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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Campaign surroundings for the dungeon, UI and data structures, urk...

The idea that some of the NPCs with places of origin in their names should share home towns weaves outward in interesting ways. With templating, it will be pretty easy to have a fair amount of description generated for each place, at least a size, and a label like village, town, city, settlement, etc. Distance and direction could be feasible, though with direction comes the need to discover how close coastlines are in each direction. Governance quality, notable figures,  economy... it starts to feel like campaign gen. Going whole hog, this would be the time to start developing the social/political network graphs, and try out the VisJS hierarchical graphing mode for some of them. And if  doing any of that, even just place names, it needs to have a way to save and reuse the lists so that the places used for naming NPCs met in the first level of a megadungeon are also used for the deeper levels, though it might be good to have some NPCs in deeper levels come from farther afield. If another dungeon is in the same campaign, it should have an overlapping set.

So far multilevel dungeons have been an implied feature, you can generate a set at different levels of opposition, and put in save names with the names matching but L1, L2, L3 or "the castle", "the pits", "the tombs" appended or some such to see in the select menu that they are related, and edit in level linkages into nodes or room descriptions. With at least NPC hometowns being shared, the saved data structure to fit the needs mentioned above starts to look like we build more than one data structure, dungeonLevel, dungeon, and world, or we build a nested data structure, a world contains dungeons and places, and possibly places are nested like dungeons, if some are taking their names from towns and some from higher levels of political organization, like kingdoms or regions. There either needs to be a way to load in starter lists to save and reuse or an editor list view that lets a DM replace random people and place names with names from the campaign. The reskinning tool can help at the current level of complexity, but there is a point at which the data flips the presentation from map of level plus room list plus free form notes field to something a bit more organized, where you can oversee and edit the various lists. The design tension is between making the additional features convenient, and not detracting from the convenience of the basic generation controls currently always at the top, map, lists, & notes.

Another area I've been muddling over using templating for is dungeon history. Pick an age since it was started, who dug or initially populated it, and if it is old enough, a brief narrative cycle of replacement, invasion, magical accident, corruption, etc that fits it with the current occupants. This could be a good source of room names in DunGen and of creatures, traps, hooks, and oddities for both DunGen and DunMap. Digressing, maybe there should also be a list of mundanities to go with the oddities, so that food stores, furniture, spare weapons, etc get more of a mention in room listings. DunMap, especially could use some of these scene setting items to replace implied atmospherics of the node labels. Anyway, potted history is more for the whole dungeon than dungeon level, but some could be done by level, perhaps with an evolving model kind of like Tony Dowler's How to Host a Dungeon. If actually building a megadungeon, it could even all be generated at one go, starting with a name and saving levels as you go, ending up with a hierarchical menu where each entry at the first level is a dungeon name and dungeon levels are nested.

So, yeah, that's at least another year's worth of stuff to do, aside from features like cultural name lists, theming on the remaining stocking lists, drawing and rescanning maps, adding graphical icons to the node style options, wikifying the stocking lists, intelligent magic items...

Postscript: Realized after posting that the natural presentation of the megadungeon is a graph of the levels and their connections in DunGen, and a classic side view with the level nodes placed on it in DunMap.

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