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 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|
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
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.|