The Evil DM

The Evil DM
The Evil DM

Monday, February 3, 2014

The D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge - Day 3

What was the first dungeon you explored as a PC or ran as a DM?

I created the first dungeon I ran as a DM. It was awful. A friend and I borrowed the books, gathered up all the spare change we could muster, and headed downtown. We found a copy machine. Each copy cost twenty Pfennig. That was about $0.08 per page (the exchange rate was 2.50 marks to the dollar at the time). I created copies of the original three books and Grayhawk.

A short while later I pulled advanced guard duty in Hohenfels, Germany. My duty was to guard the tent full of equipment. The bigger challenge was to stay warm. I drew up my first dungeon on graph paper. The tent did not have any lanterns or sources of light. I pulled my cot next to the flap. I had to open the flap enough for light to shine in, but not wide enough to let out the heat. I drew up a huge dungeon. There was no story. Just a large number of rooms.

I only used that dungeon once. The game was a disaster. After an hour we stopped. I generated everything randomly. The majority of the rooms were empty. I knew there was something wrong but I did not know what the problem was.

Shortly after returning from Hohenfels, my copies of the original books, Grayhawk, Blackmoor, and Eldritch Wizardry arrived. At first, I dismissed Blackmoor. Blackmoor added the Assassin class. I keep trying to figure out what was wrong with my dungeon. Finally, I noticed the Temple of the Frog in Blackmoor.

Blackmoor is the only one of the original books written solely by Dave Arneson. That points out the difference between Gygax and Arneson. The original books controlled by Gygax imply everything is random. Arneson was the storyteller.

Blackmoor was a revelation. I learned from my failure with my first dungeon. I started making all the rooms interesting. The rooms had stuff in them. The dungeon had a reason; though, I admit some of the reasons required a lot of willing suspension of disbelief. Each room in the dungeon had something to make it interesting.

I still have my second dungeon. It is a mega dungeon by today's standards. A few months ago, in my World of Tiglath campaign, a group of players explored a small portion of it. That was fun.

Unfortunately, the US Postal Service destroyed my original copy of Blackmoor when I shipped it back from Germany.

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