Dungeon Contractor


Another expose' on the reality behind the blissful lives of TV shows. This one examines America's favorite blended family (except possibly for Step by Step) who solved all their problems in thirty minutes.

A behind the scenes mockumentary of Scooby-Doo and his associates, The Meddling Kids. Are they really a band of 20something crime-fighters, or something much more insidious?

Sit right down and you'll hear a tale, a tale of dirty tricks. That started in this tropic port, aboard this pirate's ship. Five prisoners that sailed that day would squeal or endure. You get the point. The Prisoner and Gilligan's Island come together to examine some mysteries that needn't be that way.

Letter to Amy O., Initiate Referee. Last missive oh so long ago you hit me up for advice on running a game. I stalled on it for the main reason that I took so much advice. Back in the day I read books, went to seminars, critically observed games at cons and did anything I could to try and learn what the other side of the table is supposed to be doing. Because I feel like I've stolen my ideas from so many other places, because I spent so long being pedantic about the praxis, I have never felt comfortable doing it, expecting the role to be better filled by some mythical game-mavens out there. But if there's a debt, which there is, I am willing to fill it, so I will.

This week will require a little homework on your part. Steal some money from whomever you steal money from in your life (boss, significant other, parents) and get yourself three things: masking tape, a stepladder and a measuring device. A yardstick works if you live in a land with yards, and this will be geared towards the non-metric for reasons to soon become obvious.

Opening Aside: Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil is a title that makes me laugh endlessly. The image in my mind? A group of adventurers walking in, looking around, saying "yep, still evil" and leaving.

The most underused sense in gaming is smell. This is not unnatural. The human axis of experience does not revolve around smell. Smell is the background music of our lives, never the action taking place on the screen. A particular smell may send us towards memory or thought, much the way different musical themes will do the same thing in a movie or opera. Consequently, this is what makes it so hard to implement in a game. In real life smell goes unnoticed so often that it only is noticed if there is a darn good reason for it to be. Bringing it up in a game can seem unnatural.

This discussion over dungeon construction became far too theoretical over practical. Where I had hoped to discuss nails and material weights I ended up talking gravitational waves. No, that's not the best analogy. I ended up talking zoning laws and building permits, the social side of dungeon construction. Truthfully, this is the side that no one wants to talk about, because it is the dreadful side. It is the bureaucratic side, the dull side, the side that is all regulation and not creative freedom.

But how do you know? How do you ever know what is worth stealing? Sure, if looking at it causes a "wow" reaction, that's a fair sign there might be some worthwhile qualities present. Obviously, you want to use it if it is a good dungeon. But if a good dungeon is only defined by its purpose in an adventure, then how could it be good?

The singular most important skill of any dungeon designer is the ability to plagiarize. If you are going to make it to the top in this business, you are going to have to steal as much as you can. Why? Everything you steal is one less thing that you have to think about. It's like that old saying about midgets and giants.

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