Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Addition to Dungeon Design Philosophy

Long-time readers of this blog will know that I have a personal design philosophy when it comes to building dungeons. Inspired by the wild and woolly days of this hobby's beginnings, I've learned to let the need for realism and rationality to go on holiday if I think it's going to stand between me and a memorable dungeon experience. I summed up this philosophy some time back with the phrase, "Stop worrying and love the dungeon." That mantra still influences my efforts.

Today was one of those days where the universe syncs in a series of bizarre coincidences that causes one to revisit old ground. After commenting on how I wouldn't want a need for sensibility and rationality to stand in the way of the players assisting in adding levels of detail to the shared game world, I wandered over to Rob Conley's blog, Bat in the Attic. There, he was continuing his review of Dave Arnesen's First Fantasy Campaign. In a comment to that post, Jeff Rients mentioned that one of the cockamamie swords from FFC is floating around in his Cinder campaign. His rationale for this: "You know, just 'cause I can." This brought to mind the poem, "Some People" by Charles Bukowski, in which he writes, "some people never go crazy. what truly horrible lives they must lead."

I'm adding a sub-clause to the Society of Torch, Pole and Rope design philosophy of "Stop worrying and love the dungeon," which states, "Go crazy, just 'cause you can."

5 comments:

S. S., CFA said...

Hey now!

I love the idea of just creating a wacky world that's fun and fantastic.

I guess the point that I didn't make very well yesterday was that I share that belief ... but just do it a little differently.

All I really meant was that, in my world, wizards don't write books. Or at least they don't write them with the intent of others getting them. Their knowledge comes at great risk and with a high price, so they certainly look to wring that (and more) out of anyone who would come looking for "help".

I totally agree with the idea of immersing the players deeper into the world. I just do it by making them seek out legendary critters in legendary places to get the materials they need.

In the end, it's all the same. I mean, there's nothing more rational about having a wizard try to pluck a feather from a living cockatrice, right?

Stephen

Andreas Davour said...

That so well encapsulates my whole dungeon philosophy as well.

Lord Kilgore said...

I've always found arguments that this or that "isn't realistic" a bit odd, considering that we're talking about a half-elven magic-user trying to pull a magic wand out of a bag of holding in time to use it against the fire-breathing dragon so he can loot the pile of gold and gems.

There should be an "appearance of reality" around things, and exactly how that is implemented is up to each game master and player. But it doesn't take many debates about realism to suck the fantasy out of fantasy gaming.

Amityville Mike said...

@ S.S., CFA: I want to stress that this post wasn't meant as an attack on your comment from yesterday. I apologize if that's what it seemed. I'm in agreement that we all get to the same place differently. Your comment just got me thinking more about what I'm trying to keep in mind as a guiding premise to design, which then led to me reading Jeff's quote and so on, so I was in a receptive state of mind for new thinking.

No slight or insult was intend.

Amityville Mike said...

There should be an "appearance of reality" around things, and exactly how that is implemented is up to each game master and player. But it doesn't take many debates about realism to suck the fantasy out of fantasy gaming.:

As someone whose argued about the "reality of fantasy" during my misguided youth, I'm in complete agreement. I'm trying to atone for those sins now.