Over the last couple of weeks I've been struggling with working on my megadungeon. It feels like a chore and I am just not excited about it anymore. While trying to figure out why I was in this funk, I realized that there are many problems contributing. Here is what I've found.
Working Against my GMing Style (again)
I use to be terrified by improvisation. I would create pages and pages of prep notes in my early games because I wanted to make sure that every patron at the tavern had a name, job, etc. But I also hated doing a bunch of work that was "wasted" if the players didn't talk to that NPC, or whatever. After awhile I gave up on trying, and just would roll with the punches. Now I prefer to have just the key details and let the players figure out who's important and who isn't.
My Fallout game had 3 pages of prep (outside of equipment list and templates), mostly of bullet points of a location, the major NPCs there, what those NPCs want, and what they can give. My Traveller game had even less.
It might be that I've gotten lazy, but between work, family, and my other hobbies, I just don't want to spend 3 hours every night working on my weekly game. It ends up causing burn out.
But DF requires a LOT of prep! For DF I need maps, room descriptions, monsters, traps, loot, and other bits of interest. I like making maps, but as I mentioned before this can be hard to do well. DF2 and DFM1 both have some great monsters in them, but most are designed for a very select environment, or are something that is best used sparingly. The same old pit trap gets old quick, so rolling up new ones and making them fit can be a chore. Loot is always a bit strange to me. The simulationist wants to just roll on a table, but the 4th time you get the SM-2 Bows, for your group of Half-Ogre Barbarians you know how unsatisfying that is going to be for everyone.
And so I am burned out. I've thought about just going to published modules, but that means converting monsters, traps, loot, etc. That is a lot LESS work, but also tends to be much harder to make fun and balanced for my group.
While I think that the core problem is that I haven't been focusing enough on "story", and too much on the bits such as monsters and loot, this still is a concern b/c of the time it takes to get this all done.
Possible solutions: Again, I could just go to published modules, but I have a feeling that is going to bore me. I've never been a module guy, so I don't know if that would keep my interest up.
The other idea is to do "dungeon on the fly". I've never tried to do something like this, but have played with how it could be done. The basic idea is to just improve the dungeon, creating a rough map as the players explore, and just throw cool stuff at them randomly. I worry that this is going to create something that make no sense what so ever, and end up going to the silly side of things.
For the most part, I feel this is a problem that diminish with time. The more material I can create the more I can pull from later. So my hope is that once I've sorted out some of the other problems, this will also become less and less of an issue. That is IF I can get myself motivated to keep adding new items every day, and that will take time.