Variable Sprouts – Chapter 77
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Doyle takes another look at how many points he has to spend. 4200 is quite a sizable amount to work with. A little too big with how much most of his monsters cost. Easy enough to take care of with his decision to add assassin vines in the center.

Doyle cuts the amount in half and the result conveniently divides by 300 cleanly. That means seven assassin vines get thrown in the middle region. Though depending on how the kobolds work out he decides that cutting one or two wouldn’t be out of place.

Speaking of the kobolds, Doyle shifts over to deciding on how many should protect each ore vein. Any group that has made it this far aren’t pushovers or they have a ton of people. Extra numbers won’t necessarily challenge them. Not that he doesn’t plan to throw all the goats at them, but honestly, that’s just his theme at this point.

He sits back and thinks about what would challenge the groups that get here. There are still 2100 points to play with so splits off 1000 to use on myconid sprouts. Ten summons of the mushroom men should cover the lower floors and if not. Well, that’s what the extra assassin vines are for.

‘Hmm, with 1100 points I have enough to have a decent group for each vein. So four kobolds each costing 50 points would be 200 and by four veins add up to 800 and I would have 300 for goats. Upping it to five kobolds a group would only leave me with 100 points for the goats and I don’t like that.’

‘Now to make groups of four kobolds a challenge I need to equip them right. They have an alright stat line at level 3 with wisdom well ahead of the others at 12. Not the most useful stat for a bunch of miners. Though it might help them spot ore in the walls. The big problem with them is that I don’t have any picks for them to mine with in the first place.’

‘Sigh, I guess I can use spiked maces? After all, what’s a pick besides a two spike mace? But really, I only want a couple kobolds in each group to be miners. One of them should be an earth mage. No questions asked there. After all, what other kind of mage would you want when mining?’

‘Well, okay, maybe an air mage to keep things fresh. Luckily this is my dungeon so I don’t have to worry about that. Now what should the fourth kobold be? Heh, as if that was even a question. Shillelagh time! There will be goats, so there has to be goatherds. And since they will already be in charge of the goats, they can also lead the other kobolds.’

‘Now I have a good 300 points to throw at my goats. That gives me 75 goats to play with and I don’t think my kobolds need quite that many. Though if I throw a bunch into another goat farm, it cuts down on how many I can use. Putting 40 into the farm would leave 35, but that doesn’t divide by four all that well. Just slip one of those 40 back into the pool though and that gives 36 goats which splits into nine goats a group.’

Doyle pauses, ‘Wait a second. I just realized the best thing ever. I can clothe the goats just like I do the kobolds. That means I can give them bags to carry the ore in. I was somewhat joking before, but this will be perfect. They can have the spiky bronze accented helmets and awesome saddlebags. As for the kobolds, I don’t think I will give any of them a shield. The goatherd gets a sling and all of them can be decked out in leather gear. No point not to.’

‘Though now that I have finished the rest of the regions all that is left are the myconid sprouts. Let’s summon up a batch to see what I have to work with.’

One summon later and there are ten myconids on the edge of a puddle. All around them a carpet of mushrooms spreads out with each of them matching other nearby fungi. The myconids themselves are all different sizes, though most average around knee height.

Doyle isn’t certain if he got lucky with the draw, so goes and summons another batch. This one has 18 of the sprouts and except for one waist high specimen the rest are all more matched in size to the other shrooms in the area.

‘Well, let’s see what we get out of it when I summon the rest then. No reason to hold back.’ And he summons group after group of myconid sprouts. In the eight groups that follows he gets 5, 23, 17, 12, 7, 20, 15, and 14 sprouts. That group of five in particular is interesting, as only one of them is actually big. The rest are knee high. That one though, it isn’t quite as tall as a person but the sprout is likely taller than some of the shorter people in the settlement.

Doyle shakes his core, ‘To think that every time I summon a new batch in it will be this variable. Now I do get the feeling I could tweak it so things turn out more stable, but I don’t really want to. A little chaos won’t hurt. Plus it will keep the maze fresh. Who knows if you will face a few big boys or an absolute swarm of the knee highs. Though I think with this I am mostly done. I just need to shuffle the rooms a few times to get a feel for if there is something wrong.’

With that in mind he settles in to test it. The monsters won’t be able to keep up with the rooms being repositioned, but they can find their way back later. Now Doyle just wants to spot all the potential problems that will arise from letting the floor shuffle around randomly.

After a few shuffles the first problem crops up, which makes the maze too easy. Doyle doesn’t want to force people to travel through all the areas, but he wants them to experience a taste of the floor. This side tangent brings Doyle back to the layout at hand. Nowhere in his rules did he say that there couldn’t be a direct shot from the core room and the entrance. And it shows.

Doyle sighs and fleshes out the rules he had laid down. The first refinement is that the path between the entrance and core must include all regions of the floor. After all, it isn’t any fun if you populate the bottom with mushroom men if no one sees them.

The next change he makes is to deal with a pattern that had been forming. For some reason, the random placement kept putting the ore veins together. Now Doyle has made it so there can’t be a direct path between any of them on the top region.

Finally Doyle does what could be seen as undoing the first thing. He puts in place a rule that the path between the core and the elevator can’t be too long. I mean for this floor to only be partially explored. Sure some adventurers would try to full clear it, but nothing is stopping you from going up and down a couple times and finishing the dungeon.

With the plans for the floor figured out Doyle turns toward Ally. At the moment, the poor fairy looks absolutely bored out of her mind. Without adventurers to annoy, there really isn’t much to watch, so she jumps on the chance to do something interesting. Over and over she shuffles the floor just like Doyle had done. Yet this time even with fresh eyes on the situation, they can’t spot anything that jumps out as wrong.

Doyle is certain he has missed something or other, but for now the floor is ready for people to come traipsing through. Though that brings up the question, how is he supposed to attract new people? Only the founders have made it to Doyle’s core recently, so it really shrinks the pool.

Finally though, Doyle throws in the towel. The earlier floors are just too dangerous compared to his third floor. He could go back and switch things up. In fact, that is a future plan of his but for now he wants to get his fifth floor so he can see what his first boss choice will be.

Frustrated, Doyle turns to Ally. ‘So my first two floors are too tough. They are just one winding hallway, which I admit has to do with the space constraints. The real problem though is the monsters. Not only do adventurers have to fight them all one after another, but they are strong for this early. Any tips?’

Ally takes a moment to observe the first two floors and compares them to his third. ‘I can see why you are nervous about this. Your third floor is perfectly serviceable, but it feels like it should be the first floor instead.  Really, all you can do now is thin the numbers up there. Though look at the bright side, you will probably be able to add a goat farm up there as well.’

With a sigh Doyle nods, ‘I figured as much. Do you have any advice on what to remove?’

Ally shrugs, ‘I guess the first thing is to get rid of the goats in the entrance room of the first floor. In fact, you probably want to make it a goal to never put a monster in any entrance room. Dungeons that do that tend to get angry people after them right quick. After all, no one wants to hear about some farmer being ravaged by wolves because he took two steps inside the doorway.

‘Besides that, though? Hmm, do something about that assassin vine on the first floor, I guess? It hasn’t been a threat to the founders, so a few more kobolds instead would probably work out for the better.’

Doyle pauses and tries to think of a better idea, but falls short. ‘I didn’t really want to put more kobolds on the first floor. And don’t you dare mention goats. We both know how many goats that would be to replace the plant completely. Even if I use that extra space to throw on a goat farm, there will still be a good number of points left. Still, not much of a choice. And you know what? It is completely my fault.’

‘I want to keep the first floor restricted to monsters that I had there to start with. Not that it matters too much. After all, the only other requirements free monster I have at the moment is the dungeon wolf and I wanted to keep them a secret for another week.’

Ally raises an eyebrow, ‘Does it really matter all that much if they find out? You’re going to be slapping up a floor for them anyway. Showing off the fact you have wolf summons now won’t be too out of place. Plus they should expect it. How many wolves ended up dying in you? Any half smart person will be able to figure out that you probably have wolves now. I wouldn’t even be too surprised if the next scouting team is disappointed at the lack of wolves.’

Doyle shakes his head, ‘You are right. Still, I want to stick to my goals on this one. At this point my dungeon is very much themed around my goats and the kobolds, and it would just feel wrong to put something else there. Even just the assassin vine feels out of place at this point. Though I guess that decides me, doesn’t it? I’m going to remove everything from the first floor besides the bread and butter of my dungeon.’

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