Thursday 1 August 2013

Dungeoneering in Yorkshire

Brief holiday over. I didn't finish the Gouged Eye, but I did make some headway, and later models are looking much nicer than the first sample linesman. I introduced a cousin to Bloodbowl, but otherwise gaming was limited to a few drunk games of Articulate, Ingenious, and Jackass. Fun, mind.

We did go on two days out, though, that will probably have an effect on the dungeoneering that our group undertakes in the future. The first was a trip with the girls to Forbidden Corner, self-styled 'strangest place on the world'. If you have kids, and live in the north of England, I really recommend a trip to Middenheim - sorry, Middenham - but make sure that you book, as while it seemed largely undiscovered a few years ago when I first went, it is now very popular, and visitors are limited so as to not spoil the atmosphere. If you don't have kids, borrow some and take them.

The place is a fantastic (emphasis on that word, in at least two meanings) folly, with a maze, various odd statues and hidden gardens, a haunted crypt (which is new) and 'riddle' poems dotted everywhere. At the far end of the Corner (you enter through a massive, burping mouth) is a 'castle'. After climbing up onto the battlements, you descend, climbing down narrow staircases, into a 'dungeon', complete with occult rooms and a kingdom of rats. Frightening enough for little kids to get a real kick out of it, and weird enough to inspire fantasy gaming.

The second day out was to Caphouse Colliery, the National Coal Mining Museum for England. Amazingly, the underground tours are free (and so I chucked a fair bit of money in the collection box), with ex-miners taking you for a tour designed to show you conditions in English mines from the early 1800s to, well, the end of the underground coal mining in England. I wonder if there will be museums dedicated to recreating the workplaces we've lost over the past few years... Curiously, there were more than a few ex-miners on the tour as visitors (including men who had worked at the same pit as my uncle, grandfather, etc.). Not sure I'd go on a tour of any of the offices that I had worked in, but then I doubt the tour guide would be as engaging, or the subject matter as engaging as 'dangerous industry deep underground'.

And that is what will bleed back into my gaming. Movement rates in D&D? Ludicrously slow you say? Perhaps, once you move the adventure outside a dungeon, but underground, in narrow, low ceilinged tunnels, with uneven, slippery floors, in TOTAL darkness, where the earth or the air itself might kill you just as surely as the GOBLINS? No, that is slow, difficult, and dangerous going. A little sample of being deep underground will add colour (mostly black) to my imagination of the underworld - even if I'm not skilled enough to evoke that in play! 

So, it's not about going all Dungeoneers Survival Guide, overdosing on injections of realism into our games, but finding the right combination of the fantastic and the realistic. 


  1. I must get over to the Forbidden Place - my Auntie and Uncle live in Middleham so I've no excuse not to really - plus I have two children!

    Talking of dark holes in the ground, there are some great show caves up in North Yorkshire too. I have great childhood memories of Stump Cross Caverns and took the wife down Gaping Gill a few years back.

  2. Replies
    1. No or at least I don't remember going when I was younger - we either headed up to the Lakes or occasionally the Yorkshire Dales when I was a kid so I don't really know the Peak District. Looks good having googled it though.