Sunday, August 13, 2017

Dungeon Construction and Stocking in Around 20 Minutes

Hopefully this can help you quickly make dungeons, if something doesn't seem to make sense to you or doesn't necessary fit the theme or tone of your game you can simply change it.


1d6 Cumulative Dungeon Layout Table

1Level 1a: 2d4+1 Rooms + Entrance
2Level 1b: 1d4+1 Rooms
3Level 1c: Secret Door to 1d4+1 Rooms
4Level 2a: 1d4+1 Rooms + Visible Stairs from Level 1a to Level 2
5Level 2b: 1d4 Rooms + Secret Stairs from Level 1b to Level 2
6 Level 3a: 1d4+1 Rooms + Visible Stairs from Level 2 to Level 3

Explanation: You roll a 1d6 which determines the contents of the Dungeon. If you have happened to roll a 4 for this dungeon it would then have 2 levels. The first would have 2d4+1d4+1 Rooms (Levels 1a and 1b), 1d4 Rooms hidden by a secret door (Level 1c), and 1 set of stairs going down. The second would have 1d4+1 Rooms (Level 2a).

Now, nothing says that Levels 2 and 3 have to be below Level 1. In theory they can be above Level 1 and the overall complex can be a ziggurat or tower ascending upwards.

Layout of Rooms

Level 1a

Imagine the possible layout of the 2d4+1 rooms as a 3x3 matrix. Each room is connected horizontally and then each row is connected by a single vertical pathway.

Level 1b

Imagine the possible layout of the 1d4+1 rooms as a cross. The Level 1b complex is then connected to the Level 1a complex by two random pathways.

Level 1c

Arranged as Level 1b but is only connected to the Level 1a complex by a single pathway from a hidden door.

Level 2a and Level 2b

If there are both Level 2a and 2b then Level 2 as a whole is arranged as Level 1a. Otherwise Level 2a is arranged as Level 1b.

Visible Stairs: A single Room on Level 1 that connects to 3 other rooms contains stairs which descend to Room 1 of Level 2.
Secret Stairs: A random Room on level 1 contains stairs which descend to a random Room on level 2.

Level 3a

Arranged as Level 1b and with visible stairs as previously explained in Level 2.

Example Dungeon: On rolling a 6 on the Cumulative Dungeon Layout Table

So the Dungeon has each part with the following number of rooms
Level 1a 2d4+1 possible, rolled a 4

Level 1b 1d4+1 possible, rolled a 4
Level 1c 1d4+1 possible, rolled a 2

Level 2a + Level 2b 2d4+1 possible, rolled a 6
Level 3a 1d4+1 possible 1d4+1 rolled a 4

Author's Notes: Our example dungeon looks like this


The Deepest Level of the Dungeon has a single room which serves as the prime function of the dungeon.

Prime Function Table


Tomb Room 25% chance of entombed person to be undead
Entommbed Figure has 1d6+1 HD and is covered in wealth worth Level of Tomb * HD * 10 silver

Prison Room 25% chance to be empty/dead
Prisoner has 2d4 HD

Treasury Room 25% chance of the treasure to be rotted/ruined
Sum of wealth worth Level of Treasury * 1d6 * 15 silver

Reliquary Room 25% chance of the relic to be horribly cursed
Relic may be sold for Level of Reliquary * 1d6 * 5 silver

Author's Notes: For Our example dungeon we rolled a 2 so it's base function was a Prison,  turns out the prisoner also escaped. well have Room 4 of Level 3 be where it was kept.

Aside from this room every other room is filled by the following table
1-5Empty aside from Aesthetics
6Monsters (HD based on Level where encountered 1=1HD 2=1d4HD 3=1d6HD
7Treasure (75% chance of monster) worth Level * 1d8 * 5 silver


I like to have dungeons as a result of at least two different aesthetics because this allows for a comparison and contrast of each room

General Dungeon Aestheics are based on the Prime Function Table

Tombs often contain: statues of soldiers, mummified servants, emblems of victory, busts and frescoes of ancestors, rusted arms and armor
Prisons often contain: sigils of protection, dire warnings etched in archaic languages, long burnt out candles, rotted scrolls
Treasuries often contain: chests and vases, impressive stone work, inlaid mosaics, beautiful craftwork
Reliquaries often contain: religious artworks, faded paintings, urns of oil and water

Specific Dungeon Aesthetics are added as the result of the environment or the passage of time

Inhabited: Top filled with inhabitants who use the dungeon as a fortified structure
Flooded: Half of bottom level flooded, upper level damp and dripping from roof
Fungal: Walls covered in fungi, spores fill the air, awful stenches
Hiveish: Signs of many insects, empty egg cases, incessant buzzing
Tangible Darkness: Torches shed less light, eyes follow you from the darkness, haunting laughing
Burnt: Many rooms covered in ash, faint remnants of smoke, blast shadows on walls
Once Reused: Many rooms contain artifacts of a different era, remnants of some shadowy purpose
Crystalline: Some floors and walls translucent and can be seen through, each step causes resonance echoes

Finishing Touches of our Example Dungeon

Author's Notes: We rolled a 3 on the Specific Dungeon Aesthetic so our dungeon is Fungal!

Room Contents

Level 1
Room 1 - Empty
Room 2 - Empty
Room 3 - Treasure (10 silver) + Monster + Secret Stairs to Room 3 Level 2
Room 4 - Empty
Room 5 - Empty
Room 6 - 1HD Monster + Stairs Down to Room 1 Level 2 + Secret door to Room 9
Room 7 - 1HD Monster
Room 8 - Empty
Room 9 - Empty
Room 10 - Empty

Level 2
Room 1 - Empty + Stairs Up to Room 6 Level 1
Room 2 - Treasure (70 silver)
Room 3 - Empty + Secret Stairs to Room 3 Level 1
Room 4 - Treasure (40 silver) + 1 HD Monster
Room 5 - Empty + Stairs Down to Room 1 Level 3
Room 6 - Empty

Level 3
Room 1 - Treasure (75 silver) + 3HD Monster + Stairs up to Room 1 Level 2
Room 2 - Empty
Room 3 - Empty
Room 4 - Treasure (120 silver)

Room Contents + Aesthetics

Author's Notes: There is nothing within the prison and it's fungal with a large HD monster at the bottom so I figure that thing will be the cause of the fungus spreading (The corrupted guardian of what was kept here originally). I figure level 1 will be largely well maintained and as you descend down the dungeon there appear more and more fungal and ruined.

Level 1
Room 1 - A vast pair of doors opens into a small chamber filled with lithoglyphs of eyes.
Room 2 - Two vast basins of oil long expunged fill up the room as well as a pile of rotted scrolls.
Room 3 - Covered in grime a elongated vase carved from bronze can be seen in the corner (10 silver) + 3 shambling statues of clay animated by mushroom like tumors [Stats as zombies] + Secret Stairs to Room 3 Level 2 activated by pulling a lever on the wall.
Room 4 - A vast frieze of a giant skeleton with a expanding ribcage and eyes of flame can be barely seen above the various fungal mounds in the room.
Room 5 - What may have been once a cloister is filled with the remains of candles and rotted scrolls.
Room 6 - 2 vast eyes on the south wall + 4 shambling statues of clay animated by mushroom like tumors [Stats as zombies] + Stairs Down to Room 1 Level 2 + Secret door to Room 9 activated by pressing on both pupils simultaneously.
Room 7 - A two headed serpent spilling spores from the numerous gaps in it's body [Stats as snake but with two attacks per round] + water slowly dripping from the ceiling.
Room 8 - The walls are covered in thin mushrooms 
Room 9 - An entirely barren room, clean unlike the other rooms.
Room 10 - A pristine room still illuminated by candles, a mural of a massive toadstool with eyes instead of spots it's center piece.

Level 2
Room 1 - The air here reeks of mildew and as you enter you find the air is humid + Stairs Up to Room 6 Level 1.
Room 2 - A vast candelabra of silver, 2 feet high and 1 foto wide, a miniature silver tree  (70 silver) + spores filling the air
Room 3 - Fungal mounds descending down from the ceiling each dripping spores + Secret Stairs to Room 3 Level 1
Room 4 - A lengthy and ornate silver spear (40 silver) + 8 shambling statues of clay animated by mushroom like tumors [Stats as zombies] + Sigils of eyes at each corner of the room, looming almost watching.
Room 5 - Massive Toadstools half the size of a man make travel through this room slow + Stairs Down to Room 1 Level 3
Room 6 - A broken ceiling and a massive mass of mushrooms emanating from a large corner.

Level 3
Room 1 -  Argus Morel [Stats Below] + bronze diadem with a thick ruby embedded within the Morel (75 silver) + Stairs up to Room 1 Level 2
Room 2 - What may one have been the site of a large tree is filled with rotting wood and the stench of rot
Room 3 - A massive skeletal arm fills up the room. Each digit twice the size of a man's forearm. It reeks of acid.
Room 4 - 40 feet of ruined shackles made of Orichalchum (120 silver) alongside a massive man-sized hole 50 feet deep into the earth

Argus Morel

Description: A vast toadstool the size of a large tree looms before you on a litany of chitinous psuedopods. Where each spot would be on a regular toadstool, this being instead has vast luminiferous eyes. It reeks of ozone and glows in the darkness.

HD: 3
Def: 4
Dam: 1d8 ranged
Move: 1
Save: 14
Morale: 16

Focus Eye: Every 1d4-1 rounds a Argus Morel may open up another one of it's sigil eyes. In doing so it may either dispel an ongoing magical effect or force a target within 10 feet to save or become paralyzed for 1d4-1 rounds.

Feed on Necrosis: If there are any corpses brought within 20 feet of a Argus Morel it heals 1d6 HP and the corpse disentigrates

Author's Notes: This is just a quick guide for making dungeons in more or less 15 minutes. If something doesn't make sense or you want to change something, go ahead.

Traveling Outlanders Post 8/8: Far Distant Outlanders

Name: Cut-Throats

Beneath a furrowed brow, two eyes bulge from a head crudely shaven bald. A peculiar apparatus hangs from the man's shoulders looking like a mask with a thickened proboscis where it's mouth would be. A red gash from an ugly scar is visible across his throat. What appears to be a suit of leather armor hugs his body tightly underneath a large black coat made of some vulgar cloth.

HD: 2
Def: 3
Dam: 1d8 or 1d8 ranged
Move: 11
Save: 11
Morale: 15

Aura of Ruin: Each Cut-Throat is followed by a bane against anything that would harm one. Each weapon attempting to strike a Cut-Throat must save as whomever holds it -4 or otherwise turn to rust in 1d4 minutes.

Breathalizer: Each Cut-Throat carries with them a gas mask and 1d6 spare filters

Lair:  Two wooden Lean-toos meet at a firepit, thin smoke rises from the glowing embers
Spoor:  Thin wisps of whitish cloth hang from nails embedded in nearby trees, rocks, and ground.
Tracks:  Bootprints trace a lengthy journey here
Traces1: Some salt stains the ground white
Traces2: A nail to which a thin white cloth is tied to lies on the ground. Seemingly tossed to the side at random

Name: Mytikan Exorcist

A white cloth spotted with red splotches sits tightly as a turban upon a man's head. A thick black mustache hangs on the bottom of his face as he raises his gaze towards you. A mantle of red and green cloth hangs from his shoulders over his otherwise white robes. An ornate hammer hangs from his belt.

HD: 4
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6+2
Move: 14 or 3 flying
Save: 14
Morale: 10

Invoke the Astral Guillotine: When in combat a Mytikcan Exorcist may spend a round in invocations setting the HP of everything within 100 feet to 1 for 1 turn.

Lair: A singular pale pillar of stone rises up a dozen feet into the sky
Spoor: Soft chanting can be heard nearby
Tracks:  Few footprints each a wide distance from each other mark the ground here
Traces1: The absence of a tree is notable in the gap it left
Traces2: An abundance of mushrooms grow here


Name: Fasulian Jannisary

An ornate blond mustache covers half of a man's face as he looks at you. A wild crop of blond hair hangs from his green-skinned head. A coif of tight chain mail covers the rest of his flesh, but from what you can glance the rest of his skin is also green. A pair of scimitars hang from a red sash on his waist as he strides forward upon pristine boots.

HD: 3
Def: 4
Dam: 1d8
Move: 11
Save: 9
Morale: 12

Magic Seed: Each Fasulian carries with them 1d4+2 magic seeds which they can use in one of the following ways:
1. Ladder to the Heavens: A single massive vine that is fifty feet long and climbable grows in some direction and fades in 1d6 minutes
2. Barricade: Creates a fence of vines 15 feet wide and 5 feet tall this fence fades in 1d6 minutes
3. Entanglment: Throws a seed at their opponents 15 foot range who must save or become entangled by vines and incapicated for 1d6 minutes
4. Healing: The Fasulian eat the seeds healing for 1d8+1 hp (if eaten by anyone else these act as a poison dealing 1d4 points of damage)

Lair: A tall tent of emerald and golden silks stands in an open clearing
Spoor: The air is filled by the scent of cooked lentils
Tracks: Heavy footfalls leave a follow-able trail here
Traces1: A singular x shape has been etched into the ground here
Traces2: The sun shines down feverishly overhead

Name: Thithunwan Spiral Dancers

Smoke proceeds a figure in luminescent dark green robes. A wide brimmed hat casts shadows on their figures, though their teeth can be seen. A carved staff in their hand holds them upright casting their own shadow away from the sun.

HD: 2
Def: 2
Dam: 1d6
Move: 12
Save: 9
Morale: 10

Procession of Smoke: Each group of Thithunwan Spiral Dancers contains 1 holding an heaving goblet of smoke and inscence. In combat this goblet may be commanded to overflow spilling it's contents around the Thithunwan Spiral Dancers granting those that oppose them a -4 to their Attack and Defense scores unless they save

Invoke the Emissary of Waukheon: A group of 4 Thithunwan Spiral Dancers may take 1 turn in order to summon an Emissary of Waukheon for 1d6 turns in order to assist them in some godly task.

Lair: A yurt stretches upwards thrice the size of a man, thick black smoke billows from it's zenith
Spoor: Remnants of smoke and inscence linger in the air tracing grey trails
Tracks:  A series of boot prints are accompanied by the scent of foregin inscence
Traces1: The stench of incsense hangs in the air here
Traces2: Long burnt out coals litter the ground here

Name: Watchers in the Woods

A female face of hard angles and pale hair stares daggers through you. A cloak of crowquils spread from beneath her neck warding her from the ground and sky. A crown of iron thorns rests on her brow and a singular stiletto hangs on her hip.

HD: 4
Def: 3
Dam: 1d8
Move: 16
Save: 11
Morale: 12

Out of Sight: Any Watcher in the Woods may choose to fade away into the shadows if no-one observes them. Further a Watcher in the woods who roll poorly on a reaction roll surprises the party on a 5 in 6.

Lair: None
Spoor: The sky is darker and heavier here, as if it is the distended belly of a pregnant beast
Tracks:  None
Traces1: Each shadow here seems darker as the clouds cover the sun from shining as bright
Traces2: A single crow's feather is embedded in the earth here

Name: Islander of the Empty Throne

Few thin strands of hair hang from a balding head above lacquered lamellar armor. A pair of curved swords hang at his waist from a once ornate belt. His head hangs low as he gazes at the ground beneath him.

HD: 2
Def: 2
Dam: 1d10
Move: 12
Save: 8
Morale: 10

Lair: A lean-too stands before you, meticulously cleaned and pristeen
Spoor: As you travel, more and more of the surrounding folliage seems garden like, seemingly constructed for greater aesthetic value.
Tracks:  A series of calm and measured tracks leads parallel to the shrubbery
Traces1: A tree sits before you, each branch full of life and luster
Traces2: A man-made post bears the marks of numerous sword-strikes

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

DUNGEON#1 - Steeples of Erythroxyl

HERE is a pdf of the dungeon, the rest of this post is essentially a long series of Author's Notes of me explaining inspiration for the dungeon and my "vision" of it. I hope this communication will help you as a referee.


The Swedish artist Yung Lean release the album Warlord in early 2016 and I really got into after a break up. One thing that really struck me were the visuals in the lyrics. Lines like "Nine cat lives got nine silver knives, I got big red eyes and I'm feelin' so immortal","What's your blood type, what does it taste like?", and "Ridin' on a horse with a dead man". I thought that these were really cool, but it wasn't until this quartet on Pearl Fountain that I had the idea to make a module based on the album

"SBE, we some vampires, Dracula
I'm in an Acura, hoe I think you stack them up
I'm not good with calculus, I need a calculator
Glass elevator, shoes made by alligators"

So from this point I just went through the lyrics on the album and each one I thought that was especially evocative became a room. I got 29 rooms this way and then I just had to figure out how to put them together. I looked a little into the backstory of this album with the tragedy of Barron Machat's death and Yung Lean's breakdown afterward and got the idea of the dungeon being the remnants of the apartment where Yung Lean stayed during the making of the album.

I think if you just listen to the album, you'll find that each room is essentially a reference.

My Notes 

This is the map a player drew

One of the things I noted different from other dungeons/modules was that the players had an understanding of layout of the dungeon by simply looking at it. The players noted the three towers on their approach and as they explored the interior of the complex they kept trying to figure out which passage led to each. I think the idea that the players knew the general outline of the dungeon gave them implicit goals to reach rather than simply meandering through the dungeon hoping for the best.

The player who play-tested the dungeon seemed very open to the idea of speaking to things to gain information and friends. A player surprised me by speaking to the blind horse roaming near the wreckage and I had to figure out how much a horse, that's blind, would know about a dungeon. They quickly befriended Bladee and despite him being "undead" kept him around to aid them in their explorations. When they met Aldo they sought to become best friends with him and even offered to share their food with him. I'm sure they would have spoken to the first vampire thy encountered if not for the fact that he had killed the horse. There is plenty of opportunity for characters to conversate in the dungeon.

The players kept focusing on trying to travel across the roofs of the module and trying to figure out how to overcome the locks in Room 13. I don't know if that is a result of my dungeon design or if the players were especially perceptive in utilizing lateral thinking to get to different locations. I would imagine that characters with the ability to fly or teleport would attempt similar alternative means to get through it.

Fundamentally this was a top-down approach to dungeon design and I hope that you either enjoy it. If you run this module please let me know how it goes by commenting! The format should be system agnostic enough for you to be able to use it in most OSR systems.

TL:DR I'm James Raggi but with Cloud Rap instead of Death Metal