Law wrote: ↑
Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:16 pm
Wow. This is a theoretical treatise on Dungeons and DMing, which I feel the need to respond to.
For me, there are really two categories of DF settings - those which in large part serve as a backdrop for accessories (and figures) and those which are complete unto themselves.
--->Hmmm...why? I think every RPG setting should be 'complete unto itself ' - meaning it should have a theme, its parts tied together by the story, and every part (even empty ones) meant to DO something to the players. Either physically, or psychologically, or both.
Dungeons are a prime example of the former. Dungeons are, at their core, just a series of rooms. Until you place the bookshelves, tables, beds, torture equipment, tombs, traps, treasure, weapon racks, etc., they're just rooms. The DoD has given us the unprecedented ability to customize rooms by their architecture, but a real fully-built dungeon would have different rooms which serve different functions and which are "populated" accordingly.
--->See above. At a sufficiently high level of abstraction, all things are the same. A world is just a series of scenes (stuff you can see from one place) - that sort of thing. I don't see this as useful to a DM. Each dungeopn element (room, corridor, trap) should fit into the total purpose of that locale for the story. I always try to rememvder that RPG is about me and the players telling a story together. I don't have setups, I have 'sets' - for the play.
A cave - a cave just isn't like that. Sure, one part of a cave could have water and another not. And a cave might have mushrooms or not. And now we'll see other ways to customize. But while these options will be fun - ultimately you don't need different "rooms" in a cave.
---> Respectfully suggest that (see above) every element of a cave serves a function, just like every element of a dungeon. But the elemnts are different...they are natural not man-made, which affects what one should find there...more important, they affect the minds of the players differently than a dungeon.
Because a cave is just....a cave. KS6 will make populated caverns possible, and the bridge and the dock and the traps and so on will make it POSSIBLE to differentiate between rooms. But unlike with a dungeon, it still won't really be NECESSARY.
---> Why not?
So I'm fine with just one large cavern, maybe two linked by a small passage. Dungeon - one room? Hells no! I need to make as many as possible - because I want a mess hall and an armory and an archive and a torture chamber and a prison...
---> And a cavern has the cavern with the waterfall (behind which is the escape route the PC forget to look for ) and the long downsloping water-slippery spiral thich gets steeper and steeper and oops, the PC find they suddently can't climb back up and daren't go ahead on for fear of slipping to their doom...and caverns are more believably endowed with a natural ecology of critters who always live there.
I'll add - for the record:
Cities require accessories. Citizens milling about, differentiations between homes and inns and shops and an open market and guild halls and govt buildings and money lenders and brothels - lots of ways to distinguish buildings or neighborhoods with accessories.
---> The essential back ground of a cavern is that it is naturdal. Of a dungeon, that it is manmade but (usually) abandoned. Of a city, that its bustling with activity.
Castles don't NEED accessories. You can try to give a castle unique character, like you can a cavern, but ultimately a keep surrounded by high walls and a gatehouse is pretty self-sufficient. Like caverns, and unlike cities or dungeons, castles don't look strikingly empty if you skip the accessories.
---> I think they do.
Catacombs, Realm of the Ancients and the Den of Evil take it one step further. I actively dislike trying to create populated rooms in these spaces. Like caverns and castles, you could add elements to them. You could ofc always add defining features - a particularly ruined area, a fountain, a staircase - but none of that is NEEDED. But mostly, IMO, accessories look out of place on these settings. They're entirely self-sufficient and complete with the basic walls, floors and corners - trying to add beds or chairs or tables or bookshelves to any of them just looks odd.
---> Yabbut...adding other things besides beds etc does NOT. For example, in DoE adding torture racks and prison cells is very natural. In Catacombs, adding unusual sarcophagi that entice or repel or warn...in RoTA things the PC simply can't understand at all! These follow the theme but require development.
So that's my long winded explanation for why I treat caverns and dungeons differently.
---> Certainly agree on that!
With dungeons I really want lots of rooms - and I can build more rooms with the same number of walls and corners if I have them share. That also makes it all more compact and leaves no empty space on the table.
---> Negarive space is your friend. Use it.
With caverns, I don't need so many rooms - until now there hasn't really been a way to differentiate them anyway. And even when there is, unlike dungeons I don't really feel the need to use them all at once anyway. A big empty cavern, or one with some mushrooms, or one with a lake, is fine to me. Unlike a dungeon, where I want as many rooms as possible and a single chamber always feels like an excerpt from a dungeon and never like the whole thing.