If you have missed any of the other blog posts I have written in this series, then you might not know what this is all about. So here is a brief reminder. I started to play D&D with the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D). When I came back to the game, the edition had to advance to 5th edition and things had changed. Although the ruleset is
I have to confess that I started to play D&D when I was, well, a lot younger. My teenage years were filled with adventure creation, module reading and the regular reading of fiction and magazines. (Does anyone else remember the Imagine magazine?). I guess, despite saying that I am not creative, there is a small flicker of that creative flame within me since I always used to come up with character ideas and adventures. But the adventures that we played were considerabl different to the ones we see nowadays.
Adventures in my day were more the equivalent to dungeon crawls. Reflecting the title of the game, dungeons were planned out on squared paper and the rooms carefully numbered. Corridors were created to link together rooms and traps with a single letter ‘S’ often put in unpredictable places to denote a secret door. I would always despair with secret doors. Elves (those dang elves!) had, among other benefits, the ability to detect secret doors on a roll of a 1 on a d6. Remember that there were no electronic dice rolls when I was playing and as the party walked past the secret door, I would roll for the elves and frequently the party would stop, sensing that I had rolled for a secret door and start to actively search for them!
When I started to create dungeons, there was no logic about them at all. In one locked room there was 6 giant spiders lurking on the ceiling and in the room opposite, always behind a locked door, would be 4 Bugbears! There was no logic about who locked them in their perspective rooms or how they even survived in there! Traps were dotted about in random abandonment, again with no consideration about how or who created them. I think I remember that there was some sort of supplement about traps and this was always out to clever place these in order to confuse or kill the party. 60ft deep pits with spikes at the bottom was always effective to achieve this – and with no death saves the party could be eliminated quite effective.
As I progressed with my dungeons/adventures, I started to consider who or why the dungeon had been created. Often this took the form of a crypt (I’ve always favoured crypts!) or a secret abode of an evil wizard. Interestingly enough it was never an evil fighter… were they not good at construction? Of course, the favourite final boss tended to be a dragon. The Monster Manual allowed for dragons of different ages, with their total hit points reflecting the level of the party. I have to admit that I felt that this rather dumbed down dragons. First level characters would run in to attack the ‘sleeping’ dragon, the magic-user firing off their well-saved magic missile and they would be rewarded with ample experience points and treasure.
One thing which I really do remember is creating dungeons with several levels. I actually had an eight level dungeon once. The party would explore the first level and come across the step of stairs leading down to the next level! Should they venture down? or come back later once they had levelled? The decision was always difficult, and several times they would go down only to quickly scurry back to the previous level as they suddenly realised that they needed magical weapons to hit the first monster. I don’t think anyone ever managed to get to the final level – I’ll have to see if I still have the dungeons somewhere. Interestingly it would all be written out on paper and stored in an A4 folder. It’s probably decayed over the years!
The last topic I would like to talk about in this section was the wandering monster table. This was so much fun. Basically, as the party explored the dungeon there was always a chance that they would be disturbed by a wandering monster. My favourite was always a carrion crawler – I think they could paral
I am definitely going to write another post on dungeon adventures, mainly because I have so many fond memories which, looking back at them, really make me smile.
Adventures have certainly changed. There are numerous other settings used and there is much more of an emphasis on role-playing – more about this in a future post. I actually do remember those dungeon crawls fondly and you might actually be thinking that they seem irrelevant in a post about you never having it so good. I think the reason I have written about them is how involved and creative the current adventures are. They have progressed from being a step by step stroll through corridors and rooms to adventures with more depth and thought which do, in a way, seem more realistic.
So next time you are engaging on a trek across the wilderness or chasing through the local town then remember the dungeon crawls of yesteryear and remember, you’ve never had it so good.