Some nights I'm so tired I just can't sleep, so I thought I'd blog instead. Just try not to be so hard on my syntax.

Note: I suspect that the following ramblings may be adapted to any kind of sandbox - be it a Megadungeon, a huge wilderness area, a space sector, etc.

If you've been following the so-called OSR for a while you surely remember this post over at Greyhawk Grognard (also author of the impressive Castle of the Mad Archmage Megadungeon). If not, well, do yourself a favor and go read it right now. Done? Good, let's move over. So we all agreed that a Megadungeon should be not considered merely as something that is there to explore, but also the very center of the campaign you're playing around it. This is very convenient from a lazy busy DM point of view: you're going to spend some time designing it, and you totally want to play the hell out of it (otherwise it's just a BIG waste of precious time). Now, people often complains about megadungeons being not very good if you're plot inclined, unless you go with some subtle railroading, create some very static encounters (i.e. Room 122: Evil High Priest about to sacrifice a naked virgin on the altar of the Squamose Amoeboid God) or put a boss monster on every single level. Well, I just don't agreed with this and what I hope to offer here is an alternative take on the thing - pretending for a moment that exploring a huge never-ending dungeon is not fun enough for any party of D&D players worthy of this name.

Try to look at the Megadungeon as an un-exploded bomb. It's there since forever, it probably has a long history, and many secrets to unearth. But what happens when you unearth those secrets? What happens when you poke the proverbial sleeping dog? We're not just talking about "if you slay the orcs of tribe A till the last motherfucking one of them orcs of tribe B are very likely to move in the western section of the level". We're thinking BIG out here. For example, in the Megadungeon I'm developing lately, one of the lower levels is home to a dragon everyone believes dead. Even more, the descendants of the supposed dragon slayer are using their ancestor's heritage to tyrannize the lands around the Megadungeon. What would happen if the party goes down in the cave looking for the dragon's hoard, and discovers that the beast is still alive? What if they awake the dragon? Also, a covenant of wizards has taken residence in the black tower that the Witch King built near the dragon cave and are trying to re-settle things in order for their master to return. Will they lose time and resources fighting the dragon, or gain a powerful ally? And so on.

As you can see, I'm not talking about timed events: I'm talking about triggers left here and there to allow the players to take meaningful choices (a term which can never, ever be over-emphasized in sandbox games), which creates conflicts, which actively shape the story.

1 comment:

  1. I just stop by to let you know I love your page and I had a good time reading it. I’m glad that my friend emailed me the link to this blog. I just bookmarked this blog and I hope your next one is going to be about the same topic again I’m looking for ward to it. One thing I want to add is I like your writing style.
    Cardsharing Server | Best cardsharing | SEO STAR SOFTWARE HOUSE