So, we don’t normally plug two different websites as our Favorite site of the Month, but these two sites are run by the same person, and both simply add to gaming in a great way…
I’d like to introduce Jaap de Goede, creator of the Dark Dungeon roleplaying game, as well as the Dark Dungeon Vaults (an aggregator site). If there’s one thing I like about gamers, it’s their tenacity in creating an entire roleplaying game, and creating a website that pulls together hundreds or thousands of gaming blogs in one area. Ok, that’s two things.
As a Dutch native, I’ve been a fantasy role player ever since I picked up the Moldvay edition of D&D in 1981, and I still think that’s one of the best role playing games around. So you could peg me as an Old Schooler in that respect. However, I also started to design my own game variants soon after, inspired by Traveller and Runequest. Eventually, this culminated in the first versions of Dark Dungeon. With a best friend, who now also works in Film and Television industry like I do, I wrote up the rules in a confined room in his parent’s wind mill. That was in 1989.
The Dark Dungeon RPG
In the DD system we tried to put everything we liked from other systems. and strip whatever we thought was too cumbersome. Originally, we wrote the rules because we needed a clear system for our expanding group. The group actually grew so large that we decided we had to radically change the way we played, just to give everyone a chance to play. So, we designed a common world (again plundering everything we liked), and made a schedule of who could play when and who should game master the adventure. We wrote up the system, made a beautiful booklet which we printed fifteen times, and named it “Dark Dungeon”. This (of course) referred to Jack Chick’s “Dark Dungeons” booklets, which we didn’t take too seriously at the time. The whole preparation took several hundred man hours, and we laughed that we probably would only play two sessions before our scheme collapsed, so that each session should be priced at a few thousand dollars – if we would have asked money for it.
But it did not collapse. In fact, it was such a success that the game group expanded even further, to about a hundred and fifty in its heyday.
We had a few dozen regular game masters, and played well over two thousand adventures together, all through the 1990s. All in one world, and all in the Dark Dungeon system. Remember that this is a table top RPG, and that this was before there were MMORPGs!
Time progressed, and eventually the huge DD group faded. The rules went through a few new incarnations, but as they were fairly stable since 1993, I also decided to put them out on the web. I think that was in 2001. We had several (hopeful) false starts trying to build websites and fora, before thankfully Blogger appeared, and I finally discovered it. Blogger is a wonderful app for tech-lazy writers like myself, and it finally gave me the opportunity to share with others what I had learned over all these years – without the nitty gritty of HTML.
So, with zeal I started to blog and write about everything I considered important and loved about the game. And that’s not just the Dark Dungeon system, which you can download for free from the site (and soon buy in a beautiful illustrated version on Lulu and DriveThru). There’s a lot out there, I figured, which you cannot see if you just go to the game store and buy 4e D&D (or 3e, which was just being launched as I started my first “blog” attempts). Much of the fun in Role Playing you just cannot sell, and you can only learn about it if you share freely. That’s what I wanted to show.
The Dark Dungeon Vaults
Once I had enough blogs, I signed up for the RPG Bloggers Network, which is a great way to share and be visible to many people. But, as they were facing some political issues at the time, they were excruciatingly slow to admit me or anyone else. Fortunately, in retrospect, as it motivated me to build the Dark Dungeon Vaults. Here you now can find well over 2000 RPG blogs on blogrolls, and I add new ones weekly. Actually I keep being surprised and stand in awe how much you bloggers are writing. There’s an amazing lot of good stuff, and some very high-quality coming out of the online community!
Dark Dungeon 2nd Edition in Print
With some luck, you’ll be able to buy the revised and fully illustrated Dark Dungeon starter rules in print this July. It will be out on LuLu and DriveThru, both in print and pdf. I’m very proud of it. Currently I’m working on the next few books, which you could call “Expert Sets”. The first one is planned for October.
Thank you, Jaap, for telling us about your game, your blog dedicated to your game, and your aggregator site. I absolutley love it that you are doing a great part in bringing gaming sites together, and I look forward to checking out The Dark Dungeon RPG when it comes out…