In order to build a completely exterior dungeon, you must dig some holes. The Landscape Editor is the only Creation Kit (CK) tool that can perform this kind of work.
You should proceed like so (everything will be explained in detail later):
1) Dig a hole with the Landscape Editor.
2) Cover most of the hole with appropriate patches (I will talk about these in the next part of the tutorial).
3) Place the first dungeon mesh (usually a hallway), but remember:
- The most exterior part of the dungeon mesh must be aligned to the most exterior part of the patch. (The furthest part of the dungeon mesh, closest to the exterior world, must be aligned with the part of the patch closest to the exterior.)
- The dungeon mesh must be placed slightly deeper than the patch, otherwise a part of the patch could go through the dungeon ceiling.
4) Now adjust the height of the hole until it is aligned with the dungeon entrance floor.
5) Finally, with the help of the Landscape Editor, create an entrance ramp which will connect the dungeon entrance to the exterior landscape.
Dealing With Terrain Holes
Now I will give you some other important tips:
- Medium-sized dungeons / huge dungeons should be built inside of a border-mountain: a large number of patches might not look so much good (that's my opinion).
- When dealing with dungeons that develop inside of a border-mountain (like the pic's dungeon), you should only add patches to the entrance part of the dungeons. Other patches are absolutely unnecessary and will only waste your PC's memory. Nobody can see what's on the other side of a border-mountain!
- Dirt cliffs come with a small problem: they don't have a grass texture. You should manually add grass to them (as you can see by looking at the pic, I did it partially... Work in progress!). Remember to choose the correct type of grass. For instance, I always choose sword fern clusters, because my new worldspace is a pine forest.
Dirt Cliffs are the best way to cover terrain holes. However, you have to manually place the grass over them.
Connecting the Dungeon to the Exterior
Don't place too many big rocks: remember that you need to be able to fit through the entrance.
Finally, remember that rocks aren't fully finished objects: if you turn their x / y axis to 180, you will notice that rocks have a hole on their bottom. Remember to cover the various invisible parts, should they be "visible".
Rocks are the best way to connect your dungeon to the exterior landscape.
Avoiding Performance Issues
First, you should place two portals near the dungeon entrance, one directly outside of it, and one inside your dungeon where you can't see the entrance.
- The first portal will be linked to a roombound around almost the entire interior of the dungeon (obviously, you shouldn't link the first hallway and the first curve... Just hide the rest of the dungeon).
This can take a while to link every mesh and object inside a roombound, but it's worth it.
Dealing With Dungeon Sunlight
If you are using "unfinished objects" (I mean objects like walls that become invisible if you go behind them), remember that the visible side of the object must look at the sunlight, and the invisible part should look at the dungeon interior.
Don't dig anywhere, be smart: Look at the pic... As you can see, I dug where I had to place dungeon rooms/hallways. This way, I formed natural wall with the terrain on both sides. Those natural walls might help you to protect your dungeon from dawn's/sunset's sunlight. However, remember this tip only if you have to create underground dungeons.
When dealing with over-the-terrain-level dungeo, the protective roof might not be enough. Should the sunlight continue to reach the interior, you will also have to add protective walls.
An extremely massive roof protects the dungeon from sunlight. (The roof is hidden and cannot be noticed, unless you use the tcl command.)
Dealing with Dungeon Atmosphere
However, there are a lot of FX objects that might change the dungeon atmosphere a lot. It is only a matter of testing.
For instance, I successfully managed to create a spectral-blue atmosphere inside of my Falmer dungeon. Now it looks realistic. Too bad I can't darken it! Otherwise, it would be perfect!
If you have any questions or need help, I'm here to help! You can contact DavideMitra by PMing him on the Nexus Forums. Be sure to watch out for his latest mod, House of the Redguard II, where he has many exterior dungeons.