Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Secret Doors In Dungeonquest

(Secret Door card from the Swedish original, Drakborgen)

Dungeonquest's handling of secret doors is pretty funky and ripe for thieving and incorporating into Old Skool RPGs.

In the boardgame they sometimes turn up when searching rooms and offer a one-way, one-time only method of escaping from the current tile and moving to any orthogonally adjacent tile or space. They mainly serve two purposes, firstly to enable a player to make progress across the board and avoid being trapped by unfriendly tile draws and secondly as a gambling mechanism when leaving the dungeon. Since there is a strict time limit, spending the maximum of two turns searching for a secret door might waste time, but then again it might allow the player to shortcut a huge section of the map and therefore save time. Mechanically of course this procedure could be a teleport to an adjacent space (the result would be identical) but the secret door "theming" suits the game. It's important to remember that once used, a secret door no longer exists in the game world and can't be used to return.

Something that has happened three times in the game sessions of the modern version that I have played is where a player finds a secret door and uses it to move to an empty, previously undefined space by moving across/through a solid wall. The tile draw then, in both instances, turns out to be a dead end room. A dead end draw is normally merely an annoying timewaster but in this scenario can be game-losing as the tile is placed so that there are no exits whatsoever - the only exit from the tile is invalidated by the prescence of the solid wall in the adjacent tile. The player has fallen through a one-way portal into a sealed-off cyst of a room. If the player doesn't turn up another secret door or a catacombs entrance in his two allocated searches his adventurer is out of the game and will be killed when the gameclock reaches nightfall. In one game this happened, in another the player found a catacomb entrance and escaped downwards and when it happened to me I found a secret door on my second search and escaped Dragonfire Castle with my loot.

So, in $YOURMEGADUNGEONNAME many secret doors operate in a similar fashion. Once found and used they will vanish off the plane of existence as soon as somebody stops looking at them. Therefore a party can travel both ways through them so long as somebody keeps the door in their field of vision at all times. As soon as it is out of vision, it shuts (if open) and vanishes - all that is left is solid wall. Any spikes or solid objects left to keep the door open simply vanish with it. Many wild rumours in $YOURADVENTURERSLOCALBOOZER carry the advice to never take your eyes off a secret door once it is found.

A variation upon this is the one-way secret door that ceases to exist as soon as it is used. Even if somebody is watching it, the outline will fade and then only solid wall remains. Whether this is before or after the entire party has travelled through is up to the DM...

1 comment:

  1. Not a bad idea, especially for megadungeons that are treated as a chaotic sort of mythic underworld where anything can happen. It's always cool to see old ideas of what is possible challenged.