Three MegaDungeon Tips
Roleplaying Tips Newsletter #1220
Three MegaDungeon Tips
So, in the coming weeks I’ll be sharing some megadungeon tips and resources. These will be for any megadungeons, not just Dungeon23 stuff, to keep it as useful to as many RPT GMs as possible.
And today I have three tips for you based on questions from RPT GM Gabe.
But first, thanks to everyone who sent in Dungeon23 and megadungeon resources. I’ve started compiling them in this Google Sheet. Feel free to email me with any great resources you come across:
Dungeon23 Links & Resources
RPT GM Gabe asks:
I’m concerned about my own over-preparing/perfectionist tendencies getting in the way of building something quickly each day. I know when I’ve tried to do ‘light’ adventure/dungeon prep in the past, I’ve often fallen down a rabbit hole about what things I need to read or research to do the project ‘right.’
When I first read about Dungeon23, my brain immediately began wondering about the task of what prompt I could possibly give myself that I knew enough about to do 365 rooms, and how much background reading and template finding I would need to do before getting started. Which feels very against the vibe, but still led to some anxiety around something I want to do for fun.
What I feel like I need most is help determining when to say “I’m done” faster, if that makes sense?
I have encountered such wandering monsters before. Here are three ways I’ve avoided them and earned full XP:
1. Use Stat Blocks
A stat block is a templated list of facts. It makes a task repeatable and consistent, which speeds things up. The best part: after filling out each line in a stat block you know you are done!
Here’s a nice and simple stat block for a megadungeon room:
Name: Call it something cool and descriptive.
Location: What’s the environment like?
Conflict: Obstacle, trap, hazard, puzzle, or foe?
Reward: Treasure, plot point, or discovery?
Description: Three notable details, or a line describing the situation.
Simple Room Stat Block
Room Stat Block Example
At the front gate that the PCs must pass through to enter the keep, guards try to shake the party down.
Location: North Gate, 10’x10′ dirty guard room, body odor, 2 unshaven guards.
Conflict: A demand for 10 gp per PC or value in kind.
Reward: Potential contacts (bribable), 25 xp/guard, random pocket contents
I feel this represents a perfect entry for Dungeon23. And you don’t need more than three details per line. Like haiku, constraint breeds creativity.
Create or find stat blocks that match how you think about the different types of game pieces, such as NPCs, treasure items, locations, and events. Tweak as desired!
2. Figure Out the Whole, First
It’s tough coming up with random ideas for rooms on the fly. Writing prompts help. But my brain likes to create lists and inventories of things. So I start with a megadungeon location theme. You then brainstorm all the parts or sub-locations. And in turn, that list becomes your room inspiration list.
1d12 MegaDungeon Location Themes
- Castle in a Pocket Dimension
- Inside a Dead God
- Inside a Massive Moving Machine
- Within an Active Volcano
- Dyson Sphere Containing a Cube World
- A Series of Keeps Floating in a Cloud Complex
- A Prison Near a Leaking Nuclear Plant
- A Haunted Monastery
- Mines for Special Material
- Sanitarium Near a Comet Crash
- A Massive Vessel that Travels the Planes
- World Tree of Broken Demi-Gods
For example, a brainstorm gives me these possible sections or “levels” for a haunted monastery:
- Temple complex
- Kitchen area
- Waste and sewage area
- Special Tower
- Dungeon below the temple
- Sleeping quarters
- Leadership quarters
There are no wrong answers. It’s fiction after all.
Then choose a section, turn it into a 5 Room Dungeon, and create a stat block for each room. Add more rooms to flesh out levels as desired!
3. Create Structure for Prep in Your Life
If I were a betting person, I bet I could predict what you’re doing at any given time on an average day if I knew what you did at that time for the past several weeks. That’s because we are creatures of habit. Put another way, your 1440 minutes a day are already spoken for. And because we can’t save, create, or invent time, we must carve it out of our existing daily life for anything new we want to squeeze in.
To create a room stat block every day habit, we must stop something we’re already doing habitually, and replace it with our new daily habit.
I cover this in Day 2 of my 7-Day GM Organization Challenge, which is no-charge for RPT GMs. Sign up here:https://www.roleplayingtips.com/gm-organization-challenge/
I hope these tips help beat back writer’s block and perfectionism a bit.
Have more fun at every game!