Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A No-Budget No-frills Pencil and Paper d12 Dungeon Generator

Some Introductory Thoughts
*** check out the newest version - 8/24***

This is a very simple generator for use in solo dungeon crawls (with or without miniatures) when you don't know or don't want to know what the dungeon looks like ahead of time.

I suppose you could even use it to create dungeons for gaming groups if you’re lucky enough to have players willing to enter dungeons (Lady Shadowmoss despises dungeons crawls that are set in actual dungeons) but it might be a little lite for that. I have found several generators online but either they were quite robust (read tedious to use) for an on the fly generator - like the generator from the old AD&D DM Guide, or they were missing things I thought key. And frankly, it was just fun to do this.

I started out with a variety of dice, but inspired by The Dungeon Dozen, I settled on the d12 since it really never gets used for anything else in any game I play.

The tables below have been developed after extensive testing. Ok, extensive may be overstating it a bit. But I created a few maps this way and they worked well enough. There were some fairly long corridors with a lot of twists and turns which is unusual when I create dungeons free-hand. I’m OK with this for now - it allows wandering monsters some space to play and they keep me moving as I search for that ever elusive room with treasure in it. There's also more stairs than I might be inclined to put in but this gives the possibility of multiple areas of the dungeon that are not connected to each other directly except via an intervening level - which makes it possible to have a wider variety of creatures inhabiting a given level in a way that doesn't seem more impossible than the game might already seem.

If you desire more rooms and less corridors or vice versa, tweak Table C.

The tables undeniably reflect my personal biases - I don’t like drawing round rooms on graph paper, I use a 10’ per square scale so dimensions ending in 5,e.g. 45’, are unwelcome, aesthetically, I prefer rooms around 30’ to 40’ at least in one dimension, I think really large rooms should be minimal because I don’t have many tiles that are over 50’ per side, I think 5 or more exits on a 4 sided room is awkward, etc.

If you like odd shaped rooms, or favor different dimensions, etc. feel free to modify away. You might prefer to use d20, or d100 or what have you. I encourage you to do so, but try to keep it simple. Making many die rolls just to generate a 60 foot corridor will likely impede the game - after all, the point is to dungeon craw and win fame and fortune, not to fiddle with minutiae.

One obvious missing feature is room contents and encounters - I use the tables in my rule books, stuff I find online, Rory’s Story Cubes, Mythic, my imagination, as well as tables I make up on the fly to fit the dungeon theme or plot (if I have one in mind). Traps in corridors are also missing but you could just as easily add a table for this as anything else or just throw one in whenever you feel like it.

Something I tested that didn’t make the cut was including the angle of a turn in Table D. 90, 45 and 135 are obvious choices. This would have required more slots than a d12 provides however, for me to be happy with the results on my maps. I also felt that ultimately it over complicates things. I leave it to the user to decide the angle based on the dungeon and available space. However, if you want to roll on a table, try Optional Table E whenever a turn is indicated. It has not been play tested as I don’t consider this table strictly necessary.

Finally, remember, if the roll of the die results in something that either seems difficult or impossible to implement e.g. 4 exits on a 10’ wall, or would cause a room to overlap another feature or a hallway to pass through one, you might:

  • Re-roll
  • Treat it a Dead End*
  • Think outside the box and make it work - e.g. 2 of the exits are doors but there are two openings near the ceiling, the room/corridor is above or goes under the existing feature or perhaps it is passes through the feature by means of secret doors*
  • Make a seat-of-your pants decision

In short, do whatever makes it easier to get on with the game.

and now I present:

The Official Tabletop Diversions No-Budget No-frills Pencil and Paper d12 Dungeon Generator Version 1.0

****EDIT 4/20/12****Further play with this generator has shown that Table C and Table D as originally written give too many stairs and dead ends. See the changes indicated below.

Materials needed:
You will need 1 d12
Paper (graph paper has a special place in my heart but you can use blank paper or notebook paper even) and/or dungeon tiles
Pencil (if drawing this on paper)

A suggestion for getting started:
There’s no hard and fast rules to this. I prefer to place the stairs to the surface world in the middle of the paper(or game table if using tiles).

Roll 2x on Table A for the room dimensions, and then 1x on Table B adding 1 to the result (to avoid a dead end right away) and place this room so that it connects to the stairs.

Proceed from there.

Table A: Dimensions
For a room roll 2x, 1x for Length, 1x for Width
For a corridor roll 1x (this assumes all corridors are same width)

1 10’
2-3 20’
4-6 30’
7-9 40’
10-11 50’
12 60’

Table B: Additional Exits in Room
1 None - Dead end
2-4 1, roll 1x on table B.1
5-7 2, roll 2x on table B.1
8-10 3, roll 3x on table B.1
11-12 4, roll 4x on table B.1

Table B.1.: Exit Location
Use either the compass directions or the relative directions as you prefer
1-3 North/Ahead
4-6 South/ Same wall you came in on
7-9 East / Right
10-12 West / Left

Table C: What’s on the Other Side of the Door When

You’re in a Room
1-7 Corridor, Roll 1x on Table A, then 1x on Table D
8-10 8-11 Room, Roll 2x on Table A and 1x on Table B
11 Dead End*
12 Stairs (1-6 up, 7-12 down)

12 Dead End (1-4)/Stairs (5-8)/Roll again on this table -1 (9-12)

You’re in a Corridor
1-3 Corridor, Roll 1x on Table A, then 1x on Table D
4-10 4- 11
Room, Roll 2x on Table A and 1x on Table B
11 Dead End*
12 Stairs (1-6 up, 7-12 down)
12 Dead End (1-4)/Stairs (5-8)/Roll again on this table -1 (9-12)

Table D: Corridor Continuation
1-3 Continues Straight, Roll 1x on Table A, and then again on Table D
4 Turns Left, Extend 10’, then roll again on Table D
5 Turns Right, Extend 10’, then roll again on Table D
6 T-intersection, Extend 10’ in each direction Left/Right, Roll again on Table D for each direction you check
7 + - Four way intersection, Extend 10’ ahead, left and right, roll again on Table D for each direction you check
8 Dead End
9 Stairs (1-6 up, 7-12 down)
10-12 Door, if you open Door roll 1x on Table C

8 Stairs (1-6) / Dead End (7-12)
9-12 Door, if you open door, roll 1x on Table C

Optional Table E: Turn Angle
Use whenever a turn is indicated, prior to the 10’ extension in that direction.
1-7 90 degrees
8-10 45 degrees
11-12 135 degrees

*I handle Dead Ends and Secret Doors by testing to see if I succeed in finding a secret door per the RPG rules I’m using and only THEN determining the likelihood of there being one, i.e. I pick an number based on how much space I have on my map,whether there’s a feature on the other side of the dead end, etc. and then roll against that. This way, if I don’t succeed, I still don’t know if there’s a secret door there or not, but if I do succeed, I find it if it exists.

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