Is "A Wizard Did It" Acceptable Worldbuiling?


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I never understood why a wizard would protect his laboratory with a puzzle door. Answering the puzzle gives anyone access...and you already know the answer. Why?
If I was designing a trap for my laboratory, the solution to the puzzle door would trigger the trap. The actual answer would be something completely random. A puzzle dungeon with the wrong answers to every puzzle. A wizard did it.
Something like this scenario actually appears in the 3.5e adventure Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk. There's a puzzle room where the answer is unrelated to the question
 

aramis erak

Legend
WHile I find "A Wizard did it" a bit trite, it's fine.

As for dungeons making no sense to exist, period? Bah! Real world underground cities existed. Portions of modern cities are underground, including businesses in a few. (London, Portland, Montreal) One Australian city is almost entirely built below ground. Ethiopians and Libyans have dug down into the ground to build cool and shaded housing for millenia. And the (now gone) "Walled City" of Kowloon; an urban hive that was very dungeon like. And similar slums in other places.

And the ancient cities in Cappadocia, including Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı, Özkonak, Mazıköy and at least 32 others.... all underground.

And let's not forget... many human species seem to have liked caves. Even if only one remains today. (I honestly hope some of another species or two are hiding in the remaining jungles.)

 

Fauchard1520

Explorer
WHile I find "A Wizard did it" a bit trite, it's fine.

As for dungeons making no sense to exist, period? Bah! Real world underground cities existed.

I'm not saying that it's unreasonable to have underground locations with believable backstories. I'm asking whether that's necessary for the game.

Take the mirror chamber in Conan the Destroyer:


If the party stumbles across that thing in an abandoned ruin, do you the GM need to know who built it and why? That's what I'm talking about here. Not whether dungeons in general can have backstories, but whether it adds anything to the experience at the table.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I'm not saying that it's unreasonable to have underground locations with believable backstories. I'm asking whether that's necessary for the game.

Take the mirror chamber in Conan the Destroyer:

If the party stumbles across that thing in an abandoned ruin, do you the GM need to know who built it and why? That's what I'm talking about here. Not whether dungeons in general can have backstories, but whether it adds anything to the experience at the table.
Having the backstory always influences how one presents it, even if the players don't get the backstory.

In the mirror chamber, the question arises as to whether the mirrors existed before the spell. Are they material components? Are they Summoned? Are they Illusory? (and, in various games, the answer mechanically might vary.)
If I go in knowing they're material components of an invulnerability spell, then Conan's going to be dealing with the slippery and dangerous glass.
If I go in knowing they're summoned, then when the critter is defeated, they probably vanish, along with their shards. So Slick and dangerous, but only while in the AoE.
If they are illusory, a manifestation of the spell of invulnerability cast upon the monster, but not real objects, then they probably don't present any threat to Conan at any point, but the monster protected clearly does.
If they and the monster are illusions, Conan failed his save. But the moment the monster's defeated, or he's out of the AoE, only his own psychosomatic injuries remain.
It all subtly alters how I run it.

If I were to run it as seen on screen, I'd lean towards the mirrors being a material component. Unless my group is expecting that.
 

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