dungeon stories problems and possible solutions

#1
Dungeon stories and there problems.

The concept of a dungeon with a soul is very alluring and fun to play with and explore but there are several traps and pit falls in the story that make continuing on the journey difficult for a author.
At least it seems that way to me.

I am going to point out several pitfalls in dungeon stories that I see and propose possible solutions.
By doing this I hope to raise the quality of dungeon stories here on this site and elsewhere.

I am a fan of several dungeon stories. The slime dungeon was among the first.

https://royalroadl.com/fiction/3978/the-slime-dungeon-chronicles-prequel

the slime dungeon among them. I gave Flacon167 the idea for contracts with sentient beings to bring more characters into the dungeon and to give it life. As far as I have been able to tell this is where the concept of doing this originated. I don't claim it and don't want to say others could not have figured it our or came up with it on there own but the trend seems to start with my suggestion here.

First problem of a dungeon the isolation of the main character especially in the early part of the story.

This can be solved fairly easily and every decent dungeon story does this but the great ones use these characters to build a larger plot.

Some solutions to this problem are: ( many are already used but some are only partially explored)

Pulling in intelligent monsters from the surroundings for the dungeon that have a history of conflict with something in the area.

A sacrifice to a Deity slips into your dungeon and you form a contract with it causing a religious conflict.

Building interesting sentient monsters that serve the main character but also have interests beyond the confines of the dungeon and are willing to push boundaries to get what they want.

A shy small cub or egg shows up at the dungeon forcing a possible contract because you can't harm it due to reasons. Ends up being a legendary being that is hunted the world over.

The possible solutions point to the second problem: Conflict

Conflict is the heart of any good story. If the characters in the story do not have some sort of conflict the story dies. In life we stumble from conflict to conflict trying to make due with what we have succeeding and failing in turn.
Conflicts can be separated for dungeons into several categories. Inner self, inner dungeon, near to dungeon and world conflict. World conflict because if a dungeon gets powerful enough or is seen to have the potential to break existing power balances it will become the subject of a war. ( multiple stories follow this idea)



I am going to break down the ideas into the categorizes that dungeon conflicts follow

inner conflict.
The moral conflict of kill or save is present in nearly all dungeon stories but I suspect it is not fully explored yet as the way most dungeons grow is through killing. Is there away around this? Several authors have thought so.

Protection vs exploration. Dungeons have mostly been forced by there authors to hide and keep in close proximity and only use protection but finding ways past that blockade of adventures is something most authors use in the beginning but neglect later on. Who says that you can't have a remote control tunneler, send creatures far away from your main entrance and gather intelligence father away from the dungeon?

Friendship vs isolation

Does the dungeon want friends or does the dungeon want to be left alone? Imagine a dungeon that wants to be a loner but a monster just won't let him be. The miniature conflict and how the solution occurs could profoundly color the rest of the story.

Attack or defend

A cardinal rule of dungeons thus far is that if they attack the world around them they are punished immediately and severely. Does this need to be the case in all worlds? Could instead dungeons be revered somewhere as the givers of life? A dungeon could be considered a kind of local deity where the monsters managed the local town and villages security and the dungeon was just a really secure castle.
The conflict in mind should I destroy those who sit outside my door step or should I let them in to grind them to dust is a conflict worth considering.

Inner dungeon
this is more for minor characters and side chapters but it breaths life into the dungeon in a much needed way.

Conflicts between groups of monsters for dominance.

Conflicts between sentient and non sentient monsters.

How a group of monsters gains intelligence.

Two boss monsters get in to a major disagreement how is that resolved.

How a small insignificant event in a dungeon like a rock falling on a leader of a group at a in opoturn time could send the delicate balance that the dungeon created off the rails.

Near dungeon conflict:

this is your basic adventures showing up and giving your dungeon a run for its money. ( good for early game)


kingdoms that mess with the dungeon for resources

larger multinational groups that seek to control the supply of dungeon good could try to take control of the dungeon. ( mages guild, assassins, adventures guild, cult of some god, a holy church)

Last world conflict

your effect on the world has become so great that it has created a world shaking even it's not just a regional effect anymore.

A major religion either declares war on you or decides you must be isolated causing a invasion of your dungeon city.

There is a major war between kingdoms over the rights to dive the dungeon.

Gods begining sending heroes to either take control of or protect your dungeon.



As a final note on conflict two major pit fall happen in every dungeon story.

Speed of power up blows past outer threats reducing conflict before the dungeon story is mature.
( the solution to this is slow the **** down with the constant power ups)

the second is eventually every dungeon will out level there world. The question then becomes where to go from there.

Several solutions come to mind.

Dungeons in some systems could have a level cap. As in the power that they draw from the world around them through there entrance can only support so many floors before it no longer allows growth. Then improvements are to creatures and loot or overall structure.

The first section of a dungeon up until the dungeon becomes over leveled for the world they sit in is sealed from the rest. That section gets a new entrance to places where the threats are more equal with the dungeon. This concept barrows from Wuxia where the character pushes past a barrier and joins for all purposes a new more powerful world.
The early dungeon in this instance could become a test for adventurers from the originating world/plane to travel to the next plane.

Another solution to this is that the dungeon could go to sleep once they reach the power level necessary so that they can no longer be invaded. A sentient mind when it has finally lost the need for more security relaxes and suddenly the dungeon mind sleeps. This could allow the world around the dungeon to gain levels and chase the dungeon deeper. Then when the adventurers get past a trip point a alarm sounds awakening the dungeon from its slumber telling it to continue building once more.

One last solution to this problem is like the section splitting up seen two paragraphs up.
Instead of becoming a portal to another world the first section becomes trial for the world gods for deciding who will battle in planar wars. The sections after that could be training ground/battle fields for Gods and demons fighting for the planet against invasions or invading other planets.

God bless Story hunter

hope this helps the dungeon builder authors out there to build better stories


several good start up dungeon stories I like. 
https://royalroadl.com/fiction/10881/dungeon-heart
https://royalroadl.com/fiction/10519/the-bound-dungeon
https://royalroadl.com/fiction/7005/dagon-dungeon-evolved
https://royalroadl.com/fiction/7318/cultivating-dungeon
https://royalroadl.com/fiction/7023/alistairs-great-and-powerful-startup-dungeon

RE: dungeon stories problems and possible solutions

#2
A problem I'm having with dungeon stories is the dungeon structure. 
It's like a pyramid or high-rise. 
If you are going to make a dungeon story think about that for a second. 
branching paths or multiple cores are possible and a dungeon could be many different things. 
An example: 
A type of dungeon I'm thinking about for my story are the roots of the world tree. 
The roots span the entire world but you can only see them at the tip: the dungeon entrance. 

I like having explanations for things that are not just Because System! 
On the other hand the system is a pretty good thing sometimes...

RE: dungeon stories problems and possible solutions

#3
4/11/2018 10:03:59 AMLajolo Wrote: [ -> ]A problem I'm having with dungeon stories is the dungeon structure. 
It's like a pyramid or high-rise. 
If you are going to make a dungeon story think about that for a second. 
branching paths or multiple cores are possible and a dungeon could be many different things. 
An example: 
A type of dungeon I'm thinking about for my story are the roots of the world tree. 
The roots span the entire world but you can only see them at the tip: the dungeon entrance. 

I like having explanations for things that are not just Because System! 
On the other hand the system is a pretty good thing sometimes...


indeed a dungeon can be many different things. That is up to the understanding and imagination of the author.

The Interesting point you make is multi core.
a multi core dungeon suggests a power share or power conflict. A competion for power if you will. A in built conflict into the story.

These dungeon cores could be like a group of brothers and sisters bickering amongst one another but viciously defend each other from outside influence.
Multi core also in the early stage comes at a steep price of slowly gaining more power because of the problem of power sharing.

Changing the shape of the dungeon is also a interesting concept. Looking deep into that molding of the base construct of what a dungeon story is specifically the shape has to take into account why that limiting factor has been used.

The distance from the core to a point on a horizontal and vertical plane has been used to determine the amount of territory a single dungeon core can work with. This can slowly go down for the most part and then spreading out as it goes. This model limits the dungeon to one entrance and one point that a enemy/threat can have access to. This forced access point on the surface creates intrinsic conflict that forms the basis for the dungeon story. Namely you have to defend your self from what comes from that point. Last core part of the model is the dungeon core your major weak point it can be protected never hidden but always vulnerable.

One good quality of this basic dungeon type is that it has a liner direction that the reader can follow. It also allows the author a easy way to upgrade the power go deeper more complex more interesting. This naturally draws the reader in.

It is hard to go over all possible dungeon models because anyone can dream another up but I can go over possible problems with a branching path model that could use a single controller but multiple cores.
this will come as a series of questions as these are creative problems rather then story structure ones.

how do you determine how far apart cores can before they become another dungeon? does killing one core hurt the other cores? does each core need a boss? Does each core need a direct path to the surface that a adventurer can pass through? does each core have the same attributes? if the core does not what do split dungeon types do to his personality? How does the dungeon decide what core tunnels to build on first?

These are just a few questions for that style of dungeon.
A interesting aside though for the multi core dungeon again could it be possible to grow mini cores in a dungeon like children and have them lead off from the main dungeon to there own core rooms until they grow powerful enough to link to the surface and/or pay rent?

I think a multi core dungeon is quite the interesting concept. A branching dungeon though needs limits and a dungeon is fundamentally a defensive structure a single path is always earlier to block or hold against a larger force then multiple pathways where you have to split your own forces against superior numbers. Also with a single entity and multiple cores you have many smaller floors you have to build and while this would take up more time and create a complex and interesting system it would take time away from characters. For a branching dungeon you would need to explore each separate offshoot this would take time and even fore the best of imaginations we run out of ideas.

One interesting possibility though to use a similar structure but get better results would be to have the dungeon start in the depths of a massive tunnel system that it slowly eats away at but uses to its advantage to keep a door always open but deflect attackers from finding the core it's self. This would create the illusion that there were branching paths while keeping the centralized structure of the dungeon.

anyway just my thoughts on the ideas in your post feel free to mess with them as you please.
story hunter

RE: dungeon stories problems and possible solutions

#5
Just checking, there's a difference between dungeon stories and dungeon core stories.

I mean, in Japan, you have plenty of dungeon stories where the protagonists' goal is to conquer a dungeon (Dungeon ni deai wo motomeru no wa machigatteiru darouka, Dungeon Seeker, etc.). That is, the protagonists are not dungeon cores but adventurers who explore and conquer dungeons, much in the same vein of Dungeon and Dragons tabletop RPGs.

Just pointing out there's a difference.

RE: dungeon stories problems and possible solutions

#6
4/30/2018 5:04:59 AM Wrote: [ -> ]Just checking, there's a difference between dungeon stories and dungeon core stories.

I mean, in Japan, you have plenty of dungeon stories where the protagonists' goal is to conquer a dungeon (Dungeon ni deai wo motomeru no wa machigatteiru darouka, Dungeon Seeker, etc.). That is, the protagonists are not dungeon cores but adventurers who explore and conquer dungeons, much in the same vein of Dungeon and Dragons tabletop RPGs.

Just pointing out there's a difference.


If you want to make that distinction that's fine these ideas about dungeon core stories but all the factors here could easily be reversed and played out from the perspective of the adventurer. Most dungeon stories already use the adventurers point of view to more deeply connect with the reader and show case how their dungeon is effective against their world's adventurer threat.

Dungeon stories (as above defined) if they are just about attacking dungeons could benefit from this thread in looking at what there enemies could be doing and how to enhance the antagonist forces.

A dungeon is a interesting thing to have for a semi op or regular adventurer fight but a intelligent dungeon that has unique characteristic's and interacts with the world on a deeper level much more so. There is room for a great deal of interplay here.
what if a young super gifted adventurer grew up with a hidden dungeon. A dungeon that he kept fighting in on his own. they would grow up together. They might even form some type of special bond. The unbeatable dungeon and the never defeated adventurer.

While there are differences the lines that bind them together are strong. Strong enough in time that they might just meld back into one.

Story hunter


4/29/2018 11:43:11 PMMinningDragon Wrote: [ -> ]I find these idea interesting. I think I might try going for a hybrid of sorts of what is posted here, as I do think that there is merit. However, on the subject of multiple cores, I think that though that is a very cool idea, if not written carefully, it could confuse the reader quite easily.



On the problem that the reader would be confused by a multi core dungeon. There is a fairly easy way around this. For one type of multi core story at least. The one I like where each core is a character.

For this type of dungeon story do not start with the perspective of the core rather start with the core's collective creator. This or from 3rd person omnipotent perspective. This allows you to show how multi core's came to exist and that there are multiple core in this dungeon story. Then alternate perspective between each of the cores.

This alternation between first person perspectives happens all the time in fiction. You just can't have to many perspectives or the reader starts getting really confused. Personally to start a story 3-4 is about max it can increase later on but for me at least this is the about I as a reader can get used to.

For the best multi core dungeon however making one dungeon core the main character and the others supporting cast. They could be competition to help drive the main character forward but like most brothers and sisters when threatened from the outside they are your best allies.

Storyhunter


The last note to day is about entrances. Really think about where you place your dungeons entrance.
Leaving it next to a village is nice safe and normal at this point. Do you really need to leave it in a place where a villager can find it within days and the dungeon has an actual adventurer group attacking with in a week?


The as the formula goes a adventurer town sprouts up early on in the dungeons life span keeping the monsters locked inside the dungeon.


What if the dungeon uses a natural cave system but does not claim it all for his own but uses the cave as a hiding place to mask it's existence for a time. It might even be possible to spec into stealthiness a dungeons mana leak at least up to an extent.
One could even make it a problem with the cave it self. A cave bear or other problematic creature is sitting in the room making claiming and remodeling the room at the early stage a problem. So the dungeon uses the threat to keep adventurer's away while it builds up its deference enough to deal with even slightly above bear level threats then it eats the bear for breakfast. This would work even better if the bear was getting fed by the dungeon. The dungeon could send in small groups of low level creatures that the bear likes to eat keeping the bear happy and in the way of anyone who could find the dungeon.


More interesting and unexplored places to drop a dungeon.




What if you dropped the dungeon under a city in the sewer system and had street rats find it and a mob boss horde it.


What if the dungeon appear on the edge of human and a monster races territory and the monster race found it first and cultivated/try to the dungeon until it has that monster explosion that sometimes happens in dungeons. Thus making the dungeon a slow growth nuke the monster side can use to launch a war against the humans.


What would happen if you put the dungeon on a island in the middle of the ocean and had to fight with mermaids and fish men.


What about setting the dungeon into a mine in a abandoned city that is overrun by cat sized rats. And the city surrounded by mountains infested with cave spiders. All of these could be moderately intelligent monsters. Then you build slowly out a entrance into the edge of the mountain ring finally meeting a adventurer.
For this possibility a nearby human/light side civ could be planning on clearing out the spiders and rats and that could drive them to set up shop in the tiny dungeon. Some of the spiders and rats could even set up contracts with the dungeon for the monsters protection.


Picking a location where the dungeon grows up is not just about creating conflict with the light side races that send adventurers. The monster races and intelligent animal races could attempt to conqueror dungeons as well or use them for other purposes. These inter species conflicts over and around a dungeon can keep the conflict going and keep things more interesting in the dungeon worlds.


Also if your dungeon ends up in a places where a major conflict is occurring between different factions over control of it. Wouldn't the dungeon manipulation of the battle field to force them to fight each other inside the dungeon. This would be the most profitable for the dungeon. In a case like this it might even be worth it to build a second entrance to tempt there teams to attack each other though the dungeon.




All these are ideas about placement. This is a tool like any other to drive the plot forward. There are many sci-fi and fantasy stories that do not involve humans for the most part. Dungeon stories do not need human adventurer's to function either.
Where you place your dungeon in the world matters. The adventurer is not a must be fixture of the dungeon story landscape.

RE: dungeon stories problems and possible solutions

#8
4/11/2018 10:03:59 AMLajolo Wrote: [ -> ]A problem I'm having with dungeon stories is the dungeon structure. 
It's like a pyramid or high-rise. 
If you are going to make a dungeon story think about that for a second. 
branching paths or multiple cores are possible and a dungeon could be many different things. 
An example: 
A type of dungeon I'm thinking about for my story are the roots of the world tree. 
The roots span the entire world but you can only see them at the tip: the dungeon entrance. 

I like having explanations for things that are not just Because System! 
On the other hand the system is a pretty good thing sometimes...


I personally favor Pyramid fashion but mostly because of my current fic being Cloud Dungeon and the 1st floor is always the largest.

That said, i want to point out that as someone who has been doing Dungeon Core stores from the start (i believe i was the first in RRL) i noticed that the major problem authors have is not being able to balance dungeon development with outside world development which leaves the store very bland.


As said by Story hunter, a dungeon fic needs a clear balance of dungeon conscious and side characters.

In my story, i favored the friendly path even in how the dungeon grows requiring, not killing but needing outside forces to live inside the dungeon at the price of only having mana that living creatures naturally emitte be the source of mana for the dungeon.

This doesn't cut down on the danger and still provides adventurers the possibility to challenge the pyramid style Cloud dungeon in both naval battles and land battles.

Also, a method i used to limit the power of the dungeons who utilize Liquid mana, which is many times more pure, is to give the dungeon a free for all growth peroid, which they are unaware of, and after reaching a designated floor the system imposes a Level and Potential system. The level system would be the same as the outside world system and would require monsters to level up to evolve instead of growing as the floors increase. As for the potential, it unravels a special system needed for things like unique monsters, mini bosses and roaming bosses, all of which can appear naturally in the dungeon due to their high potential.

Also potential would be a requirement, not fixed in stone at birth, to see if the dungeon can use a specific creature for monster creation. If the potential is enough to handle the transformation, it can go through but if its not, even with a huge mana cost it would fail. This would greatly limit the enormous power of a dungeons growth requiring them to properly cultivate their creatures to produce outstanding individuals to lead the races.

Another good idea, another something i used in Cloud dungeon, is self imposed conflict, or suppressive conflict.

With the protagonist being a 4 year old, she tends to use the villians of fairytales as boss monsters but there is no guarentee they will abide by her rules because they are pretty much the strongest creatures on the floor. What could be done is producing minibosses which can contend aganst the boss itself and be in direct oposition. In my case, i had the Mc make captain hook as the 5th floor boss and Peter pan as a miniboss. This, in the future, will lead to a major conflict that will engulf the dungeon during a special peroid of time.

Like storyhunter said, this is Inner conflict and its something you probably need to set up early on to reap in long term.

Anyway, this is just my rant as a major fan of dungeon core fics.
New Reply