Thursday, February 5, 2015

Annoying Thoughts in the Middle of Writing a Book

I am so burned out writing about dungeons.  I'm still trying to get one more essay in on yet one more subject, but I will be very happy when this book is done and I can put dungeons aside.  Reading and reading some more about dungeons these past few months has convinced me that there really isn't that much thought that goes into their creation - you can find the same advice given over and over on hundreds of websites, every one of them written as if it were the very first thing written on the subject.

This has, admittedly, made for a fertile subject, since I am trying hard to look at dungeons every which way.  The opinions included in The Dungeon's Front Door are as original as I can make them - hell, as original as any opinion I have, since I always seem to be on the other side of most things the community agrees upon.  Good for me.

I have the rest of this month to clean the book up and get it ready.  I admit, it's going to be tight.  Even though I'm not working, time gets eaten up by trying to find employment - and with my strange inability to ever focus on just one thing.  It is all I can do not to make maps or get back to the wiki (which I've relaxed these past few weeks), along with writing post after post on this blog.  I could, after all, put the blog down and that would buy me another 30 hours this month, right?

Sigh.  Not going to happen.  I can't stop scratching this itch.

There is something on my mind, something I have to exorcise with the ceremony of writing about it, otherwise I'll begin to obsess over the next few weeks and that's not going to work.  For this I apologize - this post is going to be an awful tease, but just imagine how I feel.

I want to try a game.  It's something that occurred to me about a year ago, which I killed in my head by working on the How to Run book . . . and here it is again, taunting me, telling me, "Come on, do it, it will be fun."  Except that I know in three weeks I'll be all, "Fuu . . . uuck, why did I start this?"

Okay.  A game.  That we're not going to play.  At least, not this month.  Everything that follows are thoughts that have recurred in my head repeatedly since Monday.

To begin.  I make three dungeons, each of which are accessible from three doors named Heart, Pit and Pendulum - red, grey and black in color.  The dungeons follow three themes, but mostly they're simple in form and fairly equal in threat or challenge.

Everyone is invited to play.  I set up a post that describes the opening room - you see three doors in front of you, already named and colored, and you - the reader of this blog - are invited to commit to one of the doors.

There are rules, obviously.  First, with respect to entering/registering:

  • You begin by picking a character from four pre-made characters that I would put on the post - a cleric, fighter, mage and thief, spells and abilities chosen by me.
  • You would send me an email confirming your character class and your online nick.
  • To commit to a given door, you must write a comment that capitalizes the verb that indicates your action:  i.e., "I ENTER the Pendulum door."  Until this is capitalized, you are considered to have taken no action.
  • You must write the comment committing to a door (and later, to an action), within 3 days of the post being published (time and date of the deadline would be included in the post).

Once those are done, you're part of the contest.  Yes, if I did this I would make it a contest, with two free books being given to the winners.  Why "two"?  Well, there is the rub.

See, once you go through the initial door (with everyone else who would also go through that door), your success depends upon other people.  If you commit to an action - and you are the ONLY person in the group who commits to that action - you LOSE.  If the remaining people in your party all want to go in the left door, and you stubbornly insist on the right door by yourself, ding ding ding, you're dead.  The prize, then, would go to the last two people standing.

Yes, if you were the only person that initially chose, say, the Pendulum door to enter, then that would mean you died right from the start.

To keep this contest from running forever, it means the dungeons would have to be a bit deadly.  Moreover, each dungeon would have to have a measurable equivalent with every other dungeon, in order to ensure that if every party died at approximately the same distance in, some resurrection would be in order.

I haven't quite worked out how combat would happen, but this is how I'm thinking:

  • There would be no limit on the number of clerics, thieves, etc., that could be chosen.  Suppose there were 35 people who all decided to go through the Pit door - it would be acceptable if there were 7 clerics, 19 fighters, 4 mages and 5 thieves.
  • Regardless of the actual number of players participating as a specific class, there would only be four 'avatar' members of the party - provided each avatar was being played by somebody.
  • Combat numbers against the party would be gauged for four characters - thus the party would encounter, for example, 6 orcs, even though there were 35 people involved.  The actual combat, as played out, would be 4 characters vs. 6 enemies.
  • Everybody would be given the opportunity to give their actions in sets of four rounds, then those four rounds would be played.

Suppose that you were the cleric.  You've just entered a room with six orcs.  You would write your orders, "R1: I cast protection from evil; R2: I attack; R3: I attack: R4: I run away" - or whatever sequence works for you.

Then I 'interpret' the battle as a series of multiple permutations to see who lives and who dies.  I roll all the dice; I record the effects against different players individually, then tally the totals.  When I do damage to the cleric, the damage is rolled separately for every player of that cleric . . . I see this as completely insane, and yet somehow I feel confident I could pull it off.

A bit weird, though.

At each step along the dungeon, I would make multiple options - to enable people to break off into smaller groups if they wished.  Some of these options would be dangerous - do you go through the door or try a leap over the pit?  Some of these options would have traps that might kill off excess players.  Bad luck.  I think sincerely that the dungeon would need to be made ahead of time, not as we went, with a witness to assure its authenticity.  But who could we trust?

The point being that you'd want to ask around a bit before committing to an action by writing your choice in capitals.  "You see two doors; the left door has the handle on the left side, the right door has a handle on the right side.  Both handles are made of brass, but one is capped with the figure of a skull and the other is capped with the figure of an eagle.  Which do you pick?"

You might not want to rush in and write, "I ENTER the left door" before asking in the comments section if there's anyone who would go with you.

There, I feel better.  I'm sure there would need to be more rules.  Sorry I'm not running this.  I'm actually writing a book.


1 comment:

Tim said...

Based on the rules so far, I'd say this could work very nicely through a program, where most of the tedium is taken out of your hands. I'm thinking something along the lines of the Twitch Plays Pokemon series, where hundreds of users gave commands to one Pokemon game, which the program interpreted and then fed in. D&D is obviously much more deadly, but given the way you specify particular actions would make a program tempting.

Given that options are essentially limitless, each time a new comment is submitted, the program could parse for actions and add them to the database, then provide some form of display like a poll of current action suggestions. Then the program would also set time limits and automatically eliminate players after a certain time.