Nobody is ever interested in hearing about other people's dreams. It's an instant conversation killer. Nevertheless, I'm going to tell you about one I had today. So fuck you.
I was driving with my missus in the dark in the city of Chester - though obviously, a dream-world version of Chester which wasn't really it. Somewhere along the way we got hopelessly lost; I was driving around hairpin bends, ending up in poorly-lit multistory car parks inhabited only by shadows, heading down cul-de-sacs and having to do sixteen-point turns to get out, etc. Eventually we ended up on a residential street of large, prosperous-looking houses in a leafy suburb. We drove for what seemed like an age before I decided to turn around and head back into the city; just as I was turning the car around the engine gave out and the car refused to start.
Annoyed, I got out of the car to call a breakdown service, only to realise neither of us had our phones with us. I was going to have to ask somebody to use theirs. For some reason, rather than ask somebody in one of the houses nearby, I decided to walk along the road, away from town, to see if I ran into a passerby. Ultimately I did - a moustachioed, smiling, rather too-nice middle-aged man carrying a small Christmas tree in each hand. He said he didn't have a phone, but if I walked back in the other direction I would eventually come across a house with the lights on, and if I asked there, I they would have a phone I could use.
I doubled back on myself and kept walking, looking for the house with lights on. But I didn't find it. Eventually I thought I'd been walking so far that I must surely have come across my car where my wife was waiting for me - but I didn't. It was nowhere to be seen and all the houses looked the same. With a growing sense of panic, I kept walking, half angry ("Bloody women! Where's she gone?" etc.) and half worried what had happened.
Somehow or other, without quite noticing it, I found myself walking not down that residential street, but down a well-lit corridor in a house, with a thick red carpet and magnolia walls. It was as if the street had morphed into some upper-middle-class family home; I don't know how I knew, but I knew that it was one of the houses on the street I had been walking down.
Outwardly, it was a friendly family home. The corridor went up and down small flights of stairs and landings, and there were pleasant-looking paintings on the walls, side cabinets with knick-knacks on, etc. But I felt uneasy there. I had a growing sense of dread. I knew that there was something wrong about it. I knew that I shouldn't be there, and that I hated the place. Even writing about it now gives me the willies - just walking down that corridor was oddly terrifying to me.
Every so often I would come across a door, either on the left or the right, and open it. And there would be something inside. One was a horrible young girl, much taller than me, with glassy staring eyes and this truly sinister, benign smile. One was a kind of giant centipede or worm constructed from cubes of wood connected with string; the head was that of a jack-in-the-box style clown. In another room I ventured inside and discovered a closet which I opened - inside it was a big ceramic doll without a head, wearing a blue Disney Alice-in-Wonderland style dress. Another contained a figure like an Inca mummy inside a sarcophagus, which I knew was still alive even though it didn't move. This went on and on - each time I opened the door I would find something horrendous and/or weird, and flee to the next one.
The final room I remember entering I walked in and found an empty room with an alcove in the corner, about the height of a person. It was closed off by a screen of silk or cotton; behind this screen I discovered a tall, wicker door. On opening it I was confronted by an old, withered man with wild hair, who looked at me and screamed in abject horror: I felt as though he had been there for years and years, held captive and now completely and utterly mad. With his scream echoing in my ears I woke up.
Now, there is a purpose to this entry: it's not just an opportunity to unburden myself of a particularly vivid and detailed nightmare. The second half of my dream, when it started to get genuinely scary, made me think a lot (after waking) about D&D. Walking down corridors, opening doors, discovering weird and horrible things behind them - the whole thing superficially resembled a dungeoncrawl, except one with a dream logic rather than Gygaxian naturalism underpinning it.
That made me wonder whether there isn't some mileage in the idea of a megadungeon in which the conceit is that it is a product of dreams. One of the great stumbling blocks I encounter when mapping and populating dungeons is to try to come up with reasons for things being as they are; why are the halflings living right next door to the red dragon? In some ways this spurs the imagination, but in other ways it constricts it. In the dream megadungeon there is no reason why things have to have an internal consistency or coherence. It is entirely liberating: it is fine for one room containing a clown-centipede to be next to one containing an Inca mummy, as long as, I suppose, there is a kind of thematic sense underlying it.