Friday, 9 December 2022

Among other things, the table of miens/states/emotions.

I don't think I'd be able to finish that exercise that Sean McCoy had started. From my experience of doing Inktober and sui generia map, the excitement of a new project goes away in about eight days along with all interesting ideas, and then, unavoidably, a burnout sets up. In the best outcome some kind of second wind inspiration comes eventually, enough to at least drag the project to the finish line, but rarely it is timed well enough to continue with per-day challenge this exercise is.

I don't like planners, which take something as fluid as time and overlay a static grid onto it. The only planner I ever bought – for faux-leather covers, not even for the planner itself – was something from a nearby dollar store, about five years ago, so this is the one I am going to use. That it is off-date doesn't matter in this exercise anyway, only that it has a weekly parsing. It is interesting to me how people started by get those Hobonichi books almost mimicking the original setup, while, from my experience, each such organizer would be a highly individual case: for example, I like that mine has more lines for per-day stuff taking both sides of the weekly spread because this would give me more place to describe the room, while having two lines per day isn't really suitable for how I write. Initially I thought of using a small month section at the right bottom of the spread for the map, but realized it was too small, so I taped the map on top of the spread to flip on or off, and used that week section for a colour chip to remember the mood of the place.

To me the megadungeon is not the end purpose – even if, by some miracle, I'd be able to finish it, it will be very rough, and drab, disjointed thing, without historical layers or overlaying idea that are supposed to be the megadungeon most unique features; it will require an extensive work to make it playable and, even more work to make it interesting. But I do like that I can do a lot of really small places, seven rooms like in "Silent Titans", then turn the page and do another one, and then maybe connect them together in twos and threes if I need a bigger area. 

The list of weekly prompts given in the initial Sean McCoy's post is a good list (and is a second reason I want to try: it offers a good variety, so I can see which themes I fail at), but I thought I'd add a few more tools for myself to make it a little more interesting and, hopefully, thus more probable to finish.

• Colour chips, I mentioned before, to paint some very primitive swipes to set the mood/colour of the 7-room weekly dungeons. I have a set of tiny, A8 size, watercolour papers, already pre-cut, which should come in handy.

• Random magazine cutouts (for modern esoterica zine I'll probably never make) and classic art mini-stickers, of which I have too many and never otherwise use.

•  I don't want to put specific monsters in these places. By the unspoken rule of being statted, the known monsters are made to be killed, and I am not currently fine with this notion. Instead, I took a few of better-sounding captchas you get when you when try to download more than one pdf from Googlebooks. These words that might sound a little like real words, or be something obscured in some other language, and they will serve as placeholders for beings. Inhel, ditessi, sioner, hened, bilizen, rityle, mornfire and pellyri, among others: I don't know yet what those beings are, what do they want, how they look like – only what they might do.

Additionally, thanks to Scrap World's creative translation of French words into English, words such as skinshadow, wakegift, booknest, wintergourd, notchhour, waitwater, holdlast, soursbloom, carpeon and loombatter will add some inspiration when blank and abstract is not going to be enough.

• Instead of beings being aggressive I made a table that might serve for random mien, state, behavior or emotion.

01 Abandoned 51 Chargrin 101 Ecstatic 151 Inadequate 201 Penitent 251 Spiteful
02 Abashed 52 Cheeky 102 Elated 152 Incensed 202 Pensive 252 Startled
03 Abused 53 Confident 103 Embarrassed 153 Indecisive 203 Perplexed 253 Storming
04 Accepted 54 Confused 104 Emphatic 154 Indifferent 204 Persecuted 254 Stressed
05 Accepting 55 Contemplative 105 Empty 155 Indignant 205 Pessimistic 255 Stubborn
06 Addicted 56 Contemptuous 106 Energetic 156 Inept 206 Pious 256 Stumped
07 Admiring 57 Content 107 Enthusiastic 157 Inferior 207 Playful 257 Stunned
08 Adoring 58 Contrite 108 Envious 158 Infuriated 208 Powerful 258 Sullen
09 Adrift 59 Courageous 109 Euphoric 159 Inquisitive 209 Powerless 259 Surprised
10 Affronted 60 Courteous 110 Exasperated 160 Insecure 210 Pressured 260 Tainted
11 Afraid 61 Crabby 111 Excited 161 Insignificant 211 Prideful 261 Tearful
12 Aggravated 62 Cranky 112 Excluded 162 Inspired 212 Proud 262 Tenacious
13 Aggressive 63 Creative 113 Exposed 163 Interested 213 Provoked 263 Tense
14 Agitated 64 Crestfallen 114 Fearful 164 Intimidated 214 Punished 264 Terrified
15 Alienated 65 Crippled 115 Feeble 165 Irate 215 Quiet 265 Thankful
16 Amazed 66 Critical 116 Fervent 166 Irritated 216 Rattled 266 Thoughtful
17 Ambitious 67 Cruel 117 Fidgety 167 Isolated 217 Ratty 267 Threatened
18 Ambivalent 68 Crushed 118 Flustered 168 Jealous 218 Rejected 268 Thrilled
19 Amused 69 Culpable 119 Forsaken 169 Jovial 219 Relaxed 269 Timid
20 Angry 70 Curious 120 Fragile 170 Joyful 220 Relieved 270 Tired
21 Annoyed 71 Defensive 121 Free-spirited 171 Judgemental 221 Remorseful 271 Trepidatious
22 Anticipatory 72 Deflated 122 Fretful 172 Keen 222 Repelled 272 Troubled
23 Anxious 73 Dejected 123 Friendly 173 Kind 223 Repentant 273 Truculent
24 Apathetic 74 Delinquent 124 Frightened 174 Letdown 224 Resentful 274 Trusting
25 Apologetic 75 Depressed 125 Frustrated 175 Light-hearted 225 Respected 275 Uncomfortable
26 Appalled 76 Deserted 126 Fuming 176 Lonely 226 Respectful 276 Unfocused
27 Apprehensive 77 Desolate 127 Furious 177 Loving 227 Revolted 277 Unhappy
28 Ardent 78 Despaired 128 Galled 178 Mad 228 Ridiculed 278 Unsafe
29 Ashamed 79 Desperate 129 Genial 179 Meditative 229 Ruined 279 Unwanted
30 Astonished 80 Despondent 130 Glad 180 Melancholic 230 Rushed 280 Upset
31 Attentive 81 Detached 131 Gleeful 181 Merry 231 Sad 281 Useless
32 Averse 82 Detestable 132 Gloomy 182 Miffed 232 Sadistic 282 Valued
33 Avoidant 83 Devastated 133 Grateful 183 Miserable 233 Scared 283 Vengeful
34 Awful 84 Disappointed 134 Grieving 184 Mocked 234 Scorned 284 Vigilant
35 Awkward 85 Disapproving 135 Grim 185 Moody 235 Seething 285 Vindictive
36 Baffled 86 Discarded 136 Grumpy 186 Morose 236 Self-conscious 286 Violated
37 Befuddled 87 Disgraced 137 Guilty 187 Mortified 237 Sensitive 287 Vulnerable
38 Belligerent 88 Disgusted 138 Happy 188 Mournful 238 Serene 288 Watchful
39 Betrayed 89 Disillusioned 139 Hardy 189 Nauseated 239 Sheepish 289 Weak
40 Bewildered 90 Dismal 140 Hateful 190 Needy 240 Shocked 290 Weepy
41 Bitter 91 Dismayed 141 Heated 191 Neglected 241 Shy 291 Willful
42 Bleak 92 Dismissive 142 Helpless 192 Nervous 242 Sickened 292 Wishful
43 Bold 93 Dispirited 143 Hesitant 193 Nonchalant 243 Skeptical 293 Wistful
44 Bored 94 Disquieted 144 Hopeful 194 Numb 244 Skittish 294 Withdrawn
45 Bossy 95 Disrespected 145 Horrified 195 Optimistic 245 Sleepy 295 Woeful
46 Buoyant 96 Distant 146 Hostile 196 Ostracized 246 Slumped 296 Worried
47 Burned up 97 Distracted 147 Humble 197 Overwhelmed 247 Sly 297 Worthless
48 Busy 98 Doting 148 Humiliated 198 Panicky 248 Somber 298 Yielding
49 Careful 99 Doubtful 149 Hungry 199 Paranoid 249 Sore 299 Zealous
50 Chaotic 100 Eager 150 Hurt 200 Peaceful 250 Sorrowful 300 Zippy

• Hexed watercolour paper insert, to paint a map if I'd ever need one. Turns out you can make a common laser printer to print on some types of watercolour papers and it won't smudge when used with water. A really easy way to do same precise lineart but with custom colouring.

 • I really wish to use Decker for something; maybe when some of the weekly places are done they can be made interactive in it.

Again, realistically looking at this idea, I don't think it will be enough to carry me across the finish line, but I'd be curious to see how far I can go.


  1. "I don't like planners, which take something as fluid as time and overlay a static grid onto it" - words of the spiritually awakened. I'm also feeling kinda strange about trying the challenge, burnout hits me really hard and it's almost the exact opposite of the way I like to make dungeons (built around the super exciting practice of thinking about one or another very specific real world place/time for a long while)...but goddamn does it seem cool and this provides some interesting tools for spicing it up. The CAPTCHA idea is so weird and fun - a bilizen looks like an elongated shmoo in my head - I'd love to see what you do with it whether or not it's within the framework of this challenge. The emotion table is another thing that is just straight up useful in any dungeon-building situation. Wasn't familiar with Decker before this and I think the need to do a thing with it is getting to me as well. Best of luck with the challenge, fam!

    1. The thing I want to do if I run out of ideas is to creatively transform everyday situations into locales in the dungeons. Going grocery shopping can create a goblin marketplace, a bored lich trading magic for soul-stuff, tiny garden gnomes exchanging groceries for a drops of sunlight, and so on. Sean McCoy, the creator of the challenge, told not to think about how everything fits together, that even if (mega)dungeons strength is usually a cool core idea, so there is a certain level of liberation in just tossing stuff into a pile, one spread at time, which is a third reason I wish to try it and see how it goes.

      One room at day may prevent a burnout – I admit, it is tempting to just write the whole week at once (and maybe in one or two out of 52 weeks I'll do just that, nobody really cares) but doing one room a first thing in the morning and then forgetting about it until next day can work too.
      Any random word generator (or even something like Vulgar) might work for weird words, it is just GCaptcha always looks to me as a scramble of some words I almost recognize, which makes it kind of more interesting, I think, even if it is purely my perception of the situation.

      As for trying the challenge - even if you won't finish, you might still end up with 30-rooms one or a few smaller things for future use; Dreaming Dragonslayer, I think, decided to just do it for month and then re-evaluate the process.


    2. "The thing I want to do if I run out of ideas is to creatively transform everyday situations into locales in the dungeons" YO this blog is gonna look based come December, can't wait for the parking garage room and the lost motorist cult faction. Good point on the bit about still having something cool even if you don't go all the way.

      Btw Kyana, have you seen this alternate schedule from Emmy Verte? -

      I think this is a good way to try the challenge for those of us still wedded to high-concept dungeons or those who suffer from writing fatigue easily - maybe cheating, but I think I might use this variant.

    3. There is already a place based upon my (kind of) dying fridge, so we will see. I hope not to run out of ideas too often though.

      I have seen Emmy Verte's schedule but it isn't for me, I think. The list is useful, but as the planner is already a grid, the schedule of that kind adds to it to make the time even more rigid. NPCs or items or rumours would be a good alternative if rooms won't be going well.

  2. The emotion table is great stuff. This comes at an auspicious time for me as I have been thinking about the inner life of NPCs a lot recently, and one of the things I was intending on doing was creating some tables to inform their current state of mind. I'll likely use your table rather than reinvent the wheel!

    1. Thank you, glad if it will be of use.
      Would you like it as a separate pdf? And if yes, which page size?

    2. You don't by any chance have it as an unformatted list do you? That would be handy for the purposes of automating the randomization, but if not, no worries! And thank you very much for making this!

    3. I have a source file so can have make unformatted one. Where to send it to?

    4. If that isn't a huge headache for you, it would be awesome and thank you! Please use the email address in my profile! If it is a pain in the rear, please don't worry about it - I can mess with the formatting if so!

    5. I've sent the file, it wasn't a problem. Hope it will be useful.

  3. I’m not sure about this challenge either. I haven’t done a “dungeon” in 40 years. But, I do like the idea of this challenge, and the interest and enthusiasm it has sparked. In particular I like Sean’s prompts and his and other comments to take the idea, morph it and make it your own. So my take, which has gone through quite a few iterations, is more of a world building scribble. I have a map of an area. A manor, some standing stones, nearby towns, a railway station, some notes on typical creatures - not all of them mundane. Not sure where it will go, but if it peters out I hope I’ll be inspired enough to continue with something different. It is at least something. Perhaps a layer of setting upon which I can plonk down an adventure or module or something later.

    1. What I have noticed is that the ideas that are welling up are inspired by quite old things. Stories I read, film, TV from 20+ years ago. Often brought front of mind by more modern stuff that resonates with the older material, but it is the older material that seeps through.

    2. I think this is a pretty good way to go about it, stories that emerge from the past. At the very least it sets your own inner sense of the place(s), sort of emotional broad strokes.

      Worldbuilding direction is actually the direction I like the most out of all variants that appeared, probably because I am finding most of megadungeons a tiring affair to go through, and my players, when/if I have them, don't seem to like to precision-map at all, which is essential in megadungeon, in my opinion. Worldbulding/overland map with smaller, more standalone places, on another hand, is fluid and forgiving enough that such precision is not necessary and it allows for much more variations.
      I don't mean it in any way that puts any pressure onto you, but if one day you'd like to show me this setting/map, I'd be glad to take a look.

      Seeing the initial idea morphing and changing is where a lot of inspiration is to me. However I might wonder if buying that specific planner is a wise thing (given all people have very different preferences for paperspaces), I do enjoy seeing what people are doing with them, and much more so setups/ideas that go beyond the initial one.

    3. Happy to share some stuff. Normally I don’t, because it seems mostly embarassingly bad, but for this challenge I think showing practical examples is good, especially stuff that is different and perhaps also ‘average’ — just so other people see that you don’t have to be brilliant, you just have to be having a go, and in the end the most important (and in fact the only) person to please is yourself. My stuff is very much more of the brainstorming variety and is a bit all over the place.

      Maybe I’ll try tweeting a picture and tag you, since I found your blog post via a tweet. Or I can email you something.

      The planner suggestion works for me because it provides structure. My notes are often quite formless, rambling. The structure of the planner is helpful to me, once I’ve come to grips with it. It gets me to focus and to be brief. My first idea when I read of #dungeon23 and saw the suggested diary planner was a) I already have one of those, cool, then b) that’d work for doing a star system a day, really easily — an alternative to the ‘dungeon’ that I can relate to and which spurs thoughts. I can make up a room with encounters, but it is not something I’ve engaged with much so to me the feeling was that my creations would be quite shallow. But traveller worlds, I engage with. Once you’ve got 2 or 3 or 4 you can easily start to get involved in how they connect and interact. A bit later I came up with my current solution, the ‘world building’ for an area in which my ‘dungeons’ will be located. But I might try the Traveller thing as well.

    4. I agree about posting WIP. Maybe each month or a few weeks, so there is no stress of weekly posting.

      I am not on Twitter (although I can follow twitter links). If you wish to reach me, it is [cryptic_pale] at [protonmail d#t com].

      The structure of time in a planner is something I usually resent – to see my time gridded so monotonously is distressing – but as an writing exercise? I think it works much better than I thought it would. As of the first week I am running out of space quite often, but it makes me me either aware of vapid words or makes me to glue in more paper (which is also nice); I think other creative writing journals which have similar per-day-writing premise give too much space. I also still like a lot the modularity of weeks, and I think with week/month/seasons grouping there is a space to switch the scale from solar system to a dungeon and back if such need will arise.

    5. I found your link to to be handy. I think it will help with pacing. I’ve written a lot in my planner too quickly in my attempts to brainstorm a more coherent approach for me to this challenge. So I wrote on other bits of paper, and now things are rather chaotic. I am however bringing some order to it. Reading other people’s posts on twitter has been quite instructive: there are a lot of good ideas surfacing there. It is perhaps the most entertaining and productive use I’ve gotten out of twitter since I joined it as a G+ refugee.

    6. Yes, the twitter has been a good sounding board. Sometimes I see the idea, or somebody's approach / setup / tool and immediately understand that this is something useful, and sometimes I immediately understand that this is something I definitely don't want to do.

      There is that thing called 'Wreck this journal'. It means to be an art exercise (or a number of exercises) liberating from the need to be cohesive or perfect, but I found that its approach can be used for Dungeon 23 as well. I generally like cohesion. I like pieces adding up to an interesting whole. But I realized I don't have to have this cohesion from the start, as it might start as very basic premise that is comfortable to me, and go from there.
      (and you can always tape those random bits of paper into planner, as a space for notes or musings (a literal nota bene?) and revisit them later)