When thinking back at fond memories of playing Dungeons & Dragons, I almost always recall sessions and situations where a greater goal was completed. The moments that have stuck the most in my head are the ones where the group completed a quest/mission that had meaning, and ultimately smoothed out the rough edges of a longer story. I bring this up because as I journey through my own personal goal of becoming a better game designer, I want to find ways that provide for this experience in a more meaningful way.
Around the time that I started work on Monster Vault : Threats to the Nentir Vale in 2010, I was exploring the more philosophical foundations of RPG design principles. What I had learned from mentors and experience alike, is that exploration and discovery are just as important (if not more) than system architecture. With a simple change in tone and message, you could inspire readers to paths you never considered prior.
Fast forward to today. As we approach the release of Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook, it fills me with excitement that readers might find that same familiar spark. So, I pose to you these questions:
What was your favorite moment of exploration? Did you ever have a revelation as you discovered something that just made the story click? Finally, what is the single most important thing that all adventurers should bring with them into a dungeon?
About the Author
Matt James is a freelance game designer from Washington, DC. In addition to many articles in Dragon and Dungeon magazine, his works include Soldiers of Fortune (Open Design/Kobold Quarterly), Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale, Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook, and Lair Assault: Attack of the Tyrantclaw. Follow Matt on Twitter at www.twitter.com/matt_james_rpg