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:

YOU DID THIS TO ME! Dead PCs Return To Mence The Living & Other Dungeon Headaches

You did this to me!

One of the neatest mechanics from InPlacesDeep's Nightwick Abbey that I have experienced is that PCs who are killed and left in the dungeon tend to return as wights.

This spurred me to think about the death of PCs more for my own dungeons. If the mythic underworld can infect the mundane to make it mystic, why not PCs' corpses as well? I think this effect could help make PC death a little more impactful and add a natural ritual to the game-- honoring the dead.

And also by impactful, I think below is a simple way to add a significant change to the dungeon personalized to the players' actions. I think whether consciously stated or not, players love to see the impact they have on the world.

So how would the mythic underworld affect dead players? Well, of course, all arise as undead with all the associated pros/cons. All HD are now d8s. And they hate the PCs- no negotiation. May instead of needing silver to-hit, silver weapons do +1 dmg (e.g a silver dagger does 1d4+1 dmg)


  • FIGHTERS: Blood lusted and battle-hardened! Returns as fast rage zombies, now can charge 30 feet and inflict 2d6 dmg while thrown objects do 1d8 damage.
  • WIZARDS: The body dies, the head lives! The head pops off and floats around. Now can cast one spell known in life out of each eye. May grow more eyes & cast more spells- behold.
  • CLERICS: Faith inverted! The corpse rises, talks backward, and is now an anti-cleric; will lair in the nearest grave, crypt, mausoleum ect. and raise the dead from anything the PC recently killed.
  • THIEVES: Sulk in the shadows eternal! A piece of their soul is molded into a rat/crow-like thing an omen of bad luck, invisible but can be seen in a mirror or appears right when a PC does something dangerous; increases the saving throw by +2.
  • ELFS: A cold but exquisite corpse! Travels out of the dungeon seeking the warmth of home and adoration; radiates Charm Person requesting the affected to continually build and add to fires resulting in the dwelling burning down and all in it- save the elf. 
  • DWARFS: Endless toil, endless trouble! Everything left behind except a pick; make new tunnels, collapse old ones, leave traps, and they don't know when, but they'll dig to (a) hell eventually.
  • HALFLINGS: Harth and hive! The corpse spontaneously generates a walking nest home to stinging, biting insects; double the number of vermin on the encounter table even if you have to increase the die size to do so.
  • REMOVE THE BODY: Take the corpse out of the dungeon and give a proper burial
    • Gus L of All Dead Generations has suggested: (1) hauling a corpse is encumbering; (2) if given a successful burial of at least 100gp, replacement character gets a 1/2 share of XP
  • SALT CIRCLE: Take salt with you. If someone dies, make a salt circle around them. Works until the circle is broken, but should last a week but longer than that? Eh...
  • CAST BLESS ON THE BODY: It will send the soul to the proper place or at least the afterlife of the cleric's devotion which might not be the dead person's preference

TO SUN SATURATED ISLES 02: Adventuring in Cuccagna

We return to the isles of Cuccagna where Skleras (C3) and the party are exploring Serpentona.
  • Upon arrival, we found a town devoid of inhabitants except for women
  • Skleras offers some healing in exchange for information earning the party some insight
  • We learn that the many had been taken to a temple to one of the pagan gods- the women by force and the men by enchanted singing
  •  Reasoning that a temple full of women would loath to not help a poor cat, we send in Lord Skarr in cat form to scout
  • The sum total of these efforts was a vicious attack by the temple's guards with Skleras barely surviving the assault [♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♥︎]
  • But the party gained a captive!