Dungeon creation checklist

A checklist for creating dungeons in exciting locations

This post was inspired this blogpost. I wanted to create a more generalized and high-level guide. So this is it. Here we go!

What and where

First, take some notes about what and where:
  1. Where is it placed? In a mountain, under water, under a castle, in an old forest
  2. What was it before? A temple, a tomb, a wizard's workshop, a prison
  3. Who lives here now? The main inhabitants. Goblins, wolves, bandits, a witch, nobody
  4. How many rooms are there? Around 5 is a good start. Are there more floors?
  5. Why should anyone travel there? Treasure? Knowledge? The entrance to something larger? Revenge? Does somebody there need help?


Now is a good time to start sketching the dungeon map. I recommend you find a notepad.

Flip to an clear double page. Draw the map on the left page, and write notes on the right page. That way you have everything in view when running the game.

To the left you see some sample icons to illustrate different things often found in a dungeon.

Don't worry about making it pretty. Just make sure you can read and understand it.

Start with the main entrance, and work your way into the complex.

  • When drawing rooms, look at the list below. Try to think about the original inhabitants. How did they live here? How did they get around in the complex? What exists did they use?

Things to include

You can have multiple of these in each room, or one in each room. You don’t have to include all of the items, but each room should have at least one.
  1. Multiple ways inn.  At least one obvious and one hidden way in.
  2. Something obvious. The way out, the way onward, a gigantic hole in the floor, a statue.
  3. Something locked. A door, a chest, a portal to another location
  4. Something dangerous. Traps, monsters, other adventures, lava, ice, spikes
  5. Something hidden. A secret room, a hidden treasure, a secret exit
  6. Something weird. Something that does not belong here. Is it from another climate? From another kingdom? From another world?
  7. Something valuable. Treasure, how to defeat a bad guy, a magical weapon, knowledge long forgotten.

Enemies and treasure

As you start drawing and determining what the rooms have in them, you will start to figure out what enemies (if any) to place in the rooms. Also, what treasures to place and where. Add these inn at the end.

  • Add also some enemies that move around, between the rooms. Make it realistic. Perhaps they move to go to the bathroom, to stretch their legs, or find some food?


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