A collection of half-formed ideas inspired by a recent return to the beloved game of dungeoneering and overland travel. Half-way to a list of Cheap Tricks.
1. Magic dust that conducts electricity and operates simple machinery like opening doors and flipping switches. Redstone in Minecraft handwaves enough electrician stuff to be useful.
2. Herobrine, a creepypasta encounter. Secretive, perhaps dead, adventurer who watches from fog. PCs find plenty of evidence that he's been around. God's dead brother? Cyphers in his writing try to get the players (not PCs 👻) to stop playing.
3. Situationalize encounter rolls (monsters only appear in darkness)
4. Having one monster riding another creates a natural, interesting relationship between them that is relevant in and out of combat.
5. A wall you have to break through to progress, but if you do so all the monsters are let out.
6. If you die, your secondary PC gets one chance to sally forth to try to rescue you, or at least your supplies. Tarry too long and the imperiled PC despawns.
7. New monster
This creature has four short legs, despite having the height and width of a humanoid. Some say it is the result of a wizard’s attempt to recreate a pig.
AC as leather
Saves as fighter 3
Movement 90 (30’)
Number Appearing 1d2
Silent: Surprises on a 3-in-6 chance.
Explosive: Upon first coming within 30 feet of an enemy, the creature will loudly hiss, then at the end of its next turn explode for 3d6 damage, save vs breathe halves. This explosion afflicts all creatures and unattended objects in a 30’ radius.
Charge: If the creature would be damaged by lightning or electricity, it instead glows with a blue static charge for 1d4 hours, during which time its speed is increased to 120’ (40’) and its explosion damage increases to 3d8.
Fears cats: Will not approach felines or groups with felines.
8. Making armor and tools out of diamonds is tight.
9. PCs return to their stronghold to find that other adventurers have messed around with their items and built ugly piles of dirt.
10. TNT and dynamite is too cool a tool to deprive the PCs of.
11. Rails and minecarts. More generally, the ability for a party to make travel through a thoroughly cleared-out area faster.
12. Some monsters should have mechanistic, easily predictable actions. Allow clever players to solve some of a regions encounters permanently.
13. Short-lived, sort of crappy enchanted items, essentially consumable gilded Holy Avengers and Maces of Disruption found in graves and outside Hell-portals.
14. Instead of weapon and armor type determining effectiveness, a clear gradation of substance. All wooden weapons deal 1d4 damage, all bronze weapons deal 1d6 damage, all iron weapons deal 1d8, ex chetera.
15. Fireworks-- let people have them! This is like the TNT thing. It's exactly the sort of cockamamie item that players will set to some unlikely use.
16. In old Minecraft, each kind of food healed a certain amount of HP. This could be a simple way to track ration use and introduce a small but impactful way to track food and rest. It's also reminiscent of Fighting Fantasy's provisions, which to me is a plus.
17. In new Minecraft, you can find treasure maps in sunken ships and other places. Maps to treasure that require nothing more complicated than a short hexcrawl are such an efficient boon for OSR games, and also just whip ass. Children know that treasure maps are cool, without needing to come up with some gimmick or scenario, and I beg you to remember it too.
18. Mingled dungeon-wilderness-domain gameplay from the beginning.
19. Dungeon biomes. New Minecraft introduces lush caves, dripping caverns, the "deep dark", and ancient abandoned cities that create an effective vibe. Often all it takes is a few different objects and substances, repeated liberally, and an encounter table to handle the rest.