Codex of Dungeoneering

From the ongoing field-testing of Magnus Fragilehide, comes the definitive laws of the Codex of Dungeoneering:

1. Tackle one encounter at a time.
2. Never split the party.
3. Whenever possible – focus fire!
4. Actions Points: Use ‘em or lose ’em.
5. If there is a fire/pit/cliff/hazard – push ’em into/over it.
6. The only statutes that aren’t dangerous are ones placed there to trick you into thinking they’re not dangerous.
7. When if doubt, set it on fire.
8. Minions die first.
9. If your quest is to stop an evil ritual from being completed, it will always be underway during the final encounter.
10. Don’t waste time trying to bypass the giant magically sealed door that needs a special key/password. Find the key/password.
11. There is always more than one way to overcome a skill challenge.
12. Sarcophagus are never empty.
13. Empty rooms are never empty.
14. Water does not always have something in it, but remember Rule #13. If there is “nothing” in the room but water, then there is something in the water.
15. Always distribute potions, immediately.
16. Always pray/make an offering at good and neutral gods’ altars.
17. Evil altars will always damage/curse you if you damage or steal from it.
18. Always read scrolls and letters, but beware of books (or increase your Will defense before reading).
19. All Kobold infested dungeons involve traps.
20. All Goblin infested dungeons involve ambushes.
21. Always save the Cleric (or comparable party leader).
22. The Tiefling Rogue will screw you.
23. The Gnome Bard will screw you.
24. If not overused, Ghost Sound and Mage Hand can solve problems.
25. There is always time to grab treasure before fleeing a dungeon – even if it is in the process of collapsing.
26. That woman chained to the prison wall, with her face concealed by a hood or fixture – she’s a Medusa.
27. Rumors/legends of a lost artifact/magic item are always true.
28. Fungus that is marked on the map is almost always dangerous.
29. All dung or debris strewn rooms are infested with Otyugh (or on occasion, rats).
30. Before starting a fight with some NPC in the city – Remember: any merchant who owns a famous tavern or celebrated magic shop is a retired adventurers many, many, many levels higher than you.
31. Someone in your party will eventually want to adopt a creature you find (or capture) in the dungeon. Although this sounds suicidal, this works like 80% of the time. The other 20% leads to TPK.
32. Though usually a bad idea, sometimes you don’t have a choice but to stick your hand in the hole around which a hungry mouth is carved.
33. Not every underground river leads to an open underground lake beneath a towering dome – most just lead to more underground river and opportunities for a claustrophobic, horrible drowning.
34. All confusing labyrinths are infested with Minotaur.
35. You will eventually find a rickety bridge that doesn’t look strong enough to hold your weight. This is a trap. If you can, find another way to cross the chasm.
36. Oddly enough, the perfectly ripe fruit inexplicably growing underground will probably heal you if you eat it.
37. Except for Rule #36, never eat anything in the dungeon that you didn’t bring in with you.
38. Don’t touch the glowing gem/item resting on the floor surrounded by scorch marks and bones. This is nature’s way of saying leave-this-one-alone.
39. Take the frustration out of fighting flying enemies with two tactics: prepared actions which grab them when they swoop by, and prone-ing effects which knock them out of the air.
40. You will eventually find a room with a gong in it. Nothing good will come from ringing this damn gong. If you can, immediately disable it.
41. Before you burn down the druid’s holy forest – remember: like elephants, druid’s never forget.
42. If a dungeon has both “Tomb” and “Horrors” anywhere in its title, do not under any circumstances go in.
43. Even primitive villages that offer few municipal services will have complex sewer systems large enough for you to casually walk through.
44. Having trouble finding the thieves’ guild’s secret hideout? Head for the sewers. All thieves’ guilds are either in or can be reached through the sewers.
45. The biggest public health threat to thieves’ guild members: wererat lycanthropy. Second biggest: backstabittus.
46. Always invest significant resources into curing diseases. Escaping a dungeon alive but with Mummy Rot is not a victory.
47. If you find a long hall of mirrors, get ready to fight the mirror-image duplicates that will inevitably step out of your reflection.
48. If a creature that can turn you to stone doesn’t have any petrification reversing potions in its treasure, such a remedy can often be crafted from the creature’s remains.
49. Pay attention to a room’s description. If something is given unusual attention, it is likely plot relevant, or dangerous, or both.
50. While you might encounter one earnest elf or halfling in a dungeon, any group of elves or halflings in a dungeon are actually dopplegangers.
51. Quest giver acting suspicious? You should go ahead and assume you are being set up as a patsy, or for an ambush.
52. Not all ghosts are evil. Sometimes a ghost will have the only friendly face you meet in a dungeon. All other undead should be put down with extreme prejudice.
53. Ninety percent of all exsanguinated corpses can be traced to one of two culprits: deep singular wounds: stirges; shallow dual fang wounds: vampires.
54. Giant cobwebs fill the room -do you really need me to tell you what this means?
55. See those grooves in the wall – that’s not a secret door, it means the wall or ceiling is going to slowly crush you.
56. Chivalry is not dead, but the chivalrous often end up that way.
57. If you need to use the facilities, do it before you go in the dungeon. Therein you can find vast libraries, huge kitchens, ornate bedrooms, and opulent dining areas, but never a restroom.
58. Different wizards have different motives and goals, but all have the same dream – defending a heavily fortified position from wave after wave of pitiful minions.
59. Watch your wizard’s expressions for cues as to what to do: If he looks angry or terrified, stay the course. If he is smiling, time to get out of the way.
60. The obvious main entryway is rarely the safest or smartest means of entering an area. If possible, use the side or back entry, and live to tell about it.
61. The open (or broken) window, defined by a howling wind and irregularly banging shutter, portents nothing but otherworldly hauntings ahead.
62. The halfling chaos sorcerer will screw you (albeit, unintentionally).
63. The difference between a novice and a veteran: a calculated willingness to risk opportunity attacks for strategic gain.
64. Learn to say the following sentence: “I search the room.” Whether you are in the king’s treasury or a featureless 10×10 stone cell, the phrase is equally necessary.
65. Learn to say the following sentence: “I search the bodies.” As inexplicable as it may seem, even mindless oozes with no discernible pockets or property will on occasion have treasure on them.
66. Sure, the horrible monster you just met has offered to guarantee not to break the agreement it has proposed. The only guarantee that is on the table is that this seemingly attractive transaction will not end exactly as you would like.
67. Although no two giant pyramids are exactly the same, there are two creatures therein which you are guaranteed to encounter: some number of withered mummies, and precisely one sphinx.
68. All seaside cults are guarding either a giant pearl, a gurgling tentacled horror, or an unspeakable artifact. The elite cults manage to cover all three bases.
69. Any time an elderly (or arguably crazy) townsperson offers to tell your fortune, or otherwise blurts out some cryptic warning, accept the information as gospel. Even though this might seem like an unreliable source, this is the most reliable form of mission data ever conceived.
70. Leaping across the bottomless pit to perform a crazed charge attack is always worth it. One way or the other, you’re going to be famous.
71. All Drow infested dungeons involve poison and foes concealed by intransient darkness.
72. Also old school Drow can levitate, so in addition to poison attacks launched at you from the shadows they sometimes are hiding on the ceiling.
73. Always take time out from the quest to clean gore and unholy graffiti from a defiled shrine/relic.
74. Against trolls, douse them with burning fire or acid.
75. Against the undead, use holy radiant attacks.
76. Against incorporeal phantoms, try force energy powers.
77. Against invisible enemies and large swarms of little beasts, try using bursting or blasting explosions.
78. Counter intuitively, not all elemental creatures are particularly vulnerable to their traditionally opposite element.
79. If you go into a room and there are like a dozen monsters in it, get ready for a fight. If you go into a room and there is only one monster in it, get ready for the fight of your life.
80. Just because the party’s fighter recklessly wades into a bar room brawl doesn’t mean you have to too. Cowering behind the bar lobbing arrows, magic, and bottles into the fray is a completely acceptable strategy.
81. Just because the party’s fighter recklessly wades into a marketside riot doesn’t mean you have to too. Cowering behind the overturned fruit cart lobbing arrows, magic, and apples into the fray is a completely acceptable strategy.
82. Just because the party’s fighter recklessly wades into the army of monsters pouring in through the breached city wall doesn’t mean you have to too. Cowering behind the battlements lobbing arrows, magic, and loose masonry into the fray is a completely acceptable strategy.
83. Always read the last entry in any journal or diary you find. The rest of the work might be rambling nonsense, but the last entry usually will contain something useful.
84. If you find a scroll or letter which appears to have no quest relevant information, check it for disappearing ink, encoded messages, and magically concealed text.
85. You will eventually find some cursed tome, bound in what looks like either a person’s or a demon’s flesh. Do not read this book, or if you must, see Rule 18.
86. You will eventually find a room with a lever in it. There is a 33% chance that this lever will conveniently open a nearby door or passage, a 33% chance that this lever will activate a horrible trap, and a 33% chance that this lever will do both.
87. You will eventually find a river or lake you must cross. Thanks to the universe apparently being full of inattentive sailors who constantly abandon small vessels where adventurers will find them, there is almost a 100% chance of a raft or boat being conveniently located right where you are.
88. Although not every lengthy ocean journey ends in shipwreck, all lengthy ocean journeys will involve one horrible storm and one horrible kraken attack (sometimes simultaneously).
89. Don’t kid yourself. Most lengthy ocean journeys will end in shipwreck.
90. If you’re bad off, ask your cleric for help rather than order ‘em around like a disliked servant. Clerics remember which allies are polite and which are jerks.
91. Eventually you will stumble upon a situation where some horrible monsters have imprisoned or enslaved another group of horrible monsters. Don’t worry about the potential long term ramifications of organizing, arming, and releasing these enslaved creatures, if it provides you with a short term strategic advantage it is your duty as adventurers to go for it.
92. Just because your fall into the bottomless chasm has been interrupted by a gigantic web it is not time to celebrate. You may not have seen it yet, but there’s a spider as big as a mini-van about to ruin your day.
93. Ogres are incredibly dumb, and rather than fight them you should give serious consideration to bribing them with food, treasure, and/or opportunities to smash things (not always in that order).
94. Eventually, you will fight a band of oppositely aligned adventurers. One way or the other, there’s going to be a TPK. If you don’t want that losing group to be yours, neutralize their wizard (and then their healer) as soon as possible.
95. Any time you encounter a room full of volatile alchemical components one of two things will happen: the chemicals will be upended to create a potentially lethal hazard, or the material is required for some quest specific item. In either case, beware: evil wizards as a rule do not put much thought into workplace safety.
96. If you know there is a mimic about, trust nothing. Being killed by a mimic is bad enough, but being killed while putting on a suit of armor which is the mimic is just embarrassing.
97. As magic consumers have became more wary, the insane wizards responsible for the notorious wand of wonder have diversified. Any time you find or are offered an item described as an item of wonder, something that creates ill-defined but “wonderful” effects, or in general are dealing with some creature primarily interested in spreading non-villainous chaos, beware!
98. Every cemetery is haunted by the undead. Every. Single. One.
99. Only 1 in 10 dungeon tapestries/curtains are merely decorative. The rest conceal enemies, doors, passages, clues, and/or lethal traps.

“The Codex of Dungeoneering is a practical, game-tested 4e Dungeons & Dragons survival guide. For anyone who has every asked themselves if there is a definitive player written D&D survival guide, the answer is yes, yes there is. The Codex of Dungeoneeering.” – Magnus Fragilehide, speaking to a crowd of terrified onlookers before entering Undermountain dungeon for the unprecedented thirteenth time.

Codex of Dungeoneering

The Unnamed Saga ChainsawYuka