- How big is it? – The most often discussed feature of a megadungeon is it’s shear size. I will consider page count, numbered encounters, dungeon levels, and how much experience the dungeon can provide when awarding points in this category.
- Is it a confined space? – It’s called a dungeon for a reason. This is not a campaign setting or a wilderness hexcrawl.
- Is it a Mythic Underworld? – Does the dungeon adhere to the Mythic Underworld concept? Are characters leaving the natural world and traveling into the supernatural? Are the rules of the dungeon different from those in the natural world?
- Does it get more dangerous the further down you explore? – Whether a vertical or horizontal dungeon, the further from the entrance(s) you go, the greater the challenges and risks.
- Are there multiple avenues for exploration? – Does this dungeon offer freedom to move from level to level and explore as desired rather than follow a set path? How numerous and varied are the connections between levels?
- Is the danger omnipresent? – How pervasive is the danger? Are the characters forced to trek back through the dungeon to resupply and rest?
- Is this dungeon the focus of a campaign? – Can this dungeon be the focus of an entire campaign? How much experience can be gained through exploration?
- Is the dungeon active or static? – Do traps reset, will monsters repopulate cleared areas, or can the dungeon change physically over time? Will factions fight the characters and each other, gaining and losing territory?
The question “What is a megadungeon?” was asked in Episode 1, and I shared some features that I think are indicative of the classic megadungeon. But even with that definition in hand, some of you might be wondering how does one megadungeon compare to another? Where do we draw the line? As a fun experiment, I propose the Megadungeon Purity Test. In future episodes I will take an in-depth look at published megadungeons, and with this tool I will attempt to rank them. There are 8 categories and each aligns with a feature discussed in Episode 1. A megadungeon in question can earn from 0 to 5 points per category.
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