Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Dungeon with Better Signage

Part 2 of “Better Boss Battles” is coming tomorrow. I’ve been sidetracked by a fantasy city I’m working on.

Moreso than most fantasy cities (Sharn, Waterdeep, Sigil, Kaer Maga), this city is overtly hostile and dangerous. It doesn’t have a name yet—which is annoying.

But it does have a mission statement:

When I’m typing at my desk, I festoon my peripheral vision with notecards like this. I have a probably bogus theory that doing so keeps the key principles in the back of my mind.

Other inspirations for this city:

• The part of D3: Vault of the Drow that described the eight noble houses, where they stood in the hierarchy, and who their allies and rivals were.

• The planet Aurore, from GDW’s Traveller: 2300, which had immense tides—“immense” as in “anything on the beach when the tide comes in gets obliterated.”

• Another tide thing…part of Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds that involves an incoming tide that rushes into a sea cave, pressing the explorers against the stalactites on the roof.

• Real-world revolutions of recent vintage…Arab Spring, all the 1989 revolutions, etc.

But all that other stuff only works if it feeds the main principle: “It’s a dungeon with better signage.” I’m looking forward to players turning to each other and saying, “I’m running on fumes. We better head out of town.” What a great reversal that will be…


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