Sunday, December 8, 2019

[Dungeon] 30-minute dungeon: The Golem Master's Workshop

The Golem Master, creator of pricey artificial servants, hasn’t been seen around for some time. His house stands dark and silent. Dare you enter?
The 30-minute dungeon is a great exercise. The format was created by Trystin, and she has recently posted an update, so now the format includes randomized prompts as guidelines.

My first attempt went overtime, but in the end turned into a pretty neat ancient Mesopotamia-themed dungeon. This new dungeon I wrote in around 35 minutes, then spent some more time re-drawing the map and formatting the content into a one-page dungeon pdf. Enjoy!

Download as one-page dungeon!

Background: The Golem Master, creator of pricey artificial servants, hasn’t been seen around for some time. His house stands dark and silent. Dare you enter?

1 – Foyer
A ledger with records of the Golem Master’s dealings. The balance is positive. The last transactions are from about 2 weeks ago: “Medium all-around servant, sold to Herr Güntz, for 3000 silver”, “Shipment of raw clay, for new personal project, 500 silver”.

2 – Corridor with mud streaks
Dry mud streaks leading to Area 4, as if something big and dirty was dragged there.
The windows towards the street are boarded up.

3 – Office, overtaken by animated body parts
3d8 animated clay hands (HD 0, AC as unarmored, Move as unencumbered, 1 attack: 1 damage) jump off the shelves, climb forth from under furniture, attack any intruder.
Treasure: 450 silver in the locked desk drawer.

4 – Storage room with injured golem
The mound of clay in the corner is actually a golem – a tall, muscular man, with his legs torn off. His name is Jakov. He tells the story of the Golem Master experimenting with the creation of two “golem brothers”, and how his brother Boax went mad, killed the Master and mutilated him. Boax either left or is hiding somewhere in the house.

5 – Golem showcase and hiding place of Boax
Statues set up on a small podium – the Golem Master’s showcase. Three full-sized clay statues depicting one man and two women. If the players have visited Area 4, they recognize the male statue as being from the same mold as Jakov. Four clay statues of 3’ tall wingless gargoyles.
The statue of the man is Boax, the murderous golem. He will wait until the players go down the spiral stairs and then shut the trapdoor and move the heavy podium over it.
If found, confronted or attacked, Boax defends himself, and also commands the four gargoyles.
Boax, the murderous golem: HD 4, AC as chain, Move as unencumbered, Morale unbreakable, 2 attacks: terracotta punch (1d8 damage)
4 clay gargoyles: HD 2, AC as leather, Move as unencumbered, Morale average, 1 attack: claw (1d4 damage)

6 – Bedroom & Kitchenette
Under the bed, there is a scroll of hold monster.

7 – Dark cellar room with clay pits
Strong smell of wet clay and mud. Creaky floorboards. Trap: When crossing the room, each character has a 1-in-6 chance to fall through the old floorboards and into the deep clay pits. If much noise is made, 1d4 clay abominations from Area 8 rush in to investigate.

8 – Workshop, the hiding place of the Golem Master
The Golem Master wasn’t killed, but hid here, half-mad from his injuries. As his final defense, he created 4 small abominations from whatever lumps of clay he had around.
The door to Area 9 has a “Do not touch my things!” sign.
Golem Master: Magic-User 3, AC as unarmored, unable to move, 1 attack: desperate biting (1d2-1 damage)
4 clay abominations: HD 1, AC as leather, Move as unencumbered, Morale average

9 – Vault with trapped entrance
Trap: poison needle (Save or Die) in the doorknob.
Treasure: 1500 silver in clay jars, masterfully executed figurine molds worth 1000 silver.

10 – Ritual area
A complete golem body lays on a marble slab. A codex and ritual implements are laying nearby – everything is ready to bring this golem to life. The golem is massive. If brought to life, there is a 50-50 chance of it being either an obedient servant or going on a murderous rampage through town.
Quantum Golem: HD 8, AC as chain, Move as unencumbered, Morale unbreakable, 2 attacks: terracotta punch (1d8 damage)

Working notes:

30-minute dungeon, includes:
3 Empty Rooms
3 Combat Encounters
2 Traps
1 Special/Weird Thing

3 Empty rooms:
Something that tells the characters about the dungeon’s history
Something useful to the characters
Something that points the characters to an NPC

Special Room:
Something that can result in great reward or terrible disaster

A victim

3 Combat encounters:
Horde of weak opponents
A weak opponent and their guards
A tough opponent and his underlings

Something that will kill the characters
Something that will trap the characters


  1. You did a good job with this challenge. I will also try it to see if I can keep up!

    1. Cool, go for it! It's fun, and potentially useful. You never know when you're gonna need a quick dungeon!

  2. I love that there's a little mystery here for the players to solve, and plenty of clues to help them solve it.

    1. Thanks! I tried to add a story that's not just DM-facing "background", but rather something the players can find out in-game.

      Tristan's new prompts really helped with this. "Room A should point towards Thing B" is enough to set my mind off in the right direction and fill in the gaps. Make the dungeon more interconnected, and not just a bunch of rooms.

  3. It's a good dungeon. I have a question - what's mean "AC 12" in animated clay hands stats? "As unarmored" in LotFP terms or maybe "very bad" high AC in OD&D-like systems?

    1. Thanks! Glad you like it.

      Good catch: it's LotFP unarmored, so I will correct it to "armor as unarmored".

    2. Also check please room 5 description. I think in fact the words "If the players have visited Area 3" must be about area 4, not 3.

    3. Thanks, corrected! I plan to re-do the PDF as well at some point.

      Have you ran the adventure?