16
Sep
13

Logic and the Mythic Underworld

The logic of the dungeon is something that used to bother me when I was in my teens. Even in a world featuring magic, gods, and other inexplicables the idea of an underground fortress filled with random traps, tricks, and puzzles, well, sometimes I would get distracted by disbelief. Other than “mad wizards and insane geniuses” or their close relations, inscrutable deities, who would bother to build such a thing, for any reason? I spent time trying create dungeons that would make “sense” and be designed according to some purpose.

As I got older I simply shrugged, suspended any disbelief, and was happy with how fun the game is to play. Who cares? I am content to think of it in terms of Philotomy Juraments’s “mythic underworld.” But every once in a while I would still catch myself thinking about the logic of it all…

But I have been cured of that now. Now I know that any sufficiently powerful intelligence able to casually play with the weft and warp of reality will create haphazard environments as a matter of course. There will be dead ends, half-completed projects, empty rooms, traps, traps that don’t work, random features in random places.

Oh, there will be some completed projects, certain things that make obvious sense. But around them will be forgotten or incomplete efforts, prototypes, projects that make sense to no one but the creator. Little of it will make any sense to an observer exploring the results.

I know this because I have seen my six-year-old play Minecraft.

And I have played Minecraft too. Given the opportunity to randomly create stuff in a sandbox environment it is easy to see how a dungeon created by a magical power would end up unexplained by architect’s benchmarks of usability, engineering, and cost-per-square foot.

If you have the resources to create, you will be creative. The process is messy. And I believe dungeons I create in the future will be more interesting and fun if I can imagine like I am six again.

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5 Responses to “Logic and the Mythic Underworld”


  1. September 18, 2013 at 3:27 am

    I still need to actually see or show the logic peg that the rest can be hung on. It can be as simple as a crazy hermit yelling that the valley was touched by the old gods, or the book saying the dungeon was built for a mad wizard’s testing ground. That’s enough, but I need it in the presentation for my brain to let it go.

  2. September 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    If you’re using ‘logic’ in the sense of our world’s reality, you’re bound to be disappointed by fantasy. Fantastic worlds that have their own internal logic or consistency, which makes them feel right.

    That’s good enough for me:

    http://tomboftedankhamen.blogspot.jp/2013/09/ever-wonder-why-monsters-are-bigger-and.html

  3. September 20, 2013 at 11:38 am

    “Oh, there will be some completed projects, certain things that make obvious sense. But around them will be forgotten or incomplete efforts, prototypes, projects that make sense to no one but the creator. Little of it will make any sense to an observer exploring the results.

    I know this because I have seen my six-year-old play Minecraft.”

    The joy of coming back to an stronghold that you crafted months ago and exclaming: wtf? what was i trying to build here?

    Minecraft is so much fun.

  4. 4 maldoor
    September 20, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Jorgeman: Exactly! And when you are looking at something someone else built the fun is doubled. Even better when your six-year-old explains with complete seriousness that OF COURSE you can only place trees on top of a 30-meter tower, that is why there is an entire forest built on top of these tall, narrow stone pillars.

    Fractalbat: It is that need for a last peg that I finally lost. Once you realize the real world does not have any logic to it, why bother looking for it in a fantasy world?

  5. September 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Oh I agree, but my brain still looks for it. I’m sure it’s because I just like coming up with those little details so I tend to keep looking for them. It’s much less of a thing now that I’ve gotten back into designing sandboxes and playing OSR games.


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