Megadungeon Hall of Fame Post: "With New Old Eyes"

One of the down sides to living in the digital age is being inundated with information--information that is sort by what is newest, not by what is best. Social media (including blogging) presents us with lots of trivial ephemeral stuff (including nonsense random tables featuring elf farts), while good stuff gets buried.

Michael (The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope) posted With New Old Eyes back on December 5, 2008. It remains to this day the single best post or article that I have seen on creating and running a megadungeon. Instead of giving yet more guidelines and principles, Michael encourages to jettison anything that isn't helpful to actual play and having fun in the megadungeon. He does this by offering up these five points:
  • "Stop worrying and love the dungeon"
  • “Balance Realism and Fun, but when in doubt, Fun always trumps Realism”
  • “The Fantastic, when cranked up to eleven, somehow equals the Realistic”
  • “Never be afraid to say ‘no’ to the dice, but also never be afraid to say ‘yes’”
  • “Plant many seeds, but only tend the ones that grow”
I really like #1 and #5--running a dungeon should be fun. Those two points really help the GM/DM/LL/TK/CK/Ref remain focused on the fun and what is working. Point #3 is the point that I need to remind myself of...I forget how cool fantastic and weird are. If a dungeon must pass a realism test to be played, then playing in a dungeon is not the correct option for the GM or players.

What online posts or articles have you read that made a difference in the way you play? Are there dungeon/megadungeon posts or articles that I should add to my Megadungeon Links Page?


  1. I struggle mightily with the balance of fun for fun's sake, and realism. I always want that layer of realism underneath, and it colors everything I do in the dungeon. I'm not averse to "magic" being the reason for something, but there still ought to have been a reason for it, you know?

  2. Rationality is my biggest struggle, too. I try to flip it and make it work for me--there is a rational to the dungeon that unfolds for the players. I am not sure it is actually working, but that is how I am going at it. The PC game, Myst, is my inspiration. On the surface, the premise of the game has no connection with any real world experience. Once you start play, however, there is an inner logic that unfolds that sucks you in.

    I am not sure any of it makes sense. The alternative is do some LSD and then create the dungeon (not advocating, just pointing out the option).