Saturday, November 2, 2013

In my DF Game There is One City, One Megadungeon

My post yesterday generated a lot of comments. And some argument, but that was mostly me - I like to argue back and see if I can defend the ideas I've got mulling around. But it's been really thought provoking.

I realize there are a few fundamental facts about my game that make the decision tougher than it might be otherwise.

GURPS Dungeon Fantasy itself - GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, right now, devotes a scant few pages to things you can do in town. Raise some funds, listen to rumors, consult with locals, panhandle or gamble, pick some pockets, and craft some gear. And buy and sell. My own house rules expand some of that, but not a lot. I also make it, by default, safe - nothing gets stolen, no one's Kleptomania gets them arrested, no one's critically failed carousing roll gets them tossed out of town or thrown in the clink. My players have so far proven to like the "town is a vague place where non-dungeon stuff happens." Me too, it must be said - running a limited sandbox is much easier when part of the sandbox is "base" and anyone touching it is safe.

Like I mentioned last post, a safe base is a basic assumption in my game.

And the PCs are really, really limited - they have lots of assumed traits that cost 0 points because they are ignored in play. A more social game would require we write them down and deal with them.

One Megadungeon - my game is centered on the megadungeon "Felltower" and its surroundings. Mostly Felltower itself. There are other nearby locations to adventure (including the Caves of Chaos), but otherwise the game is centered on that one place.

This is totally intentional, as it vastly simplifies the session plan ("Go into the dungeon and do stuff") and the session prep ("Well, I know they'll go into the dungeon, I better stock more of that.") But it does mean that the game needs them to stay in the vicinity of the megadungeon. If they leave, or they have to leave, it means changing the basic game and restarting elsewhere.

One City - near Felltower is Stericksburg, a place both vague enough to fit anything in it and small enough that rolls that come up negative for finding things make sense. The city has some details, but not a lot. It's deliberately vague, a place to make die rolls for research and sales, and otherwise handwave economics and society. It's also that the city is populated with a mix of nice people and bad people. Just like there are false rumors and true rumors, good job offers and bogus ones, good hirelings and bad ones. But it's the only place around - it's right next to the megadungeon, and the only alternative (a small Borderlands keep) is too small to really substitute. If this place gets burned down, figuratively or literally, there isn't another place to base out of.

Bad Guys Have Always Been in the City - Always. In fact, when the cone-hatted cultists first came to town, it was before the PCs ran into them. Having them do so, and then ask about Felltower and the folks going into it, was a deliberate tactic to warn the PCs about the cultists. They took it to heart and killed them when they ran into them. Admittedly, the cultists took a run at them but that just determined who was in a bad situation when it occurred - the PCs would have attacked them. The gnome they ran into was in town before them, too - and they have a rumor to prove it. They aren't the only ones, and the PCs can't stop all of them from coming.

Other PCs Are A Concern - If my players can engage in offensive rumormongering in town against NPCs, how about other PCs? When I start running other groups through, I'd like to keep any conflict to "conflict of interest" and "race for treasure" in the dungeon, not a wide-area fight over information, lying to each other, etc.

So that's some of the background for the previous post.


  1. I guess it's much easier than yesterday's post. Either this is outright not happening and you tell them so, or you're forced to grow your sandbox. You should make them give you a list of ideas for growth to offload the extra work that you'll have if you make the second choice.

  2. We built this city,
    We built this city
    On Rock and Trolls!

    1. Currently running a DF game with a mega-dungeon like flying city that used to be inhabited by Winged Elves. The winged elf scout was trying to convince her party members to help retake the city from the monsters that currently inhabit it. She said, in character, "We built this city, not orcs and trolls!"

    2. That's it, time out for both of you.


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