Monday, August 31, 2009

Castles & Crusades and the Benefits of One Session Adventures

I finally get a day off to do some writing and I've done nothing. Here I have all this time on my hands and I haven't written except for the few blogs I commented on. I passed the time by listened to the latest RPG Circus, which was pretty good and watched an episode of Big Bang Theory which I'd seen at least three times before. What I should be working on is the Castles & Crusades adventure I've been writing and planning for a month or more now. I'm blogging to get my creative juices flowing and my fingers moving.

The first leg of the adventure is written. Just need to do some edits and waiting for a few art pieces. The second leg is laid out and the writing begun, but this is where I am stalled. The third leg, the climax is outlined just waiting to be written. The goal is to build three connecting adventures where each part can be played in a single session. A single session to me is a three hour time period. That's about what I try to limit my sessions to unless we are in the middle of a grand daddy of a brawl.

There has been a resurgence of 'mega-dungeons'. And I love the thought of a sprawling dungeon that has hundreds of levels and thousands of rooms, but in my game, it's not practical and it gets boring after a while. It's like a movie where every scene there is a fight or some kind of violence going on. It may be powerful and thoughtful in the beginning, but after a while you grow numb. Please don't think I am bashing mega-dungeons because I am not. In my writer's mind's eye, when I imagine the depths and countless passages and rooms and horrible creatures hunting one another it is awesome to think about.

A while back I bought a few books from a d20 game called Dungeon World. It is basically a game that is one entire dungeon. This may not be the greatest example since the game itself is not good. It reminds me of the old TSR modules where rooms and monsters are static, waiting for the players to arrive to activate them. I can't imagine trying to detail the interaction between the rooms and levels of a mega dungeon. I know Fight On! was putting out different levels of a big dungeon, not sure if it qualifies for a mega-dungeon. How big does a dungeon need to be to qualify as a mega dungeon? It all sounds fun, but tedious after a while and then the players start the dreaded grind. Meaning, the players aren't paying attention to details, they just repeat a checklist of actions.

My preference for now, which could change by Thursday, is the smaller scale adventures with a good story line. Or at least I hope a good story line. It allows me as a GM (or CK if you prefer) to develop back stories for the characters and the campaign. To help the players develop their characters with details and choices made early on. It gives the players short term goals to achieve and keeps them engaged. It allows the player's the shape the world in small areas, as simple as saving a village, but no less important for those villagers who are now an ally of the characters which may become important later on.

Hope my rambling made some sort of sense. My fingers are loosened up and I'm ready to get to work on part 2. The first part of the adventure I hope to have up by this weekend.


  1. Agreed - I prefer mini-dungeons and small dungeons. I like the ability to play through them in one session, and they don't feel like as much of a stretch to my suspension of disbelief.

    That's why most of the dungeons I post to my blog are nice and small.