The Granularity of Megadungeons

Because I ought to be working on the spell list for the updated magic rules so that the new wizard character can actually do his thing, so of course I'm thinking about megadungeons instead.

Derinkuyu: Real Dungeon. Google it!


So, we've got node-based megadungeon design and we've got various dungeon map generators, dating back to the 1st Edition DMG.  I think these two extremes of granularity (very little and very much respectively) are missing a sweet spot in a methodology for designing a megadungeon.

I made some faltering attempts at this back when I was starting up the Fellhold campaign a little more than a year ago.  Looking back at it just now, it's not as embarrassing as I was afraid it would be, but it's also not as useful as I thought at the time.  For one, I've never gotten around to posting the worksheets or sample tables I intended to make, but for another, it basically boils down to a step-by-step of what anybody who's been refereeing for a month or two has picked up about any dungeon creation, and treats megadungeons as just a lot of connected regular dungeons.

Most recently reading through Gus L's HMS Apollyon posts, though, has really crystallized for me the idea that megadungeons are not just many connected regular dungeons, nor one large normal dungeon, nor still a hex crawl that happens to be underground.  They occupy a weird in-between space that I think could still use some support.

So, here's what I'm thinking about diving into:

  • Something  like the node-based design for creating overall physical and informational connections
  • An approach or some rules for how dungeon denizens move/pass information along these connections, not just adventurers
  • Something like tags or traits to quickly and easily communicate "feel" for an area, and a good way to present it that's better than just "write this down at the top of your map"
  • How to prevent a megadungeon from seeming like a finite, clearable space without being ridiculous (no "oh, hundreds of goblins moved in over night")
  • Some better way to manage faction interactions than just "remember that there are factions and have them do stuff in the background.  Courtney Campbell's "On the Non Player Character" is giving me some thoughts on this right now
  • Not just ideas on *what* tables to have, but ideas on how to make them, and why it's worthwhile to make tables instead of just putting stuff in there that you make up
  • Some thoughts on what to do with the dungeon besides make it a place where monsters live and traps are (Patrick Stuart's "Veins of the Earth" posts have really been making me think about the environment as its own thing)
So, that's what I've got for right now. If all of this has been awesomely covered somewhere else, I'd love to hear it, as that would let me move on to my idea for a PvP D&D game of adventuring companies (think conquistadors and (East) India Company).