Monday, August 20, 2018

How I’m Organizing My Megadungeon

I’m a firm believer that Jayquaysing a dungeon should not be a two dimensional affair. Perhaps the most captivating aspect of Dark Souls for me was the smooth vertical transitions between areas. That’s something I want to bring to this megadungeon.

So before I start in on vertical Jayquaysing, let me explain how I intend to set up this dungeon. Instead of having well-defined levels, I intend to have thematic blocks of dungeon that may – and probably do – contain multiple sublevels within them. This means that a given block may not be horizontally sprawling, but it will exist in three dimensions.

I have already arranged these blocks in a side view map of the dungeon and placed connections between the sublevels within each block, and between the blocks themselves. This is where the Jaquaying really came in. Each block connects to other blocks above it, below it, and to its sides. These connections may originate from any sublevel, and many skip sublevels or even pass down to much lower levels. They also don’t automatically connect to the top of a block or level from the bottom of a block.

The result is that you can get to almost anywhere from almost anywhere, in terms of blocks and sublevels, in this dungeon. I made it a point to design in fast ways down to deeper levels, not all of which will be readily available from the start. Overall, this has the effect of providing superior interconnectedness that should make for a richer dungeon with more complex interactions. It should also provide a great deal of player agency.

 “But wait! You said three dimensional Jayquaysing, and you only talked about vertical Jaquaysing! What about the other horizontal direction?” Yeah, yeah, yeah, I skipped that, but I also thought it was kind of obvious. Within any depth level, I make it a point to Jayquays as much as possible, also. Sure, some choke points are good and designed in with intent, but mostly the maps are also horizontally Jayquaysed as well.

So how does all of this add up? Any given block is heavy with internal connections and also connects to multiple other blocks. These connections do not predictably lead to any particular sublevel, and many do not lead to the first sublevel. Each sublevel is also heavily interconnected, with the goal of making the exploration process feel like a continuous, fluid adventure. If it works, the players won’t feel like they are entering a new level so much as the scenery will change and provide clues that they’ve gone deeper. I am hoping this increases their agency and provides a richer gaming experience.


  1. As per Jennell Jayquays, the prefered term is "Jayquaysing"