Approaching a Lair Dungeon

I have a problem with scope creep. I trail abandoned projects that got too big to complete with my current skillset. That’s why I hunkered down a few months ago to start a new project of limited scope which I could actually complete and gosh darnit that one exploded too.

I’m gonna finish that one, but in the meantime, I’ve got to do something small. Real small, just to prove I can. I’m thinking of a lair dungeon, absolute maximum of fifteen keyed locations. An unpretentious, straightforward dungeon adventure you can stick in a campaign with minimal difficulty when you need content for a quick session.

What do you look for in short adventures like those? Do you have some good examples? I know Tomb of the Whispering Worms and a couple others.

Honestly, I think that’s a good idea. I’m often surprised at how even a very small area like this easily can fill up a full night’s gaming session, or perhaps even stretch across two sessions.

Although this narrow scope is, as you say, “unpretentious,” I’d cautiously suggest that the scope also allows you to really stretch the creative muscles. When you don’t need to create a megadungeon, I think there’s an easier opportunity to make something that has a very distinct, fun, interesting identity of its own. So don’t be afraid to make a small lair more than just “some rooms with some monsters and some treasure.” Interweaving some funky faction interests, some interactive rooms, and a common theme in a space that a gaming group can actually expect to explore is a really good goal.

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Creative constraint is absolutely what I’m going for. Brainstorming at the moment has gotten me to “moonshine-fairies-with mother-swamp shack-hostage rescue.” Gotta distill (pun intended) from there.

Wow - that sounds very flavorful! (Hopefully, flavors of smoke and peat, but maybe these fey distillers don’t roll that way).

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