Friday, October 15, 2010

Analyzing Dungeons

One of the most brilliant analysis of dungeons was written by Melan and can be found on Enworld here. It was posted a while ago but I don't think many know about it outside of a few forums like Knights and Knaves and of course Enworld.

He develops a technique of analyzing how various dungeon flows by using line diagrams. He uses it to analyze several newer and older dungeons including some classics. To summarize, dungeons that are laid out where their encounter proceed in a linear fashions are generally not as well like as those which branches and in his opinion the best dungeons are where the encounters are in various loops that allows the players the full freedom to pick where they go.


Cameron Wood said...

Thanks for posting that! I came across for the first time a couple of days ago as I was looking for something else and I forgot to bookmark it.

Stefan Poag said...

I have mixed reactions to the conclusions Melan draws. Heartwise, I'm right there with him. I have great memories of games of "dungeon exploration" as the essence of the game I grew up playing. Unfortunately, it seems the only folks I can find who would consider that entertaining are people I only know virtually. And the "giants adventures" by Gygax were some of the adventures I remember enjoying most as a player --- and they seem to have a more 'linear' arrangement than most mega-dungeons (i.e.: you have to fight your way through a lot of guards to get to the end of the adventure (where you go on to the next giant stronghold). The flesh-and-blood players I know are pretty bored by the idea of the 'dungeon as the campaign.'
Part of it may be how we play now. We are lucky if we can manage to get together for 4 to 5 hours every 2 weeks to play. Back when we were kids, we could play several times a week.

paulg said...

Justin Alexander made several posts about the dungeon design methods seen in Paul Jaquays' adventures, and used Melan style diagrams. Well worth reading.