I’m getting together with a few friends to game during the week. We meet at a Starbuck’s in Manhattan, so Kevin can get back to Jersey at a decent hour and the rest of us can ride back to Queens on the train together.
We started by playing Torchbearer’s intro adventure, 3 Squires and it went alright. I fumbled us through the town phase and felt the grind of having the PDF but not the book. I learn better from print but enjoy referring to the text in play through my iPad.
Then it was time to make up my own dungeon. It sucked. I have never been good at making dungeons. As a kid, city adventures or sprawling, ridiculous political adventures made sense to me but making dungeons work never came naturally. The truth is, I need to make my dungeons like I do my cities and my political situations.
My dungeon had monsters that all wanted the same simple thing (to protect this area or that area), so there was not conflict occurring, nothing dynamic happening. When the players interacted with it, nothing about the ecology of the place was action packed or interesting. The hell hound, crypt thing and golem were just fellas who did their job and didn’t have much to say to one another.
I remain intrigued by Torchbearer and want another shot at running the Wizard’s Tower over the Chaos Knight’s Tomb, a shot to spice it up and make it work but I will wait until the book arrives and I can give it another read-over.
It was even more frustrating because I was GMing for folks I hadn’t GMed for, so there was definitely the sting to my GM’s pride. It is stupid, I know but this is something I have done and done successfully since I was a kid and having a series of sessions go poorly was a bummer, a definite blow to my ego.
I wanted to write about a session that went lukewarm, didn’t want anyone to think that my gaming life was all backflips and high-fives. Sometimes I look over at Bret, John and Kevin and say, “Next time we get together to play, I’d like to play a dungeon that didn’t suck. This dungeon sucked.”
And that is okay, that is part of the deal sometimes.
Let me point you at a resource that makes dungeons much easier: Dyson’s Delves and his blog Dyson’s Dodecahedron. He makes mighty fine maps with ideas about its origins. He also has a book of these maps, but nearly all the maps are on his blog. http://rpgcharacters.wordpress.com. If you go to the maps directory underneath that URL, you’ll find everything you need.
I love the blog and own the book. Thanks!
The map wasn’t the problem, though.
I think its understandable if you haven’t ran a dungeon in awhile and they’re tricky. Dungeons were always one of my favorite aspects of play, even if they didn’t always make sense, (why would someone have a menagerie of monsters around-what would they eat? Do they get paid to be there?). Having said that though, putting together a dungeon and having a purpose for it being there AND why its guarded like it is can be quite exciting for adventurers since it should be constant danger while you’re there. A dungeon I ran years and years ago had bands of goblins and kobolds fighting each other for dominance while being used as guards for an evil wizard who was using the big monsters, (ogres), to keep them in line. The players would sometimes set up ambushes and leave evidence that one or the other, (goblins or kobolds), had attacked to cause chaos. As the DM I had the other monsters react appropriately, (raids against the other side, the ogres stepping in to quell rebellion, the wizard having to intercede by offing the leader of the goblins). The players weren’t powerful enough to just muscle through and they had a great time working mischief and sneaking around until they could ambush the wizard outside of his well protected lair.
While I agree with your critiques of the content I think you are being too hard on yourself. A fun time was had.
I’m reading through my edition of Torchbearer right now, too. And I don’t think it would be an easy game to GM with people I haven’t GMed before. There are a ton of little rules you have to remember, and forgetting any of them could cause real trouble down the line.
It is a system that has a bit of a learning curve. One more post-play read-through and then I should have a good grip.
The hardest thing in the world is to feel like you’ve let yourself and everyone else down. And for some reason when I DM and the session goes poorly that feeling can get overwhelming. So I always have to remind myself that it’s just a temporary setback and that the next session will be better. Hopefully your next session will rock my friend.
Thanks. I’ve GMed rockin’ sessions since then but wanted to write up a lukewarm session.
I don’t feel like I let anyone down…or at least I shouldn’t feel that way.