Megadungeon Monday: Intro, Structure, Pace, Spreadsheets

Welcome to the first ever installment of the Patreon supported, nay, Patreon-demanded series: Let’s Build an Angry Megadungeon. In this series, we’re going to build a gigantic D&D dungeon to take the heroes all the way to 12th level. And it will be more awesome than any other megadungeon ever built! In this episode, we built a f$%&ton of spreadsheets.

Megadungeon Monday: The Adventuring Day

In our second delve into the megadungeon, we think more about the adventuring day. Specifically, how do we control the pace of the adventuring day while taking into account the fact that the PCs can decide to retreat and rest at any time.

Megadungeon Monday: How to Award XP!

We need more spreadsheets! Let’s have another look at the XP advancement system in 5E. This time, with an eye toward rewarding players for playing the right way. And let’s forget a little bit about game balance. Because perfect balance is a lie.

Megadungeon Monday: Critical Path

No more spreadsheets! It’s time for maps. Well, sketches of maps. Crappy scans of sketches of maps. We’re talking about planning the Critical Path this week.

Megadungeon Monday: Gating

It’s time to talk about the second major structural concern of our megadungeon. How do we control traffic and keep people on the critical path? We use gating!

Megadungeon Monday: Backstory

We’ve been focusing on the mechanical structure of the dungeon. But there’s another thing that’s just as important. The dungeon’s story.

Megadungeon Monday: Plot and Story Beats

From crunch to fluff and back again. Today, we’re working on the last large-scale bit of planning we need to do before we just start designing the adventure: the plot. And that’s where fluff and crunch come together.

Megadungeon Monday: The Mathy Half of the Master Plan

It’s time for more Megadungeon spreadsheets. Actually, it’s time for THE spreadsheet. The only one that really matters. The one we’ve been building toward. The MASTER PLAN. And it puts together EVERYTHING we’ve figured out so far. And it’s so big, it’ll take two articles to finish it.

Megadungeon Monday: The Plotty Half of the Master Plan

Settle in kids for the longest, most complicated bit of the Megadungeon yet. Because this is our season one finale. When we’re done, we’ll have our gates and story beats set out on our big ole masterplan and we’ll even fill some of the backstory as a bonus.

Megadungeon Monday: Trashing Work

Sometimes, you just have to throw a bunch of work away and start over. And sometimes a bunch of work will just come out of you with no rhyme or reason when you least expect it. Both are as much a part of the design process as anything else.

Megadungeon Monday: And Then You Make a Map

From spreadsheet to flowchart to map. It’s time to take that bubble diagram and make it resemble an actual physical space. But figuring out how to do that is tricky. Fortunately, I’m an incredible genius who never ever makes mistakes that result in days of lost progress and an article that basically amounts to “I have no update this week, so let’s spend five thousand words talking about my f$&% up.”

Megadungeon Monday: A Tale of Two Maps (Part 1)

It’s time to take a whirlwind tour of the megadungeon. What does one think about when one starts sketching out the basis for a huge megadungeon map? Everything, of course. Seriously. We think about EVERYTHING.

Megadungeon Monday: The Philosophy of Design

For all their clever plans, a game designer can only create mechanics. Create them right and the players will experience the grand plan in all its glory. But RPG designers have a lot of screwed up notions when it comes to this simple truism. They don’t even know what game mechanics actually are.

Megadungeon Monday: Wandering Monsters and Random Encounters

Encapsulation: the art of designing around nonexistent systems and filling in the blanks later. It’s an important skill, but there comes a time when you have to fill in the blanks. Say, by designing a random encounter system for your megadungeon.

Megadungeon Monday: It’s Carrot AND Stick

Good game design is about understanding incentives. But incentives aren’t enough. Rewards only encourage good behavior. To discourage bad behavior, sometimes you need to beat someone with a stick.

Megadungeon Monday: Prelude to a Map

It’s almost time to map our dungeon. By that, I mean, I WANT to start mapping our dungeon. But, like everything else in this giant project, we have to figure out how best to do something before we start actually doing it.

Megadungeon Monday: Restarting is the Hardest Part

They say starting is the hardest part. But really, RESTARTING is much harder. Especially if you’ve burn out. So, how do you recover from burn out on a project you used to love? And how do you avoid burn out in the future?

Megadungeon Monday: Maps for Design, Maps for Presentation

Maps aren’t just maps. Maps are tools for organizing and presenting information. As a prelude to building an exit map, we’re going to organize our information and figure out just what maps our megadungeon needs and who they’re for. Also, we’ll do some mapping.

Megadungeon Monday: Shuffling Maps Around

Saturday night with a White Russian, a Megadungeon Map, a vision, and no idea how to proceed. So, let’s just shuffle some papers around until things become clear. Sometimes, that’s design.

Megadungeon Monday: Let’s Make a Room

I’m surprised that there wasn’t a major revolt last week. After going back and looking what I had done on that ill-fated Saturday night – and what I’d written about it – I was pretty unhappy. That’s why I titled it “Shuffling Maps Around.” It comes from a business term – well, more a bureaucratic…