Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sandboxes, MegaDungeons or Sand in Your Dungeon?

It was the worst of times.

It was the best of times.

Like sand through an hourglass, so go The Games of the Week.

Yesterday's discussions about MegaDungeons and what makes a dungeon "Mega" was pretty interesting (if you missed some of the posts, they were on the G+ side - there's a G+ link somewhere on this page is you want to follow and participate on that end too). It isn't so much size as how it is used (minds outa the gutter) and the idea of it reacting to the presence of the players and their activities. Some even said it's like an "underground sandbox".

That got me thinking. Off hand, I really can't think of a dungeon, mega or otherwise, that truly conforms to the idea of "sandbox play". By their very nature, dungeons are a enclosed environment. Options available when you have a whole world to discover become much more limited when it's a dungeon, no matter the size (even infinite) unless you start adding actual societies to the dungeon environment, making the dungeon less stagnant and more vibrant, much like the above ground world.

It's my experience that sandboxes work as well as they do (in the hands of like minded GM's and players) when roleplay encounters open up avenues of additional goals, desires, wants and general greed. For a sandbox style of play to to truly work in a dungeon environment, there would have to be set (and wandering) encounters for roleplay and expansion, and I can't think of any dungeon environment off hand that has done so, or have done it well.

That being said, I'm sure if it's out there, my readers will know of examples.

So, has it been done? Has it been done well? Recommendations?


  1. Do it as sort of a Hollow Earth thing, with complete societies and cultures, except that it's (as you said) all inside of an ever-expanding dungeon. Zak over at D&D w/ Pornstars did something similar with a system-spanning space hulk of some kind. Dungeon in Space was doable, so why not Hollow Earth?

  2. Terradungeon = whole world megadungeon. Possibly leading to a Hollow Earth.

  3. I try to put a village or three in any dungeon of resonable size with a "no weapons beyond this point" rule. Players are usually really weirded out by Illythid bartenders. I can't imagine staying in a dungeon and not setting up shop: "lets hang out in this dank place with no one to talk to and no pub and no forge for the armourer..."

    While I haven't put together a mega dungeon yet, IF I did, the PCs would get roped in to a war between two different levels or towns.

  4. A megadungeon needs shovel and sand to be a true sandbox.


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