Game designer Sean McCoy put this writing challenge out on Twitter:
Megadungeon for 2023. 12 levels. 365 rooms. One room a day. Keep it all in a journal.
- Sean McCoy (link to tweet)
I love megadungeons. I love writing challenges. I don't love year-long commitments. Well, that's not entirely true. I have other big goals for 2023 (eg. build MUSE), which is why I can't take on 365 consecutive days of dungeon design.
But this challenge is too cool to ignore, so I asked myself what I could do, and here's what I've come up with: I will be hosting a Dungeon23: Tiny Edition in the Sword & Source Discord. We will write 1 dungeon room every day for 23 days. Every day, I will post a writing prompt just to help things along. If anyone chooses to continue onward after 23 days, more power to you - we will cheer you along every step of the way!
If you are interested in joining us for the writing challenge (or just following along for dungeon ideas), you can join the Discord event here.
So how will we actually do this?
The key here is to not overthink it. The main purpose of any daily writing challenge like this is to simply show up every day and do something. Here's an example of a basic dungeon room I drew right now:
I hope this example shows you how basic it can be. I don't know anything about the Lake, the Cave, or the man behind the curtain yet–I just put pen to paper and finished something. I'm sure some days I'll do better, and some days I'll do worse. The point is to not overthink it!
If you can’t think of what to write that day just write “Empty Room,” see how easy that is?
- Sean McCoy
You're already done the most important step - deciding to do this. Everything from here on out is optional. To get going with the dice loaded in your favor I recommend the following:
- Read Sean McCoy's substack article about Dungeon23. It's short, it explains his mindset, and it's chock full of wisdom.
- Set a daily reminder. If you join my Discord and select the Dungeon23 event role, I'll take care of this for you 😄
- Pick a place to write each dungeon. This could be a simple journal or a note-taking app.
- Find and bookmark some random tables. Random tables are THE BEST.
- Set an overarching theme or tone for your dungeon. This provides a useful backbone for creating something a little more cohesive.
Recommended dungeon journals
Higher price tags:
- Sean recommends Hobinichi Weeks journals. I've never used them, but they look great!
- I use Midori Dotgrid notebooks and highly recommend them for every kind of journaling.
- Worldbuilder's Notebook is purpose-built for this. I have one and I really enjoyed it until my daughters claimed it for themselves.
- LegendKeeper is the by far best app for digital dungeon design notes.
- Post-it notes are perfect for this. Great shape and design constraints.
- Notion is my favorite free notetaking software.
Recommended random tables and inspiration
- Here Be Taverns - especially the encounters, monsters, and trap generators.
- DNGNGEN - for Mörk Borg games but great for any dark dungeons.
- HEXROLL - amazing hexcrawl generator with tons of ideas. Good to remember that the wilderness can also be a dungeon.
- Trilemma Adventure Dungeons - the standard for high quality. Don't feel you need to hit this level, but do read them for inspiration and borrow heavily.
- The tables in Maze Rats - still my personal go-to.
- The tables in Iron Sworn - also a go-to.
- This table of alchemy and oozes by Goblin Punch - because who doesn't love alchemy and oozes?
- DysonLogos - the champion of dungeon maps. His work is in the blog post cover image.
d20 Dungeon Themes
In case you need a concept to bounce off of:
- Ancient Barrow
- Corrupted Church
- Time Schisms
- Fortified Ship
- Overgrown Mountain Pass
- Very Tall Sacred Statue
- Inside a Very Big Creature
- Famous Dungeon Revisited (eg. Undermountain)
- Icy Mansion
- Haunted Sea Caves
- Moving Machine
- Bright Mine
- Bone-filled Temple
- Ever-climbing Stairs
- Endless Library
- Sky Kingdom of Loosely Connected Floating Islands
- Memory Palace
- Ever-closing Gates
- Roll twice and combine
2023 Here We Come
I'm super excited to kick off the year designing dungeons with you! Here are some places to connect with the community: