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Old 09-20-2013, 05:38 PM   #1
Steven Marsh
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Default Alternate Dungeons Clarification

Greetings, all,

Based on the queries I've received so far for the "Alternate Dungeons" issue, there's been some confusion about this theme.

The "Alternate Dungeons" issue is to dungeon fantasy (and -- perhaps -- GURPS Dungeon Fantasy) as the "Alternate GURPS" issues are to "traditional GURPS."

Put another way, the articles here should all spark a thought along the lines of, "Well, I can see why 'traditional' dungeon-fantasy campaigns wouldn't want to do that, but that's cool idea, and I want to put it in my campaign."

From a setting standpoint, perhaps the quintessential era for what I'm envisioning is mid-to-late-era TSR AD&D:
  • Ravenloft -- "Gothic horror added to dungeon fantasy? I can see why that's not gonna fly in most campaigns, but it's totally cool."
  • Spelljammer -- "Low-tech spacefaring adventure bolted onto dungeon fantasy? ICSWTNGFIMC,BITC"
  • Planescape -- "Flavor-rich cross-dimensional dungeon fantasy? ICSWTNGFIMC,BITC"
  • Birthright -- "Larger-scale fiefdom-based dungeon-fantasy? ICSWTNGFIMC,BITC"


Other examples include X-Crawl (meta-gaming dungeon fantasy as spectator sport), Earthdawn (optimistic Lovecraftian post-apocalyptic dungeon fantasy), and Exalted (anime-influenced epic-level dungeon fantasy).

I am not looking for Dungeon Fantasy versions of the above ideas! Rather, I'm tossing out those ideas as examples of the "ICSWTNGFIMC,BITC" mindset. A multi-century setting where all PCs are expected to be elves, and decades can pass in downtime? Hmm! A world with only 100 heroes total -- 10 each of 10 professions -- with little-to-no way to replenish them? Hmm! A world where "advancement" is always demonic in nature, and using bonus character points to increase a hero's might (instead of burning them a la Impulse Buys) is tantamount to making a deal with the devil? Hmm!

The notion of "alternate dungeon fantasy" doesn't need to be limited to setting material! For example, my column from Pyramid #3/50: Dungeon Fantasy II describes a way to define a fast-growth campaign that causes heroes to power up with earth-shaking abilities, rather than the slow-and-steady growth usually encouraged by the core GURPS rules.

If you have an idea for a GURPS tweak that's especially appropriate to fantasy/dungeon-crawling campaigns, this is the issue to pitch it for! Video-game-style regeneration as the norm? Pre-defined "levels" in lieu of bonus character points? A world where all damage is non-lethal, except for certain rare attacks? Could be interesting! (My current idea for my column is to see if I can't figure out a relationship between social status and regard by society and the point level of the character. Thus, someone who's built on 500 points will be viewed as mightier even if no one knows about him or his abilities . . . he's just got that aura around him.)

If you've got an idea for a "standard" tweak or addition to Dungeon Fantasy, that's perfectly fine . . . for another issue. For this issue, let's try to get a bit more outré. I'd love to see a batch of articles that make folks go, "ICSWTNGFIMC,BITC."
Steven Marsh
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