(4/5) D&D Theory - the toolbox

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the inner sphere
Picture: The inner sphere. From The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (TSR) by Jeff Easley.

Part one, the overview, is here. But if you're not into D&D then what's the point. Credits repeated at the end.

This post is the most theoretical and throws up more questions than it answers. When comparing old school play with the linear story drive of the Dragon Lance series, we then ask what constitutes a good adventure? But we are talking about pre-written adventures. So first real question: if we like the old school play, do we need pre-written adventures at all?

Old school gamer and blogger James Maliszewki really likes TSR's The Lost City.

I played that early on too. What he likes about it is how the dungeon crawl, the suggested expansions and the minimal but idea laden background form a kind of toolbox.
I suppose the the game/system itself is a toolbox with which you create your own games. But  the toolbox adventure suggests a setting to start you off, but leaves the story and goals totally open. 

In his defence, Hickman later talked about his story games as being not so much linear as being a "closed matrix." There is a story and an end but the players can go through the locations and events in any manner they like. But purists say that as long as the events and final goal is pre-determined it will be railroading

So you might say that as long as any goals or story are planned, you get railroading and therefor lose pure play, in the old school sense. Something seems wrong with this reasoning to me. Perhaps it is the premise. We are off adventure construction and onto the mechanics of the gameplay itself. So, luckily, in the next post I introduce someone who can define our terms very well. 

For now I'm happy with the looser idea of a toolbox. An adventure that provides material for the players and DM, but both retains some flexibility in its outcomes and provides glimpses into the further world. 


James Maliszewski (Grognardia Blog):

If you then read comments and surf around, you will find a lot more discussion and materials. I have linked the main ones that I found and liked - and that I'm going to borrow from heavily. 

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This page contains a single entry by Andy Best published on August 8, 2012 4:36 PM.

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