Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Infinite Dungeon?

Those articles about procedural content in computer games allowing for effectively infinite play got me thinking in the direction of tabletop games. Because that’s the way I am.

Could that kind of emergent content be generated in a fantasy dungeon setting, and effectively allow a dungeon as large and sprawling as the players are prepared to explore? On the computer, the answer if an obvious yet. No issues there. Indeed that would be more limited than some of the projects going on right now.

On the tabletop though…

image by spreng ben

I think it’s something that could be approached. What follows below is something of a thought experiment.

Mechanics: What would be needed is something to generate monsters, something to generate dungeon level types, and something to act as a timer or end of game trigger. What is not needed is a 3-ring binder of infinite size showing how to do things, and which monster or level type has just been generated. I’d like dice or a wheel on a board to tell me. For the sake of portability if nothing else, monsters that are challenging when you first meet them need to remain so three levels later. Somehow.

Goals: Yeah every game needs a goal. How players complete that goal is kind of up to them. An infinite dungeon by definition can never be completed so the game needs to end some other way. This could be a number of levels explored, a number of type of monster defeated, or player goals reached.

Adventurers: Dungeons need adventurers, because who else would go into a hole in the ground. Miners, I suppose. I wonder if adventurers have considered retraining? There’s a bigger focus on safety and the money is good while times are good. Oops, perhaps too much thought-sharing there.

In most dungeon games the focus in on each player controlling a single adventurer, which is effectively their avatar. If that adventurer dies, their game is over. That won’t be the case here.

Players may control a number of adventurers over the course of the game. Adventurers are summoned by players and leave once their own goals are achieved. Each adventurer is still under the control of a single player, but that player may throw that adventurer’s life away, or else achieve the adventurer’s goals to boost his or her own score at the end of the game.

flooded crypt by rsambrook

Objective: These need to be quest based, because what are dungeons and adventurers without quests? Players gain points when they achieve their own quests and when an adventure they control achieves its objective – something that would trigger the departure of the adventurer and the arrival of another one.

Limiting the Infinite: The game needs a defined end state, to avoid what I like to think of as ‘monopoly syndrome’ where certain games last for hours until stopped by argument. There could by a stack of adventurer cards, and once exhausted the game ends, or once exhausted the game ends when next an adventurer would enter the dungeon.

Hmm. What do you think? Could ‘infinite dungeon’ work?

PS I got all these images from Flickr’s Creative Commons lists. There are some great images there.


This entry was posted on October 18, 2014 by in Game Design, Tabletop and tagged , , , , , , , .
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