Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dungeon Ecology?

I suppose it is just another one of those things that most GMs never think about, but have you ever wondered exactly WHY it is that for the last three hours, your adventuring party has been hacking its way through this subterranean maze of wandering horrors in which countless other parties have delved and died... and yet in your tedious exploration and mapping of the catacombs, not ONCE have you happened across any of the bones or gory remains of those who last dared to steal the dungeon's treasures?

Then there's those wandering monsters. Just HOW is it that at no time in the dungeon's history that the scores of traps meant for unwary adventurers never accidentally ensnared some poor unfortunate goblin that was not paying attention while looking for a place to go potty.

And on the subject of pottying, there is a whole other horror aspect that most GMs neglect to include in their complex dungeon designs. I am sure that kobolds, like mice, pick a favourite place to leave their little calling cards.

Little things like this may not seem like much, but even in fantasy gaming there has to be some credibility, else there ceases to be any point in the players using any common sense or logic when solving problems in the GM's "silly" game setting.

Below is an example of bad dungeon ecology run amuck. This map came in a red-box set of D&D that my mother-in-law picked up at a garage sale for two bucks. My guess is that the kid who owned the set before was age 10 or 12, and that at least two of his players were much younger. I can almost imagine big-brother convincing little-sis that if she plays and plays nice-like, he'll let her character have a pony.

One day I'll have to scan and upload some of the character sheets. Those kids may have been doing it "wrong", but I guarantee you they were having fun.

old dungeon map

Note the gold dragon in the closet there just above and to the right of centre. Also note the fact that this section of dungeon has a serious problem with bees. My guess is that the kid who owned the game had an allergy to bee stings.

"Never mind that horde of bugbears with axes, if that bee stings me, I have to go to the hospital!"

But you really have to wonder what's kept the dragons from eating all the lesser lifeforms in the dungeon first and then turning on one another so they don't have to share all the pretty coins and gems and Swords Of Good.

"Sword Of Good?"

Yeah..the ubiquitous dungeon artifact, the Noun Of Adjective, the reason you've been plodding through this silly dungeon for the past three hours. Legend says it was forged eons ago in the fires of Real Bad Place by the evil Sorcerer DarkSomething, who poured the very essence of his evil into its creation, but couldn't be arsed to come up with a more imaginative name.

1 comment:

Unglef said...

I happen to frequently ask these questions, except for the bit about Kobolds. It's really not a good idea to study the excretionary habits of those things.