I wonder if anyone still reads this blog. Anyway, things have been changing at the speed of light in the last few months so I feel like a little update is in order. I moved to London around the end of May and really got a job in a fantastic craft beer pub in Camden Town, that is, kinda cool. So the last months have been spent in trying to keep up with work, studying for my Cicerone certification, home brewing with a couple of friends, and trying to also get some sort of social life (which is something I feel like a failed completely, but still). Needless to say, the roleplaying side of my life has been the one that suffered the most from the whole situation, although I would really like to try and resurrect it somehow. I will possibly head to Dragonmeet in a couple of days, to say. So yeah, all is good (-ish), and that's pretty much it.
Hey fella oldschoolers, I'm still alive. You will find a number of never seen before posts right beneath this one - the result of export/import from my other blog CANNIBAL DICE (yeah, I keep doing that thing where I open new blogs that only last a few months and then I return to Yaqqothl over and over again). Life's pretty fucked up lately: I started working as a bartender in an irish pub in my home city a few months ago, and I'm about to move to London, where I hope to find employment in a brewpub and start brewing beer professionally. I'm still playing with the regular group, and just kick started a new Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox campaign (which is likely to remain incomplete as, y'know, I'm about to GTFO this fucking sick country). We'll see how it goes, I really hope to be back in the blogosphere soon. In the meanwhile, FIGHT ON!
Some nights I'm so tired I just can't sleep, so I thought I'd blog instead. Just try not to be so hard on my syntax.
Note: I suspect that the following ramblings may be adapted to any kind of sandbox - be it a Megadungeon, a huge wilderness area, a space sector, etc.
If you've been following the so-called OSR for a while you surely remember this post over at Greyhawk Grognard (also author of the impressive Castle of the Mad Archmage Megadungeon). If not, well, do yourself a favor and go read it right now. Done? Good, let's move over. So we all agreed that a Megadungeon should be not considered merely as something that is there to explore, but also the very center of the campaign you're playing around it. This is very convenient from a lazy busy DM point of view: you're going to spend some time designing it, and you totally want to play the hell out of it (otherwise it's just a BIG waste of precious time). Now, people often complains about megadungeons being not very good if you're plot inclined, unless you go with some subtle railroading, create some very static encounters (i.e. Room 122: Evil High Priest about to sacrifice a naked virgin on the altar of the Squamose Amoeboid God) or put a boss monster on every single level. Well, I just don't agreed with this and what I hope to offer here is an alternative take on the thing - pretending for a moment that exploring a huge never-ending dungeon is not fun enough for any party of D&D players worthy of this name.
Try to look at the Megadungeon as an un-exploded bomb. It's there since forever, it probably has a long history, and many secrets to unearth. But what happens when you unearth those secrets? What happens when you poke the proverbial sleeping dog? We're not just talking about "if you slay the orcs of tribe A till the last motherfucking one of them orcs of tribe B are very likely to move in the western section of the level". We're thinking BIG out here. For example, in the Megadungeon I'm developing lately, one of the lower levels is home to a dragon everyone believes dead. Even more, the descendants of the supposed dragon slayer are using their ancestor's heritage to tyrannize the lands around the Megadungeon. What would happen if the party goes down in the cave looking for the dragon's hoard, and discovers that the beast is still alive? What if they awake the dragon? Also, a covenant of wizards has taken residence in the black tower that the Witch King built near the dragon cave and are trying to re-settle things in order for their master to return. Will they lose time and resources fighting the dragon, or gain a powerful ally? And so on.
As you can see, I'm not talking about timed events: I'm talking about triggers left here and there to allow the players to take meaningful choices (a term which can never, ever be over-emphasized in sandbox games), which creates conflicts, which actively shape the story.
I'm delighted by Chris Kutalik's news system in his Hill Cantons campaign. Examples of what I'm talking about can be found here, here and in general all over his (amazing) blog. I have no clue on how he comes up with such brilliant stuff, but I want to do something similar for the Blackwyrm Barony, so here's a tentative table:
Solitary monster hunts the wilderness
New religion in town
I'm aiming to 20/30 entries in a similar fashion. Feel free to submit your own!