Dungeon crawls. Creeping step by step through a dangerous maze, never knowing whether the next monster is lurking in ambush just around the corner. The bubbling pit of anxiety and paranoia simmering in my guts, asking, “Are we being careful enough? Are we being too careful? Do we need to push forward faster now?”
Sounds exciting, right? An invigorating gamble, as the delvers push their luck to its limits. Or maybe it sounds like a challenging adventure full of both risk and reward.
Or maybe it sounds exhausting. Grueling. A long, undifferentiated grind of tension gradually giving way to player-fatigue as you weary of the prolonged stress and lethal stakes.
I’ve experienced all those things while playing dungeon crawls, often within the same game. And after talking with my sib about the experience, I have some better-structured observations to share. So, how can I make dungeon crawls more fun for myself? What parallels exist, what narrative structures can storytellers build on?
First up, let’s talk about stress.Continue reading