A Random Start To Random Dungeon Design

Whether you go with analog randomizers such as physical dice or coins or their digital counterparts, I’ve been fascinated by the flexibility of the traditional random table. Ever since reading Appendix A: Random Dungeon Generation in the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide way back in the early 1980s, I was hooked. And I didn’t really realize how hooked I was until I started the third iteration of Moebius Adventures and began working on more and more tools to help GMs and Players inspire new content for their games.

Recently I’ve been attempting to come up with a better method of creating and stocking dungeons for Mazes & Perils Deluxe. And I keep coming back to this excerpt from the DMG. Essentially it becomes a “Choose Your Own Adventure” with a few die rolls and choices. Four pages of content can essentially create an infinite number of dungeons to explore.

And though I’ve started working on a few ideas for my own dungeon creator, I thought it might be good to go back to the beginning and see what inspiration could be found from my earliest exposure to random dungeon creation…

We’ll start with entrance #4. Why? Because there’s something to be said for a simple entrance. And I’m just going to go straight ahead for now… So straight across from the stairs into the complex is a door. Let’s start there.

dmg-dungeon-starterA few die rolls give us…

  • Table I (17) – Stairs (see Table VI)
  • Table VI (7) – Down 3 levels (quite a drop!)
  • Table I (10) – Side Passage (see Table III)
  • Table III (3) – Right 90 degrees
  • Table I (6) – Side Passage (see Table III)
  • Table III (11) – Passage “T”s (continuing north)
  • Table I (11) – Passage Turns (see Table IV)
  • Table IV (19) – right 45 degrees ahead
  • Table I (15) – Chamber (see Table V)
  • Table V (7) – Square, 40′ x 40′; 1-4 (d4) exits = 4, Empty
  • keep going… forever

I can go forever with this and spend hours or days detailing every nook and cranny of this dungeon – doodling and working my way along to figure out what lies in store for our heroes.

But to my mind, this is too detailed… Don’t get me wrong – this approach holds a special place in my geeky heart. But I think for a simpler five-room-dungeon approach we need to reduce the complexity.

How do we go about doing that? We’ll stay on that topic later in the week…

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