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I Was A Teenage Dungeon Master: Too Much Of A Good Thing

Mark Jackson
United States
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Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I'm a muppet then I'm a very manly muppet!

Video may have killed the radio star, but for me, it was Road to Legend that killed Descent: Journeys in the Dark.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that the already long playing time for Descent was a strike against the game. Back when I was young, single & collecting 1000+ comic books (why, yes, I wasn't dating anyone at the time - how did you ever guess?!), I could happily spend 5+ hours playing a dungeon crawl. Now, as a semi-responsible adult who (a) likes being married and (b) likes being a dad and (c) likes being gainfully employed, it's really tough to carve out that kind of time in addition to my regular gaming group.

But what really put a knife in my enjoyment of the game was the over-complication of a perfectly decent game system. Simply put, unless I was willing to devote a lot of time & energy to the game outside our playing time, I simply wasn't going to understand the rules and/or really be able to make intelligent decisions about the long-term effect of our dungeon-crawling choices.

The Road to Legend sapped my will to push through the "wow - this game can run a bit long" barrier... and I found myself making excuses to play other games when Steve Cates brought it out on game nights. (Sorry, Steve - who, btw, is a great guy.)

I think there's an art to expanding a game - probably something I should blog about down the line. The base credo of a game designer messing about with expansions is lifted straight from medical ethics: Primum non nocere - "First, do no harm."

Now we're sliding into the realm of "what if" (not "what is"), but I think that increasing the number of monsters while creating shorter scenarios would have (a) made the game more interesting while (b) increasing the potential fan base. It certainly would have helped me stick with it.

Anyway, haven't played Descent since 2007... and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.
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