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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dungeon games and dice

Where shall we start this week? I know, let's start with dungeon crawl games, following on from Dave's entry.

Many (many, many....) years ago I dabbled in Dungeons and Dragons. (Man, that feels like an AA style meeting. "Hello, I'm Mike and I used to play D&D." "Hi, Mike!" they all chorus.) This was back in the mid '70s when I was still in high school, or what passed for the same sort of thing back in Scotland, and the first D&D game was released. This had 3 small booklets and came in a box. As they say in Pirates of the Caribbean (The Curse of the Black Pearl), they weren't so much rules as guidelines. And they were terrific. We were very taken with them and played D&D a lot, often meeting at one of our group members' house for the weekend for a loooooooong session, if the parents were away . We had a great time coming up with ideas and putting together (crappy) dungeons. And then came THE DAY. (Cue dramatic music.)

It's so long ago now that I'm not exactly sure when it was, but it was after the plethora of hard-back D&D books had started appearing. One of our group had spent some time working on an adventure. It would have been very unfair to call it a dungeon, as he had spent some time putting it all together, a plot, storyline, co-ordinated rooms and timing. In short, 'a lot of effort(tm).' So, we're gathered at Mr. Napoleonic's (see last week's entry) house for the inaugural presentation of this adventure. We weren't long in when a situation came up and Mr. Napoleonic stated he was doing 'X'. (I forget exactly, what it was.) Anyway, our illustrious DM stated that nothing happened. Mr. Napoleonic was non-plussed, and pointed out again that he was doing 'X', to the same response. At this point he went almost apoplectic, and spluttered that it was quite clear from tome X, section, Y, paragraph Z that blah should have happened. At this point it all degenerated into a him vs. us, handbags at 10 paces, tears before bedtime type affair.

To this day I have never played D&D (or any other RPG type game) again. To our viewpoint the whole beauty of D&D was that it was just guidelines, not rules. You could come up with your own ideas, use whatever they suggested, or not. By introducing rulebook after rulebook it lost that original spark.

Which is a long winded way to point out that I'm very wary of dungeon crawl type games or anyhing that smacks of 'role playing'. (However, the latter part could also be related to my my dislike of party-style games which depend on one's speed of thought. A lot of the RPG games rely on you being able to come up with snappy solutions to situations or puzzles.)

I wasn't sure about Cave Troll when it was first put on the table, but it's a decent little game that has given a lot of enjoyment. I even added it to my collection, although it remains unpunched as yet. Dungeon Twister sounds interesting from Dave's description, another I'd like to try it at some time.

Which brings me back to RPGs. One of the first descriptions I had of Doom was as an RPG, and I think that put me a little on edge about it. I was very undecided about it (Ok, I openly disliked it...) but I kept coming back for more. It is now on my shelf and the boys like it as well. I just don't see it as an RPG. (btw, I'm looking forward to the Doom movie.)

Well, I was going to add some comment about dice and Euros, but I think I've warbled on enough for this week.


  • At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Laurent said…

    So if I understood you correctly (hard with the accent :), you now like Doom the Boardgame.

    Therefore as I good guest, I will be more than happy to entertain you next time we play at your house :)


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