Friday, December 9, 2022



Sean McCoy of Mothership fame recently proposed a community challenge, event or project he calls
Dungeon23. My friend Ben L. over at Mazirian’s Garden has a bit more to say about it.  

The basic idea is to challenge yourself to write a dungeon room key each day and dungeon level a month in 2023. Come January 1, 2024 you will have a 350 room dungeon … a megadungeon.

The room keys don’t need to be fancy or extensive, and Sean suggests an extremely minimalist style, so the dungeon keying becomes a manageable habit and not a chore. I like the idea, it feels a lot like some of the challenges and community events from back in the days of Google Plus, such as these hex crawls, keyed by anyone who wanted to add a hex key -- a practice referred jokingly to as “Gygaxian Democracy” at the time.

I’m likely to give Dungeon23 a try, but unlike my aborted effort at Gygax75 -- where I discovered that what I needed for an adventuring region was very different then the project -- I’ve made the changes I want to make to the challenge to make it work better for me. I also want to help others get their own megadungeons finished, so I am sharing the series of worksheets I made and have linked them below so that anyone can use them by making a copy of the googledoc (please turn of sharing on your copy).

My Design vs. DUNGEON23

My design techniques and goals are a bit different then Sean's so I've prepared the worksheets to address the following issues:
  • First, I don’t like writing in physical notebooks. I suspect for many the charm of Dungeon23 is the physicality of using a neat notebook, but I like to edit my work and work on it in various places using different devices. If I am going to do this I need to do it digitally. 

  • Second, I don’t like bland dungeons filled with orcs, gnolls and +1 swords -- I don’t use that sort of setting in my games, I don’t get any joy from it, or have any reason to design something in a style and dependent or rulebook aesthetics and setting content. This creates a problem for minimal keying because minimal keying is largely dependent on referring to other sources for its descriptive impact and other important information. When a key says 4 orcs guard an onyx pig idol worth 300 GP it’s easy to envision what orcs are. Even if one uses “Pigmen” or “Porcs” instead the key will require additional information to introduce these new creatures, their appearance, typical demeanor and statistics. What this means is I need more space for description to make a dungeon then Sean suggests. Yet! I want to keep things short, this is a quick exercise for a few minutes each day, something fun and easy to take a break from other work, gaming or professional. I want to keep things constrained. 

  • Third, I want a dungeon that has more than just room descriptions. I want proper maps, local maps, illustrations, random encounter tables, rumor tables, factions and rooms with complex puzzles -- this thing is going to be 350 keys or so if everything goes well. 
Sample Sheet

To this end I’ve spent a bit of time preparing a set of Dungeon23 worksheets for my own use.

In addition to a single page for each keyed location, I have created special worksheets. These cover other parts of dungeon design I find important - space for maps, special sheets for factions, set piece encounters, puzzle rooms, magic item details, hooks and rumors etc.

I thought others might find the worksheets helpful so I have provided a link to them in this post. Feel free to copy them and use them for your own project. To help, I added a series of comments on the first page about how and why to use the format offered, and included a few additional comments regarding my reasons for each section of the sheet and how I will use them.

If you do find yourself working on a Dungeon23 project, feel free to ask for advice in the comments here, and I will try to answer - I might even get inspired to write a blog post.



  1. FWIW I didn't read Sean's challenge as requiring most of the things you suggested you didn't want to do - i just took it as "write a dungeon room a day", with the rest being him describing what he would probably do.

    Me personally, I don't think I'll end up with a 365 room megadungeon - rather, I'm just going to write a dungeon room a day and when any given dungeon is done I'll move onto the next one.

    1. I think however you do it is fine, Sean's example and notebook were more minimal then I like, but I don't think he was saying you had to do Dungeon23 any particular way either. This happens to be my way.

      My suspicion is that most people (me to most likely) will end up with fewer then 365 rooms. Of course getting a nice 50 room dungeon is still more keys then I see very often these days.


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