Introductory essay to the Omega City ashcan, released for the 2023 convention season.
The idea for Dungeon23 started on Twitter, in a challenge from Mothership creator Sean McCoy to celebrated tabletop RPG writer Luke Gearing:
Megadungeon for 2023. 12 levels. 365 rooms. One room a day. Keep it all in a journal. @LukeGearing let’s do this.
From there, the concept exploded, with hundreds of TTRPG creators taking up the challenge. I knew I wanted in, but had some freelance work to finish plus a number of projects already in the pipeline. I’d released We Deal in Lead, my weird west TTRPG love letter to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, a couple months before. If I was going to do anything for Dungeon23, it would be for WDIL. I decided to finish my freelance work first and put any Dungeon23 plans on hold until January.
I ordered a set of coil-bound notebooks and pondered different weird west megadungeons. I kept returning to the idea of a ruined city, like Lud from The Waste Lands (book 3 in the Dark Tower series). I’d build each region, one area at a time, until I had a decent chunk of the megacity done. I prepped myself for the disappointment I’d feel when I’d inevitably lose focus and fall out of the daily routine of writing (and drawing) a new entry every day. Turns out I lasted almost 3 months, or 12 regions. I started on the outskirts of the city and worked my way inward. I used Edmonton, my hometown in Canada, as part of my inspiration, or at least frame of reference. Edmonton isn’t a big city but it is the city I know the best.
Because We Deal in Lead (and The Dark Tower) is set in a world where space and time is breaking down, I included locations, situations, and creatures from different time periods and genres. Sometimes I added a wild west saloon, other days I threw in a luxury car dealership or cursed obelisk. Part of the fun of Dungeon23 was the freedom to write and draw whatever I felt like in that moment. I drew from films I’d seen or documentaries I watched.
I made a point of not worrying too much about perfecting the writing or illustrations. I’d edit things later and the important part was just to get things down on the page every day. I knew I’d stop at some point so I just rode the routine as long as I could. I have a tendency to leave things unfinished or jump between projects, so I gave myself the freedom of not stressing too much about it.
Part of my Dungeon23 experience involved sharing my progress on YouTube and TikTok. I’d run through the regions I’d created the week before. It was fun but the practicalities of shooting and editing the videos bogged down my enjoyment and likely contributed to my drifting away.
In filming my thoughts around Dungeon23, I stumbled onto a name for my city. I’d talk about my megacity for Dungeon23 and, thanks to my tendency to add uhhs and ahhs into my speech, I’d say “uh… mega city.” Omega City.
So at the end of my 3 months working on Omega City, I had 12 regions of 5-6 areas—63 “rooms” in total. Not too bad.
I absolutely enjoyed the experience of fleshing out Omega City and, with Dungeon24 just around the corner, will undoubtedly explore further depths of the megacity. —Colin Le Sueur, 09 October 2023