Monday, November 8, 2010

How to tackle a Megadungeon

I've been thinking that I need to write up something about how to play in a Megadungeon campaign.  Likely most of you reading this will already be familiar with this sort of play style (even if it's just from reading some great posts on other blogs, or at one or another of the old school RPG forums).  But there are plenty of people out there who see a dungeon as boring hack and slash only, and to them 'Megadungeon' equates to "hack-and-slash campaign" which they want nothing to do with.

Sean of Tales from the Flaming Faggot is going to start a series of posts discussing Sun Tzu's The Art of War and how it relates to gaming.  I don't want to steal his thunder, but I will just recommend this classic treatise on strategy to all of you.  Likely he'll cover most of these points in detail.

And if there are any ideas I've missed, please chime in in the Comments below!

  • Scouting Missions:  You're going into the dungeon to explore some new territory, find out where monsters and traps are so they may be avoided, and hopefully also learn where some treasure is located.  You want to avoid fights, avoid detection, and just add a bit to your map and knowledge of the dungeon.
  • Fact Finding Missions:  You've heard a rumor of something you want to investigate in the dungeon.  Similar to scouting, but you've got a set goal to achieve, rather than just exploring as much new territory as you can.
  • Combat Missions:  There's a certain monster, or monsters, standing between you and the treasure, or just generally giving you grief.  It's time to take them down.  Load for bear, and go down there with swords blazing.
  • Rescue Missions:  A comrade fell, townspeople have disappeared, the princess has been led to be sacrificed to the dragon, etc.  You've got to go and get them back.  
  • Acquisition Missions:  You know where the treasure is (from scouting, a map, or just dumb luck), and if you're lucky what guards it.  Now's the time to bring that rich stuff up to the surface.
  • "Special" Missions:  Someone's got a curse, or was level drained, or needs a certain spell for their spellbook, etc.  There's a 'special encounter' room tailor made for this, and you're gonna find it and use it.
Of course, sometimes a party might want to tackle two or even three of these at the same time, but it's best, especially at lower levels, to stick to just one.  

I think a lot of gamers end up thinking a dungeon should just be tackled all at once because of a lot of modules.  In a tournament situation, you don't have time to go in and out of the dungeon, re-arming, changing spells, etc.  Since many early modules were tournament scenarios, this tends to skew the idea of what a 'dungeon delve' is supposed to be.  But with a Megedungeon, you're going to be going into the place time and time again, so why not tackle the dungeon in moderation?

I think I'll spend this week posting about each of these types of 'mission' in a bit more detail.  And like I said, if there are any ideas I've missed, let me know.  I could use some ideas for next week, too!

Continued Here


  1. There's always the idea of using the dungeon as a hiding spot if the PCs are being pursued, ( either rightly or wrongly ). A dungeon full of nastiness makes a great bolt hole, and would give pause to their pursuers.

  2. I look forward to these future elaborations!