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The Lair of Kazoth
May 3, 2010 11:02 AM   Subscribe

"This map was drawn by my cousin, Tim, who introduced me to gaming back in the earlier '80s."
posted by Artw (97 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can almost smell the cheap ink wafting off that thing.
posted by sciurus at 11:12 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to have a binder full of these. I really wish I would have kept it.
posted by HumanComplex at 11:13 AM on May 3, 2010


I can almost smell the cheap ink wafting off that thing.

Erasermate, amirite? I think we spent more time in school planning out heinous dungeons than we ever spent using them in actual RPGs.
posted by jquinby at 11:15 AM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I used to have a Trapper Keeper full of these. It might be in my parent's attic.
posted by grabbingsand at 11:16 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heh. I am unsure whether to be sad or EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that all of these of mine (??) were lost and/or destroyed long ago.
posted by GuyZero at 11:18 AM on May 3, 2010


When I was a wee Bastard gamer, my (notoriously prickly and vengeful) DM used the same cheap set of cardboard modular map tiles for every campaign, every location. This led to the following legendary exchange between him and myself:

Him: "Okay, the room you enter looks much like this:" (lays down large square room map-section, which shows the room is square and the floor tiled) "...except the room is a cavern roughly oval in shape with a dank stone floor."
Me: "In other words, the room we enter looks NOTHING like that."
Him: "...And Bastard strides directly into the pit trap in front of the door and lands on the poison spikes at the bottom taking..." (Rolls dice) "..32 hit points damage."

Good times.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:22 AM on May 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Much love for the obligatory compass rose.
posted by jardinier at 11:23 AM on May 3, 2010


Seeing things like this really irks me, because this is what I want to do. Dungeons are awesome! Fighting monsters is sweet! But I can never get past the first room without worrying about economy, sociopolitical climate, the effects of Darwinian evolution on spiritual beings, how to acknowledge differing gender politics without being sexist, lighting, larders, material, architectural technology levels, etc.

All this and I've never even actually played a pen and paper RPG before.
posted by rebent at 11:26 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


But I can never get past the first room without worrying about economy, sociopolitical climate, the effects of Darwinian evolution on spiritual beings, how to acknowledge differing gender politics without being sexist, lighting, larders, material, architectural technology levels, etc.

Are you sure you've not played RPGs before? because you sound like you might be China Mievile.
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on May 3, 2010 [14 favorites]


Interesting how D&D artists created a graphical vocabulary for 2D maps still recognizable today. Doors, stairs, secret doors, etc. Everyone who has played these games for more than five minutes can instantly pick up that hand-drawn map, visually grok the layout and play according to its rules.

How much did these artists crib from traditional architectural drawing? How much was original? Interesting stuff.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:31 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


"vestal virgins + such"
posted by lucasks at 11:33 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


"+such" = no longer virgins, but kept on hand anyway.
posted by Xoebe at 11:35 AM on May 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


This is awesome and reminds me far too much of my youth. Plus he's got a link to another AD&D blog that's named after Blackrazor, which gives me an excuse to link to the best piece of old-school AD&D marginalia ever [slightly NSFW, I guess].
posted by The Bellman at 11:35 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


When shopping for school supplies every year I would always tell my mom that I needed graph paper for math class but actually it was just for making dungeons.
posted by GavinR at 11:38 AM on May 3, 2010 [18 favorites]


The day I managed to buy hex paper was the best day of my life to that point.
posted by GuyZero at 11:42 AM on May 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


I would always tell my mom that I needed graph paper for math class but actually it was just for making dungeons.

I steal a pad of graph paper from work every 6 weeks or so. I don't need it for math class *or* drawing dungeons. I just like graph paper.
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on May 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


Anyone who does have some maps mouldering in their parents' house or elsewhere, please consider sending them to the Play Generated Map and Document Archive. [Previously]
posted by ursus_comiter at 11:51 AM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Chapels, torture chambers, treasure troves, a throne room, but no THRONE ROOM. Where's a evil lord supposed to take a dump in that place?
posted by roue at 11:51 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seeing things like this really irks me, because this is what I want to do. Dungeons are awesome! Fighting monsters is sweet! But I can never get past the first room without worrying about economy, sociopolitical climate, the effects of Darwinian evolution on spiritual beings, how to acknowledge differing gender politics without being sexist, lighting, larders, material, architectural technology levels, etc.

This is my problem- every time I go to make a dungeon I find myself trying to figure out the ecology of it and then I start getting the feeling like I'm doing it really, really wrong.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:53 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


And man, I wish I had that same feeling of infinite possibility and potential when sitting down at a blank piece of graph paper at age 14 now.
posted by GuyZero at 11:54 AM on May 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's a rust beast and owl-bear based economy.
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on May 3, 2010 [15 favorites]


This is great! My own collection is not of maps, since I was not one for the ubiquitous dungeon crawl, but rather character sheets. I've kept up with my players, and my own, character sheets going all the way back to high school. I think they'd probably be the first thing I went in for, after the animals, in the event of my home's destruction.

These days, I just scrape and repurpose all of my old maps. Or, if I want to make a really epic dungeon, I make screencaps of one of my Dwarf Fortresses.
posted by absalom at 11:55 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's a rust beast and owl-bear based economy.

I'm heavily leveraged on gelatinous cubes. I hired someone to stack them in a huge underground chamber. Some guy named Ponzi.
posted by GuyZero at 11:56 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


It was created by mad wizards and it doesn't have to make sense - sort of like the dot com boom or the pre-collapse housing market.
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on May 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


Sounds like someone had some Dungeon Geomorphs!

Drawing good game maps is hard. Bad dungeons come off looking like Leatherface & Co Rehabbers, just a bunch of partitions added without thought or overall plan. Random generation always looks fake. A better algorithm would take into account how many hands the dungeon has been through — as Moldovar the Malevolent finished his brand new dungeon, for the soul-draining torment of his bloodslaves? Or it is some two centuries later, his lich long vanquished, and the place been adapted, briefly, as a hotel for dwarves? At that point, you have the original dungeon, plus some adaptations, and perhaps some secret doors knocked out. If your dungeon is a thousand years along, expect rockfalls and various earth elemental relations boring holes here and there. Is your dungeon gelatinous cube accessible?

And then you have to get past your basic monster hotel. Who (or more likely what) lives (or haunts) there? Where's the food source? Where's the water? How does the air circulate? You don't have to worry those for the undead, but for nearly anything else, those monsters in the back who have to worry about the big dude hanging at the front of the dungeon, looking to snack on anyone who came by.

I think my favorite dungeon mechanism involved a poor, chained-down troll. A bladed wheel would lop off his head, which would bounce through a large funnel to land on a platform. As the troll head turned into a troll, the increased mass would spin the wheel for a new head-lopping, even as the new troll would fall off of the platform. The newly-formed trolls landed on a rock shelf in front of a large lava stream, or, actually, on top of all of the other trolls. As the population of trolls grew too high, some would invariably be shoved into the lava and *whoosh* no more troll. This was all to power another device which operated on the same gear system as the wheel — burning trolls was just a happy side effect to horrify random dungeoneers who came across it.

Good times.
posted by adipocere at 11:59 AM on May 3, 2010 [35 favorites]


SO, in other words, Pope Guilty, HOW IS GELATINOUS CUBE FORMED??
posted by Mister_A at 11:59 AM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


This says to me Kazoth is the kind of god-thing who would have a mini-frdge full of drinks in his den.

I love that bit. It reminds me of one of the things that fascinated me about Graceland: Elvis had no less than three rec-room-style bars on the grounds: one in the Jungle Room, one downstairs (in the billiards room, I think) and one in the squash court. I'm assuming that it was used mostly by the Memphis Mafia since Elvis, for all his prodigious prescription drug use, rarely drank.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:01 PM on May 3, 2010


"vestal virgins + such"

I assumed "such" was other terms he learned from Moody Blues lyrics.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:03 PM on May 3, 2010


For years, I was one of those political socio-economic gamers. I blame White Wolf for this. But recently, I've been running the first 4e module, and well, dungeons are kind of cool. They still don't make any real sense, but that's part of the charm. Plus, I miss making maps like this in junior high. We never played any of them, but that fungus cavern was kick ass.

My name is khaibit, and I like dungeons.
posted by khaibit at 12:05 PM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is my problem- every time I go to make a dungeon I find myself trying to figure out the ecology of it and then I start getting the feeling like I'm doing it really, really wrong.

I'm probably over-thinking, but I just wanted to say to you (and to rebent) that you're not doing it wrong. You're just doing it differently.

It's really a stylistic choice; sometimes, people want to run a game where it's handwaved away as being "normal" that you've got these random dungeons full of creatures that are genetically adapted to graph paper. Other times, GMs (and players) choose to run games where the setting tries to at least marginally account for things like where the heck people are actually taking a shit in the fortress of doom that you're invading.

Both can be fun, but neither is "right"*. It's all up to the people who are playing, and what they find more fun -- pure hack 'n slash, or something with more realism. So, don't let it scare you away :)

(* Though I lean towards the more detailed, personally. You don't even want to know the number of times a game I have run has ended up requiring a custom perl script or other program to determine how much food and water is being used during overland travel. And my players have long stopped being surprised when they find an outhouse in the midst of a lair. What, you thought the Level 15 Wizard spends his valuable power magically whisking his piss away?)
posted by tocts at 12:05 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rust Monster not 'beast' ... (And that tells you how much of my youth I devoted to that stuff... at one time I had Monster Manual just about memorised)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:05 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great Hall==meh not so great. Kind of a mediocre hall.
posted by stormpooper at 12:06 PM on May 3, 2010


Oh and Owlbear is one word, there's no hypen (Nerdcore for life!)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:06 PM on May 3, 2010


Man I have no fucking clue what any of you guys are talking about in this thread, but I really like seeing stuff like this on MeFi anyway because of the warm glow of nostalgia is generates in others.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:08 PM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think my favorite dungeon mechanism involved a poor, chained-down troll ... This was all to power another device which operated on the same gear system

In a world where magic was real, your mad wizard creates a troll-powered perpetual-motion machine.

DUDE. Lightning bolt spells. 'Nuff said.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:11 PM on May 3, 2010


I can't believe this hasn't been brought up yet:

King Arthur: Who are you who can summon fire without flint or tinder?
Tim: There are some who call me... Tim.

posted by GavinR at 12:14 PM on May 3, 2010


The dungeon had a very mechanical feel to it, so I stayed away from powering things directly with magic and stuck with a lot of levers, chain elevators, and things that went clank! in the night. Judging by the sounds the trolls made, let's call it screampunk.
posted by adipocere at 12:14 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


...at one time I had Monster Manual just about memorised

Dude how 'bout that succubus? I would totally have gone Lawful Evil for her.
posted by Mister_A at 12:20 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Grr chaotic evil. '80s Horndog Nerdstalgia Recollection Fail.
posted by Mister_A at 12:21 PM on May 3, 2010


I'm probably over-thinking, but I just wanted to say to you (and to rebent) that you're not doing it wrong. You're just doing it differently.

The problem comes when I get so wrapped up in figuring out the ecology that I get frustrated and go do something else.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:24 PM on May 3, 2010


"vestal virgins + sutch"
posted by Nothing... and like it at 12:27 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I assume he simply didn't bother to list the various combinations:

- vestal virgins
- non-vestal virgins
- vestal non-virgins
- non-vestal non-virgins

I mean, presumably these women need a post-virginity career plan to make it in the dungeon.
posted by GuyZero at 1:00 PM on May 3, 2010


I think they are thrown into the troll machine post-virginity.
posted by Mister_A at 1:08 PM on May 3, 2010


I would have figured the vestal virgins who lost their virginity would have been promptly moved to the room of waiting sacrifices...

Dwarf Fortress is great for thinking about dungeon ecology. You have a bunch of dwarves, and you build a dungeon according to the needs of dwarves. You get defences, great halls, tombs, piles of traps, treasure hordes, craft-halls, endless halls of dwarf-quarters, and deep and meaningless mines stretching for miles into the earth. Occasionally you fuck up and end up with a massive underwater section. Or, worse, and under-magma section. Sometimes you get bored, and build a massive, meaningless death-trap deep in the bowels of the mines, and then start capturing goblins by the dozen in order to explode them.

So you start with your dwarf fortress, and then imagine some evil wizard moving in a thousand years after the iron deposits ran dry, and revamped some things according to his evil wizard needs... It's a nigh-perfect dungeon creation framework.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:12 PM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


SO, in other words, Pope Guilty, HOW IS GELATINOUS CUBE FORMED??

Fuckin' geatinous cubes, how do they work?

Also, behold fellow gamers. By the craft of our ancestors, possibly the most expensive D20 ever.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 1:16 PM on May 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


Awesome. Every couple of months my mother (to my wife's dismay) sends us a random box of crap from my high school days. Usually it's a few new pieces of pottery from dad, wrapped in old t-shirts. They fill the box with the other random crap, to get it out of the house. Last time it was a big aluminum "Swatch" notebook case that had all my old AD&D stuff in it, including dozens of maps just like this one.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:25 PM on May 3, 2010


From the most expensive D20 ever link:

Modern scholarship has not yet established the game for which these dice were used.

Obviously: Papers & Paychecks.
posted by GuyZero at 1:25 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like to do both realistic dungeons and crazy nonsense dungeons.

The realistic ones tend to be a) outposts/bases which are supplied from outside, b) ruins with a few critters who could survive on rats, etc. c) have things like undead or golems that don't worry about things like eating.

The crazy nonsense ones are thematic - mostly built on magic, fey worlds, dream logic and abstractions given form. The place oozes with magic - of course some goblins formed somewhere.
posted by yeloson at 2:22 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dungeon ecologies have a time honored place in gaming lore.

It's a shame that I wasn't able to find a comprehensive index of all the various, "The Ecology of ..." articles that have appeared in Dragon and other publications.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:30 PM on May 3, 2010


And as for the crazy nonsense, there are also plenty of games out there that have taken this D&D trope and made a virtue of it. My favorite of these is Warhammer Quest, in which monsters killed are literally converted into gold at the killing stroke.
posted by ursus_comiter at 2:32 PM on May 3, 2010


It's a shame that I wasn't able to find a comprehensive index of all the various, "The Ecology of ..." articles that have appeared in Dragon and other publications

It's not as user-friendly as I would like, but: Dragon Magazine Index
posted by khaibit at 2:39 PM on May 3, 2010


I wish i could/could have played D and D but i never had the friends. For a while the people that i hung out with (i wouldn't call friends) and i played Changling, but it sucked because we had a werewolf who would play too and the guy couldn't roleplay. He had no imagination and used privileged info, usually to the demise of my character. We didn't get along before that, and the roleplaying thing didn't help. Man, I had a lot of run-ins with a lot of shitty people in my life.
posted by djduckie at 2:48 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I actually have a copy of the Dragon Magazine Archives that was released in 1999. It is something like 5 discs and I think I paid something like $30 for it used off Amazon around 2001 or so. The custom viewing interface sucks but they are all in PDF format so you don't need to use that. Unfortunately they did a very poor job of scanning some of the images and the resolution isn't the best but it is the first 250 issues of Dragon and at the price I paid that can't be beat.
posted by GavinR at 2:53 PM on May 3, 2010


A friend of mine had a great explanation for dungeons: Hell is the mother of all dungeons. The little ones slowly rise up from Hell like bubbles, floating to the surface. Some are bigger than others, and some have nastier things in them. But all need to be cleaned out and ritually sealed off and made to dissipate, which can only be done once all the evil is cleansed. If a dungeon stands unexplored too long, the creatures within will spill out onto the surface and run rampant.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:55 PM on May 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


We had a better record of getting D&D games off the ground than we did with WH40K - that's where our endless fussing around and planning without ever actually doing much playing happened.
posted by Artw at 2:55 PM on May 3, 2010


That Roman die supports my thesis (which the so-called "mainstream historians", with their rigid theories and uptight hypotheses, have so long rejected) that it was the dread menace of the D20 system that brought down the Roman Empire. We are lucky that our society discarded it within a decade, rather than permitting it the free reign it enjoyed on the Palatine Hill.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:56 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine had a great explanation for dungeons: Hell is the mother of all dungeons. The little ones slowly rise up from Hell like bubbles, floating to the surface. Some are bigger than others, and some have nastier things in them. But all need to be cleaned out and ritually sealed off and made to dissipate, which can only be done once all the evil is cleansed. If a dungeon stands unexplored too long, the creatures within will spill out onto the surface and run rampant.

This sounds like a brilliant background for a beer-and-pretzels campaign.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:57 PM on May 3, 2010


Man, I had a lot of run-ins with a lot of shitty people in my life.

There's a sizable subset of roleplaying circles and culture that enables bad behavior. Mostly, though, it comes down to different goals with a game, no communication, social pressure to stay no matter what, and a refusal to accept maybe some folks shouldn't play together.

I remember leaving a group a few years back, only to hear later about several broken friendships and a literal fistfight at the table.

My answer is to play short run games, with low commitment. People have fun and when they get tired, it's all good.
posted by yeloson at 3:09 PM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


And let's not forget the Five Geek Social Fallacies.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:13 PM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Man, every time there's a D&D post on MeFi, I get a super big RPG-boner in my brain. I just want to play so bad that I'm getting blue-dice. I long, long ago got rid of all my D&D books and character sheets and stuff, but I really, really wish I still had some of that stuff. I also remember the project I began sometime in high school to create an entirely new world in which to campaign. I remember completing a map of the world and starting to describe the political system of one of the kingdoms, but then I got interested in girls and going out and all that waste of time stuff. I gotta return to this one day.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:17 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine had a great explanation for dungeons: Hell is the mother of all dungeons. The little ones slowly rise up from Hell like bubbles, floating to the surface. Some are bigger than others, and some have nastier things in them. But all need to be cleaned out and ritually sealed off and made to dissipate, which can only be done once all the evil is cleansed. If a dungeon stands unexplored too long, the creatures within will spill out onto the surface and run rampant.

This sounds like a brilliant background for any number of things.
posted by kafziel at 3:31 PM on May 3, 2010


Is there some place online where you can meet local strangers for intense sessions in dark rooms?
posted by rebent at 3:51 PM on May 3, 2010


For my dungeons - painstakingly crafted affairs that took up all my evening compulsory study sessions at boarding school - I devised a useful and completely interchangable card system cross-referenced with the beasties in the labyrinth. They included snippets of dialogue for the encounters that were able to communicate. Choice samples include:

Ogre
"MEATS."

Goblin
"I kill you!" and "Stab stab stab!"

Evil Wizard
"Ahhh, welcome. It's been so long since I've had guests."

Mind Flayer
"Witness the pain of having your face eaten by your own brain!"

Fire Giant
"I'll roast your guts!"

Succubus
"My my."

Battered Adventurer
"They're everywhere, fellows! Everywhere!"
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:52 PM on May 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


possibly the most expensive D20 ever.

That is fucking sweet. Seriously. It even gives me a little goosebumply reaction to think of long-dead Romans throwing that thing around, quaffing some brews and making the inevitable Julius Caesar joke to boot. Oh, Humanity, alea iacta est.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:10 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I gotta return to this one day.

I'm getting back into it after a 10-year hiatus, and am finding plenty of people who are doing the same after much longer gaps (20+ years, etc). The question of 'Where do I find a game?' is frequent on AskMe. Perhaps Gygax's fairly recent death was influential, but at any rate it seems to be a developing meme.

Is there some place online where you can meet local strangers for intense sessions in dark rooms?

Try nearbygamers.com
posted by eclectist at 4:15 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wish i could/could have played D and D but i never had the friends.

I never played RPGs growing up, but I did spend many happy hours drawing detailed maps of fantasy worlds on the back of scrap paper (not graph paper -- all those ugly blue lines!). I especially enjoyed scotch-taping the pieces together to make giant maps like the fold-out ones you used to find in fancy hardcover editions of Lord of the Rings. My cousin and I had a shared world that we mapped out on nine taped-together pieces of 8 1/2 x 11" paper; we used to write letters to each other in which we pretended we were characters in that world. (We had a rudimentary made-up language too, but it was annoying to use; we mostly stuck to English.)

So I can totally relate to the nerdstalgia, despite never having played D&D.
posted by twirlip at 4:15 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, every time there's a D&D post on MeFi, I get a super big RPG-boner in my brain.

Me too. Er. Anyone up for a Metafilter D&D game?
posted by The otter lady at 4:32 PM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I actually have a copy of the Dragon Magazine Archives that was released in 1999.

I've got that too! It is nice yes, although I haven't had it installed for a long time. Mostly I just use it as moral justification to torrent the issues when I need them.

There are good things to be said for both approaches to dungeon design, the reasoned-out approach and the nonsensical-magical-realm one. The advantage of the first is that, if the players come to understand how the dungeon works, they can take advantage of that. If they're getting water from somewhere, maybe they can stop up that source? If all that orc crap gets dumped into a pit somewhere, what would happen if that pit were to flood? If the players can identify the primary rooms used by the goblins, they could set traps along that route. And so on.

The other method has its appeal as well, but in my opinion there should still be some logical system tying it together that players could take advantage of, if only to be able to figure out where they should go and where they should avoid. Otherwise it becomes just a string of monsters and treasures.

All this IMO of course.
posted by JHarris at 4:35 PM on May 3, 2010


I especially enjoyed scotch-taping the pieces together to make giant maps like the fold-out ones you used to find in fancy hardcover editions of Lord of the Rings.

I have this map from the video game War in Middle Earth lying around somewhere. The best part is how it was used for copy protection- occasionally (every three hours or so, I want to say) a prompt would pop up demanding the coordinates of one of the locations on it. If the location was obscure and my ten-year-old self couldn't find it- or if it was far away enough from the edge and therefore hard to eyeball which sector it was in- I'd be unceremoniously dumped to DOS. Simultaneously the best and worst pack-in EVER.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:38 PM on May 3, 2010


If all that orc crap gets dumped into a pit somewhere, what would happen if that pit were to flood?

Or, purely for the sake of argument, BURN?
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:40 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


there should still be some logical system tying it together that players could take advantage of

I've usually found the illogical aspects are -exactly- what players can take advantage of. There's all kinds of ways to take one monster and turn it on the other. ("Hey, let's put that green slime on the end of a javelin and throw it at the back of the dragon's head!").
posted by yeloson at 4:41 PM on May 3, 2010


eclectist:
Is there some place online where you can meet local strangers for intense sessions in dark rooms?

Try nearbygamers.com"

Dang, closes groups are 60+ miles away.
posted by rebent at 5:02 PM on May 3, 2010


If they're getting water from somewhere, maybe they can stop up that source? If all that orc crap gets dumped into a pit somewhere, what would happen if that pit were to flood? If the players can identify the primary rooms used by the goblins, they could set traps along that route. And so on.

I always wanted to game like this, but my D&D crew back in the day sucked at any sort of creativity beyond "hit it with my sword," and I as DM sucked at figuring out how to actually come up with any way to foster this sort of gameplay. Frankly, I never really figured out how to DM any way besides "Some orcs attack you. What do you do? Some beholders attack you. What do you do? You see some nymphs bathing in a stream. What do you do?" Before I go back to gaming, if ever, I need to read up on how to play for awesome.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:24 PM on May 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Before I go back to gaming, if ever, I need to read up on how to play for awesome.

Let players know up front that creativity is totally useful and then reward it, every time.

Have an NPC or two, who's otherwise not great stats, use smart tactics and reward it. "Oh, you pull the curtains on it's head? Ok, it's got one round that it's acting blind".

For old school D&D, you have to make it up on the spot. Tunnels & Trolls gave a little bit of system with it's Saving Rolls (aka, universal resolution), and D&D 4.0 systemizes it all on pg. 42.
posted by yeloson at 5:35 PM on May 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are tons of ways to find gamers near you (self-link). If you can't find people to play face to face, you can also play online. If you want to play D&D (or any other RPG), there's no excuse not to. Go forth and game!
posted by jiawen at 5:38 PM on May 3, 2010


The "vestal virgins" room in particular reminds me of a particular dungeon I invented, not one for any game, but just as a result of being nine.

I came up with one video game character, the Spelunker, who just collected princesses. He had a deep, comfortable underground lair and he captured random princesses from any number of stories, then locked them up forever. He ended up with dozens of them. He never did anything to them, or even went to see them. At that age, I was hazy on what exactly your basic video game captor might want to do with his princesses. They just stayed there in nice windowless rooms, in dresses and tiaras, banging on the doors.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:03 PM on May 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


It even gives me a little goosebumply reaction to think of long-dead Romans throwing that thing around, quaffing some brews and making the inevitable Julius Caesar joke to boot.

"Rectus Ω , velico ledo!"*

---
*"Natural Omega, critical hit!"
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 6:29 PM on May 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


yeloson: I've usually found the illogical aspects are -exactly- what players can take advantage of. There's all kinds of ways to take one monster and turn it on the other.

This is not an illogical system, for there is no such thing. It's a logical system with unusual premises, combined with ingenuity.

If your dungeon is on the inside of a giant cube, maybe players can use flight spells to get around. If every three hours every monster inside polymorphs into a rat, snake or spider for one minute, players who happen to have big clompy boots will be set. If all tunnels flood with water at Super Bowl halftime, make sure to go down with snorkel equipment. What is important is that there is some pattern behind it all that the players can possibly discover and, maybe, utilize. It doesn't matter if the pattern itself has a direct analogue with something in the real world.

Countess Elena: I came up with one video game character, the Spelunker, who just collected princesses. He had a deep, comfortable underground lair and he captured random princesses from any number of stories, then locked them up forever. He ended up with dozens of them. He never did anything to them, or even went to see them.

Awesome.

the otter lady: Me too. Er. Anyone up for a Metafilter D&D game?

This might be interesting, especially if it uses old school rules. (Can't stand 4E, am currently sick of 3E, don't have the brainspace for 2E.)
posted by JHarris at 6:29 PM on May 3, 2010


"Is there some place online where you can meet local strangers for intense sessions in dark rooms?"

http://dnd.meetup.com/
posted by tdismukes at 7:28 PM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this the thread where I can complain about the inherent inelegance of class and level based systems as compared to point based?

I still remember when I finally, after great sturm and drang, weaned my last D&D group off of it and got them playing HERO. Naturally, the campaign died of mostly unrelated causes before we could really get rolling.
posted by mordax at 9:57 PM on May 3, 2010


mordax: "Is this the thread where I can complain about the inherent inelegance of class and level based systems as compared to point based? "

Are you talking about how unrealistic XP is? Because I think it's totally unrealistic.
posted by rebent at 11:28 PM on May 3, 2010


Is this the thread where I can complain about the inherent inelegance of class and level based systems as compared to point based?

No, I think this is the thread were we complain about the fact that D&D 4E yanked most of the interesting parts out of system, leaving behind nothing of use for anyone with an attention span above that a gnat. Goddamn MMO-ization of D&D ...
posted by tocts at 4:09 AM on May 4, 2010


Is that old Roman die really believed to be for role playing games? It looks like it's meant for aleatory divination or some such, maybe in conjunction with a horoscope chart.

In other words, board games!
posted by gentilknight at 4:26 AM on May 4, 2010


Hey wow there's actually a gaming group in Brisbane. I'm hella tempted but not sure I really need another excuse to sit on my stinking date for eight hours at a stretch.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:45 AM on May 4, 2010


Dude how 'bout that succubus? I would totally have gone Lawful Evil for her.
She'd shut you down fast, dude. Everyone knows demons only dig Chaotic Evil guys.

Meanwhile, MeFi's own Lore Sjöberg has relaunched his D&D-based comic under the title "Speak with Monsters". His reinterpretation of the hallowed Monster Manual includes the alignment predicament of the Orc, alternative nomenclature for the Pseudo-Dragon, the trans-planar odyssey of the elemental Xorn, the horticultural duties of the Dryad, the mating habits of the peculiar Peryton, and, most fearsome of all, the sadistic habits of the Dungeon Master.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:40 AM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, I think this is the thread were we complain about the fact that D&D 4E yanked most of the interesting parts out of system, leaving behind nothing of use for anyone with an attention span above that a gnat. Goddamn MMO-ization of D&D ...

If it truly is that big of a deal (and I disagree that it is), you *do* realize that 3rd and 2nd edition books still exist, right? If you prefer those, play those.

Goddamn whiny haters ...
posted by grubi at 6:40 AM on May 4, 2010


Vestal virgins? So their own bedroom?
posted by stormpooper at 7:19 AM on May 4, 2010


Goddamn whiny haters ...

Eh, I was exaggerating, so I'm sorry if you're disappointed, but I'm not really sitting my my parents' basement shaking a fist in anguish at WotC.

Still, I do think 4E took a very weird turn in terms of design.

The progression from AD&D through D&D 3.5 was a trend towards standardizing mechanics as well as adding more straightforward rules for non-combat scenarios. Along with that came a lot of capabilities to have rules-based (e.g. not just RP'd) specialization for skills.

D&D 4 then came along and pushed things back to being practically as bad as AD&D's non-weapon proficiencies, in which someone could spend 19 levels doing Skill X, and then at 20th level, another player who has never once done Skill X could take a single new feat (e.g. "I'm trained in this skill now!") and immediately be better just by dint of a better attribute.

It feels like a step backwards. In the world of D&D 4, there is no such concept of being better at skills because you've been slowly building up your facility with them. A person who just became trained in acrobatics is equally as good at it as someone who has been an acrobat for 20 years, if they have the same dexterity. More to the point, it feels like someone at WotC said "who cares about non-combat stuff, anyways?" -- and even combat abilities that are more interesting than "I hit him in the face" seem diminished.

It also feels, sadly, like WotC has taken the "fix it in a patch" mentality of MMOs to heart. Many of the classes released as the second set of core classes for D&D 4 are just outright better in all respects than some of the original classes. My gaming group read the new set of classes and the universal reaction was "why would you ever play the ones in the original rulebook?"

So, yeah. Not a fan of D&D 4. But, I'm not opposed to change (though I know, yes, that the old books are still there). I'm just opposed to change that I feel isn't improving the experience of playing the game. Right now, my group is looking into True 20 as a much better spiritual successor. It retains the combined core mechanics of 3.5 while adding a lot of flexibility for making varied, interesting characters. While D&D 4 feels like it went too far in trying to make everything alike, True 20 seems to give streamlined mechanics where it makes sense, but leaves a lot of room open for customization.

(/derail)
posted by tocts at 8:28 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is this the thread where I can complain about the inherent inelegance of class and level based systems as compared to point based?

While the systems I prefer (Unknown Armies, Shadowrun, World of Darkness, etc) are point-based, the D&D class/level system actually does serve an important purpose in the combat-focused D&D. It's easy, in a point-based system, to build a character that is not very much good at anything at all. In a class/level system, you can be assured that a given character has at least a certain base competency in a particular useful skill.


D&D 4, meanwhile, is far closer to old-school D&D/AD&D than most people are willing to admit. It's essentially a set of combat rules and some world rules, and if somebody's telling you that the old school was anything more than that, they're either lying to you or to themselves.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:02 AM on May 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Eh, I was exaggerating, so I'm sorry if you're disappointed, but I'm not really sitting my my parents' basement shaking a fist in anguish at WotC.

No, I know. I was just snarking back. You make good points, and I agree with some of the criticism of 4E; it's just 4E is so accessible, it's made it possible for my wife to join me for a few dungeon crawls. For which, I thank WotC.

Keep in mind, I was raised on 2E and still have to stop myself from referring to it as AD&D.
posted by grubi at 10:12 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


More to the point, it feels like someone at WotC said "who cares about non-combat stuff, anyways?"

From what it looks like, they had about 3 or 4 different Skill Challenge systems in mind, and, instead of picking one, sticking to one, and testing it for all it's worth, they managed to futz up and mix 2 or 3 in the most non-functional way possible.

So, instead of bringing the idea of conflict resolution to the mainstream, they only managed to make a mess of it.

Which is really sad, because indie rpg folks have been working with conflict resolution since 2001-2002-ish, and the advice on how to use Skill Challenges is easy, if not really explained in the core book.
posted by yeloson at 10:13 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a terrible tendency in D&D3 and 3.5 and 2 for that matter for character classes in expansions to be degrees better at kicking ass than the base classes. I'm pretty convinced that this is tied to selling more books. 'Coz there's exactly two ways to sell a book with new character classes. One is to give more powerful classes, and the other is to put in a ninja. 'Coz, dude, I want to be a ninja!

Unfortunately, the ninja only gets to be in one book.

Our group plays 3.5, SRD-rules only, except for a steadily-growing pile of house rules, some of which were taken from Pathfinder. It gives us a rules-bible for combat situations, and moreover one that's free and searchable and available in a form far more wieldy than any pdf.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:21 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's really no different than the 1st Ed days when things like Unearthed Arcana and the new classes in Dragon were seemingly better. The trade-off is always a slower level progression (cavaliers requiring something like 10 or 15% more XP per level versus fighters IIRC) which is fine at first but becomes a real drag by mid-levels (6th and beyond). It's not unusual to end up regretting not being a vanilla fighter by the time you're a few levels behind everyone else.
posted by GuyZero at 2:28 PM on May 4, 2010


I think XP has been completely standardized across classes since 3.0
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:25 PM on May 4, 2010


I can't help but post this amusing thing (starring some MeFites): The sun starts sinking as the party sits there in the sand not doing much.
posted by The otter lady at 4:05 PM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


D&D 4, meanwhile, is far closer to old-school D&D/AD&D than most people are willing to admit. It's essentially a set of combat rules and some world rules, and if somebody's telling you that the old school was anything more than that, they're either lying to you or to themselves.

Dispute. Just because they're the same kind of thing doesn't mean they're the same thing. But I've already argued a lot about this and really the very idea of going through it all again tires me out right now.
posted by JHarris at 2:17 AM on May 5, 2010


D&D soda?
posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on May 8, 2010


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