Dungeons and Dragons. Punk and Prog.
In my noggin, these four things are hopelessly twisted together into the revisionist ball that is ‘old school’ D&D.
Punks versus Prog
One is labyrinthine, layered and elaborate. The other is destructive, disrespectful and daring. A 70s dialectic that captures the essence of the dungeon crawl.
I mean, let’s face it: the most lawful good of Dungeon Crawling PCs wouldn’t look out of place at a Sex Pistols show. These are people who can’t or won’t be a famer, a soldier or a priest. Hell, they can’t even hack it as regular thieves.
In an old school game, even a Paladin or Cleric of the Great God Goody-Two-Shoes is someone who enters an orc-infested hole in the hopes of killing things and taking their stuff.
And your average party of grave-robbers cum adventurers is likely to last as long as a garage punk band did in ’78. After a few sessions half of them will be gone and replaced, forgotten except for their garish names and the havoc they wreaked.
Clearly PCs are people that your average villager won’t miss.
Then there are Dungeons.
Twisting mazes populated by surreal and unlikely monsters.
Home to glowing jewels, deadly traps and speaking fountains.
Dungeons are like the intricate synth-fusion operas of bands like Gentle Giant or Rick Wakeman: elaborate, concept-driven and the self-indulgent. They really don’t need to make any sense to anyone but the wizard (or really the DM) who poured their heart into making them.
A dungeon is a lovingly crafted piece of architecture built by the love of a DM…that will then be soiled and smashed by punk PCs.
And really, I can’t imagine running D&D any other way.