King Arthur Pendragon

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Own Megadungeon

As I continue to run the Keep on the Borderlands, and I'm having a great deal of fun with it considering none of my players ever played AD&D 1st edition old-school style, I am missing something: a creation of my own. Enter the MEGADUNGEON. This is a term that was new to me, although, in retrospect, I had already read a few large dungeons even before considering playing AD&D. I own the super-module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil and I have heard of others like Greyhawk Ruins, Ruins of Undermountain or the mythical original Castle Greyhawk. I read Joseph Bloch's definition of a Megadungeon on his blog and although I don't know if this is the universally accepted definition, it appeals to me.

I want a place that the group or several groups can return to time and again to explore, a place of such profound depths and complexity that it will take many adventures just to skim its surface, a place that will never be depleted of monsters, traps and puzzles to tantalize the players for months to come. To this end, I have decided to start my own megadungeon. I will start posting regularly about the creation of this new dungeon which I have yet to decide if it's set in Greyhawk or a world of my own creation. I have no title yet, only a vague notion that it should be a castle set on an island in the middle of a river (taking a cue from Gygax and his own Castle Greyhawk superimposed on a map of the U.S.A. I have decided to use a specific part of Portugal, inspired by a real castle).

Some notions about it:
  • It will not have an overall plot. The plot will evolve naturally as the characters explore the dungeon and interact with its denizens. It will be whatever happens during the adventures. In other words, no preconceived results or storylines.
  • It will have an overarching theme, and several parts of it will have their own thematic elements to make them distinct.
  • It will have several factions living inside that will be enemies or foes depending on how the characters react to them.
  • It must evolve with time. The characters' actions will impact on it and it will be a very different thing after many months of play than it was at first. However, it will never be depleted.
  • It will have many levels and, using my Less Is More approach and my notions on how a dungeon should be, I will expand it little by little, with many new levels, new subareas, etc.
I think these will give me a solid basis to start this new project. I find it very exciting as it tickles my creative bone, a thing I sorely missed for a long time.


Joseph Bloch said...

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with! (Oh, and it's "Bloch", not "Block".)

Dwarin said...

That was an embarassing typo if I ever saw one. I edited the post to correct it. Anyway, yours and James Maliszewski's blog inspired me to try the old school approach. It has been fun so far.

Lord Kilgore said...

> It will have several factions living inside that will be enemies or foes depending on how the characters react to them.

"Enemies" or "foes"? THAT'S the sort of dungeon I'm talking about. All baddies. All the time. LOL.

Dwarin said...

I like that one a lot. Funny typo. I won't even change it but it's evidently "Friends or foes". :-)

Hedgehobbit said...

Castle Whiterock, while not really a megadungeon, was a pretty well written large dungeon. There were multiple (very optional) quests some covering several levels others just within one level, like escorting captives to the surface or laying the bones of a hero to rest after his tomb was desecrated, etc. Multiple factions struggling with each other as well as clues or hints about lower levels found throughout the upper ones.

The levels connect in all sorts of ways with some levels being difficult, if not impossible, to find. While there is a big bad guy at the bottom, the players won't know about him at first.

Dwarin said...

I like some of those ideas. Quests should be optional as the bulk of the dungeon is about exploring and defeating its traps, puzzles and denizens. I intend to create a backstory of sorts but only hints of it will appear throughout the dungeon giving it a air of mystery. The secrets of the megadungeon should never be fully disclosed. I won't go "the final bad guy" route as it gives a sense of closure. I want to expand this thing as the players explore it, perhaps even several different groups.