So Sean McCoy posted this on Twitter.
He wrote about it more on his substack here. Sean is calling the challenge #Dungeon23. The challenge is to write one room a day, one level a month, for a total of 365 rooms spread over 12 levels. I'm going to be doing a version of it (more on what I'll be mapping in a minute). A lot of other people on Twitter also said they were in. If enough of us do it, this could be the first REALLY big collective event in the OSR since the heady days of Google plus. I mean sure, there have been lovely game jams and a lot of collective projects around particular game communities (Mothership, Mörk Borg, Mausritter, etc). But this hobbyist, let's-do-a-thing-together project sure would be a lot of fun.
Now I know there's a certain sort of person (OK, it's me) who is perhaps inappropriately motivated to begin a project by the thought of getting a fancy journal. Luckily Sean has us covered because he is rocking a Hobonichi Techo Weeks 2023. As he explains, they're nice because they have graph paper and a facing space for a key broken down by each day of the week. I think one minor challenge will be that the map for each level will be spread across a bunch of 7-room page spreads, but I think we can figure it out. The monthly spread looks like a good place to do a big d30 encounter table for the entire level.
You can get the Hobonichi Techo Weeks on Amazon and on Jet Pens for about $25. I got the one in light purple because it is well known among all opium dreaming wizards that lavender is the true color of dreams. Sean's yellow looks real nice too, a sort of rich ochre. Or just do it on your tablet or a Mead notebook or whatever will be convenient and easy.
What will this amount to? Well, I think if enough people do it, we can share our scribbles around in whatever form we feel comfortable. Scans, photos, little PDFs, word docs, whatever it is. Sure, you could post them in Twitter threads or on Mastodon, or (heaven help you) on Reddit. But I would humbly suggest that you consider posting them on a blog. Don't have a blog? This is a golden opportunity to start one! Make it about going through this process. Write one post every week just sharing the results of your journalling. If you blog about this, reach out to me on Twitter or by email (throughultansdoor AT gmail DOT com) and I will put your blog in my RSS feed and do megadungeon roundups on my blog or social media accounts.
What might come of this in the broader sense? Imagine if we got to a place where you could mix and match from a whole host of little bit sized megadungeon bits that people were passing around. For one thing, it might get a whole bunch of people actually playing megadungeon campaigns, and so thinking and talking about them. I think there's a lot of innovation to be had in the wild space of the megadungeon. It has that fun double quality of being a strange old form that was left behind early in the hobby, and also a space of innovation in a certain phase of OSR design. It would be fun to bring it back to life now and see what new places we could collectively go with it.
In my journalling, I will mainly be focusing on The Catacombs of the North Wind. It's one of three large dungeons in Zyan. I'll write about it more soon. But here's the gist. The Sky Singers were the settlers of Zyan. For centuries they were explorer merchants, princely conquerors, nomads of the Endless Azure Sea, famous for sailing aboard a fleet of flying galleons. The Sky Singers received from the spirts of the air a title over Zyan and a new-founded glittering monarchy. In exchange, they agreed to ground forevermore their ships. The six of the great flagships of the fleet served as butchered hecatombs to this treaty, their remains interred with mystical rites of remembrance in the whistling catacombs that riddle the cliff face of the rock of Zyan. The lower levels of these catacombs are open to the Endless Azure Sea and were once a sacred playground of the spirits of the air. Here lie the Chambers of Audience, the long slumbering meeting grounds for the ambassadors of Zyan and the Court of the North Wind. When I run out of steam on the Catacombs of the North Wind, as I surely will, I will likely to something more straightforward, perhaps a classic sword and sorcery megadungeon.
My Hobonichi Techo Weeks is on its way even as we speak. It starts in January, so I'll be beginning Sean's challenge on New Year's Day. I hope you join us!
Thanks for sharing this. Just ordered the Worldbuilder's Notebook from Swordfish Islands. I am planning on doing this as well. Should be a lot of fun for the coming year ahead.ReplyDelete
I look forward to seeing what you come up with!Delete
Fun idea! Maybe I’ll do it digital in good old PBRUSH.EXEReplyDelete
Well, now I know what I'm going to use my Worldbuilder's Notebook for!ReplyDelete
Just need to figure out what to use as a theme.....
I'm lucky that I've got something from my game that I want to write up, so I start with a foundation. But thinking of concepts for a megadungeon is kind of fun anyway.Delete
Dammit. *grumble* You know when I crash and burn in Feb because I have the dynamic life of a whirlwind and the attention span of a squirrel... Imma find you... *grrr*ReplyDelete
We're all going to crash and burn with this. And yet, hope springs eternal.Delete
From your mouth to the deity's ear, my friend. We'll see how this goes. (It was really the neato, nifty Techo thing... that did it. Dammit.)Delete
I will probably crash this a few times, but I'm hoping I keep getting back up on the bike.Delete
As an attempt to design a unified adventure of this size/magnitude...hoo-boy! That's an ambitious ask!ReplyDelete
I'll consider trying it in the New Year, if I can think of a decent enough unifying concept between now and December 31st. But is working ahead permitted? It's really tough doing one room at a time and making the damn thing sensible.
I think that's part of the challenge for me, to let it grow in that crazy, cool, organic way. Kinda like how a megadungeon would probably grow over time?Delete
This is a really cool idea. Maybe the first part of a month are about the original space, then the rest can focus on later expansions ...Delete
I haven’t done something like this in 40 years. I guess I didn’t have any idea of where to start, but the prompts from Sean, and some advice I got on reddit have gotten the brain cells working. I think I might just start with whatever ideas occur at the moment and see if something starts to take shape by January. It is a great idea, that is for sure: so many have obviously been inspired. It is great.ReplyDelete
Yep, my Weeks MEGA (of course) is on its way and I am reviving a slot canyon megadungeon idea I had considered last January!ReplyDelete
I'd love to hear more about this. I'm planning on a megadungeon atop a massive plateau, and hope to post about it on my blog.Delete
Reminds me of the "how do you eat an elephant?" joke. Great idea! Even if I only get through half of it, it'll still be quite the achievement. All the best to all who are up for it.ReplyDelete
One thing I comfort myself with is that it's "DUNGEON23", not "MEGADUNGEON23" - Sean even alludes to it in his post. If you get 50 rooms in with the dungeon you started on and decide it really just needs to end, well - wrap that one up and start a new one!ReplyDelete
This seems fun and doable. I'll try to come up with something of a vague theme and setting to have at least a baseline to fall back on, and if I can come up with something I like I'll give it a go.ReplyDelete
I think I'll be doing this! Turns something big and challenging and makes it attainable with just a little effort each day.ReplyDelete
A d10+d20 will give a 2-30 trapezoidal shape "bell curve". I quite like it over a flat distribution. MMII used a similar encounter table, but d12+d8 for a 2-20 spread.ReplyDelete