Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rethinking the Megadungeon

Thinking about my last post, about not usually including enough magical locations on the map, and an idea struck me for a megadungeon-based campaign.

What if the world is pseudo-historical in all respects, EXCEPT for the presence of the megadungeon?

If you go on wilderness adventures, there will be primarily humans and normal animals encountered. Giant animals and monsters would be extremely rare outside.

But the Megadungeon, following Philotomy's idea of the Mythic Underworld, is the one place where all sorts of monsters, and corresponding treasures, could be found. That's why adventurers are drawn to it, and wish to plumb its depths.

If you're not in the megadungeon, you're in a pseudo-historical game world, so the big darn dungeon is where the action of the game takes place.


  1. I like the sound of it. It makes sense that the creepy-crawliness would be constrained to the dungeons, particularly if there's a particularly martial brand of humanity about.

    What it does do, unfortunately, it lull players into a sense of security. If there aren't horrible monsters out there in the woods at night, what is there? I think it's a lot of fun to have a lower-magical fantasy with only mythological creatures, or regular D&D creatures presented as local menaces. I'm thinking Grendel from Beowulf- a nasty troll that pops out of nowhere and makes problems for a city until Beowulf comes around and rips his arms off.

  2. Works for me. Having the magical and mysterious removed from the mundane is a fine literary tradition.
    In the Odyssey the Cyclops doesn't live the next valley over from Odysseus it's on a remote and lonely island far from home.

  3. If I were to do something like this, out in the 'real' world there would of course still be lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), not to mention brigands and bandits and berserkers (oh my!) to deal with. Just no--or very few--mythical or Gygaxian monsters out there.

    Another idea I had would be that Magic-Users and Clerics can only use their magical abilities in the megadungeon. If there were rare, extremely isolated areas with monsters out there, magic would work in close proximity to their lairs.