Expeditious Retreat unleashes MASSIVE megadungeon

Gringnr

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Moonglum

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I am definitely a gourmande of megadungeons. I also create my own, and regularly use them in play, so perhaps that also makes me a gourmet? I suppose only my players could tell for sure. But I will definitely check this one out!

Edit: Based on the free online info, this looks pretty awesome: great looking maps and artwork; at least the generalities of the content sound good. I don't really like using pdfs at the table, so I'll wait for the print version to show up.
 

Gringnr

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Be pretty hilarious if this was a rats and copper coins style dungeon.
The asshole in me has always wanted to run a megadungeon, and add a level in the middle. The level would consist of a single long, ordinary hallway, spanning the length of the dungeon, with an entrance at one end and an exit at the other. No secret doors, no traps, no treasure, nothing at all, except, of course, a wandering monster roll every turn.
 

under_score

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Well it's got a 20 page preview and the map pack is free. Great cartography. A few levels are quite huge, sprawling maps with an absolute mess of routes available. Parties will absolutely get lost in these places without careful mapping skills.
Then there's the table of faction relationships. 12 factions listed all with varying attitudes towards each other. That's great to see.
I'm pretty sure I'm gonna pony up whatever the print run ends up costing.
 

Wormturn

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This looks like the kind of dungeon I could lock my players in and then throw away the key. Hopefully it gets some sort of print-run, because the book looks like it should be big enough to beat them with.
 

Moonglum

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The attraction of a megadungeon is that it is a space that never loses the possibility of mystery. You will not, under any circumstances, go everywhere, kill everything and strip the place back to the wall studs. This sense of the road-not-travelled makes it more exciting and empowers the players. They get to decide how much or little of the space they see without somehow 'failing' because they didn't do it all. Moria is the prototypical megadungeon specifically because it is indescribably vast.
 

Gringnr

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This looks like the kind of dungeon I could lock my players in and then throw away the key. Hopefully it gets some sort of print-run, because the book looks like it should be big enough to beat them with.
Thy're taking pre-orders for print, and it'll be multiple books.
 

Edgewise

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I saw this today and it looks extremely interesting.
Megadungeons are something I like to read more than play. Though I do like the vibe of Anomalous Subsurface Environment.
I'd say they're something I like to play more than finish. You don't really need to finish a megadungeon, anyway. Just the idea that you're exploring this tiny portion of this vast nightmare realm is itself very cool.

Personally, I've played a bit of ASE and I'm currently running a group through Stonehell here on the Pub. It can be a lot of fun, and I find that in a good megadungeon campaign, the greatest value of the dungeon itself is that it forms a spine on which it's very easy to build a rich campaign.
 

Edgewise

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It's an ambitious price point.
FWIW it does look like an enormous quantity of content. My main question is its playability - while the preview shows enough to whet your appetite, you don't get much sense of how well-organized the nitty-gritty play elements are.
 

Bunch

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FWIW it does look like an enormous quantity of content. My main question is its playability - while the preview shows enough to whet your appetite, you don't get much sense of how well-organized the nitty-gritty play elements are.
For many $109 for a PDF is just too much almost regardless of the quality.
 

Edgewise

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For many $109 for a PDF is just too much almost regardless of the quality.
I recognize that. Personally, I'm going to wait a long time in hopes of a sale. If it never comes down, I may never buy it. We'll see. On the other hand, if it was broken up into five separate two-hundred page volumes, each sold for $20, I don't think we'd see quite as many spit takes.

Either way, I don't see it as a question of right and wrong so much as a question of good/bad business on their part and a cost/benefit analysis on my part. I will speculate that I think it would sell better if the five volumes were sold separately. At least at first.
 

Ronnie Sanford

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The asshole in me has always wanted to run a megadungeon, and add a level in the middle. The level would consist of a single long, ordinary hallway, spanning the length of the dungeon, with an entrance at one end and an exit at the other. No secret doors, no traps, no treasure, nothing at all, except, of course, a wandering monster roll every turn.
Evil! It would take the party a week to get down the hall because they would be checking for secret doors and traps the whole way.
 

AsenRG

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Well it's got a 20 page preview and the map pack is free. Great cartography. A few levels are quite huge, sprawling maps with an absolute mess of routes available. Parties will absolutely get lost in these places without careful mapping skills.
Then there's the table of faction relationships. 12 factions listed all with varying attitudes towards each other. That's great to see.
I'm pretty sure I'm gonna pony up whatever the print run ends up costing.
Now that might tempt even someone like me:grin:!
 

Spellslinging Sellsword

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On the other hand, if it was broken up into five separate two-hundred page volumes, each sold for $20, I don't think we'd see quite as many spit takes.

Either way, I don't see it as a question of right and wrong so much as a question of good/bad business on their part and a cost/benefit analysis on my part. I will speculate that I think it would sell better if the five volumes were sold separately. At least at first.
Looks like the split volume will be out soon.

It is an expensive PDF. Once the print books are available (hopefully within 15 days), people will be able to purchase Arden Vul in 4 separate sections instead of all at once. IMO, the singular PDF is of higher utility (searching for things is a breeze!), but if initial cost is a concern for someone, the 4 smaller sections would probably be better for that individual.

The sections will be:
Volume One: Introduction - Level 4
Volume Two: Level 5 - Level 10
Volume Three: Sub-levels 1-15
Volume Four: Extra material (new monsters, new magic items, new spells, etc.)
Volume Five: The Map Book - all the maps in printed form. This is only for people who want hardcopies of the map.
 

Gringnr

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Is there an accepted definition of "megadungeon?" Legit curious.
 

Bunch

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Is there an accepted definition of "megadungeon?" Legit curious.
No. Every time I see this discussed it's sort of vague. It's a "I know it when I see it" sort of thing.
 

dbm

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My working definition is ‘campaign in a box - with stalagmites’. A mega dungeon can be played almost forever by a group, and is a living location as illustrated by the factions that this talks about.

This looks really interesting, I’ve put it on my wish list for future consideration. But £100 is far beyond ‘impulse buy’ levels.
 

under_score

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Is there an accepted definition of "megadungeon?" Legit curious.
10+ levels is a pretty common one. I think that has its roots in 1e advice on designing a dungeon and most dungeon monster/treasure stocking tables assume 10 levels.
But in general I agree with @dbm. The idea of a megadungeon is that it is the whole campaign and it will never be fully explored or cleared.
 

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Most of them also assumed regular return trips to base, so there was an emphasis on shortcuts and teleport rooms and whatnot to bypass all those bits the players had already "done". I only discovered that in the modern age. Back in the 80s when I had my own megadungeon (though I didn't know then that it was a thing), the characters just stayed down there for ever, unless they happened to come to the surface somewhere else by accident. All part of the resource management mini game.
 
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dbm

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When I was starting out as a DM all my dungeons had one-way doors at the entrance so the PCs couldn’t just go back to town...

Simpler times...
 

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Long gone are the days that I could convince my group to play a mega dungeon :sad:
 

Bunch

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Even is something is worth $100 it seems more likely to me you can get twice as many to buy it for $50 and four times as many at $25. We're just cheap as a group.

@robertsconley without discussing quality too much, what are your insights into PDF pricing?
 

robertsconley

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Even is something is worth $100 it seems more likely to me you can get twice as many to buy it for $50 and four times as many at $25. We're just cheap as a group.

@robertsconley without discussing quality too much, what are your insights into PDF pricing?
My experience with the Wilderlands Boxed Set, the Revised Wilderlands, and Points of Light. That it is better to go for frequent smaller releases than the Great Domesbook book. Especially for a non-core products like settings, adventures, and supplemental material.

The Wilderlands of High Fantasy Boxed set retailed for $70. My print Guidebook and Maps are $57 (without CSIO). I have nowhere near the complaints over pricing and form factor that the boxed set caused when it was released as I released in four separate packages.

My future plan is build things both for any rules, adventures, or setting is to build them out piecemeal.

However since we are talking the level of one-man shops here it may be creatively the $100 PDF was the way to go for Arden Vul. The master craftsmen working away at a project until its finished and then sell at an accordingly high price. It isn't like Joseph hasn't released low price products. This may be one of his magnus opus creatively.

For an example of this conundrum before things got messed up with Judges Guild, I some of the idea I had was the Majestic Fastness a megadungeon near Thunderhold, my own CSIO a mega city, and Dearthwood a mega wilderness. Of the three only Dearthwood I could creatively release piecemeal so I planned it out that way accordingly. The Majestic Fastness and my own CSIO however are compact locales. The core of each would wind up as a substantial piece of writing along with cartography and art.

If you are going to go for the big damn book then build up your reputation first and Joseph with Expeditious Retreat Press has certainly done that. If you are not sure of Arden Vul then buy one his smaller works. If you like what you see buy something else. If the pattern holds, then spring for Arden Vul if you like the previews.
 

Justin Alexander

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Is there an accepted definition of "megadungeon?" Legit curious.
Broadly speaking:

- Large enough that you can run an entire campaign entirely within the dungeon.
- Not designed to be cleared / cannot reasonably be cleared.

To which I generally add:

- It's not a lair. By which I mean it is not inhabited by a single faction/creature type.
- Non-linear / thoroughly jaquayed.

As a rule of thumb, the first edition of Rappan Athuk is either not quite big enough to be a megadungeon or just barely big enough to qualify, depending on who you talk to. (This is based on dozens of discussions of this topic over the years.) Ergo, it makes a pretty good baseline for where the line of demarcation is.

However since we are talking the level of one-man shops here it may be creatively the $100 PDF was the way to go for Arden Vul. The master craftsmen working away at a project until its finished and then sell at an accordingly high price. It isn't like Joseph hasn't released low price products. This may be one of his magnus opus creatively.
There's also attention to be garnered by virtue of the single magnum opus: Ptolus or Arden Vul are less impressive if they're broken up across a half dozen books.

Would this thread even exist if Arden Vul didn't immediately make your jaw drop open at its vast scope?
 

Moonglum

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There are a fair number of very big megadungeons and pretty good megadungeons out there to purchase, so this strikes me as an interesting new entry rather than something totally unique. I suspect what has us debating its merits in such detail is the eye popping pdf price tag.
 

EOTB

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If I were selling something like this, i'd rather sell 100 copies that were played than 500 (or more) copies that were read.

Price out the merely curious. Word of mouth only from people who've invested something as similarly substantial compared to their normal purchases as you've invested in time and effort.
 

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If I were selling something like this, i'd rather sell 100 copies that were played than 500 (or more) copies that were read.

Price out the merely curious. Word of mouth only from people who've invested something as similarly substantial compared to their normal purchases as you've invested in time and effort.
There's a false assumption there that $100 means the same to everyone. When I was single in tech I would drop $100 on this no problem. Now I have a wife and kids. I've narrowed down my hobbies. I'm more likely to play but less likely to pay.
 

EOTB

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Saying someone is an exception doesn't invalidate the rule.

If you want someone to use something, make them pay a (comparatively) dear price for it. It's mentally much harder to flip something that cost 5X what you normally purchase in the "maybe later" pile. Of course this presumes it's high quality. Expensive poor quality would just get someone bad word of mouth.

Edit - in other words, it's a choice to price out some people who might play in order to price out almost everyone who wouldn't.

Edit 2 - "it" is the thought process behind my post. I don't have any personal insights into Joe B's reasoning.
 
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Voros

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If I were selling something like this, i'd rather sell 100 copies that were played than 500 (or more) copies that were read.

Price out the merely curious. Word of mouth only from people who've invested something as similarly substantial compared to their normal purchases as you've invested in time and effort.
I used to put on rock shows and quickly cured myself of the idea that we only wanted the really engaged audience to show up, one that is just elitist BS and two no show would make its money back let alone turn a profit if there were no casuals, scenesters and hangers on showing up.

If you wanted to do it just for the love of it and want to just appeal to the hardcores with no care for turning a profit release it for free or PWYW.
 

EOTB

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there are motivations beyond having the most revenue and/or the widest distribution
 

Gringnr

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Saying someone is an exception doesn't invalidate the rule.

If you want someone to use something, make them pay a (comparatively) dear price for it. It's mentally much harder to flip something that cost 5X what you normally purchase in the "maybe later" pile. Of course this presumes it's high quality. Expensive poor quality would just get someone bad word of mouth.

Edit - in other words, it's a choice to price out some people who might play in order to price out almost everyone who wouldn't.

Edit 2 - "it" is the thought process behind my post. I don't have any personal insights into Joe B's reasoning.

People buy stuff they don't use literally all the time. Expensive stuff. This thing costs a hundred bucks because it's like 1100 pages. It isn't rocket science. Expeditious Retreat is charging what they think the market will bear. Rappan Athuk is around $40 at 500 or so pages. Given the work that probably went into this, they're probably not charging enough. But I don't think the price is that crazy or puzzling when compared to other products of its type. And I certainly don't think the publisher is trying to price people out of the market over some kind of anti-casual purity test. If they were, they would deserve to lose money on it.

That having been said, I am definitely not the target demo for this. But I hope it does very well for them. I really just want Browning to finish The Bucharest Libretto for Classified now that this is done. Or at least after they sort out the physical books.
 

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Saying someone is an exception doesn't invalidate the rule.
It does it there are enough exceptions. There's a lot of overlap between tech/medicine and gaming. Those salaries are far above what many people get payed. So the struggle you're hoping for decision wise only happens with some of your audience and it's completely unattached to desire and ability to use something. Why take a people who would love to run it and say you have to wait six months and hope nothing goes wrong it your life but JeffTech can see it on a website and go "Huh I guess I'll get it." Without a second thought.
 

EOTB

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I said nothing of a struggle? I said if people have to put more upfront for it than another work they are more likely to use it. If most gamers' salaries are so flush that this is a pittance then that makes the hobby's insatiable demand for free work all the more contrasting. I suspect the reality is that for many, $100 is a noticeable sum - and all the same, is spent many months of the year on several quickly discarded products purchased for no other reason than novelty and boredom relief, as opposed to a single product thoroughly used.

I don't expect many would adopt such a strategy anyway, as most would be looking for the most revenue or widest distribution.
 
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