Geomorph – Shrine

Killing my symmetry

This is the third entry in Inkwell Ideas' bi-weekly Geomorph Contest, and the "secret ingredient" is a shrine.

Shrines in RPG adventures carry baggage - there are a lot of lost, secret, hidden, and forbidden examples to live up to, but trying to fit too much into a 10x10 geomorph would be a mistake. In other words, it's the perennial RPG creativity challenge: avoiding the temptation to stuff 10 pounds of potatoes into a 5-pound bag.

I usually sketch out a geomorph on graph paper before actually rendering it in the software (I use DrawPlus 8 and a set of tiles created by Greg MacKenzie), with the goal of doodling, erasing, and doodling some more until something promising materialises. That wasn't happening--my initial designs were too symmetrical, the shrine too small, or the passages too predictable. I had scribbled and erased over the same 10x10 block of graph paper until nothing looked good.

I was lamenting my lack of inspiration to Greg, and he offered some good wisdom: Don't erase--just keep doodling and sketching. When you hit a brick wall, get another piece of graph paper--there's always more paper--and start a new design. Eventually, you'll strike something that takes the best parts of each attempt, and that's your final geomorph.

Helpful advice. Here's the result:

Shrine of the Watcher

The attached geomorph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

shrine geomorph
Pit Shrine (1 sq = 10')

The glyph in the SW corner reveals the mechanism to open the secret doors leading to the shrine (read languages to decipher, increasing the chance to open to 3/6). Passing through a secret door opens the pit and alerts the Watcher, who flails 2-7 tentacles to grab its next meal (usually a sacrifice dragged from the "pen" in the SE corner). Tentacles attack anyone not wearing a Ring of the Cult; on a critical hit, the Watcher pulls the target into the pit. The pit may be closed via the turn-crank to the east (open the portcullis by pressing a Ring of the Cult into a wall niche, or 1/6 chance to lift).

Final Words

Thanks to Greg's timely advice, I'm happy with the result--mostly because it's not symmetrical. But I also think there are enough features to make it interesting. The next geomorph entry's secret ingredient is "tomb," and due midnight June 1. Be there.

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