- Jun 2005 -
19235 Posts

Dungeontech: Turingian Genre

In the Dungeontech article series, I offer advice on introducing fantastical technology into your Dungeons & Dragons game.  In this article, I describe another genre you might consider for a Dungeontech campaign: Turingian.

Alan Turing was a British mathematician credited with developing the first modern computer.  Few realized how Turing’s machine would alter man’s relationship with technology.  The computer, at its most elemental form, allows mankind to manipulate information in a way never before experienced.  Now, technology can manipulate more than matter and energy – it can manipulate forms, ideas and public opinions.

The Turingian campaign concentrates on the works of the people who have developed the sciences and algorithms for manipulating data.  In addition to Alan Turing, Kurt Gödel provided the theoretical framework for computer sciences.  John von Neumann developed the architecture on which most modern computers are based.  Wesley A. Clark pioneered the concept of the personal computer.

However, there is no need to restrict a Turingian campaign to the inventions that have been developed.  Writers in science fiction, and the sub-genre cyberpunk, have provided a host of other ideas that could be incorporated into a Turingian world.  The writings of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, and others have imagined a host of new technologies that could be incorporated into a near-futuristic or alien campaign world.

Aesthetically, a Turingian world is a world of transistors, computer chips and automation.  Computers have replaced many human functions.  This vision of a futuristic world could be dark, like the worlds in the writings of Philip K. ****, or optimistic, like the writings of Isaac Asimov.  Any aspect of society could be affected by advances in a Turingian world, from cybernetics replacing human body parts to interstellar space travel.  There is no limit to what technology might accomplish in a Turingian world.

A Turingian campaign can introduce another dimension to adventuring: adventures in virtual worlds.  Since the first videogame, people have imagined being physically transported into the mythical computer realm where these games “occur.”  With advanced technology (and a little magic) player characters could be transported to this virtual realm. This realm could resemble Logos, the Plane of Forms (to be described in a future article), or a realm of the Dungeon Master’s own devise. 

Because Turingian technology involves the manipulation of data, many of the traps in a Turingian world will likely involve the computers that control the systems the player characters might seek to access.  Complicated locking mechanisms and silent alarms designed to deter are more likely than a deathtrap.  Skill challenges involving deducing a computer password or hacking into a computer system should frequent the Turingian world.

A Turingian campaign opens several new possibilities for creatures.  Robotic foes might abound in a futuristic world, as well as cyborgs – man/machine hybrids – with an array of technological abilities.  When magic and myth is thrown into the mix, the variations are endless.  Cybernetic griffons and virtual bugbears could all be encountered in such a campaign. 

In a Turingian universe, cash is not the most important resource for adventurers.  Rather, player characters should be most interested in access, influence and information.  In a world where computers control the data, those who control the computers will have the power.  The ability to access systems, and influence the people who control access will be the most valuable rewards a party could obtain.  Access keys and security clearances become valuable assets in this world.  Money is fleeting, and, where so much of it is held in virtual accounts, wealth is illusory compared to the ability to control the computer systems that monitor and tabulate that wealth.



The laser turret has a motion sensor that homes in on movement within the chamber it is guarding, but will not attack creatures identified as allies.

Laser Turret     Level 8 Blaster
Trap     XP 350
A mechanical laser gun emerges from a panel in the wall and begins firing.
Trigger: Movement in the chamber.
Radiant Attack
Standard Action         Ranged 10
Targets: One creature in range
Attack: +15 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6+6 force damage
•           Combat: The turret is immune to attacks that target Will, has other defenses of 20, and 60 HP.
•           Thievery (DC 24): You deactivate the turret.
Proposed Level 8 Encounter (1,750 XP)
•           2 Laser Turrets (Level 8 blasters)
•           3 Angels of valor (Level 8 soldiers)


This sealed chamber rapidly sucks the oxygen out. Even creatures that do not breathe are unable to withstand the sudden loss of pressure.  Constructs can be built specially to withstand the pressure and make ideal foes to be placed in the chamber.

Decompression Chamber        Level 12 Lurker
Trap     XP 700
This smooth-walled room has small vents near the top.  As you enter the chamber a load roar fills the chamber, as the air is sucked from the room.  Your ears hurt as the chamber depressurizes.
Trigger: Entering chamber
Immediate Reaction    Touch
Attack: +15 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 3d12+7 damage plus dazed plus ongoing 5 (save ends only after escaping chamber)
Miss: Half damage plus ongoing 5 (save ends only after escaping chamber)
Special: Any creature hit by the trap may be affected by the Bends (see Diseases, below).
•           Combat: The door can be battered down as a reinforced steel door.
•           Endurance (DC 22): As a standard action, you do no suffer ongoing damage that round.
•           Thievery (DC 30): You open the lock to the chamber, restoring the pressure.
Proposed Level 12 Encounter (3,500 XP)
•           Decompression chamber (Level 12 lurker)
•           3 shield guardians (Level 14 soldier)


Complicated artificial gravity pumps cause everything in the room to become heavier.  Eventually, people are crushed under their own weight.  Unburdened beasts of massive strength can traverse the room with little difficulty.  This trap should be given initiative.

Gravity Well   Level 19 Obstacle
Trap     XP 2,400
Odd machinery adorns the ceiling and the floor is made of a thick black obsidian-like metal.  As you enter, you feel sluggish.
Standard         Touch
Targets: Each creature in the room under large size.
Attack: +22 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 2d6+7 damage plus slowed until end of encounter
Special: If you are hit while slowed, you are also immobilized (save ends immobilization, but not slowed condition).
•           Endurance (DC 27): You ignore any slow condition until the beginning of your next turn.
•           Perception (DC 31): You recognize the gravity well.
•           Special: If you drop all your equipment, you will not take damage the following round.
•           Thievery (DC 35): You sabotage the gravity enhancers, deactivating the trap.
Proposed Level 19 Encounter (12,000 XP)
•           Gravity well (Level 19 obstacle)
•           2 blackroot treants (Level 19 elite soldier)


This chamber exists in multiple dimensions, ever shifting through space and time.  Its walls and vertices shift as well, appearing in the middle of the chamber, and piercing the flesh of the three-dimensional creatures within it.  Only creatures able to shift dimensionally are immune to this effect.

Tesseract Trap Level 29 Warder
Trap     XP 15,000
This bizarre chamber has slabs of metal and stone appearing and disappearing, suspended in thin air right before your eyes.
Trigger: Entering room.
Standard         Close burst 6
Targets: Each creature in chamber.
Attack: +36 vs. AC
Hit: 2d6+10 damage plus slow (while in chamber)
Miss: Half damage
•           Acrobatics (DC 30): You can dodge the whirling extra-dimensional blades, and are not slowed this round.
•           Dungeoneering (DC 38): You can envision the tesseract in four dimensions.  You can maneuver through the tesseract without being attacked and ending any slow effect.
•           Perception (DC 34): With a move action, you can anticipate an extra-dimensional attack.  You receive no damage on a miss.
•           Thievery (DC 34): You unlock the door leading from this chamber.
Proposed Level 29 Encounter (78,000 XP)
•           Tesseract trap (Level 29 warder)
•           2 phane (Level 26 elite controller)
•           3 crownwing (Level 26 skirmisher (leader))
Solo (XP 75,000): Rather than a standard tesseract, this chamber is irregularly shaped, making its edges more jagged and numerous.  Attack, damage and Skill DCs increase by two.

Next week, I will introduce advice on mixing genres, so stay tuned!

See more at Unearthed Wrecana!

Photograph of Alan Turing from blogs.kent.ac.uk/mik/2009/09/11/alan-tur... No copyright because image is in the public domain. "A loud muted roar pulsed through the ship," by Louis Glanzman for “Stand By For Mars!” by Carey Rockwell (1952).  No copyright because image is in the public domain.
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