Hey folks, I’ve been a little quiet lately with all that has been going on near my bend of the river but I’ve been doing some thinking about the nature of the OSR, as well as more narrative games.
Do you think you can have an OSR game without dungeons?
First, my definition for a dungeon. I’m also very interested how you all would personally define one.
A dungeon is an enclosed space,
usually underground, made up of distinct/discrete playable spaces that follow some sort of pattern/theme/motif.
I personally can offer up two viewpoints in response. On the one hand, I think dungeons are an integral part of an OSR experience. Dungeons are a logical place for treasures, horrifying monsters, and wondrous natural phenomenon to co-exist. Dungeons are an easy way to offer characters an opportunity to earn some gold, and hooks that lead to dungeons are convenient to manufacture (word of mouth, strange observations, infamous reputation, etc). On a more gamey note, dungeons force encounters to occur in enclosed, limited spaces. I think this is easily the most awesome aspect of a dungeon because it forces players to be creative. Being in a restricted space means that players have to deal with whatever’s in the next room, using only the resources they have on them and their wits. Different dungeons will offer up different solution spaces, for example mossy temple ruins give players different options than a stronghold made up completely of stone. Dungeons also force players to take resource management into account, they’re not going to find a store selling torches/rations while trudging through ancient caverns (probably lol).
On the other hand, maybe you could run an OSR game without dungeons. There’s some OSR sci-fi games out there, and I don’t think you have dungeons in the same sense (I guess exploring derelict ships and such would count though). Hexcrawls and the like are also very popular, but I’ve always thought that dungeons are the meat-and-potatoes of the experience but maybe the wilderness/exploration aspect can be brought to the forefront.