Friday, June 18, 2021


Stephen Wendell is the player of Aíthfo hiZnáyu, the adventuresome governor of the Tsolyáni colony of Linyaró, in my House of Worms Empire of the Petal Throne campaign. That campaign has been going for more than six years now – it began in March 2015 – making it one of the longest, continuous RPG campaigns I've ever refereed. During that time, I've not only had a great deal of fun, thanks to the participation of Stephen and his fellow players, but I've also forged friendships that mean a great deal to me. It's not exaggeration to say that those friendships played a significant role in giving me the courage to start blogging again after so long an absence.

Stephen is a man of many talents beyond roleplaying my favorite Tsolyáni on the make. Since the start of this year, he's been blogging over at Donjonlands. There, he's using the Holmes rulebook and Monster & Treasure Assortment – as well as his considerable creativity – to stock and explore a 179-room dungeon map produced by another dear friend and player in my House of Worms, campaign, Dyson Logos. It's a fun and inspiring project, especially if, like me, you take pleasure the simple joys of stocking a dungeon from random tables and then trying to make sense of the results.

As I prepare The Vaults of sha-Arthan for play later this summer, I've been thinking a lot more about how to stock and present a large dungeon for weekly play in an unusual setting. Stephen's posts have given me even more to think about and I expect they might do the same for you. Take a look if you have the time.


  1. That link's an interesting series of posts. I was particularly struck by the thoughts about the size and scale of a true megadungeon, something that could sprawl under multiple cities (or mountain, or similar grand feature of the landscape) rather than mostly being confined beneath just one.

    If you don't mind a relatively high-fantasy setting, a potential solution to that would be to adopt a "transit framework" approach that uses magical (or technological) means to tie different zones of the megadungeon together without them being near one another geographically. Something like the tubeway on Tekumel, or a series of magical portals, or (and I think I like this best) a thematic sub-dimension that has exits into each zone.

    The Stygian Library from Soul Muppet Publishing would be a good example, a sprawling procedurally generated library that opens into any library anywhere. You could easily use that (or a similar concept) to link clusters of rooms/levels that are far from another via conventional means, giving you the opportunity to use the megadungeon not only as an enormous delve site but as a doorway to exotic locales, strange cities, lost ruins, etc.

    Seems to me that you get a lot of advantages that way. Each "zone" can be quite distinct from any other in look and style and you can make them manageably small or large as suits. Many (or even all) zones can offer access to locations outside the megadungeon to explore/rest/recuperate rather than needing to backtrack to the surface or camp underground. The linking network can be its own thing, especially if (like the Library) it's unstable and your route changes with each trip, and you could restrict access to make things more difficult for the party - perhaps you need specific keys/passwords to enter or leave each zone, or an amount of time to pass. And you get a megadungeon that truly stretches everywhere in your campaign world, and possibly beyond depending on how ambitious you feel.

    Yeah, I like that a lot. Might take some work to make your megadungeon zones feel like a cohesive whole (or is that hole?) rather than a bunch of unconnected delves, but I think it could be done.

  2. Particularly impressive that he has/is using the '77/'78 individual levels editions of Monster & Treasure Assortment. I have the '80 compiled version that I shelve with my Holes/Blueholme stuff.

    Regardless of the version, there are a couple pieces of cool art in there that surprisingly wasn't re-used that I am aware of. Like the Dave Trampier sphynx for example.

  3. Thanks, that looks awesome, so I bookmarked the blog and hope to follow on with it. Nice to have a more dispersed megadungeon that still fits together cohesively.

  4. Always thought a megadungeon set inside a massive pyramid would make for a cool Tekumel-like adventure setting. I could see the same thing working for The Vaults of sha-Arthan.