Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Tri-Dimensional Planebox Megacrawlathon Sandhexamagig

As anyone who watched Star Trek: The Next Generation will attest, the most popular pastime in the 24th century (provided sinister aliens weren't involved) was something called "Tri-Dimensional Chess". Every single table in ten-forward seemed to be equipped with a Tri-Dimensional Chess board. It used to fascinate me in a mild sort of a way. How on earth could such a game be played? The rules were never made clear, but it seemed to involve a number of games of chess taking place simultaneously and in parallel, so that what happened on one board would impact the others and vice versa.

For some reason I was thinking about Tri-Dimensional Chess on the way to work today and I started to ponder what the D&D equivalent would be. This would be a form of D&D taking place across a number of different dimensions simultaneously, with constant slippage between the different planes. I call it The Tri-Dimensional Planebox Megacrawlathon SandhexamagigTM

Picture the scene. Bob, the DM, slaving away over hexmaps and graph paper, planning plot seeds and adventure locations and prominent NPCs - doing all the things you do to prep for a new campaign. Except, what's this? That isn't one hexmap that Bob is creating. It's 3, or 7, or 9. Wow - that's a lot of extra effort to put in; is he going to be running a game for a different group every night of the week? But in that case, why not just use one hexmap and recycle it for each group?

That's because he's only DMing for one group, but the game they are playing is the Tri-Dimensional Planebox Megacrawlathon SandhexamagigTM version of D&D.

Look closely. There is method to Bob's madness. He isn't plotting out 3, or 7, or 9 different hexmaps. He is plotting out 3, or 7, or 9 variants on the same hexmap. Where in hex 7D on map 1 there is "Orc Lair", on hex 7D on map 6 there is "Laser Ape Lair", and on hex 7D on map 4 there is "Octopod Mutant Lair". Where in hex 8E on map 1 there is "Rothbury (town)", on map 6 there is "Kalakilakik (mothman town)" and on map 4 there is "Howick (town - Deep Ones)".

In Tri-Dimenstional Planebox Megacrawlathon SandhexamagigTM, you see, each campaign takes place across several planes of existence, all of which are different and yet the same: reflections of each other, refractions of the same light. One is high fantasy, one is Arabian Nights, one is Lovecraft, one is Space Marines, one is Sword & Sorcery, one is Everything is Dolphins.... Occasionally, there is seepage in between: the PCs may slip through portals to the other dimensions and back, and what they find on each plane will remind them of their home dimension and yet be subtly - or hugely - different. Locations, magic items, NPCs, geography, will all be familiar, and yet at the same time not. And perhaps, over time, their actions in one plane will come to warp the others: if an NPC on the first plane dies, perhaps the other versions of that NPC all fall foul of mysterious maladies, accidents or mishaps.

And of course, roaming all of the other planes of the Tri-Dimenstional Planebox Megacrawlathon SandhexamagigTM are people who look horribly familiar still, because they are variants of the PCs themselves, with agendas of their own....


  1. Sounds like a team of game masters of google hangout games should form a league. A league of 3D Planebox Megcrawlathon Sandhexamagig Gentlemen.

  2. I've run this. Each world is a different early system. OD&D, 1st Ed Traveler, High Fantasy, Gangbusters, and so on. It's a blast. It does take a long time to set up.

    You start in OD&D, and every time the players complete one of the elements of the plot, or one of them is killed, you move on to the next world. For my home campaign I link them in a circle, but for convention play it's once thru and then you lose.

  3. I'm pretty sure Trekian 3d Chess was just a version where the pieces could move up-an-down, but Tri-Dimenstional Planebox Megacrawlathon SandhexamagigTM? That sounds like crazy fun.

  4. Star Trek DS9 Season 1 Episode 10, "Move Along Here"

    1. Errr... "Move Along Home,": but, yeah. A good example of a "game."

  5. Sounds intriguing and fun. The mechanisms of transition may vary wildly but need to be thought of - people using them need to be considered hopelessly insane at the very least.

    Unless you want Bubba Ho-Tep recruiting Deep Ones and things going a bit Torg. Or Rifts.

    Rules and history for Star Trek 3D-chess can be found here (thanks Wikipedia).

    As Roger's taken the Eternal Chump, I'll just have to opt for Humorous Companion (not seriously caparisoned for war).