The previous post on dungeon shorthand left out a few things: a handful of symbols and methods of connecting rooms.
The exclamation mark and question mark are used for specific kinds of doors: barred doors and secret doors. You could roll for which side a door is barred on, but I would probably just make it barred on the side opposite to the entrance to the level, especially if you were using dungeon shorthand as a way to play a solo dungeon.
An apostrophe basically functions like a change in case combined with a quote. In other words, a word like "can't" is a 30-foot square room with a 10-foot square alcove to the north, but the exit from the room is in the eastern wall of the 30-foot section, not the 10-foot alcove. There is an implied "end-quote" at the end of a word with an apostrophe in it.
This leads into the whole question of how rooms are connected. By default, the first room in a line has one exit in the east wall, the last room in the line has one exit in the west wall, and all the rooms in the middle of the line have exits in both the east and the west walls. These exits are doorways. The rooms in the second line are not connected to those in the first line, and so on, for each line. Directional letters change this:
- If the first letter of a word is a directional letter, there is no western exit, but an exit in the indicated direction.
- If the last letter of a word is a directional letter, there is no eastern exit, but an exit in the indicated direction.
- Directional letters in the middle of a word are extra exits.
How the rooms are connected depends on what rules you set up for the theme of the dungeon before you begin translating text into a dungeon. You could make all rooms connect directly, without corridors unless indicated by hyphens or numerals, or you could assume each room occupies a square region 50 feet to each side, or a multiple of 50 feet, so that small rooms of 20 or 30 feet have buffer space and short connecting corridors between themselves.
Extra exits connect to the closest exit of another room. One way to do this: extra exits have corridors heading in the same direction. If this corridor would cross the wall of a room, and that wall has a free exit, connect the two exits. If that wall doesn't have an exit, the corridor turns away from any close walls. If the corridor has no where left to turn., it dead-ends. If a corridor would cross another corridor, the two connect.
An ampersand indicates that two words/rooms share a wall, even if you are otherwise using buffer space around rooms. It also indicates that there are no default connections between those two rooms. If the last letter of the first word or the first letter of the second word is a directional letter, then there is a doorway. Otherwise, the rooms are isolated.
A plus sign is a potential corridor intersection, but not necessarily a four-way intersection. It works a little like an apostrophe: if you have a phrase of the form "A + B C", Room A has a corridor at least 30 feet long heading east to Room C, with a side corridor heading north to Room B. This arrangement may change based on directional letters in any of the words. Longer expressions with multiple plus signs mean four-way, five-way, or other multi-way intersections.
Hyphens, as I said are corridors. I'd probably make the hyphens five-foot wide, rather than the standard ten feet.
I suggested that a hash mark (#) should be bars or a grate, and I typically use pipes (|) as lower-height walls, asterisks as boulders, underscores as trenches or pits, carets (^) as chimneys or chutes, equal signs as ledges. But each of these could be redefined to fit a particular theme before you begin your interpretation.