Wednesday, May 21, 2014

GM Lessons: Mega-Dungeon Map Confusion

I hope you don't mind if I don't get into the recent announcement of the covers and content of the next wave of D&D.  While I might not understand the philosophy behind it, I'll be buying them none the less.  My group will probably give it a playtest for a few sessions and then we'll go back to playing whatever system we prefer.

But I digress. 

+Ken H runs his Monteport mega dungeon campaign on Monday nights.  We've been playing it on and off for over 18 months now I believe.  Here's what I learned from Ken that I think can be invaluable to those of us who play on-line.  Mapping a mega dungeon while on-line is a near impossible and frustrating task.  Some my argue having the virtual map in front of you is a cheat.  Well, Ken has a technique that work effectively when we are plodding along.  If we go into an area where it twists and turns and players would have trouble know north from south, he rolls a die to determine a random direction to turn the map.  Simply flipping the map makes the place look completely different.  Our group doesn't mark anything.  We've sorta become part of the eco-system.  We move ahead and see what's next.

He is able to do this with several mini-maps and the fact none of the room are numbered.  Dungeon features are sparse so there are very few to no visual tells.  I was going to give examples, but I am hoping this will prompt Ken in doing his own post because he'll do a post on his blog.

It's been very interesting having a round table group of GMs.  Over the past couple months, four out of the five of us have GMed.  I've did a couple sessions with my home campaign and system, +Rob Conley a couple of sessions using his FUDGE version of the Majestic Wilderlands, Ken continues with Monteport and +Chris C. GMed a handful of sessions using S&W Core rules in his home campaign of Ephemera.  After a batch of years of doing this it's fantastic to see what other bring to the game.


  1. I really hope Ken does do a post, because I'd love to know more about this.

    1. I do to. I know he's confused me (not that confusing me is difficult) with just a simple twist of the map.

  2. Yeah, Ken is really good with that. Playing in Montporte is really a "watch and learn" experience for me.

  3. Once I started just giving out computerized player's maps, I never went back. I realized how disconnected a lot of people were from anything that wasn't drawn on the grid in front of them. That outside of the one guy who'd taken the "mapper" role, most of them never really assembled things in their heads. More constructive to just email everyone an updated map a couple days after play (OK so sometimes the grid is winged, that is playing in the sandbox) to get them fired up for next week. It streamlined play as well, almost as much as the grid board did, because the only one who needs to pause to sketch maps is me.