Monday, 26 November 2018

A co-operative megadungeon proposal

The idea here is a Megadungeon based on the London Tube Map. I'm calling it 'The Labyrinth of Nodnol'.

The iconic Tube Map from TfL
This map is pretty famous (link to Tranport for London site here) and shows a bunch of underground locations. Some of the names are pretty evocative - Baron's Court, Queensway, Redbridge, Barbican, Mudchute... there are two 'Arsenals' (ie weapon-stores) on the map. Some names may relate to monsters, and some of these come in clusters - there are a few in the north-east part of the centre that start 'Totten-' that might relate to undead for example, or in the south 'Peck-' names may be related to Halflings ('Peck' is a pejorative used by the humans about the Nelwyn in the film 'Willow'). Others may refer to Elves, Giants (or KGOHGBO, AD&D 'Giant Class' monsters), hammers and axes (Dwarves?), as well as various birds and trees, and maybe other creatures too. There are multiple routes around these underground locations, with differently-coloured passages that may (probably do) relate to different levels. There's a watercourse running through it.

To me, this all says that this is a megadungeon. I think on a quick and non-scientific count (possibly using a slightly-different version of the map, I used one that also listed the stations) that there are approximately 400 named locations on this map. Were each a room or cave, that would be a largish dungeon.

The way I'm envisioning it, some stations - those that just have a block, like this:

- will just be a room off a corridor. If possible, the name of the station should have something to do with the contents (that might be inhabitants, function either ancient or current, features, treasure or decoration).

Other stations, that are interchanges, are marked like this:

These will be intersections between corridors, entrances (like this one), or both (anything with the old British Rail logo, seen here in red and referring to a connection with the railway network, will be an entrance to the complex... I think there are at least 60 of these, maybe about 65).

The entrances might work like this (I'm assuming as a hypothetical that the Northern Line is Level 2 here, but the intersections can actually come between any number of lines and with the rail network):

Some things will take some thinking about. Stations where multiple lines converge might be stacked, something like this (again, this is only a hypothetical):

Here, the two N-S tunnels are at the same level, but the E-W level is a level lower. The room then spreads over more than one level, and I think that will definitely be the way forward with this. But lines that come to an intersection might not actually be together. The District (green) and Circle (yellow) lines mirror each other a lot. It might be better not to have two sets of corridors between the same locations on the same level.

I need to try to isolate the lines to work out which work best as being 'the same' levels and which would be better on different levels. I also need to work out what this means:

Is that one room accessible by two corridors? Is it two rooms, each accessible by different corridors? Is it two rooms in the same place on different levels? I don't think it can be a single room; that would necessarily make it an interchange (ie a way of getting from one corridor to another). It has then to be two rooms (either on the same or different levels). So I need to up the number of 'rooms' - each time a station like Bayswater appears it needs to be counted once for each line that comes in. Interchange locations are a bit trickier - one big room over different levels, or linked rooms? I guess the situation might have to dictate that. Perhaps one of the other symbols (there are two different wheelchair symbols) might be used to decide it - for example, if there's a wheelchair symbol there's 'access' between two (or more) rooms, where there's no wheelchair it's all one big room.
There are also some other symbols - a kind of 'long' (Latin) cross, a little like this † - which surely represents something. Death, it looks like. A trap? There aren't many of them and putting traps in the same places on different floors or in neighbouring but unconnected rooms (as would probably happen if this means 'trap') would be a bit predictable. Maybe more undead? I like the idea of monsters in clusters but not so keen on having areas of traps. OK if they're connected to a particular kind of monster (Kobolds are the obvious monster for trapping but Goblins and others might also be candidates for setting traps) but otherwise, trapped zones seem forced to me.

There are also seven stations (that I could see) where boat logos are displayed. The best reason for this is that it provides access to the ?underground water-course. I'll have to check the levels carefully to make sure these are all on the same dungeon level, or provide some good justification otherwise - an underground waterfall is fine to move from a higher to a deeper level, but makes travelling 'upstream' really tricky.

All of this I'm sure could combine into an interesting dungeon environment. But... I won't do it all. And that's why I think it would be a good thing to open it all up. Who wouldn't want to be part of building a co-operative megadungeon around the London Underground?


  1. Sounds interesting. Count me in. With the Bayswater example maybe a possibility is that the District & Circle lines are separate levels but where they share stations it is taken that the levels have merged and contain monsters of the lower level of the high level and the high level of the lower level. e.g. If level 1/2 maybe hobgoblins section?

  2. Thanks for commenting Andrew.

    I think I have the system worked out now. Examples like Bayswater will be two rooms; the interchanges such as the Notting Hill Gate example will be rooms over multiple levels where monsters be very different from what the PCs migh be expecting.