Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Night thoughts on the sparsely populated dungeon

It's Saturday night, and I feel a Saturday Night Special feeling coming over me.

Some of you might have read my last post on dense Gygaxian dungeons. Given it is Saturday I got to thinking about those places that make the subterranean underworld its flair, and those moments of "sensawunda". Let me quote you from the 5th ed. Tunnels & Trolls rule book.

"Let your imagination go wild - you can do anything you want because this is your creation. Put in a lot of stuff - nobody likes a dull dungeon. "
So, populating your dungeon. I know some people likes the idea of a big underground labyrinth where there are one third empty rooms or something like that. Each to his own. I don't say I don't like to play that way. But, I've come to realize that I'm no longer fond of creating dungeons like that.

I love to invent those crystal waterfalls, devious traps, combat encounters with multiple co-operating foes or locales of majestic proportions and awe inspiring weirdness. Putting down corridors of nothing on graph paper is no longer fun.

Sure, I could use a computer to generating it for me, but I would not find it fun to run either. What I would like to have is a way to make those slow moving bits be outsourced to  a second GM and then I could step in a run the Saturday Night Specials. Maybe. Is there a way to get it all?

I'm beginning to feel I understand what Ken St. Andre wrote above and how well it applies to me. I don't like a "dull" dungeon. It would be cool, though, if you could just rattle off some twists, turns and empty rooms without bother to have the first part make sense or be ever repeatable (like for backtracking out of the dungeon or repeat visits), and then dive into it. Too bad I like the idea of repeat visits to the dungeon. I would never be able to improvise the same map twice.

If that could be done, I'd be very happy.
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