Dungeon Building Resources
It may be sacrilege to some loyal DMs, but I really like using published material. Most modules from WotC or Paizo are pretty well thought out and can be run with a minimal amount of fuss.
For the truly dedicated DM, everything must come from the creative pit of monsters and demons known as the DM’s brain. I think I’m ready to graduate to this level. I’ve assembled some resources that I feel get the creative juices really flowing.
I’m not one to just randomly roll on a table to get things going (that’s level III belt-of-many-colors DMing), I like to peruse those random tables for ideas and run with one. I’ve got two awesome books for just such an occasion, one more brutal than the other. First up, Goodman Games’ The Dungeon Alphabet. At $10 featuring art from Erol Otus, Doug Kovacs, Jeff Easley, among others, it’s a no-brainer. You need this book. Each letter has a different dungeon feature with different variations on that feature, i.e. D is for Doors, T is for treasure, etc. If you are brave enough to roll randomly on the tables for each letter you certainly can, but I like my dungeons to make some kind of cohesive sense, which doesn’t always happen on random tables; purely a stylistic choice.
Another resource in the same vein is Sersa Victory’s Fourthcore Alphabet. This is mainly geared towards very brutal 4e adventures, but really you could apply these to any dungeon you wanted to make more dark and deadly. It’s the same principle as Goodman’s, but pretty much everything in here will kill PCs right and left. If you have a group with players that are really invested in their PCs, this probably isn’t a wise choice. It is great for a one-shot, or if your players don’t mind rolling up a lot of characters and trying different things out. Not as much inspirational art in this one, but plenty of tables brimming with brutal ideas.
Designing interesting rooms can be a stumbling block for budding dungeon architects. Inkwell Ideas has the answer. Dungeonmorph dice and Dungeonmorph cards provide endless inspiration for chambers and can even make an endless dungeon if you desire. Typically, I just use them when I’m looking for interesting ideas for a particular room or if I’m trying to string a few ideas together. I find the cards to be a little more useful than the dice, but for the truly random DM, roll ’em up!
Hopefully these tips and resources will help you on your way to building your own adventures. What’s your favorite resource? Let us know in the comments.