How do you guys handle areas already explored in your #megadungeons (or just large dungeons that take multiple sessions to go through)?Hey, and thanks for asking.
Do you pick up where you left of last time ("Okay, so you go through a bunch of rooms and corridors, and end up at that shrine of Orcus you slew those cultists. What do you do now?") or have the players navigate through each room again (even if the players just want to go on from that shrine)?
How about describing the environs and random encounters? Do you still describe everything visible and noticeable on concentrate on the new and unseen things? How do you incorporate random encounters ("Okay, so you go through a bunch of rooms and corridors... rolls some dice ... and, remember that magical smithy? As you go past the door leading there, half a dozen skeletal dwarves with unreasonably large axes rush out towards you.") - if at all? Also, traps that may be triggered again?
I'll tell you how I handle it. Poorly.
Here is what I actually do in play. This is because I'm not running a megadungeon, I'm playtesting one, which makes a big difference.
- The players start each week in town
- The game ends when the leave the megadungeon (this means if they go back to town an hour after we start, that ends the game for the week.)
- If they don't leave the megadungeon by the end of play, I roll on this horrible table.
- I do no restocking or refilling of explored areas. (If I were running (vs. playtesting) a megadungeon I would)
- If there characters want to go somewhere and they have only been there once, I make them go there room by corridor by room. If they have made it there with no errors successfully twice, I essentially allow them to return with only wandering monster checks.
I think for a lot of Dungeon Masters there is an idea that there's a "proper way" to do this. Maybe after a game you sit down and simulate what happens to those empty spaces inside the dungeon. I think that a lot of people feel that if they aren't doing this, that they are doing it incorrectly. Those people are wrong of course. There isn't any incorrectly.
I don't think anything really has to be done. A lot of the work falls on the wandering monster tables. Going back down to level 3 and run into some orcs on the way? Guess who's making an incursion into level 2. This can be made even more entertaining for the players by perhaps coming up with a 12 entry weirdness table or spending the week thinking of one thing that might be different on their way down into the dungeon.
And that quick and dirty way seems to be a common method a lot of Dungeon Masters used (based on the original private thread this discussion came up in.) Using a Barrowmaze style restocking method is quick (1-4 nothing, 5 monster, 6 monster and treasure) and a good way to handle quickly filling uncleared rooms.
You should know, for Dungeon Masters running long term games—the reality is, most of the time we just decide something interesting has happened because we thought of something interesting or because we forgot to do any sort of restocking at all.