Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Six Months In

It's now been six months since the start of Dungeon23. Though I tend to be skeptical of these kinds of bandwagon-y Internet "challenges," I nevertheless decided to participate in this one, because I thought it a worthwhile endeavor in its own right – the creation of a twelve-level, 365-room dungeon over the course of a year – and because I thought its pace – one room a day – was sustainable. Sitting here at the beginning of the second half of the year, I still think that. In fact, I'm very glad that I've stuck with this, even if it's occasionally been harder to do than I'd anticipated.

As you may recall, I chose to use Dungeon23 as an opportunity to develop the Vaults of da-Imer, a subterranean area beneath the former capital of the Empire of Inba Iro. My hope was that my daily work would eventually provide me with an adventuring locale in which to playtest Secrets of sha-Arthan, as well as give me the opportunity to flesh out parts of its setting. I also felt it inculcated good discipline in me by ensuring that, no matter what, I wrote something every day if I wasn't going to fall behind on the whole project.

That's not quite what happened, alas. At the moment, for example, I am five days behind in my pace, but I have little doubt I'll be able to catch up soon. Part of the problem for me is that I am no cartographer. Drawing maps is something about which I do not feel confident. Likewise, I opted for an approach that broke down each month's level into two to four "complexes," each consisting of somewhere between 8 to 15 rooms. While a great idea from the perspective of variety, not to mention providing multiple pathways to explore the Vaults, it increased my workload significantly, hence my occasional backlogs of work.

On the other hand, I've completed six levels and 181 individual rooms so far. That's not nothing. I doubt I'd have made it this deep into the Vaults of da-Imer if I didn't have the artificial frame of Dungeon23. I remain reasonably confident that, at the end of this year, I'll complete all twelve levels and 365 rooms. The end result won't be pretty, but it'll be a substantial amount of raw material from which to build something more polished. Even now, I often find myself going back and adding to or editing previous entries, as better, more complete ideas come to me. Frustrations aside, this has been a worthy project. I hope others have found it similarly useful to them. 


  1. See, for me that map just represents old school goodness to me. You can keep your isometric la-di-da stuff, for me this is what a dungeon map should be like!

  2. Great to hear you've stuck with it as if you miss a few days it can be surprisingly tough to get back on track. I'm still going with my #dungeon23 challenge for Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2e. So far it encompasses 3 dungeon levels, a small semi-Mediterranean city-state, a wasteland outlaw settlement and surrounds, and an 'Under-Dark' style subterranean world, all set in the Fighting Fantasy world of Titan. I've just started the fourth dungeon level this month. No maps (they'll come later), just locations and encounters. It's a fantastic spur for daily written creativity, and I hope to publish the final results, with maps and illustrations, as one or several AFF books. You can find it here:

  3. It looks like you are mapping using dot paper, then connect the dots to form squares once you have drawn an area. Is that accurate, or are you using some other approach? I struggle with marking out negative space on graph paper, short of just coloring in unused areas. In play my eyes tend to focus on the grid rather than what I've mapped, but I find your map quite readable.

    1. That's exactly what I'm doing. I'm glad to hear you find the map readable, because I fret about these maps way more than I ought.