Dungeon driver's license

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Artifacts of Godville
Dungeon driver's license
Gygax dungeon.png
A high-level hero proudly displaying his dungeon driver's license as he invites an unsuspecting intrepid band of adventurers into a dungeon.
Type 🧷Normal
Description A document proving the holder to be capable of driving a successful dungeon.
For a full description of the features and rules of dungeons, see Dungeons.

The dungeon driver's license is an artifact in Godville which is easy to get, but difficult to keep. Originally printed and issued by the Dungeon Safety Committee to heroines and heroes who were able to pass a knowledge and practical test, these artifacts quickly began circulating amongst monster populations who took them as trophies from the bodies of defeated foes. When those monsters were inevitably defeated in turn, the license ended up in the hands of unskilled adventurers who had no idea how important they are, and were then sold to merchants, who resold them again, and so on. Having one of these artifacts soon became meaningless, and it didn’t take long before the Committee gave up on the licensing scheme and dungeon driving became unregulated again.

Years later, curators at the infamous Bosswell Archives have collected almost all remaining copies of the study guide and training materials that were produced for the knowledge test. It is widely believed that their intention is to ensure the prevention of this lost knowledge from reaching the heroic community once again. However, copies of these precious documents were smuggled out by the ever-helpful Optimystic, and are presented here for the benefit of dungeoneers.

Navigation Basics

In a dungeon, a group of heroines and heroes explore a dungeon together cooperatively. The party moves as a single group around the dungeon map, room by room, looking for treasure and trouble.

Since the party moves together, having more than one Deity trying to steer the party can lead to confusion. If the party hears conflicting voice commands sending them in more than one direction, they may be unsure which to follow. If a majority of voices agree on a direction, they will follow the majority (e.g., if two voices direct them “north” and one directs them “west,” the party will follow the majority north). However, if voice commands are divided equally between directions, they will cancel each other out and the party will go as they would if there were no commands at all.

As a result, a dungeon adventure is far more likely to be successful if the team has one person driving at a time. For further advice on this, please consult your book of dungeon etiquette.

Dungeon rooms can be connected to adjacent rooms in cardinal directions — north, south, east, and west. If there is a room adjacent to the one the adventurers are in, it is possible for them to move that way; if there is a wall, they cannot move in that direction, with the exception of a dungeon of jumping, in which case there is a chance the party will leap over a wall and land on the other side of it, if there is a room there. Diagonal moves are never possible.

A Deity may issue directions by typing a voice command containing one of the four directions, or by tapping an adjacent room on the dungeon map, which will send a suitable voice command.

Coasting

An illustration of the directions the party may go without voice commands. The ‘up’ direction in these diagrams is continuing in a straight line.

Though driving styles vary, it is usually not necessary to give a voice command every turn. Without direction, the party will most likely continue in the direction they last moved, with a small chance of turning to one side. If the way forward is blocked, they will most likely turn right. The directions that a party will choose have a slight right-handed bias, as can be seen in the diagrams.

Most drivers will conserve Godpower by allowing the party to coast forward, or follow bends in the path, until there is a need to steer the party again, either to correct a turn the party decided to take independently, or to navigate the desired way. There is nothing wrong with issuing a voice command every turn, it’s simply not usually necessary.

After a jump from a wormhole trap, the party remembers the last direction they moved, and will continue as usual if possible. A sticky trap is not a special case either: it simply counts as two moves. For example, if all directions are available, the party has ~72% chance (0.852) to continue moving forwards after such trap, ~26% (2 ⋅ 0.85 ⋅ 0.15) to turn right, and ~2% (0.152) to turn backwards.

In a dungeon of Jumping, the heroes first decide whether they will walk or jump this turn, and then choose the direction. Even if they decided to jump, the usual coasting rules still apply, with the only difference that they consider walls located 1 cell further from the party.

Locating the Treasury

The primary goal of a dungeon adventure is to find a treasury, and leave the dungeon with pockets overflowing with gold, artifacts, and gopherwood logs. Therefore, locating the treasury within the allowed time[1] is every driver’s most important responsibility. There are many ways to narrow down the location of the treasury.

Each of the following methods may apply to any dungeon, and a driver will use more than one of these in every dungeon in order to succeed. Think of each of these methods as a layer or filter which, when placed one on top of the other, will refine the possible treasury locations down to a narrower and more certain set of possibilities.

The Four Quarters

A heat map of treasury location (shades of blue) with respect to the entrance (red, center).

The first and most important thing to understand about the treasury is that it is almost always located in one of four hotspots centred approximately 5–7 squares diagonally from the dungeon entrance. It is never within 2 rows or columns of the entrance (nor in cell [3; 3]), and rarely more than ten,[2] with clusters in the middle of that range.[3]

This gives the driver a basis from which to begin their exploration of the map, without even taking into account any other clues or guides. The pattern remains true regardless of the dungeon type. If the entrance is close to a dungeon edge, a good driver can quickly narrow down the possible hotspots.

Hints

In most dungeon types, hints to the treasury location are revealed as exploration proceeds. The appearance of a new hint is determined by the dungeon’s type, the number of steps the party has made so far, how long ago the previous hint was found, and a bit of luck, of course. Furthermore, hints can only appear in a previously unexplored room, as the hint becomes the room’s permanent description, and a previously explored room already has its description set.[4]

Dungeon type First hint’s step[5] Steps between hints
Any except listed below 11th 24
Hurry 4th 17
Hotness 5th 18

Every time the party enters an appropriate room, given that enough steps have passed since the start of the campaign (or the moment when the previous hint appeared), there is a 33% chance to receive a hint in this room.[5][6] For this reason, to maximize the usefulness of hints, the skilled driver will endeavour to enter regions where they would like to find a hint, at the right time, unless hints are no longer important.

Sometimes a special condition may require the party to travel to the nook before hints will appear at all.

The key to skilled understanding of hints is to remember that they don’t just tell you where the treasury is; they are equally helpful for telling you where the treasury isn’t.

Arrows

Rooms included in direction hints, relative to the room where the hint appears (center, @)

The easiest and most common (in most dungeons) hint type is the arrow. The arrow points in the direction that the treasury can be found, starting from the room where the hint appears. These hints don’t care about walls at all; they point in the direction the treasury is, not necessarily the direction you need to go to get there. As you can see from the illustration, the arrows need not be a straight line to the room; each direction arrow includes an area where the treasury may be found. Learning the shapes of the cardinal (north, south, east, west) and diagonal (north-west, etc) hint areas is crucial for the skilled driver.

Note that the shapes of these areas change in (fairly) regular steps: 2, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 2. The cardinal area grows by one row or column every two or three steps, according to this sequence, and the diagonal area shrinks by the same. Every room falls certainly into only one directional area. Learning these patterns will allow you to quickly rule any room out, or rule any room in, as a potential treasury location, especially when combined with the four map quarters.

Bi-Directional Arrows

In a Dungeon of Uncertainty, and occasionally in any dungeon, the explorers will receive a bi-directional hint, and the map will show an arrow pointing in two directions, rather than just one.

Bi-directional hints are always right-angled, and so they are hints that include two of the hint areas seen in the diagram. Having only one hint which is a two-way hint can be frustrating; however, remembering the four quarters may allow the driver to quickly ignore one of the two directions. If all else fails, taking a best guess at the right direction and exploring as many new rooms as possible with minimal back-tracking will bring a second hint as soon as possible.

Hotness

A diagram illustrating hotness hints and how they are affected by walls.

In a Dungeon of Hotness, and occasionally in any dungeon, the explorers will receive a hotness hint. These are widely considered to be the least helpful hint, but can still be informative when combined with the other techniques here.

Whereas an arrow hint gives the driver a direction but not a distance, a hotness hint gives the driver a distance but not a direction. The important thing to understand about hotness hints is that they give you the shortest travel distance from the room with the hint to the treasury, not the straight line distance. The treasury may be, in fact, just 2 rooms away on the other side of a long wall, and the hotness hint will tell you how far you need to walk to get there, rather than how far away it actually is. Though it may take more time to narrow the treasury down this way than with other hint types, by combining the hotness hint with other methods, a skilled driver can still succeed in these dungeons. A hotness hint can be especially useful for quickly ruling out entire quarters of the map.

Follow the Bosses

For detailed information about boss-monsters, see Boss-monsters.

Except for a Dungeon of Solitude, all other dungeons have 4 to 6 bosses, which can be helpful in guiding the driver towards the treasury.[7] In terms of navigation, these bosses fall into three groups. In any dungeon type except for Migration, these bosses have predicable strength, increasing from 1 to 3 abilities as you approach the treasury.[8]

  • One boss is guarding the treasury, stationed within one room of the treasury in any direction (straight or diagonal) but not in a corner between walls nor in a dead end. This boss is typically called the “Treasury Boss” (or TB) by drivers. Except for Migration dungeons, this boss will always be a 3-ability dungeon boss.
  • Two or sometimes three bosses will be placed along the path between the entrance and the treasury on the shortest path between them.[9] Except for Migration dungeons, these bosses will be a 1-ability dungeon boss, 2-ability dungeon boss, and, extremely rarely, another 2-ability dungeon boss, in order from closest to furthest from the entrance. They never come closer than 3 steps to the entrance.
  • One or two bosses will be red herrings, placed as a decoy somewhere in 11×11 square centered at the entrance. They will not be placed in the same row or column with the entrance, nor in the 1st or 2nd row or column towards the treasury. Having a picture would be nice. Except for Migration dungeons, these bosses will have 1 ability. In dungeons with a special reward for hunting down all bosses, these bosses are the hardest to find.

Some drivers will drive to avoid boss fights as much as possible. These drivers can still use bosses to judge that they’re on the right track (bearing in mind the red herring), but of course, only by fighting the boss can you be sure how close to the treasury the boss is. Except for Migration dungeons, any boss fight can be used as a kind of hotness hint.

Finding the Treasury Boss is, in most dungeon adventures, the final stage of narrowing down the treasury room.

Doors and Corners

A few common treasury layouts and locations. These examples are not comprehensive, but are indicative.

The final method that can help a driver decide which of the possible rooms contains the treasury is to match the map with certain patterns. The treasury is typically protected by the treasury boss from one direction, a trap from another, and walls, with some variations and exceptions:

  • In T layout (upper part of the diagram), both the treasury boss and a trap are placed diagonally from the treasury; there is a room with a bonus (gold, artifacts, health, Godpower) between them. The treasury is surrounded by walls at 2 or 3 sides, i.e., it’s located either in a corridor or a cul-de-sac.
  • In L layout (lower part of the diagram), rooms with both the TB and a trap are adjacent to the treasury. There are walls on the remaining 2 sides so it appears in a corner.

Both T and L can be rotated and mirrored.

The trap which also protects the treasury may be a trap of any kind. If a wormhole trap teleports the party away, remember that wormhole traps only trigger one time; once the trap has been sprung, it becomes a normal empty room with no effect, and can be traversed safely to reach the treasury without fighting the boss.

While the method to look for likely rooms is not by any means definitive, it can allow the driver to prioritise which rooms to try first when there are many options, and help a driver who wishes to avoid the 3-ability dungeon boss to find a way around, if possible.

More examples of common treasury layouts and locations. These examples are not comprehensive, but are indicative.

Nooks

Perhaps the most underappreciated method of approximating the treasury location is to use the nook as a guide. Since some dungeon rules will make plundering the dungeon impossible or unlikely without first visiting the nook, the Demiurges, in their benevolence and wisdom, have chosen to place nooks in locations where the treasury remains within reach. The nook is never, or rarely,[10] an unfair distance from the treasury.

In other words, even if the driver has no intention of visiting the nook, heading in the direction of the nook early in the adventure will usually place the party closer to the treasury than not doing so. If the nook is a long way diagonally from the entrance, a driver can immediately rule out the map quarter opposite the nook’s location.

It is occasionally useful to know that nooks are always placed in corners and dead ends — the opposite of where TBs are.

Footnotes

  1. 100 steps in most dungeons, 50 steps in a Dungeon of Hurry. There may also be a bonus available for finding the treasury in 40 steps or less.
  2. Such “far treasuries” started appearing since Godville Blog, post 133: Meanwhile in Godville.
  3. It is currently believed by Godville’s finest dungeologists that the location of every dungeon’s entrance and treasury were carefully chosen by the Demiurges, rather than by the Great Random, so it remains possible (but highly unlikely) that a treasury may be found outside these hotspots.
  4. A wormhole only triggers once upon the first attempt to enter the room; if the party returns to where the trap was sprung, they will find a normal empty room with no effect. However, this room cannot contain a hint.
    On the other hand, the destination room of a wormhole trap is not considered explored, despite the lack of a question mark, — it is even possible to get a hint there if the party steps back into it.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The table shows the minimum steps when getting a hint is possible. However, the chance is not 100% but only 33. I.e., you have 33% chance to get a hint on the 4th step, then 33% on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, etc...
  6. ~39% for dungeons of Abundance.
  7. In a dungeon of Solitude, there are 2–3 traps in place of every boss, so it’s possible to navigate with them, too.
  8. In a dungeon of Migration, there are still the same number of 1-, 2-, and 3-ability bosses and the locations where a boss will be found remain the same; however, it is unpredictable which boss you’ll find at each location, so the boss guarding the treasury may not have three abilities, and the bosses closest to the entrance may not have only one.
  9. All on the same shortest path in case there are several of them.
  10. “Never, or rarely,” is used to mean that, while it has never been recorded to have happened, it’s not possible to rule it out entirely.