If you’re like me, somewhere in your room, you’ve got a notebook crammed full of graph paper. This graph paper isn’t like the other sheets of graph paper from your youth. It doesn’t have that unholy cross of the X-Y axes. It isn’t freckled with coordinates that remind you all too much of those irritating pimples (I was that pimpled teenager, so I speak from experience, not out of cliche). No—unlike the graph paper of your youth that now sits beneath a heap of rotting banana peels and plastic that won’t degrade until dinosaurs rule the earth again—this graph paper persists, a testament to the enduring geekiness of your youth. This graph paper is Undermountain, it is White Plume Mountain and the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, and Tomb of Horrors. It is a DUNGEON, the boundaries of which were limited only by your imagination and 8-1/2 by 11 inches. And it probably looked, something like this:
And yet the experience was also hilarious. One secret door led to another, and another, and another, to the point of absurdity. Oh sure, a dungeon-maker would have to be mad to secret such a labyrinthine construction, but isn’t that kind of the point? I want more secret doors. I want more rooms with traps. I want more rooms with nothing. Yes, nothing. I don’t mean exactly nothing—the rooms still have a feature or two: a lonely skeleton, a withered tapestry, a rusty iron chest. But every room doesn’t need a monster. I think those folks creating the early dungeon of D&D were really on to something. In absence, there is tension. With every room that goes by, the tension mounts. With every trap, another trap seems imminent. I want to go back toward this type of dungeon, and fortunately, we can make it happen.