August RPG Blog Carnival: Devious Dungeons

The RPG Blog Carnival this month is Dungeon themed, and hosted right here on the Mind Weave blog. I was surprised to see this topic had not been broached directly in the Blog Carnival since to me it is so central to the Table Top RPG genre. I love wilderness campaigns and open encounters, but as player, I always longed for the next dungeon delve. As a GM, I find my players do the same. No matter how I work on the wilderness and towns, they just want to get to the next dungeon.

So, let’s talk about dungeons. Dungeons are first and foremost a way to present Challenge in the game. While they can also enhance the story, the puzzles and battles found in a dungeon appeal to that primary aesthetic of the medium. This is where, cut off from relief, TPKs never to be forgotten occur. This is where insurmountable obstacles are overcome and victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat. This is where legends are born.

In this month’s carnival, I hope we can explore together the things that make a dungeon fun to play, fulfilling, and memorable. What makes a good dungeon, in your opinion? What are good puzzles in dungeons like? Is it system dependent? How do you incorporate believable combat encounters in dungeons?

This is a call for posts to answer these questions. If you have a blog where you discuss things related to dungeons, feel free to drop related links this month in the comments below. If you don’t feel free to join the discussion with your comments. Please share:

  • Memorable experiences you’ve had, either from a player or GM perspective
  • Your favorite dungeons
  • Things you’re working on
  • Monsters you’ve come up with that make a dungeon interesting
  • Puzzles with a dungeon feel or interesting solution
  • Anything else you have to say related to devious dungeon design

I’m looking forward to seeing what the community comes up with on this subject. Surely with all our heads put together we can make the world of dungeons a better place. Depending on what kind of response this gets, I may do multiple roundup posts at the end of the month sorted into categories. The more material, the more categories.


If you need a little something to get your creative juices flowing, Creighton Broadhurst has been doing a Dungeon Fortnight covering particular topics of dungeon design in detail; his first post is here.

I also get a lot of inspiration by following Dyson Logos. His Dreamer’s Tower is a small, simple, but devious concept that would make my players squeal.

SphereFullAnd, hell, if you’re still reading, I’ll plug my own stuff. The Rotating Labyrinth is the most devious dungeon I’ve ever run. Each time it creates great memories. My current project, Korgaran’s Succession, is shaping up to give it a run for the memories with the Sphere (pictured), a maze in a turning stone sphere. I also like the Shrine of Zemail, with a puzzling entrance, and a combat oriented inner sanctum. If I still haven’t lost you, you might as well check out Pliinreuk Cavern, Carrion Canyon, the Sleeping God Cave, and the Garrisoned Castle.


If you’re interested in previous carnivals or hosting your own, be sure to check out the RPG Blog Carnival archive page which has all the details. Maybe you’ll consider hosting a carnival for another month? It’s easy and fun! To see how it works, you can check out last month’s roundup here.

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17 Responses to August RPG Blog Carnival: Devious Dungeons

  1. leicester1 says:

    I think my OPD entry for this year will meet that criteria – two entrances, both guarded by puzzles as much as other, more physical, guardians (and yes, it also has a rotating component…).

    http://leicestersramble.blogspot.com/2014/04/one-page-dungeon-entry-2014.html

    It was deemed good enough to eke its way into the final round, so I’m pretty pleased. And I’ll have to cobble together something fresh specific to the theme…

    Thanks for hosting!

  2. Pingback: Mind Weave Dungeon Design | Mind Weave Role-Playing Platform

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  7. Philmagpie says:

    Hi James,

    This was a difficult Carnival for me, but I tried my best to write something that might be useful at Tales of a GM:

    http://talesofagm.com/?p=1213

    Use a simple table to stock those areas of a dungeon not closely linked to the main story.

    All the best
    Phil

    • jameseck says:

      Thanks, I love the idea of randomizing the non-critical dungeon regions. It allows story without planning every piece.

      • Philmagpie says:

        Hi James,

        Oh yes, anything to give a GM faster prep and more story has to be a good thing.

        Thanks for a great Carnival

        Phil

  8. Hey James, here is my submission for the RPG Blog Carnival. http://worldbuilderblog.me/2014/08/28/dungeons-dungeons/

  9. I know I’m late to the party but you know what they say; better late than never. Anyway my entry can be found here:
    http://www.generaltangent.com/blog/2014/08/28/august-2014-blog-carnival-devious-dungeons/

  10. leicester1 says:

    Meant to put a ‘real’ entry in – nothing like a deadline to inspire…
    http://leicestersramble.blogspot.com/2014/08/reynards-cave.html

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