As I said in my last session summary:
"The fool's cap - the coxcomb cap - is my blatant in-game indication that anything that gate leads to is silly. No, check that, capital-S Silly. Also amusingly lethal, eminently lootable, and potentially nasty - but silly. I figured some players might not like to risk their lives in my own Dungeonland/Land Beyond the Magic Mirror. Apparently not - everyone seemed at the very least interested, and several players where really excited. Good! The PCs think it might be the fabled Tavern Level, but they saw no indication of that. So there are some doubts. That level might not actually even be really silly, even if it'll be much more lighthearted or less serious than other delves."
I'd asked my players in the past about silly stuff. The response was generally, yes, but not too much. We've played for a while since then and I asked again, and I got either "it's just right" or "more please."
Lucky for me, the plan all along was gates to silly places. So this is how I put in access to "more please" without stomping on the entertainment of people who chose "it's just right."
Having clearly-marked gates means that people can choose to go or not. They won't just fall down a pit and end up in Dungeonland. They have to choose to go.
Is this the only gate to silly places?
I can't say so publicly. It's possible that this is the nexus of silliness. It's also possible I have others. I'm not averse to re-purposing dead-end gates or adding new ones if I need to in order to put in more silly things.
Can they go and come back repeatedly?
Maybe. It depends on the place. I do have some silly stuff that's designed as a one-shot. One delve through and you're done, like the Cow Level.
It's probably best to assume it's a one-shot thing.
Will play end in town?
No, we'll keep going in that one spot until people come back or "finish" it. At least for most of them, per our multi-delve discussions.
The tavern level is silly, right?
Not as I think of it. It'll be light hearted, more tavern fun with less town consequences, but it won't be capital S-silly like the gate they found this time leads to. That just is a silly concept, but so is a big megadungeon full of monsters and gates to sillier places. It doesn't have to be jokey to be fun, and probably would be more fun mostly serious.
What is meant by "Also amusingly lethal, eminently lootable, and potentially nasty - but silly"?
My background in this kind of stuff is the Gygax conversions. So if you go to a silly place, expect:
- lethal versions of things. If it's potentially lethal in the source material, it's lethal here. If it's lethal there, it's double-lethal here.
- lootable. You're meant to go and kill things and take stuff. Not everything will be lootable, not everything will be something that can come back to the main game, but there will be real loot commensurate with (and possibly in excess of) the danger level.
- nasty. I won't pull punches. If you haven't heard the story of the Chesire Cat biting Darren the halfling's face, go read my review of Dungeonland. Physical rules might change. Things may be totally unfair.
- Silly. Yeah, this is where you'll fight behir versions of the caterpillar and have playing card soldiers and that kind of stuff, to keep the Alice example. It won't necessarily make sense. But it'll be the trappings of the source material turned into a kill-and-loot fest.
It's GURPS, so it's trivial to move things in from other types of worlds.
I think these kind of places can be fun, feed enjoyment into the campaign, and otherwise be good sessions. But they won't necessarily change the overall level of silliness (which is probably a bit high for some of our readers). It'll be roughly on par with my impression of what you'd have gotten from Gary Gygax, maybe a bit less. I'm looking forward to the first delves.