Reminder: No-Artpunk 2 ends 15th of September and a gift for you Laggards

I have already received quite a few entries, most of which look excellent. If you have a partially finished dungeon lying about and you don’t know if you will finish it in time, take heart. The spirit of the TRVSR, and its prophet Gary Gygax, are with you, to give you strength through the painful ordeal. Meditate upon the sacred words of the TRVSR.

Leva corda justorum!

Is your dungeon just a bunch of boring hallways? Do you need something to sex it up? Here is a list of tricks and traps from a Supplement I of an obscure little game from 1974 known as ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ that apparently maybe inspired even the OSR in some minute way idk [1]. Wow!

Don’t literally copy this shit. That is cheating. Use it as inspiration. See if you can extract the general principles!

So get busy! The fate of the OSR rests on your broad shoulders. The Artpunkmen are marching, Stuart Bucktooth has taught them the Common Tongue, and they can move by daylight, laying waste to all they see. Only by mastering the ancient wisdom can you hope to persevere.

Make me proud gentlemen. No Artpunk 2 is dawning.

[1] I have it on excellent authority the OSR was invented by Pelle Nilson and Questing Beast 2 years ago.

24 thoughts on “Reminder: No-Artpunk 2 ends 15th of September and a gift for you Laggards

  1. I take it you were using dungeon in the strict sense, not in the loosey-goosey “hostile environment where PCs fuck about” sense?

    Nothing wrong with that, I’d just been about to sulk how not theming the contest was firing my imagination less. lol


  2. I’m trying to recall, reskinning is fine, right? So there’s no trouble for there to be Scabrous Guinea Pigs (as giant rat) and Dire Condors (as roc), correct?


    1. Aesthethic modification only is allowed, within limits. I think if you described some sort of giant robot that was on fire and then gave it stats ‘as Goblin’ then maybe somewhere something has gone wrong.


  3. Spent some 4 hours yesterday play-testing my entry. Feedback was quite positive, with special praise given for the new monster. However, at least one person worried it might be “too easy”…though not sure how he arrived at that conclusion when the last encounter they came upon saw the 12th level fighter being slain via HP depletion (as opposed to a failed saving throw).

    Ah, well…they’re only a third of the way in. We’ll see if they feel the same after another session or two.
    ; )


  4. I’m on the verge (literally one encounter area away) from finishing the first draft of the biggish (6 level, 130 room) dungeon I’ve been working on the past few months. It doesn’t qualify for the contest because it’s too long (about 38 pages + maps) and has too many new & non-canonical monsters (4 new + 2 from Monsters of Myth & 2 from my own Heroic Legendarium) but I might submit it anyway in order to try to trick Prince into reading it and giving me feedback. I think it’s pretty good but would like an outside opinion from someone I trust (& none of the other people I’ve shared the WIP draft yet have given me any notes – not sure if that’s because it’s too long & boring, they didn’t want to read something unfinished, or what).


    1. I don’t know if you can trust my judgment, but I’d be happy to take a look and offer some feedback…AFTER September.

      [just too busy to read/review till then…coaching kids’ soccer, too]

      Be warned: I have a tendency to give extensive and long-winded, over-opinionated notes.

      HOWEVER, I’d still advise submitting the thing for NAP2…even if Prince disqualifies it from the contest based on length, I’m sure he could give you some valuable commentary. Or cursory commentary. Or something. At this point, anything’s better than crickets, right?
      ; )


      1. We’ll see. It’s not ready for a “formal” review because it’s still an extracted section from a larger work and won’t be released this way – it’s part 4 of the same 8 part campaign-sandbox-thing that MF is part 7 of, and of which part 2 still needs to be completed and parts 5 and 6 written (plus redrawn maps and hopefully at least a bit of art commissioned). But since I’m feeling pretty proud of what I’ve come up with I’d like a couple more people to see it and (hopefully) confirm that I’m on to something good and give me the inspirational boost to push the rest of it across the finish line, or if not, to offer suggestions about what they think should’ve been done differently so I can decide whether I want to bother to revise it.


  5. I have started reading the Landmark Caesar (which is superb though there may be a better translation) and have realised that the maps in good gaming material are superior to those in histories which try hard to provide good maps. Now I know the histories are obliged to be extremely accurate but they are universally dull, and in the case of the LC confusing. There is no depiction of hills, loved in gaming maps, which in the time of Caesar were resorted to at the drop of a hat, not to mention the fact that hills and mountains show you the way armies are constrained to move.

    It is easy to draw fantasy topography, fine, but the modern histories don’t seem to understand how enlightening it is and have no sense of aesthetics.


    1. That is a good observation. I struggle with continent mapping. Your maps of fantasy affriq were always aesthetically pleasing. Probably some sort of book on real world geography and caves would be a good addition to Appendix N.


  6. I found a box of material from my heyday, 1988-91 (aged 16-19), and it is incomprehensible. I remember the characters, very high level, players were 10-11 lvl, npcs were 10-22 lvl. But I find it hard to understand the “lore”, I think it was all in my head.

    The mass feels like a Silmarillion derivative (with very poor naming scheme) with also plenty of deliberately insane characters, one with a teapot in one hand and several cups in the other. There were the Trengilor, Beings of lvl 20+ but I can’t remember anything about them at all but when I read hints I have a gut response.

    At my peak, I could speak for ten minutes on the difference between each AD&D level from 1 to 20, ten minutes per level, and why players peak at 10-11 lvl.


    1. At the end of days AD&D gaming for me and my pals became heavily story based. I suspect this was because I as DM got carried away by invention and story, and if my players had access to other DMs, who knows what they would have preferred as players. I was the DM for my players for life! I indulged myself as DM – I rejected TSR material and promoted my own fantasies, is that right? Should a DM follow the public path?


      1. There is in this question, a two-fold answer. The first answer states that if a tradition is to be passed on, it must be accessible and the best way to do that is to find points of common reference. One can learn a lot about another person’s views on DnD by what he thinks of, say, S1 or WG4. Then there is the second answer, which is based on what is personally more gratifying and desirable. There exists in many but the most shark-souled or dim-witted the ambition, however subdued, or following in the footsteps of Barker, and create a game and a world that is entirely of one’s own devising, and to captivate and explore it with players that are worthy of it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I did a shallow dive into the notes I found which were much more complete than I thought likely. They were made from age 18-23. There is no poetry to the language, I didn’t expect to find any but while the world and characters as written were personally evocative there was a disappointing sense that the ideas were trapped in similarity to the AD&D library I read much later by the mechanics themselves. The facility (brilliance) of AD&D to capture characters and magic makes it impossible, I now believe to be original, in the sense that great fantasy writers are. Everything looks re-skinned, repainted, furniture rearranged.

    As an aside, I did have a strange interest in a notion of character Power and I spent much time relating stories which illustrated where such-and-such a character fit into the power scale, which became mystical at the 20th lvl. There was a sense for the players that they had a window of activity (party vs villain +2-3 lvls) but the stories about higher level characters were frankly something I could talk about for hours with them out of game, I think because it gave them a sense of distance or scale, it was essential that the game *felt* different every couple of levels; real-romantic-epic-horror-alien-surreal. Tolkien was very sensitive to the Power of characters and I suspect I picked it up from him. Also Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai has perfect depiction of hierarchy from say 3rd to 10th level, but you need to imagine something similar for assassins and MUs.

    This leads me, with the benefit of decades, to see that the imagination resides primarily in the memory (with memory’s lifetime), and while we may feel, as gamers, we are capturing our imagination on paper we cannot distinguish well what is on the paper from what is in our mind. This is why instinctively the handful of great fantasy writers have are so valued by me, they-got-it-out. I do now, having read my old notes, understand more the problems for gamers writing for others to play at the gametable with AD&D. If you are a game writer, the misperceived infinity of your imaginative scope is really a thin atmosphere around planet AD&D.

    My conclusion is if someone wants to write original fantasy because they desire to explore their imagination and wish to capture it, then examine the AD&D literature and Tolkien for that matter, and meditate for a long time on how to exorcise yourself from those cliches. At the moment I don’t know why anyone would want to write AD&D material because it is just montage, derivation and cut-n-paste. There is room for improvement in maps and language. Art is so extremely personal I wonder that gamers are not more put off than attracted by it when it is included.


    1. So for example, I always thought I had original takes on the Zombie-Demon-Devil triad. Zombies were evolving body parts, Demons were MU familiars, the smaller the more powerful and Devils were psychic phenomenon. But once you translate your ideas to AD&D speak they become mundane. The only way to keep ideas alive is to have the power of language. WH Hodgson is a good example, very easy to degrade his Night Land into AD&D, very hard to capture the atmosphere he created through language. Thinking in AD&D terms degrades your imagination, so as many people have said if you are writing material for other gamers you should come to terms with that; on the other hand if you want to capture your imagination freely then you must write fiction violently rejecting the gaming-Tolkien precedent.


    2. The Horror-Alien-Surreal progression is worth exploring. Would you care to elaborate?

      As for AD&D being useful as a vehicle for the exploration of one’s own personal imagination, I would concur that its facility in that regard is limited because it is bound to the conventions and assumptions of its system, derived from wargames and Appendix N. There are two caveats; 1) I believe it is essential when writing fantasy to maintain some sort of connection to the substrate of myth that it is trying to evoke and archetypes are herein almost essential. There are exceptions, like the voyages of Dunstany, Lovecraft, Smith or even Lindsey. It is interesting that your preferences hover around this very particular area, when ‘fantasy’, that is, true exploration of worlds other then our own, was in its infancy and was least bound by such convention, far less then even the New Wave.

      2) There is improvement and exploration possible within the framework of AD&D but it should take place within the mathematical core of the game, which you correctly identify as being paramount, with the imaginative component being an (ideally beautiful and interesting) overlay. It is perfectly possible to create material from the genesis of an idea, but the most important part remains the realization of the idea, not its conception. This is where this new material, despite bouts of hideous unimaginacy, is the most deficient. Innovation in D&D is more akin to level design, and involves the precise arrangement of Gygaxian building blocks, coupled with tasteful innovation.

      It seems to me for the purpose of exploring the imagination, either one takes up fiction writing, or one has to write one’s own game, starting not from game design theory but from the fruits of one’s own mind.


  8. ive only just been able to start my entry now
    itll have no playtesting or proofreading, ive gotta shotgun as much as i can out
    question for you and anyone who runs shit i guess; whats the most obnoxious mistake you see in material? Just so I can at least try and remove that before I send it off


      1. I have 50 rooms left to do.
        This is my first time, be gentle.
        I’ll absolutely revisit this at some point and add art and playtest notes to it in addition to updating it with whatever criticism you get but MAN are we getting rough here with notes haha.


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