Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Into the Megadungeon, Episode 04 "The Human Element"

In episode 4 of Into the Megadungeon, “The Human Element”, I interview Josh McCrowell about his eight year megadungeon campaign, and his forthcoming megadungeon ruleset, His Majesty the Worm. We talk about how old school dungeoncrawling struggles to capture the human element of the exprience of perilous exploration. We also talk about tips for making a megadungeon a lot less overwhelming to design. Without further ado, here is Episode 4, “The Human Element” on your podcast platform of choice:

Listen to Episode 4, “The Human Element” on Spotify here.

Listen to Episode 4, “The Human Element” on Apple Podcasts here.

Listen to Episode 4, “The Human Element” on Pocket Casts here

LIsten to Episode 4, “The Human Element” on Podcast Addict here.

Listen to Episode 4, “The Human Element” on Overcast here.

Listen to Episode 4, “The Human Element” on Google Podcasts here.

Reader’s Notes

You can find Josh McCrowell’s work, including draft material on His Majesty the Worm, here. You can sing up for an announcement about its launch here. Josh also has a great blog, Rise Up Comus, which you can view here.

I *very highly* recommend you download his McCrowell’s step by step megadungeon creation document, Dungeon Seeds, which will also appear as an appendix of His Majesty the Worm. It presents a series of dungeon area “seeds” and a worksheet style approach to stocking them. Whether you follow his modular approach or not, it’s full of a wealth of concrete checklists and ideas to get you started and break your design paralysis. Get it here.

Josh mentions the well-beloved manga Dungeon Meshi or Delicious in Dungeon by Ryōko Kui as an influence on His Majesty the Worm. This humorous dungeoncrawling manga has a central culinary theme of eating monsters in the dungeon. You can purchase it here. An anime is coming soon to netflix, check out the trailer here. This is probably essential reading/viewing for megadungeon lovers. 

I wanted to mention again Nick Kuntz’s continuing megadungeon newsletter, Underworld Adventurer. Nick, who is my GM, appeared on Episode 02, “Persistent Little Worlds”. The second installment of Nick’s newsletter discusses an earlier “failed” megadungeon campaign they ran, “What Fools These Adventurers Be!” It’s especially useful for seeing how Nick approaches mapping by borrowing and reworking other sources. Check it out here.

Future Plans for the Newsletter and Podcast

October will be a horror filled month as I release interviews with Luke Gearing, author of the sci-fi horror megadungeon Gradient Descent and a very special Halloween episode with Miranda Elkins, GM of the diabolical long-running Nightwick Abbey campaign! I have decided that Season 1 of Into the Megadungeon, “Megadungeons as…”, will be 8 episodes in total. The final episode, “A Practice”, will be a little different in its format from the rest of the season. It will be an epsiode where I meditate on themes that emerged from the first season, focusing on concrete advice for creating and running megadungeons.

Starting with the next post, I’m also going to be sharing more of my dreamlands material, including some work in progress and gaming ephemera from my first dreamlands campaign. So if you’re getting a little bored of one podcast blogpost after another, I think you’ll find welcome relief soon.


  1. Always glad to see another episode of this out! I will admit this one felt a bit too broad and unfocused to me though - it was more about His Majesty the Worm as a system, rather than concrete advice on megadungeon design and running. I know the two are related, of course, but it just felt like an episode of a different podcast is I suppose a good way of framing it. Looking forward to the next two episodes too, those sound like they'll be great!

    1. True! Not every episode will be the same. In this one a megadungeon ruleset is playing a central role in the conversation. In other interviews, like the forthcoming one with Luke Gearing, we talk about published megadungeons too like Gradient Descent. But Josh does give actual advice on how to make a megadungeon. Also many of the things that His Majesty the Worm tries to capture could easily be replicated outside of it, like the human element of dungeon crawling, or alternative XP systems that involve player introduced quests. I feel like there's a lot there for a GM who thinks about this style of play to chew on.