Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Night Mordheim: The Dungeon and The Archetype

Hello fellow Mordheimers, and gamers of all stripes! I've spent the last few weeks in a pretty foul mood, haven't I? I tend to get all worked up about stuff, and then I burst like one of Papa Nurgle's zits.

That doesn't change the fact that I've gotten a good subject here. Almost as interesting the whole map campaign thing, which I really need to get worked together and thrown into a PDF one of these days. Art first, then revision, then er. I'm getting a tad off topic.

Ah, going back to the Dungeon. There is one big thing that really ties the Dungeon Delver to my personal favorite hobbies of Wargames and RPGs. That's the Archetype. Let me get a tad Jungian on you. Carl Jung was a psychoanylast that worked a lot with cultural histories and mythology. Very interesting stuff. Worth investigating if you are interested in the psychological basis of our hobbies (and stories).

Archetype is a very powerful force in our collective stories. People use different words for the different nuances of Archetypes; Cliche, trope, and stereotypes. To boil it down to oversimplification, Archetypes are the really recognizable thing. Dungeon Delvers cut out all the insidious grey areas of RPGs and leave the vagaries of rank of wargames behind. Dungeon Delvers are about Heroes. Big Simple Heroes.

Dungeon Delvers boil down the heroes to their core. The villains for that matter, as well. When you start a Dungeon Delver, there are typically four guys. Sometimes there are more. Typically four is what it is. There is something mythical about four. It's the number of good buddies that you typically have. It's considered the minimum number for a 'good' D&D party. Four is the best number for a ski trip. Four is two teams of a basketball pick up game. I'm getting a bit caught up in the numerology here, aren't I? Four really isn't the point. It's about the Archetype of the Hero.

Heroes come in many flavors. I'm going to start broad and then get a tad more specific.
*The Hard Hitter: Close combat, deals damage.
*The Magic User: Uses spells, to harm or to heal.
*The Ranged Fighter: Bows, crossbows, and arrows!
*The Skilled Person: Lock Picking, finding traps, and cool stuff.

So those are the broad categories. So that's the basics. That's what you NEED. However, the flavor of those broad categories are pretty weak, and not very evocative. I mean no one sits down at the table and says 'I want to play the skilled dood!'. If you look at that a bit further, those particular four types make up EVERY conceivable type of Hero. We could play the game of name a Hero, match the type. That's a tad boring, and a tad unfair, since this is the internet and we can all use our google-fu.

Now, what makes Archetypes, well, Archetypes is the further refinement. They are the little bit of seasoning that takes a plain piece meat and turns it into a Filet Mignon. That's the key, though, is not too much seasoning. Too much seasoning makes it too complex, and a character not an Archetype. Let's break it down;
*Heavy Hitter; The Knight, The Dwarf, The Shaolin Monk, The Rambo Guy, and The Barbarian.
*The Magic User: The Wizard, The Shaman, The Witch, The Young Priest, The Old Priest, and the Druid.
*The Ranged Fighter: The Ranger, The Elf, The Sniper, The Heavy Weapons Guy, and scared running away guy.
*The Skilled Person: The Thief, The Acrobat, The Ninja, The Assassin, The Sage, and The Guru.

Wow. That's quite a list. It covers a bunch of stuff. Some of it is great, some of it is not very applicable, and almost all of it is perfect fit for Mordheim. So to take those ideas, and change them into a Dungeon Delver. I'll even do a Sci-Fi version, as well.

Mordheim: Almost this whole list is from the Hired Swords enteries, or some of the expanded stuff. However, it makes things really interesting. You could almost do it with any warband.
Heavy Hitter: Dwarf Trollslayer
Magic User: Warrior Priest
Ranged Fighter: Elf Ranger
Skilled Person: Imperial Assassin.

Sci-Fi: Alright! Let's go back some old school and do up a bit of Space Hulk.
Heavy Hitter: Power fist blood angel.
Magic User: Librarian.
Ranged Fighter: Assault Cannon guy.
Skilled Person: Just as a change up, a SCOUT!

I've talked about the overall Archetypes that are really needed, so next week, I'll talk a bit about how all of those guys are used in a Dungeon Delver, and get a bit more Mordheim intensive, since that's what we're all here for anyway (right?).

1 comment:

  1. I was expecting something about the Hero's Journey and the whole into-the-underworld thing, but this is good too! Nice take on the Big Four and why they're the Big Four; if I were the sort of person who designed class-based RPGs, I'd take this as a benchmark for the character generation system...