Dungeon Ideas?

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I just started playing D&D this year. I love it. For the past 2 months Ive been DMing a game with my friends, and creating all the dungeons myself. I am however in need of ideas of things to spice up my dungeon. Traps, monsters, and treasures just arent enough, when its over and over. Any ideas? Ive made a few puzzles but i want some really out of the box things in my dungeons.
What edition are you playing and how many different monster manuals do you have access to?

Let us know some of the ideas you've tried out; things you liked and things your players enjoyed.

If you're sick of normal monsters try and find strange monsters. Rust Monsters and Ropers in the deep dark caverns can spice up the typical adventure. I always like to throw some prisoners in the mix that the players can kill, free or escort. Cave-ins help players move forward into the unknown with out the safety of a known exit, they play smarter.
Just in case I failed to mention; I am playing D&D 3.5e.
Give your monsters interesting goals. Why are the there for the players to encounter them? Do they have better things to do than throw themselves onto the PCs' blades? Even mindless creatures can have jobs to do that, if not stopped, will make the PCs lives more interesting.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

What edition are you playing and how many different monster manuals do you have access to?

Let us know some of the ideas you've tried out; things you liked and things your players enjoyed.




Im playing 3.5 rules, and have acess to all the monster manuels. Ive had prisoners, Ive had a few puzzles, a demon who asked riddles, a reapearing djinn who asked questions for rewards, living statues, a giant sleeping dragon illusion. Those are most of the things ive used so far.

The party consits of good, nuetral and evil characters, all with their own goals. They enjoy battling as much as they next guy, but they really have fun when they are faced with problems where they need to role play and do some thinking.

The party consits of good, nuetral and evil characters, all with their own goals.



I don't necessarily recommend this to every party, but if you create a storyline with conflicting character goals, it's usually makes way more entertaining encounters. Especially if one of the character's is trying to save an NPC/enemy and the other one is trying to kill it.

For example: a young dragon is attacking a village: Kill it, and its heart can benefit the wizard character lifetime goal; or recruit his help instead and the dwarf PC can ride it to get to his homeland in time to prevent his sister from marrying the town idiot.

Just make sure to allow plenty of space for the players to come up with their own solutions.
Expanding on giving the monsters alterior goals, I personally like to design a team of NPCs that are competing with the party to excavate the dungeon and find the treasure first.  Kinda like Kiefer Sutherland's crew in Stand By Me.  You can even design encounters with two kinds of enemies, the cunning advesary after your treasure, and the mindless monster attacking everyone.
Sleeping with interns on Colonial 1
Underground rivers and seas can spice up some dungeon crawling. You could have one of those underwater passages to a hidden treasure vault with some kind of monster in the water protecting it.

Videogames, especially Bioware games, always have these text or video logs you find before you reach your destination. I haven't tried it, but having  something like that might work if you want to tell a story bit by bit. In DnD this could be runes or a journal or two. Probably hard to pull off though.

You could make a dungeon which is like a maze. Only, it's not a dungeon. The party is trapped inside the mind of a mindflayer and need to find a way out. This could prove really interesting. Anything can happen, all kinds of monsters could be there, and you don't even have to follow the rules....too much.
The dungeon is in the innards of a great sand worm. There's an entire ecosystem in there including a ragtag community of survivors with evil designs for the world should they be able to escape. Key is, the PCs can't escape without their help. Watch to see what happens.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I think one of the greatest dungeons of all time is Caverns of Thracia by Paul Jacquays and published by Judges Guild in the early 1980s (or maybe even 1970s). An updated version for 3E was published by Necromancer Games around 2002 and is still available for sale on rpgnow.com. The original can also be downloaded.

Anyway, it is a dungeon very much designed in three dimensions with several levels and sub-levels. One of the great joys of playing it is uncovering all the secret places. I've never run it -as is- but I have used modified versions of it several times and, really, it shapes practically every dungeon I have ever run.

It also has factions and history, two things which I think help bring a dungeon to life. Throw in chasms and underground rivers and you have something that is designed to be explored; the combat is just an added bonus! 
Cheers Imruphel aka Scrivener of Doom

How about:


- A guardian of a vault who will only open the vault if some riddles are answered correctly.


- Print out some cards with temporary bonuses or curses on them. Put in some statue or something, that when touched, make the player draw a random card to get their character's effect.


- Try some rooms with just traps. Perhaps include a moving wall of fire or something to put some time pressure on the players.


- PCs have to collect things from around the dungeon in order to place them in slots to open a door to a shortcut.


- Have a combat encounter with a time limit - if the PCs don't stop a ritual or something, something happens which changes the course of the adventure slightly.


In my experience players like feeling like they have made meaningful choices in the adventure.


Also, consider a way that the party could avoid most combat encounters by being resourceful.


Hope this sparks a few ideas.

I love to put puzzles in my quest, I mostly use real things.

The 7 Virtues
The 7 Sins
The 10 Plagues of Egypt
The 5 States of Grief ( I got the idea from a fellow poster! )
The Constallations
The Gemstones ( Precious and Semi-Precious )
The Ten Commandments
etc.

I really love to create dungeon and quest around those!
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I just started playing D&D this year. I love it. For the past 2 months Ive been DMing a game with my friends, and creating all the dungeons myself. I am however in need of ideas of things to spice up my dungeon. Traps, monsters, and treasures just arent enough, when its over and over. Any ideas? Ive made a few puzzles but i want some really out of the box things in my dungeons.



Dungeons & Dragons is, at its heart, what is portrayed on the cover of almost any D&D boxed set I've seen: an isolated and exotic area containing a hero with a pointy stick staring down a ferocious monster with an attractive reward in the background.

As long as that basic formula is there in spirit, you've got a game of D&D. 

As long as it's there quite literally in the form of a Conan-alike and Gandalf-wannabe brandishing a sword and spell at a dragon standing on a pile of gold and gems in the middle of a slimy flagstone and brick 10'x10' room, you've got a fairly generic game of D&D.

But, it doesn't have to be generic:  all you need to do to get something that seems pretty far out of the box while still essentially being D&D, is to see how far you can stretch the spirit of what any of those elements is...



  • The isolated and exotic area doesn't have to be a slimy underground chamber, crypt, dungeon, or laboratory... expand the definition of what "dungeon" means into something really strange and outlandish instead!

  • Creating a unique and interesting hero is usually your players' job, but maybe there's still something you can do to help them expand the definition of what a D&D hero is, into something unexpected and strange.  A good place to start might be with your NPCs....

  • Some variety in the traditional pointy stick (swords, axes, spears, daggers, staves, wands, etc. etc. etc.) seems at first glance to be well-covered by the game, but maybe there are other ways you can twist that definition to something fresh, too... exotic shapes, alien materials, off-beat abilities and special effects could be places to start!

  • A bewildering variety of monsters is another place where the game has the bases well-covered, but don't let that stop you from working in your own unique spin on descriptions, behaviours, and so on... it doesn't take very much to breath new life into what it means to meet a lowly, common Goblin, Kobold, Orc, Ogre, Elf, Dwarf, Dragon, or even Human!

  • And then, there are the rewards... what else can you dish out besides +1 Magical Pointy Sticks and vast heaps of Metallic Disks of Tedious Record-Keeping?

[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
I know I keep pushing this RPG but I will bring it up again.


X-Crawl was designed for 3.0 and has some great traps and other ideas for monsters with personalities.


Traps are pretty much up to you.


One I loved in an old Dragon Magazine was basically mindsweeper.  You stepped on the tile and you were mentally told how many exploding tiles were next to you.


Another one from that module was when they finally reached the treasure it became a treasure golem and we had to fight it.  Slashing and piercing weapons did half damage.  Our rogue cried though the entire encounter.