Step 3: Place Your Centerpiece DungeonThis is an important step, even if you never see your players show any desire for entering your megadungeon/dungeon of choice. The reason being, the backstory of the dungeon affects the backstory of the region and the campaign. Often times, there will be something inside the dungeon, whether an object, a person or a piece of information (or all three) that the various factions within the campaign are vying for. Thus, the dungeon will be a source of adventure even if the players themselves never go there.
Personally, I rarely use published dungeons for this purpose, because the backgrounds often don’t jive with what I want to do with the world (unless I start with the dungeon and move out, but that usually involves a lot more work). Since we are doing an exercise for folks who don’t have the time or inclination to draw maps, etc. I would suggest doing a couple of things:
Go to Dave’s Mapper and play. You can make a side-view of a dungeon and then a map for each section of the dungeon in that side view. You can also go look at the plethora of maps Dyson Logos has done over the years. To keep your own efforts to a minimum, you really need only do a sideview to begin. The rest can be done later as needed.
For my own purposes, I decided to go with a map Dyson drew several years ago called Fedor’s Pass. The name is evocative, there are a number of levels already mapped and some that are not. This leaves room for me to use either maps of my own creation, those found by playing with Dave’s Mapper or using other maps by Dyson.
The name “Fedor’s Pass” suggests that the surface structure was used to protect a road that wound its way from one side of a mountain range to another. Blackmarsh has several mountain ranges: The White Mountains, The Pendar Mountains, and the Dragonbone Peaks. The latter is the most tempting, due to its massive cave network; however, the only place that might have a pass leads to a forest…with pixies.
The Pendar and White Mountains occupy the western edge of the map. If the whole 010X column of hexes were filled in with mountains and hills, then there would be a need for a pass to go west off the map.
Hex 0107 has a group of bandits out for revenge against Castle Blackoak, something I am not particularly interested in. It would, however, put Fendar’s Pass in close proximity to the castle and make sense as front-line defense position for anything trying to use the path to raid or invade Blackmarsh.