March 2023

  • Designing a dungeon in SAKE ttrpg (for GM)

    Designing a dungeon in SAKE ttrpg (for GM)

    In the SAKE system, any dangerous place can be a dungeon, such as the palace of a powerful enemy lord, a dense and perilous jungle, a pocket of the Otherworld, as well as more traditional locations like mines, necropolises, and other underground structures.

    Playing in a dungeon is divided into Dungeon Turns, during which PCs roll percentages for Hazards and Opportunities and can perform individual actions such as mapping, searching for traps, and seeking out secrets.

    To start, download the GM’s Dungeon Sheet: https://sake.ee/downloads/ (You also find the Dungeon Crawling rules there).

    You will fill it with content, and when it’s done, you will be ready to run your dungeon.

    For an example dungeon, I am creating a dungeon for the #dungeon23 project. Those who have been following the blog for a while know that as part of this project, I am creating a city called Irongate. However, if you are reading for the first time, don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything about Irongate or my #dungeon23 project to create a dungeon.

    In any case, there will be a building in the city of Irongate that will later become the PCs’ home base, but first, they must retake it from a criminal drug gang that has taken over. So our dungeon already has a final boss (the gang leader) and a goal for why the PCs are entering the dungeon.

    Our dungeon is the city districts around the player’s house. I have drawn a map of these districts, but, it is not necessary to draw a map to design the SAKE dungeon because the dungeon is expressed as a scheme. However, the map is helpful in illustrating the process.

    Area of dungeon as a illustrative map

    The SAKE dungeon consists of sectors that can be traversed within one Dungeon Turn at a normal speed, with Scripted Encounters in between.

    The first Scripted Encounter we know that’s going to happen is the very last Scripted Encounter, which is a fight against the Iron Runners gang boss Tzakla Ulu and the conquering of the PCs’ future home. For this, we will use a separate battle map, and it will be a long combat segment. We will be designing that later.

    The second Scripted Encounter will be the reservoirs and canals around the city districts because the players may question whether it is possible to avoid traversing the districts and instead cross these bodies of water by swimming or finding a boat to reach the final boss. This would mean the PCs would bypass most of the dungeon, but such an option must remain available to them. Therefore, we define this as a Scripted Encounter.

    Iron Runners gang member stats

    Now, let’s get back to the big picture. First, we need to decide on the theme of the dungeon (cave, castle, necropolis, etc.) – I’ve decided on a city district.

    The dungeon type will be a Quantumcrawl, which means that the dungeon will be in a Pointcrawl format, but the Scripted Encounters in this dungeon won’t just depend on where the PCs are.

    Next, we need to decide on the length and duration of the Dungeon Turn. We can assume that the PCs will be able to move through the city streets at a relatively normal pace, but since they are in a dangerous area, their normal walking speed will be a bit slower as they try to stay alert to any dangers.

    Let’s say the Dungeon Turn is about 200m long, and the PCs can traverse it at a cautious pace in 5 minutes.

    Finally, we need to determine the Dungeon Mapping Difficulty Level – DL 4 seems sufficient in the context of a city. Although the streets may be winding and complex, getting lost should only happen in cases of bad luck.

    Next, it’s time to divide the entire dungeon into sectors. Each sector takes one Dungeon Turn to traverse at a normal speed, during which Hazards and Opportunities are rolled and each PC has one Action. Scripted Encounters may occur between sectors.

    I’ll divide the dungeon into 12 sectors, which means it’s a fairly large dungeon, but to reach the final encounter, only 3 sectors need to be traversed if taking the shortest path. Based on this knowledge, we’ll prepare only a few Hazards and Secrets. It can be assumed that the PCs won’t wander in the dungeon for long.

    Next, lets start adding Hazards and Secrets.

    To be continued …


  • Day 62 The Start of the Adventure in Irongate

    Day 62 The Start of the Adventure in Irongate

    I have devised a plan to kick off the adventure in Irongate in a way that the PCs are not familiar with the city (since the players are not) but still have a connection to it. To achieve this, I have drafted a game-opening text directed towards the players, serving as a preliminary campaign pitch. It does not include details on what the campaign entails, what the PC would be doing, and the like, making it only a partial campaign pitch.

    Campaign Introduction

    You are all members of the Tepozatli clan, hailing from the grand city of Irongate. After years of traversing foreign lands, you have returned to your birthplace upon hearing news of your old clan leader Ahau’s passing. You left a decade or more ago, when the city’s formidable navy – the lifeblood of the Itza empire – was obliterated, leading to the collapse of the entire once powerful empire and its capital, Irongate.

    As blacksmiths, the Tepozatli clan’s fortunes were intrinsically tied to the navy. The clan had amassed significant wealth by supplying the warship with arms and other iron goods. However, with the navy’s demise, the clan lost its riches and had to lay off all its workers. Many clan members sought better prospects elsewhere. Despite being children at the time, you vividly recall the fear and melancholy that shrouded the city, even playing outside after dark was no longer allowed. The Tepozatli clan villa where you lived, always crowded and noisy (because giant mechanical hammers worked there all day), became empty and silent. Eventually, you too departed with your parents, leaving only Ahau and his family behind.

    Whilst you can fashion your characters’ attributes as you wish – nationality, gender, age, appearance, and further background – you all share a common past, having grown up in the Tepozatli clan villa situated in the Blacksmith district. You may even come across some childhood friends or rivals in the city, whose current whereabouts remain unknown but may be of assistance if needed.

    You all arrived in the city on the same cargo ship that belonged to the wealthy Asteanic merchant, Lardes. If you need money, it may be possible to work for him. You arrived in the city only this morning and went straight to the Quirigua (Kali death god) necropolis, where the clan leader Ahau is buried. There, you learned that Ahau has been dead for six months and there is no one left but you to inherit your clan’s large forge-villa in the Blacksmith district. You have no other home to stay in.

    The game starts when you step out of the Quirigua necropolis.


    Before the game, friends and rivals must also be drawn (as cards), and I already have some thoughts on this that would help get the adventure going.

    By the way, the first adventure and BBEG will be driving Tzakla Ulu out of the PC’s clan palace. As it later transpires, Ahau had succumbed to drug addiction, allowing the leader of a notorious drug gang, Tzakla Ulu, to occupy his palace with his gang. In addition, Tzakla Ulu will also be one of the rivals, and if that doesn’t help, one of the PC’s friends will also have a problem with Tzakla Ulu. And if even that doesn’t help either, if the PCs choose between Lardes and the king, Tzakla Ulu will still get in their way.

    Thoughts on friend cards:

    1. Someone from the same district who also has problems with Tzakla Ulu and can warn the PCs about him.
    2. One Nitzmanji tribal leader, who will bring the PCs into contact with Morena Truthseeing and ask them to solve the problems with her. (read also: https://sake.ee/day-19-of-dungeon23-%e2%94%82-city23-project/)

    Thoughts on rival cards:

    1. Tzakla Ulu