For the first assignment for my Level Design class, I had to design a DnD map based on these simple rules: Simple DnD Ruleset

My submission was the following:

The first map is the GM map, while the second is the map players have available.

During the creation of the map I made a few personal notes as to what kind of items, monsters, bosses etc would a player encounter. I originally assigned a specific monster to each square where they were on the map above, however, during gameplay I decided to rather assign a monster based on the player’s strength.

As you can tell from my personal notes, I originally planned several areas, each with its own boss, but then quickly realized that this was supposed to be a tutorial. In the end I decided to go with one of the areas, one easy and interesting enough to keep the player captivated, and went with the Broken Mines.

The players found the map entertaining and fairly balanced. They especially liked the Goblin throwing bombs and Little Horn basically using Escape to dodge attacks, which they learned to use by being able to throw the Goblin’s bombs back at him. Speaking of Little Horn, they expressed interest in the fact that the boss was actually 2 creatures, in this case The Horn Brothers being composed of both Little Horn and Big Horn.

One commentary they did have was about the hallway in the top right, about how it was unnecessary. Normally that hallway acts as a chocking point, however I had to rush the game so they actually managed to bypass the ambush due to an earthquake, which killed the Goblin at the end of the hallway.

I managed to cover the base of all skills, except for one, Guarding. I personally forgot that was a skill, so I completely neglected it. Next time I will pay a bit more attention to what the skillset is.

The path was linear, so there was no doubt of where the players were supposed to go, though I might make the entrance a bit more obvious, because right now they would start at a dead end and their initial reaction was to start at the end, where I put a light, so next time I will design the map to be more precise with what is what.

Another comment they made was the fact that the enemies were weak. And indeed I noticed that as well. Originally, when I made the map, I was afraid that they would be too powerful and ended up nerfing enemies. What I would probably do in the future is something that they also suggested, which is buffing the health of the enemies. What I also might do is actually cluster a few more enemies in a certain area. The way the map is now, combat is manageable, maybe too much so. Even if this is a tutorial, and the player isn’t really supposed to die, a bit of challenge wouldn’t hurt.

 

Coins were placed in certain areas, with a set of coins right at the start to introduce the player with them. The second set of coins was placed exactly far enough to where , if they used light, they would discover them. While not useful in the tutorial, the coins would’ve been used for things such as shops and travelling merchants and are a good stimuli for the players. The members of the party reacted positive to this stimuli as they did go to pick them up, despite their uselessness in the area they were in.

Spikes were a one time obstacle meant to teach the player how to use Jump.

Chests were placed strategically to be guarded by a creature or slightly out of sight, encouraging the players to explore. They also made use of dice rolls, as each chest could contain one of 5 items, that you can find in my personal notes, or nothing at all. This makes for great replayability and encourages different strategies.

The boss of the area, as mentioned before, were the Horn Brothers. A couple of monsters, one fairly strong, but with low defense, and the other weak, but high protection. Kill one and the other’s lower stat increases by 2. Originally, killing one would bring the other to a 4 ATK, 4 DEF, however, in my testing, I found that made them a bit unbeatable, so I decided to lower the amount gained.

Also, for anyone interested, below you can find the tileset I created for the map. One has borders on each tile and the other is clean. Each tile is 36×36 pixels, which is exactly half an inch in Photoshop. Which I want to point out as one last thing. While the players said the map size was perfectly fine, next time I might increase the size of each square to be 1″x1″ instead of 0.5″, to allow for better visualization.