Monday, April 3, 2017

The Endless Dungeon

Legend Quest was first published in 1991.  Honestly, it didn’t do so good that first year at GENCON, though we did sell more than the guy a few booths down from us who kept carrying boxes of games out every night to make it look like he was selling something.

So we felt we needed some form of marketing campaign for GENCON 1992.  Not being a great marketer, I decided to try and play to my strengths:  game mastering.  So instead of building up a flyer or an ad, I decided to run The Endless Dungeon across every slot at GENCON - that’s 60 hours, at least it was then.  But don’t think we kept running the same mission over and over.  No, The Endless Dungeon was my second ever “mega-dungeon”.

We started first thing Thursday morning at 8:00 and ran four, four-hour slots.  Every four hours most of the players would change and fairly often players who had played earlier in the show would come back, admittedly if they couldn’t get into another game, but they really saw us as being the perfect Plan B, and I can accept that.

But coming back, you could find the character you wanted to play might be dead or have been maimed or something.  Sure, sometimes you found out they now had a more powerful magic item too, but bad news was more common.  All in all, I think we averaged about 9 people per slot, so we ran 125-150 people through the event.  It was so well received (back in the book selling area) that we began publishing The Endless Dungeon in parts.

This month’s Blog Carnival theme is mega-dungeons, and I have been thinking a lot about The Endless Dungeon.  It’s no longer in print, because most people seem to prefer our generic stuff, and it is unquestionably laid out for Legend Quest rules.  I’ve been reading some other mega-dungeon posts, and I think this falls into what they’re calling a “node-based” mega-dungeon (one of their maps looks way too close to The Endless Dungeon map for it to be anything else).  That means that the original “mission” is to go after some goblin slavers.  At some point, you figure out that the slavers are working for someone else, though I don’t think you can figure out who right away.  Then you go back home with the freed slaves only to find out that the long tunnel you didn’t have enough time (or healing) to explore leads to another set of slavers who are also working for the mysterious “big bad” that you know is coming.  All the missions are linked physically and in the overall theme, but they are distinct places connected by tunnels, and not one enormous set of rooms after rooms.

I always thought this method made sense, because I do believe you need to retreat and rest up during a huge dungeon.  The multiple entrances into what became an underground city made sense, and allowed for the standard leave and train style of adventuring.  I hate letting parties “camp” inside a dungeon, and I had plans that they were to be attacked by overwhelming forces if they tried this too often.  (Taking an hour to recover half your Fatigue is one thing, but trying to sleep all night was out of the question.  Then again, we weren’t playing that original game.)

So the point of this blog post is more sentimental than informative, except for this:  I have considered redoing The Endless Dungeon and reissuing it.  I’ve also considered reissuing The Goblins of Kadafere Pass (I know I spelled that wrong, but while I have the original form of the adventure, I cannot lay my hands on the version that wound up in the binder set.).  You might think this would be a cake walk - just put them out, people will love them.  But I can’t.  I will have to go through them with a fine toothed comb - editing, improving, etc.  Still, I’ll do it if there is any interest in it.  The first Endless Dungeon mission is Blood in the Slaves Pits, and I’m telling you - I honestly think that is one of the best missions I ever wrote.  It shows goblins as used by nearly every GM when they first start (the lazy goblins that tend to get their hats handed to them) alongside a goblin mercenary force that can show you how effective “weak” creatures can be with just a dash of strategic planning.

So yeah, we have a mega-dungeon, I’m just not convinced that it’s what GMs are looking for.  It makes sense, it runs well, but if the party is as stupid as the first tribe of goblins, they don’t stand a chance!

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