Aside from that summer I spent in college working in the map room of the University of Vermont’s library, sorting aerial photographs, I don’t know if I’ve spent as much time poring over maps as I did last night since when I was ten years old and seriously hooked on L. Frank Baum and C. S. Lewis‘ chronicles of fantastic lands: the Land of Oz and Narnia, respectively. What map was I so studiously examining? The first two levels of the Castle of the Mad Archmage, of course.
And I’m glad I did, because not only did I find a few things I’m glad I know about in advance, just not to be caught surprised by them the first time I read a room’s description, but it sparked a few ideas of my own, meant to make the dungeon more “fun.” One of the most famous McGuffins in cinematic history now resides in the Archmage’s cellars — no, I won’t tell which — and I now have a short list of elements to shift around just in case the excitement slows down too much.
I have no ideas how far the players will get in this thing, if they’ll steamroll over everything and or yelping back to town three rooms in. I’ve found what I think is the most interesting entrance to the top level of the dungeon, in terms of what’s nearby. We’ll see if they feel similarly.