Back in December I was musing over a poll I ran about favorite megadungeons. The results were skewed I believe, but in the end I surmised a new megadungeon was long overdue for Greyhawk. Then, two things happened in that time period that made this topic very timely, one Wizards announced Tales from the Yawning Portal. Second, Greyhawk Grognard ran a more in depth poll about what we as fans want out of the future of Greyhawk.
When asked what type of products and adventures people wanted, dungeoncrawls or a combination thereof polled near, or at the highest. Face it, that is what Greyhawk is best known for, so why not build on that rather rehash the same 4-5 loved, but tired old ruins? My initial gut reaction for the placement of a new megadungeon was in a forest. However, after doing a quick study of dungeons and ruins in publication, I found that all the major geographic areas were fairly represented after all. For example, the Temple of Elemental Evil could be considered in the forest.
Okay, the second consideration was where on the continent? If we go by Greyhawk Grognard's poll, most people like the Central Flanaess yet as we all know the top three megadungeons are already there (Greyhawk Ruins, Maure Castle, ToEE). Top four if you include White Plume Mountain. That's not to say the other areas of the Flanaess don't have dungeons, but not true megadungeons. The next three highest areas in terms of fan popularity are all "light" on major dungeons merely due to their high populations in my opinion. These are areas with more political and military milieus, but nonetheless cover expansive areas that could host a megadungeon.
The areas that lagged in popularity are more remote areas of the Flanaess, yet they do already have a vast number of large dungeons or ruins, either in publication (such as Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth) or not. This all of course ignores the unknowable abundance of regional Living Greyhawk dungeons that were probably produced for several years; plus the greater weight of Greyhawk history and how to tie a new megadungeon into it. So where to place a new megadungeon, that fans would actually consider using it?
The answer perhaps lies in another section of the GG poll asking what 'other' areas fans would be interested in? The Sea of Dust blows all other Oerth places out of the water. While that makes a ton of sense from a historical standpoint (The Rain of Colorless Fire did indeed create hundreds of ancient buried ruins), what it lacks is a staple of megadungeon and that's the staging area. Once you go to the Sea of Dust that's it, there is no turning back, you're on your own. This is why most of our beloved dungeons are in the central lands. So with that in mind I propose the next best thing, and that is to back it up a bit and place a megadungeon in the Dry Steppes along the mountains. This area is a highly undeveloped yet hospitable region, which is historically ancient like the Sea of Dust, plus it has a suitable staging area for a megadungeon campaign, Ull. Bet you didn't see that coming!
More on this next time.