“Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.”
Why delve? What causes heroes to venture into long forgotten tombs and caves, risking (and often losing) their lives in search of “pale enchanted gold”? More importantly, why do so many underground dungeons exist?
To begin with, a lot of people talk about “the world being packed full of adventurers” due to so many D&D groups out there existing. Some settings have adventuring organizations (Pathfinder), or stores set up specifically for adventurers. This is ridiculous.
The world isn’t packed with adventurers. There’s your group’s adventurers. If you choose to have a few other groups out there dungeon-delving, fine, but don’t inundate the world with people slaying dragons. Your heroes are special, unique. They’re not just “another one of those adventuring groups”.
I also strongly dislike “Adventuring Shops”, which have everything you need from the Player’s Handbook inside (I miss the extensive lists of mundane equipment from editions prior to 4e). Instead, your heroes should have to venture from shop to shop looking for everything they need to assemble into their adventuring kit. Should they have to RP out finding a merchant to buy a stick of chalk from every single time they want to buy some? No, but making sure the players know it’s not just a simple act of finding the Adventuring Merchant adds some flavor to the world.
Why do dungeons exist? These underground lairs scattered about the countryside, full of monsters and treasure have to have a purpose.
In issue… 1 I think of the new D&D comic series, one of the characters poses a similar question, and it’s answered in the best way I’ve ever heard: Dungeons exist because in a world filled with giant flying dragons, you need somewhere you can keep things safe from the hands of these monsters. Basically, dungeons are bomb shelters, places you can keep your necessary supplies in case of monster attacks.
In the years and years since the collapse of the society, these dungeons have fallen into disrepair, and monsters have moved in, setting up their own traps or bypassing those of the previous occupants.
It’s been a while since I’ve had some good old-fashioned dungeon delving. I’ve been focusing so much on the Marvel RPG, I haven’t had time for D&D. I’ll be running a one-shot of D&D in a couple of weeks to get the D&D wheels turning again. Stay tuned.