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Nuts & Bolts #115 - RPG Blog Carnival - Dungeon of Mega

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jameson (ST)

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Mega dungeons. Some people probably get excited at those two words. A call to arms to delve deep and plunder long forgotten treasure.

Not me.

I have never had much in the way of experience with mega dungeons. I played a little bit of Undermountain in high school back in AD&D 2nd Ed, a game I just didn't enjoy much, but beyond that I've never really done the deep dark dungeon crawl on the scale worthy of the appellation "mega dungeon."

I think what I disliked about the Undermountain experience was that it felt forced. My issues with 2nd Edition aside I don't know if the GM for that game wasn't very good, or just felt pigeonholed into running the dungeon as designed. The whole thing felt stiff, wooden, a little bland. There was no life in the GMs descriptions of things, and I personally think that this comes down to ownership. He hadn't created the dungeon and so he didn't feel that he owned it. That showed, at least for me as player, in his depiction of the place and its occupants and hazards.

Which doesn't mean I'm not willing to try it myself. I recently picked up Castle Whiterock. It's perhaps not as well known by name as Undermoutain, but it got my interest as a GM because it has a deep backstory and it's many levels present space for both a long term campaign but also for shorter contained story arcs. Of course, I'm also going to tinker with it and convert it into a post apocalyptic ruin of the ancients. I figure that'll give me the leeway I need to make it my own.

I guess if it comes down to one thing I have to offer this month it's that you need to own your mega dungeon. Whether or not you designed it, or merely co-opted it, you as GM need to be able to bring it to life, and part of that is feeling a sense of ownership. Being willing to make changes great or small will help that, and being willing to completely skip a room or level, or cavern because you understand that it doesn't fit into your narrative; all of these things are important in giving your players a good game. And if you can't give them a good game what's the value in a mega dungeon?

What the heck is the RPG Blog Carnival? Check out Johnn Four's header page for the circus here.

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