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Dungeon Accelerated: Rumors and Research

One of my goals for Dungeon Accelerated is to allow the GM to create and run a dungeon with as little prep as possible. Every good GM knows hat one of the easiest ways to shorten your prep is to let your players do the work for you.

The Atomic Robo RPG includes a great subsystem called Brainstorms, in which the players build the scientific mystery they are going to solve. The GM presents the scenario without a solution in mind. When the players reach a point where someone asks a question that points toward that solution (such as "How can this be happening?" or "What do we have to do to stop this?") the group enters into the brainstorm. Whoever takes part in the brainstorm rolls a skill, and the winner at each step gets to introduce a fact about the situation. The facts together add up to a hypothesis, which becomes the absolute truth of the mystery.

While the body of a Dungeon Accelerated game is going to involve exploration and action, I think a similar system to the Brainstorm can be used to set up the scenario. In fact, I can see it happening in two rounds of brainstorming, one for gathering rumors and one for researching a lead.

The Rumormongering phase has the characters listening to rumors in the tavern or asking around town after work while the players answer the questions "What is happening that must be stopped?", "Where is it happening?", "How long has it been going on?", and "Why are the heroes the only ones who can stop it?" The final step, what Atomic Robo calls the Hypothesis, is here called a "lead" and provides the starting point for further research.

The Research phase has the characters following up on the rumors, consulting sages, poring through tomes, or going on scouting missions in the countryside. The players answer the questions "What dangers lie ahead?", "What resources will the heroes need?", "What villains are involved?", and "Why are they involved?" The Hypothesis becomes the Quest, and the heroes set off to complete it.

I'm not sure if these will work exactly as the Brainstorm system does in Atomic Robo, but it's a good jumping off point. One thing I want to try is tracking which Approaches the players use to establish facts. The different Approaches can flavor the opposition as the adventure continues. If there are a lot of Sneaky facts for instance, the dungeon may have alert sentries that call for stealth to overcome.

The other idea is that since each fact and hypothesis is an aspect, the GM can generate dungeon features on the fly just by compelling an appropriate aspect. If Research reveals that the Tomb of the Unwary is Littered with Traps, as the heroes explore, the GM can offer them compels to make them deal with a just such a trap.

This is what I'm thinking about right now as involves Dungeon Accelerated. I need to firm up the ideas more and then start testing them out.

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