So, today's question is this: assuming you're interested in megadungeons -- if you're not, please don't use the comments section to express your disinterest -- what would be your preferred format? Feel free and assume that there are no limits and go with what you would consider to be the ideal format for presenting a true old school megadungeon.I have never been a huge fan of modules. Sure, I have used them and will continue to integrate them into my campaigns, but they are not even close to being a regular feature in any campaign I've ever run. The reason for this is utility.
The vast majority of modules have a huge amount of information about every single aspect of the dungeon — especially rooms. While I enjoy reading this stuff, all that information gets in the way of running the module. Instead of being able to quickly ascertain information about an individual room, I have to wade through a bunch of information I don't really need when interacting with players. The game slows down and I inevitably miss a key bit of information that gums up the works and makes my evening less-than-fun.
Therefore, my ideal megadungeon module would be something that I could easily utilize in play. There are four ways that I would do this:
- Make the dungeon background interesting but easily adaptable. In a typical megadungeon of my own design, for example, I imagine that it has gone through three phases: the original builders; those that overthrew the builders; current occupiers. In my ideal megadungeon publication, the module would use this basic outline and then give an example of how to utilize it. Thus, I am invited to use it as written, completely overhaul it, or adapt it for my campaign — whichever is most useful for me and my current need.
- Give visual cues on the map as to who and when certain parts of the dungeon were built and the factions that currently occupy them. Thus, at a glance I have enough information to describe a room and how it differs from the hallway the players just came from. This can be done simply by shading certain areas and keying the shading as Original; Conquerers; Current; (insert faction name here).
- Have several different short entries for each room. Each entry should be a phrase that describes the utility of the room for each era. If released as a .pdf, using color would be ideal. For example: red = Original; blue = Conquerers; black = Current. For a printable version and/or a BW printed version, plain, underlined and boxed texts could be used. This way I have a wealth of information to give players with built-in layers. If the room was originally a vestry, used as a weapons room by the conquerers and a storage room by the current occupiers I have information for those that give the room a cursory glance (storage room); those that look closely at the contents (what is stored there); and for those that look beyond (weapons racks and religious symbols on the wall). All this at a glance.
- Finally, as was done in B1, provide a blank space for customized monsters as well as a normal stat line for the monsters that the author envisioned for his own version of the dungeon. I realize that this adds space and therefore cost to a print run; however, given the space saved by having extremely short room descriptions I think it worth it.