07
Mar
12

Everything is Flowcharts

Stop this recursive madness before it is too late.

Paul Hughes has launched a Kickstarter that must not succeed. If funded, he will turn the AD&D procedures for generating random dungeons into a dungeon, a section of which is shown above. Sure, it sounds innocuous enough in his description:

This intricately illustrated 36″ by 24″ playable dungeon map poster encapsulates the Dungeon Master’s Guide’s complete rules for generating random dungeons: Appendix A’s four pages of charts are rendered into a flowchart WHICH IS ITSELF A DUNGEON. It’s like the Platonic dungeon: from it, all other dungeons may be generated. Or maybe it’s the Dungeon of Ouroboros.

What he conveniently leaves out is that as adventurers go through this dungeon, there is a chance that they will randomly generate the same dungeon that encodes the procedures for generating new dungeons, creating an infinite loop. Being a known proponent of the $10,000 backer reward and idealistic bonus goal, I have been recommending that Paul combine these such that Wizards of the Coast could pick up the top pledge level and get enough posters to send some to every game store that will be carrying the AD&D reprints, or we could help him raise the necessary funding to do so just for the good of gaming. While this would hasten the process, the recursive nature of this project makes one thing clear: sooner or later we will be awash in endless, procedurally-generated nightmare mazes filled with gold, glory, and Paul’s inimitable illustrations.

You know what that means, don’t you? Yes, it means one reason we don’t embed music videos more often is that some of us can’t be trusted not to use them for cheap rim-shots.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this impending crisis. We need to fight dungeons with dungeons.

Holmes Character Creation as a Dungeon Map, by Doug @ Blue Boxer Rebellion

Compare to the 2e and 3e versions for a fantastic visual essay in how the complexity of chargen increases over the years, and become a follower of Blue Box Rebellion and pester Doug to dungeonize 4e’s Character Builder and map the planar nexus of Sigil from which those wishing to follow D&D Next’s ambition to unite the editions must certainly depart.

But that’s not what we’re here for. Our goal is to convince Doug to launch a Kickstarter to create dungeons to act as automatic spawners for adventurers to go into Paul’s dungeon and generate more dungeons, until every piece of paper in the world is covered with maps in which you can see little people making maps telling them which way to go to create a dungeon in which the Cave You’ve Been Living In Since 1977 connects to the Pool of Fluff.

Speaking of titles, the name of this post riffs off of Everything is Dolphins, which you should be interested in because:

  • the fact that the Play-Generated Maps and Documents Archive (PlaGMaDA) is starting a publishing arm is made of awesome and promises many other things of interest to old-schoolers, like reprints of old fanzines and homemade modules like Habitition of the Stone Giant Lord
  • the game part of Everything is Dolphins represents an interesting example of someone coming into RPGs cold in his twenties from a whole other world of music geeks, discovering OD&D, and running with it to make his own system to reflect a particular set of concerns and inspirations
  • said someone ran Everything is Dolphins at Games that Can’t be Named and a good time was had
  • the approach taken here – presenting the original handwritten notes and play materials, and then doing an exegesis of the text and the visions it’s inspired in others – is a promising model for how to publish lost RPG projects like Robert Kuntz’s Kalibruhn or Dave Arneson’s “Bluemoor” notebooks without losing the historical value under a layer of polish

It is an article of faith with me that the character sheets for the original Blackmoor were this cool. One of many ways that First Fantasy Campaign is awesome is that it publishes maps of the castles that characters in Dave Arneson's game built; let's get a new edition that has the architectural plans the players drew up!

  • the illustrations Tim assembled for the book to show what visions the game inspired include old-schoolers (Charlie Loving who illustrated the Bunnies and Burrows first edition in 1976), artists who were part of the Dungeons & Dragons in Contemporary Art panel last year (Casey Jex Smith and Sean McCarthy), and Tarn Adams of Dwarf Fortress who is like the patron saint of neckbeards who care way too much about imaginary worlds that procedurally generate adventurers who build their own dungeons
  • if the Dwimmermount Kickstarter makes its bonus goal of $20,620, James Maliszewski will donate his original campaign notes to PlaGMaDA; we hope the well-deserved immense popularity of his blog Grognardia will make this a notable a precedent for others to make similar donations and show that making the originals free to the public is not inconsistent with a successful commercial release expanding these notes into a form ready for others to use
  • Tim has an art show opening at the I-20 Gallery in NYC on March 22nd, which should be of interest to those who were interested in the stuff Tim had to say at the above-mentioned D&D art panel, and is planning a book launch party for Everyting is Dolphins in April, which may well also include the Adventurer Conqueror King System; details to follow.
On that tip and with the last of my breath, I should mention that there is also a Kickstarter for the Player’s Companion that expands ACKS with a host of new classes, procedures for making new classes, a bunch of new spells, procedures for making your own spells that characters can research (if Bonus Goal #3 is met, which seems like it will happen soon), and lots of the the ACKS class templates that Brendan at untimately calls “the apotheosis of the Second Edition kit idea“, presumably in a nice way.
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11 Responses to “Everything is Flowcharts”


  1. March 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    That is cool as fuck

  2. March 7, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Pretty awesome stuff.

  3. March 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    The adventurers are the same ones from the DMG! Damn, that’s cool.

  4. 4 tim h
    March 8, 2012 at 3:40 am

    No! Wait! There will NOT be a book release party at the I-20 gallery on March 22nd. No!

    March 22nd is when I open an art show there of my own work. The opening is 6-8pm on a Thursday and there’s generally free beer. There’ll be lots of gamers but the art show is just boring old art, not gaming related anything. You are invited to come, if you do come by please seek me out and introduce yourself. I’ll be the uncomfortable looking guy with the glasses and beard. (I-20.com for directions)

    But! There will be a book release party for Everything is Dolphins and maybe some other things in April at the gallery. I’ll be sure to let you all know.

  5. March 8, 2012 at 4:19 am

    Cool April is better fated for shipping. I will change the post.

  6. March 8, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Love the two pictures there! So awesome I almost fainted!

  7. March 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Holy crap this is so cool I almost fell out of my seat!

  8. March 8, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I understand that most of Paul’s Kickstarter is actually covering personal injury liability and the cost of cleaning when the tops of people’s heads are blown off and their brains spatter the ceiling.

  9. March 10, 2012 at 12:46 am

    This is such awesome stuff! Thanks for sharing.

  10. March 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I used to work with Ford Doolittle who was renowned for his tree-of-life sketches

    http://www.biology-direct.com/content/figures/1745-6150-4-43-28.jpg

    This has the same style. I think I’ll back it. But hey, I’m a sucker for rpg flowcharts.

    https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B7XM_c-luqpgNGI4OTc3NTctYTBlZi00MDEwLThmNTItNTViYzk4NTczMGI2


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