We are unexpectedly a man down in our regular Thursday night game for a few weeks. Forcing us to put our current game on hold and look around for a new one. As it had been sometime since I last ran anything I volunteered to throw an adventure together using the 6d6 Magic rule set. As an experiment in the flexibility of the 6d6 system, I dug out my 1978 edition of Dungeon of the Bear, a Tunnels & Trolls adventure, and set about converting it.
As an adventure, Dungeon of the Bear is as old-school as it gets and is full of the quirky charm of Tunnels & Trolls. A system that deserves more recognition. It was a fast and rules-light system before anyone had even thought of the concept.
Cutting Edge Heaven
The good news is that 6d6 Magic seems to be coping well this style of gaming. The magic system is getting a good shake out and its forcing me to create many different types of monsters and traps. All of which is reassuring. Knowing that the 6d6 RPG with its new and distinct mechanics can cope with all the demands of this style of gaming is very pleasing.
When I volunteered to run Dungeon of the Bear, it was a longtime since I had read it and I had forgotten exactly how old-school it was. We are talking about an adventure where living monsters (orc, trolls etc) are locked in secret rooms only to be released when a player steps on a trap. There is one room where there are three Ice Lynx’s just sitting there, waiting for fight. No explanation why the Ice Lynxes are there, it not even a cave but a proper room with a door, complete with door handle and latch.
The adventure makes absolutely no sense. How do these creature get fed? Where do all their waste products go? Where did they come from? There is no attempt to provide a rational or back-story to the dungeon. It is just a series of rooms where the party open the door, fight the monster, take the treasure.
Admittedly that description could be applied to many modern adventures (D&D Encounters, I’m looking at you), but even in the worst of them, at least there is an attempt to provide a narrative. A veneer of a story that distracts the party from asking too many questions.
Do Retro-Gamers Really Want This?
Frankly, I cannot bring myself to run the adventure. It is just so far removed from what I look for in a modern scenario that I’m going to write something new. It is not that the adventure is bad (there are some nice ideas in it), it has just dated badly.
But the question is this, do Old-School Gamers really play this style of adventure? Or are modern Old-School dungeons really just modern dungeons using old-school mechanics?