The last couple of years have been an intense fest of role playing for me. If you add it up, the total gaming time during the last three years probably equals the previous thirty. I've begun to realize - or re-realize rather - that I don't do dungeons.
|Fun map that I don't know where came from.|
In my previous gaming life back in the 80s, I mainly DMed. Within about two years, I was done with dungeons, focusing on wilderness adventures. That got boring, and I went on to strictly urban fantasy adventures. I really didn't get back to dungeons until the advent of 4e - both as a DM and as a player - and while I like dungeons - I think they work better as a spice than as an entrée.
(Yeah, some of you got confused, I know. I'm using the North American definition of entrée - meaning the main course.)
Simply put, a trip to a dungeon that lasts more than two sessions is going to bore me to tears. To me, a dungeon should be like a short story - composed of three succinct acts - a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the depths of a lengthy dungeon stay, I loose focus. Encounters begin to blur. I forget why I'm underground, and forget to care. Okay, yeah, I have the attention span of a gnat - I know that - but it's not getting much better as I age.
I understand that to some people, the dungeon is the game itself. I understand that. It's okay. You megadungeoneers are wonderful people and I love you all, man.
It's just that . . . I really like that coming up for air part. You pop out of the dungeon and go to town and interact with the locals - get to know them and their culture - and then maybe you wander around in the wilderness for a bit - get attacked by a yeti - capture the yeti - train the yeti to speak and say rude things to your fellow party members - take a trip on a flying boat - have dinner with the king of the elves and try to prevent the dwarves in the party from killing the dinner guest. You know - stuff.
I don't know - maybe that's the 'new age' way of playing that the groggiest of grognards complain about - but heck, by 1984, that was my preferred way of playing. I remember running a game set in a pseudo-Lankhmar where the PCs played beat-cops. They had to pop into the sewers every once in a while for a dungeon adventure, but bulk of the time was comprised of thwarting ne'er-do-wells in a city of alleys.
I guess the big downer in the dungeon is that I'm not engaging with the people and cultures of the imaginary lands in which I dwell. You know, aside from having a conversation with a talking door or exchanging curses with the kobold king during combat. I'd like to feel like a part of a large, thriving, vibrant land, rather than just one of the many corpses buried underneath.
But still, I like a good dungeon. The important features of good dungeons are that they should be short and to the point. The dungeons bits - the monsters, traps, etc - should be memorable and exciting. And I should have time - quality time - between dungeons in which I get to set my own priorities and become involved with the people who's ancestors I'm looting and defiling. Otherwise, this imaginary world I'm traipsing around in (or DMing) is kind of hollow.
So that's my 'dungeon inspiriation' for today - a dearth of dungeons is inspiring. To me, at least. :)