Hunting for Inspiration (& a Wumpus)

Writing for a D&D is different than blog writing, but I doubt that I will be free of the need for inspiration for either exercise. Where do I go for ideas?

My answer is pretty much “everywhere”. I look at photographs of exotic locations and cultures, listen to the world news, watch a nature show, read articles on science & tech, or even just take a long walk with no music to distract me. It’s still hard. Sometimes an idea will simmer on the back-burner in my head for months before things fall into place.

Part of the trouble with me is that I don’t like to borrow too much from movies and fiction. In the rare instances where I write my own game, I usually want to bring a new perspective with me. It makes my job immeasurably more difficult, but it keeps me exploring and questioning the stereotypes and underlying assumptions behind a D&D campaign.

I’ve finally started writing my first dungeon delve. Prior to this, everything has been more ‘open’, I guess—self-contained objectives but suggesting a wider world to explore. Delves feel more isolated to me. Also, the emphasis on challenge is something that I am not accustomed too. I enjoy playing that sort of game, but the chance to do so is the rare exception, not the rule. My relevant experience is not what I wish it would be!

This time, I found inspiration in the classic “Hunt the Wumpus” game from my *ahem* youth. (Wikipedia) I like it because of the unique maze I imagine the rooms as a series of 5-10 inch hex tiles where only one is on the table at a time. It is still for the players to determine their relation to each other and discover how to map.

To explain the odd, disorienting topography of the dungeon, I’m changing the wumpus itself up a bit. This is my lead in for the game:

The old wizard, Yob, seeks your help in clearing out his cellar storage. He assures you that it is not infested with giant rats, or at least it has not been since the wumpus has escaped.

The wumpus is a rare magical creature that can distort the world around it. If a wumpus stays for too long in one place, the distortions can grow so strong as to pinch its lair out of the world and set it adrift in some unknown limbo.

Unfortunately, Yob knew none of this when he first acquired the creature. Having been contained in one place for too long, the wumpus one day woke to find itself in another room entirely and free of its cage. Ever since, it has roamed the basement labyrinth.

“I am afraid that all my valuables will soon be lost forever.” the ancient Yob explains,”I can only see two options now. The beast must be killed or my valuables extracted.”

“But matters have become difficult down there. You see, when the cellar was first dug out, it was designed as a maze to confuse would-be burglars. Since the wumpus broke free, the rooms have shifted–jumbled–my valuables and the traps that I had meant to protect them may now be… elsewhere in the basement.”

So I have the names for twenty rooms that may be found in an old wizards basement and have now set to try to fill them. Progress is slow, but I have one drafted and two or three ideas for others.

I had intended for this to be my first stab at Fourthcore (4th edition D&D) but I’ve been reading through OSRIC lately. I’m considering a further complication by writing the delve for a D&D edition I’ve never played.

Wish me luck!

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~ by Hunter Rose on July 22, 2011.

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