If you’re hanging around TTRPG twitter, chances are good you’ve seen the hashtag “dungeon23” about, along with its companions “city23”, “setting23”, and so on. Search those hashtags and you’ll find all sorts of settings, locations, monsters, magic items, created by the folks taking part, as well as discussion about the ideas behind the projects. But in short, the initial idea was to create a dungeon room a day for 2023 and by the end you would then have a Megadungeon of 365 rooms in which to play. There are variations on this initial idea, thus the extra hashtags, but the overarching goal is simply to create a little bit every day, whatever that looks like. Some folks are using dayplanners to track their progress, others are using journals at hand.
Even though I don’t normally take part in year long challenges like this, I’ve decided to do #dungeon23. It’s been a while since I have sat down and created dungeons, encounters, anything like that, and I like the idea of a quick, simple bit of daily creation. I have been at it since December 28 and so far none of this has taken me more than five minutes each day. But even now, just eight days in, I have an encounter area I could easily set before some players and give them a fun, challenging bit of mystery, horror, and combat.
I’m not creating a dungeon per se, though I’m sure a dungeon will come into it at some point. I actually started with a crossroads, and after populating that with various encounter sites I then detailed one of those sites, The Boggin’s Bottom. From there…we’ll see. But it’s been interesting to write this in snippets and discover connections between sites, and create potential avenues for expanding out of the crossroads as I go.
In order to keep things simple and to use up materials that have been living in storage, I am using only the following items:
- four Pilot Fineliner pens in red, green, black, and blue
- a leftover three-ring binder from college
- various pages of scrap graph paper, punched and put in the binder
- various mapping aids at hand (a ruler, bottlecaps, etc)
I could get fancy and put in all sorts of highlighted texts, use nicely formatted pages, all that. But I enjoy the concept of using a dayplanner, even if I’m going another route. So I wanted something simple like that, but would help me use up some of my large stock of old stationary. Seriously, I have graph paper older than a lot of folks playing in TTRPGs right now, so it needs to get used.
As to how I’m doing this, I am sticking to some simple “rules” for myself:
- One room, encounter area, or unique location each day, no more
- Simple map drawing and two lines of description, at most.
- Colour coded writing: Black for general descriptions, Green for items and treasure, Red for encounters/monsters, Blue for any in-game text (writing on walls, contents of letters, etc)
- Colour coded mapping: Black for man-made structures, Blue and Green for natural items/formations, Red for traps or dangerous spots.
- Once I’ve filled a page, that specific location is done, move on.
- Roughly every week, I can include a page of additional items, encounters, etc. The daily encounters cover the obvious, surface things about a location. But I wanted some options in case the players decide to dig deeper into something, so I or any other GM wasn’s caught flat footed.
- System neutral, but with an eye toward usefulness with systems like Trophy Gold, Mörk Borg, and so on.
But that’s just how I’m approaching this. If you search any of the hashtags you’ll see a variety of approaches and takes on the initial concept. Frankly, I’m as excited to see what comes out of this from other folks as from myself. I’ll admit to a certain curiosity about who will still be doing this by next December. But there shouldn’t be any judgement attached if someone starts and then stops it. These types of things aren’t for everyone; frankly I’m not sure it’s for me. But I am enjoying it so far and it is just enough forward momentum each day to keep me interested and thinking about the next bit, so far without anxiety. So I’m hopeful I can keep going and I look forward to seeing where things take me.