Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Character Level / Dungeon Level Conflicts

In my Vats of Mazarin game, I've been beginning to discover that character level seems to progress much faster than dungeon level. Now, the first level of my megadungeon is quite large, about 80 rooms, but even after exploring only 50 of them (although they've found all but two areas of interest), the party has reached 2nd and/or 3rd level. Maybe it's because the party is quite small and thus splits the experience only a few ways, but they seem to be stocking up on hirelings and henchmen. There have even been five character deaths and everyone is still progressing so quickly compared to the level of the dungeon they are on.

Part of the problem, is that I've made the dungeon too interesting. That might be the wrong word, but seem like the players are apprehensive about missing anything - they want to explore everything that there is to be explored and gleam every bit of knowledge out of it they can find.

I'm starting to appreciate more the Arnesoian three level system: Flunky, Hero, and Superhero. Different parts of the dungeon could geared towards the three character levels with each level of the dungeon being more of a thematic change that an increase in difficulty.

On a completely different note, I've begun to think more about X-Plorers. The Fight On! Random Tables book has some really great gonzo science-fiction related tables within and I'm just itching to get some use out of them. I have some definite issues with the game, rules wise, but who knows, it might play great even if I don't really get it on paper. I want to get some experience with it under my belt before I start house-ruling the crap out of it.


  1. While I haven't started running it yet, my Megadungeon is set up similarly. There's a very good possibility that if they decide to explore every bit of the outer works (not even venturing into the dungeon proper) a clever and lucky party of 5 or 6 PCs could reach 2nd level and be well on their way to 3rd. Thieves/Clerics may even reach 3rd.

    I don't think the dungeon is intended to be a place you 'clear' like a level in Diablo, but if a party decides that's their goal, then IMO that's fine. Let them. It's the goal they've set, and it's what's got them interested in the place, so roll with it.

  2. I totally agree with what you're saying. It's just an interesting observation and really gives some clues for why Gygax decided to overall the way experience points worked in Supplement 1.

    I'm just worried about the dungeon becoming too easy. Because, from what I've seen, easy = boring.

  3. Maybe that's part of the reason lots of folks running megadungeons these days (and talking about it on Dragonsfoot or the OD&D Discussion forums) only key enough for the coming session or two. That way, they can adjust the strength of the monsters/traps as they go.

    Personally, I stuck a fair number of overpowered monsters throughout my first three levels, so there will be some places on them they will likely come back to anyway.

    And you can always add a few more monsters to an encounter you've already keyed to make it a bit tougher...

  4. I put a purple worm on the second level of my dungeon, because it is fearsome. A purple worm on the 9th-level is ho-hum

  5. Maybe you could start having monsters from the second level of the dungeon turn up on level 1. Since the first level's been cleared, that leaves a lot of new real estate to be exploited.