My favorite concept in gaming is the Megadungeon. In most gaming situations, a dungeon is a home to a single nasty monster and the nasty monster’s closest friends, family and minions. Adventurers go into the dungeon, kill the bad guys and take their loot. The dungeon reflects the personality of the nasty boss; a giant laboratory for a mad wizard or a military style barracks for an evil leader of orcs. Think of a normal dungeon as the setting for a two hour action movie.
In a Megadungeon, there is no single nasty boss monster. It is a huge sprawling home to multiple monsters who may or may not get along with the others. Monsters usually didn’t create the Megadungeon, they are just squatting in it. Because of this, the Megadungeon doesn’t necessarily reflect the monsters it holds; it has its own characteristics separate from the monsters. These often include mysterious fountains that may heal or poison you, odd traps that make no damn sense and secret tunnels undiscovered for centuries.
Because of its size and complexity, Megadungeons are never cleared out in a single adventure. In most settings, adventurers go in, kill and grab as much as they can and try to get out of alive. Most do not and their bones and equipment add to the treasure and ambiance of the area. Adventurers can spend entire lives trying to reach the bottom and never succeed. If a normal dungeon is an action movie, a Megadungeon is a movie franchise.
A big draw of the Megadungeon to me is the mystery of its existence. Who made the place? Why did they put up so many fountains? What does the motif of fish skulls mean? Where does the fresh food come from this deep underground? Who left these warning signs? A Megadungeon is part archeology, part haunted house and part being submissive with someone who never tells you any of the rules or safewords.
In erotica my rule of thumb is “Interesting people having interesting sex.” The setting is often important but rarely is it the star. Lately I have been wondering if it was possible to bring the Megadungeon to erotica. It would easy to just do a sword and sorcery fantasy erotica story set in a Megadungeon but I wasn’t thinking of a straight copy. I was thinking of something more surreal where a character explores a sprawling erotic place. Instead of interesting people having interesting sex, it would be about the interesting sex one person had in a strange place.
The obvious problem with that idea is that it would one long series of masturbation scenes. Even if a character is fucking some sort of strange magic chair, it is still a form of masturbation. The fix for that is to populate the place with people but to not let the people steal the spotlight from the setting.
I am reminded of Alice in Wonderland and it makes me think that Wonderland and Oz were a form of Megadungeons. They were strange places that allowed for stranger characters. I even wrote a story like that already with the Hero of Delightia. I don’t want to do stories like those again simply because I feel like they have already been done.
A solution for that would be to kick up the surreality. In Wonderland, the characters were nonsensical but they spoke English and though their motives were wacky, they had a sort of twisted logic. Take away their communication or make it incomprehensible and you reduce them to mysteries. Of course in sex there is always that risk of reducing their individuality to the point that they are dull but hey, erotica always has challenges.
A big attraction to me with the erotic Megadungeon would be some sort of underlying mystery. It would have to feel like the place was made for a reason and the main character was on the verge of figuring out what that was.
Another attraction would be the idea that the main character was not the first person to visit here. There would be signs of previous travelers. Heck, there may be other travelers that the main character meets. They should be as hopelessly confused as the main character.
On that note, maybe we don’t see the same character every time. It is about the place after all. Every story or chapter could be about a different character having different experiences with places and things that they reader recognizes. Maybe we see previous characters again. Maybe not.
I don’t have any more to say on the subject at the moment. Consider this article to be my notes in blog form. Feel free to add your own observations to the idea of an erotic Megadungeon.