Review: Dungeon-A-Day

Review: Dungeon-A-Day

Some designers make me say “I wish I’d thought of that.” Monte Cook is right at the top of the list.

His most recent project shows why. The Dungeon-A-Day premise is simple: a massive dungeon with sections published on the web, offering up meaty new encounters and bonus material every weekday.

Ed Bourelle is the cartographer, and he provides great cutaway views and simple connections for free-ranging exploration in the classic style. And the first six encounters are smart, with great replay value baked right into the design — it’s assumed that areas will be revisited. As always with Monte’s work, there’s a few new tricks. [More…]

New Tricks
The best new trick is just that the dungeon takes advantage of the web format from the start. The system-light OGL stats are crosslinked, as are feats and important NPCs. Looking up anything in a mega-dungeon is usually a matter of memory and an decent index (the former ain’t what it used to be for me, and the latter is increasingly rare in the industry). Dungeon-A-Day makes it all one click away, even easier than a PDF.

I can hear the folks over at DDI kicking themselves that they didn’t do this first. (They would do well to copy the idea.) It is a project that makes me want to bring a laptop to the game table.

Design Notes and Print
The supporting material is rich, including a player briefing to start the adventure, podcast, blog posts, and forums, and everything is easily downloaded for print or PDF. Heck, reading Monte’s “Dungeon Design Assumptions” alone is worth the price of admission, as he lays out a smart, coherent, and entertaining philosophy of what makes big dungeon crawls tick, and how to keep them going for a whole campaign.

The built-in opportunities for feedback will make it possible for Monte to engage with DMs and expand on the elements that gamers like best. It’s totally up to you how much you draw from the site, but it seems to me like a great way to get premium material that slots neatly into any D&D campaign. It’s not limited to a particular setting at all.

My only concerns at the moment are the art, which is ok but nothing spectacular, and the pace of material. That pace may be tough to sustain over time, or it may grow into a steadily-expanding fireball. Seeing how Monte has laid the foundations, I’d bet on the latter.

Dungeon-A-Day is a top-shelf design at a decent price, $7 a month if you sign up by the end of March. You’d be a fool not to check it out. I’ve signed up already.

And I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t get there first.

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