How would you go about doing a West Marches-style mega-dungeon?

How would you go about doing a West Marches-style mega-dungeon?

How would you go about doing a West Marches-style mega-dungeon? I’m talking like an entire underground city with many floors and discrete areas, taking dozens of expeditions to map?

10 thoughts on “How would you go about doing a West Marches-style mega-dungeon?”

  1. I’d start by doing a node based dungeon rather than traditional, and point you to Freebooters (and the new 2nd edition playtest rules in particular) to build it. I just wrapped a 10 session lost city campaign using these rules and a huge above ground dungeon.

  2. (edit: crossposted with Brennan OBrien; basically: what he said.)

    I’d probably do a Perilous Wilds / Freebooters style process where the players establish some known features about “the world” (in this case, the megadungeon).

    Like, everyone takes a turn describing something about the megadungeon’s notable regions, features, history, inhabitants. Start to make a vague map.

    Do something similar to build out the “home base” that PCs work out of.

    Draw a few “connections” from the home base to some of the closest points of interest in the megadungeon, ala a point crawl. Decide or collaborate on the nature of of each connection. E.g. the first link between “town” and first point-of-interest might be “_ancient bridge (massive, treacherous, squatters)_.”

    When a group announces and schedules a session in a West Marches style campaign, they should always be telling the GM where they plan to explore. “Hey gang, let’s go check out the Crumbling Spire.”

    That gives the GM time to prep whatever they need:

    A way to resolve the journey to their destination (maybe a move, like UPJ, or Freebooter’s Venture Forth) and a small number of possible encounters (dangers and/or discoveries). No maps, though. This is just “flux space.”

    The destination in detail, probably using the Plumb the Depths procedures from Perilous Wilds or Freebooters. To whatever level of detail you feel necessary/fun. Include potential threats/grim portents/dooms if appropriate.

    Be sure to include connections to additional points of interest further into the megadungeon, again with brief, thematic descriptions.

    Basically: do it as an ever-growing point crawl.

  3. I second Jeremy Strandberg strategy for building the dungeon.

    The two things I would add would be to emphasize the interconnectedness of each section of the dungeon. Since so much of the excitement of West March’s game is in watching the environment change as each group interacts make sure that clearing out one section of the dungeon doesn’t just mean it remains empty forever. It would create a power vacuum which can make some interesting moral quandary from players to siding to side with one group or another.

    My other suggestion is to use a variation of Jason Cordova’s Labyrinth move that Gerrit Reininghaus (Gerrit I couldn’t find ur original text so let me know if I missed anything) made:

    When you explore the Dungeon describe how you navigate through its winding paths and roll +STAT.

    On a 10+ hold two on a 7-9 hold one and encounter a potentially dangerous situation. You can use hold one to one for the following:

    Discover a treasure

    Get the jump on a dangerous situation

    If each player in the party spends one hold you may enter the next level of the dungeon.

    For me adding the effect that each player can contribute one holds two find the next area of the dungeon is a great way to get each player a chance to shine and roll on the table.

  4. You could also try running it (or a level) like this:

    John Wick’s Dirty Dungeon

    Each player adds elements to the dungeon by describing how they learned about this element – dungeon survivors, old maps, books, whatever. Each time they add something to the dungeon, a d4 is added to the pot. In the dungeon, players may take out a d4 whenever and add it to a die roll.

    While the players are adding to the dungeon, the DM gets a bead every 10 minutes (or whatever time period you like).

    Everything the players state is true.

    The DM may spend a bead during play to make any player statement false.

    So, basically, the players build the dungeon from the ground up, and then adventure through it. However, because the DM can change elements at any point in time, their plans are not foolproof.

Comments are closed.