Zero To 60 D&D: Grinding Amazing Dungeons In Minutes

April 1, 2022

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.

d4 - The Main Entrance - Enter (Or Leave) With Style

  1. Flight of stairs: narrows, widens, railings, open face,
  2. Door-like Closure: portcullis - bars - gate - double door - secret door(s)
  3. Artsy! Spiral - curved - switchback (multiple alternating flights)
  4. Drop: Shaft - elevator - bridge - drawbridge - double helix - dumbwaiter - rails system - trapdoor

... but who or what awaits at this egress / entrance / exit / level-game changer?

  1. Guarded - THEME monster! See Monster Type, the d20 room
  2. Guarded Remotely / Previously: Scouts, moat monster, dudes with bows in trees, sky monster, chameleon-hidden-camouflage, sentry-scout-out-house, troll-toll bridge, etc.
  3. Trap: spring trap (blades, arrows, spikes), pit trap (capture-trapping then fills with sand &/or water /
  4. Locked door: May need to add a door.

d20 - Support - Monsters & Machines: Steeds, Carrier Birds, Spies & Weapons Of War

  1. stables: ground, air or sea.
  2. owlery / falconry
  3. kennels for your Doggos o' War, Basilisks, Cockatrices, Oozes,
  4. construction & trade tools & beasts o' burden: golems, oxen, animated tools & awakened trees
  5. moving residences: not just ships, barges and cloud castles
  6. weapons of war:

d8 - Garbage! Ick! Get Rid Of It! - Prison, Torture, Incarceration &/or Garbage-Refuse

  1. 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,
  2. My enemy's enemy:
  3. Slaves: 'allies' because of consequences.
  4. Untamed / unbroken monster: meant to be an ally, but hasn't happened... yet.
  5. Zoo / pets / circus: creatures meant to be entertaining / not meant for combat.
  6. '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.

  1. A map: reveals where a treasure, McGuffin, weapon-in-storage,
  2. The Plan: overheard discussion &/or battle-table reveals where the next big strike will be
  3. Evil Servants of a Greater Evil: revealed in statues, shrine other.
  4. Important Stolen Thing - Stored here in this very room: possibly it looks harmless or is complex, needs special fuel,
  5. 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.
  6. Diary Revelation: Deep Dark Secret of one or more pivotal-key enemy person(s)
  7. Discovery: the bad guys are being deceived by a leader-in-disguise for some ulterior motive
  8. Teleportation circles:
  9. Portals: step through - now you are somewhere else
  10. Any basic hallway? Why do the top seven not match?

d10 - What Enemy Troops Are Doing

  1. Standing At Arms: ready for combat &/or military training - manoeuvres & exercises.
  2. 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').
  3. Sleeping: troops not prepared with armour, arms &/or tactics (gear nearby).
  4. Damaged &/or Wounded: Process for healing, binding wounds - or preparing for suicide / bonsai.
  5. Entertained / Event: possibly armed - light or 'show' weapons & armour. Strip show with booze. Gaming-sport to build morale. Playing With The Boys.
  6. Farming or other non-service: military with light gear ('farming tools') used for 'peacetime' trade.
  7. Tradespersons: extended / retired / support military ('blacksmith') - making military tools & devices.
  8. Troop Transfer: troops from another location, another garrison, or changing tasks, marching.
  9. Speech, Intel, Orders &/or Military Ritual: Event with high ranking creatures, education, morale building.
  10. Deployment & Action: busy fighting their enemy - civil war, rebellion &/or opposing forces.

Enemy's Monster - d10 - Storage &/or Attic &/or Basement &/or Closet

  1. big yet stupid ally:
  2. group of visitors:
  3. quasi-predictable / well-placed monster:
  4. slaves:
  5. servants:
  6. workers:
  7. broken in & broken:
  8. release in case of emergency!
  9. mind controlled:
  10. reclaimed ally that went good and then bad again:

Cultural Spaces / Reluctant Enemy / Friends In Strange Places - d10 (00)

  1. brutes of war trained to fight
  2. competition animals meant to look good or race
  3. creatures gladiatorial: fight one another or matched individually or against teams
  4. massive 'dire' or giant versions of common yet edible animals - large spiders, mutant lobsters, chicken-dinosaur hybrids, massive deer,
  5. outright dangerous animal like an alligator or hippopotamus... or trout with a bad attitude
  6. tragically twisted versions of humanoids / still fight but not otherwise functional in their society
  7. chained &/or tortured monsters that function as traps - for anyone that ends up there
  8. chattel servants that can also defend, albeit meekly & weakly
  9. traps that are sentient, learn or extensively complicated
  10. twisted, converted, fallen or tempted

D10 - Safety, Sanctum, Sleeping & Salves

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

  1. You Drop - pit, pit with cover or lid, chute, slide, slippery slope-stairs,
  2. Things drop on you: any of the piercing, slashing or bludgeoning stuff.
  3. Things move you or to you: floor changes location, floor changes texture or slope or even colour.
  4. 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).
  5. 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
  6. traps that root / slow - frost, net, sleep, poison-intoxication (drunk, confused, inebriate, medicate), web or oozes)
  7. 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.)
  8. partial or complete destruction damage sequence of room, zone or area kicks off.
  9. distraction: invaders believe minor inconvenience happened but greater problem is developing elsewhere
  10. 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)]'
  11. combo, roll here twice on a d10
  12. combo, roll twice - with this roll, add yet another option!

Kraft & Work - d12 - Office, Production, War & Trade-Manufacture

  1. monstrous: invasion-threat of small number / individual yet powerful monsters.
  2. civil disagreement / strife / strike / inside war / power change
  3. diplomatic tension: friends or enemies changing stance rapidly, unilaterally &/or unexpectedly.
  4. McGuffin lost, stolen &/or missing - or needs to be destroyed (& soon).
  5. death of valued-valuable: friend, ally, pet, McGuffin - or even important enemy of enemy
  6. scandal, dishonour, discredit, ruinous revelation triggering 1. or 2. or 3. or 7. or 9.
  7. Great Event: new leadership, rare observed situation (eclipse), birth of new world order or person
  8. Discovery! Weal or Woe - must send adventurer-team / explorers / experts to deal with or investigate
  9. War / invasion: ranged plans to defeat &/or destroy adversary - brand-new &/or ancient - close &/or far.
  10. McGuffin: item that is gained, found or revealed to be a local Game Changer / resource tipper.
  11. Rivalry: similar group / underdog vs. ruling champion / competition.
  12. something from the Big List of Adventuring Ideas - these are fun but not so simple.

d20 - Monster Type & motivation style / reason you kill them -

  1. Aberration - fear maker but not monger: confusion, unexpected & alien intelligence
  2. Beasts - feral / diseased / wild / swarm (small) - some are large-dire but not monstrous (??)
  3. Celestial - Judgemental - You Are NOT Worthy / Cleanse anything unclean / Gain power for implementing-enforcing the seven heavenly virtues.
  4. Construct - unfeeling, strict rules, robotic, minimalistic. Mute.
  5. 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'
  6. Elemental - Four Elements: Sanguine (air / curious-skeptical sylphs), Phlegmatic (water / inspired nymph), Choleric (fire / salamander),Melancholic (earth / industry-gnome)
  7. Fae - 'Elf' unpredictable + 'Elemental' moody + Immortal / Immoral
  8. 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.
  9. Giant - antisocial &/or resents visitors. Resents small, puny, short and insignificant lives.
  10. Monstrosity - like 'beast' but much bigger / sometimes has wild magic
  11. Ooze - sneaky - fits under doors / silent / slippery. Always hungry, always mindless, never reasonable.
  12. 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')
  13. Undead - you become one of them / reek of undeath-unnatural.
  14. Humanoid - Dwarf - 'All Work & No Play'. Resents disorderly action &/or thinking.
  15. Humanoid - Elf - decadent, chaotic, sarcastic, distracted &/or flip-flighty.
  16. Humanoid - goblin - 'Too Many Secrets' - scheming, plotting &/or nefarious
  17. Humanoid - orc - 'Break Everything' - excessively aggressive-social
  18. Humanoid - Monster (goblin, orc, grimlock, kuo toa)
  19. Humanoid with half beast part(s): (centaur, minotaur, harpy, bullywug, mermaid, kenku, tabaxi, tortle, etc.) - is as beast's worst traits.
  20. Magical ('... something turned half-dragon') / cursed ('shape changer') / mix ('owl-bear'): roll twice and pick one you like... or both and mix it up.

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