Which Reminds Me…
I’ve been working on a personal campaign setting for awhile…a far future space opera I describe as “Dune meets DOOM” — complete with hell in space and provincial houses of a crumbling imperium. It’s called The Dark Between, and I’m looking forward to sharing more about it in the weeks and months to come. I’ve started picking Dan’s (of Throne of Salt — http://throneofsalt.blogspot.com) brain about making the AI Hegemony in the setting more noteworthy, and I look forward to sharing the results of that discussion as well.
Which brings me to closing out this blog post, that didn’t really talk about much and doesn’t improve anything for anyone, anywhere. More and more I feel that blog posts should serve a purpose, should advance something in some way, and I’m terrible at writing in that fashion, at this point anyway…although I hope to get better at it.
I also don’t want to just list a bunch of blogs to check out, because I feel like that’s a cop out. Same with listing Kickstarters to check out.
Here’s a picture of a simple layout for a dungeon I’m working on, Nethregor’s Crypt. It’s a terrible map, but I’m not an artist or a cartographer. What I will eventually do is turn this map over to an artist, someone whose talent far exceeds my own, and have them craft something mesmerizing. Probably Dan Smith, again.
But what this map does for me is allows me to better visualize the intended layout of a dungeon I’m plotting. And similar to a point crawl, a dungeon can be a series of points linked by corridors. Obviously I want to make it more than that — the finished work will be a living, breathing dungeonscape with its own flora and fauna and ecology. Well, some undead too but definitely a story that can be told by the placement of the inhabitants, in case anyone is paying attention.
Which is a subject I want to get to in the future — the importance of some semblance of realism in populating dungeons with monsters vs. the lack of interest in backstory by a bunch of murdering lunatics hunting for gold.
I’m sure others have written about that subject, people smarter and more talented than me, and I’ll do my best to find those posts.
But back to Nethregor’s Crypt…
One of the key things I love about Down We Go is the encouragement to use adjectives, especially for players to get involved. What kind of dungeon are you exploring? DWG suggests choosing or rolling: Flooded, Shrouded, Infected, Glowing — and then you build from there.
I think using adjectives is key; it’s easy and sets a tone immediately. Like playing Mad Libs, only we’re building a dungeon.
So, our entryway…what is it?
The entryway is murky.
Okay, so what does that mean?
“The entryway to the crypt is a small chamber of lackluster design, slightly flooded with a few inches of mud. The air is damp and mold clings to the chamber walls. A single passage leads east down a dark and murky corridor.”
This helps set the tone for the dungeon.
I could add more details of course, it’s great to use flowery language and dress up a descritption, and I highly encourage touching on the five senses — how it smells, how it tastes, what can be seen or heard…how the ground feels wet and soaks through the boots as the players slosh towards the next chamber…
…but remember you’re entertaining lunatics hunting for gold, and they don’t care about the finer points of your descriptive prowess. Keep it short, make it interesting with adjectives, and be ready to move on.
Okay, I feel like I gave you, the reader, SOMETHING there. It isn’t a lot to go on, but I mostly wanted to say I’m back now, and happy to be here. But I also wanted to offer up something tangible, which I want to do regularly.
And maybe you’ll read this and let me know what you think.