Designing a Mega Dungeon one room at a time.

Some have suggested 12 levels, 365 rooms. It’s a mega dungeon to rival The World’s Largest Dungeon. A writing exercise for some, an art challenge for others. I’m giving it serious thought as 2022 grinds to a close.

I picture a “thriving” necropolis with no fewer than two separate dragon encounters, demons, and scores upon scores of undead. I’m also picturing tons of traps. I mean 365 is a lot of rooms to fill. And think of all the loot!

But why would such an awful place exist?

Maybe an ancient breakaway civilization went underground? Perhaps a society of magic-using elves grew tired of being badgered by other elves, humans, dwarves, and halflings. These magic-using elves began to explore darker, frightening, some would say evil magic.

In time these Magi Elves became increasingly reclusive. They began actively using Necromancy and abusing magic to extend their already long lives. They cut deals with dragons, gnolls, lizardfolk and even goblins. As decades grew into centuries they journeyed farther underground, expanding their civilization from underground catacombs into an underground city. The only time they would interact with the surface (even then only by way of their servants) was to secure food and supplies that could not be replicated by magic.

Now that we’ve established why, let’s discuss the how.

Everyone asks me how large underground surfaces could be carved so quickly. Elves are generally very smart when it comes to engineering, architecture, planning, building and most of all; magic. They’re also smart enough to know when they need help underground. In exchange for magic and gold, deep dwarves could act as mining guides. The undead, even humble skeletons, can bore through dirt, rock, and the underground hazards at twice, maybe three times the speed of a regular work force.

Yes, undead are the ultimate workforce. They can see in basically any light conditions. They don’t breathe, eat, sweat, complain, or tire. They never sleep and follow orders to the letter every time. But, the Magi Elves also knew a diverse workforce is a powerful workforce.

For the stuff too intricate or difficult for the skeleton crew, the Magi Elves pressed earth elementals into service. Earth elementals and their ilk, creatures capable of boring through almost anything underground also make very efficient miners. On the off chance they ran into other civilizations underground, the elven masters retained a fighting force of mages, undead, goblins and a dragon. Fortunately, any other beings they encountered were more than happy to either join or move out of the way of the burgeoning civilization.

Let’s get meta for a minute.

Now that we’ve answered the basic questions of

  • Who: Magi Elves, two dragons, armies of cohorts.
  • Where: Massive underground complex aka Mega Dungeon.
  • When: Centuries before the group discovers them.
  • Why: The Magi Elves wanted to isolate and exclude themselves.
  • What: Establishing a more perfect society underground under their control.
  • How: Via magic, diplomacy, engineering, and intimidation.

All we need are game stats. #Dungeon2023 is looking like it might be a lot of fun. I’m going to see how far I can get. Some if not all rooms will appear here on the site somehow. I want a sort of design journal to accompany the dungeon rooms themselves. It’s a pretty big project now that I look at it.

We’ll see what happens. Planning anything in 3D is difficult, and this is definitely a multilevel project. Not every single day might be strictly another room. Boss encounters and critical NPCs need to be considered. Random patrols and loot need to be considered. The Magi Elves and their governance need to be considered. Some rooms will be duplicated, such as living quarters and offal/carrion pits. (Although don’t put it past the Magi Council to pipe in running water and sewage tunnels.) I’m also going to be creating some new species, spells, creatures, and loot for this game. It should all balance out.

This should be a fun project if it comes together. I think the real challenge will be to stick to it. I know a lot of us, even in other professions, sometimes plan a huge project and then life happens. Maybe we get behind or have to quit altogether because of circumstances beyond our control.

Alas, I cannot take credit for this brilliant idea.

Sean McCoy, who created the Mothership RPG and other games proposed #Dungeon23. It has since caught on with YouTubers Roll 4 Initiative, Questing Beast, and The Dungeon Coach among others. You can read more about #Dungeon23 on Sean’s blog, Here.

Thanks for stopping by. More on Dungeon 23 for me as it progresses. Have a great day.