Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dungeon Design

Everyone seems to be indulging in their own little projects rather than spending much mental heavy-lifting on the blogs, and I'm no different really. Instead of writing anything useful or practical (with the exception of the occasional B/X class or flamey-type forum post), the main thing I've been doing is crafting B/X adventures...and loving the hell out of it.

I've discovered a newfound thrill for dungeon design; I'm nearly done with my 4th site adventure in probably six or seven weeks? I just am finding it entertaining in a (very lightly) challenging sort of way...I can't remember having this much fun since I was a kid DM.

Though when I was a kid, the fun was in the map-making...

Drawing (maps) is still my biggest stumbling block, but I've found a way to circumvent the pain of it all by simply adhering to the Moldvay guidelines in dungeon stocking...I figure out how many encounters I want and how much XP I expect the dungeon to provide (based on my current stable of players), and then make sure everything is properly proportioned (traps, monsters, specials, empties, and treasure troves). Once I know how many of each I want, and what they all are, the map pretty much draws itself. What a blast!

Last week, I was only going to have 4 players showing up to my table, so I was able to stat up the equvivalent of a 1 level dungeon spread over several floors of a single tower. This week I've got 8 players (plus retainers, I'm sure), and I've put together a sprawling 5+ level extravaganza...enough critters and treasure for several sessions should they want to plumb its depths (and heights...I like my dungeons to go "both ways," you know?).

I'll write more on this in the future...but right now I've got map rooms to number.
; )


  1. I'm the same way in that I loved map drawing as a kid, and now I love the "story" aspect of creating fun traps and creatures that all hand together in a cohesive story created mostly by the players. I'm also lucky in that I've discovered this OSR community (big shout out to Brawley at archmage in particular) willing to read through my drafts and provide feedback. Hope you continue to do the same!

  2. Where can one find Moldvay's guidelines for dungeon stocking? I know probably in the B/x handbooks, but is there anywhere else (perhaps on the web) that they can be found?

  3. @Bradwurst - Although using percentiles instead of d6's, the same stocking system is used in Labyrinth Lord which you can download for free.

    @JB - Awesome, I'd like to see what you've come up with and I'd like to give a shot at working with you on your maps.

  4. Thanks for giving me the inspiration to sit down this weekend and work through the design for the Citadel on the Edge, a location in my current campaign that will likely be of use in the near future but I've been putting off due to a lack of courage and a bit of intimidation :)