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    Canonfire :: View topic - Empty Room Principle of D&D:
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    Empty Room Principle of D&D:
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Feb 06, 2011
    Posts: 201
    From: South Africa, Cape Town

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    Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:18 am  
    Empty Room Principle of D&D:

    Source: http://shamsgrog.blogspot.com/2008/05/empty-room-principle.html

    D&D is a vehicle for creative input. Logically, therefore, D&D is hindered when the potential for creativity is reduced.

    Why the Empty Room? The Empty Room is a metaphor, it represents the potential space provided by the designer or author of a game, to be used by the players of that game to exercise some form of personal creative input.

    Room 212: Empty Room. This room is empty.

    Wow, are you kidding me? I purchased this module so that the author could do this? What kind of product is thisÖthis is a rip-off. How uninspired and unoriginal. An empty room. Bah!

    OR

    Oh goody! Now I have a nice neat area for me to drop in my recently home brewed Giant Frog Mud Golem guarding that sink hole to my Muck and Mire sublevel!

    The Empty Room is evocative of Old School gaming. It means nothing, it insinuates nothing, it is empty and devoid of description. Does it mean that when the characters enter it, they are in fact in a vacuum? No, it means that the referee must fill in the blanks, creating the roomís description to whatever extent he so desires. Itís an invitation for creativity. Itís the best analogy I can think of for OD&Dís open ended potential for creativity, limited only by oneís own imagination. OD&Dís gaps should always be taken as creative possibilities, much like empty rooms, not as a detriment. As Gary said in the OD&D afterward ďÖwhy have us do any more of your imagining for you?Ē.

    Thus, the Empty Room Principle, that D&D is a vehicle for creative input. Any version which limits this creativity is in fact moving away from the Empty Room Principle, and therefore moving away from the purest form of D&D.

    The Empty Room Principle borrows from a simplified form of Occamís Razor Principle. Occamís Razor? Huh? Simply put it says: Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate, or, Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily. Wait, thatís not the same thing! Essentially, it is. A stronger form of Occamís Razor is: If you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, pick the simplest. Or in the only form that takes its own advice: Keep things simple.

    To extrapolate upon this Empty Room Principle:

    1. Rules are what you make of them, and the limits of D&D are defined absolutely by oneís own imagination.

    2. D&D is best when engaged, both by player and referee, with critical thought and creativity.

    3. If everything is defined, D&D becomes a session of rote memorization of the rules, with success or failure boiling down to random numbers generated on dice. A situation which can be mimicked by a computer.

    4. OD&D trumps all other versions. It is a vehicle for creative input in ways that modern versions are not. How? By keeping things simple (Thank you William of Occam).

    I am not going to get up on my soapbox again and attempt to say my preference for the purest form of D&D is the best. Clearly, it is not for everyone. Many, nay MOST players and referees alike enjoy the more defined, in-depth treatment of the modern D&D rules. Maybe someone out there reading this will look at OD&D differently because of this post, and this Empty Room Principle, maybe not. Whatís truly important here, is that OD&D should never be thought of as primitive or outdated. Itís simply the purest form of D&D, and one which should be the acknowledged basis for all other versions. After all, every later edition of the game is simply a heavily house ruled version.

    Now, go out and fill some empty rooms!
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
    Posts: 2631
    From: LG Dyvers

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    Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:16 am  

    Great article link DarkHerald. Smile

    I agree for the most part, though I do enjoy the expanded rules of 2e and 3.5e. They make monsters and characters alike more powerful and interesting. However, I have always enjoyed the privilege of houseruling anything that I think I can improve upon.

    SirXaris
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 21, 2003
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    Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:33 am  

    Don't forget that sometimes an empty room should be just that.
    Site Theocrat

    Joined: Aug 15, 2003
    Posts: 235
    From: WoG 2.0

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    Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:52 pm  
    There's Always Hope.

    I am not so sure on any case.
    When I was a kid, my players wandered from their village to the big city. In the grasslands there would be a door in the middle of nowhere that opened to an underground dungeon.
    In the rooms would be goblins, orcs, oozes, and whatever else. Treasure galore. Oh, and a Dragon. The Dragon would be in a room that he would at least be able to fit in, but how did he get through those 10x10 walk ways?
    Or how did those orcs and goblins eat and live? How did any of those dungeon dwellers survive on the limited eating materials? Where did they poop?

    I still ask all these questions. Now in 3.5 there was a monster template in the dungeon sourcebook that had dungeon monster template that allowed them to not require as much food.

    However, now I realize that empty rooms are filled with the treasure of the bowels of those located in the middle of nowhere in an underground dungeon in which only an iron door stops them from going forth on an adventure.
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    Theocrat Issak
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 30, 2001
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    From: Niflheim, 9to5

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    Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:41 pm  

    vonbek wrote:
    Don't forget that sometimes an empty room should be just that.


    Exactly. An empty room is a nice place for characters to waste time (and spells/charges) searching for secret doors, tracks, illusions and magic, while the DM just grins and keeps making wandering monster rolls. Evil Grin
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
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    From: LG Dyvers

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    Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:27 pm  

    IronGolem wrote:
    vonbek wrote:
    Don't forget that sometimes an empty room should be just that.


    Exactly. An empty room is a nice place for characters to waste time (and spells/charges) searching for secret doors, tracks, illusions and magic, while the DM just grins and keeps making wandering monster rolls. Evil Grin


    Yep, like all the dead-ends in the Goblin caves in the Caves of Chaos. By the time the party reaches a room that has a secret door, they've given up trying to find them as just a waste of time. Evil Grin

    SirXaris
    GreySage

    Joined: Oct 06, 2008
    Posts: 2782
    From: South-Central Pennsylvania

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    Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:18 am  

    And there we have it -- different DMs, with different imaginations, doing different things with their "empty room."

    I think that's kind of what Dark Herald meant. Wink

    Personally, I could think of all kinds of things to do with an empty room. For those who are following my story . . . keep following. There's an "empty room" in there -- somewhere -- I promise. Evil Grin
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 07, 2004
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    From: Mt. Smolderac

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    Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:07 pm  

    Empty rooms are there to make players paranoid.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Feb 20, 2008
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    Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:13 pm  

    I hate character sheets because of a similar principle. They encourage players to limit themselves by desiring to "fill in the blanks."

    Your fighter can be a samurai if the setting warrants it, not because he meets the prerequisites for the prestige class.

    Is the fastest way to learn any new trade to kill monsters, gain enough experience points, and take a level of rogue?

    Fourth edition and pathfinder adventure design solves the quandary of the empty room once and for all. If there's a room, there's an encounter! If its pathfinder, it will probably have two half-fiend/half-celestial/giant/lolth-touched/axiomatic dire boglings in it.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
    Posts: 2631
    From: LG Dyvers

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    Mon Mar 21, 2011 7:20 am  

    chaoticprime wrote:
    If its pathfinder, it will probably have two half-fiend/half-celestial/giant/lolth-touched/axiomatic dire boglings in it.


    Lol! Too true! Laughing

    SirXaris
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 01, 2007
    Posts: 699
    From: NOW IN Cape May, NJ! Loving the new digs!

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    Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:50 pm  

    chaoticprime wrote:
    If its pathfinder, it will probably have two half-fiend/half-celestial/giant/Lolth-touched/axiomatic dire boglings in it.


    This got a pretty good grin out of me ... I loved the humor. I also stopped to think about the fact that in Pathfinder organized play, I have seen plenty of rooms that were empty, and even have had to use a few to rest (in the sewers? Gross!) and recoup HP and whatnot.

    It is something that I have lamented in 3.x playing ... there's often a lot of over-templated NPCs and monsters. Sometimes, there's not enough simple goblins, or what have you. They're psionic, half-fiend, Golgash Gnasher Goblins! :Happy:
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