Thursday, December 3, 2009

"...he might as well ask himself who made all the tricks and traps, why they did, where they got all the treasure they put in the chests..."

Wait. People don't do this?


  1. It would appear that way, wouldn't it? I find I generally ask myself these questions. I may not always have an answer, but...

  2. I mean, I don't track down every gold piece in a hoard, but I tend to ask "Why is there treasure in this place?" and the more I can answer about each element of the adventure, the more confident I am in running the thing.

    This goes back to some of the issues brought up in this post I guess.

  3. Yeah I prefer to play and GM scenarios with at least some kind of an internal logic: that way they can relate to a campaign somehow, if not in a way that is immediately obvious, but may become so later on.

    My return to gaming was as a player in "In Search of Unknown" DMed by someone who I later discovered had no interest in "old school" gaming anyway... He didn't try to make the scenario his own and appart from adding some sad "wacky" twists to random encounters that really amounted to nothing in the end. We walked down a corridor which led outside: scenario over. It wasn't particualrly satisifying.

    Something to consider under "emergent sub-rewards" perhaps.

  4. Funny thing is a post I just threw out there is getting more attention than a dozen others I really thought about (I've already gotten a few emails about it, and now James....!).

    My point isn't that you shouldn't care about internal consistency. The point is, is it really necessary at EVERY particular juncture. Sure knowing where every key for every lock in every dungeon is may increase internal verisimilitude, but do the players really care? Will it help the game? And is it something that can be glossed over now but might be dealt with later? It reminds me of the trend begun in 2E carried to extremes in 3E where pages upon pages of adventure backstory, never meant to be read or even discovered by the player, is included just to make every bit of the dungeon as logical as possible. Generally, if it becomes important, I'll deal with it when the time comes. Why waste time and energy on a question that players aren't interested in (and in my experience players are far more interested in other sundry details besides the location of dungeon keys).

    Personally, I like to have a coherent backstory, but tend to fly by the seat of my pants a little during the actual game. Knowing where every key in the dungeon is, how that tiara got into the treasure horde, and why that one troglodyte is wearing a Fire Resistance Ring isn't necessary for me to run an exciting and competent game. And besides, if it becomes important later, I'll just.....make it up?

  5. Don't sweat it, Badmike. You're right in that on one end of the spectrum you can obsessively account for each and every speck dust in an dungeon while on the other there's just having a series of random encounters, random loot etc with nothing to tie them together.

  6. @badmike: It's because the hurried post you just toss out there is a caricature of your real position. It lacks the nuance of your true opinion, and thus makes it seems like you hold a deep aversion to anyone ever thinking about the consistency of their setting.

    I know that's not what you really think, and if you were writing that post more carefully it wouldn't come across that way, but the result is that the in-a-hurry post challenges anyone who ever thought thinking through the origins of their dungeon was a good idea to respond in defense of their actions.

    Flame wars have been started over less.

    My read is that your position and James's are probably a lot closer than you think.

    I don't think he was suggesting that nothing at all be in a dungeon that wasn't anal-retentively analyzed and chronicled. I think, rather, he was suggesting that sometimes thinking more carefully about things we take for granted can create more opportunities for fun in a dungeon, like, for example, any locked door must have had a key at some point. Maybe some or all of the keys are long since lost, sure, or maybe you can plant a keyring somewhere as treasure.

    Mostly, I think he was just admiring the change in perspective Trent Foster's post gave him.

    There are days I read the responses to James's blog and think it sucks to be him. If he said the sky was blue there'd be forty-five comments telling him how wrong he is because he should be using the word cerulean instead of blue, or because it's only blue sometimes, or because they think he's fanatically obsessed with the color blue and should just lighten up. I was actually thinking that today after reading all the responses to that particular blog entry.

    But after reading your response here I'm reminded that mostly what's happening is that it's so hard in writing to convey what we really mean. Some of the commenters are just exploring the boundaries of the idea, some are posting humorously, some are writing in reaction to their own previous bad experiences elsewhere, and still others just hit Post Comment a little too soon, before they finished tweaking their comment.

    It's so easy for the nuances of our ideas to get lost in the black and white of the text, and the next thing we know people are reacting to what we wrote instead of what we meant. It's part of the irony of the human condition, I guess. YMMV.

  7. We shouldn't all have the same DM'ing style anyway. There's room for different approaches, even in old-school gaming (I could say, especially in old-school gaming!!), and while I for myself have a passion for consistency, detail, and reasons behind absolutely everything that's going on in the adventure, I see no wrong in other people using different or more easy-going styles.

  8. "@badmike: It's because the hurried post you just toss out there is a caricature of your real position."

    Yeh I've been known to do that....glad I could explain more here.