At the start of 2023, Sean McCoy created a project called #dungeon23, in which you produce a “megadungeon” for a fantasy roleplaying game by detailing one room each day of 2023, keeping track of it in a particular kind of planner. I decided to take part in this, and managed to continue to the end.

I’ve posted an electronic version of it on my RPG wiki as Descent Into Pandemonium. This contains all the details of the project itself, as well a tiny bit of commentary, so you can read all that there; however, I thought I’d use this blog entry to mention what I learned doing it. In no particular order:

  • I didn’t have the discipline for doing one room per day. I often did like a week at a time. While on vacation, I did none, and had to grind to catch up afterwards.
  • I really don’t like writing stuff by hand any more. This whole experience would have been more pleasurable if done completely electronically. The hand writing became a chore. And, yes, I do have this little notebook artifact to show for it, but… not worth the extra effort. (I could make my own artifact from an electronic version).
  • I couldn’t plan one room at a time. I always planned at least a week of rooms at a time, and quickly realized I needed a broader structure to keep up my interest. I had a rough idea of what each month should be by the end of January.
  • Without an overall plan, I feel like this sort of exercise doesn’t really create anything more interesting than randomly generating a megadungeon. Even with a plan, it’s not like what I came up with has a great throughline or story.
  • I eventually settled on some themes, sort of by accident. It would have been better if I’d started with them. Future exercises like this should strongly suggest that at the start.
  • Even so, picking themes that work over twelve months is challenging.
  • I learned quite a bit about how to use Cheetah3d. I used it to build the isometric “outline” of the first four months of the megadungeon (below), mostly to make sure the stairs all lined up.
  • I discovered the existence of Graphviz Online, though I wish its “share” feature was less clunky.
  • I’m not sure I’d do this sort of thing again. There is a #lore24 idea gaining some traction, and I’ve considered doing something like the Lexicon of Elder Days, or fleshing out the Codex Alera-meetsDinotopia “Lost Chains” setting from Convocation Prime, but I don’t think I’ll wind up doing either. I’m going to try, instead, to build a bit of software I’ve been thinking about, maybe with a weekly milestone, sort of a project.