But I don't *want* to stock the whole dungeon!

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I thought about this during #Dungeon23, but I don't think I want to either make or maybe even run a detailed megadungeon. It's just too much work for me, with too little reward.

I'm thinking of switching to a model where I get a detailed map (via @Dyson Logos or 0one Games), detail a few set pieces that get me excited or are "crucial," and then just create a wandering monster table for a dungeon level and wing the rest of it. With a bespoke wandering monster table with a bell curve for what can show up, I think I can still deliver a custom dungeon experience, especially with a document for adding appropriate dungeon flavor. (There are tons of "dungeon dressing" PDFs out there for all dungeon types.)

So, if I were making a megadungeon based on Diablo, for instance, I could have an overland ruins section with a wandering monster table with cultists and goatmen, a crypts level with cultists and skeletons, and then as each level descended further into the earth, fewer skeletons and ever more powerful demons. The rarest entries on each table could be for various boss encounters, who could pop out without warning, yelling "FRESH MEAT!"

Sure, I might want to detail a few rooms like a treasure vault or a special boss fight area, but I don't really want to write up "room 32b, another ruined cell formerly occupied by a monk, now a skeleton that the PCs killed higher up in the complex."

I can put my creative energies into making a few really good set piece areas each level, unique bosses and a good and evocative wandering monster list.

Has anyone done this method? Have I accidentally "invented" the way everyone's doing megadungeons already?
 
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Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Dungeon World fronts are a great tool for establishing Factions and then giving them
motivation, secrets and plothooks to spur exploration.

I’ve taken to not using maps anymore too, just a grid with theme areas with their own 1d20 random encounter table.

As for the dungeon itself theres a few random generators around including AI. Infact heres 1d100 features from Chatgpt themed around an ancient temple and fallen city, 3 active factions
  1. Entrance Hall - Overgrown with vines and partially collapsed.
  2. Forgotten Library - Scrolls and tomes lie scattered, guarded by ancient constructs.
  3. Underground Marketplace - Factions trade and barter for supplies.
  4. Central Altar Chamber - A place of power sought after by all factions.
  5. Temple Gardens - Once beautifully landscaped, now filled with monstrous flora.
  6. Crypts of the Ancient Priests - Traps guard the remains of the temple's leaders.
  7. Barracks of Faction #1 - Strategically placed with defenses and soldiers.
  8. Smuggler's Tunnel - Secret passage used for contraband and espionage.
  9. Colossal Statue Chamber - Massive statues serve as obstacles and hiding spots.
  10. Hidden Alchemy Lab - Potions and ingredients from ages past.
  11. Warring Faction #2's Command Center - Strategically fortified and guarded.
  12. Abandoned Shrine - A site for secret rituals and forgotten prayers.
  13. Flooded Catacombs - Navigable only by raft or boat.
  14. Underground River - Home to dangerous aquatic creatures.
  15. Armory of Ancient Weapons - Traps protect valuable and ancient arms.
  16. Fallen Throne Room - Once the seat of power, now in ruins.
  17. Puzzle Room - Requires solving to progress further.
  18. Faction #3's Hidden Safehouse - Secret tunnels and traps protect their base.
  19. Observatory - Ancient astronomical instruments and star maps.
  20. Torture Chamber - Evidence of the temple's darker history.
  21. Great Hall - A vast chamber for gatherings and meetings.
  22. Secret Council Room - Where leaders from all factions once negotiated.
  23. Ruined Ballroom - Once grand, now home to eerie echoes.
  24. Underground Lake - Home to a massive and elusive creature.
  25. Trapped Treasure Vault - Rumored to hold immense riches.
  26. Natural Caverns - Labyrinthine tunnels filled with hazards.
  27. Sunken Temple Quarters - Submerged sections with air pockets.
  28. Colonnade of Fallen Pillars - Dangerously unstable terrain.
  29. Hidden Ritual Chamber - Used for summoning or sacred ceremonies.
  30. Abandoned Nursery - Once a place for children, now eerie and haunting.
  31. Forgotten Prison Cells - Holding cells for the temple's enemies.
  32. Cataclysmic Chamber - A place of ancient disaster, filled with hazards.
  33. Statue Garden - Intricate sculptures that may come to life.
  34. Collapsed Library Archives - Buried knowledge waiting to be uncovered.
  35. Crystal Chamber - Strange energies emanate from crystalline formations.
  36. Inner Sanctum - Heavily guarded, rumored to hold ultimate power.
  37. Overgrown Courtyard - Nature has reclaimed this once-open space.
  38. Broken Aqueduct - Waterways used for transportation and hiding.
  39. Faction #1's Ambush Alley - A booby-trapped passage to their territory.
  40. Ancient Crypt - Resting place for revered individuals.
  41. Plagued Quarters - A cursed area that twists the mind.
  42. Hidden Armory Cache - Secret stash of advanced weaponry.
  43. Chamber of Echoes - Strange acoustic phenomena that disorient intruders.
  44. Poisoned Gardens - Toxic flora that guards a hidden path.
  45. Fossilized Chamber - Preserved remains of ancient creatures.
  46. Sacrificial Altar - An ominous location with disturbing remnants.
  47. Faction #2's Watchtower - Overlooks key passages and territories.
  48. Elemental Node - A place where elemental energies converge.
  49. Hidden Art Gallery - Priceless relics and artifacts from a forgotten era.
  50. Forgotten Clockwork Workshop - Automated defenses and traps.
  51. Arena of Trials - A place for settling disputes through combat.
  52. Shrine to Forgotten Gods - Abandoned deities once worshiped here.
  53. War Room - Strategically important planning area.
  54. Crystal Maze - Reflective surfaces create disorienting pathways.
  55. Buried Treasure Trove - Lost riches waiting to be claimed.
  56. Chasm of Shadows - Darkness seems to devour all light.
  57. Faction #3's Marketplace - Trade hub for rare and exotic goods.
  58. Unstable Vaults - Sections on the verge of collapse.
  59. Necromancer's Workshop - Dark experiments left behind.
  60. Celestial Observatory - A chamber dedicated to planetary observation.
  61. Broken Clock Tower - Overlooks the dungeon but is perilous to climb.
  62. Secret Escape Route - A hidden passage to the surface.
  63. Choking Passageway - Filled with hazardous gases.
  64. Armory of Traps - A cache of traps awaiting activation.
  65. Faction #1's Mine Network - Excavations for valuable resources.
  66. Hall of Mirrors - Illusions and reflections play tricks on the mind.
  67. Hall of Whispers - Mysterious voices echo in this chamber.
  68. Shattered Throne - Broken pieces of a once-magnificent seat of power.
  69. Forgotten Laboratory - Experiments gone awry, now dangerous.
  70. Labyrinthine Corridors - Easy to get lost in without a map.
  71. Hidden Temple Treasures - Guarded by riddles and puzzles.
  72. Faction #2's Underground Farm - Supplies food for their faction.
  73. Sunken Cathedral - A grandiose structure submerged in water.
  74. Oracle's Chamber - An enigmatic figure provides cryptic advice.
  75. Sealed Magic Portal - Leads to an unknown destination.
  76. Vault of Shadows - Darkness seems to seep from every crevice.
  77. Faction #3's Secret Smuggling Tunnel - Used for moving contraband.
  78. Clockwork Guardian Room - Ancient constructs patrol this area.
  79. Cursed Gallery - Paintings and artworks that inflict curses.
  80. Hidden Council Chamber - Where faction leaders meet in secret.
  81. Forgotten Bath House - Once a place of relaxation, now eerie and haunting.
  82. Underground Farms - Mushrooms and other crops grown in the dark.
  83. Fallen Arena - Once hosted gladiator battles, now overrun by monsters.
  84. Whispering Library - Books seemingly whisper forgotten secrets.
  85. Faction #1's Hidden Ambush Point - A trap-filled location for surprise attacks.
  86. Magma Chambers - Lava flows beneath, creating hazardous conditions.
  87. Enchanted Forge - Magical creations and dangerous constructs are crafted here.
  88. Hall of Illusions - Optical tricks and illusions confuse intruders.
  89. Gilded Chamber - Once a place of opulence, now a den for creatures.
  90. Faction #2's Prison Quarters - Holding cells for their adversaries.
  91. Submerged Gardens - Flooded but still teeming with life.
  92. Runic Workshop - Ancient runes and symbols adorn the walls.
  93. Hidden Black Market - Illegal goods and services exchanged here.
  94. Faction #3's Secret Meeting Point - Protected and hidden from others.
  95. Cavernous Vault - Sealed treasures await discovery.
  96. Clockwork Puzzle Room - Mechanisms must be aligned to progress.
  97. Ill-Fated Banquet Hall - Evidence of a disastrous feast long ago.
  98. The Weeping Chamber - Mysterious tears seep from the walls.
  99. Faction #1's Siege Workshop - Constructs and siege weaponry are built here.
  100. Temple's Heart - The deepest, most sacred chamber, shrouded in mystery.
 
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Jahydin

Hero
Oh wow, too cool!

I’ve been wracking my brain for years now with this same idea, but not just for dungeons, but for an entire campaign.

A solid system to generate interesting dungeons (I’ve been using playing cards ATM), a system for deciding what random encounter types get placed where, and a system for inserting “key dungeon rooms” intelligently within everything that would “link” to other dungeons (via clues, doorways, or quest items).

Not only would it reduce the page count considerably, but replayability would be through the roof. Other positives would be easy solo play, less prep, and a more realistic “sandbox” world.

Most of all though, the idea of: “this is the world, these are the rules that govern how it’s “built”, good luck completing it.” excites me to no end.

I really need to get to work on this…
 

Reynard

Legend
One technique I have had luck with is combine a Dyson map with the Shadowdark random ruin system: take a number of dice equal to the number of rooms on the map and throw them all at once. Move every die to the closest room and then key the rooms based on the results (rolling on downstream charts as necessary). During the process, a theme usually starts to develop and I shift one or two dice around in order to get a structure and pacing that I think will be fun. It is a next way to do exploration as a GM, and usually results in a fun time for the players.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Honest question: What is the appeal of running a megadungeon to you?

Last campaign I ran, which lasted three years, there was only a single "dungeon" larger than a Five Room Dungeon.

What specifically about a megadungeon appeals, that you wouldn't have in something different? Does a random generation method keep that appeal?
 

Celebrim

Legend
I've done this. But the level of detail that you get when you brainstorm beforehand is markedly different than the level of detail you get when you are making things up on the fly. Also in a dungeon, you often generally want to know beforehand what is in the nearby rooms in case it generates smell, noise, or would be attracted to noise or would be an enemy or ally of the monster in the current location.

At some point, there is no substitute for good design. Even a random encounter table is best used as an idea prompt, with the details fleshed out by you beforehand. However, random idea generation is still better than an empty room.
 

I mean, yeah in terms of practicality you're not going to manually key an entire mega.

But even then its more fun to have some random generation in there anyway, so even being willing to key the whole thing doesn't make it the best idea.

I think the best thing to do is to focus on keying environments and any sort of environmental challenges, and then whatever fights are interspersed dynamically get involved through random encounters.
 

kenada

Legend
Supporter
I like to have a map drawn out prior to engaging with the dungeon. That helps me make sure there are multiple paths around and through, so the diagram of decisions is not just straight forward.

The key has enough detail to prompt me to say the things I need to say. It doesn’t need to be beautiful, but it needs enough to it to make sure I don’t forget anything.

I have an events table to add dynamism, but I don’t neglect static obstacles and encounters. Depending on the needs of the dungeon, I’ll document the various groups and their desires (“factions”), so they can also act.

I’d like to operationalize factions better in my homebrew system, but that’s down a ways on my list of things to do. It'll most likely involve faction clocks tied into event rolls.
 

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