This week off work has been a real blessing, despite having developed the inevitable common cold and weekend lurgy. One of the reasons for feeling so positive, apart from having my wife off work for a couple of days too, was that I've had time to really dig into my hobby.
Regular readers (yes, you hallowed few!) will know that I've been really wrestling with what it means to Gamemaster roleplaying sessions lately.
You'll also realise that I have felt considerable pull in two entirely different directions:
- On the one hand I'm seeking to develop a really engaging and engrossing SF roleplaying game for my regular group;
- On the other hand I am wanting to immerse myself into the OSR trend towards looser games in the fantasy genre.
This week has opened my eyes to the possibility of doing both.
What is it about dungeon adventures that so attracts me to want to run one again? Is it just nostalgia for a mythical style of play? Well... no, not for me.
Lately I've run a dungeon adventure for a bunch of teens and, despite two TPKs in recent weeks, they keep coming back for more. One of the reasons for their enthusiasm, however, is definitely my own enthusiasm; in short, I've really enjoyed it.
Dungeons are low-intensity and low-pressure games for me. Once I have a dungeon to use I feel very comfortable in running the players through it. The relatively constrained environs in some way open up my ability to roleplay in a more relaxed manner. It's odd but, for me at least, giving a game clear boundaries helps me to feel more free in my choices.
Writing My Own
Here's a confession: I don't think that I have written and run a dungeon adventure since I was a teenager.
I've run other people's dungeons. I played in other people's dungeons. But I've not written one myself for more than 25 years.
I've been asking myself why. The answer is that I am both scared and lazy.
Scared? Yes. What if I write a crappy dungeon?
Lazy? Indeed. Designing an adventure with a dedicated dungeon map is actually a lot more work than most gaming sessions.
So... why bother? Answer: It's about time to scratch that itch.
As with all projects, it's important to set a target deadline and set your goals out clearly. I've decided to invite some friends to a session during the impending Easter holidays, giving me around 5 weeks to write an adventure.
The title comes from the combination of timescale (Easter) and my initial intention to try out the Castles & Crusades
system for the game (Crusade). Of course, right now, I am really being tempted by OSRIC
(essentially 1e D&D) because of the added complexity... and several other OSR titles too because of their faithful followings online.
All that aside, the main focus has been to come up with an adventure idea and turn it into a cool one-day 8-hour roleplaying session for my friends.
Challenges so far...
What I wanted to share, however, were the challenges that I seem to face in getting this dungeon written.
Firstly, I have only the vaguest of adventure ideas running around my head: I want to feature a Paladin and a Cleric; I want to do a dungeon raid of some kind, with really clear goals; I want to run it with 3rd level characters, probably pre-gens convention-style.
Secondly, I haven't designed a dungeon map for more than 25 years. It actually is a bit of an art to do well, so this seems daunting.
Thirdly, I don't want to set it in any pre-generated setting, either of my own or anyone else. In one sense, the adventure will be the beginning of a new setting... but also, very likely, a stand-alone event. That almost gives me too many choices.
Solutions are, however, at hand.
A copy of The Tome of Adventure Design
has proven a really positive tool to get my creative juices flowing. I'm going to review it in more detail at the end of the project, but so far it has proven a valuable mine of cool ideas and systems for dungeon-building.
I've also bought in some squared-paper, tracing paper, pencils, a pencil-sharpener and an eraser. Actually handling these items has really brought my enthusiasm to boiling point.
It's weird but, in some way, the only thing that seems missing is the idea to get me started.
I guess I am just going to begin and see where this project takes me. Perhaps by sharing the process and thinking out loud with you guys I'll feel spurred to complete it.
What do I need from you? Maybe some encouragement, advice or ideas. Oh, and if you're local to Nottingham (UK) and you fancy a game, maybe you'd like to come take a seat at the table.
Here's to my first dungeon in more than 25 years. Game on!
Labels: fantasy, GMing, musings, news, OSR, roleplaying, writing