Throughout the history of gaming, and countless quests and adventures… Have you ever stopped to think why dungeons are so well maintained? I mean, really sit there and think about it for a second. You walk into a nearly pitch black and seemingly empty cave that may be damp and a bit smelly, but it has thriving torches mounted to the walls, along with dozens of traps and locks throughout its cavern waiting to be used.
Sometimes, you’ll see maybe one or two enemies. More often than not, those enemies are creatures or beasts who may be lacking opposable thumbs.
So who is REALLY behind the maintenance of dungeons in games?
In an r/ExplainLikeIAmA post from 2014, one Reddit user asked that exact question. In case you are unfamiliar with that specific subreddit, its purpose is for users to pose a question, and have someone explain some topic to them as if they are _____. That blank can be anything from galactic space aliens, the President, and so much more. In this case, /u/GameFreak4321 asked…
Explain why the torches, traps, locks, etc… in dungeons are so well maintained like you are in charge of a dungeon maintenance crew and I am an adventurer.
One Reddit user came up with the following response in the most applaudable manner.
“You know what’s changed the landscape boy? Unseen servants.
It was one of your type that changed my profession forever. Back in the day we used to make a week long tour. One week I’d be bleaching the bones for ol’ Firebrand, next week I’d be resharpening the stakes by the pit of death. No! Idiot! Not in the pit of death! Everyone knows that’s just a portable hole, I’m talking about the spike trap on the first bit of floor after the pit of death. I swear…
Anyway it was a good gig. Turnover was low unless the owner didn’t give the memo about the new updates. I’ll have you know I personally swept out the sunless citadel. Heck I even got fruit every once in a while. Yes sir, it was a good time.
Some of the boys would get a little grabby though. I’d put a stop to that. Had a fella named Squee who used to move stuff all the time. Paid dearly for it too. Ever come across something valuable just laying around? Squee.
He’d be on spider web duty, but he’d be messing around. I got to finish my time being in charge of traps. You’d see cobwebs and dust but have you ever encountered a trap that didn’t work right? No, you haven’t. You’re welcome.
Where was I? Oh right. Magic. Unseen servants practically put us all out of a job. Hire two novice wizards and you can keep a whole place clean with some fancy hocus pocus. It’s just disrespectful. Hey don’t put any heart into it. You know who used to feed the gelatinous cube 10′ above the little pit trap? Me. I’d like to see an unseen servant do that
Oh well. Times are a changing I guess. I’ve always felt that things are becoming a little less extreme as time goes on. At least in terms of the really good stuff. Ran into a fella the other day who could cast unlimited light spells. I thought it was a joke at first. Called them cantrips. I guess that’ll be the end of dungeon maintenance.
I’ve got a vacation spot lined up in Sigil though, so don’t worry about me. It’ll be the good life for me. I got a permanent room in the sensorium for cleaning up all the s….never mind. Anyway I guess I’ve talked your ear off enough. I’m sure you’ve got economies to destroy and families to leave without providers. You go ahead and just keep on acting like you’re the only person that matters.
Just do me one favor. Think of me next time you think about slacking off on your reflex training.”
Curious about the limitations of the ‘Unseen Servants’? So were we. When questioned, the user above proceeded with…
“Boy do you even know what they do!? The weakest unseen servant can do the same thing for a whole hour. Scrubbing for an hour straight! The strongest can go for nearly an entire day.
But all of them, ALL of them, can’t exert more than 20lbs of force. They’re weak as kittens, inferior to mindful beings in every way. They can’t attack, it’s too hard a task for them. Go look it up in your fancy SRD book if you don’t believe me. All that information in one place. We used to have to carry four books just to know who we were.
Unseen servants attacking people….might as well be undead servants. Ohhhhh! Undead servants! If ever there were a bigger waste of space…
For every four undead servants you’ve got, you gotta have another live one to keep them clean. You know how dusty an eye hole becomes? No you don’t, because you’re too busy asking the wrong questions trying to get ahead in life by living the “high life of adventure.” You don’t get to be my age like that. No sir. Even those gray bearded er….scaled dragon wrought kobolds have everyone fooled. They didn’t start adventuring until they were old. There’s a reason for that too! It’s a bad idea!!!
But I didn’t mean to get all over you again. Times have just been tough lately. Come on now, let’s go see if your ma has any more of that firewine left.”
Oh man, how times have changed for the (now retired) dungeon maintenance crews.