Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Brief Initial Impressions of Dungeonaday.com

It’s been a long day and I’m pretty much shot but I wanted to comment on Monte Cook’s Dungeonaday.com before I shut down for the night. As you might imagine, I have some interest in seeing how this project develops in light of my own efforts to develop and exhibit a megadungeon of my own.

I’m attempting to approach Cook’s project with as few preconceived notions as possible. To be rather honest, its success or failure will have little impact on my own efforts and I don’t have any vested interest in something that’s using the 3.5 system, no matter how “rules light” that may be. I also have no plans at the moment to become a subscriber but I’ve long since learned to never set such intentions in stone.

My gut response to what little is available and what I’ve been able to process through my tired mind is this:

- The use of the Dwarven Forge models to detail the individual encounter areas is a nice touch. I’m a sucker for little touches like that and it’s one that I would have never thought to include on my own. Then again, I can’t paint all that well and don’t have a big inventory of Dwarven Forge pieces to draw from.

- I’d forgotten how much text is required to describe a simple encounter in 3.5. I’m aware that Cook has to make the content of the dungeon both beefy enough to justify a paying audience and that he’s has to make his encounters as descriptive as possible so that they can be run according to “the script”, but after my own efforts to trim down my dungeon notes to the bare minimum, these elaborate room descriptions look odd to me.

- My honest-to-goodness reaction to seeing the map for Level One was, “That’s it? That’s a so-called megadungeon level?” I’m aware that this could easily be built upon and more might be forthcoming, but that was my honest first impression.

I’m going to reserve commenting further until I have a chance to really sit down and digest the available material. In the meantime, I’m going to go with the Mythbusters method of judging the viability of Dungeonaday.com and call this one “plausible.”

8 comments:

E.G.Palmer said...

Heh, "plausible", you're a generous soul, Mike, more so than I.

Oddysey said...

My main reaction to this Dungeonaday business has been disappointment that it's not for Arcana Evolved. That, I could use. But straight 3.5 material doesn't interest me.

And what, in your opinion, is a good size for a first level? That's something I've been wondering about; I know it should be big enough that the party can avoid areas they don't want to mess with and explore around them, but I've never seen any more concrete guidelines.

Jeff Rients said...

Oddysey, I have trouble using the 'mega' prefix unless each main level is too big to fit on a single sheet of 4 or 5 inch to a square graph paper. That's a completely shallow standard, but when it takes at least a couple pages to graph that sucker out then it feels mega to me.

Amityville Mike said...

Heh, "plausible", you're a generous soul, Mike, more so than I.

My initial impression was that while Dungeonaday.com didn't sweep my off my feet at first look, it didn't strike me as being necessarily a poor attempt. As I mentioned, I'll need to delve deeper before I can settle on a firm decision. Hence, "plausible" for the moment.

Amityville Mike said...

And what, in your opinion, is a good size for a first level? That's something I've been wondering about; I know it should be big enough that the party can avoid areas they don't want to mess with and explore around them, but I've never seen any more concrete guidelines.

I agree with Jeff. It's a completely qualitative judgement but if you can fit the whole level on a single piece of paper, it just doesn't seem to qualify as a megadungeon level.

The number of rooms and encounters is also a big factor in the criteria I use to qualify a megadungeon. Gloomrisk, my first stab at building a megadungeon averaged about 75-80 rooms per level and Stonehell runs roughly at 125-150 rooms per level. Even if many of those rooms are empty, which they should be, I think it's important to have a lot of places for the adventurers to poke around in on each level.

Adam Thornton said...

Oh, poo.

I'm building something I consider to be a megadungeon--eventually, anyway--and one of my constraints is that I'm using the Chgowiz One-Page Dungeon Level Template (levels 5 and 6 have needed additional pages for subtables).

That means that each level fits into a 300x300 foot area. I have 15 levels planned, if I stick to my original design. It nevertheless feels reasonably Mega to me. I'm deliberately putting in lots of "chimneys" to have areas only reachable from lower levels, or shafts or manholes that are multiple levels long, and I plan to have at least two areas in which aerial combat can take place (which requires pretty careful level stacking).

Progress, for my group of intrepid gamers, has been about half a level per four hour session. And we're playing a house-ruled Microlite 74, so it's certainly not that we get bogged down in finicky rules adjudication.

Adam

Amityville Mike said...

Adam, my criteria for megadungeon qualification is strictly my own opinion, largely influenced from such examples like Undermountain and its poster-sized maps.

It's not a hard rule that all must follow, merely what I think I have to do when setting out to build something I'd call a megadungeon. Keep going you own way and call it a megadungeon with pride.

Oddysey said...

Multi-sheet sprawl sounds like as good a definition as any. My first level is looking like it's going to be around 100-120 rooms, though I haven't done a complete count yet. Which is pretty decent for a first level, I think; the lower ones will probably be larger.