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Old 07-01-2019, 03:45 PM   #11
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

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Always wondered about a Dungeonpunk setting where dungeon crawling is, essentially, a bloodsport - somewhere between gladiatorial combat and a gameshow and PCs are going room to room on not-TV.
So, the world of the Yamara comic strip?
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Old 07-01-2019, 03:50 PM   #12
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

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As far as I can tell dungeons are only really gameable if they are heavily factionalised and lightly occupied
Or you just assume that there aren't really distinct encounters. For example, if you look at the original Caves of Chaos, each of the mini-areas goes into a bunch of detail about how the inhabitants alert and reinforce, so if you don't make special efforts to prevent it, the entire cave, and possibly some allied factions, will cascade on your head.
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Old 07-01-2019, 10:34 PM   #13
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

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Always wondered about a Dungeonpunk setting where dungeon crawling is, essentially, a bloodsport - somewhere between gladiatorial combat and a gameshow and PCs are going room to room on not-TV. Would justify any manner of zoo-stocking and weird Gygaxian puzzle rooms.
Xcrawl took this approach. Never played it but it seemed fun.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:49 AM   #14
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

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So, the world of the Yamara comic strip?
All I remember about that was that she had a husband whose fractional ancestry added up to more than one and a frog who had something up with his uvula. And then it got silly. I was never sure whether that or SnarfQuest was odder. But yes, CrystalVox might well fit the bill.

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Or you just assume that there aren't really distinct encounters. For example, if you look at the original Caves of Chaos, each of the mini-areas goes into a bunch of detail about how the inhabitants alert and reinforce, so if you don't make special efforts to prevent it, the entire cave, and possibly some allied factions, will cascade on your head.
That was the sort of thing that I rather thought we were trying to avoid as the modern fashion leans away from TPKs...

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Xcrawl took this approach. Never played it but it seemed fun.
Truly it seems there is no new thing under the sun...
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Old 07-02-2019, 06:14 AM   #15
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

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That was the sort of thing that I rather thought we were trying to avoid as the modern fashion leans away from TPKs...
PbtA games (such as The Sprawl) make pretty good use of countdown clocks, which are advanced by non stealthy PC actions, or by partial failures. This provides an incentive to be sneaky, and gives the GM a non fiddly way to adjust the alert level and response of NPC forces.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:30 PM   #16
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

Most dungeons I have seen have been a mish-mash of random rooms with equally random monsters. They work for mindless hack and slash as long as everyone doesn't try to make sense of it. Many of the occupants, if played as written in the Bestiary/Monster Manual/etc should be more interested in killing each other then they are in fighting the party of adventurers wandering through.

One way to avoid the self cleaning dungeon problem would be something along the lines of a large den of Orcs with each room being a separate family group. Some are good at melee fighting, others are good with magic, and some are really good at surprise. You could set it up that the different families normally squabble a lot with each other in a mostly non-lethal fashion so the band of adventurers killing off a family unit wouldn't automatically cause great alarm in the adjacent rooms as they would be used to frequent noises of fighting.

But if one DID escape to warn adjacent families, things could get very bad for the adventurers in a hurry. I don't really have a problem with a TPK or TPC(total party capture) if you warned them ahead of time that retreat is sometimes advisable. IMO - too many players these days just assume they are supposed to win.
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Old 07-02-2019, 05:53 PM   #17
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

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That was the sort of thing that I rather thought we were trying to avoid as the modern fashion leans away from TPKs...
It's not like hack and slash is fashionable per se either. It's just popular.

In general my preference for combat heavy games is the 'monster of the week' setup: one set-piece fight per session, and the RPing is mostly 'find the fight'. This usually works better for PCs in a reactionary role (a monster is eating peasants. Heroes, go out and slay it!), though you can also make it work by asking at the end of each session 'what do you want to do next session' and then the GM has until the next session to set up the breadcrumbs to get them to the fight.
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Old 07-02-2019, 06:21 PM   #18
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

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Or you just assume that there aren't really distinct encounters. For example, if you look at the original Caves of Chaos, each of the mini-areas goes into a bunch of detail about how the inhabitants alert and reinforce, so if you don't make special efforts to prevent it, the entire cave, and possibly some allied factions, will cascade on your head.
I grabbed a digital copy of the original Keep on the Borderlands (later retitled Caves of Chaos), and it looks like it actually sets up many (thiugh not all) of the monsters to be enemies of each other, which I think would reduce the amount of ganging up they can do.

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In general my preference for combat heavy games is the 'monster of the week' setup: one set-piece fight per session, and the RPing is mostly 'find the fight'. This usually works better for PCs in a reactionary role (a monster is eating peasants. Heroes, go out and slay it!), though you can also make it work by asking at the end of each session 'what do you want to do next session' and then the GM has until the next session to set up the breadcrumbs to get them to the fight.
I've done this, and there's a lot to be said for it from a plausibility point of view, but it leads to a slower pace of play for dungeon crawls (and wilderness adventures with frequent "wandering monster" encounters). This is not a criticism of the style, but it's less satisfying if your players want to spend more time fighting and less time looking for the fight.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:17 AM   #19
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

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When running games with a large hack and slash component, do you prefer dungeons, wilderness adventures, or something else?
I'm in the mainstream here - I find that dungeons suit this style of play very well. At least to my taste.

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A big downside of dungeons is plausibility.
Yes! I think everything you say about this is spot-on.


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In some ways the wilderness adventure seems better-suited for a straightforward hack and slash experience.
I think that's true too, in some ways (as you said!). It's certainly easier to make plausible.

But to my mind, standard wilderness adventures lack one of the main benefits of dungeons, which is that dungeons are tailor-made for iterative, procedure-based play - a style of play that suits the RPG medium very well indeed, since it is all about player agency.

To explain, I guess I think of the "dungeon" as an arbitrary narrative structure designed to provide the players with an extended series of discrete, meaningful choices, each of which has real consequences. That is the great virtue of this otherwise totally weird tunnel-chamber-tunnel-chamber structure: it's a kind of architecture that presents the players with meaningful choices at every crossroads, at every choice between this tunnel and that, or this door and that, etc. And then each chamber, area, region, or whatever, provides a series of discrete encounters that ca be gamed out in a manageable period of time, before we return once again to the iterative choice of tunnels, etc. It's just a great narrative structure if you want to constantly provide the players with meaningful choices, i.e. agency.

Yes, the dungeon is weird, but if I try to create an outdoor setting that provides the same benefits, I'm forced to create even weirder and more arbitrary structures: vast labyrinths of forking paths, impenetrable barriers of thorns, complex sequences of canyons, etc etc. And then I might as well be using a dungeon.

Wilderness adventures naturally follow a different narrative structure, I think: one that provides less opportunity for iterative cycles of meaningful decision making. Hexcrawls are one classic solution, but that's another topic...
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Last edited by Joe; 07-08-2019 at 05:21 AM.
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Old 07-08-2019, 08:04 AM   #20
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Default Re: Pros and cons of dungeons for hack and slash roleplaying

The Danmachi franchise of light novels and anime features a dungeon that is a single, malevolent (or justifiably angry, take your pick) living organism that happens to produce invaluable magical resources. Most monsters are generated spontaneously on the spot as a sort of antibodies against the invading adventurers. The monsters that survive the encounter can persist and become more powerful and dangerous. There's not a lot of "treasure" here, other than the magical materials the delvers went to collect. If the monsters use weapons, they are often elements of the environment -- broken off stalagmites with a convenient grip and edge like a falchion, say.
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