Anyway, this is just a little thought experiment on rules and their impact on play, particularly in a dungeon environment. In this post, I want to write out something that I have thought about for a bit: What if the dungeon (in this case, a megadungeon) was a unique feature in an otherwise mundane and non-fantasy medieval world?
Start with the Sword & Wizardry Core Rules. Allow the players only two character choices: (1) Human Fighters and (2) Human Thieves. In this world--at least on the surface--there is no magic. And there are no elves, giants, or dragons. Just a mundane, medieval world. However, the dungeon and its connection to the mythic Deep Dark fills in the blanks with weird and magical creatures, plus magic items that are not part of the surface world's experience.
There are several objectives in running such a narrow, stripped down version of an already rules-light system:
- Focus play on exploration, rather than tactical combat.
- Focus the players to find different and creative solutions to challenges poised by having such limited options.
- Highlight the sense of danger and weirdness with regards to the dungeon.
- Magic items become highly prized.
There are lots of challenges to running this sort of stripped down dungeon campaign:
- YIKES! No healing spells! Part of this could be offset by adding some first aid skills, dropping in healing potions, pools, etc, and/or allowing some sort of slow recovery of hit points.
- Not much character class choice.
- Lack of magic reduces the party's tactical options and abilities.
- It could just really suck and be boring.
Variations and Options
I have thought of some variations and options:
- Just have one class--Fighters. Perhaps players could add one or two thief skills of their choice to their characters.
- Allow all 3 (or 4) character classes from S&W Core: Cleric, Fighter, and Magic-User (and Thief). Just restrict the race to human.
- Bump up the technology so that player characters have access to early gunpowder weapons.
The tendency with RPGs and gamers is to push for more options and choices in character builds, classes, powers, spells, skills, and abilities. What does a game look like, feel like and play like when the rules go in the opposite direction and provide only very limited options? Does it make it less interesting or more interesting in terms of challenges in play?
Response Posts By Others [Later Edit]
Streamlined Gaming (The Clash of Spear on Shield)
Low Magic With Swords and Wizardry (Bat in the Attic)
Minimalistic Gaming (Gothridge Manor)
Weirder Fantasy (Tales of the Rambling Bumblers)
Megadungeons with Streamlined Rules (Circle of Dar Janix)