Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Advanced Molecular Dungeon Mapping

Now that we've covered the basics of molecular dungeon mapping, let's move on to some more advanced methods.

Aromatic and Hydrogen Bonds

A common feature in a lot of complex organic molecules are Aromatic and Hydrogen Bonds.

Aromatic Bonds
You'll see this Benzene structure a lot in the following pictures (with Hydrogen not shown). For complicated reasons, I can't tell you how this is different from a handful of carbon with alternating double and single bonds. You'll just need to trust me. Because it's so common in big organic molecules, I recommend treating this as a different route category than double or single bonds.

I recommend, if you're drawing it out, to use the bottom format,
to distinguish it from double bonds on the map.

I treat this "hexagon with three internal double bonds" as Dungeon Highway - well traversed area. Double wandering encounter checks.


Hydrogen Bonds
Hydrogen bonds, almost always between Hydrogen and either Oxygen or Nitrogen, are usually displayed as dashed or dotted lines. Because they're always connecting Hidden rooms with something else, I use these to represent Secret Passages.

Let's look at these two in Indigo Dye below:

"Two Ships Docking"
Indigo Dye
Common Rooms (Carbon): 16
Entrances (Oxygen): 2
Special Rooms (Nitrogen): 2
Hidden Rooms (Hydrogen): 2
High Traffic Areas (Aromatic Groups): 2
Movement Hazards (Double Bonds): 3

We have two entrances (O), two Hidden Rooms (H) connected to the entrances by Secret Tunnels (Dashed Line) and Not Common rooms (N). Two high traffic areas to the west and east (those hexagons on either end). There's an Inconvenient Movement Hazard (Double Line in the middle) bridging the two halves.

Not, perhaps, the most well-designed or imagined dungeon layout. Having Dungeon Highways on the ends is weird. But it's serviceable. Maybe we're looking at two locked ships, or the Lair of the Binary Wizard.

Elevation Changes

"Bugbear Ambush"

The dashed line connections represent that the molecules are oriented in a direction away from the viewer (if they are solid black triangles, they'd represent going towards the viewer). We can treat these as stairs or elevation changes. So, if we pretend this entire dungeon is a flat plane, with us looking down on it from the sky, we have one Hidden Room on a lower elevation, and one Common Room on a higher elevation.

This molecule actually seems quite functional! I can see a cave complex here. Just needs some material to populate it and you're good to go.

Functional Groups

This guy right here.

What ho!
What about phosphate groups?! (Said exactly one person)
You'll find them in nucleotide-phosphates and DNA/RNA. Those are the things with a P surrounded by four O's.

I'd treat them as a single unit  PO4, so just a Pit (see previous post rules), 'cause four entrances around a pit is a bit redundant (or not, maybe, if we're talking about an open-air pit), and it's rare to find Phosphorus in an organic molecule without oxygen around it.

Metals and Ions

When it comes to organic molecules and metal ions, you tend to get two scenarios.
You get floaters like this guy here:
Sodium Acetate
Let's say that this represents a Unique Entrance. A portal opening, a guarded gatehouse, a big talking demon head on the side of a mountain - that sorta stuff.

2) Or big entrapped structures like here:

Let's say entrapped metals are Treasure Rooms if surrounded by Not Common rooms, or Massive Caverns if surrounded by Openings.


Proteins and Nucleic Acids
"Periodic Pits of the Acid Prince"

Common Rooms: 38
Entrances (O): 8
Special Rooms (N): 15
Hidden Rooms (H): 3
High Traffic Areas: 1 (in the Adenine)
Pits (P, surrounded by O's): 6
Movement Hazards: 11
Hidden Passages: 5

Whoo-ee! This dungeon is complicated. You've got Pits, tons of Special Rooms, and lots of Movement Hazards all around. Might be easier to split this up into four mini-dungeons, one for each nucleoside. Possibility exists that you could just chain these things forever (extending them along the squiggly lines) into a DNA-megadungeon.

"Riches in the Pools"
The active site of T7 DNA Polymerase.


Heed my jargon, I'm going to talk about some problems and limitations with this mapping system.

Someone out there who took O-Chem in college is going to note some flaws in the room coding system. For one, Halogens rarely exist outside of single bonds to one atom in organic molecules, so you'll nearly always get F, Cl, and Br on the end of a branch, instead of the middle.

Similarly, metal ions will never be covalently bonded, so all passages to treasure rooms will be hidden passages. They'll nearly always be surrounded by Oxygen or Nitrogen, and while the later is fine, the former is rather silly for layout (do you really want your treasure rooms right next to a handful of entrances?).

My suggestion to fix these problems is: re-label elements to mean whatever you want them to be. Go nuts! Use the molecules as a template rather than gospel and work that imagination. Ask yourself: what kind of dungeon does this molecule remind me of?

The Gallery
(Drugs Make the Best Dungeons)

"Porous Cliffside"

"Back Broken Cathedral"
"Castle Funnel"
Selumetinib, a cancer drug.
"Triple Cathedral"
Dabrafenib, another cancer drug.

"World Snake"
Quizartinib, I'm digging that secret entrance in the middle.
"Rooster Colossus"
Meropenem. Antibiotics work great, too!

"Modest Library"
Ampicillin, another antibiotic.
"Fight Club"
Escitalopram, an antidepressant.
The Alexa dyes.

You basically have an infinite source of dungeon layouts with this method.

If someone makes a table (it won't be me) for random rooms for each atom type, you've got a procedural dungeon generator.

Hey, would this also work for city street generation?

Anyway, enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mapping Dungeons to Organic Molecules


I had a very silly idea the other day when I was re-reading Melan's Dungeon Layout Article. Dungeons with loops are great. Y'know what has lots of loops? Big organic molecules, of course!

So, because I apparently need to up my dork levels, here's a system for making a dungeon layout with organic chemistry.


Let's take a look at the Basic Forms depiction in Melan's article.

Individual rooms are obscured, but through-lines through the dungeon come into clear focus. Y'know what looks similar to this? Skeletal Structures in organic chemistry.

Not too different, right?

So now let's take every atom in the above molecule and convert it into the layout of a dungeon.

If you are interested in the whole picture of drawing skeletal structures and their meaning, you can find a resource here: How to draw Skeletal Formulae of Organic Molecules.

TL;DR: A Quick Guide to Chemical Skeletal Structures
1. Each letter in the structure represents an atom. 
2. This letter matches the symbol on the Periodic Table of Elements.
3. Hydrogen atoms and their bonds are not shown unless it is important to show it. 
(There are many in the molecule above, but they aren't displayed because it would clutter up the image.)
4. Carbon atoms, being the second most common, are not typically displayed as letters.
5. Carbon atoms are instead displayed as junctions or ends of line segments where a letter does not exist. 
This molecule has 2 Carbon atoms
This has 3 Carbon atoms

This has 2 Carbon atoms and 1 Oxygen atom
This has 3 Carbon atoms. Parallel lines represent a double bond.
This has 3 Carbon atoms and 1 Oxygen atom.

This has 7 Carbon atoms and 1 Chlorine atom.
This has 6 Carbon atoms.
! Also, see below for Aromtic Bonds
This has 6 Carbon atoms.
Those parallel lines in the middle are a triple bond.

Mapping Rules

Periodic Group
Dungeon Room
Room Example
Carbon *
Cave, Hall, Basement, Cellar
Not Common
Fountain, Kitchen, Trap, Forge
Hydrogen #
Hidden Room
Panic Room, Secret Study
Cave Entrance, Gate
Secret Opening
Hidden Entrance, Secret Door
Dragon Lair, Dungeon Boss
Shrine, Chapel, Alter, Monastery
Goblin Camp, Fungal Colony, Guard Barracks
Phosphorous !
Abyss, Pool, Precipice, Well
Metals !
Na, Mg, Fe, Ni
Treasure Room
Treasure Hoard, Magical Item
* Any unlabeled junction or end of line segments is a carbon atom.
# Only when shown on the map.

Bond Type
Dungeon Route
Single Bond
Hallway, Spacious Tunnel
Double Bond
Inconvenient Hazard
Half Speed
Crawl, Climb, Detritus
Triple Bond
Deadly Hazard
Sump, Poison Gas
Aromatic Bond !
High Traffic Areas
Double Encounter Chance
Dungeon Highway, Battlefront
Hydrogen Bond !
Secret Passage
Secret Tunnel, Escape Route
Ionic Bond !
Planar Portal
! We shall cover this in Advanced Molecular Dungeon Mapping

With functional groups {such as Hydroxyl (OH) or Carboxyl (COO)} use only the element most right then down on the Periodic Table (hence the most interesting ones).

So the priority is:
Br > Cl > F > S > O > P > N > C > H

OH = Ignore the H, it's an entrance.
COO = Ignore the C and first O, it's an entrance.
SO3- = Ignore the O, it's a secret entrance.

So, let's try this out with a simple molecule: Pentanol

What we see here is a linear dungeon, comprised of five rooms and an entrance (we ignore the H, because it's attached to an O). This dungeon would match the "Linear" format of Melan's layouts.

Let's do something more complicated.


What do we have here?

2 entrances (O), one of them hazardous (Double Bond), connected to a Pit (P).
1 Pit connected to 2 Not Common (N) rooms. 1 entrance is on the closed loop with the Pit.
2 Clerical rooms (Cl).
7 Common rooms (Unlabeled).

Okay okay, it's still just a small dungeon with just one loop and two branches. Nothing close to Caverns of Thracia yet. But that's the thing with molecules, right? You can get 'em big and small. In the following post I guarantee they'll get more complicated.


Last Rule: Ignore the Rules

Seriously, this method works better for inspiration than for a rules-as-written mapping method. You want to add a Hidden Room somewhere? Do it. Want to change a functional group? Do it. Want to change each room's coding? Do it. This isn't even close to a perfect method, so make it your own.

I'll discuss more of the problems and alterations with this method in the next blog post: Advanced Molecular Mapping.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Cowpie Mushrooms

I wrote a low fantasy adventure that isn't about crazy wizards!

For low level characters!

Inspired by real life events!*

About mushrooms that grow on cow shit!

It has cows and doggos in it!

Find it HERE

Public domain art, found here: (https://images.nga.gov/en/page/openaccess.html)

There are no maps. I got lazy and didn't need them when I ran it for my home group on a rainy day. Hopefully you know what a dairy farm looks like.

I shall consider this, along with Goldsoul Mines, to be candidates for attempting some layout work on. But that shall have to wait until I'm done scrambling to write stuff before I need to run it over the holidays.

*The old guy who told me this story was quite high on mushrooms at the time. I'm not sure if this enhances or diminishes the credibility of his tale.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Dangerous Food

(This is a follow up post to Le Restaurant Tranquille. Read that first.)

So, what does all of that nonsense food in the last post taste like? And more importantly, what happens if you sabotage the cooking process? I think I'll take a shenanigans-first approach to Le Restaurant Tranquille.

Like this, but they all die if the dwarf didn't get enough sleep
and cooked the mushrooms without dispelling evil.

For all entries, assume a Save vs. Poison for 'If it ain't cooked right...'

1. Aboleth Soup
The real question is: who thought cooking and eating an aboleth was a good idea in the first place? The vegetables must be brined and de-brined or the aboleth meat will corrode it.

It tastes like... being welcomed home after a year-long voyage at sea. Like the home-cooked stew you never knew you missed.
If it ain't cooked right... skin starts to turn to goop, flesh dissolves into an promethean mess. In the brief moments before you turn into a puddle you start cursing the gods and Everything.

2. Silenced Black Truffle
Shrieking mushrooms are surprisingly tasty once you quiet them down a little. Typically sliced expertly thin and sauted. Any noise during the cooking process initiates screaming.

It tastes like... the peace of autumn - the final stretches of the forest before it rests, the cool breeze on smoking wood, the ecstasy of the snail.
If it ain't cooked right... unsilenced it shall become. Flesh becomes tough and rubbery. That cooked truffle will grow a mouth and start screaming on the plate. Save vs. paralysis or get paralyzed for 10 minutes.

3. Flail Snail with Garlic Butter
A delicacy, even among those places without arcano-gastronomy. A fully grown snail is a feast for a village. A provincial recipe.

It tastes like... the garlic butter really brings out the eternal sadness. But, like, the tasty kind of depression, not the depressing kind. The fleeting pretty kind you see advertised on TV.
If it ain't cooked right... a vile dish which'll make you puke and cry at the same time.

4. Phoenix Omlette
Stealing a phoenix egg, let along eating it, is considered a heinous act universally... except in Wizard City, of course!

It tastes like... being born again, without all the screaming, pain, and cold. Like entering a new world with new eyes, taking in everything with nothing for granted.
If it ain't cooked right... you will catch right on fire. Go up in an immolation. Vaporize right in front of your date. And you won't come back.

5. Quince Fruit in Gelatinous Cube
Getting the gelatinous cube to not digest the eater is a chemical challenge. It turns out quince fruit is instrumental in the formula.

It tastes like... Quince! And a primordial fullness, like being a snake digesting a months-long meal.
If it ain't cooked right... make your save and you vomit it out. Don't, and the acid will eat you from the inside out.

6. Unicorn Flank with Pegasus Sauce
We don't talk about where the Unicorn meat comes from...

It tastes like... an innocence shielded with strength, like a mythical hero stripped of all callousness, as one would find Heracles in a children's book.
If it ain't cooked right... Madness and mutation. Unicorn meat is ravenously addictive, and only a master chef can dispel these traps. The lost innocence becomes a taint on one's soul permanently.

7. Fat Liver from Cockatrice with Shallots and Figs
The hard part is force-feeding the Cockatrice for several days on hearty grains.

It tastes like... strolling through the meadows of Elysium, holding a loved-one's hand.
If it ain't cooked right... 50% chance the eater can now digest stone for a week. 50% chance small rock shards grow in the intestines and eventually cause severe lacerations. Shit blood for days and days before death.

8. Froghemoth Legs
Wizards, so often denying themselves such frivolous pleasures, will clamor head-over-heels for this stuff. Fetches a high price for fresh kills.

It tastes like... falling into meaty marbled love. The married-for-50-years kind.
If it ain't cooked right... try to eat the weakest person around. Whole preferably. Let nothing stop you.

9. Deep One Bisque
Another provincial dish. Best eat in small amounts. Even correctly-prepared it can cause ill effects when eaten in excess.

It tastes like... starring at the sky on a clear warm night and watching the stars, naively and ignorantly thinking about the optimistic wonders of the universe.
If it ain't cooked right... visions of uncaring and unknowable great things. Gain a madness.

10. Cheese from Catoblepas Milk
You need righteous paladins to churn the evil from the milk and curds! Those who perform this elaborately blessed task really like doing it, for some bizarre reason.

It tastes like... delightfully creamy and airy. Sensations of flying over a clear sky.
If it ain't cooked right... petrification and extreme abdominal pain.

11. Hydra Steak
Eating a properly cooked medium-rare hydra steak (any less cooked and you'll get a whole hydra growing) will keep the eater full for weeks on end as it slowly digests and regenerates in the stomach.

It tastes like... chewy, complex, and calm. Like taking pain relief after an extraordinary amount of pain.
If it ain't cooked right... you will have a hydra head growing right up your esophagus and out of your mouth. Pretty bad way to go.

12. Mortuary Songbird
They carry the souls of the departed to visit loved ones at memorials and funerals. Eating them is considered a capital sin. Preparation involves drowning them in brandy.

It tastes like... shame. Scrumptious, naughty gleeful shame. It's like breaking into the cosmic cookie jar without any consequences.
If it ain't cooked right... There aren't any repercussions for cooking it incorrectly - the dish will just taste bad. The real danger is in the eating. Failure to hide yourself from heaven while eating will open a portal directly and immediately to hell, taking you (no save) and everyone nearby (save vs. petrification).

13. Kraken Calamari
Best used with young Kraken, as older members of the species will typically be infested with parasites, not to mention the difficulty of acquiring fresh older Kraken.

It tastes like... triumphantly conquering fear. Best with lemon!
If it ain't cooked right... gain an intense phobia of deep water (any water in which you can't see the bottom).

The guts are in the cooking pan!

14. Mimic Souffle
It's a real mimic. The top portion, the "souffle", can be safely eaten provided the mimic remains tricked into thinking that it's actually food.

It tastes like... cheese and mushrooms, or whatever else you can trick it into thinking it should taste like. It feels like getting away clean-handed with a white lie.
If it ain't cooked right... in Wizard City, souffle eat you!

15. Stewed Gibber Eyes
It turns out there are enough spices to make a gibbering horrors edible. The eyes are typically sliced thin enough to be indistinguishable. Nobody wants to eat whole gawping eyes.

It tastes like... eating a calm heartfelt conversation of intense understanding and mutual respect.
If it ain't cooked right... you'll quickly find out if the soup starts babbling.

16. Were-Wolf Tart
Take some were-wolves, constrict them into smaller and smaller concentric magic circles, distill their essence with cream cheese and sugar, and slather it on a tart.

It tastes like... a very good tart, but with a little something extra indescribable, un-quantifiable. You'll be thinking about that tart for days and weeks. What was in that tart?
If it ain't cooked right... were-wolf in your tart. Not a fun day.

17. Dragon Milk
A bit of a misnomer, as dragons don't produce milk; however, they do produce tears. Deliciously salty tears. Many a dragon have been slain to collect their precious eye fluid. A far more sustainable and profitable approach, though, is to make non-hostile dragons laugh or cry hard enough to siphon off that liquid gold. The tears are then mixed with cow's milk and sugar to make a kind of thick milkshake.

It tastes like... depending on color, like an artist completing their magnum opus, a conquering general returning home to a triumph, or holding a newborn baby.
If it ain't cooked right... the salts produce an acute salinity in the blood. Acquire gout.

18. Peryton Tongue ("Perytongue")
Served on a blessed bed of rice in a very bright-lit room. Must be bitten off by the peryton's own jaws in acquisition, else it will turn to ash when cooked.

It tastes like... salvation. Redemption. Like ecstatic deliverance to a benevolent deity, if but for a second.
If it ain't cooked right... it writhes and spews curses, calling for its shadow. The shadow of an evil man will stalk and murder your own within a week.

19. Wisp Spongecake
Goes well with basil soups. Requires a wisp to be baked live into the cake.

It tastes like... being tucked in a warm blanket by a fireplace on a cold night, while cuddling someone cute.
If it ain't cooked right... the wisp is normally supposed to die in the mouth. It doesn't. Wisp will suck the life right out of the eater.

20. Ghoul Sausage
Is eating a ghoul cannibalism? Wizards say: no. Traditionally only the sausage casing is from ghoul.

It tastes like... how you kinda think people would taste like, if it tasted good. Pork, maybe?
If it ain't cooked right... if you're lucky, you just become a zombie... Unlucky and you'll ghoul-ify in 48 hours.