Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Megadungeon Best Practices XVIII

It's been a while since I put up some megadungeon "best practices." I've discovered a few more in the process of designing, running, and maintaining my megadungeon, Felltower.

Avoid Useless Choices

Providing alternative ways to get around a dungeon is great.

Providing distractions and false paths adds to the dungeon experience.

But, in general, avoid too many useless choices. That is, a choice between A and B when A and B end up the same way. Two hallways leading to the same area is generally okay, but two doors to the same room, from the same other room? Useless. It just kills the most valuable resource - real world playing time. Provide alternatives without providing an excess of choices that don't actually make a real difference.

Avoiding this is as simple as asking yourself - is this an alternative, or a choice that won't matter in actual play?

Understand the Space Between Your Places

Players are resourceful, and some game systems - GURPS is one of them - provide them with a lot of resources for making their own passages in a dungeon - Shape Earth - or determining where to go - Pathfinder, Seek Earth. The depth between levels, the relative angle of passages, the nearest source of X from area Y - you'll need to know these. It's worthwhile to note this on your GM master maps so you don't get stuck when the PCs need to know how far down stairs go, the depth of a shaft, the thickness of a floor, etc.


  1. Your second point is well taken and one thing I do on my maps is show the existence of staircases and chasms between levels that bypass the current level being shown. Another tricky thing is to not have your pits so deep that they impact a lower level.

    1. That's a really important and useful point - or two, really:

      1) Make sure your pits, etc. don't impact on a lower level . . . unless you want them to.

      2) Do make sure to use multi-level structures such as chasms, giant staircases, huge caverns, rooms with mezzanines, etc.

    2. I usually mark where these pits, caverns, buried diablo-style cathedral ceilings, etc. are on other levels both to avoid accidentally putting rooms there, but also jn case players go exploring with Shape Earth.

  2. Do, however, violate the first guideline on occasion just to mess with your players.

  3. I know it is nitpicking an example, but I like having multiple entrances into a room from another because it provides the tactical problem of covering multiple points of egress with limited resources. And if the players don't scout, they've a good chance of getting flanked.

    The second point is a good one that I should probabaly start noting better. I do already list on the notes layer of my maps where each level change leads to, but not how far it is in feet.


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