Home Sweet Dungeon.

Home Sweet Dungeon.

One way to liven up a dungeon is to introduce elements from the characters' homes.  Iconography or artifacts from a character's home will instantly increase their engagement.

Having grabbed their attention, there is a variety of ways you can employ the connection to home.

Individual Task.  The dungeon may contain a task specifically suited to that character, rooted in their home environment and skill set.  A good way to ensure each party member makes a clear contribution to the overall success of the quest.

A twist on this idea is that the other characters perform the actual task under the guidance of their expert.  Skill modifiers can be awarded based on the quality of the instruction and guidance given.  This engages everyone and raises the profile and respect for individual skills.

A Valued Item. Placing an item (or even a person) with great sentimental value at the heart of a dungeon task will motivate your players.  Appearing out of the safe home context in a perilous dungeon setting, the item or individual's safety becomes linked to the quest.

This can be a good way to develop parties whose usual motivations are more mercenary in nature; forcing them to act for more personal or altruistic reasons.  In time, the purely mercenary adventure plot line becomes stale and this can be a good way to move things on.

Reflection of the World Above. Depending on context, you can create a scenario where the events in the dungeon have real implications for the home settings of your characters.

A series of statues, representing individuals from other settings, could be used to reflect those who are being influenced by the party's progress.  Statues fall and break during the quest - does this mean the individual has recovered from their comatose state in the world above or does it mean the party have failed and that individual has suffered as a result?

What repercussions await the adventurers upon their return?

Summary: All of the mechanisms included in the last three emails offer ways both to enliven your games but also create nuance within the actions of your players.  Challenging them to think beyond the quest for loot to navigate wider challenges and consequences.

In most cases, you can easily establish a footing for a follow-up game in which the players are already fully invested in both the back story and the outcome.

Happy Gaming!
-Stolph

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