5e Megadungeon Project: Briefing Document (Version 2: Brief Harder)

With bits and pieces I’ve gleaned from our session, and a bit more research into the concept, this is the next version of the Megadungeon Briefing Document. It’s not necessary that you read this to play, but it is very helpful. (A lot of this is Copy/Paste from the last document. Changes and information new to this version are in red.

Item the First: Attitude

  • This is not a game for character development or for story. If your character is delving the dungeon solely for money, that is fine. If you have some odd reason that you want to have your character doing the delve, tell me and I might work it in, but basically, you will have heard of the place and are joining together to go on expeditions to make that treasure yours.
  • This place is dangerous. There will be a lot of high CR beasties that might be more than you can handle. Your characters would probably recognize when they are in hot water or when they should be able to take down an encounter. Feel free to ask.
  • The name of the game is resources. Food and water, equipment, hit points, hit dice, spell slots, inventory, are all currencies that buy your success. Even if there is a small party of goblins, it might be better for you to let them pass than to attack, as even if you could win. You might really need the 5 hit points from that goblin scratch deeper down.
  • Treasure is good. That’s the point of it. And, since combat is a bad idea, I guess I’ll have to give XP for treasure recovered, won’t I?
  • I will make the assumption that my players can find a bunch of reasons why characters who betray the party and/or steal from them wouldn’t prosper for long. If I need to address this in the future, I will. (Honestly, as a DM, on the meda level, I don’t care. On the meta level, tho, my job is to make sure everyone has fun. It takes a special relationship for theft to be appreciated.)

Item the Second: Experience

As determined by the players of the first session, we’re going to be using a variation of the 3 pillar experience rules. Characters are grouped into “tiers.” Tier 1 is levels 1-4, tier 2 is levels 5-10, tier 3 is levels 11 to 15, tier 4 is levels 16-20.

Experience in this system is not in thousands of points, with a running tally. Instead, the XP received is a percentage of leveling up. When you reach 100 xp in this system, you level up and subtract 100 from your XP.

There are a few sources that can net you experience points in this system.

  • Treasure
    • If the party brings a single item of sufficient value back to the surface, they are rewarded with experience (In addition with the treasure!). If you recover a treasure of your tier, you gain 10 XP. If you recover a treasure of a higher tier, you gain an additional 10 XP  for each tier.
    • Tier 1: A single item worth 100gp or more, or a rare nonconsumable magic item.
    • Tier 2: A single item worth 1,000gp or more, or a very rare nonconsumable magic item.
    • Tier 3: A single item worth 5,000gp or more, or a legendary nonconsumable magic item.
    • Tier 4: A single item worth 50,000gp or more, or an artifact.
  • Combat
    • Combat XP doesn’t work by tiers, it compares levels. If the Monster’s CR is near you’re level, you’ll be getting 5 XP for defeating it. If the monter’s CR is twice your level or more, you’ll get 15 XP. If the monster’s CR is half of your level, you’ll get 2 XP. If it is WAY below half your level, you might get even less. I’m not going

Locations may also give some XP, but the 3 pillar document isn’t really designed for megadungeons, so I’m not sure the best way to make that work, ATM. We’ll cross that bridge later. Social interactions are also a source for XP, but, again, not really a megadungeon thing. So we’ll look into that in the future. Suffice it to say, quests? Probably good for XP.

Item the Third: Character Creation Details

There are some minor changes to how characters are made. We’re also putting the “What you need to know to make your Character” stuff here.

    • Darkvision is really powerful ability, so it’s going to be restricted. Due to the (*cough*) magic of the place, only races that are from the underground can use their darkvision.
      • That’s Gnomes, Dwarves, Drow, Goblins, Kobolds, and tieflings.
      • Spells and other features that grant darkvision work as normal.
      • (This basically effects Elves, mostly.  And half elves. And half orcs.)
    • Backgrounds provide a handy feature: they give you a free inventory slot for a certain item that is thematic to your background. Each background has two options for what they can put in their free slot. (NOTE: This is what you can carry for free, not free equipment. You still have to buy the things!)
Acolyte Lantern, Scroll Case
Charlatan Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit
Criminal Thieves tools, Crowbar
Entertainer Musical Instrument, Lantern
Folk Hero Set of Tools, Weapon
Guild Artisan Set of tools, Lantern
Hermit Herbalism kit, Scroll Case
Noble Coin Purse, Armor
Outlander Torches, Rations
Sage Vial, Scroll Case
Sailor Rope, Weapon
Soldier Weapon, Armor
Urchin Rations, Thieves Tools
  • Armor: If wearing heavy armor, the free slot subtracts 1 from the slots needed to wear it. Light and medium armor, or a shield, can fit in this slot as normal.
  • Coin Purse: This slot can be used to carry 200gp of treasure (I advise this is to carry treasure out, not in, but each to their own…)
  • Crowbar: Strength Checks made to pry things open have advantage when using a crowbar.
  • Disguise Kit: A swigs, facepaint, false nose, etc. No idea why you’re bringing this to a dungeon.
  • Herbalism Kit: All the tools you need to pick herbs and dry them so they can be used later.
  • Forgery Kit: Fancy inks and papers, wax and seals, etc. No idea why you are bringing this into a dungeon.
  • Lantern: As listed under rules below. Is full of oil when heading into the dungeon, even you don’t bring oil with you.
  • Musical Instrument: The tool of the bardic trade. Try not to make too much noise in the dungeon…
  • Rations: You’re good a squirrelling away bits of vittles. Never know when you’ll get to eat next. (Or maybe your used to having very compressed rations that take up less room or something?)
  • Rope: 50 ft of good old hemp. (Or silk, if you’re fancy)
  • Scroll Case: This tube keeps up to 5 scrolls, maps, etcetera safe in the dungeon.
  • Set of Tools: Can be any of the artisan’s tools (masonry or carpentry, for example.)
  • Thieves Tools: Lockpicks are only the start. Small scissors, glasscutter, small mirrors, little screwdrivers, this set of tools can disable traps, pick locks, unstick doors. Very useful.
  • Torches: You can carry a set of 5 torches in this slot.
  • Vial: This glass container can have oil, or a potion of some sort, or anything you would carry in a glass vial, really.
  • Weapon: You’ve used this particular weapon for so long, you almost forget that it has a weight. Unless, of course, its a particularly heavy or unwieldy weapon, in which case, you wield it easier than other would (this counts as one of the 2 slots it would take)

Characters entering for the dungeon for the first time start as level 3 adventurers. Use either the array or point-buy for your ability scores. Your hit die for first level is maximized, and for each new level take the average of your hit die for hit point increase. Your constitution is added as normal.

For starting equipment, instead of what is listed for class and background, all characters start with 50gp to buy gear with.

Item the Fourth: Rule changes

A lot of these changes (okay, most of them, ATM) are taken from Hack & Slash, who did a piece or two on megadungeons that prompted this project.

  • Due to magic in the dungeon, some spells are more difficult to maintain and cast. Also, some spells are just so handy, everyone can cast it (if prepared and slots and all of that.)
    • Light is a 1st level spell for all classes.
    • Continual Flame is a 3rd level spell for all classes.
    • If Produce Flame is used 6 times, it consumes a first level spell slot.
    • Spells that do thunder damage or cause noise, immediately draw a hazard die roll.
    • Tenser’s Floating Disk holds 10 slots worth of inventory with ease. While it can hold more weight, you do have to worry about things falling off and breaking.  (it’s very plausible that this spell can be used for more, but as a rule of thumb for general inventory, 10 slots.)
  • Inventory management is crucial to victory. I am going to use the Hack & Slash inventory, instead of the rules I made up for Gothregel, as this looks better for a dungeon and my rules look better for an overland hexcrawl.
    • You have “Inventory Slots” equal to your Strength Score. These are filled with “significant items”
    • If you have over half your slots filled, you are encumbered. (Your speed decreases by 10ft)
    • If you have more than 3/4 of your slots filled, you are heavily encumbered. (Your speed drops by 20 feet and you have disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws that use Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution)
    • A suit of light or medium armor takes 1 slot.
    • A suit of heavy armor takes 2 slots.
    • I refuse to have people keep track of ammunition. While you have a ranged weapon, you have ammo. (There may be a complication table that has you running out of arrows, etc on it…)
    • Most weapons take 1 slot
      • Anything particularly bulky or unwieldy might take 2 slots.
      • Darts are basically ammunition, so you don’t need to count them.
      • Daggers are small enough that I’ll allow you to have up to 5 on your character for 1 slot.
    • A lantern, a potion or a vial of oil, etc, takes 1 slot, as you need to carry it in such a way that it won’t accidentally break or spill in your pack. Not difficult, but it will take the slot. So drink up on the way home!
    • 5 torches take a slot.
    • Rations take a slot. This isn’t a specific quantity of food and water, but is an abstract. We’ll talk about it further down in mechanics.
    • Any piece of adventuring gear (5oft of Rope, thieves tools, etc) probably takes a slot. The kits and packs have too much in them for me to let them be a single slot. Things like spikes and pitons and such might be more to the slot. Ask your DM.
    • 200gp worth of treasure takes 1 slot to haul out. Which is why inventory is important, yeah?
    • Light is important in a dungeon.
      • Darkvision has changed a little bit, as mentioned in the character creation section above.
      • Torches are a cheap source of light
        • Torches have 3 states: Burning bright, Burning Dim, and Burnt out.
        • Bright Torches provide 40ft of light, 20ft of it bright, 20ft of it dim.
        • Dim Torches provide 20ft of light, 10ft of it bright, 10ft of it dim.
        • Burnt out torches do not provide light.
        • It takes a hand to wield a torch. That means you can’t wiled a shield, sword, and torch at once.
        • If a torch is dropped, it will degrade 1 category when it hits the ground (Bright to dim, or Dim to burnt)
        • There is a dungeon ‘clock’ that also causes torches to degrade on occasion.
        • Hitting a monster with a torch would be an improvised weapon (so 1d4, Strength.) If it is burning bright, it would also deal 1d4 fire damage. A dim torch deals 1 fire damage. If used as a weapon, roll 1d6 for each attack with the torch. On a 1, the torch degrades 1 step.
      • Lanterns are an expensive source of light
        • Lanterns are always brightly lit, providing 40ft of light, 20ft of it bright, 20ft of it dim.
        • Lanterns take oil to replenish. A flask of oil can fill a lantern 3 times.
        • Lanterns take a hand to carry. It takes your full move to set the lantern carefully down.
        • If a lantern is dropped, roll 1d6. On a 1 or 2, the lantern breaks and starts a small fire. Using a lantern as a weapon breaks it automatically, coating the target with flame. The burning creature takes 5 fire damage at the start of its turn for 2 rounds.

Item the Fifth: Mechanics

  • The dungeon day is measured in “Turns” and “Hours
    • A Turn is about 10 minutes. There are therefore 6 in an Hour.
    • An unencumbered character can move four times it’s speed in one Turn. (120 ft for most, 100ft for dwarves, etc)
      • This assumes you’re moving carefully, cautiously, and observant. If you want to move faster, you can. It just might not be safe.
      • Encumbered characters move slower (80 ft for most, 6o ft for slower)
      • You wouldn’t ever be heavily encumbered, right?
    • The Dungeon Clock
      • As you spend time in the dungeon, things happen. A lot of that is on the DM’s shoulders, but it is important to know while you are taking your time, things are happening around you.
      • Part of the dungeon clock determines when torches and lanterns burn down.
      • Part of the dungeon clock requires you to occasionally take a brief rest.
        • During a brief rest, characters must partake of their rations. When rations are used, roll a d6. On a result of a 1, the Ration is consumed. (Hey, another inventory slot, but you’re going to get hungry if you’re down here too long. Or thirsty or whatever.)
        • You can partake of rations held by another character. It is an additional chance for the rations to be consumed, so be wary of that.
        • If a character does not, whether because there is no rations, or the character/player decides that it is more important to be doing something else (say, running for thier life…) they gain 1 level of exhaustion.
        • A character who is unencumbered can ignore the brief rest 1 time each delve.
  • Mapping
    • Having you guys draw maps is too much work, but I do need to occasionally obfuscate some things. So there will occasionally be some Wisdom checks for navigation. If your character has been making maps as you go, checks to get to a certain place will be easier, for sure.
    • It may be possible for a good map and a good check to let you fast-forward through the dungeon on future delves.
    • If you map things on your own, then you have information that is in front of your eyes. I’m not switching the map to another floor, just so you can see where you’ve been, for example. I’m not going to require it, though.
  • There will be a lot of doors. Remember, some doors can be broken through, if they won’t open otherwise.
  • There may be more stuff added here as things are uncovered as being available for you to do.

Item the Sixth: The Surface (Downtime and shopping)

The town of Torggap started off small, just an inn (the Yawning Cow) with a few ramshackle houses and abandoned buildings. But, as the party brings more and more wonders (okay, treasure) out from the depths of the megadungeon, the village will grow and there will be more and more things for you to spend your time and money on.

The cost of living in Torggap is 1gp a day. That covers your room and board at the Yawning Cow, any casual things you might want to do (say, laundry or something). It also provides a bit of a guarantee. If you’re delayed coming back from the depths, your room (and gear) are likely still there, waiting for you to come back.

There’s a lot of things you can do, more than I care to list here. If you make it out of the dungeon, alive and with treasure, then we can talk.

Restocking: The problem with spending time outside of a megadungeon is that it’s not in stasis while you’re up top. Down below, creatures are moving in and setting up lairs, expanding operations, laying new traps and resetting the old ones, and, in general, doing a bunch of stuff you may not like. It might not be worth staying away for too long.


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