I've read that Dungeon of the Mad Mage is more of a traditional dungeon crawl with numerous floors (which I'm assuming get harder as the party progresses) and takes characters from levels 6 through 20.

  • Does DotMM allow for a party to start the campaign later than level 6 (particularly somewhere from levels 10 to 15)?
  • Would it be hard to homebrew edit the campaign to achieve this?

Please, no spoilers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you planning to be the DM for this adventure? (I only ask because you specifically ask for no spoilers) \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Mar 14, 2019 at 0:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @illus I'm not the current DM but I will switch off with him so he can play a little. The (undecided) question is whether I would DM from 10 to 20 using DotMM or just 10 to 15 with a smaller campaign and then let him pick up 15 to 20 with DotMM. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rykara
    Mar 14, 2019 at 1:06

3 Answers 3


You can start DotMM at any level whatsoever and it's very easy.

You just skip the shallower levels of the dungeon and take your players directly to the deeper ones. Each dungeon level is like a standalone adventure, rich with NPCs and lore that can serve as interesting plot hooks, and any one of them could be dropped into a campaign on its own. The book also tells you the appropriate party level for each dungeon level.

I started a party at level 22 of the dungeon (17th level party) and everyone had a great time.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The floors are not completely standalone - there are a couple of instances where actions on one floor are prompted by or affect actions on a nearby floor. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.J.L.
    Dec 30, 2019 at 16:37

The module provides a suggested party level for each level of the dungeon in the intro to the adventure

It would be perfectly possible to run just the lower (deeper) levels of the dungeon.

In terms of homebrew, you could

  • link the Yawning Portal directly to the lower level
  • hand-wave the descent down to the lower levels
  • setup magical teleportation from the first level to the level you want to start at
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Since "lower level" is potentially ambiguous, I've tried to clarify that wording :P \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Mar 14, 2019 at 2:47

I mean, you could deus ex to-heck-with it and start the dungeon on a much lower level, but you don't even have to, based on the content as written.

I'll try not to go too spoiler-y here, but there are... methods... built in to the dungeon for inter-level transportation (and they do have protection against low-level characters accidentally using them to wander their instant death, so they may not be obvious).

For the sake of spoiler-friendlyness and simplicity of communication: I shall henceforth call them "gates", but that does not imply that they remotely resemble any sort of gate in the ways you think. Just know that there are... methods... to get to lower levels in the dungeon without traversing the entirety.

AIUI, they are there in part to avoid the otherwise inevitable "slog back through 10 levels too-low-to-be-worth-game-time critters" because you decide you need to head out to resupply / restock your tavern / head back to fraternize with your significant other / otherwise have downtime for a while and then come back in

There is such a "gate" fairly early on which leads to a level-appropriate layer, for a 10th-level party. If I were to run such a campaign, I might have them gain information from a third-party about the existence of this "gate" from a third party, before they even head in.

Perhaps they run into a quite seasoned adventurer at the Yawning Portal, suffering from PDSD (Post-dungeon-stress-disorder), who turned away from the life of a dungeoneer, and toward a life of crippling alcoholism.

A 10th+ level party may have some degree of renown, and perhaps having heard of them / recognizing their strength, the NPC speaks his tale of woe, losing his party in a horrific battle on a deep level, and being unable to recover their remains.

He asks them to help recover (whatever remains of) his fallen comrades to (return their possessions to their loved ones / get a res spell cast on them [true res is too expensive!]) and partially atone for his failure, and tips off the party on how to transport themselves to the lower levels to facilitate (or, even sobers up long enough to show them the way. Or, doesn't sober up, and still shows them the way - if the party is L12 in a L10 dungeon, having an escort mission with a drunk stumbling into all the traps, and making enough noise to wake a graveyard, and drawing out all of the denizens of the level at once could both level out the challenge and speed things along)


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