Megadungeons - Anybody has experience with them?

Discussion in 'General Gaming' started by Richard Falken, Jan 14, 2016.

  1. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken The Best Epic Literature Ever Written.

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    Hello, fellow fantasy fans.

    I have recently started to develop a megadungeon for a Labyrinth Lord game. For those who don't know, a megadungeon is a campaing setting located in a very big labyrinthic environment. The idea is that adventuring parties in the campaing get back to the dungeon over and over again in order to resolve quests or gain gold and glory, delving deeper and deeper each time and hence discovering more about the setting.

    My reasons for thinking of such a contruct are many.

    The first reason is that it leads very well to episodic play. One day, the party goes into the dungeon, accomplishes a mission, and returns to the base camp. The next day, they go back into the dungeon and solve other problem. I like complex story arcs and plot driven campaings, but they are very demanding from the players, and if you miss some weeks of play, when you return to the game you don't remember anything from the previous events of the plot. Episodic games don't have that problem.

    The second reason is that it works well with volatile gaming groups. You start with 5 players. If after a while one gets bored and drops, it does not feel so "artificial" in the game world to drop the character - this is somehow related to the point above. Classic megaDungeon Masters didn't organize game groups... they just sat at the gaming club and played with whoever showed up that afternoon. This also lead to variable character formations of different power levels - you had level 5 elves fighting alongside level 2 dwarves. It is worth noticing that in classical rpg systems, those differences didn't break the game too much.

    The third reason is that all those voluble gaming groups end up developping the setting for you. If group A suffers a tkp in the second dungeon level, the group B will have to fight enemies armed with the magical weapons that were looted from group A. What players do matters (even if they fail) and I find such a concept interesting.

    The sad thing is that I think that the members of my group who could drag the other into playing don't like the classic Dungeons and Dungeons systems (of which Labyrinth Lord is actually a retroclone). This means I won't be playing this in the foreseable future :-( The problem is that, for playing a megadungeon, you need a system that has quick resolution mechanics, so combats can be kept short and bloody in order to have more time for exploration, negotiation and roleplaying. This is the reason because many modern popular game systems won't work great in this environment in my opinion.

    Anybody here has ever played or directed a megadungeon campaing and wants to share experiences?
     
  2. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    sorry nope...just started playing classic DnD a year ago. I'll ask my hubby though...he's played and heard of a lot of different stuff. If I can actually get him to post something, he might stop by and comment.
     
  3. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Not really played one either but it sounds similar to any campaign design approach, only that instead of being on land its dealing with a dungeon. It also gives the impression that its combat focused, whilst land based can end up being more political than combat focused (depends on the group and the DM of course).

    Sounds lke it means a lot of note taking for you, but a lot of potential for a lot of fun and some good running themes, concepts and quests.
     
  4. Richard Falken

    Richard Falken The Best Epic Literature Ever Written.

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    Nowadays, many campaings are more plot based than location based. I think there is a difference there.

    For what I know, sandbox campaings were a big thing some decades ago. Megadungeons are just a sandbox, but underground.

    Last campaing I directed was a plot-sandbox mixture. I would come with an adventure of the day and the people available for playing that day would participate. However, the players that were actually guaranteed to be always available often told me of things they wanted to do in the game world, so I would just design my next adventure of the day around such goal.

    I cannot stress enough how important building episodic campaings is. It is just much more flexible. Once you leave high-school, it seems that there is no way to direct a conventional plot based campaing for long. People drops because of social responsibilities, studies, jobs and such.