Throw Some Dice At A Sheet Of Paper = Game On!
It's time to share the secrets behind making a dungeon in minutes. After reviewing decades of Lore of Yore, I made a 7-Die ultimate guide to share my best tips to help you make amazing dungeons.
Ingredients - Game in Minutes, Please (G.i.M.P):
- Dice: the traditional set of seven D&D dice (d4, d6, d8, d10, other d10, d12 & d20)
- Character sheets: players have choice of up to Ten Basic Characters (six ability scores, class, race & gear - ready to read / plans to play)
- Paper & Pencil: any piece of paper (with enough space for the dice to roll) will do - some prefer graph paper, but a standard 8"x11" or even foolscap is perfectly fine.
That's it. You are ready to cook! Baking time, five minutes.
- Gently throw the dice at the paper - some end up on the floor? Toss less hard.
- Draw Boxes: a different size rectangle-box around each of these dice - 'small box' should be bigger than a thumb-print / a 'big box' is smaller than a fist-print.
- Draw in lines (two lines that are close and sort of parallel make tubes) semi-randomly connecting all the boxes together. If you want, put in an extra tube or two that connects different boxes or even have it wander off.
You now have a complete dungeon. But what is in it?
Each location has a different type of room determined by whatever the die rolled. You can use the roll you got on the paper for all the charts or roll again.
- Flight of stairs: narrows, widens, railings, open face,
- Door-like Closure: portcullis - bars - gate - double door - secret door(s)
- Artsy! Spiral - curved - switchback (multiple alternating flights)
- Drop: Shaft - elevator - bridge - drawbridge - double helix - dumbwaiter - rails system - trapdoor
... but who or what awaits at this egress / entrance / exit / level-game changer?
- Guarded - THEME monster! See Monster Type, the d20 room
- Guarded Remotely / Previously: Scouts, moat monster, dudes with bows in trees, sky monster, chameleon-hidden-camouflage, sentry-scout-out-house, troll-toll bridge, etc.
- Trap: spring trap (blades, arrows, spikes), pit trap (capture-trapping then fills with sand &/or water /
- Locked door: May need to add a door.
- stables: ground, air or sea.
- owlery / falconry
- kennels for your Doggos o' War, Basilisks, Cockatrices, Oozes,
- construction & trade tools & beasts o' burden: golems, oxen, animated tools & awakened trees
- moving residences: not just ships, barges and cloud castles
- weapons of war:
- Prisoners: captured spies of a race-species of one of the party, a known friend to the party, torture chambers, held for ransom, traitors to their own,
- My enemy's enemy:
- Slaves: 'allies' because of consequences.
- Untamed / unbroken monster: meant to be an ally, but hasn't happened... yet.
- Zoo / pets / circus: creatures meant to be entertaining / not meant for combat.
- 'Livestock' creatures: Possibly sentient beings kept as fodder for monsters or enemy populace
d10 - Hallways, Bridges, Tunnels: Start & End Places: Areas of High Travel & Places of Total Safety.
- A map: reveals where a treasure, McGuffin, weapon-in-storage,
- The Plan: overheard discussion &/or battle-table reveals where the next big strike will be
- Evil Servants of a Greater Evil: revealed in statues, shrine other.
- Important Stolen Thing - Stored here in this very room: possibly it looks harmless or is complex, needs special fuel,
- Locked down Horror: mindless beasts released, disease bottled up, geyser of oozes - something that was left by a previous owner of this dungeon was not meant to see the light of day - kept here.
- Diary Revelation: Deep Dark Secret of one or more pivotal-key enemy person(s)
- Discovery: the bad guys are being deceived by a leader-in-disguise for some ulterior motive
- Teleportation circles:
- Portals: step through - now you are somewhere else
- Any basic hallway? Why do the top seven not match?
d10 - What Enemy Troops Are Doing
- Standing At Arms: ready for combat &/or military training - manoeuvres & exercises.
- Fallow / Downtime: troops that are eating, sleeping or otherwise armed & armoured - but not in tactical formation. Awaiting orders / doing light trades ('ships in bottles, cards, checkers').
- Sleeping: troops not prepared with armour, arms &/or tactics (gear nearby).
- Damaged &/or Wounded: Process for healing, binding wounds - or preparing for suicide / bonsai.
- Entertained / Event: possibly armed - light or 'show' weapons & armour. Strip show with booze. Gaming-sport to build morale. Playing With The Boys.
- Farming or other non-service: military with light gear ('farming tools') used for 'peacetime' trade.
- Tradespersons: extended / retired / support military ('blacksmith') - making military tools & devices.
- Troop Transfer: troops from another location, another garrison, or changing tasks, marching.
- Speech, Intel, Orders &/or Military Ritual: Event with high ranking creatures, education, morale building.
- Deployment & Action: busy fighting their enemy - civil war, rebellion &/or opposing forces.
Enemy's Monster - d10 - Storage &/or Attic &/or Basement &/or Closet
- big yet stupid ally:
- group of visitors:
- quasi-predictable / well-placed monster:
- broken in & broken:
- release in case of emergency!
- mind controlled:
- reclaimed ally that went good and then bad again:
- brutes of war trained to fight
- competition animals meant to look good or race
- creatures gladiatorial: fight one another or matched individually or against teams
- massive 'dire' or giant versions of common yet edible animals - large spiders, mutant lobsters, chicken-dinosaur hybrids, massive deer,
- outright dangerous animal like an alligator or hippopotamus... or trout with a bad attitude
- tragically twisted versions of humanoids / still fight but not otherwise functional in their society
- chained &/or tortured monsters that function as traps - for anyone that ends up there
- chattel servants that can also defend, albeit meekly & weakly
- traps that are sentient, learn or extensively complicated
- twisted, converted, fallen or tempted
This includes three D10 tables:
- How rest-sleep rooms look, work and organized.
- Format for worship &/or service for divine beings.
- Hospital, healing & help rooms.
Tricks, Traps & Other Tight-Spot Trepidation - d12
- You Drop - pit, pit with cover or lid, chute, slide, slippery slope-stairs,
- Things drop on you: any of the piercing, slashing or bludgeoning stuff.
- Things move you or to you: floor changes location, floor changes texture or slope or even colour.
- Things move you - at a vulnerable or difficult spot into yet more danger: into spikes, flow of element (wind, water, fire, sand), flow of objects (bones, parts, blades, iron spheres, caltrops).
- traps that capture &/or reduce options - doors close, walls slide into place, cage bars drop, silence magic, darkness, flash of blinding light, loud deafening-stunning noise, doors close-lock, sand. Mist, grass or shadows covers feet and legs / cover for possible problem, monster or other trap. water prevents jumping or movement
- traps that root / slow - frost, net, sleep, poison-intoxication (drunk, confused, inebriate, medicate), web or oozes)
- traps that warn, summon &/or give enemy resources (e.g. fire for fire dragons or fire giants or iron golems or 'poison' for green dragons and undead or frost molds that suck up heat etc.)
- partial or complete destruction damage sequence of room, zone or area kicks off.
- distraction: invaders believe minor inconvenience happened but greater problem is developing elsewhere
- forces a deal or negotiation &/or blackmail: danger revealed as possible threat to ally, punishment or 'death trap' / negations forced / conditions given. 'Surrender your weapons or this random innocent suffers [consequence(s)]'
- combo, roll here twice on a d10
- combo, roll twice - with this roll, add yet another option!
- monstrous: invasion-threat of small number / individual yet powerful monsters.
- civil disagreement / strife / strike / inside war / power change
- diplomatic tension: friends or enemies changing stance rapidly, unilaterally &/or unexpectedly.
- McGuffin lost, stolen &/or missing - or needs to be destroyed (& soon).
- death of valued-valuable: friend, ally, pet, McGuffin - or even important enemy of enemy
- scandal, dishonour, discredit, ruinous revelation triggering 1. or 2. or 3. or 7. or 9.
- Great Event: new leadership, rare observed situation (eclipse), birth of new world order or person
- Discovery! Weal or Woe - must send adventurer-team / explorers / experts to deal with or investigate
- War / invasion: ranged plans to defeat &/or destroy adversary - brand-new &/or ancient - close &/or far.
- McGuffin: item that is gained, found or revealed to be a local Game Changer / resource tipper.
- Rivalry: similar group / underdog vs. ruling champion / competition.
- something from the Big List of Adventuring Ideas - these are fun but not so simple.
d20 - Monster Type & motivation style / reason you kill them -
- Aberration - fear maker but not monger: confusion, unexpected & alien intelligence
- Beasts - feral / diseased / wild / swarm (small) - some are large-dire but not monstrous (??)
- Celestial - Judgemental - You Are NOT Worthy / Cleanse anything unclean / Gain power for implementing-enforcing the seven heavenly virtues.
- Construct - unfeeling, strict rules, robotic, minimalistic. Mute.
- Dragon - arrogance, pride, vanity, sloth, gluttony, envy, greed - six of seven deadly sins... but not 'lust' so much. Even 'good' metallic ones are deeply 'sinful'
- Elemental - Four Elements: Sanguine (air / curious-skeptical sylphs), Phlegmatic (water / inspired nymph), Choleric (fire / salamander),Melancholic (earth / industry-gnome)
- Fae - 'Elf' unpredictable + 'Elemental' moody + Immortal / Immoral
- Fiend - 'What Could Possibly Go Wrong'. Also hungers for suffering... of anyone, even self &/or 'allies'. Beyond trust &/or faith - even if the deal goes well.
- Giant - antisocial &/or resents visitors. Resents small, puny, short and insignificant lives.
- Monstrosity - like 'beast' but much bigger / sometimes has wild magic
- Ooze - sneaky - fits under doors / silent / slippery. Always hungry, always mindless, never reasonable.
- Plant - weedlike creepy & resents cutbacks. Paranoid with fire. Distrusts & resents cultured civilization (hypocritically: 'if elves do it, it is very good - but otherwise society is BAD')
- Undead - you become one of them / reek of undeath-unnatural.
- Humanoid - Dwarf - 'All Work & No Play'. Resents disorderly action &/or thinking.
- Humanoid - Elf - decadent, chaotic, sarcastic, distracted &/or flip-flighty.
- Humanoid - goblin - 'Too Many Secrets' - scheming, plotting &/or nefarious
- Humanoid - orc - 'Break Everything' - excessively aggressive-social
- Humanoid - Monster (goblin, orc, grimlock, kuo toa)
- Humanoid with half beast part(s): (centaur, minotaur, harpy, bullywug, mermaid, kenku, tabaxi, tortle, etc.) - is as beast's worst traits.
- Magical ('... something turned half-dragon') / cursed ('shape changer') / mix ('owl-bear'): roll twice and pick one you like... or both and mix it up.