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Phil Masters 01-27-2017 12:28 PM

Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
I was doodling around with this idea as possibly worth an article... But there'd be problems getting it run in Pyramid, and I'm not sure that I'm feeling up to organising it very formally anyway. So I'll just post some notes for discussion here, a bit at a time.

On Using the Disc as “The World” for Dungeon Fantasy
“Funny, really,” said Vena. “All my life I’ve gone adventuring with old maps found in old tombs and so on, and I never ever worried about where they came from. It’s one of those things you never think about, like who leaves all the weapons and keys and medicine kits lying around in the unexplored dungeons.”
– The Last Hero

The Discworld, as described in the Discworld Roleplaying Game, became, in the course of a long series of novels, a well-developed world, with large and small maps, a long history, and its own political and economic systems. But at every point in that development, it served a purpose as a piece of fiction; it is a setting for stories – and a wide range of stories at that. The Discworld RPG is designed to exploit that, using it as a setting for roleplaying campaigns and scenarios – another sort of story, which also covers a wide range.

And, as anyone who follows the GURPS line knows, one of the sorts of game-story that can be played out with that game system is Dungeon Fantasy. Now, not all dungeon fantasy games want or use a well-developed world – but some GMs and players like having such a thing, at least in the background as a source of backstories for characters and a list of place names. And quite a few dungeon fantasy players will also be Discworld fans, who may be amused to think of doing their dungeoneering on the Disc.

These notes are thus about that option; using the Disc as “the world” for a dungeon fantasy game. Note that it isn’t so much about making dungeon adventuring an organic or occasional part of Discworld games; the focus is on running a dungeon fantasy game that uses the Discworld RPG as a handy source of background and color, not on dropping Dungeon Fantasy material into what was originally conceived as a Discworld game.

History
“Speaking as a lawyer,” said Mr. Slant of the Guild of Lawyers, “it is clear that the first ever recorded heroic deed to which the message refers was an act of theft from the rightful owners. The legends of many different cultures testify to this.”
– The Last Hero

When it comes to the source novels, a GM looking to make this work should probably think mostly in terms of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, with some additional browsing of The Last Hero. The first two Discworld novels are comic sword and sorcery tales, set in a heroic age of barbarian warriors, ruthless thieves, dragon riders, more or less medieval technology – and, it’s clear, not a few dungeons and other underground complexes in need of plundering. Subsequent books moved away from this to an age of somewhat more advanced technology and a more coherent set of societies, with the occasional reference back to that more traditional style of fantasy; The Last Hero perhaps represents formal closure for the old style, with its geriatric barbarian swordsmen facing not only death but irrelevance.

Hence, a Discworld Dungeon Fantasy game might be set in the period of the early novels, with Ankh-Morpork clearly emulating classic fantasy cities such as Leiber’s Lankhmar, far too many mighty-thewed heroes with annoying magic swords, and technology closer to GURPS TL3 that 4, albeit with a lot of very Dungeon Fantasy-style vagueness. But that’s not entirely mandatory; even in the later novels, there are hints of underground plunder-zones waiting for heroes a little out of their time. The Disc is a big world, with lots of room for remnants of past ages. Furthermore, it runs largely on the power of story, and stories of heroic underground exploration are very persistent. However, late-period dungeon games might have to be a little more cynical and self-referential – which might lean a little too hard on the fourth wall for some players’ taste.

Next up: Geography - where on the Disc to locate this stuff.

Dominator 01-28-2017 10:48 AM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Yes, please.

Phil Masters 01-29-2017 06:08 AM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Geography
All the heroes of the Circle Sea passed through the gates of Ankh-Morpork sooner or later. Most of them were from the barbaric tribes nearer the frozen Hub, which had a sort of export trade in heroes.
– The Colour of Magic

Dungeons might be found almost anywhere on a heroic-age Disc; there are plenty of wilderness areas and mountain ranges, doubtless with their full share of cave complexes, forgotten tombs, and ruined castles. However, there are also plenty of ancient cities, with their own potential; later books give Ankh-Morpork an extensive and half-forgotten sewer system, complete with convenient luminous fungi on the walls, and there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be attached to an earlier version of the city, with added monsters and traps.

Mostly, though, dungeons (as broadly defined) close to or under Ankh-Morpork would surely mostly be well-plundered-out by the city's large and active adventurer community, although they might be periodically restocked with some categories of adventure material by sword and sorcery-style cults of small gods and mad gods. The city offers more potential for urban adventuring – see Fritz Leiber's "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser" stories, which The Colour of Magic openly references, for a few ideas – but that's a theme which GURPS Dungeon Fantasy only touches lightly at present. Similar comments apply to other cities of the Sto Plains, on a smaller scale. So adventurers may have to go a little further afield for their underground opportunities.

The nearest place to look, for characters starting (as is quite traditional) in Ankh-Morpork, might be the Forest of Skund (see the Discworld RPG,, p. 233), which is magic-rich and seems to have its full share of traditional fantasy phenomena like morally dubious witches and supernatural beings. Dropping in the occasional ruined wizardly tower, complete with over-extensive basement complex, would be quite in keeping. A little further afield, Rincewind, Twoflower, and Hrun ran into a certain amount of monster-laden fantasy adventure when they crossed the Octarine Grass Country and ventured as far as the Wyrmberg (the Discworld RPG,, p. 233-4), and it seems likely that there are other opportunities in that region. Another interesting possibility would be a trip to Lancre (the Discworld RPG,, p. 238-9), in the days before the events of Wyrd Sisters, when the local witches were perhaps more likely to keep themselves to themselves and ignore things like passing adventurers so long as they didn't make trouble. It is sometimes hinted that Lancre Castle has literal and metaphorical depths that few locals care to probe, and the cellars connect to local caverns which in turn have features not entirely related to conventional three-dimensional geometry. It's not at all unlikely that these sometimes suffered monster infestations or irruptions from the mythic past, and one can easily imagine King Verence I or some other fairly competent past monarch permitting or encouraging an adventurer party, up from the big city, to go in and clear such things up in exchange for anything they could carry out.

It's also strongly hinted that there are other pocket kingdoms up in that part of the Ramtops, some perhaps with ruined castles or palaces with significant basements. A trip over the ridge of the mountains from there would then place one in Uberwald (the Discworld RPG,, p. 240), which is a very valid location for a more Gothic/Hammer Films sort of dungeoneering adventure, with vampires, werewolves, and mad doctors and their minions and creatures.

The wider Disc offers plentiful options, if only because quite a lot of it is still only lightly mapped. Djelibeybi (the Discworld RPG,, p. 235) and Tsort (p. 236) are both ancient kingdoms with lots of pyramids, which in turn tend to be riddled with tunnels. Unfortunately, these never tended to have much in the way of interesting dungeon stuff beyond a good few traps and some lurching mummy guardians (and the ancient pharaohs of Djelibeybi have all upped and moved on as of the ending of Pyramids); it's probably the ordinary citizens outside who'd make most difficulties over anyone walking off with any grave-goods from within these pyramids. Still, GMs can always introduce the odd exceptional case or just change things a bit. Further round the Circle Sea, Klatch has lots of ancient desert cities with temples and so forth, which again might imply a few underground complexes. Then, venturing Rimwards, there are the jungle kingdoms of Howondaland and beyond, round as far as the Tezuman Empire (the Discworld RPG,, p. 237) – serious lost city territory.

Yet further afield, GMs can add what they like to the likes of Chimeria and Mutab, which the novels quite deliberately keep mysterious. Some parts of the standard Discworld map are essentially blanks with arbitrary names; others are a little better documented, but could still be developed in a dungeonwards direction. (Anyone for dungeon-bashing with an Antipodean accent in FourEcks? The local fauna is dangerous enough for the purpose even without supernatural features.) Recently, The Compleat Discworld Atlas has added a little more arbitary detail in places, mostly reflecting more modern views of the Disc rather than the sword and sorcery model, although it includes such suggestive features as the walled city of Harib, built on the stratified remnants of its own past, and the archaeological discovery of the ancient city of Um, on the coast of the militarised nation of Istanzia.

Next up: Magic (and Religion).

simply Nathan 01-29-2017 12:46 PM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Also there are the Dungeon Dimensions and the Things thereof. They probably don't have much useful 3D treasure though.

Astromancer 01-29-2017 01:49 PM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phil Masters (Post 2072964)
I was doodling around with this idea as possibly worth an article... But there'd be problems getting it run in Pyramid, and I'm not sure that I'm feeling up to organising it very formally anyway. So I'll just post some notes for discussion here, a bit at a time.

Didn't you have a footnote about this in the GURPS: Discworld book? Something about mixed gangs of "God Botherers, Thugs, Crooks, and Unseen University Dropouts" being drawn like "Wasps to a Jam Jar." to these locations?


A PDF on Discworld Dungeon Fantasy would get my money fast and most folks money faster. We'd all love it. And you approach Gaming in your distinctive way (good writers do that) so even those who'd never use Discworld could enrich their Dungeon fantasy games with your ideas and twists of style. Heck, some of your Discworld ideas I've seen transposed into D&D games already.

Write the book, It will be welcomed and used.

Phil Masters 01-29-2017 02:33 PM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by simply Nathan (Post 2073288)
Also there are the Dungeon Dimensions and the Things thereof. They probably don't have much useful 3D treasure though.

You can use Things as boss-level monsters of a sort, but half-sensible PCs will not venture to the Dungeon Dimensions. That's the Things' home turf, and by definition there's not much else there. That's why the Things want through to warmer realms.

Phil Masters 01-29-2017 02:37 PM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Astromancer (Post 2073296)
Didn't you have a footnote about this in the GURPS: Discworld book? Something about mixed gangs of "God Botherers, Thugs, Crooks, and Unseen University Dropouts" being drawn like "Wasps to a Jam Jar." to these locations?

There are occasional throwaway gags on the subject in the book, certainly.

Quote:

A PDF on Discworld Dungeon Fantasy would get my money fast and most folks money faster.
It'd need the license sorted out. I'm not sure how feasible that would be.

b-dog 01-29-2017 03:23 PM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Phil Masters (Post 2073301)
There are occasional throwaway gags on the subject in the book, certainly.


It'd need the license sorted out. I'm not sure how feasible that would be.

I hope you can write a DF version of Discworld and I hope it sells really well. Because if it does sell well then hopefully you will write more DF worlds because I think you are a good writer. The one book I would love is DF Arabian Nights. I think that could a lot of fun. You could take the PCs to exotic locales like Mythic India or Africa or just explore the ancient Egyptian and Babylonian ruins to kill monsters and take their stuff.

Astromancer 01-29-2017 05:11 PM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by b-dog (Post 2073308)
I hope you can write a DF version of Discworld and I hope it sells really well. Because if it does sell well then hopefully you will write more DF worlds because I think you are a good writer. The one book I would love is DF Arabian Nights. I think that could a lot of fun. You could take the PCs to exotic locales like Mythic India or Africa or just explore the ancient Egyptian and Babylonian ruins to kill monsters and take their stuff.

Seconded.

Could you imagine a Print the Legend take on the British Raj in Dungeon Fantasy. It would be a Gaslight Fantasy take on the matter, and it would be grand.

rkbrown419 01-30-2017 12:56 PM

Re: Discworld, Dungeonworld
 
Cool idea. Would any of the Diskworld racial templates need adjustment to fit the Dungeon Fantasy style? Would any Dungeon Fantasy templates work on the Disk? DF Trolls obviously aren't Disk trolls and the DF Elves are totally out.


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