More Megadungeons

Put a few bones or a torch stub in it if that will make you feel like it’s more exciting.

Megadungeons:  I can no longer keep track of who said what or when or why, so I won’t pretend that I even know anymore… but I think there is still some juice in this topic, so I’m going to keep at it. 

As anecdotal evidence, reading Evereaux’s campaign journals, it certainly sounds to me as though they had fun… so I guess I’m a bit skeptical that some declare the megadungeon to be an automatic recipe for a snore fest. On the other hand, I think successful social events are successful because there is a willingness on the part of the participants to participate. As an example of an unsuccessful social event, I would offer up the story of ‘Jack and the koosh ball.’

‘Jack’ was a former boss of mine. He was the kind of guy who would walk up behind you and give you a back rub without asking if you want a back rub; a trait I’ve always found annoying and creepy unless the backrubber is a spouse or girlfriend or professional masseuse whom you have asked to massage you.  I suspect that he read a lot of breezy and simplistic books on ‘how to be a better manager’ and thus loved ‘get to know you’ games and ‘think outside the box’ exercises which he substituted for actually managing.  In short, if you have ever seen the US version of ‘The Office’ with that flakey guy from ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ movie, you know Jack (except he was probably even more of a self serving douche than the Office guy). One day, Jack called us all into the ‘big room’ and made us sit on the floor and told us that he thought we needed to ‘get to know each other better’ or some similar condescending bullshit. He took out a ‘koosh’ ball (which is some sort of a soft, rubber thing made for throwing around) and told us we had to throw it around at random and who ever caught it had to tell the first story from their childhood that popped into their head.  We spent about half an hour throwing the koosh ball around and then pointing to the person next to us and saying, “I think that’s yours” whenever it landed near us. The ‘fun and whimsical team building game’ was a failure because none of us wanted to play it, one reason being you can’t force trust and spontaneity on a group of people who a) don’t trust each other, and, b) know that the longer they spend tossing a koosh ball around and hearing stories about other people’s happy childhoods = more time they are going to have to spend catching up on actual work (the thing that they came to ‘work’ to do). I don’t know if such an exercise could or could not work in the right environment, but ‘sharing childhood memories’ was not what this group wanted to do with one another, so the exercise failed. The fact that they guy trying to force us to share our childhood memories was a delusional, self serving wanker did not help. It just remains one of those cringe-worthy memories, like realizing that you have been walking around all day with a big old toilet paper streamer stuck on your shoe. Similarly, if your group isn’t interested in spelunking through the megadungeon, any campaign based on megadungeoneering is bound to fail.


Which is why, after having heard everyone else at my regular bi-monthly game table say, “No thanks” to megadungeons, I decided that my bi-weekly group was not the right crowd for megadungeon spelunking.  My saying that doesn’t mean anything other than exactly what I think I said.


2 Comments on “More Megadungeons”

  1. Welleran says:

    Good post — I have the opposite situation. My players love exploring my megadungeon and, after 3 1/2 years, are still clamoring to delve deeper into it.

    It all depends on what the players (and DM) want, and what they think is fun. Part of the DM's job is to gage that.

  2. Stephan Poag says:

    Yeah, and even if I thought a certain kind of activity is 'fun,' if no one else around me is enjoying it, unless I were to be the least empathic human on the planet, having the other people around me bored to tears would really dampen my fun.
    Some people think 'never compromising' is a sign of strength. I think it can also be a sign of a bad case of assholism. Life's too short, etc.

Leave a Reply