Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Everything is A Dungeon If You Try Hard Enough

I was thinking the other day of a failed Shadowrun mini campaign I ran eleven years ago. This in turn got me to thinking of Shadowrun, and how the game (and any cyberpunk game) works. It’s all basically a heist, and that is effectively what a dungeon crawl is. Especially a Megadungeon, where it’s repeated heists in the same place. I could easily see a Shadowrun Megadungeon where, instead of the traditional Fantasy “further down is scarier” it’s a cyberpunk “further up is scarier” megabuilding.

I’m sure someone smarter has had this idea before, but I think that like, you can turn anything into a dungeon. 

And yes, I know some of you may think Shadowrun isn’t the best example of cyberpunk, but invariably I end up putting sci-fi stuff into my fantasy worlds, I think it’s fair to do the same in your science fiction. That’s basically how you get 40k. Or ET. Or Star Wars.  Pick your poison. 

And each of those worlds has a Megadungeon. 40k has Space Hulks, ET has a crawling medical tent, and Star Wars has the Death Star. 

I think my problem, and part of the reason why my Shadowrun game failed was because I wanted my office buildings to make sense. Which is the dumbest idea I had about any RPG at that point in time. 

Have you ever been in an office? They suck. I’ve worked in one. Uncomfortable chairs. Nothing of real monetary value. Most aren’t decorated. Not much different than a factory, occasionally it’s even just humans reduced to soulless automata, and maybe some interesting team building and gossip at the best. Administrative. Bureaucratic. Boring.  

Not making sense is ok, being Gonzo and weird is ok. Why are there fire breathing ghost dogs on level 12 of this skyscraper? Because they’re fucking fun and a good challenge, that’s why. The same reason there are goblin steampunk robots in level 6 of a dungeon someplace, because Doctor Goblenstein and his Creation, Amaze-O the Metal Man are a good idea. That’s something my players haven’t seen before and will have an interesting time with.  Any office could drastically be improved with the addition of kobolds designed to keep intruders from the snack room without the right password, or vengeful assassins looking to strangle you with a clip-on tie. 

The best part is, that to the workers of this office, that’s just Eric and Jeff, from Security and Accounting. The kobold and assassin are normal, or close enough, for them. 

I think that being more Gonzo is good for RPGs as a game. While yes, we want to make believable worlds, we still have to ask “is this room/scene important to the world/game?” Nobody is upset that Mario doesn’t take a break from stomping goombas to take a dump, and no one wants to watch Simon Belmont pay his water bill and make a grocery list. That isn’t what those games are about, and similarly I don’t think we should get wrapped up in the details as to like, why dungeons don’t all have toilets. That isn’t what D&D is about. 

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