It's not surprising the GoblinPunch and Necropraxis has some good thoughts on adventure design. I like both of these posts because they help distill the source of the most enjoyment of D&D- player lead/initiated non-linear problem-solving.
- The generic optimum is the best plan that's printed on your character sheets.
- Dynamism is the opposite; it's how much you have to change your plans each round.
- Nearly all games would benefit from more dynamism. Let's talk about where it comes from.
- A common mistake that DMs and game designers make is confusing complexity and dynamism.
- Imagine a lich with a bunch of spells and abilities: fireball, finger of death, teleport, disintegrate, counterspell. It has a bunch of legendary actions each turn, paralyzing people and using cantrips. As a monster, the lich is fairly complex to run.
- And yet, despite that complexity, the lich is not very dynamic. A party facing a lich expects to take a lot of damage every turn. Most of the lich's abilities do not disrupt the party's plans.
I was curious about the way in which players would choose to interact with various factions rather than intending to subvert tropes, such as, for example, presenting orcs as having a sympathetic subaltern perspective. For example, given two wicked factions in tension controlling different aspects of a dungeon, how would players react? What about two seemingly sympathetic factions locked in internecine conflict?
I wanted to play to find out who would become the antagonists.
In retrospect, maintaining a certain degree of discipline regarding avoiding moralization at the time of populating the setting enabled greater player freedom and, probably, more interesting and complex moral outcomes, without transforming the game into a simplistic morality play, or pandering to the idiosyncratic political ideals of myself or my group of players at the time.