It struck me just now that Delta’s game was not the first OD&D based fully random hex-crawl convention game I’ve played. In fact, if you look back to last August, I posted about a game I played at GenCon billed as OD&D which made heavy use of the old Judge’s Guild Wilderlands hex maps.
The funny thing is, everything in the paragraph above hints at a game that had all the makings of some serious fun. And yet, if you read the post, you’ll see I was pretty critical of it. In fact, it was one of the few convention games I actually contemplated leaving early.
I guess it comes down to this: you can’t just expect magic from random content generation. You’ve got to bring something to the table. You’ve got to riff off those random elements, find interesting ways to tie them together, and then be ready down the line to reject new randomness that doesn’t gel with what you’ve built so far. It’s not an easy thing to do, and honestly I can’t even think of how you might approach teaching someone to do it. Which is unfortunate, really, as it leaves us with this simple fact: some DM’s got it, and some don’t.
Which I guess is exactly the problem that’s sent WotC into such a tail-spin in recent years.