D&D 5E If I were to publish a megadungeon, how would you prefer I handle XP?

I take your point, but I'm thinking of it from the perspective of "how much stuff ought I write"? If there are, like, enough enemies in the 'early' sections that the party could earn enough XP to reach 10th level, that makes later sections perhaps-boring cakewalks.

I suppose it's feasible to cater to multiple playstyles, perhaps with sidebars highlighting how each section could be trimmed down if the GM only wants X encounters. Or rather, it would probably be easier to build a functional spine, then give 'greebles' (a term from Star Wars - little doodads they would glue onto ship models to make them look from a distance like they had realistic textures appropriate for huge vessels), by which I mean a selection of bonus material that the GM could decide to use or not without messing up the broader geography and flow of the dungeon.
Good question.

To me, the difference between a very large dungeon (LD) and mega dungeon (MD) is a MD is simply too big to ever complete. Taking a completionist approach with a MD just doesn't work. There's too much there for a single campaign or set of characters to ever do, or need to do. Sure, maybe the first few levels/areas are completely explored, but after that kicking in every door is just... boring. And that then it becomes goal or objective oriented. IMO its a lot like a traditional campaign setting. A single campaign is never going to explore every part of Greyhawk or the Realms, etc, but rather bits and pieces of it. i.e. the party might spend some time in Waterdeep, and then in Luskan, and maybe a few adventures in the Dessarin Valley. But never will they fully explore each and every one of those.
 

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Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I would ignore PC advancement.

Let PCs enter the dungeon from multiple points. Have the ecology make sense. Maaaybe have the first few encounters near entrances be more defeatable creatures at lower levels; but maybe not.

The only way for a MegaDungeon to not be a slog is to make it a sandbox. Give them places to find allies inside; save zones if you will.

Populate the place with way more XP than they could ever need to get from 1-20. If they get to 20 and get the brilliant idea to take over the entire place and kill everything in it - let them. Nature abhors a vacuum, as does Orcus and Lolth and Asmodeus etc etc
 

Yaarel

He Mage
Simply count encounters.

The number of encounters to the next level depends on the level.

For levels 5 to 12, it is about 15 encounters per level.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I would ignore PC advancement.

Let PCs enter the dungeon from multiple points. Have the ecology make sense. Maaaybe have the first few encounters near entrances be more defeatable creatures at lower levels; but maybe not.

The only way for a MegaDungeon to not be a slog is to make it a sandbox. Give them places to find allies inside; save zones if you will.

Populate the place with way more XP than they could ever need to get from 1-20.
The two bolded bits in there don't quite square with each other: if you ignore PC advancement, how are they ever going to get from 1 to 20?
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I would do milestone leveling with a level boss on each level. So PCs can skip around to wherever they like and get themselves in trouble if they wish, but with the promise that if they can figure out how to beat the level bosses "early" somehow, they can power level up and then romp all through the dungeon until they reach areas they're evenly matched for again.

My wife and I used to do something similar with the PS1 version of Diablo, going after high-XP targets like commandos.
 


Shiroiken

Legend
I'm a fan of including XP for exploration and social encounters. If the party runs across a trap or hazard for the first time, they get some XP; disarming/avoiding the trap/hazard via ability checks or abilities is the equivalent to combat. Denizens of megadungeons don't always require combat, and offering xp for resolving encounters with social skills rewards this. Additionally, you can offer up special quest XP for accomplishing specific goals, such as unlocking certain areas.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I'm on my third year of running Rappan Athuk. D&D 5e RAW with some homebrew. Most of the homebrew is related to strongholds, factions, and followers. The one big change to the core 5e rules I made for this campaign that has made all the difference is GP for XP with limited milestones. GP for XP, i.e., gaining experience for what you extract from the dungeon leads to a style of play that works very well for a mega-dungeon and slows down progression at the early levels with the occasional jump when they have a big score. I don't allow skipping levels though.

Another approach could be a modified milestone system. When I ran Curse of Strahd, I used the Structured Milestone XP for Curse of Strahd by R. Padron, which I bought on DMs Guild. I liked his approach and think that it would work well for a mega dungeon. But you would have to invest several pages explaining the system and need to ensure that you have the milestone opportunities spread out enough to allow sufficient advancement while keeping it a sandbox. Basically you give points for defeating important antagonists, finding important macguffins, and exploring different areas.
 

I appreciate all the feedback, and I'm amused that there are like five different opinions that are kind of hard to reconcile. I'll make something work though.

The next thing to decide is whether to actually have the whole mega dungeon be one connected complex where everything is perilous and any real 'haven' is outside, or if there should be like towns and such for safe havens between sections of dungeon.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
I appreciate all the feedback, and I'm amused that there are like five different opinions that are kind of hard to reconcile. I'll make something work though.

The next thing to decide is whether to actually have the whole mega dungeon be one connected complex where everything is perilous and any real 'haven' is outside, or if there should be like towns and such for safe havens between sections of dungeon.
Not sure if you are soliciting opinions on this, but since this is the internet, opinions are bursting off of all of us like boils

My personal opinion - do both, or at least offer both
  1. Have safe havens inside the dungeon. A complex the size of a mega dungeon is going to have various factions within (probably). As such, some of those factions are going to be willing to either temporarily or permanently ally with the PCs. (It became an ongoing thread in our Mad Mage campaign that every group that was even remotely like a civilization, we'd ask if they wanted to open a franchise of our Dragon Heist tavern - the Under Mount Inn. DM never had any of the groups take us up on it. Probalby because he knew it would totally derail the published adventure. It still made a nice bit though)
  2. OR give them an easy way to get to the surface - gates are classic; another is to just have a ton of entrances/exits.
PCs will determine which is best for their party at any given moment...
 

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