Monday, June 30, 2014

I Can Only Go Which Way? I Think Not.

 
Over the last few weeks I've noticed that there is an undercurrent building in my feed where people have begun to argue that there are only so many meaningful choices available to you within the dungeon environment. This argument is predicated on the belief that your players are only able to move about your game like pieces on a board, held by the imaginary boundaries established within the environment. It further argues that your players are dull, unimaginative, clods who only do what is acceptable by the standards of the Dungeon Master and the game world they have established.

You can only go left, right, forwards, or retreat back the way you came. 

Just imagine your players binding themselves in such an arbitrary manner that they seed control of the game to the Dungeon Master's map. What boring games these people must be playing in to even suggest such an argument!

Do not get me wrong, you absolutely can go left, right, forwards, and backwards within any dungeon. But you can also break down walls; pull up tiles and drop down level, by level - skipping entire sections of the dungeon outright; blow holes in the ceiling so you can escape through the roof. Hell, I've even blown up the damned dungeon!


The beauty of the Dungeons and Dragons game is that your choices are only constrained by bounds of your imagination and every choice you make as a player impacts that world. So to argue that I am suddenly bound only to travel in four directions when I have a sledgehammer, pickaxe, and no fear of explosives is to tell me that we have stopped playing D&D and are now playing your home version of Candy Land.

25 comments:

  1. In my current campaign, we are trapsing through the various levels of Perdition, trying to find different gates that lead to lower levels, on a quest to find an object that resides in a very distant level. At one point, the DM had set it up so that we had to trek across a vast landscape, infiltrate a demon-occupied castle, and fight a Big Bad for the key to the gate he was guarding. Well, we had other options. Our mage cast Wind Walk, on all of us, which basically gave us gaseous form, and allowed us to travel abou 60 mph for hours on end. So we floew on, bypassed the entire castle, and materialized in the gate room. After a single epic battle (in which my tank very nearly died), we defeated the big bad, got the key, and "dove through the Stargate." All in one session.

    The DM was a bit shocked, but then laughed it off since he hadn't detailed the castle very well, and it saved him a lot of trouble. :)

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  2. In the first edition module I3 Pharaoh you were supposed to make your way through a Pyramid filled with traps. But there was a way to just go straight to the end and bypass everything. I can't imagine any group ever discovering it, but I thought it was really cool that it was a possibility.

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    1. I've never looked at that module before! Well, I'm off to do so now. :)

      I love when people come by and get me into new things. Best thing in the world about having a blog!

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  3. In our current campaign, we have leveled no fewer than 3 dungeons: 2 keeps and 1 tower. We claimed a third keep for our home base...

    ...In part because we leveled the first two.

    --Dither

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    1. The more you talk the more I think that we've played together . . . Ever killed an Ogre and used it's head as the front of your battering ram just so the ones left would know what's coming for them?

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    2. We recently battled a high priest of Orcus, and my PC is a Demonologist who summons shadowy undead creatures. When we beat the baddie and forced a surrender out of him, Orcus attempted to possess one of my summoned beasties to talk smack.

      Since I still technically controlled the summon -- Orcus hadn't taken full possession -- I "made an Intimidation check" by choking the shit out of it while beating it about the face with the (decidedly not-a-melee-weapon) Book of Vile Darkness. I told Orcus I was coming for his wand next.

      Bear in mind that my PC is like, a 90-pound dark elf magic-user.

      --Dither

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    3. And all around hero of the god-damned REALMS!

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    4. We've negotiated a ceasefire of sorts with the GM.

      We're going to buy political support from the various factions of Gloomwrought with a bunch of artifacts we uncovered... instead of using the artifacts ourselves. And instead of running the campaign farther into the ground, we'll call it "even" by usurping the Gloomwrought throne from its current ruler.

      --Dither

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    5. I want to play in that game so, so badly!

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    6. Can has virtual tabletop? Lol. We're going to wrap up the current campaign in the next couple weeks. Our group is discussing what to do next. One of the possibilities we're discussing is a non-D&D system. Airship Pirates, Dresden Files, and a few others have come up.

      One of the guys wants to run 3.5 but is some five-years rusty. I volunteered to get the group started while he reacquaints himself with the rules.

      Most everyone wants to play something sci fi, since we have a couple Star Wars nuts. I've been working on a "run and gun" face-lift for 4e with stuff like mutants, androids, and clones to replace the standard races.

      I talked to somebody about the "Edge of the Empire" RPG, but I'm hesitant to try and run a game with something that literally no one in our group has tried. That usually means somebody has to sit down and read the thing cover-to-cover, and that somebody is usually me.

      --Dither

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    7. Ugh. Being the guy who has to do all the reading blows. Dresden, by the way, has a lot of homework involved in running it.

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    8. I've skimmed some parts. One of the guys in the group has run it before, and another has played it before. Admittedly, neither of them is an exceptional teacher, being the largely ineffectual geeks they are, which means we will probably play Airship Pirates or 3.5 since I can/have run both.

      It'd be boss if my Run & Gun 4e variant were ready in the next couple weeks but it's getting down to the wire and I have to finish equipment rules. I might be able to do that in an afternoon or it could take me three months. I tend to work in bursts.

      --Dither

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    9. Have you thought about picking up the 5e Basic and running it on Thursday?

      It's what we're doing . . .

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    10. A bunch of the guys in our group (myself included) tried 5e and were generally unimpressed with what we saw. Getting into it now seems like buying a new video game console upon launch -- there are so few titles available you'd still wind up playing your old console while waiting for more content to be released.

      That's actually why 3.5 is a serious contender for our group's next game. The SRD is freely available, I own hard copies of most of the books, and several of us are already familiar with the system -- plus knowledge & experience with 4e will help ease the others into it.

      --Dither

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    11. And speaking of new consoles... I'm a PC gamer. xD

      --Dither

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  4. I guess most people take some shit like the mining proficiency/skill and then just forget about it? Not me - I take that proficiency and pack a pickaxe. I'd never let something like a solid wall of rock stand between me and my chosen destination. "But that could take days," someone might say. It sure could! So it's a good thing I've got a couple of weeks worth of iron rations and no day job to get back to. Any more excuses?

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    1. No sir!

      Only thing I would add is that we've got a whole jug of salt peter just waiting to be placed and a fuse added!

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  5. so funny I was just drafting an article about Dungeon tropes and yours is better much more to the point ..
    I once had a player light the ethane collected in the sewer level of castle Greyhawk, blew the shit out of the place.

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    1. Fuck. I so would have been that player! Did he die? Because if he didn't he's my hero!

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  6. I've never resorted to it in a live game of D&D, but I've played enough Minecraft and Nethack that if the secret door failed to appear I'd be buying a pickaxe next trip to Town. What the hell were all those lists of mining rates in older D&D editions *for*, after all?

    "Can't Teleport or Dimension Door or go etherereal?" *hefts Diamond Pickaxe of +3 Efficency* "Well, we'll have THAT sorted out in no time!"

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  7. My players once were faced with a small dungeon full of kobolds. They left, hired soem help came back and plugged up the know enterances to the dungeon while building a bonfire over the larget chimney they could find. Forced some of the critters outside to clear things out to avoid suffocation and kobolds were slain out in the open where their tactics and traps were of no benefit.

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