29 August 2022

More Mega-Dungeon Meanderings (and on a Monday!)

I've been hanging out in reddit a lot more over the past few years, among its OSR, AD&D, Greyhawk, mega-dungeon, miniatures, and related old-school (and Delta Green) communities. 

 In /osr/ the user livefreebugs posted a question at  https://www.reddit.com/r/osr/comments/wzugz6/what_elements_would_make_your_ideal_megadungeon/ asking (with my linebreak additions), 

I've been reading a lot of theory and perform advice on megadungeons and it seems like an area that there's a lot of room for awesome new adventures in. There's definitely a‍ risk some megadungeons run into of being repetitive or incoherent and having a huge quantity of locations over consistent quality. I think vibrant factions, multiple approaches, verticality, a sense of place/history that gives deep interconnections between areas of the dungeon, and a scale that allows for many sessions of return delves.
I know it's not too controversial here but while not exactly "mega" depending on your definition I think the Caverns of Thracia is one of the better large dungeons ever made due to the integration of layout, history, occupants, into the whole and not feeling like a jumble of random rooms (though gonzo funhouses' can be sweet too). 
What would you look for in your perfect large/mega-dungeon that doesn't exist yet?

My response follows. 


My favorite things to do in mega-dungeons, as a player or DM:

  • Explore...:  lots of room to wander around, get lost, find cool things no one else has found, pass through empty rooms/chambers/halls on the way to fun encounters!  A mega-dungeon must also lead outward into the world(s), as well as pull the world into it's orbit from time-to-time
  • ....and Map!:  I love to map while playing and mega-dungeons provide wonderful opportunities to do so :D
  • Interact with Interesting characters:  whether PCs or NPCs, some of whom are only available to meet in the mega-dungeon, of course!  Over time, they may offer opportunities to ally, to cautiously negotiate with neutrally, or to become bitter foes (long- or short-term).  Either way, they are the personalities that help to bring the mega-dungeon to life, and they 're not just factions (although they're important too).
  • Encounter Tricks, Traps, Trials, and Enigmas!:  any adventure should not just be about combat, and the rest of the challenges should include aspects that bring the environment into the foreground from time-to-time
  • Magic!:  there should be cool, fun magic items, spells, effects, and other artifacts and relics that are only available in the mega-dungeon---and some should be permanent features that the players may want to return to for years on end (rather than the usual kind that are hauled up and out and used/sold)

Mega-dungeons sometimes have overarching themes that range in from obvious (Rappan Athuk) to more-subtle (Caverns of Thracia), while others don't seem to have themes at all.  I like there to be zones with and without theme, to keep the whole from getting stale, and to allow the DM freedom and flexibility to design "off topic" levels, or players to really dig deep into side-levels, sub-levels, and extra-planar environs that catch their eye.

Some additional thoughts at https://grodog.blogspot.com/2020/06/grodog-favorite-mega-dungeons.html and in my review of Castle Zagyg at http://greyhawkonline.com/grodog/gh_castle.html


What are your favorite aspects of gaming in mega-dungeons---the things that bring you back to the table again and again?


20 August 2022

Greyhawk Happenings in the News

New Settings from WotC Announced

They include both Spelljammer and Dragonlance, but no Greyhawk---none of which are big surprises, really.

Perhaps I'll have more to say on this front later, but for now, that's sufficient.  

Virtual Greyhawk Con #3 - 30 Sept to 2 Oct 2022

It's that time of year again, and Jay Scott has organized another Virtual Greyhawk Con!  Event registration began today at Noon CDT, and event submission closes on 26 September; see https://tabletop.events/conventions/virtual-greyhawk-con-2022 for details.

My events this year will be:
  1.  Carlos Lising's _G2 The Witch Queen's Lament_ on Fri Sep 30 at 8:00 pm (4 hours) at https://tabletop.events/conventions/virtual-greyhawk-con-2022/schedule/62

  2. Rob Kuntz's _Maure Castle and Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure_ on Sat Oct 1 at 7:00 pm (5 hours) at https://tabletop.events/conventions/virtual-greyhawk-con-2022/schedule/63

  3. Erik Mona's _COR1-03 River of Blood_ on Sun Oct 2 at 2:00 pm (4 hours) at https://tabletop.events/conventions/virtual-greyhawk-con-2022/schedule/64

All are set in the World of Greyhawk (of course!) and will be run using AD&D 1st edition rules (of course!).  
In addition to my events (all of which still have seats open as of this posting), numerous other Greyhawk fans are running events spanning OD&D to 5e, all set in Oerth.  I'm playing in three other events, and will take part in the closing Greyhawk panel discussion too:

  1. "Citadel by the Sea" from Dragon Magazine, and run by Jay Hafner in 5e; I've never played with Jay before, but am looking forward to testing out this classic adventure in my first 5e game (PC levels 1-3)

  2. "The Broken Stone Alliance" a 1e scenario for PC levels 7-9, DM'd by Michael Mossbarger.  Also my first time playing with Michael.

  3. "The Ravages of the Mind" by Lenard Lakofka, his final adventure:  journey into Ratik's Timberway to root out a growing malignancy. AD&D PC levels 3-5, DM'd by Joss Popp.  This'll be my first time playing with Josh DM'ing, although we've previously played in online games together.

Registration to play is just $5 and events are free:  https://tabletop.events/conventions/virtual-greyhawk-con-2022


Oerth Journal

Oerth Journal #36 (Spring 2022 issue) released in May at https://greyhawkonline.com/download/16145/ 

It's themes is around the "Festivals of Greyhawk" and the table of contents is:

  • Father Tabor's Guide to Richfest - by Thomas Kell
  • Richfest in Chathold - by Sam "DMSam" Dillon 
  • Beers of Greyhawk - by James A. S. Muldowney III, M.D.
  • Erkill's Skullsplitter - by Mark Allen 
  • Saltmarsh Festival of Spirts - by Nathan Doyle
  • The Desportium of Magick - by Kristoph Nolen 
  • Never the Heroes, pt2 - by Mark Allen 
  • Fistful of Baubles, pt3 - by David Leonard 
  • The Sheltering Ancestors - by Les Reno 
  • Accursed Fishhooks - by Zach Houghton 
  • Alvynn Bannocksburn—gnomish merchant - by Paul Jurdeczka 
  • Seaton - by Case Brown
  • The Best festival of allGARYCON XI !!!! 

Issue #37 focuses on on "Magick of the Flanaess" and should be releasing soon.  Kristoph has shared a few previews from it in the Oerth Journal discord channel of Greyhawk Online:   https://discord.gg/DaajjgWU (I think that the OJ channel is for patrons only, so you can check-in at the main GHO channel if you're curious).  I believe that my article about a new and enigmatic magical tome may be in that issue; we'll see.


Mapping Happenings in the Flanaess

  • This spring (March 2022), Denis Tetreault updated his City of Greyhawk map!   See http://melkot.com/locations/cogh/cogh.html

  • Anna Meyer (and sometimes Allysa Fayden too!) are running a new livestream mapping channel in Twitch; see https://www.twitch.tv/anna_b_meyer
  • Stoink: A Wasp's Nest news:  Long-time Greyhawk fan Ed Courtroul passed away nearly two years ago now, on 15 November 2020, and is still missed.  Through the kind graces of our mutual friend Mike Badolato (Badmike to those in the know, who co-founded the North Texas RPG Con), I am now in possession of some of Ed's original Greyhawk campaign materials, including his research materials about the long-lost-and-partially-recovered Stoink manuscript. 

    Ed's materials shed a little further light on the map and the three and a half pages of manuscript notes that match the map as potential key headings.  These seem to be all that remains of the original manuscript, so far as I can tell, at this point. 

    I'll spend some time detailing this in a long-overdue second entry in my "From the Vaults" post series (if you can still call a follow-up to a nearly-three-year old post a series ;) ).  

More to Come, including Campaign Updates

Some of my AD&D 1e Greyhawk campaigns continue to live on, even through COVID:

  1. The virtual Castle Greyhawk campaign that began in 2020 with the cancellation of GaryCon is mostly-thriving.  The PCs (levels 1-3) have been on a mission into the Astral Plane for the high priests of Celestian, and should be returning from Anthony Huso's Zjelwyin Fall soon....

  2. The solo aquatic campaign that I'm running for Henry also continues, and his PCs are about to enter the city of Irongate in Greyhawk.  I've been cooking up some new "special" options for aquatic random encounters, and while rolling up the hoards of two different dragon turtles, made a perhaps-campaign-changing die roll....

    Henry is also running a solo campaign for me, set in his version of the south-eastern end of Ahlissa in the South Province, between the Rieuwood and the Greyflood.  We'll likely return to play there soon, too.

  3. The third, in-person campaign set in the northern bight of the Gnarley Forest near Safeton, and exploring the DMG monastery dungeons, unfortunately succumbed to COVID, and has not returned to the land of the living.


And that's all for now!