In doing the research for my Megadungeon-themed newsletter (sign up f.r.e.e. here), I have found several articles to be useful. I’ll be sharing some links here, so y’all can read them, too. Perhaps it will give a bit of a boost to this new-ish idea I’m developing.
First off, Jaquays and the non-linear dungeon. A lot of analysis from the Alexandrian:
I believe that dungeons should always be heavily jaquayed.
Okay, it’s true. I’m just making words up now. In the case of jaquaying, the term is referring to Jennell Jaquays, who designed Caverns of Thracia, Dark Tower, Griffin Mountain, and a half dozen other old school classics for Judges Guild, Chaosium, Flying Buffalo, and TSR before transitioning into video game design. In the latter capacity she recently wrote some essays on maps she designed for Halo Wars:
Memorable game maps spring from a melding of design intent and fortunate accidents.
Jennell Jaquays – Crevice Design Notes
That’s timeless advice, and a design ethos which extends beyond the RTS levels she helped design for Halo Wars and reaches back to her earliest work.
What Jaquays particularly excelled at in those early Judges Guild modules was non-linear dungeon design.
There are a few more articles linked there, I encourage you to check them out.
I have a couploe of screenshots in my research folder, from older videos. One from Goodman Games featuring the 100th DCC module, Music of the Spheres:
And another from Prof. Dungeonmaster featuring his techniques for writing and prepping Megadungeon keys, giving rise to ideas that I am tempted to call areas and districts.
On top of this, here are some concepts I’ll be working with:
- Monsters don’t HAVE to have an ecologically sound explanation
- The dungeon can be weird and internally consistent
- Side view maps are important
- Dungeons are cold and damp, this has a psychological effect
- Levels don’t have to be “level”
- Learn how to analyze your dungeons with the Melan Diagram