Saturday, November 12, 2011

Megadungeon Centred Campaign Musings

- While stocking a level with random procedures, it can be fun to mix things up, roll two encounters, and combine them. It can be simple, like "Okay, this gang of evil Clerics has a Manticore pet/mount" or "If I combine a Disenchanter and a Flail Snail I'll have a super-awesome Fiend Folio Fiend!" This is something that Type IV got right in principle, regardless of the Affliction-shirt wearing Poochy-esque EXXXTreeme! implementation.

- Having a variety of human-types on the megadungeon monster stocking matrices works out pretty awesome; it's definitely something OD&D got right with all the Lords, Necromancers and Evil High Priests on the dungeon encounter tables. With my tables I have the AD&D standby bandits, berserkers, and NPC parties, but I also have Clerics, Fighters, Magic-Users and Thieves. You end up with wacky cults, super-villains, and Dr. Frankensteins in your dungeon.

- Jeff Rients' XP For Exploration idea is pretty awesome, and genre-appropriate, and I do try and implement with having bonus XP for compiling a caver/explorer-esque of an area, but you can also put it into effect by having extra money randomly scattered on the floor when you stock.

- When mapping it's fun to put in areas that are inaccessible, incomplete trans-level connections, etc., and put in something down the line. This can Jaquay your dungeon.

- Dark Souls, Dwarf Fortress and Nethack are all great console and computer rpgs that are full of awesome megadungeon DM inspiration, everything from layout to mercilessness.

- You can never have enough monster books. If you have enough you can stock a "kiddie pool through to shit creek without a paddle" megadungeon without doing the giant rat/kobold/centipede/goblin/orc/etc. thing. You can even be counterrevolutionary, a do the whole Raggi-sian "Only Unique Monsters According to Trve Literary Principles" by cherry picking from a pile of books and not reusing.

- It would be nice to have a set of wide and deep megadungeon monster stocking tables that has sub-matrices by level for categories such as Undead, Guardian, Ecology, Soldiers, etc. like the awesome tables that Roger from Rules, Roles and Rolls compiled and the procedures for stocking Tekumel dungeons from the Pettigrew selections.

- The AEG Ultimate Toolbox random table book would be a lot more useful if the ink-guzzling photshop margins had a header that stated WHAT the chapter was about (such as DUNGEONS or NPCs) instead of just saying "CHAPTER 5." Also if you have five d20 tables for the same thing you could have one d100 table instead.

- I wish Michael Curtis wrote a "Dungeon Encyclopedia," Zak S. wrote a Vornheim-equivalent for dungeons, that the OSR publishers were releasing MORE monster books instead of variantions of the Keep on the Borderlands and the Holmes Basic dungeon.

- This and This are really useful for stocking a megadungeon (and is why I'm always whining about Swords & Wizardry not using Treasure Type); did anyone ever make one for dungeon-by-level stocking according to OD&D and the DMG Appendix A?

- The way OD&D gave every sword and Alignment (and a 50% chance to be intelligent) makes sense when you realize how many dang magic swords piles up in a megadungeon; it's worthwhile to take some time to differentiate them.

- If the party is surprised by a monster, it's really fun to do as Raggi suggest and not even describe the monster at all, "Bradan stumbles back with a bloody gash across his torso and 13 points of damage!" leaving the players to confusedly sputter about what's going on.

- It's even more fun for the DM to take a smoke break at this exact point.

- When the party is beat up and bailing on the dungeon back to town it's fun to make the players roll the random encounter dice.


  1. I love monster books. I have a bunch of them, for games I have never player and probably will never play. I'd love to see an OSR one, not only because the world could always do with another monster book, but also because I'd love to get involved in drawing the monsters.

    As a related aside, Dr Rotwang mentioned a pair of books called Beasts a while ago, calling them systemless monster manuals or something along those lines. He's quite right; they're excellent books and they're the kind of thing I'd like to see from the OSR.

    On an unrelated note, I love that monster surprise attack idea.

  2. Blair! It's good to see you posting again! :)

  3. that the OSR publishers were releasing MORE monster books instead of variantions of the Keep on the Borderlands and the Holmes Basic dungeon.

    Speaking as someone who's been contemplating doing a monster book of his own, let me say that I suspect a big reason why we don't see more of them is that people expect them to include a lot of art and that costs a fair bit of cash, which most of us simply don't have. That said, I agree that more monster books are needed.

  4. It's my hope that the Monsters Wiki with all the monsters from Labyrinth Lord, AEC and the 0e Monsters is a suitable starting point for working on those encounter tables. Many of the monsters are tagged, too, thanks to the tiredless efforts of Gavin.

  5. Hm, the link got stripped, so here it goes a second time:

  6. I'm going to start using the party-rolls-wilderness-encounter-on-the-way-home house rule. It will combine nicely with the d30-once-per-session house rule if they think of it.

  7. Thanks for the props. I only have Labyrinth Lord treasure data handy but blending it with the appropriate Appendix A tables was pretty simple. Works but using original tables generates some strange results for loose treasure. Perhaps I'll clean that up later.