Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some Megadungeon Details

The megadungeon project is picking up steam and, barring some unforeseen turn of events, should go live sometime next week, although I don't have a precise date. A lot depends on how soon a few bits and bobs being done by people other than myself are completed. That said, I'm mightily impressed by the assistance I'm getting and would like to thank everyone who's contributed their talents to this. I have no doubt that the final result of all this work will be much, much better for all the help I have received (and will receive in the future).

Since many of you are chomping at the bit for some guidelines for submissions, I'll offer the following tentative ones. Fuller and more detailed ones will appear once the site is up and running.
  • Please send all submissions to me at my email address to the right. Let me know if, in the event I use your submission, the name under which you'd like credit to appear. Likewise, if you want a link to your website/blog along with your name, let me know that as well.
  • Anything I accept remains yours to use in any way you see fit to use it. I only ask for the right to use your submissions in the context of this project, including in the (unlikely) event that a printed version of the megadungeon appears later.
  • The native rules set for this project is the Swords & Wizardry: Core Rules. They're available free here. Submissions are not required to use these rules -- I can make an conversions myself -- but having them in a form that's at least roughly compatible with them is a big help to me.
  • Submissions can be any length, but I generally prefer shorter entries to longer ones, since I want to keep the format relatively spartan and easily customizable.
  • Besides room descriptions (which I'll discuss below), I'm especially keen on getting submissions of artwork, new monsters, new magic items, new spells, tricks, and traps.
Once the site is live, there will be a selection of maps available, with each room/area numbered. If you're interested in a particular room, you can lay claim to it by sending me an email to let me know that you'd like to detail it. I'll respond to let you know if it's still available and, if so, you're expected to make your submission in fairly short order. "Fairly short order" is vague, I know, but I can't be more precise than that, since it's very situational. If you choose room 50 and I've only detailed up to room 10, odds are good you have more time than if you'd chosen room 12. That said, in most cases, I will not be waiting on a submission to arrive before proceeding. If someone claims a room and doesn't make a submission by the time I get to that section of the dungeon, I'll just make up my own details instead. I'm taking this approach not to be a cruel taskmaster but to ensure that the whole project doesn't founder on any one person's inability to follow through. In the end, if this project fails, I want to be the reason for its failure, not anyone else.

Now, the first areas to be detailed will be the following. If you're really keen to help now and would like to offer something before the maps are posted, you can do so. Otherwise, you can use the basic ideas I'm presenting here to start thinking about possible submissions.
  • Lower Temple: This is the ruined remains of a Lawful temple used primarily by villagers and pilgrims. It's small and was sacked by humanoid invaders, whose evil masters used it as a field headquarters as they besieged the fortifications atop the nearby hill.
  • Lower Gatehouse: This is all that remains of the portal that once allowed travelers to pass through the walls of the monastery.
  • Tower Ruins: Two defensive towers still stand and may hold inhabitants and/or secrets of use to adventurers.
  • Ruins and Rubble: The monastery once had many other buildings, mostly made of wood and other less sturdy materials: a hostel, a hospital, etc. These were all razed when the monastery was attacked, but some remnants of them remain, some of which might be of interest.
  • Upper Temple: The upper temple was used primarily by the monks and by others on high holy days and other important occasions. Like the Lower Temple, it too was sacked but its structural sturdiness and powerful consecration to Law made it much more resistant the ravages of time and the depredations of Chaos.
  • Upper Gatehouse: This portal limited access to the underworld over which the monastery kept watch. Even now, it stands strong and passing through it requires not just bravery but also wisdom (or at least cleverness).
  • Fortifications: The protective walls and rooms of the Upper Temple's defenses still stand and certainly hold clues to be found.
  • Hermit Caves: The monastery grew after a number of mystical hermits established themselves here, living lives of prayer and devotion in a series of natural caves. There are several entrances into the underworld hidden here as well.
  • Lower Catacombs: The Lower Catacombs are a combination of natural caves and rough-hewn chambers used to entomb the dead of non-clerical and low estate. They contain at least one entrance into the underworld.
  • Upper Catacombs: The Upper Catacombs contain more hewn chambers than the Lower Catacombs and houses the tombs of clerics, including a succession of abbots, and individuals of high estate. There are several entrances into the underworld here.
  • The Well: Used to draw fresh water for the fortifications, it's also another entrance into the underworld.
That's the general structure of the surface ruins of the monastery; it's these that will be detailed first, following by levels of the underworld proper. As always, I'm very keen on suggestions about how to use this basic set-up to create an interesting environment to explore through play.


  1. James, what's the website for this project?

    Since you're using S&W rules (thank you kindly), I feel morally obligated to give some S&W benefits to people who are helping out. Unfortunately I can't really do a discount sale, since the project doesn't have any measurable profit margin on the rule books to cut down in the first place.

    I can cut the price down by $1.08 to bring it to "cost" on Lulu for a period of time, letting any participants who prefer to work with a printed book get them at cost. Let me know if that's a good option.

    Also, I'm probably going to do an order for myself from Lulu of a batch of softcovers, and I could give a couple of those out as prizes - only it's not a competition, and the project doesn't have the warchest to hand out very many free books at a cost of $8 or whatever the at-cost price is.

    But I'm open to ideas of what I can do for giving out rewards, or whatever. I could also host a running pdf of the completed parts of the dungeon on the S&W website. I assume that if you ever decide to put out a printed version, you'd do it yourself at Lulu, but I'd certainly be willing to do that also.

    Just let me know what would help out.

  2. Will there be a side-view schematic of the different underworld levels (at least the first 6 you're planning; as in OD&D Vol. 3 and Holmes Basic, etc.)?

    I recommend that. Get a good artist to organize the whole (as with the surface ruins map, fantastic), and so add a very old-school touch indeed.

  3. Matt,

    You're under no obligation to provide anything to this project beyond your good wishes. To my mind, you've already done more than enough by creating S&W in the first place.

    (And once I can spare the cash, I'll be snagging a hardcover version of the second printing, because, as we all know, hardcovers rock)

  4. Delta,

    There will indeed be a side view. I just need to find an artist to do it.