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These tunnels go down forever
August 5, 2010 12:08 PM   Subscribe

One of the better online random dungeon generators out there. Scroll down a bit to see it. You can change the size and learn more about it from the home page.

The maps look exactly like the kind of thing hundreds of DMs scrawled out on graph paper in the 70s, probably because they're composed by piecing together selections from many hand-made maps. They are stocked using early-edition D&D monsters and dressing, but the layouts of course do not regard petty considerations like versions and systems. There are natural cavern sections, secret doors and passages, pillared hallways and large chambers, hidden springs, staircases, under- and over-passes, and they are all used (mostly) intelligently.

Various techniques are used to obscure the regularity of the maps, but if you know what to look for you can see some holes in the algorithm. Each cell connects with nearby cells at certain hard-coded points. This is more evident at the edges of the map, where you can just see the edge of the unused passage connection. And there is a chance to have "locked-off" sections of the dungeon. Still this is a clever, if fairly low-tech, technique, and they do seem to have a lot of dungeon pieces.

Via Grognardia.
posted by JHarris (80 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my fucking GOD, yes.
posted by The Bellman at 12:10 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stop making me want to DM.
posted by griphus at 12:18 PM on August 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


This is the cat's pajamas.
posted by hellojed at 12:18 PM on August 5, 2010


The Unwholesome Keep of Oblivion
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:18 PM on August 5, 2010


A maze of twisty little passages, not all alike!
posted by Artw at 12:22 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Very cool for a random dungeon generator.

It does, of course, suffer from the key problem of such dungeons: there is no dungeon ecology or sense to why the rooms are arranged and populated the way they are. It's a little choppy to have one room be very cold and the adjoining room be very hot with no rational reason for the difference, for example. Or why there's a group of 4 gnomes in a room next to 7 orcs next to a room with two wolves.

Of course, that's randomness for you. Very cool, though.
posted by darkstar at 12:25 PM on August 5, 2010


darkstar: "It's a little choppy to have one room be very cold and the adjoining room be very hot with no rational reason for the difference, for example."

A wizard did it.
posted by boo_radley at 12:26 PM on August 5, 2010 [22 favorites]


For more algorithms on dungeon generation, consider poking around on RogueBasin, a wiki on the subject of building roguelikes. For example, this one on Binary Space Partitioning.
posted by pwnguin at 12:28 PM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Heh. On reflection, while the room descriptions leave much to be desired, I do like the map generator quite a bit.
posted by darkstar at 12:30 PM on August 5, 2010


If you need me I'll be in the Bloodstained Maze of Terror.
posted by swift at 12:30 PM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a good thing Leonardo DiCaprio didn't have this tool in Inception, or else he wouldn't have needed to hire the pretty young architect who ends up solving all his emotional and mental problems by encouraging him to shoot his wife.
posted by Nelson at 12:32 PM on August 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


Or why there's a group of 4 gnomes in a room next to 7 orcs next to a room with two wolves.

You've just got to tell a story. For example, the gnomes are a group of explorers that are themselves about to run into some nasty orcs. Maybe the adventurers briefly team up with the gnomes against the orcs, maybe they use them as cannon fodder, maybe they slaughter them.

The wolves are actually in a wolf pen operated by the orcs. Maybe the druid in the group feels compelled to free the poor creatures while other characters want to take advantage of the easy pickings. Conflict ensues.

A good DM should be able to craft stories around these situations.
posted by jedicus at 12:35 PM on August 5, 2010 [11 favorites]


Wow. This makes me want to play. Bad.
posted by TomMelee at 12:36 PM on August 5, 2010


I bet some clever-minded person could adapt this into a polygonal level generator for FPS games.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:37 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It does, of course, suffer from the key problem of such dungeons: there is no dungeon ecology or sense to why the rooms are arranged and populated the way they are.

So, like a whole lot of [A]D&D modules, then?
posted by jtron at 12:41 PM on August 5, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not really sure why you never see much generative content in FPSs. Of course, these days big budget games are all about the on-rails narrowly scripted experience, and map generation wouldn't fit in with that at all.
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on August 5, 2010


Still, I have no regrets about the dozens and dozens of hours I spent painstakingly drawing these on sheets of taped-together graph paper.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:48 PM on August 5, 2010


Artw: "I'm not really sure why you never see much generative content in FPSs."

Do you remember Love?
posted by boo_radley at 12:50 PM on August 5, 2010


Artw: Single-player and co-op campaigns are narratively scripted, but competitive online deathmatches? I bet a lot of gamers would appreciate an experience that changes every time. That feature might be a good defense against the people who memorize and exploit maps for cheap kills in games today.

Especially if the maps are as big as the ones this thing makes. Even in a 16-player game it would take a while before you bumped into anyone. A slower pace and emphasis on exploration might be more interesting than what's on the market today.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 12:52 PM on August 5, 2010


Heheh, jedicus, I almost wrote that exact rationalization in my earlier comment, right down to the wolf pen.
posted by darkstar at 12:58 PM on August 5, 2010


THIS IS BEAUTIFUL.

As for ""locked-off" sections of the dungeon", it's a snap to work that in.

Though something about the description had me thinking that it's appearance would be pencil on graph paper, which would be about the only thing that would make this even more cool.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:00 PM on August 5, 2010


And Seven Hells, I hadn't even gotten to the descriptions, so I am unfazed by apparent deficiencies there. You can use em or lose em; the mapmaking alone is worth a lot.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:01 PM on August 5, 2010


The equivalent emphasis there would be on people who like to play maps 24/7 and memories every last nook and crany of them. Fuckers.
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on August 5, 2010


If you never see me again, this is why.
posted by The Whelk at 1:06 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not really sure why you never see much generative content in FPSs

For some engines maps have a significant amount of pre-processing that goes into the creation of the map file to take some of the load off of the client (lighting calculations, for example). And the map files themselves are fairly large, since they usually contain all of the textures as well as the geometry.

So an engine could be designed that avoided these problems in order to make the use of randomly generated maps more practical, but I don't think it would work very well with any existing popular games. Unfortunately, experimental concepts like this are often first used in game mods rather than standalone games, so there's a bit of a chicken and the egg problem.
posted by jedicus at 1:07 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


The main thing this does for DMs isn't the monsters so much as the map itself, IMHO. I still play, and one of the most time-consuming parts of DMing a dungeon is mapping it out by hand or using a graphics program. Populating it is comparatively easy and quick.

This one (which has been circulating in the online RPG community for a couple of weeks now at least) is particularly good for detailed, well-connected rooms with lots of paths between them (which gives PCs and DMs lot of options). Most of its competitors basically create railroad tracks with bulges along the way (the railroad tracks occasionally branch, but that's about it).

The downside of this generator is that it doesn't let you save the entire dungeon as a jpeg or png or anything. Instead, you have to save individual tiles and reassemble them (or if it does, it's not obvious - I was playing around with yesterday and couldn't figure out how to). It's a fatal flaw for actually using it around the table, unfortunately, and keeps it at "neat toy" status.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 1:10 PM on August 5, 2010


This is awesome.

For those mildly griping about how it doesn't look natural--it mostly doesn't--or that the room descriptions leave something to be desired--they totally do--making those details up is way less work than making up the actual map. Hell, even modifying the map slightly to make the layout more rational is a breeze compared to coming up with the whole thing from scratch.

I'm with PSeudoephedrine though: the inability to save this as one honking jpg does limit its utility quite a bit. Still, the effort of copying that down is probably worth it, as you can also make those little tweaks I mentioned above, and the real tedious part of dungeon creation has, for me anyways, always been design.
posted by valkyryn at 1:17 PM on August 5, 2010


Argh. That's quite a downside. Hmm. Frame-enclosed screen cap? Not ideal obviously.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:19 PM on August 5, 2010


Say, anyone remember Dungeon Keeper?
posted by Vindaloo at 1:23 PM on August 5, 2010


YES

FONDLY.
posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on August 5, 2010


Say, anyone remember Dungeon Keeper?

Still have the D3D patched version on my computer. Time to play it again.
posted by Splunge at 1:43 PM on August 5, 2010


That feature might be a good defense against the people who memorize and exploit maps for cheap kills in games today.

Oh man, t'was ever thus. Really though I think it's a feature (by which I mean known maps, not necessarily cheap kills), and I think you'd lose a lot of strategy. Plus learning a map layout and mastering it really tickles the brain; it's part of the fun.

I think it would be better for co-op. L4D needs generative maps. (Phantasy Star Online had them, actually, and they were sort of great in that.)
posted by fleacircus at 2:02 PM on August 5, 2010


I think one of the reasons generated content isn't used more often (counterexample) is a shift towards team play arising from the growth of clans. The first complaint is Balancing; team games on asymmetrical maps are a major source of complaint. But lots of games moved to an asymmetrical model and solve balance by switching sides, and you can always make symmetrical maps. Problem solved.

The next one is teamwork and planning. Random generated maps require exploration and coordination in game, rather than focusing on execution of a plan. Ultimately, I think it just increases the value of twitch responses at the expense of coordination.

There's also an economic argument: doing this well effectively puts map makers out of business. Any middle manager who does this will see the writing on the wall--their entire department being replaced with one or two super talented people to tweak algorithms and building blocks.

The final one is performance. FPS games are often sold as pushing the extremes of technology, and sometimes that comes with performance hacks and tuning map poly counts in problematic rooms. Not to mention that content generation means loading time.
posted by pwnguin at 2:05 PM on August 5, 2010


@Pseudoephedrine & others:

File -> Print -> Save as PDF

Gives you a multi-page PDF, with one page being the map.

Works on a mac anyway. I'm sure other systems have similar options.
posted by Djinh at 2:06 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is there any key telling you what the map symbols are? Like the little star in a circle. There's nothing notable about the description for that room, and I doubt it's the capitol of the dungeon.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:29 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, I guess one other argument is that cheap map hacks are fun. I used to love this one mg42 spot on avalanche that was roughly immune to attack, had a direct view of the 2nd allied flag and middle flag, and covered all three "routes" within a narrow field of view. My favorite part was the penetrable wall to a nearby sniping nest, as it was otherwise a good place to hide from me and at least stop the rest of the team.

Oh, and it was directly over a flag on the Axis side, so it was pretty much perfect cap defense. My main problems were running out of ammo and getting shoveled from the rear when the sole survivor in a 5 man charge sneaks by me and the rest of the team on a mission to destroy me. Usually this happens after the good players have all abandoned my team on an attempt to make things fair and perhaps earn some fame for beating it.

I don't think I'd ever learn the specific nooks and crannies of this one particular spot if content generated FPS maps were in place. Perhaps if there were some kind rotation to put a small set of randomized seeds in for a week, so there'd be a period of discovery, planning and perfection. Or stagger them so there's a new map daily.

Anyways this has been a long ramble and derail of D&D gaming.
posted by pwnguin at 2:31 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's really great. It'd be nice if they could generate PDF or a PNG of the map for you automatically, though. I don't think it would even be that difficult. In Python, you could just use the image-manipulation library, create an image, stick your tiles on it, and then export as PNG. I think I could probably do that in like a half-hour, and that's only because I'm slow.

Might be harder in other languages, though. It looks like it might be written in PHP, and I have no freaking clue if images are hard in that language.
posted by Malor at 2:32 PM on August 5, 2010


Is there any key telling you what the map symbols are? Like the little star in a circle.

I think they're whatever you want them to be. They could be a marker for something ("That's where the shadowy old man at the tavern told us the treasure was buried") or they could be literal ("There's a star in a circle on the floor with a faint aura of magic about it.").
posted by jedicus at 2:35 PM on August 5, 2010


A star in a circle in dungeon maps often represents a statue of some sort, I think. I seem to recall it being used that way in S1, Tomb of Horrors.

I don't see a legend for these maps, though.
posted by darkstar at 2:36 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


But yeah, it can represent special feature whatever you want it to, basically: hovering skull, glowing fungus, gibbering mouther, etc.
posted by darkstar at 2:37 PM on August 5, 2010


Malor: "Might be harder in other languages, though. It looks like it might be written in PHP, and I have no freaking clue if images are hard in that language."

Ironically, I think it would be best if it were in SVG. Which is XML and the kind of thing that PHP is best at. There's a development and support page, where you can submit bugs and comments if it matters a great deal to you.
posted by pwnguin at 2:41 PM on August 5, 2010


Those of you who like this kind of thing might also want to check out How to Host a Dungeon. It's a strange little thing: a side-view random dungeon generation "game" non-game—pen, paper, and dice; not computerized—that you use to make maps like this, via steps that like thiiiis.
posted by fleacircus at 2:48 PM on August 5, 2010


Almost makes me wish I knew what you people were talking about.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:02 PM on August 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


A star in a circle in dungeon maps often represents a statue of some sort, I think. I seem to recall it being used that way in S1, Tomb of Horrors.

Yeah, I take it this is what's meant by 1st ed "dressing". Feels like looking at The Keep on the Borderlands all over again. *warm glow*
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:13 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nelson: "It's a good thing Leonardo DiCaprio didn't have this tool in Inception, or else [...]"

I'm going to be very annoyed if this is a spoiler.
posted by Memo at 3:41 PM on August 5, 2010


And there is a chance to have "locked-off" sections of the dungeon.

You just haven't found the teleporter.
posted by Evilspork at 4:06 PM on August 5, 2010


Oh, Woe... WOE to my players for the next 18 months.
posted by absalom at 4:11 PM on August 5, 2010


HOLY DIVER! Asked it to produce the max width and height and suddenly, I have the feared and dreaded Never Ending Dungeon.
posted by Senator at 4:16 PM on August 5, 2010


Oh yes. Ohhhhh yesssssss. It's all come flooding back like a glorious wave of +2 aquatic kobolds. Awesome.
posted by Monkeymoo at 4:22 PM on August 5, 2010


This warms my cockles. Keeps my Borderlands, even.

Of course, it could never generate Lolth's Demonweb Pits, but that was really just argyle.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:26 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


"What were the caves like when you were young?"

"They went down forever and they, when I, when we lived in Greyhawk.
And the caves always had little gelatinous cubes.
And they moved down, they were dark and dank
And there were lots of Kobolds at night.

And when it would flood it would all turn, it, they were beautiful
The most beautiful caves as a matter of fact
The oozes were green and purple and ochre and sticky
And the spores would catch the colors everywhere
That's neat, 'cause I used to look at them all the time when I was little
You don't see that, you might still see them in the Underdark"
posted by toddie at 6:07 PM on August 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


Those Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld modules were such Monty Haul BS.
posted by fleacircus at 6:09 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ohm and thanks for this link, too, JHarris. I organize a D&D Meetup hereabouts with about 90 active members. I'll re-post this for them, forthwith.
posted by darkstar at 6:33 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a ranger.
posted by The Whelk at 6:33 PM on August 5, 2010


Right now I'm an elven thief with a penchant for sapphires, slogging through a dungeon crawl. The massive random dungeon that was generated when I typed in maximum width and length made me almost swallow my tongue.

Maybe re-posting this link where my current DM would see it wasn't the best idea...
posted by darkstar at 6:47 PM on August 5, 2010


I organize a D&D Meetup hereabouts with about 90 active members.

Dear god, such things still exist in the year 2010?! Why'd you have to live a couple thousand miles away from me?
posted by JHarris at 8:12 PM on August 5, 2010


Heheh...I started the group because I couldn't find anybody to play with! They were all playing video games. :/

We're about a year and a half old and just passed 200 gaming events. I think we have about half a dozen campaigns going on right now and may be the most active group in the state, right now.

You might check out Meetup.com for any D&D groups near you. Perhaps there are some nearby, though the nearest to you may be a bit far away in Savannah or Jacksonville.

(BTW, I was just in GA for a family reunion this weekend. 4.5 inches of rain on Sunday night! Whoo, I miss the greenery and the rains back there!)
posted by darkstar at 8:25 PM on August 5, 2010


The Lonely Milieu of the Axolotl

Don't worry, Axolotl! We're on our way!
posted by SPrintF at 8:37 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


LOLotl!
posted by darkstar at 8:45 PM on August 5, 2010


SPrintF, it's a trap! If you stare at it too long you become an axolotl, and it transmigrates into your body!!

Joke refers to "Axolotl" by Julio Cortazar. Hey, I can make literary references every once in a while!
posted by JHarris at 1:25 AM on August 6, 2010


I was just catching up on WTF?! D&D yesterday and they mentioned this... 800+ pages. 800+ pages! Want!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:35 AM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


So you want to be really hardcore?

Carve out your dungeons in Dwarf Fortress. Then use the game as the dungeon map.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:15 AM on August 6, 2010


So you want to be really hardcore?

Carve out your own literal dungeons.
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 AM on August 6, 2010


I've thumbed through World's Largest Dungeon, it's interesting, although the fact it's for third edition hurts it a little. It's intended to take a character all the way from first level to twenty, which highlights how rapid experience growth is in that game.

LogicalDash, Dwarf Fortress, it could be argued, is made for just that kind of thing. After a fortress falls/is abandoned you can go back to it in Adventurer Mode and look around.
posted by JHarris at 10:12 AM on August 6, 2010


which highlights how rapid experience growth is in that game.

Ah, thank you. That makes sense.

So you want to be really hardcore?

Carve out your own literal dungeons.


This explains the star-in-circle: it's the lotion basket.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:14 AM on August 6, 2010


Here's where I will take a moment to rant a bit about 1st edition and why classic rules would make a massive dungeon impractical.

Let me begin by saying I love 1st ed. It's what I cut my teeth on and what I played for 20+ years. I still like the way it leaves much to the imagination (i.e., feats, specialty classes, etc. are all left to the player to role-play instead of codifying them).

We're playing a 1st ed. campaign now and trying to adhere as close as possible to the canonical rules. I am finding all kinds of rules in the DMG and PHB that frankly stink. I don't even remember them being in there because I'm sure we eliminated them and went with house rules decades ago and never looked back. It's only in this campaign that they're coming back to haunt us.

One, in particular, makes a massive dungeon crawl less than entertaining. That is the time and money requirement in order to level up. For those who may not recall, the canonical rules of 1st ed. AD&D (see page 86 of the DMG) stipulate that chars must pay 1500 gp to level up (increasing at higher level) and take 1 or more weeks of in-game time to train with someone who is able to provide that training.

This is just insane. Not only does it mean that you lose all of your treasure in training expenses just to level up, but that you can't actually level up in situ. You have to go back to town, take a week or more, pour all your money down the training hole and then come back to the dungeon. You couldn't do it in a massive dungeon crawl where you had to remain on site. You'd be pegged at 2nd level (1 xp below 3rd) for the duration, until you could get out and go to school.

Not to mention the fact that the amount of gold required is completely imbalanced. 1500 gp is significantly more xp than (on a 1:1 gp:xp basis) is required for a thief, for example, to level up to 2nd. That makes no sense at all.

Plus, that much money effectively pays for 1500 months for a mercenary's wages. You gonna tell me that I have to pay more in tuition to level to 2nd than a company of 120 mercenaries would get paid over a year?

No wonder we ditched so many of the canonical rules and made our own house rules, way back when. I still like 1st ed., but seriously, I can't imagine Gygax ever played much using the canonical rules.
posted by darkstar at 10:45 AM on August 6, 2010


It's intended to take a character all the way from first level to twenty, which highlights how rapid experience growth is in that game.

It's supposed to take two real world years to play through. That doesn't seem particularly rapid to me, but then I like the idea of getting to level twenty before player death from old age becomes a serious possibility, so I'm crazy like that.
posted by jedicus at 12:01 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the time and money requirement for leveling up also ignores any sense of "on the job training." I suppose, for example, that learning new spells might require either explicit instruction from an expert or a significant amount of time to discover them oneself, but surely at least some benefits of leveling up accrue by dint of the experience itself. I would suggest a compromise house rule that abilities require training, but simple stat increases and improvements to existing abilities are automatic.
posted by jedicus at 12:05 PM on August 6, 2010


Playing without levelling time/training/cash back in the day would have seemed odd. I think views on this have changed and dare I say I think the influence of video game RPGs may have something to do with it. (I'm playing through Oblivion now for the first time and note that even here, they've kept it as a token night's sleep) Not sure if the level gains are less jarring in 3rd ed, but it would be odd to wake up an X-level magic-user in 1st ed and suddenly know a new level of spells and be able to cast more of the same. Perhaps less dramatic for other classes; an extra 5% chance to hit, eh, he learned something new yesterday hacking away at that owlbear.

You had me wondering at "canonical", though (the infamous weapon-armor interaction chart leaping to mind). There was a lot we tossed out the window from the very beginning.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:16 PM on August 6, 2010


Yeah, I always required the magic users to find/buy/steal new spells for their spellbook. They couldn't just learn new ones automagically. Gaining multiple uses of spells that you already had, though, didn't require a trainer. We assumed that came as a function of having become better at spell memorization and casting from simple experience.

If I recall, we allowed a few days of individual study to level up, in general. So, if you were caught in a massive dungeon, you could take a couple of days of rest to study and try to codify what you'd been learning on the job. That would count as your training time.

The weapon-armor interactions are plain evil. I understand why a dagger is less effective against a suit of plate mail than against a leather tunic, and all. But that is part of the whole armor class thing, anyway. Having to run that extra calculation in the middle of melee is fairly tedious. I don't recall ever using those rules on a sustained basis.
posted by darkstar at 12:54 PM on August 6, 2010


I remember playing strict rules on encumbrance and in order to shift the amount of gold needed for the whole party to level up we had to have two/four of our strongest party members carrying a two ten foot poles over their shoulders. with several sacks full of coins tied to them. We never bothered with silver never mind copper as it was just too heavy to carry. And we had a magic user who could barely handle the weight of his robes once his allowance was taken up with his spell book.

I think the main point of all the gold for levelling up was to drain out of the income from the Monty Haul dungeons Gygax was obviously playing in and stop the players building castles too early.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:55 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is awesome! The last game I ran was a random dungeon using the rules from the back of the 1st edition DMG. Lots of fun! It took me several hours over a week or so to roll up the dungeon and work out some sort of logical connection in the randomness. My personal fave: the broom closet-sized room with a whole gang of dwarves stuffed in it. The party killed them almost instantly, sorta by accident.
posted by epersonae at 1:47 PM on August 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Somehow, I already know that the "dwarf closet" is going to become a feature in my next campaign.
posted by darkstar at 2:08 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Like a Svirfneblin clown car.

I understand why a dagger is less effective against a suit of plate mail than against a leather tunic, and all. But that is part of the whole armor class thing, anyway.

On the plus side, it suddenly gives meaning to those mediaeval weapons that are comparatively useless except to puncture plate. (On the minus side, yeah, everything else)

I did play in a campaign a few years back that made extensive use of training times/costs, and in that case it did lead to one of those perfect Moments. We were all (very) high level, cooperatively working out the kinks in a mostly-built castle, and I as a spellcaster was planning out the weeks-long training regimen ahead of me. (X number weeks just to research this spell, then...) In the background, the various fighter-types were discussing something about a dragon hunt. Eventually one of them turns to me.

"Hey Durn, you in?"

"Hmm? Oh, sorry. What? Dragon hunt?"

"Yeah"

"Ooooohhh" *dreamy look* "I would love to... but I have all this damn work to do." *gesture to papers*

This stopped the other player dead, who turned to the DM and said: "That was perfect."

The DM gets credit for this -- his campaigns were full of these little immersive interactions.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:24 PM on August 6, 2010


You have to go back to town, take a week or more, pour all your money down the training hole and then come back to the dungeon.

Based on accounts I've heard of ye olden dungeons, it was more common for one session == one foray into the dungeon—or at least that the game session would end with the characters back at base, with days or weeks of game time elapsing in between game sessions. Each session is more like a mission. Not like Baldur's Gate type games where you are slowly crawling along, sweeping the dungeon clean from end to end as you go, taking little naps whenever you want between encounters, never going backwards unless it's in essence to cross a T-maze junction to do the other branch—but more like smash-and-grab operations against a more dynamic dungeon that recovered, a little, in between assaults by adventurers.

It's interesting (to nerds like me) how the D&D rules make more sense for the way the game was originally designed to be played, and that as that style went away, the rules made less sense. If you want to remove having to go back to base, you'll probably want to allow camping out in dungeons easily (it's just wasting time to go back; also gotta change healing rules now), and you get rid of wandering monsters because the characters are spending so much time in dungeons, and you focus more on set monster encounters because you threw out xp-for-treasure (what was the point of that anyway?) plus it's hard for the DM to change and restock the dungeon right there at the table, and then players'll be camping as much as possible to replenish spells for each encounter (why do I have to sleep to regain them how lame—hey, that's the cause of this whole fight/sleep/fight/sleep cycle!), and you wind up with stuff like daily/encounter/at-will powers.

As for the 1500gp amount, that is a lot at first level. Though in an ongoing game, lower-level characters are more likely to be mixed with higher-level characters with deep pockets to sponsor lowbies. But yes, AD&D was not calibrated towards "okay here we all, at 1st level with no hirelings or anything," if it was calibrated much at all.

Anyway, you're brave to play 1E by the book, and I think you're right that that's not really how Gygax did things. And man, 1E is a mess, a glorious awful mess, and it's a big failure in that it doesn't really explain how to create the type of campaign the rules were designed for. Not that other ways to play it that are fun, but the rules are likely to be a less natural fit for them, which can reduce the fun-itude.

(Sorry to blather on... All I know is, if I could run/play any kind of campaign right now I'd want to try something like the West Marches. Some day...)
posted by fleacircus at 10:00 PM on August 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


While I love the early modes of D&D, I've complained about the incompleteness of the 1E rules before. They don't really make sense unless you've read OD&D, and even that isn't completely comprehensible because of a perceived audience of wargamers and some omissions.
posted by JHarris at 1:45 AM on August 7, 2010


Yarr, I spent all weekend wanting a construction set with these damned things so I could poke them about. Author generously makes the tilesets available, but damnit, I Want More! The more I think about it, the worse it gets:

Generate > Room > 20x20 > Cavelike > Rotate.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:33 AM on August 9, 2010


What is this shit, D&D Essentials?
posted by Artw at 6:31 PM on August 23, 2010


D&D 5th Edition Review.
posted by fleacircus at 11:16 PM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is very cool. Can't believe I missed it on the front page and need to get here via a via.

"So an engine could be designed that avoided these problems in order to make the use of randomly generated maps more practical, but I don't think it would work very well with any existing popular games. Unfortunately, experimental concepts like this are often first used in game mods rather than standalone games, so there's a bit of a chicken and the egg problem."

Interestingly as a more casual DDO gamer Turbine is cranking out essentially random dungeons for me. They are releasing content faster than I can consume it and every dungeon is new. I love it and hope it continues though several people in my guild prefer the grind-grind-grind of "mastering" a dungeon that gives good treasure or experience.

PS: I also loved the weapon speed and weapon vs. armour rules of AD&D. It gave so much flavour to both Armour class and THAC0 that is sorely missing in more modern incarnations. Though one can eck out a bit of it in 4e as they still have reach weapons and specialization by type. With the right combos you can get specialization in your main melee weapon and with your pole arm. It pales in comparison with the old rules though.
posted by Mitheral at 12:16 AM on August 28, 2010


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