Lunchtime Dungeon Crawl Campaign
there. Ive been gaming since I was in junior high, back in 1979.
For the last decade of that stretch of time, Ive been doing it professionally,
first as an editor and then a creative director for TSR/Wizards of the
Coast. I cut my teeth on the 1st-edition AD&D rules; I never
even owned a boxed set. Ive played in or run lots of different kinds
of games over the last 22 years, which doesnt make me special, but
does make me feel old sometimes. For the past five years or so, Ive
been running a very entertaining D&D game one lunchtime a week
for my coworkers.
working for a game company can have an adverse effect on your ability
to game. Or maybe having children causes it. Whatever the reason, I realized
one day back in the hallowed halls of TSR, Inc., that I wasnt getting
enough Dungeons & Dragons in my life, and I had a hankering
to start up a little game. I sent a message around to all my coworkers,
suggesting that anyone who cared to participate should roll up a 1st-level
character and join me over lunch. The response was a little overwhelming.
I wound up with about 16 people that first day, and the thought briefly
crossed my mind that splitting the group into two separate campaigns would
be a smart idea. The situation, however, soon worked itself out without
the necessity for a split.
first day, I had a fellow who played a thief who mumbled (he roleplayed
the part too well; none of us could really figure out what he wanted his
character to do), a wizard and a fighter who were conjoined twins attached
at the tips of their pinkies, and a lot of other silly stuff. Hey, you
try to work up a serious game setting with a room full of professional
designers! There were lots of jokes, but we were having fun, and no one
cared that things moved at a crawl. Unfortunately, my DMing skills were
a little rusty, and I wound up killing off several of the characters before
they managed to get to the dungeon. Some of their players decided not
to come back. That, coupled with the fact that -- as with all organized
activities -- there was a substantial drop-off by the third session, left
me with about the right number of people.
the years since then, people have dropped out, and others have jumped
in to take their place. Not one of the original participants is still
involved, with the obvious exception of me. As the title suggests, its
not much more than hacking and slashing. Story continuity has never been
at the forefront of anyones mind in this campaign. The game migrated
west when Wizards of the Coast bought TSR, and there has been the occasional
hiatus, but overall, its kept going. These days, we use the sessions
as a means to have fun and also to get more proficient with the new edition
of the rules.
Say Its a Dungeon Crawl . . .
and when I say it, Im not using the term lightly. There are constraints
to running a game for only one hour a week. You cant waste time
on trivial things like roleplaying or bookkeeping. No one wants to spend
any more effort than is necessary on background material. I dont
make the characters "figure out" magic; they just learn what
it is when they find it. There is no explanation for how the characters
met or how they found the dungeon; they just live to explore it.
found that the optimum number of active participants in this campaign
is eight. On any given week, one or two of those people will be on vacation,
out sick, have a conflicting meeting, or are just too bogged down in work
to be able to play. No problem. Even losing half our number still leaves
us with a standard party. From week to week, it is rare for the same set
of characters to enter the dungeon. Usually, a session consists of exploring
one or two rooms and then heading back to town. If, by chance, we have
to stop in the middle of a battle, I just make a copy of the map, and
characters who are missing from the previous week are replaced by new
ones. It may sound a little goofy, but it works. Like I said, continuity
is no big thing.
- The campaign really
is a great big dungeon, with no rhyme or reason. I have filled a number
of poster-sized sheets of graph paper with lots of rooms containing
tricks, traps, critters, and treasure. I get to go hog wild with this,
coming up with every sort of bizarre feature imaginable: Rooms where
gravity is reversed, huge lakes, strange teleportation devices, magical
keys that must be collected and used in unison, and even a giant magical
chipper/shredder have been a part of my dungeon. You name it, its
probably been put in there. When I get tired of something, I just stick
some sort of magical portal in the next room my adventurers wander into,
and zap! Theyre in the middle of a brand new map. Works like a
charm every time.
more about the Lunchtime Dungeon Crawl: