When I first started, the idea was to take Fictive Hack characters and plumb the mysterious depths of the Lottery Dungeon. That worked well for about 4-5 sessions, especially since there were some new characters coming in all the time. Only a couple had enough continuity to benefit from most of the sessions, for experience.
Of course, Fictive Hack characters advance faster than D&D characters. With both Fictive Avengers and Breathing World, I have toned it down so instead of getting 1 attribute point and 1 talent upon leveling, they get 1 advantage; it can be an attribute point, a talent, an upgrade, a language, a background, and so on.
However, in the World Between, they still get an attribute point and a talent. As they steadily climbed into the double digits, they were finding it easier to deal with the threats angled for those who descended faster than they did (rather than spending more time on the upper levels.) They spent Awesome Points on the lower-level threats and boosting rolls to heft doors open and such, so they were pretty tough by the time they got serious on the second level and probed to the third.
Then we had three high-octane adventures on the road and in the city of Langtland. They slew a dragon, battled blurbeasts, cut down a hydra, smashed ogres, and so on.
As they return to the Lottery Dungeon, I have a number of realizations. They are more powerful now than the steady incremental power increase of the dungeon’s design anticipates. So they can either stroll through some elements and levels, or I can change what lies below.
Also, the game has a larger story, a larger plot, of figuring out how the Lottery Dungeon fits into the world. This was always intended to be part of the story, in the background or the foreground depending on how much the characters paid attention to it.
These two factors together transition the Lottery Dungeon’s function at the game table. It is no longer a pick-up dungeon-bashing game. To stay viable, it needs to transition to a more quest-style game of secret solving and escalating confrontation of a foe, on an epic scale.
The map fades into the background at that point, and the adversaries are reshuffled. PC’s increasingly powerful penetration into the Lottery Dungeon means I need to trigger some powerful resistance. This has already been done with facing one of the Monitors of the second level.
In the background, there is the crucial question of the conspiracy of silence. People just do not know much about what is in the Lottery Dungeon, and that is not possible, as adventurers have been going down into it for centuries. Now the characters are “in the know” on quite a few things on the first three levels, and the Frog Khan has granted them a platinum token that lets them go into the Lottery Dungeon any time it is open. They are tough enough to overnight on the first couple levels, maybe the third. The Khan’s growing trust in them has already led to some unexpected confidences, and they are positioned to either betray that trust somehow or get deeper into the conspiracy.
It is time for them to start discovering the secrets the conspiracy of silence conceals, and to understand why those secrets have been kept, must be kept.
None of this is bad. I do think it is helpful to pin down and point out the transition that the campaign must undergo at this point, and how its utility has changed, and why. If I had it to do over again, I would have used Crumbling Epoch for the Lottery Dungeon, and the Hall of Mirrors for Fictive Hack.
I have games planned through July, and September is set aside for an arc of Edge City, so I am looking at August and its 5 Fridays and deciding what we’ll do then.
Of course this would all be easier if everyone at my game table wanted to play one thing. Their interests are divergent and polarized, with several people who feel strongly about playing one or two games and not interested in the rest. I have to keep an eye on that when transitioning style and genre; I am not sure how the change will affect the balance.