Friday, March 6, 2009

Old School Megadungeon Update

Looks like my idea has generated a lot of enthusiasm and I'm pleased about that. I'm definitely moving ahead with this project, which I plan to launch formally sometime after the weekend. I need a few more days to hash out some basic ideas, get in touch with the many, many people who've offered to help me in various ways -- and I'm very grateful for that -- and otherwise lay down a plan for the whole thing.

For those keeping score, this is how things stand at the moment:
  • I have a domain name and hosting service to deal with the actual placement of the megadungeon online.
  • I am leaning toward using straight-up OD&D for this, though, truth be told, I'm not sure it'll matter what rules set I'm ostensibly using, since they won't play a big part in my writing.
  • I won't promise daily updates, since, as many have wisely counseled, that's a recipe for burning out. Instead, I'll stick to "regular" updates, since that's vaguer and gives me some creative breathing room if I hit a snag or real life intervenes. Of course, given the rate of my posts on this blog, odds are good I'll update the megadungeon nearly daily anyway, especially if I garner enough contributions from others.
  • I'm going to scale back my ambitions slightly. I'd originally envisaged a 10+ level dungeon. Now, I'm aiming for six levels, with the option to expand later. I say six levels, since that's the highest level covered by wandering monster tables in the White Box and because I think six levels is more easily doable. I don't want this project to terminate half-finished, so I'm trying to keep my initial work a manageable size.
  • Finally, I'm thinking to turn this project, at least in part, into a "tutorial" about the design of old school dungeons. So, along with the various rooms themselves, I'll be adding some commentary about what I (or my contributors) did and why. The truth is that a lot of gamers are theoretically interested in megadungeons, but they don't completely understand the practicalities either of designing or running one. I'd like this project to educate about both.
So that's where I am at the moment. I'll be posting more over the weekend, as things solidify in my mind and I'll be getting in touch with people to assist me in this undertaking. I particularly need the services of cartographers who can produce old school-style maps that are both easily reproducible online and easily usable offline. I'm also grateful for artists who wish to help out, since I have even less ability to illustrate than I do to make maps.

More soon.


  1. Wow, I miss one day of posts and this happens! Great gods man this sounds awesome. If I can help in any way - I volunteer my services.

  2. Sounds good, James: I missed the earlier post, so I'd be happy to chime in with some content support as needed/wanted/desired.


  3. James I am at once astonished and appreciative of your enormous efforts and passion for this project. I'm not what you would call an experienced DM, so I am really, really glad to hear about the tutorial aspect of the project.

    I will be watching closely and who knows, maybe if I feel like I've got a worthy idea I'll even try my hand at contributing. Good luck!!

  4. I'm pretty excited about this one. To be honest my maps are not exactly works of art, but if no one else will step up I'd be hapy to lend a hand.

  5. James,

    Thanks for organizing this, it's a wonderful project and I would love to contribute. Please let us know how we can participate when details solidify.

  6. I'm in the process of learning dungeon design myself, but I want to get involved with this project.

  7. Now this is going to be a great project! Looking forward to seeing what happens with this one.

  8. James,
    I just wanted to point out that the six tables of dungeon encounters are meant to be used in a 12 level or so dungeon. At the sixth level of the dungeon, a table 6 encounter is only 33% lickely to occur, not 100%.
    Check the first table in TU&WA, page 10.

    - Zulgyan

  9. Hi James

    If you need help producing old school style dungeon maps, I will be glad to help.

  10. Great undertaking!
    Should you need any help, contact me and I will contribute.

  11. I'd be very happy to contribute artwork to the project.

  12. I'd be interested in contributing to the mapping, if it's going to be done as a multi-person project. In fact, I'm almost more interested in seeing how the process of creating a megadungeon with multiple cartographers might work.

    Obviously, there's still much work to be done shaping the process, here, but there are some curious parallels between the idea of multiple people working to draft and then populate a megadungeon and a Lexicon.

    At any rate, quite an exciting project!

  13. James, very glad to hear about (a) pacing yourself on the release commitment, and (b) the prospect of using straight OD&D rules. I'd be happy to chip in content on a room sequence or two.

  14. Glad to hear the project is a go, probably best to go with 6 levels to start with. Can't wait to see how this progresses.

  15. Check the first table in TU&WA, page 10.

    I always forget that table. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  16. Thank you very much for doing this project. I am thinking seriously of centering my next campaign on a megadungeon, so I will certainly be checking in.