Monday, April 4, 2011

A-Z: Beehive, random challenge dungeon

Wow, again, schedule sucks! Why am I so busy now? Well, I'll get to right schedule. This is actually post for 04/02/2011 what should have been Saturday. But well... this is how it goes now. So, today it will be Saturday's post for letter B for A-Z blog challenge...

What Is Beehive


Beehive is repeatable challenge quest in Perfect World mmorpg. I have to admit, that I have never attended it, so what I know about it is just what I have heard about it. But anyways, this blog is not about the beehive challenge quest in Perfect world mmorpg, but what inspiration it could give for roleplaying games.

It has nothing to do with actual bees, but I think that the structure of this challenge quest as random rooms is why it is called a beehive. Side note.

Beehive is a dungeon with random rooms. Different rooms have different tasks to do before you can move further to next random level. There are, don't know... 50 or so (at least) of these challenge rooms, and if you are lucky, you could skip most of the rooms to get into the end and prize, or you might have to go room by room all of them.

I am not 100% positive how it works. I know you need these Mirage stones to enter it, and if I remember right, you get to roll dice in game to determine the next room you are going...

What ever the case is, the point is, that you take a series of challenges in rooms in random order to get the prize. How would it work in a rpg?

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition And Beehive


Gotta say, never played, never read the game. But what I know about D&D 4th Edition is that basically the structure of campaign is made of challenges. Challenges might be not only fights, but also for example social or puzzle type. So, if you think that D&D is encounter after encounter, doesn't beehive work well for it?

Would beehive just be some random quests, or could there be a in game story for it? Yes.

There is this magical labyrinth, where you need skill, power and sheer luck. You enter the room, when win it's challenge enter another room where your magical dice teleport you (I am quite sure, there was dice involved in PW in this manner). Some rooms are simple puzzles, some traps, some contain monsters. Some are deadly what only the skilled can conquer, some need next to nothing to pass.

Why should character or character party enter this beehive then? Because it is good excuse for repeated encounters and experience points and loot. Oh, and those who get through beehive to it's last room, will be rewarded generously.

Basically beehive is just excuse to run random encounters room after room with some meta plot thingie there. It's not rocket science, but if your players are in the right mood for D&D (loot and experience) this would be perfect. No long story, every encounter what seems random serve a purpose for an adventure and prize in the end.

Also other D&D versions, D&D like games, old school games etc. work very well for this kind of campaign. I just used D&D 4 as an example, because never actually wrote about it before.

Beehive, How Does It Work


You need to determine the rooms, how many there will be. Would be easier to randomly determine the next room, if the number of rooms equals to some number possible to roll with dice. Possibilities are, for example 3D20 (3-60), 1D100 (1-100), 1D100/2 (1-50) etc. It would be better to have more rooms than less of them. To keep things simple.

Writing rooms should be easy. Just take random ideas and random monsters and write them down. Roll that number, that's the room character or character party enters. Some should be extreme challenging and feel very unlucky to enter, some might be easy. Some might be monster or monsters, some traps. One or two rooms might be just empty where you have to roll dice in the middle of it. Could be fun, if character's have encountered dangers. Would they take this innocent looking (and perfectly innocent) room suspiciously?

When entering rooms, you could enter with room "1" what is the entrance, first room of the challenge. From there, party rolls magical dice in the middle of the room (every room might contain similar dice rolling teleportation place, but it should be activated only after the conditions of the room are met) and sees where they are teleported according to the dice result.

If you want to make it easier, those rooms already entered are "used", and cannot be entered again. Use next available higher or lower number what closest is available. Lower number preferred. If you are a harsh DM, you can enter to same room twice and if you are extra hard, the room has reseted and it must be won again.

You might also want, that group can enter only higher room next, rolling dice as long as next result is higher than previous room, but that is way too easy.

Prize For Winning The Beehive Challenge


Remember, there is luck involved. Lucky roll, character or party could go to the last room of beehive challenge from the beginning (should last room be also challenge, or just finishing line is up to you). But the journey there could have been extremely rough (multiple rooms, multiple same rooms). But that is the trick. With luck you might win the challenge easily, but you might get yourself stuck there, wandering same rooms again and again waiting dice to favor you.

What ever the case is, reward should and could contain experience points, fixed number for the party, shared, solid, what ever suits you. Gold of course, or other valuables like diamonds are good. Also could be good if every character could choose one special item what suits his character. Better part of armor, pendant with magical powers, powerful weapon. It was a quest after all.

Variations


Could beehive work with some other games? Yes. Have you seen the movie Cube, or Hypercube (Cube 2)? If you haven't you should. In Cube the "beehive" is more like prison with deadly traps, but it will work fine with your science fiction, or modern world Warehouse 13 type game.

In Call of Cthulhu reasons might be many for investigators to get stuck in strange rooms with strange monsters and challenges. It could be in dreamworld, another dimension or even ancient mystical ruins. Similarly could work with pulp adventure in Indiana Jones fashion.

Be creative. Take the game in your hands, and think what kind of variation beehive could be in that setting. Might be easier than it sounds. To be frank, in my opinion Dungeons & Dragons styled game could be the easiest to run beehive, but I bet that in other games the use of it could be more creative.
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