I knew that sooner or later I was going to build a megadungeon. It’s the fantasy RPG equivalent of a Hell Week obstacle course. Many try, most fail, and some people lose their minds in the process.
The fantasy genre is overrepresented in our hobby. Of course, there are other popular offshoots, some interpreting and reinterpreting a galaxy far, far away, others wearing tights and capes, others lost in gonzo post-apocalyptic wastelands. But it’s fantasy that’s been there since the beginning, and I suspect will always be with us. This is a good thing.
This may the most personal thing I'll ever write on this blog. But I think it's important that I share it, because I know I'm not alone.
Gaming groups are like first love or a new puppy – they start off full of promise, and then inevitably, they end tragically. And because a game master is always going to be more invested than their players, this creates a low-level anxiety for any GM. It sucks.
There’s term in this hobby I like: Fantasy Heartbreaker. The games on my shelves? They’re the other kind of heartbreaker: the games I never get to play.
My mistake when I played ICRPG the first time was to forget it was a toolbox and that tools can be added to in order to create the game you want to play. What I was missing was character depth to transcend the mechanics.
Long-term play tends to focus on player character progression. Post 3e D&D and Pathfinder have trained us, perhaps addicted us, to the idea that without rewards for progress there is no progress. We seek to unlock our next toy, or feat, or power to prevent boredom and prove that we haven’t wasted our lives. Minimalist games provide opportunities to challenge this way of thinking.