Saturday, January 14, 2012
Fear of the dark
No, not the the Iron maiden song, although that's pretty cool too. I'm talking about actual fear of the dark. There has been quite a bit of discussion lately around Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition and what people want to see left in, taken out, or added back from previous editions, so I figured that I would weigh in with one small removal, that would please me. Glow sticks, or sun rods as they are known in the game. These things seems to have become ubiquitous items for dungeon explorers. No one takes a torch or a lantern anywhere anymore. Dark tunnel? Just break out a sun rod and we're off to the rave...um I mean dungeon. While these are no doubt handy items for the players, they lessen the game master's ability to use darkness to his or her advantage. Gone are the days when a gust of wind could blow out the party's torches just as a swarm of giant spiders descended upon them. Gone are the days of dropping the players into a pit filled with icy water, extinguishing their torches and lanterns, right before one of their legs is brushed by a slimy tentacle... Now I'm not advocating that D&D should be some sore of psychodrama, where the game master exploits the real world fears of their players, but fear of the darkness is a primal fear that can go a long way in creating atmosphere in a game, especially considering that a large portion of D&D adventures take place in a lightless, or at best dimly lit underworld.