Dungeon23 (Wk 3) - Finishing Level 1 / Preparing for Play!

Part of an image from the 1979 Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide. Three Player Characters are rounding a corner in a dungeon. The lead PC has a glowing sword, the elf has a bow and the trailing dwarf has an axe over his shoulder and a shield raised. Unbeknownst to them, a troll is coming out of a passage opening behind them!

Day 15

Got a little carried away and did the 26th and 27th day areas. That's OK though! Just gives me more time at the end of the month to tweak my wandering monster/events table and make sure everything is ready. 

I just noticed how different the tables are for room/chamber contents between AD&D/1e and OSRIC (the 1e retroclone) random dungeon generators.

OD&D gives a 2 in 6 chance of rooms not pre-populated to have monsters. A 50/50 chance of said monsters having treasure. So that's roughly ~16% chance of monster or monsters and treasure. 33% of the dungeon should be populated via random generation.

AD&D and OSRIC are definitely different from OD&D and from each other, here's the side by side comparison:

Screenshot from 1979 Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master's Guild. The table is used in random dungeon generation for determining the contents of the room. It has entries for: empty, monster only, monster and treasure, special, trick/trap, and then treasure only.

Table from the OSRIC rules (OSRIC is a retroclone of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons from 1979). The table is used to determine the contents of a room or chamber during random dungeon generation. The entries are: empty, monster only, monster and treasure, stairs, trick/track and then treasure only.

AD&D has monsters only 10% of the time, and monsters/treasures 15% of the time. AD&D is a bit less populated than OD&D, at about 25% population of rooms via random generation

OSRIC is extremely generous in providing encounters - 20% of the time, you'll have a monster, and 30% of the time, you'll have monster/treasure! So 50% of the dungeon will be populated via random generation.

Huh. I've reached out to the folks on the old K&K forum to see if the authors of OSRIC would want to share the "why" they were so much more generous.

Day 16

"It is done." (said in the voice of the Architect from Matrix: Revolutions). In a burst of dice rolling and drawing, I've filled up the January calendar to complete level 1. It's... crazy looking!

65 rooms in level 1. A lot of neat tricks, traps, specials and personalities. The dungeon now has a story of sorts - at least for the PCs and level 1. We'll see how it plays!

Tomorrow, I'll list out the monsters, treasures and start putting together a wandering monsters/events table. That will take a day or two, and then that will end the level 1 prep, for the most part.

I'm really excited that I already have four folks who want to play the megadungeon! I can't wait!

Day 17

Wandering Monster table from the 1974 Original Dungeons & Dragons rules. The table is for level 1 and has the following entries: kobolds, goblins, skeletons, orcs, giant rats, centipedes, bandits, spiders.
From OD&D Vol 3.

With level 1 done, today was generating a town idea (heh), coming up with a wandering monster/events list (hehehe), balancing monsters/treasures and writing some errata. Done!

So, about the wandering monster list. I like to have events along with actual monsters in my table. Events can be tricks/traps, just atmosphere or even hints/clues to something about the level. I also use monsters and encounters from the key as part of my table. Monsters aren't static set pieces! They have purpose in the spaces they live in, and the PCs are invaders who are disrupting that purpose. Dungeons don't like invaders...

I also cleaned up monsters and treasures by totaling up all the possible monster XP (HD x 100) and XP from treasure. First level is always a bit weird, because I tend to view the first levels of dungeons as the intro. I want there to be loot hauls, but tens of thousands of gold pieces of value in the first level always seems weird, so instead of a 2:1 or 3:1 treasure:monster XP ratio, I may go with a 1:1 or 1.5:1. After all, first level is also probably the most explored level by any other adventuring parties (you do have other adventuring parties, right? Either real-world players, or NPC groups?)

So some adjustments, changes, errata and remembering that players may bribe/coerce monsters into helping them so they might not get that monster XP. After all risk vs. reward in trying to obtain loot and fortune!

I also try to populate the first level so that there's a good chance, through a combination of treasure and monster XP, that all PCs could get to level two if they clear out the first level of the dungeon. Not an easy task, but the possibility is there!

Tomorrow, I will expand on the town tomorrow and then I pretty much have everything I need to kick off the Dungeon23 campaign. I've got 5 players interested! That's fantastic, I'm so excited!

Day 18

Today was filling out some details on the town of Oily Messe and a little of its story. Inspiration hits from weird places and I blame too much homemade chocolate fudge for what I came up with as both a reason for the megadungeon, and the town, and the reason the players are there. No spoilers (YET) but suffice it to say that a favorite video game of mine gave me a start and I just ran with the crazy idea.

alt="Partial screenshot of a document describing a fantasy role-playing town of "Oily Messe" (pronounced oily-messy).   The text reads "Town - Oily Messe (hand painted on board outside town).  The table of contents shown says: Quick Info, Map, Overview, NPCs/Merchants, Factions/Conflicts, 20 Questions."

Folks who've been around for awhile may have heard of the "Twenty Questions" idea starter that Jeff Rients of Jeff's Game Blog came up with back in the day. Several other versions of that have sprung up and you can find all of them via a quick Google Search. I use some variant of one or the other often to come up with initial starting points and did so for this town.

Here's the cool thing - do you need rumors? Just look at the answers to your 20 questions. Lie about them or tell the truth... but it gives the players some info and flavor. 

I'm still torn on where this whole thing fits into my campaign world! There's a reason why this whole setup exists, but it kinda doesn't easily fit into my campaign world... or now that I'm sitting here typing this, it just might. Anyway, I'm not going to overthink it, I've got my starting idea, I'm running with it and if the PCs make it to level 12 or the end of a year, hell, we might figure it out together!

Good news! I've only got one spot left on the roster for a prospective player! Five crazy, er... brave adventurers have signed up for this gig, and our first game looks to be on 10 Jan. Awesome!

Day 19

Since my level 1 is done and I have 2 days left in December and 2022, I did some pre-work by mapping out where (approximately) stairs/chutes/chimneys from level 1 might connect to lower levels.

There's a small space above each day area where the day number and Japanese characters are. I can put connecting information, which is very valuable! Makes it easier at the table to know where to flip to if the PCs are poking about. 

I may concentrate on those connecting areas in my first days of each month, even maybe diving down to those levels if needs be. With the PCs set to invade on 10 Jan, I need to be ready. My plan is that if they run into an area that isn't quite ready  yet, there will be obvious barriers that they cannot pass. This is entirely in line with how it used to be done! 

The wizard walked ahead a few steps. “The ways have changed since last I traveled these passages,” observed the old magic-user as he stopped beside a pile of rubble and several black and white striped barricades with flashing orange lights bearing the legend Greyhawk Construction Co., Ltd.

(From Dragon #1 and #2 - “Search for the Hidden Chamber” by Jake Jaquet)

Day 20

Full party with six players now to delve into the Black Maw. Totally awesome and can't wait to see what happens. There is a metric ton of excitement across the InterToobs about Dungeon23 - it's taken on a life of it's own. There's an article on Gizmodo (that gets a couple of points wrong), there's Discord servers, tracking lists, a subreddit, and tons and tons of chatter on other social media - here's a Mastodon search for entries tagged #dungeon23. It's definitely something that has captured a lot of folks' imagination. How awesome is that?!

Of course there's the usual Internet negativity and pushback from various parts. Pretty common with any sort of social idea - someone's gonna love it, someone's gonna hate it. A lot of folks (myself included) worry about burnout or failing. Well, I guess that's part of the journey, facing something and learning from it, even if it is learning from failure. I've learned from my own experiences with trying to do "an X every Y" thing that sometimes that happens, and it's OK. Journey, not end result. 

That's another reason I'm running the dungeon while creating it - it's that much more motivation (and a push) to keep at it. 

And no, that's not an early January 2023 entry you see, dammit! Stop peeking!

Day 21 (Jan 1, 2023 - Dungeon23 officially begins!)

Today is New Year's Day! Happy New Year! May 2023 bring you good health, lots of happiness and a lot of gaming! Today is an "off" day for me, as I'll be out in some woods somewhere, on a New Year's deer hunt. It'll be a solitary affair and probably give me lots of time to think of evil plots and plans for lower levels in my Dungeon23! 

Yes, I did my Jan 1 entry yesterday on NYE, because I was going to be off today...

As an aside, I did hear back from folks involved in OSRIC's creation regarding the very different approaches from the random dungeon creation tables - with regards to the percentage of monsters or monsters/treasures in a room. Wasn't quite what I expected, but ... that's what happens when you get multiple folks contributing to a labor of love!

The member who wrote that section has not been around for quite awhile. AFAIK, there wasn't a lot of discussion about those tables at the time but there have been little issues with them subsequently. IMO, a new edition of OSRIC should completely revamp all of them, including the random treasure tables, along with a robust discussion on how to present the procedures.

(Kellri from the Knights & Knaves forum)

On that note, we'll end week 3 - good luck to you all who are participating! I can't wait to see what you come up with, some of the stuff already being shared is crazy fun!

Dungeon23 stats: Levels: 2, Rooms: 70 (13 added). Level 1 completed. Level 2 begun. Town of Oily Messe created.