Factory-Hall of the Iron Shaman (Part 3)

Part 2


Last time, I learned that the Factory-Hall was actually a sort of school where the Iron Shaman was training minions, and I generated some broad details for each of the ten notable locations at the site. This time, I’ll start to put together the actual physical geometry and fill in more details.


To recap, this is where things were left off:

  1. Stables

  2. Nature of the feature: A dangerous intruder or beast who has entered the site.

  3. Creature motivation: Feed on the inhabitants or simply kill them.

  4. Vault

  5. Memorial hall

  6. Treasure found: Standard treasure trove for whatever encounter is present.

  7. Nature of the feature: A dangerous intruder or beast who has entered the site.

  8. Creature motivation: Scout the site for an outside power.

  9. Secure cell

  10. Encounter found: The Iron Shaman

  11. Treasure found: One tenth of a Mage’s Concealed Cache trove.

  12. Crafter’s workroom

  13. Hazard found: Triggered danger. If Encounter there, save or Td6 dmg.

  14. Courtyard garden

  15. Encounter found: 1d6+T hit dice worth of Minions and Elites, with a 50% chance of T hit dice worth of guard beasts or allies.

  16. Treasure found: One tenth of a Minor Hidden Treasure trove.

  17. Monument

  18. Divination room

  19. Encounter found: 2d4 hit dice of Minions plus 2*T hit dice worth of Elites, Mages, or Boss enemies

  20. Lecture hall

  21. Kitchen

  22. Treasure found: One tenth of a Large Sinister Tomb trove.

  23. Nature of the feature: A piece of artwork; even odds of original or stolen

  24. Inanimate feature quality: Worth Td6x100 gp, but will encumber you

Faced with ten locations to arrange in an interesting way, my first instinct is to divide them into one set of six and one set of three, with the final room acting as a choke point between them. It might be possible to circumvent that choke point once the design is finished (with flight or swimming, for instance, depending on the actual layout), but I need somewhere to start.


Fortunately, needing to randomize a list of things numbered one through ten is easy to do with some playing cards. Grabbing a deck, putting out a set of ace through ten, shuffling them up, and drawing them gives me the following groups (random.org’s playing card shuffler is a nice tool to make this easier than using physical cards):


Set of six: Vault, Kitchen, Crafter’s workroom, Lecture hall, Divination room, Stables

Set of three: Memorial hall, Secure cell, Monument

Choke point: Courtyard garden


And thanks to a lucky draw, the results lined up quite well with what I was hoping for. The main floor of the building has an assortment of utilitarian spaces, likely surrounding an internal courtyard that leads up to a second level with some specialized/ceremonial rooms. The Iron Shaman itself can probably skip up or down by means of extruding its limbs, but the golems will certainly have more limited mobility, and the transformed minions are probably also limited, too.


I will stick with that because it fit together so well, but just for the sake of illustration, here is another draw and how I would interpret it:


Set of six: Kitchen, Courtyard garden, Vault, Divination room, Crafter’s workroom, Stables

Set of three: Lecture hall, Secure cell, Monument

Choke point: Memorial hall


Once again, the set of six contains most of the general use locations, though I could imagine an arrangement with the kitchen, stables, and vault on a public-facing side while the divination room and crafter’s workroom are more secluded, separated from the former subdivision by the courtyard. Both of those would then connect to the memorial hall, which was intended to set students in the right frame of mind to appreciate their lectures. The monument would loom over the lecture hall, and the secure cell would be the instructor’s private quarters.


That all said, I think the time has come to start building an actual map.


My first step for doing that is to figure out a rough layout for the site. If the courtyard garden is going to be a choke point between the main and upper floors, the main floor of the building can be C-, G-, U-, or V-shaped, with a wall closing off the open side. Said wall also supports a stairway up to the second level, where a latticework of balconies and catwalks leads to both a monument overlooking the courtyard and side rooms for the memorial hall and the Iron Shaman’s secure cell.


As mentioned in my series on the Walled Mound of the Hive Caller, I like to think about Jaquaying techniques to make sure that the map will provide meaningful choices. The stables would be an obvious point of entry. None of the other locations on the main floor give me that same feeling, but the kitchen and lecture hall would have windows, the crafter’s workroom and kitchen would have chimneys, and intrepid climbers could scale the courtyard’s back wall to access the balconies directly. There isn’t much in the way of loops in that layout (aside from the multiple methods of moving between the main and upper floors), but the divination room and vault can both be hidden areas; the former gives the potential for enemies to strike from behind if the PCs don’t find them first, and the latter can be made interesting by moving the courtyard’s treasure there.


A quick bit of MS Paint-work gives the following:

It's not sexy, but it gets the point across

(Note: this is meant to be a schematic layout, not a to-scale diagram)


I threw in a few secret doors and marked the main entrances, too, and ended up adding some more versatility to the map in doing so. It’s always nice when sensibility and good design practice line up.


I don’t feel like going into sizing the rooms and detailing the map proper just yet, so this should be a fine place to stop with the map for now. As a reminder (as much for myself as for anyone else), this is the revised plan for the dungeon:

  1. Stables

  2. Nature of the feature: A dangerous intruder or beast who has entered the site.

  3. Creature motivation: Feed on the inhabitants or simply kill them.

  4. Vault

  5. Treasure found: One tenth of a Minor Hidden Treasure trove.

  6. Memorial hall

  7. Treasure found: Standard treasure trove for whatever encounter is present.

  8. Nature of the feature: A dangerous intruder or beast who has entered the site.

  9. Creature motivation: Scout the site for an outside power.

  10. Secure cell

  11. Encounter found: The Iron Shaman

  12. Treasure found: One tenth of a Mage’s Concealed Cache trove.

  13. Crafter’s workroom

  14. Hazard found: Triggered danger. If Encounter there, save or Td6 dmg.

  15. Courtyard garden

  16. Encounter found: 1d6+T hit dice worth of Minions and Elites, with a 50% chance of T hit dice worth of guard beasts or allies.

  17. Monument

  18. Divination room

  19. Encounter found: 2d4 hit dice of Minions plus 2*T hit dice worth of Elites, Mages, or Boss enemies

  20. Lecture hall

  21. Kitchen

  22. Treasure found: One tenth of a Large Sinister Tomb trove.

  23. Nature of the feature: A piece of artwork; even odds of original or stolen

  24. Inanimate feature quality: Worth Td6x100 gp, but will encumber you

However, before I end this post entirely, I think it’d be worthwhile to put down some thoughts on those two “dangerous” interlopers.


For the memorial hall, I think a reasonable choice would be an emissary of another otherworldly entity, sent ostensibly on a diplomatic mission. Falling back on the Wuxing elements, perhaps the emissary represents the Mouth of Time, who is considering providing the Iron Shaman with a means to stop its golems from deteriorating.


For the stables, then, there should be some feathered beast associated with fire. Legendary birds like the phoenix or simurgh would be out-of-touch with the rest of the adventure, but scaling down a B/X salamander to represent a youngling on a rite of passage could work.


That’s it for now. Next time, I’ll start filling in the details to make a map worth drawing.


Part 4 (to come)

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