Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stocking the Megadungeon

I have decided to pick a random generation method for my megadungeon. I'm doing this for a few reasons, mainly:

1) I feel I'm a bit predictable and randomly rolling eliminates that.

2) I don't want to spend hours agonizing over monsters and treasure placement.

3) Rolling up room contents is fun.

4) I will need to re-stock sometimes, and I don't want to repeat the agonizing.

I decided I'd snag a stocking method from the old school games I love and from their OSR clones.

But which one to use?

Here are the ones I've got, in chronological order. All I really need is to know what is in the room, not its treasure or to roll on a monster table or on a treasure table. I might do that, I might not, but I'm examining these in the simple light of "room contents" and not as a complete system.

1) Book 3, white box D&D

The method on page 6 boils down to:

1) Place special encounters - monsters and/or treasures - as desired.
2) For the remaining rooms:

1-2 on d6 = Monster
If there's a monster, 1-3 on d6 = Treasure.
If there is no monster, 1 on d6 = Treasure.

Pros: Simple enough.
Cons: Lots of rolling (2 dice per room) and specials must be placed specifically. Same with traps or tricks. Most rooms will be empty (4 in 6 will lack monsters, and 5 in 6 of those will lack treasure).

2) AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide, pg 170

This one is from random dungeon generation; no specific placement advice exists elsewhere, although lots of Gary Gygax lecturing you about your game does exist. But no "roll XdY" system exists until the one on pg 170 that I can see.

This one is a one-step process - roll a d20 and see what's in there.

Die Contents
1-12 Empty
13-14 Monster only
15-17 Monster and Treasure
18 Special (or stairs)
19 Trick or Trap
20 Treasure

Pros: Again, simple. Includes lots of detail - I can roll for every room.
Cons: 60% of my rooms will be empty, statistically, and 25% will have monsters, and 20% will have treasure. For a 100 room level, this is 40 rooms with stuff in it and only 20 with any treasure. I'd need lots of treasure in them to ensure a profit potential, and it means I'll need lots more levels and lots more rooms.

3) Moldvay Basic (B52) and Expert (X53)

This is a two step process:

1-2 Monster
3 Trap
4 Special
5-6 Empty

and then roll for treasure on a matrix:

Roll Monster  Trap   Empty
1     Yes         Yes    Yes
2     Yes         Yes    No
3     Yes         No     No
4-6 No           No     No

Pros: Covers all the varieties of rooms I'd like, and uses d6s.
Cons: Still assumes I'm stocking the important rooms, and now 2/3 of rooms will have something in them (and if you count treasure, 1 in 6 of that final 1/3 will have something in it).

4) Labyrinth Lord, pg 124

Roll d00   Contents  Treasure
01-30     Empty        15%
31-60     Monster     50%
61-75     Trap          30%
76-00     Unique      Variable

Another one-step one - you don't need to place special encounters.

Pros: Very simple, and you can roll up anything from empty rooms to treasure only to traps to monsters and combos of the above.
Cons: 25% of my rooms will be unique - that's 25 rooms on a 100-room level. That's a lot, and if I'm pre-placing specials too, it's a lot of work. Also, percentile dice, so I can't just drop pairs of d6s and jot down the results (I have lots of d6s, I play GURPS).

Any others I should know about, or consider? I mean from game systems, I know a lot of people have their own variations of these. But for my purposes it'll be more interesting if I use an existing system from a game . . . if I end up with a home grown one I'd rather grow it myself.


  1. Links you may find useful from Sham's Grog'n'Blog:
    * compressing the OD&D stock roll
    * the empty room principle (why empty rooms are good)

    Empty rooms, of course, do not (I would say *should not*) have to be empty. It's better to put something in them so that players have to decide whether to search for treasure, avoid because of possible traps, etc. To simplify this, use a set of dungeon dressing tables. One example is this all-in-one-page table I did for generating all sorts of descriptions:
    Quickie Dice Tool
    It's used in the same way you use the Vornheim drop-die tables: roll dice on the sheet, the column and row where the die lands provides two bits of information and the die result can provide a third. I wrote extensively about using this style of chart in the "quickie" category on my blog. You can also use this to stock monsters and unusual items in "special" rooms.

    1. Those are helpful, thanks.

      I'm already sold on empty rooms - I'm just leery of making so many rooms empty. 60% of rooms overall being empty, or 66% of non-special rooms, seems like a big chunk. I'd probably end up wanting a little more density and then re-rolling for some rooms, which kind of defeats the point of rolling as a time saver.

  2. You seem to be aware of this already, but I'll point it out anyway. Moldvay's rules are not designed to randomly generate entire dungeons; they're just for filling in the corners. The DM is assumed to be picking out a theme for the level and setting up the main monster type and jackpot-treasure by hand. So the percentages on the tables can't be assumed to be the norm for the entire dungeon. (I don't have my books with me, but that's my recollection from my last reading.)

    1. Yeah, that's a good point. I'm aware of this, but for my purposes I'd like to make it a bit broader. I'll place some special and jackpot type places myself, but I'd also like to have the tables turn up some unexpected oddities.

      As much as I like to use d6, it might just be easiest to modify that AD&D one to the percentages I like for each entry, and drop handfuls of d20s (I have handfuls of d20s, actually, that came with Hundred Kingdoms) all over the map. But my GURPS soul would love to drop d6s everywhere instead. :)


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