I'm taking part in the Secret Arneson Gift Exchange. Thanks to Zak for setting it up; it's great to share our creativity with each other as a community. I got my request yesterday. I guess to keep it secret I shouldn't blog the process, just release on the 27th, But I want to say a few words.
It feels weird, not knowing the requester. Mine is essentially a small dungeon and I feel I could go at least three main ways: 1) gonzo, play on the ironic distance that exists when we play the game, 2) creepy, try to make it scary in earnest, 3) fantastic and full of wonder.
I'm not much of a gonzo guy, I tend to make those jokes as meta-game banter and like a base line serious game to always return too. But I'm not opposed to the concept. I'm really interested in how 2 can actually scare players and get them involved, but I think you have to be careful, too much serious stuff about torture and violent crimes against the helpless can be a drag.
I really like the third, the stuff of dreams, the stuff hard to find in real life (usually little islands of it in national parks and art galleries). But this is hard to convey to players. "You see a waterfall", no matter how you describe it, is never going to be the same as seeing Bridalveil Falls. We must strive, though.
So, I'm thinking, I might try three runs at this request with styles 1, 2, & 3 and see what I get. I think not making one unified work might be a cop out, but I'm also thinking mining these three veins may help me generate and then I can pick the best rooms from each and smoosh them together.