Friday, August 6, 2010

Gygax's Minimalist Dungeon


The two main things that started me thinking about minimalist dungeons are the description of Blackmoor in Dave Arneson's First Fantasy Campaign, Tegel Manor, and this photo of Gary Gygax running Greyhawk.

If you zoom in you can see that there just isn't a whole lot of text there. Photo courtesy of Philotomy.

Again I am not aiming to duplicate the past but seeing what we can learn from this approach for the dungeons we create and publish today.



8 comments:

Al said...

The map is interesting too - on paper, a seemingly random array of simplistic square and lines, but reading about how he describes these areas, you'd think they are much more elaborate. I'm getting the impression Gary's notes and maps were little more than a "key" for the "real megadungeon": which was largely memorized and improvised.

Icarus said...

Which is why gamemastery is an art. One that can be appreciated by anyone who has played the role.

Grendelwulf said...

Amen, Brothers!

And I reckon that is why the original Greyhawk Castle never was published because so much was in his head and he undoubtedly revised it countless times through continuous play.

I barely ever wrote much down for my own games to avoid teh occasional nosey group that would attempt to peek at my notes. Heck, I used to leave "disinformation" for them all the time. They caught on.

Photos like this one and others (there are a couple out there) is why I'd echo otehrs opinions that it would be cool to see a replica-binder be sold with EGG's hand drawn maps and one-page notes like this. It would be cool to see the bare bones, and would hopefully encourage more creativity in DMs. Everything doesn't have to be graven in stone to have fun!

Ciao!
GW

scottsz said...

Are there any high resolution versions of that photo available - I'd love to zoom in and adjust the imaging to get at that map...

Grendelwulf said...

Here are two links

One is another Gygax binder pic shown HERE, and the other, I believe, is from his red-shirt picture that someone zoomed into, shown HERE.

If I come across another link, I'll let you know. . .

Ciao!
GW

Grendelwulf said...

Better late than never,
here is the larger file of EGG's redshirt pic, shown HERE.

Ciao!
GW

scottsz said...

Grendelwulf, you rock.

Scott said...

Thank you, "Grendelwulf", for those links! Do we have any idea which level that is we're seeing...?