Monday, November 12, 2007

From the Division of Lonely Fun*

Today I worked out a little solo play dungeon creation game using tracing paper, tape, different colored pens, and Go stones.

The game uses a mix of random tables, mechanic interactions, and player choices to drive the evolution of the dungeon environment. Dungeon history is divided into epochs. In the Dwarven epoch, for example, a large Dwarven city dominates the dungeon. in the Age of Monsters, the city is abandoned and small monster bands vie for supremacy and resrouces. The game produces two artifacts, a dungeon map, and a history log.

The dungeon map is created on successive sheets of tracing paper. Each layer corresponds to a historical epoch. During each epoch, monsters and civilizations move in and repurpose the artifacts of previous eras for their use. In a paritcular era the dungeon map will typically show groups of creatures, relations between them, regions under their control, major treasrues, tunnels, and landmarks.

The chronology is a record of all the events occuring during the game, like so:

139: New Grandash attempts to raid Red Iron Colony, but are driven off.
New Grandash is abandoned, with Red Iron Dwarves looting its treasures
(such as they are).

140: Stendec the Minotaur attempts to set up a lair in Red Iron territory,
but is driven off with some loss of life.

141: Tupelo’s Goblins found a camp in the old Dwarven workshops. They
quickly expand their territory, discovered a cache of Dwarven gold.
Stendec raids the goblins for food in the winter. Red Iron Dwarves
send a raiding party after the Minotaur, but only succeed in driving
him out of his lair to another location.

142: Drawn by rumors of monsters and gold, a party of five brave
adventurers enters the underground.

You can review the whole log from playtest 1 here.

* I'm not sure who coined the phrase "lonely fun". It's a mostly perjorative term for solo-gaming in the absence of a gaming group, but it's one I like to appropriate to cover all kinds of solo-gaming.

Update: This game is now called How to Host a Dungeon, and it has it's own Web page:

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