D&D General Jaquaying the dungeon - a term to avoid

opacitizen

Explorer
You used them in the 80s because Jaquays pioneered them in the 70s, to such a degree that they became the "best" sort of dungeon design. When Jason Alexander first wrote the original blog post, he was honoring Jaquays by naming the style "everyone used" after its nearly forgotten creator.
No. Now you missed my point, apparently. We definitely did not use them because of Jaquays, because we did not have access to anything she wrote. For a while we didn't even have a PHB, we started out playing a 100% homebrew based on a few paragraphs we read about D&D. See, this was before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and we were behind it. Then we got a PHB, but that didn't talk much about adventure design, and we never actually switched to reading let alone playing published adventures. We wrote and have been writing our own, and have arrived at non-linear stories ages ago, because they're simply logical, because situations and locations in real life are very, very rarely tunnel-like.

Let me emphasize, this is not to belittle the efforts or the achievements of those who wrote comprehensive, well designed guides, adventures, etc to/for total beginners etc. I respect them, absolutely, and if it's their step-by-step, somehow unique method whose coining is debated here, I'm 100% fine with the method being called however they like. Like, I'm OK with calling rolling the dice johning the dice if johning prescribes using a dice tower made of iron and using exclusively chopsticks to pick up the dice, or something.

Btw, I'm afraid this is getting completely off topic (because hey who cares how a random dude started playing rpgs and when and where, and what he thinks of a topic he doesn't really know about), so: sorry, everyone, I didn't mean to be negative nor to hijack this.
 

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Reynard

Legend
No. Now you missed my point, apparently. We definitely did not use them because of Jaquays, because we did not have access to anything she wrote. For a while we didn't even have a PHB, we started out playing a 100% homebrew based on a few paragraphs we read about D&D. See, this was before the fall of the Iron Curtain, and we were behind it. Then we got a PHB, but that didn't talk much about adventure design, and we never actually switched to reading let alone playing published adventures. We wrote and have been writing our own, and have arrived at non-linear stories ages ago, because they're simply logical, because situations and locations in real life are very, very rarely tunnel-like.

Let me emphasize, this is not to belittle the efforts or the achievements of those who wrote comprehensive, well designed guides, adventures, etc to/for total beginners etc. I respect them, absolutely, and if it's their step-by-step, somehow unique method whose coining is debated here, I'm 100% fine with the method being called however they like. Like, I'm OK with calling rolling the dice johning the dice if johning prescribes using a dice tower made of iron and using exclusively chopsticks to pick up the dice, or something.

Btw, I'm afraid this is getting completely off topic (because hey who cares how a random dude started playing rpgs and when and where, and what he thinks of a topic he doesn't really know about), so: sorry, everyone, I didn't mean to be negative nor to hijack this.
That's very cool. It is an unusual way to experience it, though, so you can understand my assumption that you enjoyed many of the same influences as most.

Byvthe way, (the general) you don't have to have actually run or even seen Caverns of Thracia to be influenced by it. Likely, the people and products that did influence you were influenced by it. That is how art works.
 

tomBitonti

Adventurer
I'm going to make a bold assertion: Having multiple pathways through a dungeon doesn't need a special term. Just don't turn your dungeon into a tube (like the Sunless Citadel or latter day World of Warcraft dungeons) and you're good. Not everything needs to be turned into jargon.
Yeah. What’s wrong with the word “linear”? As in, don’t make your dungeon too linear? Or, do put in multiple options for how a dungeon may be traversed?

Related: Disguising a dungeon by bending it or making it a spiral or any other distortion still leaves a linear dungeon.

Inventing a term with this sort of negative meaning is a bad idea. Such a term carries as much disapproval as it carries a description, and can easily be used just to invoke disapproval rather than provide a useful description. Don’t use such terms.

TomB
 




el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Why are we continuing to promote Justin Alexander in threads on this site, given his behavior here?

I don't know about anyone else, but whatever that behavior was it must have happened during my 10 year hiatus from the boards (2009 to 2019) but personally, unless it was wildly racist or sexist or something, not sure why that behavior (however, egregious) should color the utility I get from (some of) his content.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Yeah, I missed most of the 4E era here -- I was playing neither Pathfinder nor 4E, so the free-floating fights here about the games held no appeal for me -- and that's I'm guessing when whatever happened, happened. I do remember other former bad actors (V. S., for instance), but I don't recall ever encountering JA, assuming he posted under that name.
 

GuyBoy

Hero
Not sure who Mr Alexander is, outside the thread about his scathing review of Shattered Obelisk.
I do know who Jennell Jacquays is of course, and just how awesome her contribution to the hobby is. From the incredible Dungeoneer magazine, through Dark Tower, Caverns of Thracia and many other works, Jennell is one of the most important people in the hobby’s history and culture.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Yeah. What’s wrong with the word “linear”? As in, don’t make your dungeon too linear? Or, do put in multiple options for how a dungeon may be traversed?
Nothing's wrong with using the term linear. I don't think anyone's opined that there is.

What a few of us (and JA's original article) have explained is that saying "make your dungeons nonlinear" is a bit vague and doesn't really capture all the cool features Jennell Jacquays' dungeons have, which provide more options and meaningful decisions in exploration, allow areas to be encountered in different ways, different contexts, and in varying sequential order. Charlequin summarized some of those a few posts ago...

Yes and no. I mean, first off it’s a verb, so even in the simplest terms it means making a dungeon nonlinear, either in its initial design, or by making changes to a dungeon that was initially designed to be linear. In fact, the article in which Alexander coined the term was ultimately about changing the dungeon from Keep on the Shadowfell to make it less linear.

There are a lot of elements you can include in or add to a dungeon to [the term in question] it. Listing such elements directly from part 2 of the original article, we’ve got…

• multiple entrances
• looping paths
• multiple level connections
• discontinuous level connections
• secret paths
• sub-levels
• divided levels
• nested dungeons
• minor elevation changes within a level
• midpoint entry
• non-Euclidean geometry
• extradimensional spaces

Not all dungeons that have been [the term in question]ed include all of these elements of course, but any of them can be utilized when [the term in question]ing a dungeon. The purpose of the term was to give a name to the process of using techniques like these to make navigating a dungeon more of a challenge in and of itself.
Jacquays used and innovated so many different cool design elements, so early in the history of published D&D, that it's really noteworthy and impressive to a lot of us. I think it made perfect sense to recognize her innovative creativity with an eponym.

And anyway, "make your dungeons nonlinear" still seems kind of wrong. Sometimes linear dungeons are appropriate or make sense. But, especially if a DM or their group is finding dungeons or exploration a bit boring or unengaging, it's worth analyzing layouts and maps to determine whether the dungeons one is using are in fact too linear and predictable. And if one IS trying to make the exploration elements of a dungeon more interesting and meaningful, Jaquays came up with a bunch of techniques and features one can imitate to address that issue.

Related: Disguising a dungeon by bending it or making it a spiral or any other distortion still leaves a linear dungeon.
Yes, the original article uses a graphing technique (building on its usage by another OSR designer) to explicitly illustrate that point with diagrams.

Inventing a term with this sort of negative meaning is a bad idea. Such a term carries as much disapproval as it carries a description, and can easily be used just to invoke disapproval rather than provide a useful description. Don’t use such terms.
I'm really confused by what you've written here. What negative meaning do you think the invented term has?
 
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