The osr diaspora is now successful enough and dispersed enough that no-one is in any danger of perceiving me as a leader and I can slink back to my comfortable position of cackling goblin irritant
anyway, watching everyone talk about what lessons do we teach about doing dungeons
and whats the principals of a trap
and we have to teach people how to think for themselves and not be dorks
for without the TEACHING DUNGEON - HOW SHALT ANYONE KNOW HOW TO DUNGEON AT ALL??
actually I was pretty jelly about all the attention everyone elses teaching dungeons were getting
and wanted onto that bandwagon
but then I thought about it for a second and realised
- firstly that would be a lot of work
- second I'm not that good at dungeon design anyway
- thirdly isn;t the very nature of a teaching dungeon slightly boring anyway?
if you want to instil principals in people, isn't it a lot more fun to make...
THE WORST FUCKING DUNGEON EVER!!!
And so it was that I conceived the idea for Backstory Castle, home of the Readaloud Maze, created by the Wizard Bocht Techt purely to be some kind of fucking catastrophe that no-one ever went to
Or to be more precise I had the idea to have the idea of Backstory Castle. I didn't have any of the useful detail-like ideas about how it would work, instead I just thought of a dungeon that was just exactly and precisely the WORST in every possible way
as in, it taught exactly the wrong lessons, both to anyone reading it, anyone running it, and anyone playing in it
lets see if I can have any interesting ideas
I wonder how exquisitely bad we can make something
THE PATHETIC PRODUCTION
Compulsary Tie-In Novels
Just like the RoS released important info through Fortnight, there are a series of Tie-In Novels about minor characters and (despite the insane lore dumps) you cannot understand the actions of major characters without buying and reading those novels.
I think we can definitely combine these - so a giant, 100+ page handout. Its longer than the adventure,
Lets say its formatted for neither US Letter OR A4 size, but could be easily mistaken for either. And if you print it in the wrong format important information is lost.
Full colour - hi rez. Full family and legendary history of everything. Vital hidden clue.
THE AWFUL AESTHETIC
Terrible Text Tone
- "Uh, hey guys" rambling convesational gamer dad text
- Daidacticly autistic hyperdense voice
- LORE DUMPS
ONLY BEIGE OR VIRID PUKE
"The Wizard Bocht Techt rises before you through a pillar of silvery smoke, silvery because it springs from the fountains of the feywild where Boch Techt learned this spell from his Elfen Maiden betrothed before the sad tragedy which seperated them in the Brown Eons many Oolthars (an orcish measure of time) ago. Techt is truly a hoary and sad figure with a long grey beard a tall conical cap upon which stars are ebroidered with a floppy brim. His robes are of the most midnight blue and flow around him like clothes hanging off an old man. They are also embroidered with mysteroius sigils of cryptic design [DC 15 Lore check to realise these sigils are in the language of the Eld Castle folk]. He wears fabulous but worn turkish slippers as if he came recently from his smokey study and smokes a DOUBLE BARRLED pile carved from old oak in the shape of a Griffons Claw (in memory of his defeat of such a beast during the Adventure of the Sleeping Ape), twin curls of silvery smoke as slivery as his sigils and his silver beard wind up from the griffin-clawed pipe his face smiles in a winsome yet also sad way as if weighted down by his many years of thinking about stuff but he has a mischevous gleam in his clever eye and carries a staff with a COCK ON IT BECAUSE THIS WIZARD FFFUUUUUUCCCCKS
"Greetings Adventurers" chuckles Bocht Techt, "hast though come to test mine maze?"
The wyzard wynks saucily.
"Or art thou down to fuck?"
POINTLESSLY RE-NAMED BUT STILL BEIGE AS FUCK MONSTERS!!
Yes! Glark is no longer a Goblin but a Mocron-Reiru!
'Darkbone Hunters' is too perfect - this wins Bocht Techts most flavourful award.
THE INANE INFORMATION DESIGN
BAD BOXED TEXT has to be an absolute must on every page
this is a big deal - Jason Cordova is trying to bring this stuff back and ONLY I IN MY LONELY GENIUS stand in his way
someone has to destroy boxed text forever and that someone is me
so, every major element has to have readaloud boxed text and that text has to introduce every element with its deep historical and thematic meaning FIRST, and at LENGTH, with any useful elements last, and also totally hidden in the huge block of spoken text
"This abyssal chamber was not included on the original plans for Backstory Castle due to the Time God Oct spilling a cuppa Hot Joe onto the plans during his meaningful tussle with the Sorcerer Bocht Techt during the Ovulation Wars of the Nightmare Age, a period forgotten by all. Nevertheless the architect Moongold, (lover of the Elf Queen Hyacinth) used meaningful magic to uncover the room plans during a Sorrowing Moon. The light of that moon impregnated the structure of the ten by ten room giving it a deep and sorrowful cast, something unknown to its current goblin occupant (absent on a d6 roll of 1+) as the sorcery has leeched away over the eons leaving only stone which holds up the ivory plinth on which the goblin sleeps. The plinth was stolen and is missing, leaving no trace and the goblin is out searching for it. The theives of the plinth used a mind eating magic to disguise its theft and any attempt to scry its location leads to instant level drain. This room has doors which lead both in and out."
hmm, what else is terrible?
Rancid Room Keys
Boring; result one = One Orc. Result Two = Two Orcs. Result Three = Three Orcs
To be properly boring tables have to have a lot of the same *kind* of thing in them, differeing only in absract numbering and in no other way;
result A - "Fifteen Leather-Clad Orcs accompanied to two goblin scouts. The Orcs are loyal to the Orc Boss Gark and are searching the halls for intruders."
Result B - "twelve goblins accompanied by five ferocious orcs clad in leather armour. The Goblins are loyal to the Goblin Boss Gloob, who serves the Orc Boss Gark faithfully out of fear. The Orcs serve Gark directly and think themselves better than the Goblins. All are armed with random weapons. Damage - by weapon."
Tables must be split over multiple spreads, either extended laterally with columns going partially onto the next spread, or vertically with rows going onto the next spread, or BOTH!
Tables must be extremely recursive, that is, to complete the roll of any particualr result, you must have to roll on another table, in a different part of the book, which also requires you to roll on ANOTHER table.
The more immedaiately necessary the result is the more recursive the table must be. And even better, some tables have multiple PATHS of recursion - to complete them you have to go to two differnt places in the book and reassemble the results!
So, result B, "twelve goblins accompanied by five ferocious orcs clad in leather armour. The Goblins are loyal to the Goblin Boss Gloob, who serves the Orc Boss Gark failthfully out of fear. The Orcs serve Gark directly and think themselves better than the Goblins*. All are armed with random weapons*. Damage - by weapon."
*See - Orc Motivation Table
*See - Random Weapon table pages 302 to 305 [Obviously this is satire, in the real adventure, no page numbers would be mentioned, you would just have to flip until you find stuff
Vague, Undifferentiated and Uninventive Content
Table results have to be totally uninventive, nothing you couldn't have come up with yourself, and they must be vague enough that they bring no solid diagetically concepts to mind. They should be useless for immediate purposes, badly wieghted so they produce incoherent results over long-term play, and also be very boring to read as a matter of game prep.
An example of Vague Results below
ORC MOTIVATIONS; (two column)
This Orc feels;
7 Like fighting
8 In a Dark Mood
4 lack of food
5 The Orc is hungry
6 The orc is frustrated
7 The Orc wants something
8 What it doesn't have
That's all I got right now. Feel free to
Mind-Crushing Monster Stats!
THE APOCALYPTIC ADVENTURE DESIGN!
The logic of traps and how they interact with the investigation of the imagined world is actually surprisingly subtle, with each version of doctrine having a different interaction with the players and DM and reaching its own meta-stasis over continued play - which actually makes forming a truly, exactly, nightmarishly BAD trap quite a complex equation
lets see what we can consider
Inconsistency - not only must the methodology of the traps be inconsistent *within the diagesis* i.e. it must make no sense when considering the structure of the imagined world
but it must also be inconstant as a matter of design
Types of Traps
the gygaxian tomb of horrors trap - something designed specifically for *adventureres* and to fuck over people who do stuff like D&D players, like HA HA HA YOU THOUGHT AHEAD YOU TWATS!!
the naturalistic vietcong trap - something designed in-world in exactly the way taht an in world agent would make it for in-world reasons - genuinely very hard to find and genuinely potentially deadly but since it follows the logic of that reality, something that can be learnt and ultimately accounted for
the chris mcdowall trap - potentially dangerous but always signalled in some form. The trap as 'problem' primarily, its danger only serving to force investigation and thought, a potential killer but not truly designed to kill
the storygames trap - a trap which is actually an 'event', like a bottle episode of a tv series set in a dungeon. potentially somewhat dangerous but primarily created to prompt complex DRAMA - I hope you wrote an EXTENSIVE BACKSTORY because now you will be reading it out at length to each other.
the NUMBERS trap - like that guy, I forget his name but he makes everything numbers? The torchbearer guy. This trap reduces one particular rules factor on your character sheet by a SPECIFIC NUMEBR oh fuck I hope you don't have to calibrate the equations in the excel sheet you are using to work out who the fuck you are!!
the "dick or dog" Raggi Trap - the trap which puts the pcs and the players into a dirtbag-spiderman style MORAL QUANDRY - do you release the RAPE VAMPIRE? or RAPE the MEAT BUYER? well you have to do ONE OR OTHE OTHER or the WORLD WILL END!! BECAUSE OF YOU! ITS YOUR OWN FAULT FOR GOING ON AN ADVENTURE YOU FOOOOOOLS
Troubling Trap warnings and Stupid Expectation Setting
And then they will fail totally because soemthing utterly incoherent will happen and none of it will make any sense.
Moronic Mono-Motivated Monsters
Only Orcs, Goblins, Skelingtons and RAPE ENGINES exist in Backstory Castle and there are sure as fuck no warnings about the last one.And there are lots of Orcs and Goblins and Skeletons.
And the Goblins sure as fuck don't do anything interesting.
No monster in Backstory Castle wants anything except to stop you going through its room and they all wait in their rooms doing nothing but waiting until you arrive. No monster has any relation with any other. The Goblins have no tricks.
They do have backstory though. Individual and in-depth backstories.
Untill they aren't.
I am reluctant to allow any meaningful treasures but I will accept - random piles of copper coins five meters deep. Half of the coins are actually a 3/4 copper/electrum mix (so you have to calculate the precise value. They have been painted to look like the copper coins which they are mixed in with. They have also been enchanted to explode if examined. The coins are also cursed.
Room after room after room after room after room after room after room after room after room after room after room after BOOM CAMOFLAUGED RAPE ENGINE -
"I gotcha!" Chuckels Bocht Techt emerging from a hidden hole, "now thou are porke'd fore sure, unless thou answerest my mine riddles three!"
YOU LIVE YOU DIE YOU LIVE AGAIN!
There is no escape from Backstory Castle! He he heeee
the Wizard Bocht Techt made a sorcery on it so that if you die in the Readaloud Maze you come back to life in a random place in the maze - just like Doom and the year 2020AD; the only way out is through!