Dungeons of Olde

Trashing old-school dungeons, one tile at a time!

The Origins of Dungeons of Olde, Part 2

May 04, 2016

Note: This post concludes the brief overview of the origins of Dungeons of Olde which began in my first post to this blog. If you haven’t read it yet, click the link above to Part 1 to read the story from its beginning.

Computers bring me back to games…again…

After my decade as a photographer, I spent most of the next decade—from 2007 to 2014—as a public school teacher in the Bronx, NY. While teaching, I began a Masters in Instructional Design and Technology, which led me to become interested in software development once again (I’d only taken a 25-year break…). I began studying software development through various means, and in the fall of 2015, I began the web development immersive program at Dev Bootcamp (DBC) in New York City. It was during my time at DBC that I found myself playing table-top games for the first time since the early 1990s.

Any time you get enough software people together in one place, you’re going to have gathered enough table-top gamers to play a game. We didn’t have a lot of time to play games during the program, but I did manage to play Carcasonne, which I’d owned for years but never played, and Settlers of Cataan, which I’d seen in Barnes and Noble and on Big Bang Theory but again, had never played. I also got to play cooperative games that were totally new to me, including Pandemic and Betrayal at House on the Hill. And in the DBC cohort just behind my own, a low-key D&D campaign emerged. Although I wasn’t able to participate in that campaign, I did get to watch a few of their lunchtime sessions. Suddenly, I was jonesing for a table-top RPG session like I hadn’t for years.

The Dungeons of Olde project arises

By the spring of 2016, I had graduated from DBC and was building my web dev portfolio while looking for a job. I was looking for a project that would let me learn the Jekyll static website generator and the associated Liquid templating language before I re-engineered my portfolio website, which was written in simple HTML5/CSS3.

About this same time, while Googling random table-top RPG keywords late one night, I happened across across theDMsCraft, DM Scotty’s table-top gaming channel on YouTube. Scotty’s videos are mostly crafting how-tos, showing you how to make really nice table-top miniatures for next to no money—assuming you have a fair amount of time to invest. I watched several of Scotty’s videos, then bookmarked the playlist, hoping some day to have the time to try out some of his techniques.

Then I found the downloadable gaming resources at DriveThruRPG.com. I was particularly taken by the printable paper miniatures—the distant descendants of the Cardboard Heroes paper minis we published while I was at Steve Jackson Games. I downloaded, printed, and constructed a few of the free sets, just for kicks. Then I bought a few of the paid sets, and printed those as well.

Pretty soon, I had about 50 inch-tall paper warriors marching across my desk, with nothing to do with them. My daughter, a third grader, enjoyed playing with them on the coffee table, though, and I began to wish I knew of a table-top fantasy rule set simple enough for a nine-year-old to play, but complex enough to hold an adult’s interest.

Hey, wait a minute…

Then I remembered that old rule set I’d started all those years ago. If that set of rules were finished, and if they were as simple and straightforward as I originally intended them to be, they might be the perfect game for me to play with my daughter and all these paper miniatures. Of course, I couldn’t justify spending hours and hours working on a table-top game when I had a web dev portfolio to build.

Hey, wait a minute…

In a flash of inspiration, I hit upon the idea of using the development of that rule set as the content for a large, static website built with Jekyll and Liquid. Genius! I could finish the game I’d abandoned several times over the past three decades, and develop a marketable web dev skill, all at once! What could possibly go wrong?