My thoughts are scattered right now; Thursday is my busiest day at work but 6:30 tomorrow I'll be DMing between 6 and 8 people. Two to three of them have never played a rpg. Only 2 have ever played with me before. I'm not really ready. On Grognardia, James mentioned the style of play he does being hard to do if he's having an "off" day. Man, I can understand that. I wonder if the reason I don't play more than I do is that DMing is such a taxing performance for me. I'm a little bit of a perfectionist and an introvert so, to improv details, improv combat explanations, improv npc voices and reactions takes a lot of juice. Ah well, too bad "Dungeon Master" wasn't a paid position.
If you're my player stop reading here.
I think I'll have the party explore the EZ-Map dungeon. Looking at it, it seems sort of boring in its simplicity, but maybe that will work like a constraint and make me bring my game.
I need to at least sketch out a second level. Haven't yet.
A few of my solutions to the flexibility/verisimilitude problem are layered history and the quotidian distressed.
So, History: I think this dungeon was a temple to some dire power built on top of some timeless alien artifact. It was sunk into the sea at some point, and an earthquake brought it back to the surface. After its re-emergence it was used as a temple to some fly totem and finally invaded by amphibious creatures that are warring with the fly shamans.
That lets me have weird Lovecraftian inscriptions lower in the temple, even artifacts that might bring horrible creatures to life. It also allows ominous temple murals and reliefs depicting heinous but human acts and I'm imagining that temple deity's face scratched out everywhere by someone. And then the gross fly totems everywhere: maggots, half-fly-half-man things, and finally whatever these frog/salamander dudes have as culture.
And The Distressed Environment: It was under the sea so everything is damp, dripping, mildewed, bits of coral stuck to murals. Also, things are weakened by the earthquake: broken walls, collapsed tunnels. But especially there can be anything weird in this place if I just imagine it was flotsam. Yes, I think there should be something very unlikely to be here found in a wooden crate that was washed inside. But what? Perhaps a Wardian Case or maybe a futurisitc machine with knobs that cause interesting thing to happen to those that turn them.
Okay, just that little bit has made me feel less scattered. I think I could run something interesting right now if I had to. I think I'll read back through my blog for ideas of magic items to plop in this place.