Monday, May 23, 2022

How To Make A Ten Room/"30 Minute" Dungeon In 2022

What Is This?

Way back in 2018 when I started my blog, the main thing I made were "30 minute dungeons". I made several posts on the subject and a couple that had tutorials on how to make them yourselves. The goal was to produce a relatively usable adventure, sans map/statistics, in only 30 minutes.

I've moved past the "30 minute" aspect a bit, and what I usually do now is simply make a dungeon in about 10 minutes on a single sheet of notebook paper and then elaborate it later into something proper at my leisure. That is how I made my last two posts.

What I aim to do in this post is to consolidate all of the information from my previous dungeon design posts into one big post here, for the convenience of everyone. For the convenience of everyone I will be referring to this concept as the Ten Room Dungeon for the rest of this article.

I've recently tried out the OD&D style of art, that is to say heavily using a reference and adding slight changes. This goblin is based on an illustration of an elf from English Folk and Fairy Tales drawn by John Dickson Batten

The Basics

The average Ten Room Dungeon should have the following:

  • 3 combat/monster encounters
  • 2 traps/hazards
  • 1 weird thing for players to interact/experiment with
  • 1 non-player character who is not immediately hostile to the party 
  • 3 areas devoid of combat, non-player characters, hazards, or weird things  

Typically I find this balance allows for a fun, 1.5 to 2 hour session if run using a quick system, but obviously it will depend on your own style of play.

These are only guidelines, not every Ten Room Dungeon will necessarily look like this. For example, the Forbidden Maze of the Trapmaker may have 4 traps, 2 weird things, 1 NPC, 1 safe area, and 2 monster encounters. 

In terms of treasure, a rule of thumb is that 4 areas should have treasure of some kind, and usually amongst the treasure there should be 1 magic item of some kind. Again though, this is only a guideline, and honestly probably the easiest one to bend. It would make sense, for example, that the Forbidden Maze of the Trapmaker would only have treasure at the very end, past all the traps which protect it.

This Chaos knight is based off of a drawing by Henry Macbeth-Raeburn for the book Castle Dangerous


Area Prompts

A while back I made an article containing d6 tables with which one could generate more specific prompts for traps, empty rooms, NPCs, special rooms, and combat encounters. I have copied them here in their entirety.
1. Something that points the characters to an NPC
2. Something that tells the characters about the dungeon's history
3. Something that alerts the characters to a combat encounter
4. Something that alerts the characters to a special room
5. Something that alerts the characters to a trap
6. Something useful to the characters

1. Something that changes the characters who interact with it
2. Something physically impossible
3. Something that provides a boon for a sacrifice
4. Something that can result in great reward or terrible disaster
5. Something that seems ordinary but isn't
6. Something weird to witness/experience

Non-Player Character
1. An ally
2. A villain
3. A victim
4. A rival explorer
5. A quest-giver
6. A weirdo


1. A horde of weak opponents
2. One tough opponent
3. A weak opponent and their guards
4. A pair of tough opponents
5. A tough opponent and their underlings
6. A group of competent opponents, worthy adversaries to the characters

1. Something that will inconvenience the characters
2. Something that will kill the characters
3. Something that will incapacitate the characters
4. Something that will trap the characters
5. Something that will alert/summon enemies
6. Something that will separate the characters


This fungus from Yuggoth is mainly based off of a photo of a crab I found on google images.

Why Did You Make This Post?

This is mainly a rehash of previous posts, but its primary purpose is so that I have a consolidated Thing to show people whenever the subject of Ten Room Dungeons gets brought up. This also doubles as a statement of my current philosophy towards short adventures as of 2022. Ten Room Dungeons are back and they are here to stay. Yes they are formulaic, but I am realizing more and more that I need structure in my life, otherwise I just get too lost.


  1. Yesss! Now I can point people to a single unified post to rule them all!

  2. I don't think I would rely on this tool all the time - but it's *very* nice to have it ready when needed. I also find that 10 rooms gives one a lot more room than the 5 room dungeon - at least you can Jaquay a 10 room dungeon a bit.

  3. Replies
    1. Agreed. I squinted at the first one for a few seconds, trying to figure out if it was some obscure OD&D illustration I'd never seen before.

    2. Once I get a little bit better at the style I may be releasing a new edition of Lost Carcosa, with some minor corrections, added content, and all-new illustrations. Hell, maybe I'll get print on demand figured out.

  4. Great tool, especially helpful about the empty and special areas. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’ve always liked this process. Good to see your follow up. Especially handy with the current interest in the #dungeon23 suggestion of writing one room/day, one level/month in 2023. Not the only tool I’d use, but along with say the D30 tables from New Big Dragon it provides a good start.