9/16/20

Deconstructing Into the Odd's Dungeon Adventure

This is a blogged version of my notes from a Bastionland server conversation.
The Iron Coral is a great dungeon you can find in Into the Odd (the old edition, not Electric Bastionland, which is even better). I ran it a bunch of times, and found it to be a great guide-by-example for dungeon design. Read it if you haven't, maybe run it, then this might be of interest to you.


Entrance --> First Set of Choices (2 dead ends + 3 different paths: you can go down a chute, take a door or go through caves)

Caves --> linear but quick paced with mostly atmosphere, alien theme prepares for the missable encounter with the alien far down, at another intersection - though this one is 2 similar doors, or continuing through a cave.

South Area --> two rooms dedicated to the giant fly trap room, one makes it clear that you can "solve" the trap room creatively, the other is fairly telegraphed but still dangerous. Above these, we get a room full of stuff (crates IIRC) and the pit room which is a kind of trap room with weird stuff to catch your curiosity.

Above That --> you have to pass through either 8 (if you came from the south) or 4, and/or 5 to get to the east part. I think 8 is mostly flavour cause I don't remember if anything special is in it - it does have a cool example of secret door and how to find and open it. 5 is the frictionless marbles room which I love and is basically a "toy" room - in D&D we'd call it a trick/trap even though it's not really dangerous unless players do something stupid (they will!) - I think room 4 has some dangerous thing in it, but it may just be a random encounter I rolled. It has some nice decor though.

So this was the first part of the dungeon basically. Notice how there's mostly atmospheric buildup and interesting toys, with one potential encounter that's not usually going to end with combat (the alien, which I love to roleplay by putting on a disguise and communicating in weird clicks, noises and gestures when running this IRL). Random encounters and lack of caution can still hurt or kill PCs though so it's a good introductory area.

The East Part.

Now you get to some meaner stuff, there's the screaming psychic sack in room that blew up the head of at least 3 players with low hp and STR (or was it WIL?) at various games at my table (I ran this odd venture like ten times, really love it). You need a clever approach or luck, or this thing will ruin your day. A larger group than ItO seems to suggest (5+) might make mince meat out of it because of the way ganging up works in "Classic" ItO.

N°6 I put as an interesting door ala EB route mapping, even though it's a corridor + 2 doors. I remember the deafening noise in it interacting well with the psychic sack. You can also break the glass and basically seal off one path through the dungeon if you're being chased. Also who doesn't like see-through underwater corridors ?

Rooms 18-17-16 are pretty cool, there's another really dangerous foe you can encounter there, and it's probably better to meet her in a random encounter than in this room cause you want access to the two magically locked doors. These doors' puzzles are fairly arbitrary, I don't think you can really "guess" what they do, so it's essentially gonna be players putting their hands on 'em and the GM going "yep" or "nope". I might be misremembering something though, but otherwise I'd say these are the weakest part of the otherwise excellent adventure. Plus, the arcana behind them are AMAZING. Death Glove, Life Glove. Give one PC both and he will do crazy things, yet it's harder to use in an "OP" way (if there is even such a thing) than, say, a portal gun.

The Easternmost Part

This area has some really good treasure and some horrible and numerous monsters that will ruin your day. It's actually very uncommon for my players to check this area out for some reason, they usually leave with the stuff they found beforehand. You could use the glass and orbs creatively so I'd say it's a cool room.

Overall, the Iron Coral stands the trial of time so far for me as one of the best one-shot dungeon around. Its peculiar atmosphere is an excellent kickstarter for an ItO game, and it has definitely been a massive influence on how I imagine the Odd World. As I've mentioned before, I feel like ItO is more about Deep Country than Bastion itself, as I didn't really think about City Adventures when I ran it, and I think Chris actually focused more on Bastion as he found more interest in City Adventures? Although maybe I'm completely off the mark on this point.

I hope it doesn't piss him off like how people might always focus on an album's first hit single when there's much more beyond that. For me, this sold me on to ItO and led me to discover the soogagames/Bastionland blog.

I'mma do some conversion notes to adjust the monsters to EB (though I doubt they'll need much work). If anyone who's run The Worm Queen wants to make a write up on it for comparisons, I'd enjoy reading that. I have yet to run it myself so I can't really talk about it in an informed fashion.

Further analysis (big word for nerdy obsessive nitpicking)

# of Rooms with

Total --> 22

1 Exit --> 8 (0, 3, 2, 16, 17, 12, 15, [Blank])

2 Exits --> 5 (13, 11, 10, 28, 27)

3 Exits --> 7 (4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 14, 18)

5 Exits --> 1 (1)

Well, that's route mapping




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