Better Dungeonkeeping

Amateur dungeon keepers will often put what seems like a very random selection of traps into their places of business. Much of this is necessity; you only have so much budget, and so many resources. You’re often fortunate if you can keep what you do reasonably on-message. (For example, what do dancing skeletons, cave-ins, and manticores have in common? Nothing, except a common desire to kill adventurers, and who doesn’t desire that? I mean, have you met any adventurers?)

I can sympathize. It’s hard to furnish things well, especially when a bunch of fools are going to come through with the intention of ending your current incarnation and taking your stuff.

And certainly, function matters more than theme. Given the choice between a clumsy slaughter of your enemies, and a stylish failure, I’d go with the clumsy slaughter three times out of five. What good is having harmonious fittings if you’re not going to be on a plane of existence where you can enjoy them?

Yet appropriately-stocked dungeoning is central to both our philosophies and our experiences. Consider: how many villains actually go away forever? Even Heroes, idiots though they are, rely on the knowledge that you’ll return. The vast majority of those idiots would never enjoy any commercial success whatsoever…were it not for the preponderance of sequels. And for sequels, one either needs very original ideas, or returning Villains.

That’s you, bucko.Is the purpose of your trapology merely to slay the Adventurers? Certainly not; at least, not initially. Nor is it to provide a steadily sloping set of challenges which advance in harmonious accompaniment to the rise of the Heroes. Dungeons which train the Heroes up, helping them advance in experience and puissance, that they may more easily knock over the rest of your defenses? Why would we do THAT? That’s a terrible idea. And sure, that’s what the Heroes think is happening; but, you know, they’re Heroes; if they’d been even half-bright, they’d have gone into accounting or one of the other reasonably-useful trades. Likewise, if they want valuable combat experience, they can damn well get into tavern brawls.

No, a wise dungeonkeeper knows that one’s dungeon is a fertile field to be sewn with the eventual-corpses of fools. Dungeonbuilding can be an expensive and even difficult process, but in the end, it’s just how things work: someiimes, you need to SPEND ill-gotten gains to GET ill-gotten gains. Or, as the phrase is more commonly expressed, sometimes you eat the adventurers, and sometimes, they loot your corpse.

It’s all about risk management. A smart Keeper knows it’s not about the conflict between Hero and Villain, but rather, wise and strategic choices and utilization of both capital outlay and opportunity cost.

Now, Adventurers will likely never change. They perpetually have this peculiar need to show up in person. They suggest this is courage, because why would they attribute their failures to stupidity? Such self-knowledge maketh not for happy protagonists.

You, on the other hand, ought not be there at all.

If Adventurers come to batter down your doors or walls, activate the Golems and Gargoyles, bring down the portcullis behind the invaders, and disappear off to somewhere with a lovely Moon and no stars at all.

Let your minions and machinations destroy them all. Yes, one time in three or four, they’ll win, but that’s at least a 66.6% likelihood of victory for you, and all you need is just a small profit margin to make a great deal of coinage, especially if you have artificially expanded your lifespan through some appropriately horrifying means.

So worry less, slay more, and relax. Let the Heroes come, and let them leave their corpses scattered throughout your demesne.  Then, at your leisure, retrieve their gear and goods, reap their treasure, and go invest in sharper teeth.

~Jeff Mach

The preceding essay was brought to you by Dark Lords For Azathoth, and may not necessarily reflect the views of the being who wrote, edited, posted, and marketed this document.


My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities and create things. Every year, I put on Evil Expo, the Greatest Place in the World to be a Villain. I also write a lot of fantasy and science fiction. You can get most of my books right here. Go ahead, order I HATE Your Prophecy“ It may make you into a bad person, but I can live with that.

 

 

 

As a longtime bargain hunter, I can certainly understand the desire to scour rummage sales and flea markets for

 

~Jeff Mach

The preceding essay was brought to you by Dark Lords For Azathoth, and may not necessarily reflect the views of the being who wrote, edited, posted, and marketed this document.


My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities and create things. Every year, I put on Evil Expo, the Greatest Place in the World to be a Villain. I also write a lot of fantasy and science fiction. You can get most of my books right here. Go ahead, order I HATE Your Prophecy“ It may make you into a bad person, but I can live with that.

Jeff Mach Written by:

Jeff Mach is an author, playwright, event creator, and certified Villain. You can always pick up his bestselling first novel, "There and NEVER, EVER BACK AGAIN"—or, indeed, his increasingly large selection of other peculiar books. If you'd like to talk more to Jeff, or if you're simply a Monstrous Creature yourself, stop by @darklordjournal on Twitter, or The Dark Lord Journal on Facebook.

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