Friday, November 30, 2012

More Random Dungeon Generator Goodness

For those of you new to this blog, or maybe you're not new but you've forgotten, I am obsessed with dungeon crawls. 30 years after I experienced my first such game, I still find them fun to play and create.

Today's idea is primarily a re-working of my most recent d12 dungeon generator using a deck of playing cards. Why?

Last night I was generating a dungeon for fun while watching TV with Lady Shadowmoss and I was using a d12 I hadn't used for the task before. The dungeon itself came out fine, but because of the flaws in manufacturing dice with rounded edges, certain numbers came up noticeably frequently and that bothered me, at least conceptually. I've experienced this before, but last night was the tipping point.

I also realized that, when playing solo, knowing the contents of a room (empty, monster, trap) prior to entering takes away some of the anticipation/fun, and so I wanted to change that too. I decided to modify the generator that way as well.

Finally, after some further testing, I realized I have the same problem with room size as I do with which dungeon-morphs come up frequently based on the d12 used - my rooms were consistently gigantic thanks to the d10 I had chosen - not a bad thing but again, conceptually it bothered me. After all, they had to carve this space out underground and it seems to me that extremely large spaces would be rare.

Here then is the rough draft of the new version of my random generator:

No Budget No Frills Pencil and Paper Dungeon Generator 
ver 4.0

Tools needed: 
  • an ordinary deck of playing cards, jokers removed
  • d4, d6, d8, d10
  • graph paper and pencil/pen or electronic equivalents
  • Shuffle your deck of cards
  • Place your starting room with more than one exit on your graph paper
  • Draw a card
Ace = Stairs up or Exit (player's choice or roll 1d6. 1-3 Stairs, 4-6 Exit)
2 = Stairs down or Exit (player's choice or roll 1d6. 1-3 Stairs, 4-6 Exit)
3 = Straight Hallway for d10 squares w/ Trap (Roll 1d6. 1-3= pit trap, 4-6 other trap)
4 = Straight Hallway for d10 squares
5 = 4-way Intersection in d10 squares
6 = Turn Right in d10 squares
7 = Turn Left in d10 squares
8 = T-intersection in d10 squares
9 = Room (draw a door and then proceed to room generator)
10 = Room (draw a door and then proceed to room generator)
Jack  = Room (draw a door and then proceed to room generator)
Queen = Dead end or Draw Again(player's choice)
King = Reshuffle deck and draw again
I've had equally good results ignoring the King and with using it as a reshuffle trigger. 
  • Add the indicated item to your map. 
  • If playing solo, resolve any encounters.
  • Repeat 
Room Generator
  • If room card is Hearts then d10 x d10 squares
  • If room card is Diamonds then d8 x d8 squares
  • If room card is Spades then d6 x d6 squares
  • If room card is Clubs then d4 x d4 squares
If playing a solo dungeon crawl, you can listen at the door. If you are successful, add +1 to your roll when you check for surprise, if you fail, add -1. Once you open the door, roll for room content.

If you're generating a dungeon for a group, you can just roll for room content.

Additional Room Exits: Roll 1d4. Subtract 1 from the result. This is how many additional exits are in the room. Place randomly or wherever makes sense given the dungeon's layout.

Room Content
(or use the room content generator included with the rules you are using)
  • Roll 1d6:
1-2 Monster
3 Trap
4 Weird/Unusual Stuff (talking statues, magic fountains,etc.)
5-6 Empty 
Secret Doors
When rooms and/or corridors abut without a means of passing between them, you may check for a secret door.
  • Roll 1d6. On a 1 there is a secret door.
  • Roll 1d6 again:
1 - One-way, in the direction you're going
2 - 5 Both directions
6 - One-way, opposite the direction you're going.
I'll post a better formatted, more complete version after I have a chance to sit down and make one. Tonight, I have some hobby time and I'm going to use it to try and finish up my painting goal for November and get a jump on December.


  1. Brilliant, thank you. I've been using your dungeon generator in my solo GM Emulator games, so can't wait to try this new version out.

    1. Hi Steve!

      Thanks for the comment. Glad to hear someone else is getting some use from these generators!


  2. This is a gem of a find! Been hunting card-based random dungeon generators and this one has some great ideas in it.