The first dragons have been spotted flying over Gateway, but how did we get here?
For a random dungeon generator that doesn’t need to worry about pesky things like combat mechanics and artificial intelligence, putting a dragon’s lair into Endless RPG might seem a simple matter of building a cave and placing the dragon at the end of that cave. And in fact, most of the actual coding for getting this done was already in place. But the actual act of getting this done was a little more involved.
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First, you have the lair itself. An orc war chief or a goblin boss may be fine with a small chamber within the cave serving as their headquarters, but a dragon needs some room. So the first step was creating a lair at the end of the dungeon where the dragon would have the room to spread her wings.
Endless RPG doesn’t create random caves and dungeons by placing rooms of random sizes and then using a maze algorithm to connect them, which is one standard way of building random dungeons. Instead, it uses hand drawn sections that are placed together in a specific fashion to get a bit more of a homemade feel to it. This is why a wizard’s bedroom, library and magical laboratory can be found near each other or a guard room often sits in front of a torture room with adjacent cells.
So the first step in bringing dragons to Gateway was building a few lairs for them to live in while the make their evil schemes.
Next up was actually filling those lairs.
Currently, only one color of dragon has been spotted flying over the mountains. A white dragon, Actually, several white dragons of different ages. But while a white dragon of any age is a formidable foe, they won’t be alone in their lairs. To get to the dragon, you’ll need to do a little fighting.
Another aspect of Endless RPG is that dungeon occupants are randomly thrown together. You won’t often see orcs, goblins, skeletons and demons all living together. Missions have a main antagonists, such as orcs or undead, and the cave or ruins that are created for them are mostly filled with the same type of enemy.
However, only coming across orcs would be quite a bore, so there are a few other creature types that can be found alongside them. Orcs are considered the ‘primary’ enemy, but the dungeon generator can also spawn secondary enemies. These are specific creatures linked to orcs such as giant rats gnawing on leftover food or kobolds being used as slaves. The generator can also create a ‘beast’ creature in certain areas, which can be a giant spider or a cave bear. And some rooms might be designed as a potential lair where you might find a roper or a zombie beholder.
So how do we go about designing the occupants of a white dragon’s lair?
The dungeon generator has a separate set of rules for ‘enemies’, which are creatures likely to lead other creatures such as a succubus who is causing mayhem by charming orcs and goblins and ogres. White dragons fall under this category. Enemies use many of the same techniques as regular dungeons such as areas for beasts and lair-type creatures, but instead of having a singular primary group as the main occupants, there can be several groups.
This allows a white dragon’s lair to be occupied by some of the creatures you might expect to find like winter wolves and yetis.
And of course, once we have the lair prepared and the occupants ready to move in, we have to move from setting up a white dragon in 5th edition D&D to setting up a white dragon in pathfinder, which means finding the right companions under Pathfinder rules.
The last step is balancing the lair. A dragon fight should mainly be about the dragon fight, so ideally, it will be a difficulty-to-deadly battle. So the trek through the cave to find its lair should include encounters to make it fun but not tax the party’s resources in the same way a normal quest might before reaching the final fight.
The typical dungeon in Endless RPG is set to be around 7 standard encounters. There is some variety as encounters can be easier or harder. Dragon lairs will usually have around 4-5 encounters before meeting the dragon, and if the dragon is considered a difficult encounter all by itself, many of these encounters will be easier (or perhaps even trivial). This offsets the CR of the dragon lair reflecting a difficult battle.