In this post I asked for help and y'all really, really delivered with some great suggestions. One of which I used and several of which I'm banking for future sessions. So as a thank you I'm writing up the dungeon and some surrounding features of it for your potential future use, critique and the like. I'm also going to include my group's solution(s) for this.
It goes off the walls in the worst ways. Be ready for this.
I used the Perilous Wilds which is a fantastic resource I just cannot recommend enough to help structure the dungeon, which is in this case is a bank run by druids; The First Kars City Bank of the Wooded Forest. For context, Kars City is the capital of the continent Kars of the world of Kars and where the campaign started.
This is what happens when I encouraged my players to name our world. There is also a bitter dispute over whether or not Kars is composed of one biome, which is tropical rain forest. That digression can be saved for another time.
The lead up to the adventure was when the party decided to antagonize a small group of druid neophytes running an apothecary to distract them from a small theft of living wood, a magical wood necessary to house wood elementals. Since the druids drugged about half the party over the course of this conflict the group decided it would be rational to further victimize the druids. And so the Druid Bank was born.
THE FIRST KARS CITY BANK OF THE WOODED FOREST
- Guarded Corridors
- 3-way intersections
- Counting Room (banking)
- Vault (banking)
- Director's Office (banking)
- Lobby/Front Entrance (banking)
- Shrine (nature)
- Back Entrance (nature)
The First Kars City Bank of the Wooded Forest is visible from blocks away. Built entirely from living wood trees and magically charged ivy the blocky, Brutalist structure is topped with a vibrant green canopy that sways in the wind some twenty or thirty feet above the roof itself with alleys wide enough for two to walk abreast on either side separating it from its neighboring buildings in this vibrant commercial district.
Once you pass the curtain of leaves you see an open, well lit space with moving skylights that shine light directly into the building. Since the structure of made of living wood and ivy the top moves and ripples, opening to illuminate strategically spaced mirrors.
Two greeters/security guards work the front entrance and three tellers stand behind a long counter divided with privacy walls. Round tables in cubes dot the floor space for customers to count their coin or receive quieter advice and feedback on their banking.
The tellers and guards are dressed professionally in well fitted tunics of the same color, wearing vibrant green wreathes. You may see an older person with a more ornate wreath and gray hair checking in with and directing the floor personnel in an efficient and professional manner. Each of them wear flowers braided into their hair, but that seems to be the end of the druidic ensemble.
What here is not what it appears to be: the tellers, bank director and guards/greeters are not members of the druidic order. As a matter of fact, it's unlikely a single druid works in this establishment.
Who's really in control here: this is where I pointed out the bank director and more explicitly explained the roles of the various workers on display.
What here is useful or valuable to me: the wreathes are more than just decorative, they operate as security tokens. Since the building is made of living wood and ivy portals open in the walls when someone wearing one strays near to a door/portal area. The bank director's more ornate wreath probably has more mojo than the rest.
What should I be on the lookout for: I informed my magic users that there were more than just mundane human guards, there were wood elementals in the walls and ceilings.
What is about to happen: a teller is going to… See: the NPC Teller.
What has happened recently here: banking.
A long table dominates the middle of the room with two older personnel with abacuses careful and quickly sorting through piles of gold, silver and copper coins. If the party chooses to loot this area during the day, they'll find ~100 gold. During the night the currency has been moved to the vault for safe keeping. The counters will not fight back, they will give anything at the first sign of threat of physical violence. This is just a job to them.
It's a simple, if elegant, office filled with books about finance, accounting and whatever humanizing hobby you happen upon in the moment as a storyteller. There's also a glass cabinet filled with nice liquor (Weight 0, +1 to social situations when Parleying, Defying Danger with CHA or using another applicable social move). There's not a lot here and it gives the distinct impression the director is a bachelor/bachelorette. While not given over to ostentation everything on display is of high quality–hammer that home, everything if very nice.
There's also a small, tasteful shrine to a rural or domestic god. Something with a focus on community, something that has to do with everyone being successful, happy and healthy.
When the PCs rifle through the director's office they find a few gold/coin within his/her desk, but also evidence that the director's been embezzling money from the druids and spending it on his employees' and community's welfare if this hasn't come up already. There's also a list of the bank's top clients if they even care to look.
The desk is also alarmed and will notify druids and wood elementals that there's a break in (look to Shrine).
The vault is nested in a room of interwoven green vines and brown barked ivy tightly knit together. When wearing the appropriate wreath (bank director's) the vines and ivy part to reveal a dwarven stone work vault with a large wheel and combo lock on it. Ala a modern bank.
It's trapped! Because of course it is. The trap does 1D10+2 damage, is alarmed to activate the Shrine, automatically call 1D4+1 wood elementals, and explode in a caustic, sticky, smelly, neon pink liquid that gives the Scarred and Confused debilities. It is activated by tampering with the vault's opening mechanism.
When the vault is opened it reveals walls of safety deposit boxes on each side, as well as shelving in the back and middle containing bags of coin and gems. 1 Weight of coins = 250 gold, 1 Weight of gems = 400 gold and 1 Weight of safety deposit box material was the subject of the previous thread.
A room littered with statures of Mother Prius (Mother Prius = Gaia in the world of Kars, yes, for real, this is what happens when you encourage your group to name the world) in different forms and aspects. Some are made of driftwood and coral, others living wood and woven ivy, yet others constructed from sung stone and massage metal. The room is alive with spirits.
At the center of the room is a statue of Mother Prius holding a gem above her head. This gem is the focal point of the connection with the Plane of Wood and magically powers the building. It is through this connection that the druids monitor the building's security, it is through this connection that the wood elementals residing in the ceilings and walls are sustained and it is through this connection that the wreathes work. Druids are also able to quickly travel from their sacred groves and henges to the bank utilizing this connection.
If the PCs destroy or disrupt this connection then no alarms will reach the druids, and the wood elementals will put up only token resistance and only if they are somehow directly antagonized. Otherwise they will lose motivation (their cost is being directly fed from the Plane of Wood) to guard and secure the bank.
Loot: religious idols, there's also a rose which functions as a one use magic item. When a PC pricks themselves on the rose while making eye contact with someone else they lose xDx HP and so does that person.
This is where the bank director enters/exits. It's at the end of the one of the alleys. When someone wearing the wreath enters a wood elemental slides from out of the wall and asks a security question. To that end I chose a riddle that I thought would make my party think, then they all paused for a second, and got it immediately. Riddle: "Walk on the living, they don't even mumble. Walk on the dead, they mutter and grumble."
The idea was to keep the riddle nature themed.
- Bank Director
The bank director is a conflicted person. They've hit the glass ceiling in their position since they don't worship Mother Prius (or whatever nature deity or personification you choose) and have to serve druids with no background in finance, accounting or banking who have little idea of what s/he actually does. Druids are terrible employers.
With that in mind s/he began embezzling money from the bank some time ago. S/He spends a lot of it on his employees and their children since they're relatively underpaid for their responsibilities in their positions, although their health plan is pretty good since they get free apothecary services from the druids. S/He's very close with his/her employees and takes a personal interest in their success and lives. The director also freely gives to community organizations using that embezzled money.
The director lives alone and parties a lot, a very active night life with no real personal connections to speak of. They will frequently be out at all hours Thursday through Sunday nights. Their stolen money also funds this.
The bank director is the first person at the bank in the morning and the last to leave. They keep the wreathes, collecting them when their employees leave and handing them out when their employees arrive in the morning. Since the druids won't allow fires or lanterns in the building the bank is open from dawn until dusk, it's entirely lit by the sun. The director keeps their wreath in their briefcase when they go home and arrive at work every day like clockwork. That briefcase is left at home when the director pursues their personal activities.
Alright, so, I guess trigger warning? This teller is in an abusive relationship. Their partner has isolated them and been emotionally, physically and financially abusing them. The teller has found someone new and finally gotten their courage together to leave, and they've made a plan. On a certain day when their partner is out they're going to pack up their things and flee. Kars City is a huge metropolis (think Rome) so it's entirely possible to get lost in it and start your life anew.
They can be convinced to quit their job and leveraged into recommending a PC or NPC to be their replacement. I chose to play up this story for my party and they got really invested.
To hinder and subdue with magic
To call wood elemental reinforcements and assist them
Damage: D6+1 stun, close
Coordinate to delay interlopers
Protect bank assets and employees
Call for reinforcements
Damage: D8+1 forceful, close
Make an example of a PC
Fly into a rage
Use the Retaliantaura
THE HEIST (or how I learned to question my party's moral compass)
After some havering and back and forth, the party decided they would rob the druid bank. Since we're all first timers to DW I pointed out the Bolster move and said that for them to use it they would each need to say what they would be doing for the given period of time. They wanted to maximize their Bolster, so they chose a month of prep. Here's what they did with their month of prep:
- Southern Crane, the Prisoner Monk: spent his time buddying up to the guards and guard captain at the gym they attended and offered to train them for free. During this time he amped up their training until they were ground down to nothing and constantly exhausted.
- Chosen the Gold, the Summoner: found and bound a minor wood elemental named Charlie Mayhew to a stick of living wood. This minor wood elemental has the personality of a salesman and the ability to open and close wooden boxes, doors and the like. But only if they're wooden and only if you don't bother him while he's trying to make a sale. Only closers get cookies!
- Helot, the Stolen: used her ability to disguise herself and her unusual bodily alterations to follow the bank director and investigate his life, figuring out his schedule.
- Omid, the Psion: got setup as the inside man. After reading the teller NPC's mind and finding out about their plan to leave their abusive partner, a series of increasingly terrible decisions were made that ended with the teller recommending Omid for their replacement.
- Jack Frost, the Winter Mage: spent his time working on the get away. After determining that there was a sewer entrance to the bank vis-a-vis the bathroom, he constructed a sprawling death trap composed of ice slides, pit traps and sudden drops. He spent an entire month doing this.
They also each spent a point of Bolster to say that at the end of the month, and night the heist would take place on, was St Patty's Day which the inhabitants of Kars City celebrated by choking snakes, and if they didn't have a snake choking their friend's snake. It was also determined that certain rural residents with a preponderance of poultry choke chickens instead of snakes.
Now, it was when the Teller got involved that things got real.
After Omid read the teller's mind and found out about their relationship problems, the group got together and decided that they were personally invested in this love triangle. Jack Frost–whom's player has played up as being absolutely terrifying–took a personal interest. To that end a plan was hatched: on the day the Teller was leaving their abusive partner for their loving partner, all three would be abducted.
Jack Frost and Chosen the Gold waited in the abusive partner's apartment and abducted them by creating a slip and fall trap using Jack Frost's ice powers.
Helot waylayed the teller and their loving partner, alternately promising to help them escape the abusive partner and threatening to let them know where the teller was going.
The Adventure Gang (the party's name) met up in a secret room off the sewers the party had found in their previous session, each of them were restrained and then interrogated.
After two hours IRL time spent interrogating the three prisoners, during which time it was revealed that abusive partner was going to kill the teller for "being a whore" like they'd "done eight times already." The Adventure Gang offed the abusive partner, tortured the new loving partner and kept them captive to leverage the teller into quitting the bank, recommending Omid for their position, and leaving the city.
The Adventure Gang escorted the teller and their tortured partner to the city gates and watched as they walked over the horizon. The party had also promised the teller ~60 coin to help start their new life but forgot to give it, and the teller was too terrified to speak up about it. At the same time, they're going to come back as a nemesis or recurring character. I'm not sure which yet, but the party got emotionally invested (in just the most dysfunctional ways).
Once Omid was inside the bank he kept up working there for the entirety of the month and spent all of his time ingratiating himself with each of the coworkers, exploring the bank, figuring out how the security system operated. This provided a whole lot of narrative oomph to support their plan to pull off the heist, and they'd also earned it through two hours of really excellent roleplay.
When it was St Patty's Day night, Helot snuck into the director's home and stole their wreath which you'll remember functioned as a security token. She took it to Chosen the Gold, the Summoner, who was point on entering the bank since he had the most experience with spirits and elementals. They're his specialty, after all.
It was then they answered the riddle security question in no time at all.
Now from there because they had chosen to attack at night, and because Southern Crane had so overworked the human security staff they were too beat to pull overnight shifts. He "accidentally" broke someone's leg and no one else could cover.
From there they split up, dismantled the Shrine with Chosen the Gold hitting a 10+ result on a Defy Danger +INT to knock out most of the security and then Helot opening the vault. With the Shrine dismantled the security system was basically out. Unfortunately they did trigger the trap on the vault, hitting Southern Crane and Jack Frost. From there they looted the vault, closed it up, and left the bank through the get-away maze/ice slides Jack Frost constructed.
That same night Helot broke back into the Director's place while they were out and put the wreath back into the briefcase to hide their tracks.
They ended up making off with 2750 gold in currency, 400 gold in gems and 3 Weight of safety deposit material. Once they stashed their goods, they immediately left the city.
So that's the heist, and there's the dungeon. I'm happy to answer any questions and hope you enjoyed the read.