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What is and How To Run a D&D Meat Grinder Gary Gygax Style| Game Master Tips
In this video Nerdarchy explores meat grinders. We talk about the meat grinder origin and Gary Gygax. We talk about what kind of adventure a player can expect from a meat grinder game. We give advice on how to create a d&d meat grinder which works for any edition of dungeons and dragons. Nerdarchy also shares it’s experiences playing in meat grinders and how our player characters faired in those games.
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22 COMMENTS

  1. I've thought of a pretty good situation/campaign/party-gatherer: everyone just got hired by a mercenary guild. Each player can tell their character(s)'s backstory and/or why they joined the guild if that's what the DM wants, or you can go meat grinder and throw merc after merc through the dungeon.

    This also helps to solve if/when players don't show up. You can just have them on a different assignment for the guild. The same goes for new players. Here's this new hire, reinforcements, etc. that the guild sent to help you or for you to train or whatever.

    Another thing that I really like about this idea is that each player can have multiple characters simultaneously. You can mix and match to plan for the upcoming mission, job, or whatever.

    One final point is that the players' characters can rise through the ranks of the guild, allowing to game to turn more towards intrigue and politics.

  2. Something I'm really curious about – does anyone have experience running a meatgrinder for epic level (21 and above) characters? I feel like things might get rather entertaining throwing PCs who have that much power into a gygaxian dungeon. Can anyone attest to this? Does it make the dungeon a cakewalk, or is it still deadly? And should players still be encouraged to make multiple characters, or would spells like Resurrection and such curb that need?

  3. What you're missing is the REASON the Meat Grinder was created. It was Gygax's reply to too many stupid people saying "my character is unkillable" blah blah blah. He made the Meat Grinder style adventures with the idea that, if you were interested in story and roleplay, you could survive. It would still be hard, but by roleplaying, being engaged and asking questions, you can see most of the traps coming. The idea of Meat Grinders is that when you go in with a "Gamist" mentality you'll die so fast it's not even funny, but if you go in with a "Roleplay" mentality you should be okay.

  4. Reminds me of a comedic one shot I ran for a 3.0-3.5 mish mosh home brew. BOOM! An interdimensional portal explodes outward and sucks the party in. They're on a floating cemetery with open graves, each with a coffin sitting 6 feet under. All the coffins are trapped with explosives and have vampires inside of them except one with the exit portal.

  5. You said "Gygax Style." I was expecting three D6 in order. That's how we used to make characters. Bad rolling will explain how my characters didn't survive. And that was just an average dungeon.

  6. If you want to play the videogame version of a meatgrinder, you should try The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link.
    It is a platformer kind of Castlevania. This game wants to kill you. The difficulty does not really come from bats knocking you into pits (although it does that), it comes from you slowly running out of health and mana in dungeons with limited refills. As you go deeper into the dungeon, you will inevitable loose life against the strong monsters the game throws at you. Or sometimes you have to use spells to get past an obstacle and waste the mana you need for healing. Sure, there are some flasks of mana hidden in the dungeons, but there is a 50% chance an enemy will spawn instead.

  7. Good video! Takes me back…

    In the early days of 2nd Ed, back when the only supplements were the Fighter and Thieves' Guides, our DM sent our 1st level characters into his "Revolving Dungeon", a cursed subterranean labyrinth of 50' x 50' rooms connected by 50' stretches of hallway. Each room had 4 doors. When you entered one, the door closed behind you and the whole structure would magically rotate. Often, one of the doors in the new room would open and a random monster or monsters would appear and attack. Sometimes, it would be a party of NPCs, some wishing to trade, others fight. Other times the room would remain empty. The hallways between the rooms were often trapped with some brutal selections from Grimtooth's book. No one hungered or thirsted in the dungeon.

    He took the time to write up a great backstory for Dungeon and detail the surrounding area. As characters died, their replacements would literally walk through a door and join the party. By the time we made it out the other side, my character was a 14th level fighter with the Barbarian kit and the only surviving original member, along with an NPC, a dwarven porter the original party's wizard had hired. This all lead right into a fabulous Underdark campaign involving inter-dimensional travel and strawberries. Good times, good times…

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane and consider me subscribed.

  8. 'Take over a small country – by yourself!'

    I created a meatgrinder campaign based on the myth of Theseus and Menutauros. It's not a game to be taken seriously, it's a game where your characters are definitely going to die frequently, horribly, and stupidly. I've described it as essentially a roguelike on more than one occasion.

  9. Could have a main character being a captains and then also have another game of the actual troops? they would have some story arch with the captians and the tactics and the troops being affected by the actual war and having to fight. could be an interesting meat grinder.

  10. We went into a dungeon that wasn't suppose to be a meat grinder but it was suppose to be one that leveled you up slowly. Once you were high enough level you were suppose to have the skills to find all the secrets and defeat all the enemies. It went wrong when a character had a search skill high enough to find a secret door when he rolled a twenty. Needless to say we weren't ready for a cr 5 at first or second level.

  11. I like the feed on this myself i like a Gygax meat grinder feel but toned down as a high challenge game or campaign that has the player characters looking to defeat the offending power to be

  12. The real secret to making a meat grinder game fun is figuring out how to make dying part of that fun. If dying is not the end of the game for a player and in fact includes an element of reward, then it no longer becomes a punishment, but an aspect of the game that can be worked and exploited with skill like any other.
    I must make this game.

  13. Dying in a game, or even the odd TPK due to negligence or other reasons, doesn't mean it's a meatgrinder necessarily. Death is a possibility in a good game, at least in my opinion, and it should be up to the player to kill himself via bad decision making, usually.

  14. I've played a lot of meatgrinder adventures in AD&D and 3.5/Pathfinder. Generally they weren't totally insane meatgrinders (most characters survived after epic nat-20 rolling). Good fun. Insane. Makes you totally paranoid! haha.

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