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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Mongols in the Mega-Dungeon!

Not really, but I am trying to keep up my theme for the month, which seems to be kept more in the lapse and mention than in the use, and I wanted to jump on the OSR's latest bandwagon – the “death” of the Mega-Dungeon. Just to be clear, I think a Mongol party in a Mega-Dungeon setting would be cool, but it's not really my topic for today, as I have usually*, at best, seen one Mongol-esque character in any given (A)D&D adventuring party. That character was usually played by me or my buddy Darryl.

Anyway, I am glad this announcement came just in time for me to start my own Mega-Dungeon campaign. My players needed to be told we weren't having fun and we were playing D&D wrong. Wait, we were having fun and it seems to me that means we were playing it right, am I right? I spent decades away from the dungeon and concentrated on world building, wilderness adventures, politics and war as a means for providing adventures for my players with only the occasional subterranean foray into a small “dungeon”, more likely a sewer or cave, occasionally ruins with underground bits.

My new Mega-Dungeon has literally miles of tunnels and is very unfinished. I started mapping from the entrance that the PC's were likely to use and went from there. I figure I'll map about what I figure might be a little more than I need in any given direction over the course of the week before we play and key it minimally, I work better that way. I have an overall theme for the dungeon and a sub-theme for each dungeon area that I have started. I can improvise where I need to if the players do something unexpected, and I don't have to do a ton of extra prep work. I am cool with this, my players are cool with it too.

I have read that people are complaining that they aren't getting enough encounter time in, that Mega-Dungeon design is to blame, that 2nd edition style railroads might be better for grown-ups who don't have a lot of time on their hands; that way they'll get their hero time in every time they play and have cool stories to tell. Unlike a lot of OSR types I was never 100% against the 2nd edition style, except when it got abusively railroad-ey, that's poor module design though, not necessarily a condemnation of the style in and of itself. I have designed and run a bunch of really fun 2nd edition style adventures, mostly during the 2nd edition years. But if you don't have a cool story to tell after the game, it's not the dungeon's fault; it is probably your fault, it might be your DM's fault, but it isn't the type of play that's at fault for you not having fun. You get out of RPGs what you put into them, if this style of play is too foreign for you to accept as fun then move along, but there are plenty of people out there that can and do enjoy the Mega-Dungeon as a D&D experience.

I apologize for the more rambling than normal nature of this post, my kids brought home some sickness from school for me and clear thinking is not really working all that well at the moment. Anyway, courtesy of EBay, here is your actual Mongol content today-

This was the second time I bought this guy on EBay, the first time he never made it to me. He's an old Games Workshop model. I look forward to painting him up before the month is done!

*The exception to the rule- twice I have been involved in Steppe Warrior D&D games and everyone played a Mongol type character there. Once I DMed the “Tomb of Horrors”, that didn't last long or end well; and once Darryl DMed a homebrew adventure for a gathering of Steppe Warriors, that went better and lasted longer, but we were all brand new to 3e then and it broke up before we were done too.