Dungeon Blues

edited September 2010 in Story Games
So, elsewhere on the internets, I was reading a discussion about "Dungeonpunk", which strayed a bit into a discussion about what "punk" actually meant, and there was a brief side tangent about how a lot of people's conceptions about dungeonpunk really sounded more like Metal than Punk.

This got me thinking about other genres of music applied to the dungeoncrawling environment, but the that intrigues me the most, despite having little idea how to accomplish it, is "Dungeon Blues". It's a weird juxtaposition, but one like it could work pretty well, given the right treatment. Characters full of regrets, exploring a melancholy and soulful labyrinth. Lost in the depths.

So, what do you think, Story Games? How do you play (or run) Dungeon Blues?

Comments

  • edited September 2010
    Run it like a Tom Waits album. I think we did that once.

    Also very cool post!
  • Sweet.

    Maybe you start with the bad news: this labrynth is impossible to solve your way out of, your sorceress girlfriend just sold you down the river styx, someone else already gutted the place of treasure.

    And then you rethink what a dungeon encounter is...

    Maybe the members of the party are succumbed by weakening forces - metaphysical malaise, jadedness, the sting of betrayal, shock at their own barbarism. Contending with these forces could be a big thing. Trying to rope one another back to hope.

    I'd imagine a very personal rapport with the monsters. The devil shows up in a tunic, every once in a while, to taunt you or provoke you. The Dragon just let you take his gold when you came for it, but promised you he'd come knockin' for a favour sooner or later. Said he was basically buyin' it in advance. The river of hell demands you tell it stories, and ya never wanna tell THOSE sorts of stories.

    Oh! Oh!

    Since a dungeon is typically linear, once you've slain the big bad and are making your way back through, retracing your steps, you'll encounter all the same battle sites and what not, but see them in a different light - in the cold, illuminating quiet. No crash of battle to colour your emotions and actions. Just you, the treasure you won, and the goblin tribes you slaughtered to get it.
  • Do you read House of Leaves before you play?
  • A quote that sprang to mind:

    Luke: There's something not right here... I feel cold. Death.
    Yoda: [points to a cave opening beneath a large tree] That place... is strong with the dark side of the Force. A domain of evil it is. In you must go.
    Luke: What's in there?
    Yoda: Only what you take with you.


    Thinking about character hooks: Lost Love. Lost Faith. Low Status. Low Wealth. Old Age (Lion in Winter). Anything else?
  • edited September 2010
    I think Dungeon Country might be more fun - elf teens racing wagons in the hills, getting drunk and taunting the orcs, meeting their sweeties for a roll in the hay before a rousing horseback ride - and lets not forget the solstice jamboree and subsequent dance!

    As for dungeon blues, I think it would work well as a fantasy version of Jarheads. A bunch of soldiers, far from home, who miss their wives, not actually fighting but lots of prep and sitting around. Battles happen but not on their flank. Screwed up supply lines. Boasting of things that may or may not have actually happened. Long marches. Infighting. Celebrating victories wherein you were in the back lines. I think a key aspect should be written letters to one's wife/girlfriend/lover/etc. as many blues songs are addressed to one's absent love.
  • I also considering, briefly, Dungeon Techno, a dungeon mechanistically generated by gradually introducing repeating themes of increasing complexity. And a strong sense of otherworldliness. Probably a touch of transhuman-fantasy in there, as well.
  • I got the Wizard Done Been Betrayed By His Evil Apprentice blues.

    She took my wagon, my familiar, all my spellbooks... dang I miss that familiar.

    I got the blues so bad I can only use spells which have no somatic components.
  • I tried to do something similar to what you're describing with Pilgrims to Ruin. I don't know if the mechanics actually work to provide that experience, but the design intent was definitely aimed in that direction. Except by default it's not a dungeon but a ruined city, but I've wanted to try and run a classic dungeoncrawl with it for a while.
  • Posted By: BenhimselfSo, elsewhere on the internets, I was reading a discussion about "Dungeonpunk", which strayed a bit into a discussion about what "punk" actually meant, and there was a brief side tangent about how a lot of people's conceptions about dungeonpunk really sounded more like Metal than Punk.
    Interesting. I suppose in proper Dungeon Punk, you'd play as an orc, and call it a victory when you die spitting in a paladin's eye. Which, with the proper system, players, and of course soundtrack. . . could really be a hell of a good time.
  • If you search RPG.Net for "Fantasy F***ing Vietnam", there's an awesome thread about running a game set in the campaign to liberate the Mines of Moria from goblins, using Vietnam War movie tropes. I think that would be a great way to express Dungeon Blues.
  • edited September 2010
    Posted By: Matt SheridanPosted By: BenhimselfSo, elsewhere on the internets, I was reading a discussion about "Dungeonpunk", which strayed a bit into a discussion about what "punk" actually meant, and there was a brief side tangent about how a lot of people's conceptions about dungeonpunk really sounded more like Metal than Punk.
    Interesting. I suppose in proper Dungeon Punk, you'd play as an orc, and call it a victory when you die spitting in a paladin's eye. Which, with the proper system, players, and of coursesoundtrack. . . could really be a hell of a good time.

    I envisioned something more urban fantasy/horror with homeless teens engaged in urban exploration. Actually, Neverwhere comes really close to what I imagine.
  • Posted By: DannyKIf you search RPG.Net for "Fantasy F***ing Vietnam", there's an awesome thread about running a game set in the campaign to liberate the Mines of Moria from goblins, using Vietnam War movie tropes. I think that would be a great way to express Dungeon Blues.
    Is Fantasy Vietnam really "blues", though? I don't really associate constant crushing tension punctuated by moments of extreme terror as, well, bluesy. Admittedly I haven't listened to everything the genre has to offer, though.

    At a certain point "blues" has to compromise to "dungeon" instead of just vice versa, though, I suspect.
  • What about Dungeon Jazz? Everyone takes turns meandering through the dungeon, taking the longest, most circuitous route they can come up with, then you go back to the tavern and everyone pretends you're interesting.
  • edited September 2010
    Posted By: Ron HammackWhat about Dungeon Jazz? Everyone takes turns meandering through the dungeon, taking the longest, most circuitous route they can come up with, then you go back to the tavern and everyone pretends you're interesting.
    lol! so true.

    BTW, this dungeon blues idea sounds awesome. Ditto Dungeon Punk. Could you link to the "elsewhere on the internets", Ben?
  • Sure, it's an rpg.net thread, "So What Is Dungeonpunk?"

    It doesn't get into the idea of "punk" in a musical sense of the term "punk" for a couple of pages, though.
  • edited September 2010
    Posted By: mease19 I envisioned something more urban fantasy/horror with homeless teens engaged in urban exploration. Actually, Neverwhere comes really close to what I imagine.
    It's 1977 and the True Queen of England is a 17-year-old squatter with Biro-blue hair and bloody knuckles. The thing on the throne of the British Empire is neither queen nor Windsor nor human. And now, on the eve of its Silver Jubilee--and the monstrous act it was born to perform--its faceless servants hunt through squats and tube tunnels and blitzed ruins for the True Queen and her handful of loyal, unknowing subjects. God save the Queen.
  • edited September 2010
    I think D&D is dungeon blues, for a couple of reasons:

    - like the blues is to all subsequent Anglo popular music, all subsequent RPGs ring changes on or consciously reject parts of D&D

    - as Mearls says, "OD&D is like jamming with a band. A lot of stuff gets made up on the fly, and when we find something interesting everyone just rides with it." Familiarity with the basic elements of the blues is the bedrock from which bands go off on wild improvisations.

    - you can map different takes on the blues onto currents within D&D: it has its own retro-minded grognards, its Jack White stylists and reinventors, its stoopid this-will-be-better-if-it's-louder-and-has-fireworks cock-rockers. (KISS = RIFTS).

    - prog epics are blues if you squint at them hard enough, but for me the best D&D starts with you waking up in the morning without a meal to eat or shoes on your feet, and ends with you shrugging off the death of your friends and loved ones, because you all knew that was coming when you went into the dungeon.

    EDIT: I also really like the idea of dungeon techno; the idea of repetition and building to the point where minor variations on a brutal heartbeat rhythm become dramatic really catches something I think is important about D&D. My games tend to find a different kind of joy in repetition, more laid back and warm, less likely to build to a frantic ecstacy, so maybe what I'm saying is that repetition of simple satisfying elements is key to the blues too?
  • Posted By: BenhimselfPosted By: DannyKIf you search RPG.Net for "Fantasy F***ing Vietnam", there's an awesome thread about running a game set in the campaign to liberate the Mines of Moria from goblins, using Vietnam War movie tropes. I think that would be a great way to express Dungeon Blues.
    Is Fantasy Vietnam really "blues", though? I don't really associate constant crushing tension punctuated by moments of extreme terror as, well, bluesy. Admittedly I haven't listened to everything the genre has to offer, though.

    At a certain point "blues" has to compromise to "dungeon" instead of just vice versa, though, I suspect.

    Maybe it should be about veterans from the dungeon, returning to their home towns with their scars and their +1 swords, trying to find themselves again in towns that don't recognize them and where their sweetheart married the butcher because they were missing and presumed dead.
  • prog epics are blues if you squint at them hard enough, but for me the best D&D starts with you waking up in the morning without a meal to eat or shoes on your feet, and ends with you shrugging off the death of your friends and loved ones, because you all knew that was coming when you went into the dungeon.
    I admit I first considered D&D to be Dungeonpop, but you make a decent argument.

    Questions for character generation: "Why would the death of ____ pain you?" for each other PC, perhaps.
  • Mcdaldno, I love the idea of a game based on adventurers coming back out of a dungeon - "But Then We Came Out". The blood drives, the adrenaline subsides. PTSD sets in, the disruptive impact of sudden wealth and fame.
  • That'd be pretty boss. "What did you leave behind in the dungeon?" "What did you bring back with you?"
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