  I've decided to try to complete it.

Also thank you for everyone who checked in on me during my hiatus.  I appreciate y'all.

Anyway, here's my first entry in the #dungeon23 thing.

I tried the cute little notebook thing but I hated it, so I'm doing to do my own thing.

  • Produce an average of 1 room a day for all of 2023.
  • Focus on production, not polish.

Anyway the first one is. . .


I strongly believe that dungeons work best when they are designed holistically, not just as a bunch of non-linked rooms that can be shuffled into any configuration.  That's why I'm hoping to develop them in little batches of ~7 rooms, instead of writing them one-by-one.

Things I like about the thing I just wrote:


The second floor is sort of a secret area.  The party will probably discover either the balcony in the first room, or the chimney-hole in the hallway.  Even finding one alerts them to the existence of the other, incentivizing their search and giving them an idea where the secret space is.  

(This is the same principle as when video games show you a secret area with no obvious way to reach it--it tells you to start searching.)


The big room isn't dangerous the first time you pass through it.  It is probably dangerous on the second visit, though.  The danger has a pretty obvious cue (the smell of rotten pickles).


I think chokers can be cool and scary if they bungee down off the ceiling, grab a hireling, and then bungee back up into the darkness, where they strangle the dude 20' above  your head.  Which is weird because normally chokers are pretty lame.


The two small social encounters here (the mushrooms and the hag) are not super-deep but they seem like they'd be fun to run.


The wriggling finger is a good sort of puzzle.  (Why is this severed finger wriggling in a repetitive pattern?  Oh, put it up to a flat surface and it writes things.)

It also tells a piece of the dungeon's story (the hag was bisected by the wizard) and pushes the players toward faction play.  Do they really want to help the hag against the wizard?


The mushroom covered pillars are also a good puzzle.

You entered the room through a entrance flanked by a pair of pillars.

On the other side of the room there is another pair of pillars, but no obvious exit.  

Of course there's a secret door back there buried under the mushrooms.  It's obvious to us as we read it, but it's the sort of thing that slips past players so often in play.  (They'll probably forget about the boring pillars after meeting the hag anyway.  Then maybe on the way out, the DM will mention that you pass between a pair of pillars as you exit the room, and it will click in one of the players' heads.)

Kind of like those matching puzzles in Breath of the Wild that you didn't even realize were puzzles the first time you encountered them.


  1. "The finger is 12 inches long" fully made me sit up straight in my seat. Great way to reveal the Hag is an eerily large creature. The hag's presentation is really spot-on across the board.

    Good little dungeon. I'd run it.

  2. Desiring very much a 'fungus buddy', who dies with a wahoo.

    Lovely little place, this. The social interactions seem to lend the sort of 'set-at-ease' that soft views on fungus seem capable of. That mess of eyeballs that convey what they see. One wants them as an eyeball buddy too, just in case we miss something walking into the next area.

  3. Great stuff as always! The finger puzzle and fungus buddy are especially evocative, I'm definitely placing this somewhere in my home game.

    I've read most of your archives during your hiatus, and it's great to see you posting again. I'm hopeful that dungeon 23 will bring a resurgence of activity to the OSR blogsphere, I can't get enough of this stuff!

  4. Welcome back! So good to see you posting again. Love this dungeon, can't wait to see more.

  5. hell yeah, i love this!

    quick question: will the hag let you keep a mushroom with you if you want?

    1. Hell yeah! also you made a typo "The two small social encounters here (the mushrooms and the hag) are not super-deep but they seem like they'd be run to run."

      run to run instead of fun to run.

  6. On page 8 (just after the Mostly Hag's reputation thresholds) you say that *invisibility* is one of the spells that can be retrieved from her skull, but in her bestiary entry that's been replaced with *bury* - I assume the latter is correct, since it's the one that gets a description.

    also, heehee pet mushroom :)