Wednesday, March 28, 2018

OSR Commentary The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual & Dungeon Design Commentary

I've been doing a lot of thought about B/X Dungeons & Dragons almost all of yesterday. By the time Moldvay Cook Dungeons & Dragons was in our area back in Seventy Nine the first Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual was hitting us players hard in the dungeons. My PC's  must have died about a hundred times back in the Seventies & early Eighties. It was a part of a learning curve as a player & to some extent as a dungeon master.

Using various edition materials was no big deal back among us in grade school & it seems this method has always stuck with me as a dungeon master. The idea of the  adventure environment shaping the monster encounters goes back to growing up with my family whose always had a very close interest in the wilderness. Ecology & hunting went hand in hand back in the small town in New York state and then later on in Connecticut. Any abandoned or ruined buildings always had animals in them the second the opportunity came up. So to a certain extent the idea of dungeons & ruins having lairs within them isn't far from my imagination.
The mega dungeon as urban adventure location has always had a certain appeal for me as a dungeon master. Chaos & evil moving into take over as an opportunity presents itself as the older residents of a place died off was some something logical in my mind when I was younger. To a certain extent it was the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual first edition book that was responsible for this. 

Spending hours pouring over it gave me as a dungeon master ideas after taking some tid bit in a monster entry & then running with it. To a certain extent this was something that came from  of  Holmes Basic D&D boxed set & Moldvay Basic D&D boxed set overlapping.

As players we'd mix & match various OD&D, B/X Dungeons & Dragons, & Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition resources as needed. The Monster Manual made a certain path into dungeons very dangerous. The monsters ecology wasn't writ in stone from the wrought pages of The Dragon, yet. Sure there was the occasional 'ecology of ' articles here & there but the adventure  fields were wide open. To me they still are!

The first edition Monster Manual set the tone for dungeon exploration because it brought the monsters forward in the imaginations of the dungeon master & players. I'm trying to collect my thoughts very quickly here & pick the wisps of memory from the swirling thoughts of dungeons, dice, snacks, & cracking open of cans of Pepsi and 70's pizza. The Monster Manual gave insights into the monsters that the B/X sets presented which gave them life on hundreds of pages of graph paper.
Even today the backgrounds of the monsters were determined by the dungeon, adventure, & campaign. The fact is campaign is everything for monster placement. Yet time & again it seems to be the opposite today. Parameters are so narrowly defined & there seems to a much smaller venue for the player's imaginations.

Dungeon masters it seems at times don't leave themselves enough room to allow the players to fill in the blanks. There should always be a sense of mystery & mythology about the dungeon & adventure locations. Time & again I find that much of this same dungeon & design philosphy applies to the myriad of retroclone systems.

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