Response: Dungeon Antology Orthodoxies I
Jojiro has churned out a bunch of these over on his blog, it has now come time for me to produce the easiest content ever: responding to someone elses blog.
- Your players arrive in an abandoned city – the first thing they do is enter a home, asking what’s left of the pantry. What do you say to them?
Depends how abandoned, and what I have planned. Probably this is where I'll drop a hint as to what's going on in the city. If there's cultists, maybe the dust on the floor is missing in the shape of a pentragram or ritual circle. If there's a plague, maybe a discarded plague doctor mask.
- Your players want to talk to a city magistrate about an unpopular idea of theirs. In order to catch the magistrate off-guard, they approach early in the morning. What state do they find the magistrate in?
How early, if it's unsociably early, they are asleep, and probably wont take kindly to being woken. If they are catching them first thing, likely the same attiude but without the sleep. Everyone knows the best time to ask someone for something is right after their lunch break!
- During character creation, a player mentions that they want a naturally blue-haired character. Not for any particular reason, you were envisioning your campaign setting without this possibility. How do you respond?
Read the following entry for a “point of interest”, and then refine how you would present it in a game in some way. You might change how you would describe it out loud, edit it in writing, add typographical emphasis (bold, italics, underlining) for a play-by-post game, etc.
Hidden within a secluded forest glade is a ruined shrine of ancient granite, vines of ivy peeking through the cracked stone pillars. The shrine was built by ash dwarves, and like most such shrines, it is guarded by a salamander. Within the shrine is a pool of simmering water. Characters who drink here receive the benefits of the fire shield spell for the rest of the day.
One take, initial read through, no cuts.
- Your players enter a dungeon you have prepared, and leave after being spooked by the monsters within. In truth, they are more than powerful enough to overcome the threats of the dungeon, and well-equipped to do so. One of the players asks you, “Do you think we’re ready for this dungeon?” How do you answer?
Yes, if you don't do anything stupid
- One of your players has a spell, speak with insects. They use it to speak with a spider, at which point another player points out that it shouldn’t work. The first player is obviously disappointed, and looks to you hopefully for you to overrule the other player. You don’t remember the actual details of how the spell works, but your rulebook is handy if you need to look it up. What do you do?
You might have a slight communication barrier, but it will probably work.
The rest of Orthodoxies I are responses to the previous prompts, and are asking for me to compare and contrast.
- (response to 1) “There’s nothing in the pantry.”
This is fine, I think a more inexperienced version of myself would do the same all of the time. I think present me might do the same if I was having a very uncreative day, or hadn't put much thought into the overarching plot hooks of the town.
- (response to 2) “The magistrate – only a petty official who has temporarily taken over this post, by the way – isn’t even tired – he’s an early morning sort of gentleman. Despite the early hour, the dawn’s rays still barely tickling over the hills, he looks well put-together. Not a hair is out of place on his head, and his sharply kept mustache suggests a morning ritual of wax-infused grooming. The man is already making steady headway into a stack of tidy paperwork as you arrive. You’re in luck, however – he seems to be in a good mood, which may make him more amenable to your suggestion than normal.”
So here, the hypothetical response is rewarding the players attempt to engage with the fiction by giving them a positive outcome, which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing. If I was running a module, or had already put in my notes that the magistrate was a morning person who valued other people being productive in the mornings then I might give this response. Obviously it's a lot more detailed than mine, as I went for general gist rather than exact phrasing.
- (response to 3) “Sure you can have blue hair! I hope you don’t mind if nobody else does though – I didn’t really originally picture that sort of hair, and I’ve got so much else to juggle that I probably won’t add a whole lot of world responsiveness to blue hair. It’ll just be an aesthetic thing to help you better picture your character, not much beyond that.”
I think this is just reflective of different attitudes towards a setting. My current setting wouldn't have any naturally blue haired people, and I wouldn't want to have to justify it in the fiction. I don't like things being unjustified in the fiction, and I'd rather not have to. This has to be considered with the fact that I don't run a home game where the goal is to make a specific group of players have the best experience possible, I run a large open table game and my goal is to keep the world feeling cohesive, and facilitate players engaging with that fiction as much or as little as they want to. If me not letting you have blue hair to keep the settings races and cultures somewhat grounded is an issue, then it might not be the game for you.
(response to 4) “The point of interest should be more direct, short and to the point. I don’t want to mention other shrines, since they’ll come up when they come up, and players can make the connection about salamanders being normal if they want to. Since it’s for a game, the phrases don’t have to be grammatically correct or complete sentences – they just need to convey information. For a play-by-post game, I also want the keywords to stand out, so I will bold them:”
An ash dwarf shrine. 1 salamander stands guard outside. Simmering pool of fire shield (1 day duration) inside.
I think that the text given there would be great, if it was given as a line in a module, rather than the original quite flowery text. For my players, I prefer to describe what they come across sight unseen. The only other major difference is the placing of the Salamander, I like the contents of environments to feel intergrated, and for there to always be oppertunity for surprise on the part of both parties, having them not know what is there, but also be able to choose their approach to the situation while not knowing is better for me.
- (response to 5) “Who knows? Haha.”
I run once or twice a week, for a four hour session. I don't have time for players to not engage with content, because if they say they are going to a place, and back out of it, session over. I have nothing else planned, you picked where you wanted to go. So, I'm going to encourage them to engage. Even if they absolutely aren't ready for the place, I'd still encourage them to scope it out for future adventurers to know more.
- (response to 6) “I would look it up in the book, and if it’s a regular question, I would add a sticky-note to that page so I could find it faster, to show my players what the rules say. Knowing the rules and when to look them up is important, and I want to lead by example.”
I don't know if I'd expect an exact ruling on what constitutes an insect to be in the book. I highly doubt it would specify "small trisegmented hexapod invertebrates". I generally think just ruling on something like that to allow play to continue is a better idea than getting bogged down.
- Imagine, briefly, that the responses in 7 through 12 all came from the same GM, within the same campaign. Are there patterns that emerge about how this GM runs? Would you want the GM to be more consistent and predictable about anything?
Does examining this hypothetical GM change how you thought about your own tendencies, and your own patterns? Would you want to learn anything from this hypothetical GM, or not? Why?
I'm not sure, some of it seems quite contradictory to me. Sometimes focusing on rewarding players for engagement and creative ideas (the magistrate), other times (such as the pantry) giving them nothing. I think it's clear this GM is running a home game not under a heavy time constraint though, resorting to actively checking rules and not using every oppertunity to hook players into whatever events might be happening around them.
Would I want to learn anything from them? Quite possibly, but I don't think enough context has been given here to give a firm answer.
- Announcing Horizon, The End of RPG Content on This Website12/02/2023TTRPG
- Are we there yet?18/12/2022TTRPG
- Building My Ideal Basic D&D Setting, Alignments & Magic07/05/2022TTRPG
- Why My Orcs Are Monsters29/04/2022TTRPG
- A Genealogy Of Dungeons & Dragons & Old-School Essentials26/04/2022TTRPG
- There is almost always a better choice than an Ability Check13/07/2021TTRPG
- How I Run The Thief27/09/2020TTRPG
- When is it?22/08/2020TTRPG
- The skills you didn't know you had11/07/2020TTRPG
- What Is That Gem or Jewel?03/06/2020TTRPG
- Did I Hit?06/04/2020TTRPG
- YOU DIED... Would You Rather Not?12/03/2020TTRPG
- Which Saving Throw Should I Use?10/02/2020TTRPG
- So You Want To Buy A Person's Life?29/10/2019TTRPG
- Lost In Space, a Savage Worlds One Sheet30/04/2018TTRPG
- Gnoll Caverns, a Savage Worlds One Sheet16/04/2018TTRPG