Friday, January 27, 2012

Player Agency, Revisited

After playing The Grinding Gear and running Fungoid Gardens of the Bone Sorcerer, I've learned something important about player agency.

Player agency is the ability to cut your losses and leave the dungeon to go anywhere else.

Most modern variants assume you'll leave the dungeon (or the adventure, or whatever) to sleep and return.  Old school gaming lets you leave the dungeon, and assumes nothing.

Maybe you'll return someday, maybe you won't.


  1. That's certainly true. Although when I ran TGG they stayed overly long and caught trapped. But when I ran Tower of the Stargazer, they stayed long enough to grab some treasure and then got the hell out of there.

  2. Leaving the dungeon can be even more dangerous and difficult that the initial trip in. Some groups also barricaded themselves into a chamber and tried to get some sleep, rest, healing, etc. that way...and sometimes it might even work. Sometimes.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that in the old days a lot of players conducted quick raids to get some idea of what was in a particular dungeon and to adjust their plans and equipment accordingly. It was not at all uncommon to hit a place two or three times very quickly in order to get a rough map drafted, set up some markers, and then formulate a plan for systematically clearing the vermin, etc. Also some of these groups of player cahracters might start charging a toll or fee from other groups wanting to piggy-back off of their efforts, to go further on into the dungeon along a side passage or whatever...and if they were stronger, it could work out to their advantage. other groups specialized in tracking the progress of other adventuring groups in order to swoop in on them at opportune moments and grab all their loot since it was ready-to-go and pre-packed for them. Of course, most players hated it when some NPC group attempted the same thing on them...

    1. "Leaving the dungeon can be even more dangerous and difficult that the initial trip in."

      That's damn true. Fighting a horde of zombies is bad. Fighting a horde of zombies when you're dead tired and just want to go home and your cleric is dead? Much worse.

      So far my PCs haven't been dungeon-delving enough to worry about the other logistical problems that come with the territory, but it will come.


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