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Monday, August 30, 2021

Last-Minute d6 Dungeons

I want to revisit the semi-random dungeon generation technique. I originally developed this for my dungeon expander pamphlet series, the idea being that a GM who suddenly needs a dungeon or needs to expand an existing dungeon can just grab a random pamphlet and create a random one with a minimum of rolling. But I’ve had some ideas on how to update this for a while.

The original system involved a pseudo-map of a corridor with six potential exits and six possible kinds of exits. What I’m proposing now is a more universal framework.

d6 Exit Location Tunnel Direction
Right Side
1 First Third Turn Right
2 Middle Third Turn Right
3 Last Third Straight Ahead
Left Side
4 First Third Turn Left
5 Middle Third Turn Left
6 Last Third Straight Ahead
  1. Start with a Basic Tunnel Segment (24 paces, or 60 feet long) heading in any direction.
  2. Make a Side Exits Roll (3d6) to determine where each side exit is (See Exit Location column on table above.) On doubles, the exit is a Portal (standard door.) On triples, the exit is a Special Portal (heavy door.) Otherwise, it’s an Exit (open archway.)
  3. Make a Tunnel Roll (3d6) to determine the basic tunnel shape. On triples, the tunnel dead-ends in a Portal (standard door) straight ahead. Otherwise, each d6 result represents a tunnel direction, which means the tunnel may turn, branch to one side, end in a T-junction, or become a four-way intersection (See Tunnel Direction column on table above.)
  4. For every Portal or Special Portal, make a Chamber Roll to see what’s behind the portal. (More on this later.)
  5. After making one or more rolls for a room’s contents, end with a Room Exits Roll (Probably 4d6.) Each d6 represents one exit’s direction (1-4 = one wall of room, numbered clockwise starting at the top; 5-6 = up or down.)

You may notice the pattern of bold name followed by (italic parenthetical information.) Extracting that, we get this summary:

  • Basic Tunnel Segment (24 paces)
  • Side Exits Roll (3d6)
  • Tunnel Roll (3d6)
  • Chamber Roll (1d6 or more)
  • Room Exits Roll (4d6)
  • Extras:
    • Exit (open archway)
    • Portal (standard door)
    • Special Portal (heavy door)

The bold names are the underlying framework of the system, but the italicized information can be changed for custom dungeon types. For example, changing Basic Tunnel Segment to a shorter length like 12 paces or 30 feet makes tighter, twisty-er dungeon designs, while changing the Side Exits Roll to 4d6 packs more tunnels and rooms into the space. Changing Exit from open archway to curtains changes the feel of the place, perhaps making it more like a temple or palace. Swapping Exit and Portal (so that exits only appear on doubles) makes doors more common than archways. Changing Special Portal to portcullis might make more sense in a true castle dungeon or prison.

Chamber Rolls are left vague for now, but the basic idea is that there is a table of room types, possibly two separate tables, one each for portals and special portals. But there could be different tables for different dungeon themes. This is something I’m still working on, but would most likely be a 1d6 or 2d6 table, perhaps with extra numeric entries reachable only when there is a bonus to the role (for example, a +1 for every 2 full levels of depth, so that some room types only show up on deeper levels.

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