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    Posted on March 24th, 2009 Highland_Piper No comments

    Written by: Highland_Piper

    I’m going to talk to the well known game designer Monte Cook .  Now if you don’t know who Monte Cook is then you must be living under a rock.  Monte Cook has a long history with game designing have worked on such titles as Rolemaster, Planescape, and author of many D&D 3rd edition books, of which include the Dungeon Master’s Guide.  I would be neglected in my duties if I did not mention Ptolus an ambitious project for any designer.

    Mr. Cook left Wizards of the Coast in 2001 and formed Malhavoc Press.  I’m not going to rehash what many already know.  The Monte Who? will give you a nice list of his accomplishments and awards.  What I want to know is what is Monte Cook up to now?  Well I was pleasantly surprised when I found out exactly what he has partaken in.

    Dungeon A Day is a subscription based website that will offer members a new dungeon encounter every weekday, Dungeon Maps, handouts, Podcasts, Blogs, Forums, pictures, and a plethora of additions.  Check out “How Does The Site Work” for the full run down on the site.

    I’m not here to review Dungeon A Day, I’m here to talk with the Dungeon Master who dreamed her up.  Mr. Monte Cook.

    DungeonCrawlers: What an ambitious and original project.  I must say I was surprised when I saw it the first time.  Fantasy RPG’s have had a tendency over the last ten to fifthteen years to leave the endless dungeons that riddeld the country side and have moved toward wilderness and city adventures.  What then made you decide to bring things back to their roots?  What does Dungeon A Day offer that you belive will appeal to gamers?

    Monte Cook: Thanks. I’m not quite as sure as you are that D&D ever really left its dungeon roots. For my purposes, a huge dungeon is perfect for updating with a new encounter each day. Members can use the whole thing or pick and choose from various encounters and use them how they want in their own adventures. Dungeon encounters can be created to be just linked enough and yet just stand alone enough to accomplish both. So is basically just a steady stream of cool encounter ideas, which is the very foundation of what happens at the game table, and why people keep coming back each session.

    DC: The idea and format are quite original and some might say a bold way of offering a product.  What made you decide to offer your idea in this subscription based way instead of making a pdf or printed product?

    MC: What appeals to me about is the ability to put material in the hands of gamers as quickly and directly as possible. The conduit between game designer and game player is at it’s most immediate. And, because I read and respond to the forums there, I can be reactive and make sure that people are getting the kind of material they really want. I’ll also add that the site also fascilitates a community of users, which means that members can provide ideas, tips, and inspiration for each other.

    DC: Will there be downloadable content of the dungeons or will it remain web base only?

    MC: My current plan is for to remain in its current form (a constantly evolving website). That doesn’t mean that other formats won’t one day surface. It just means I’m not thinking about that right now.

    DC: Will the members get a say in the creative process of Dungeon A Day and if so what level of involvement are we talking about?

    MC: Members can ask questions and make comments about all the material on the site, and I’ll respond. Eventually, I’ll be creating polls to get even more direct feedback from people. If members seem particularly interested in certain kinds of encounters, or if they want certain kinds of details, they can tell me.

    DC: I’m also curious to see how your format will influence RPG websites, not only commercially but in fan sites as well.  I think you might see people post their own adventures much in the same way, especially in wiki’s.  How do you feel about that?

    MC: I guess I haven’t thought about it much. If people find that it works, and are happy with it, I guess I feel that it’s great.

    DC: I saw that Ed Bourelle is credited for the cartography.  Ed Bourelle is also known for his map tiles for use with miniatures.  Are there any plans for making dungeon tiles for Dungeon A Day as you did for your Ptolus setting?

    MC: There are not currently such plans. I know Ed’s really busy with some other stuff he’s got going on. That said, I could certainly see it happening at some point. Currently, I’m building all of Dragon’s Delve (the dungeon) with Dwarven Forge and sharing my photos of the various areas with each encounter.

    DC: I personally no longer play D&D in any of its incarnations, however I use D&D adventures quite frequently as the background and story are the backbone of any good adventure.  How well will Dungeon A Day convert to other game systems or even between the different editions of D&D?

    MC: is pretty rules-light. There aren’t a lot of new “rules-related” bits to it, particularly because with the permission of its creator, I link to the Hypertext d20 site rather than present core rules material. So I don’t give you stats for a bugbear, I just link to the bugbear in the SRD. So if you’re not using that version of D&D, you can ignore the link and just use your edition’s version of a bugbear. And really, there’s not even a lot of references to rules. As I’ve said on the site, the focus is on cool encounters, weird tricks and traps, fun battles, unique locations, and all those great things that go into really fun dungeon adventures. is not about feats, THAC0, or healing surges. It’s about imprisoned demon lords, facing off with an evil swordsman over a pit of boiling lava, and magical cubes that suck you into a tesseract prison.

    DC: How much of Dungeon A Day is driven by plot and sub-plots and how much is driven by the idea and experiment of this kind of product format?

    MC: Well, first of all, let me say that dungeon adventures, as a whole, are less plot-based and more location-based. That said, does offer certain design challenges. Designing dungeon levels so that you present just one encounter at a time and still have it make sense, or so that PCs are unlikely to venture into areas not yet detailed, is tricky. So that shapes the design somewhat. I wrote an article on the site called Dungeon Design Assumptions. It appears at the top of every page, and it discusses this kind of thing pretty extensively.

    Plot-wise, there are a lot of stories in, and they are unfolding with each new encounter, providing more reasons for people to explore Dragon’s Delve, and giving DMs more and more to work with.

    DC: Now I do not expect you to reveal any secrets, but can you give us an idea of how expansive your planning on making the dungeon at Dungeon a day?

    MC: It will take PCs to 20th level, and that’s even if you slow level advancement way down (which I recommend for dungeon-heavy campaigns). The adventure will take PCs into the nearby town, into associated ruins in the area, to a mystical island, and to a number of other planes of existence.

    DC: There appears to be a lot of energy on the site and its potential.  What areas are you eager to see develope and why?

    MC: One area that I’m anxious to develop is the nearby town of Brindenford. Not only does it offer interesting breaks from the dungeon-based adventure, but it has its own intrigues and plots going on. It is both a save haven and a place with its own dangers. I’m also eager to get to some of the really different areas of the dungeon. The Prison of the Red Saint is a tesseract. The Petrified Congregation is a section of the dungeon made of people turned to stone by medusas. And so on.

    DC: Is there anything you would like to add?

    MC: Just that I’m really happy with the reaction has received, and that the community that is growing around the site is very fun, friendly, and creative (and ambitious) in their own right.

    DC: I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and on behalf of Dungeon Crawlers I’d like to wish you great success in Dungeon A Day .  I know I will be watching it with great intrest.

    MC: Thanks for the opportunity.

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