Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Designer's Notes: It's a Trap!

I don't talk about it often, but I'm a/was a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons. I dove into Wizards of the Coast's 3rd edition like a pool on a scorching summer day. Finally, I thought, a edition that could be mine. I bought every book that came out, I visited the site regularly, I even did some scutwork for some of their authors on the sly. I thought I was going to be published there. For a while Dungeons and Dragon was as dear to me as GURPS is now. DnD 3.5 came out and I sort of lost interest. We'd been promised that they weren't going to churn new editions and they did... exactly that. Add that to the fact that I was under a huge amount of stress in 2004-2005(ish) and I nearly had a nervous breakdown because I couldn't fit a campaign premise into d20 Future. It wasn't the reason for said breakdown, but it was the last straw. I'm not going to get into it, but I never picked up a Dungeons and Dragons book again after that. During my recovery my best friend, C., said "Hey, let's play GURPS! Your idea will fit there perfectly." Now, to be honest this was GURPS 3rd edition, but I looked at the system in a whole new light. I'd played and ran it before off and on (mostly using the World of Darkness stuff) and it was my 5th preferred system at the time (after DnD, Palladium, WoD, and BESM). Anyways, the reason I'm blathering is because the core of this article came from my excessive (and ridiculous) notes for a homebrew-based random trap table. I had to rejigger, well, everything, but the idea came from something I wrote for my Forgotten Realms campaign.
          Actually writing "It's a Trap!" took next to no time, I knew what I wanted, I had a lay out already in mind, much of the concept work was done, and I was focused. I read every Dungeon Fantasy book I had to make sure I could adjust the material if needed. It took about 52 hours total to get everything and trimmed. What did take a lot of time were the tables. It was my first ever table-heavy  article and I wanted to get it as right as I could so Steven didn't have a brain hemorrhage. That took nearly 60 hours by itself as I obsessively went back and forth between formatting view and regular view and double checked the style guide. Oy. That was a bit maddening. I did it all on a self-imposed deadline too, because I wanted to have a horse in the race for the Dungeon Fantasy II Pyramid issue. I was ultimately rejected because it was too long and couldn't be fit in and eventually published in the Dungeon Fantasy III issue. So...I waited. Ten months went by and I've got a email saying they're using it. That was one of the hardest articles I've had to sit on to date, people kept talking about traps on the forums and I couldn't say more than "I submitted something to deal with this - no idea if it'll ever be published." Surprisingly, most of it was published, except for a small snippet (see below) and I've thought about writing a "Dungeon Fantasy X: Dungeoncraft" supplement. It would include expanded rules for traps, random map generation using die rolls, and all other fun things that a GM could use to set up a campaign in 30 minutes or less for Dungeon Fantasy. Anyways, here is the snippet that was taken out:

N is for “N”ot Enough Traps!

Power levels and point totals might vary from one adventuring party to another. To better account for this, the GM may wish to modifier the die rolls for some of the tables. N is the number of PCs and trap-disarming companions they have with them. Add 1 for every such capable PC, but subtract 1 for every two non-capable PCs (round down). Then use this number to modifier the die roll for the Trap Difficulty table. Therefore, an party with a thief, a wizard, a cleric, and a barbarian have a N of 0. 

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