Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Random Dungeon

Recently I've been ill and mostly bedridden, during which I usually seek solace in B-movies and/or reading "bad" sci-fi and fantasy novels. For various reasons, I did not have access to either of these comforts and as such had to seek an alternative way to while away my time. I pulled out a book that has been collecting dust on my shelf for many years — Central Casting: Dungeons penned by Robert Sassone and published by Task Force Games in 1991. Claiming to be "The Ultimate Dungeon Construction Guide," it offers up a random dungeon generator to create dungeons that "make sense" (as if dungeons, outside of a metaphor for the underworld, ever make sense). Fascinated as I am with random tables, I couldn't resist picking this up when I ran across it years ago, but I have never really used it. So, I decided to use my sick bed time to create a random dungeon.

There are three things that I really liked about this book. First and foremost, it emphasizes that this whole random table thing is a guide. If you don't like something, you are encouraged to change or alter it — further proof that those of us who like random tables are not slaves to the dice. Second, it determines the function of the dungeon after it is complete based on what is actually there. Thus, the dungeon does actually "make sense." Third, they have a table to determine why the dungeon was abandoned and how that affects various things in the dungeon, giving the whole thing a sense of history. I actually enjoyed this process quite a bit.

Based on my rolls, this particular dungeon was used to house soldiers, but was well hidden and had a pair of throne rooms and a bedroom suite. Thus, I decided that it was the hideout of a Bandit King who enjoyed displaying the trappings of power. The dungeon was abandoned because it was attacked and occupied by a huge monster. The tables suggested a dragon, but I wanted to have a monster that was more likely to attract followers. In the description of Hobgoblins in the MM are these two tantalizing lines:

If the lair is underground, there is a 60% chance that there will be from 2-12 carnivorous apes as guards.
Most hobgoblins speak goblin, orcish and the rudimentary tongue of carnivorous apes...

Since I have never actually taken advantage of this, I decided that the huge monster would be a giant winged ape that then attracted to it hobgoblins and carnivorous apes.

1) Guardroom. A+A
2) Granary. A+A
3) Chapel. +A
4) Blacksmith.
5) Servant's Quarters. B
6) Arena. AA+AA
7) Dining Room. A+A
8) Kitchen.
9) Storeroom.
10) Construction + Trap.
11) Library. +A
12) Guardroom. A+A
12.1) Barracks. A+AB
12.2) Barracks. A+A
12.3) Barracks. A+A
13) Smithy. +A
14) Empty.
15) Guardroom. A+A
15.1) Barracks (Commander's Room). A+A
16) Servant's Quarters. A+A
17) Lavatory. No Water
18) Sculptor's Room.
19) Empty.
20) Torture Room (Whipping). A+A
21) Guardroom. A
22) Execution Room (poison). A
23) Armory.
24) Construction.
25) Guardroom. A
26) Empty.
27) Exhibition Room. A+A
28) Spellcaster's Lab. B+B
28.1) Secret Storage Room.
29) Antechamber.
29.1) Antechamber. B (Ghast)
29.2) Burial Chamber. B+B (Mummy)
30) Empty.
31) Great Hall. AA+AA
32) Arena. C+C (4-armed Ape)
33) Ampitheatre. B+B (Ghast in the crawl space beneath the stage)
34) Master Bedroom. C+AABC (Sons of Cyn)
34.1) Guardroom. A
34.2) Waiting Room. A+A
34.3) Private Dining Room.
34.4) Art Room. A
34.5) Sitting Room.
34.6) Library. B
34.7) Private Bath.
35) Weapon Training Room.
36) Fortification.
37) Great Hall. D+D (Winged Ape)
38) Well Room. Magic Fountain
39) Guardroom. A+A

The codes refer to the type of encounter and type of treasure. The letters before the '+' are encounter type and those after are treasure type. The letter 'A' refers to an encounter easily dealt with by the party (such as a group of Hobgoblins) and a small treasure. The letter 'D' refers to something very challenging to the party and a major treasure. In parenthesis placed creatures I would include in the more challenging encounter areas.

Winged Ape

Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 8
Attacks: 1-10/1-10 (+2d6)
Saving Throw: 8
Special: Rending, Immune to Fear, Never Surprised
Move: 9/18 (when flying)
Morale: 10
Challenge Level/XP: 10/1400

These giants, resembling grey apes with red skin, eyes and leathery wings, attack with powerful clawed hands. If both hands hit a single opponent, the winged ape will do an additional 2d6 damage by rending.


  1. Hey, that's keen. I'll have to check that book out.

    One of the reasons that I am terrible at making dungeons is that I can't turn off the part of my brain that says, "Why would somebody build this silly thing?" It doesn't bother me when playing; only designing. I can do a work-around by making the dungeon magical/mythical/Faerieland/whathaveyou, but sometimes I want an actual man-made thing.

  2. I picked up this book and I have found it to be a great idea generator. I had to wait for quite a while until I found a decent copy in my price range. Depending on the day, it can sell for $100 on eBay or Amazon.

  3. I have had this book since it was first printed, and it is great. Highly recommended, even if you don't use the random tables and just want to see all the different types of rooms, to jog your own imagination.