... now with 35% more arrogance!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Man vs. Dungeon

No, it's not a very original post title. Subterranean Design did it, first, for much the same reason. I've been watching the various bare-bones survival shows -- goofy ones like Man, Woman, Wild and Dual Survival, phonier ones like The Colony, and the Bear Grylls ones, Worst-Case Scenario and Man vs. Wild. I mostly watch them for ideas, figuring out what a cave exploration or a journey through a desert or jungle is actually going to look like, especially without modern equipment.

They are also good examples of problem-solving and improvisation. If you want to explain to someone what "challenge the player, not the character" should look like and calm some of their fears while sparking their interest, describe it as "Man vs. Dungeon". Not "player vs. GM", which is what scares some people. In a player-challenge-oriented game, the GM shouldn't be concocting scenarios that will be almost certain death traps or resource drains, but instead judging whether the players' brainstormed solution to a problem will automatically succeed, automatically fail, or require some random resolution, and which rules to apply.

If the party loses their food, they can hunt or forage.

If they run out of torches, they can make crude replacements.

If they lose their weapons, they can make primitive spears or stone knives.

If they need rope, they can make do with natural replacements, like vines.

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