Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Gigadungeon and Other Notes on the WotC Interview

-It is unexpurgated--nobody said "Hey, can you talk about D&D 4 please? 'Cause that's what we sell here." The cost-to-benefit ratio calculations here for their marketing people are complex ("D&D being associated with porn fights stereotypes about gamers" MINUS "D&D being associated with porn--and arson, and petty theft---may upset some parents" MINUS "This guy doesn't play anything we currently publish" = They did it anyway) but I can't complain with the end result. I appreciate it.

-Gigadungeon--the whole planet is a dungeon--My original notes were toward an even more complicated project: a dungeon the size of the universe. Actually, more of a dungeon instead of the universe:

Earth's cities grow.

Imagine they do not stop growing. Imagine an urbanized Earth, bulding by building building upon building built on mountaintops, K2, Everest, urbanized, with traffic, the frozen antarctic dense with pannelled bunkers, canyons filled and then so filled and all around filled so full that the canyon is only a vaguely-understood concept about what is underneath what we know--like the planet's mantle, crust and core, underneath the buildings is rock--what is rock? No-one remembers.

The rusting spires with a geology of their own--forgotten conduits leading to forgotten fuse boxes feeding old bulbs the fields of architecture and archaelology mesh. Skyscrapers marching over cliffs like tin soldiers, down into the sea under perspex domes and stainless walls and then growing there, and then up and out of it again. 80% of the vast city-planet has quaint, polluted venetian canals connecting the lowest levels, sixty storeys beneath where most people live. It grew.

The Gigastructure became the only place. An extending great place that took up all of space, almost all of space, all of space except where there were planets, or suns, or class-12 Massive Supraplantary Organisms.

Like this: There is a planet, then cities on it, then the cities grow larger and they do not stop. The whole planet is urbanized. Then the planet's nearest moon is urbanized, then the buildings on the planet and the moon grow taller and mesh upward and more labyrinthine until they connect in a woven spire of exotic steels and nation-sized gravity-mollifying mechanisms, the moon no longer in orbit, merely fixed to its mother by an inhabited corridor.

Then again with each nearby planet, moon, space station, to the Dyson shell of energy-absorbing machines smothering the sun, then all these spaces connected, and then all of the space in between, too, in every direction into a solid block the size and shape of the universe with all astronomical bodies entombed within it and all animals, monsters, cultures, phenomena linked into a monolithic skyless maze-city of panelled chambers, tubes, hallways, transoms, shafts, glass-walled terraces looking out into dark, long vertical gaps between barely-inhabited sideways, opposing cities, each forming the roof of the other, the spires interlocking like sharp teeth, wells, fusion engine-trams, endless escalators lined with concession stands, crawlspaces, staircases, niches, branching zero-gravity capillary tunnels, and with all known archtectures represented somewhere and integrated into the dizzying entirety.

And then it aged and got old and forgotten and dungeonized--so there's no space in space--just a big sci-fi dungeoncrawl in every direction forever.

-The pictures--I am guessing that's the only Medusa picture they had on hand--I suppose they weren't going to use that. (Warning: About as not-safe for work as a drawing can get)(Once in a while I gotta earn that "content warning".) It's interesting to note that their medusa is definitely a "medusa-as-playable-PC-race" type picture.

The flail snail is, as always, appreciated. Simon Tilbrook and Alan Hunter--we owe you so much.

-WotC contacted me independently about doing the interview, but if I had to guess I suspect the "I Hit It With My Axe" producers probably had a hand in tipping WotC off.

-Just got this from what appears to be a Christian gamer:

I've heard about your blog on various places before and had preformed a very negative opinion. I popped on over after seeing the Wizards interview, and frankly, its actually a great D&D blog, better written than most, and a nice variety of topics. I don't think I'll be a regular reader, as most of your views run counter to my own, I definitely think you are a gifted writer, a great DM, and your blogs bad reputation in some circles is total crap...[etc.]

So, that's nice. Though I will note that these "circles" do need to be rooted out and destroyed.

-They not only left the reference to Death Frost Doom in, they linked to it. If I'd known I would've mentioned the late AGP's 100 Street Vendors of the City State. And every other DIY D&D product I could think of.


  1. Congrats on the interview! As a WotC employee myself, I'm surprised and pleased that it happened.

  2. I don't know if you're a comics person, but the manga Blame! has a somewhat similar concept to your gigadungeon idea up there, although it plays up the scifi aspect, and doesn't go to that (literally) awesome scale you do.

    And congratulations on the interview. I was pleasantly surprised to see WotC acknowledging players of older versions of D&D.

  3. Your gigadungeon sounds a lot like a hive world from the Warhammer 40k universe. They're massively industrialized planets where cities sprawl across entire continents and are composed of older and older strata from previous civilizations, all built upon each other.

  4. Awesome! Congrats on the interview and congrats to WotC for not being as Souless and Disney-like as I thought they were.

    As for the Gigadungeon and in relation to what kelvingreen mentioned...while not intimately familiar with Blame! (will probably look at it again though), the Japanese table top RPG 'Make Your Kingdom' has something akin to the idea on a more planetary scale. A genesis wave like curse called 'The Dungeon Hazard Event' transformed all underground areas of the world into dungeons filled with monsters and treasure and also (I believe) connected them all together. Check out the English wiki...

    Again, kudos on the interview and looking forward to the show more than ever ( moving pictures!!!).

  5. I'm so glad WoTC put up that article. I might never have found this blog otherwise. Your write ups are great and I can't wait to see "I Hit It With My Axe".

    The Gigadungeon sounds awesome. I've been playing in soulless RPGA mods for a while, and it's cool to hear about worlds that actually matter.

    It's also neat to read about people playing DnD that I've actually heard of (Even us gays known Sasha).

  6. Really enjoyed the interview and your blog. I must admit that I came here a little apprehensively. Not out of squeamishness, but in fear of how you might handle your subject matter. Since you and your gaming crew turned out to be awesome, you have a permanent place in my blog reading rotation. Thanks for sharing the fun!

  7. Your campaign & my "Oubliette" campaign sound like they've got some similar ideas in common.

    Gigadungeon is a droolworthy coining.

  8. Nice interview and congrats on the exposure for your gaming side of things. Color me surprised too that WoTC interviewed you. Porn and internet fame trumps system orthodoxy I guess.

  9. Where does the matter to construct the universe-dungeon come from?

    I'm assuming there must be some big-deal gravity manipulation in order to maintain the structure of a universe dungeon....and you know what I imagine occurring if the contragravity mechanisms failed? a universe chock full of matter collapsing into a single point and than...BANG...the big bang!

  10. That interview was the first thing I read this morning. I always do some surfing with coffee while I wake up and it was totally surreal to see your name on the WotC site, since I already am a regular reader here.

    I was mostly surprised that they would interview you, since you aren't playing 4E. But I guess you're right, the publicity you can generate trumps anything else.

    Looking forward to the show! I predict it will be right up there with Yahtzee's show in popularity.

  11. I am tickled pink to see a link to Death Frost Doom on an official WotC publication. Kudos to you, and congrats on the great interview. :D

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  13. I'm happy someone there had the stones to post that interview! It's nice to see that they understand that there's more than one way to play D&D and that creativity trumps system any day of the week.

    Another possible example of the gigadungeon concept (world as dungeon) is the novel The Dungeon ( )

    Congratulations again!

  14. Yeah, what they said up there. Thanks for getting the plug in for DFD too. You've probably knocked the scales off a lot of eyes with that interview.

  15. Will we ever be seeing a book of all your dirty dnd drawings? I'm just curious if it's even an idea, because they're fucking awesome.

  16. great interview. I actually wanted to read right down to the end. my fave bit is this:

    "Precise systems only matter if you're not playing with friends who trust each other....if you trust your DM and the DM trusts the players and you all just want to have fun, then you could play the clunkiest system in the world and still have a blast."

  17. Where does the matter to construct the universe-dungeon come from?

    The same place the incidental music does. ;)

    GJ with the WOTC interview and the concept of the gigadungeon Zak. I'm a fan of funky Dyson spheres (like the biotech one in Dan Simmons' otherwise execrable Endymion, or the Morlock one in Stephen Baxter's Time Ships), but the sheer audacity of a dungeonised universe is really cool. It's like a Stephen Baxter re-write of Spelljammer or something...

  18. Just started reading the interview but so far my favorite quote is, "With new players I think the main thing is they need to know there's no way to do it wrong." I've been playing for 10 years and I still needed to be reminded of this! Good job :)

  19. I was referred to your blog today, probably because of this interview. I design games for a living (computer games, which is less fun than tabletop games but pays better), so I look at everyone's musings on gaming with an eye to mining them for things I'll use later.

    I have yet to read a *single goddamn post* here that wasn't *totally full* of useful things. I mean jesus christ man, pace yourself!

  20. Damn. It's magicaly won't show on wotc site