Thursday, August 18, 2011

Megadungeon Campaign Conventions

So reading, and agreeing with, my buddy Dave's comment to my last post, and reading the FLAILSNAILS Conventions over at Jeff's Gameblog got me thinking about what I'd do if I ever had my new Busan group ready to try an Old School game run by yours truly. 

First off, I'd sign off on the FLAILSNAILS thing, except for two reasons.  One, there aren't enough RPGs going on in Busan for it to matter.  I think there's one other group besides ours.  MAYBE.  Oh, possibly two if the group of Korean college kids we saw one night nearly 2 years ago playing 4E are still at it.  But my Korean's not good enough to be a player or DM for them, and I have no idea how good or bad their English may be.  So it's pretty much the fellow ex-pats for me right now.  Secondly, is anything in there any different from what anyone would do if they had a PC from another campaign entering their game?  It pretty much just reiterates what both Gygax in the AD&D books and Mentzer in his box sets said about allowing visiting PCs.  I guess the value is more in declaring your game open to such, more than the lists of actual details of how it's to be done.

Anyway, back to what Dave said.  If a GM wants to run a certain kind of game, they need to be up front with the potential players about what sort of game they want to run.  Players need to be up front about what sort of game they'd like to play, and what sort of character (if they've already got an idea or two).  And both need to be open to the possibility that some characters aren't really appropriate to certain games.

So, if I ever get the guys interested in running through my Megadungeon, here's a first draft of some of the "Conventions" I plan to give them.  It's a work in progress, so if any readers have any suggestions or ideas for other things I should mention, please chime in in the comments below.  Thanks!

Conventions for "The Great Dungeon Campaign"
  • All the action is in the dungeon.  You can spend time role playing in town, or exploring the wilderness, but most of the good loot and interesting encounters will be underground.
  • NOT a hack-and-slash game.  Yes, this is in a dungeon, but that doesn't mean it's only combat.  There are factions, potential allies, puzzles, mysteries, and plenty more that may require you to think and act in character.
  • The DM doesn't have all the answers...yet.  The dungeon is the DM's creation, but fleshing it out will be a group effort. 
  • The DM is not out to kill the PCs, but is under no obligation to save them.  The dungeon is dangerous.  Players will need to be cautious and clever to survive.  PCs will die, but a replacement is just a few die rolls away.
  • Players need to be proactive.  It's up to the players to decide on a purpose for any delve, goals to shoot for, and the like.  Rumors are available in town and research is possible.  Hirelings and any equipment you might need (within reason) is available in town.  Utilize them.
  • When the session ends, so does the delve.  To facilitate irregular player participation, the joining of replacement characters, and the like, it is assumed the party leaves the dungeon at the end of the session.  If this is impossible, the Triple Secret Random Dungeon Fate Table of Very Probable Doom will be used.
  • You earn it, you keep it.  XP totals are kept by the player when a PC dies.  Replacement PCs begin play with XP equal to the total of the lost character at the start of the delve.  Yes, that means if your Elf bites it you could create a Thief several levels higher.


  1. Re you earn it you keep it

    What if a player makes and uses a fighter for several games, but then dies? The player then makes a magic user for the next character to reap the benefits of high level spells/HP.

  2. Yeah, that's completely up to the player. I don't mind. This little house rule of mine has come about for two reasons.

    One, as adults, we just don't have as much time to game as we did as kids, so it can take too long to level up.

    Second, I don't want character death to sting as much. You loose your PC, it's not so bad. No beginning at level 1, no "1 level lower than the last character" or anything like that.

    If you earned 33,000 xp as a Fighter, just having reached 6th level, then die, you can rejoin as a Magic-User level who is 5th level, with fireball if you prefer that to another 3rd level spell.

  3. I use a "one level per successfully completed game session" for exactly the same reasons you cite here. If a character were to die I'd let them start another one at the number of levels they had completed successfully.

    If I was gaming every week I might go with something else, but sadly that's not the case.