Dungeon Habituation

The old-school adventure is in the dungeon. Sure, you can have adventures in cities and the wild, but the main locale is the dungeon. After all, it’s where the game offers a deep and clear procedure of play. My favorite description of this procedure is Labyrinth’s Lord:

The structure of the game is a good one, it sets the limits and creates expectations. While in a dungeon, you explore, you find treasure, you fight monsters, you avoid traps. Maybe you interact with an NPC or your party. But even the people most invested with the old-school style can be victim of habituation, as discussed by Adam Millard (seriously, go watch his video).

So, what side-activities can we add to a dungeon crawl, that help break the sense of habituation?

Night camping and party party

Some versions of the game state that your party can’t fully rest while in a dungeon. You have to take a break for one turn after five turns of exploration (including encounters), but not sleep, which means you can’t recover HP naturally while in the dungeon. But, hey, you can do whatever you want, the people who wrote these books are not your dad.

How about you and your party set a camp in a safe room, and party all night? Well, maybe not all night, you need to rest. And not too loud, either, you don’t need to attract attention.

Camping is a good chance for your character to do a lot of things:

  • casting an identifying spell on that weird item you found
  • making a bunch of arrows
  • tending to wounds and injuries
  • testing a potion to try to figure out its effect
  • reading the letter or book you found
  • dividing the money you’ve found
  • eating food and drinking water
  • cooking what you killed or harvested to make more rations
  • preparing spells for the next in game day
  • roleplaying social time if you are into it

Not to mention the usual activities that players and referees do:

  • updating resources (encumbrance, ammo, money, rations, torches and so on)
  • making a brief summary of the current situation
  • taking a rest and telling a joke or drinking a beer or eating something


Chaos Magick-User, Vagabond, Dork

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