Memory Lane – Pits of Seth

Dungeon Crawls are a really stable design. The “story” idea is that some vast castle was somehow swept away, leaving its dungeons behind. All manner of monsters and creatures live in the down-below, hording gold and gems and trying to eat anyone who ventures down. So it’s a perfect setup – a very restrained environment (doors and walls and passageways) and the opportunity for characters to make the game more difficult (and rewarding) by leveling up (i.e. stair-ing down).

Most of the dungeon games available back then (the few there were) were preprogrammed once-throughs. I hated that. Why would I want to master a game I could only go through once? With that, I came up with a fairly clever idea of random dungeon generation (well, they looked like they had been hewn by drunken dwarven miners but it WAS random) – squares would either be intersections, east-west corridors, north-south corridors or rooms. The area the player was in would be drawn based on their square and the squares around them (i.e. if you were in a passageway and there was a room nearby, a door would be drawn). It was topdown and pretty simple, but fun all the same.

For combat, I coded in Melee (by Steve Jackson games). It was a pretty basic game that gave you abilities and weapons and armor, and was a lot of fun to play.

Six players were permitted to participate (they had to stay in a group). There was no auto-mapping – someone had to draw things out on graph paper as we went along (and there was no more chilling statement from your mapper than “…wait. That can’t be right.”). Overall, it was a really fun game, one that we played from time to time at the Edain, and later it became a staple of Virginia Tech Friday nights.

Outside of Eagles, this game probably got played the most. We hacked and slashed for years with it.

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