This Week in D&D: LMoP Part V – Dynamics in Dungeons

Something that went especially well in the last session of D&D – I made the monsters more dynamic than they were written to be.

The section of the adventure in Wave Echo Cave was written pretty blandly in a one-encounter-per-room description, without much information on how these rooms linked together in terms of their contacts. My party cleared out a room full of bugbear guards, but there’s no information on when these guards are relieved, when they report to others, what – aside from squat in place over their stove – they do all day.

For most of the dungeon (being as it is chock full of undead), this isn’t unreasonable. For this particular room, it didn’t make a lot of sense for the party to just be able to sleep overnight in the room without consequences. But Wave Echo Cave was written without a day/night cycle – it had no dynamics, it never changed, it was always static. I pointed this out a bit in the last couple of posts – the villains are stuck, unable to move, unable to perpetuate any plot beyond “sit in place and be evil.”

So I did what makes D&D such a great game – I made it better on the fly.

I ruled that it made sense for someone to check in with this room once per day, so after the party had spent the night, some guards in an adjacent room came calling. A decision by the party to leave a previous enemy alive resulted in a quick, quiet scramble for an ambush.

The party’s in the middle of this ambush for next week, and I think it’s a solid “boss encounter” (rolling two other encounters together), though they’re handling it quite well (the mage who is keeping up concentration has managed to be around the corner from most of the enemies, and has a flaming sphere blocking off the other side).

But it’s something to keep in mind – to keep the enemy flow dynamic and unpredictable, so that the player can’t just divide and conquer.