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Friday 16 September 2022

Friday Fantasy: Just A Stupid Dungeon

Just A Stupid Dungeon
is pointless. It is also a dungeon published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess for use with Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying. It is suitable for use with other retroclones. It is also a dungeon which can be played by characters of any Level. It is a dungeon which is located in the default setting for Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying of the early to mid-seventeenth century. It is though, easy to drop into almost any setting. It is a dungeon in the style of a death trap dungeon with not a lot of death traps. It is a plain dungeon in comparison to the tone of some titles for Lamentations of the Flame Princess Weird Fantasy Roleplaying. It is an exercise in trap design by the author, James Edward Raggi IV. It is potentially a means to really overturn the status quo of a Referee’s campaign. It is all those things, and still, Just A Stupid Dungeon is pointless.

Just A Stupid Dungeon does not even come with an introduction. It promises and delivers a dungeon without anything in the way of a backstory, setting, or context. The nearest it gets to that is the fact that local children have been warned not to touch the key in the door to the dungeon entrance lest they drop down dead. Instead, it starts at the door to the dungeon and goes from there. Inside, the complex consists of several similar rooms around a central hall. The hall consists of just a statue and a lectern, both holding valuable treasure. However, getting to either is unlikely to be certain given the surprisingly bouncy flooring of the hall and both treasures being destroyed is more likely. The surrounding rooms are all identical bar the nature of the traps they contain, most of which have an elemental theme. By the time the Player Characters have set off and experienced survived two or more, then they should have an idea how each room works. Here the designer gets to play with deep water, fire, light, darkness, and more, and in the main, not in a way that will necessarily kill the Player Characters. They will be hurt and they will be imperilled and they will be punished.

Just A Stupid Dungeon involves almost no combat and despite it being set in a tomb, there are no undead. Instead, it is built around traps and the designer playing around with time. There are traps in the complex, itself consisting of twenty-four locations—less if the repetitious nature of some of the doors is taken into account—that will really twist the continuity and confluence and the causality of the campaign. One trap in the short term and one trap in the long term. These traps are fantastic in their scope and repercussions and the effects of long-term trap will effectively undo a campaign. They are brilliant in their simplicity and capacity for entertainment, though more for the Referee than her players and their characters.

Physically, Just A Stupid Dungeon is clean, tidy, easy to read, and comes with a clear map.

Just A Stupid Dungeon can just be dropped into a setting and left there. It does nothing, it is inert. It awaits the arrival of the Player Characters. Of course, the Referee is free to add context, detail, and backstory to entice the Player Characters to investigate further. Or indeed, not. The Referee could drop it into a session and run it as is, and that is essentially what Just A Stupid Dungeon is designed as—a scenario that can be run without any fuss or mess. Once the Player Characters do penetrate the halls of the not-tomb in Just A Stupid Dungeon, rewards will be few and the punishments harsh, all in response to the curiosity of the players and their characters. Ultimately, Just A Stupid Dungeon is pointless, but if the Player Characters do push through to the end, the effects of the final trap will be entertainingly disruptive.

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