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Against the Rat Men Designer's Note

The DFRPG Kickstarter update #88 addresses Against the Rat Men, so I'll add a note here of my own. This is one of those "how the sausage is made" things which doesn't actually help anybody's gaming.

When I was offered the chance to write Dungeon 2, aka Against the Rat Men, for the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game, it came with an additional consideration about components. It had been determined that Dungeon, aka I Smell a Rat, would require three maps. Two of them would occupy the sides of one large sheet in the boxed set, but the second map would have blank back. That side could be used for a map for Against the Rat Men.

But there was a complicating factor. Unlike the electronic products I usually work on, which are rather flexible until quite late in the game, there were a physical product with its own serious deadline involved and a cartographer who wasn't me to work with. I had to finalize the map in a matter of weeks, well before the adventure was finished.

So, then, I approached it a bit like haiku, letting the limitations of the form guide the writing. The map drove the adventure because it had to. I also left both myself and the GM some wiggle room. The map of the lich-marquessa's crypt has a bunch of letters on it marking potentially significant locations, but since the map is reused for different levels, not all of the letters indicate something significant on every level, and some of them are used to point to something nearby (it's the unmarked grave next to Arch Stanton's!). The map provides efficiency, and players can see the map because the markings on it don't give them clues about what's on any given level.

I think it worked out, ultimately, and not least because the cartography guy SJ Games used, Ben Mund, pretty much nailed it on the first draft. I'm still quite happy with how the maps came out and a little smug that the map for Against the Rat Men is clearly visible in pictures of the box contents.


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