BAD MOON RISING: An Adventure & Campaign Starter for Tomb of Black Sand


Jesper Myrfors

Apparently, one thing I really like is strange moons and in particular, those that, like a Cuckoo bird, have displaced the native moon. Here is a quick set-up that I did to run Tomb of Black Sand (Swordfish Islands) for PAXSouth 2020 (RIP). I have also included a short blurb on how to spin it into a potentially longer campaign.


✦DM NOTEThe PCs are part of a mystical order representing a union between human forest communities, druids, and forest spirits. The players have done something wrong. And in their dispiration to correct that mistake (not necessarily all the exact same one) they ended up in the Tomb. The Siblings are powerful but have been petrified maybe by the Order or maybe by some other faction. They are not benevolent, but still only children. To reinforce this mystical order, I only provided pre-gens in the following 5e classes, Thieves, Fighter (Champion), Druids (Circle of Land, Forest), Fighter (Eldritch Knights), Rangers, Wizards

OPENING: All of you stand on a dark grey plain. Flocks of corvids & carrion birds, not yet glimpsed by your eyes, wheel & dive overhead.

In front of you is an endless void swallowing black sand. A step forward would bring release, but that blessed step is halted by a warm presence- one that holds promise. When you turn two figures, siblings, speak in unison:
“You desperately seek oblivion, but purpose we now supply:
Rescue us from this tomb, where we rest not in death, but still eternal lie.

Beyond a lover’s lake measuring adoration in tears,
We embrace under a purple sky, trapped only together with our fears.

And our egress is blocked and your eyes won’t reveal,
This portal home or its lock; the key- a smashed lunar seal.

Now we must be silent as the Raven Queen is always vigil,
So holy knights remember us and the quartered silver sigil.”

✦DM NOTE: This describes the two purple sheet-covered statues of two siblings in room 13C described as being petrified by the nobility to prevent a world-ending prophecy involving them from coming true. The rest is references to how to get out of the tomb.

CURRENTLY: You awake, stiff, heavy, and covered in a gossamer and crystal burial shroud. It is cold like woven ice water and burns the thin skin of your face.

You have a heavy almost life-ending guilt for something you did or didn't do-- a broken oath. But this is only a dull ache, covered over by the scab of new purpose the Siblings have given you.

Around you the sounds of a shovel scraping against stone in deafening silence. The scent in the air is two types of rot: bodily and spiritual. Shroud-muted figures toil lit by flicking candles.
CONNECTIONS OF THE PAST (roll for your relationship to the person to your left):

✦DM NOTEThis just helps explain party cohesion and gives the players a little something to roleplay around. Its amazing how well little things like this work.

1. Entered the Order together
2. Inexplicable doppelganger of
3. Mentor to
4. Squire of
5. Broke an oath with
6. Do not fully trust
7. Owe a life debt to
8. Share a dream of the nemesis moon

OPENING: The PCs are part of an important pact between the scattered human communities of Vast Wold and the creatures therein. The pact was brokered by the druidic communities. These sacred woods sit in the center of the world (at least as far as the PCs are concerned).

Its main opposition is to the arrival of the nemesis moon, Ghorath, which has unseated the silver moon in the sky. It now sits as a black spot against the noon sun and a red baleful eye at night.

In this world the gods have gone silent, their voices drowned by the usurper moon’s song.

EAST the coastal communities of the cities under the Seven Faceless Angels (the only human fortifications left)
WEST the GÜL kingdoms in the unconsecrated empires (the ruminates of the human kingdoms)
NORTH the northern desolations of the Null and Hobgoblin enclaves
SOUTH is a flooded coastline that connects the EAST to the VAST WOLD


REAPERCON 2023: Great fun! This was my second time going and I had an even better time than in 2022. If you found me and chatted, you got this ribbon: Moldvay Basic 1981

Classes I Took: ReaperCon has several classes on just about every aspect of miniature painting you could want and at all skill levels. I took two classes. The first was about the basic materials you need to get started patining and why. Most of the material was stuff you could find in your kitchen. The second was a class on basic painting techniques which really is understanding your mini needs just 3 colors: a base, a darker, thiner wash, and a dry brushed highlight color. Reaper sells triads for this and also ~5 color kits for different types of mini "ecosystems" like goblinods, undead, or adventurers.

Paint & Take: ReaperCon also has a large area where you can practice these skills. You just sit down at a table. Grab a random mini from the large pile on the table and start painting. Its really neat.

Games I Played: 

Dungeon Dwellers feels like if someone "5e'd" OD&D (check out the link). We investigated a puzzle involving the flashing of sewer fireflies and glowing tiles. We fought giant rats, dire rats, and rat-people. I never hit once as a fighter despite a +7 to-hit but yelled insults at those rats as if I did.

TMNT & Other Strangeness is a nostalgic classic for me as it was the first RPG I ever learned. The GM handed out 6 sheets with pre-defined character personalities (I got "neurotic" with a knife affinity) and then we had to roll our mutated animal. Sparrows. We ended up spending our mutant points on one more size of height, hull articulated hands and arms, and gliding ability. We fought rednecks, encounter Disneyland controlled by a 6ft tall mouse who hated commies, and liberated DJ Fuzzybutt in order to fix our own AI "parent".

Games I Ran:

Through Ultan's Door vol 1: Once again players are acolytes of the CULT OF THE SLUMBERING GOD (says the silver & blue ribbon) trying to get their "chosen one" through the titular door, avoid forces of opposing gods, and be anointed by the Weaver of Shadows. Unlike last year's players who died fighting the white swine, this year's party traveled by the sewers and then cut their way to the spider daemon to receive the mark-- after making a small sacrifice of their lone hiring gained in the mini-game we played before. As the DM I missed with all my attacks save for a single one where I nat 20'd the thief into an early grave- well the Death & Dismemberment table put them into a bleed-out state.

Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier: Back to a crystal-infected frontier! This years TOMB ROBBERS (as per my ribbon for the game) chose to first find Merkvy and boy they did. But they decide to quickly cut a deal with him and even acquiesce to his choice of loyalty oath (Tell me what's in the well to the south). This ends in their almost death so back for revenge they vicious cut the ill-fated former tomb robber down. And encouraged by finding his treasure and eventually find themselves in the same spot as last year's group in front of the "Red Queen". However, unlike last year's group, this group released the Queen and vowed allegiance to her. Scarlett Town wasn't the same. The players seemed impressed that was an actual written outcome.

Nightwick Abbey: I had an opportunity to run the hell-haunted Abbey "after-hours". The party's cleric was in search of Nightwick Village's vicar who was thought lost to the Abbey. The party's magic-user was in search of a fabled gold skull of wisdom. And the party's two fighters were in it for the gold. They were tricked by floating mad monks, interrupted a silent dance, turned that same hoard of skeletons (seriously rolled 9 then 12), blacked out and awoke in a columned hallway, were hunted by deermen, stalked by the mirror image of one of their hirelings (You know what you did in the woods Kevin!), gave offerings to the Abbey, and finally half of the party was tricked into crossing a pit-trap by "manimals". At that point, I found an "Escape the Dungeon Table" and the only person to make it out was the other hireling. Good job hireling Micheal✤.

While I am biased, Nightwick is still one of the easiest dungeons to use and run as a DM. All of the information you need for each room is laid right out in front of you. All the above was done in over a ~2 hour period.

People I Chatted With: Nice to get the opportunity to sit down and chat with the team from Swordfish Islands. I've run into them for several different cons now since PAXSouth (RIP). It always fascinates me to hear how the books get made and all the various steps to that. They also encouraged me to look towards ZineQuest as a potential place for the "Wine Dungeon".

Here is a pretty workable hireling rules for con games. If you are randomly assigning equipment, players can offer up 1 piece of armor (min AC 12) & weapon (min 1d6 dmg) to earn a roll on whatever hireling table you are using. A shield or better armor/weapon gains a max +1 on that roll.


Attending REAPERCON 2023; since the dissolution of PAX South, this and NTRPGCON are my nearest gatherings of nerdom. Here are just some quick thoughts:

  • While being part of the spectacle of is its own fun, I do think small cons are where it at. REAPERCON focuses a big part on miniature painting in addition to a pretty good stable of games

  • The hotel bar staff is pumped as they all have gotten into the ribbon getting and have produced 9 specialty cocktails for the event (will try to post those)-- a lot of thought has gone into them

  • A big thing about REAPERCON is the getting of badge ribbons. You can even get a ribbon for accidentally dipping your ribbon line in the toilet or if it touches the ground you get "DRAGON DIRT"
    • I found a tiny duck hidden in the con and got the WHAT THE DUCK! ribbon
    • Also quoted The Princess Bride to get another ribbon
    • Pick a free set of dice for DICE FROM DANI
    • HIGH LEVEL from playing some classic arcade cabinets they have here
    • I've brought two ribbons for players in my games and one that's just MOLDVAY BASIC: 1981- gotta rep my fav ruleset.

  • Also chatted with some of the pro painters
    • One does just basic techniques with basic Reaper models in online classes which is cool and he his dad was into Nepolionics.
    • The woman that I spoke with got into painting because she found her then-boyfriend-now-husband's box of old D&D stuff in the attic of his mom's house; she remarked on the very panicked look on his face initially; she's always loved small things and so got into painting
  • Met a Swedish guy at the bar who was fascinated by all the goings on and thought a very good documentary could be made about it

BASIC IS STILL EXPERT: At Introducing New Players To D&D

I got a text from a friend of mine that they were going to play their first game of D&D with 3 other people of which the designated DM has only played 1-2 times before.

Although not told the edition, I was 90% sure that they were going to play 5e and I was 95% sure how this attempt was going to play out. This group of four would sit down to learn 5e D&D, make new characters, and run out of time before even rolling a single die outside of character creation.

And that is exactly what happened.


Fifth-edition character creation with its myriad of options took the entire 3 hour period. My friend left with a pretty "meh" impression of the game. And it is my impression this is a likely common occurrence with 5e. 

When your friends agree to sit down to a game of D&D, they want to *play* D&D, not learn rules or have to make dozens of choices they don't really understand. That's nerd shit. They want to start having these thrilling adventures, funny moments, and participate in the experiences that they hear you rave about. Or maybe see in video or hear about on podcasts.

In fact, this is where a lot of video games have an advantage over pen-and-paper RPGs, you start the game and in roughly ~5-10 mins you, the player, are *playing* the game. You wiggle the joy-sticks and stuff happens. Often aided by helpful on-screen prompts that pop up as you are doing things.

I could not let this impression stand. D&D is just too fun. And I knew I could accomplish more in half the time.

YEAH! Let's kick some chthonic chinchilla ass!!
Maybe kiss that pointy-eared thing!!!
('cause I've played BG3)

When my friend was over a few nights ago I announced we were going to play D&D. Literally roll characters in ~15 min and then actually *play* D&D the rest of the time. 

So out came Tom Modvey's Dungeon & Dragons Basic Rulebook (aka 1981's BX D&D). We went 3d6 down the line, I briefly explained the available classes (fighter, wizard, thief, cleric, halfing, elf, dwarf), and players rolled on a d6 background & equipment table I for each class to give them a little flavor. 

The group ended up with a guard (fighter) and two grave-robbers (thieves). All written down on 5x7 index cards. And since I had a copy of the first level of inplacesdeep's Nightwick Abbey close at hand, I used that.  Next, to kick off the game, I asked two questions. For the guard: "What did you do to piss off the crown so much you were not killed, but forced to guard a hideous monument to hubris?" For the thieves: "What did you do previously that you own the Thieve's guild 2500 GP each?"

The players came up with a story that the two grave robbers attempted to steal from the kingdom of Bellagio, got caught, bailed out by shadowy benefactors, and now were bribing a hapless guard to abandon his post and let them down into the devil-besotted Abbey- for money. Deal!

30 minutes had elapsed at this point.

Down they went creeping through a terrible place, listening at doors, getting slimed, trying to figure out what the bas-relief of a shushing old man meant. Then, finally decided to move toward a door where incoherent screaming was coming from. A short combat later, where oil was thrown, backstabs were attempted, and thieves were bifurcated, the lone guard ran out of the Abbey. Game over. Smiles around along with playful accusations of who was to blame. This is a good time with D&D!

1.5 hours had elapsed at this point.

TLDR Takeaway

My big takeaway is still that the best way to get people to like D&D is to get them playing D&D in as short a time as possible. And by "playing", I don't mean sitting around in ye olde tavern shooting the shit. I mean making impactful choices and taking risks. And for me, 1981's Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rulebook by Tom Moldvey does that beautifully.

But its hardly alone. Into the Odd, Errant, Mothership, Cairn, Mouseritter, and Shadowdark are all capable of doing the exact same thing.

You can also get 5e to do it as well as long as you don't get caught up in trying to get new players to understand all the rules. But instead only as much as they need to know to get playing. I tried to summarize that here. In terms of what 5e might look like stripped back, look no further than Traverse Fantasy's latest blog post.

[Edit] To cap this post off better. The reason why this matters to me is that at a time when more and more people are exposed to D&D (Stranger Things, Critical Role, the movie, & Balder's Gate 3), its seems we've landed on an edition and adventure design that doesn't easily move potential players from a state of interest in the game to a state of actively playing the game sans veteran intervention. Seems like a lost opportunity to me.

[Edit 2] So what could be done to help accelerate interest-to-play with 5e? Well, I think some sort of document or section of the Player's Handbook that was written with the same brevity as Here Is Some F%*^&ing D&D. Just enough to get players equipped and going as I did with BX. Then a ~25-room looped dungeon with some interesting takes on monsters, traps, treasures, and aspects of Arnold K's dungeon checklist. But could be prepped in ~30 min.

THE D&D IN MY HEAD: In Only 6 Load-Bearing Numbers

art: Mark Tedin

One of the most frustrating questions for me to read is, "Is X-OSR system compatible with Y-OSR adventures?" or "Can I use BX rules with AD&D modules?" or "Can I use OSE with Dolmenwood?" (Good lord! Y'all! Dolmenwood = OSE = BX)

I find these questions frustrating because while there are differences in all those systems they are very minor. And those differences will influence gameplay by 0 versus the "chaotic" nature of a d20 roll at crucial points in gameplay ✤ . 

Meaning, it doesn't matter if your save vs Death is supposed to be a 13 or 14 given you'll have to roll a d20 against it. Fight me math nerds, but better to be off by 1 or 2 points in some score than never get the game to the table out of fear of "doing it wrong". 

This agonizing also tends to sorta soft-lock away what is otherwise exciting and amazing content (Lair of the Lamb looks cool but I don't play GLOG, I play BX) and reinforces the idea that the math in D&D (and most other RPGs) needs to be so finely balanced for fairness or to make sure the game is not broken (Sigh...I want to run the dungeon but I need to write down stats for every monster and what how do I do traps again? And what if it asks for a save, my system doesnt use those)

Being confident enough to run things "just good enough" to get to the playing of "D&D" is an important skill of any DM. Once you hit that point it is very freeing because your brain power is not chewed up agonizing over system rules and details and can be put to more creative things.

And the next time someone says "Oh I've always wanted to play D&D but never got the chance", you can cannibalize their board games for dice and minis, download a Dyson Logos map, and start playing right there at their table.

To play roughly 0D&D, "Holmes Basic", BX, BECMI, 1eAD&D, & 2eAD&D and by extension the retro-clones White Box, Delving Deeper, Sword & Wizardry, LotFP, Basic Fantasy, and my fav OSE or to run adventures made for one of these with the rule systems of the other, you really only need to know 6 things:

✦ Marcia over at Traverse Fantasy also has outlined a similar "unified language" for D&D with clearer language than my back-of-the-envelope-scrawl; she also discusses unified procedures which I avoid here for breavity ✦ 

Roll for stats using 3d6 down the line and determine where you get the +/-1 bonus: 

  • 3d6 down-the-line (Or roll a d4, d6, d8- its still the same 3 to 18 range)
  • Easy to remember is this pattern:
    • 18 (+2)
    • 17-13 (+1)
    • 12 to 09 (+0)
    • 08-04 (-1)
    • 03 (-2)

1 HD Monster = Level 1 Fighter

  • So a 4 HD monster is the same as a level 4 fighter; 0 level people are 1d6 per HD
  • A Monster HD is d8 and monster damage is d6 and a Fighter HD is generally a d8
  • If you ever need anything for a monster, look at the fighter class for suggestions
  • Whatever math you give a monster, you give a fighter the same; so if a 3HD gnoll hits with a +2 then a 3rd level fighter should also get a +2 to-hit

Classes are basically: Use all weapons/armor no magic or Use magic no armor/small weapons:

  • Fighting types use all weapons and armor and have the biggest HD; advance on with (X)xp
    • Cleave: If you kill an opponent, move 1 square and make another attack; repeat equal to your level; I really started to feel this helps give fighting types a little
  • Magic-types use only small weapons, no armor, and have the smallest HD, but cast spells; advance with (X*1.25)xp
  • If you combine both broad abilities (sans Cleave) into one class, a la the elf, advance with (X*2)xp
  • X is experience points, coins, monster heads, or "completed adventures", seasons ect

Weapons and Armor: Damage 1d4-1d6-1d8; AC 10, 12, 14, 16

  • Small weapons (dagger) 1d4, Average weapons (sword) 1d6, Large weapons (battle axe) 1d8
  • Or simply, weapons 1d6 dmg: sword (melee), spear (reach), bow (range)
  • Roll a d20 vs the following target armor numbers: None is AC 10, Leather/Gambeson is AC 12, Chain is AC 14, and Plate is AC 16; shields are AC +1

Saves: 14 is the number of fate and the gods ✤✤

  • The middle number for saves in D&D is 14
  • "Death" saves are 12 (because you want to make it easier to avoid a one-shot kill) and most "Spell" saves are 16 (because you want most spells to take effect)
  • So basically: Death (12), Trap (14), Spell (16); Hardy or lucky backgrounds like "Dwarf" or "Halfing" or whatever your fox-based original class is lower their saves by -4.
When in doubt, its a 1-2 on a d6 (or 30%) that thing will happen
  • Open a stuck door
  • Check if the PCs/Monsters are surprised
  • Some random chain reaction happens
  • Want to compress all the thief skills into a single roll (mod by DEX)
  • Want to know if a character's background helps them (mod by WIS)

MORE WINE! PART 4: Actual Play of the Dungeon Session 6


MORE WINE!: Session 6

The general setup is here. But I have not recorded the first 3 sessions; previously... I have skipped session 5 where the party has completed 2/3 of the requirements for the next party: Find 3 types of wine, 2 types already recovered, plus a new type. Unlike Nightwick, I have to DM this game so its harder for me to write down what is going on.

Returning once more to Aeolos' cellar are the following:

Captain Buffet Dwarf 1
Rogon Fighter 1
Issac Cleric 1
Abraham follower 1

Captain Buffer is obligated to the dwarven god of the underworld Tartarus. And the party is still obligated to find one additional amphora type.


The party this time consists of Captain Buffet, Rogon, and Issac plus his follower Abraham. Garret has taken leave as thieves want to do. The party is joined by Thomas the Carpenter- an NPC of the house of Aeolos who has heard of the PC's exploits and wants to join.

DECORATIVE VINEYARD: They find once again each door is marked by a grape motif: north is white, east is green, and west is red. The PCs choose "East" as it is the least explored. Through a winding hallway, the PCs are confronted with a ruined font of a crying nun- foul purple water pouring from her eyes. In the middle of the hallway some distance there are two doors: one north and one south.

FALSE BRIDGE TOWERS: The party checks north and confirms it is the same room they found the son of Aeolos and a signet ring. Captain Buffet rallies the party to a dangerous objective: "Through that headless knight on the bridge!"

THE HEADLESS CAVALIER: The party kicks the door in and quickly organizes into formation. Captin Buffet in the lead with a spear set for a charge! The knight comes barreling down the bridge and slams into the line, narrowly missing Buffet and Issac- but impaled on Buffet's set spear! Thomas screams and bolts! In the next round the party counterattacks- but can't pierce the armor of the knight. The foul horseman drops the lance and draws a sword, stabbing downward into Issac for a savage blow (DM NOTE: Down to 1hp)! With a cry Buffet and Abraham rain blows but still can't break through the armor. But Rogon with a roar, swings his blade through the undead soldier (DM NOTE: Nat 20! And 7+1 dmg).

Armor and barding fall to the floor with a clatter and ringing out with a high pitch whine is a suspicious sword, faintly glowing purple (sword +1) with a unique hilt and bleeding heart pommel.

CROSSROADS TAVERN: The party peered over the side of the bridge but chose not to determine the nature of the inky void below. As such the party travels south until they reach a wooden door with a sign that reads: WELCOME TO THE INDOOR INN" and has a simple map drawn below. At this point, the party smells a pickled scent wafting through the air. After finding a case of SPIRITS in the back of the inn the party proceeds out of east door. 

THE STONE FOREST (of the Sea King): The party's attention is drawn by loud revelry and boasts. The sound of shattering clay jars just adds justification to the approach. They hail the guards who are dressed like pirates from a terrible play. These guards drunkenly assume they are lost members of the group and invite them in to see the "SEA-KING!". Inside is a columned room that is carved in the style of an oak forest which clashes with the shoddy decore of blue fabric, green pillows, and a ragged ladder+sheet combination designed to look like a sail. The "king" declares "taxes" that need to be brought forward on knees. The PCs elect to present one of the bottles of spirits they found in the inn...which they subsequently drop. Oops. "OUT!" yells the king who also demands more taxes.

THE MAKE-SHIFT CLASSROOM: Traveling south again the party kicks open a door with a loud BANG! The first thing they notice is a central figure in red with a snake staff lecturing four other people kneeling- with their heads shaved: "You're late for class, so hurry up and sit down here!" The red-robbed figure says (DM NOTE: Reaction roll was "11"). Issac and Abraham take their seat, while Rogon and Captin try to woo the more suspicious guards with another bottle of recovered booze.

Time slides by as the robbed figure explain an arcane theory about dungeon deformations, makes a cat's cradle with some string to demonstrate a principle or two, and then reverts to more lecturing all while standing near a large grinning green jar. Before the PCs realize what is going on, Issac and Abraham along with the guards and the entire classroom are shrouded in green smoke emanating from the jar and then disappear! Poof! 

"Well $*%^&!" Captain Buffet mutters. Fortunately, the classroom material was covering up some amphorae featuring swallows on the sides. Buffet and Rogon collect those and make it back to the surface unmolested.


The head steward is pleased! And they even found the carpenter cowering near the stairs to the cellar. The PCs in total gained ~500XP each got paid for wine recovery and got a magic sword (which could be cursed). Not bad. But what will happen to the cleric Issac? Will the god AZLN guild his return?

JAQUAYSING THE LOOP: All that is Jaquaysed is looped, but not all loops are Jaquaysed


Over on Discord, I got into a discussion about the link in this older post that discussed the power of loops to make dungeons interesting. And I generally still think that is true. Given 6 rooms, you create a more interesting arrangement if you just loop them in a ring versus a line. More so if you arrange those rooms so you get double or triple loops and place a feature at hallway intersections. This article further explains how the creators of Unexplored use loops and the program behind it.

But the specific discussion on Discord we touched on if there was a difference between "Jaquaysing" the dungeon vs using "gated circles" as often found in Metroidvania and other video games. I think there is an important difference which I distinguish them this way:  

  • Jaquaysing the dungeon, to me, is about PC choice and multiple alternative routes that could be taken provided you have the right equipment/class/mindset/risk tolerance. Its goal is to increase the potential for exploration because areas can be gotten to by multiple avenues. A player's goal is set by their own desires.

  • Gated circles are more about GM control of environmental reveal and ensuring that PCs experience 90% of the environment as often PCs need 2-3 "keys" (which could be actual keys, items, or abilities) in order to unlock various areas of the dungeon. This requires them to traverse most of the dungeon in order to get these keys. A player's goal is set by the designer's desires.

For me, the former is better for RPGs while the latter is better for video games. However, in the discussion, there was disagreement on this. I posited that gated circles are important in video games because they ensure that the player will explore X% of the content of each level and thus, I reason, walk away feeling like they are getting maximum value out of their dollar.

The counterargument proposed was that in fact, RPGs can benefit from gated circles in the same way too: gated circles ensure X% of content is encountered by the PCs and therefore prep is not wasted. Again, I think it is a matter of viewpoint so two things still stick out at me.

One: Prep really is never wasted to me because it can be repurposed. I don't mean in a "Quantum Ogre" manner where all roads lead to prep not initially explored, but they can be folded into a larger effort, redesigned, or the players could return to the content at a later date. Once created, the material is ever ready. But unlike a single DM who can change large swaths of the world in a single night, a team of videogame designers can not do the same. So the bolus of initial content must be utilized in order for the player to experience the value* of their purchase.

Two: Gated circles, while they might loop, are experientially linear. You can investigate them in any manner you please, but you can only eventually progress by following a specific order. That is because certain "keys" are needed to be collected to open a series of "locks". And those locked are nested behind each key-lock pairing. This creates a linear hierarchy in progression order. Even if you are allowed to investigate a lock without the key, it often becomes a trap. You can't get through the blue door at the bottom of the pit because you don't have a blue key and they is no way back up- the lava kills you or you have to just start over. This, by design, is a restriction of player choice.

So while the dungeon might be a loop, its is not Jaquaysed. Progression through that loop is not determined by the rate of exploration and/or risk, but instead by the number of key-lock pairs that have been accumulated. The only way to go deeper is to find the blue key in a gated circle. However, to go deeper in a Jaquaysed dungeon is to make a choice to keep going.

Perhaps I might need to justify why choice is so high value over % of the dungeon experience, but maybe I'll stop here, for now, to keep this think-piece somewhat punchy.

Some nice additional thoughts by Sean McCoy of Mothership: