John-Michael Gariepy

Random Dungeon Generator: Room Negative One

Do you recognize this?

Hey!  It’s the start area example chart for Appendix A of the DMG for the original Dungeons and Dragons game!  For people who played the game in much of the seventies and eighties, this was probably the first place you explored.  Some crazy room with multiple branching hallways (Except stunted Number Four.  Nobody likes you Number Four!) leading to various doors.  The point was to find some neutral ground between the way back home, and the various twisty turning branches that would be your adventure.

Cool, and evocative, huh?  They also hold a high nostalgia value for Dungeon Masters.  You see, in many of my fellow DM’s eyes, they see these six shapes, and they just want to get drawing, or rolling for random rooms to attach to these suckers.  These six shapes (well, five of them at least) are practically calling for you to scribble away, attaching doodads and doohickies, until you wake up in a fever pitch, with a pencil clutched in hand and a finished dungeon.

But, secretly, as good as five of these shapes are for your imagination, they can stifle your creativity.

Everything in your dungeon will spawn from how you begin your dungeon.  But these strange starting shapes you’re presented with only encourage you to draw more goofy shapes.  It doesn’t explain why the players are here, or who built this dungeon, or what the theme of this setting is.  It’s just a weird shape, devoid of any emotion besides the symbolism you put into it.

That’s why I made this random room generator.  Room Negative One is a quick two rolls that mold the purpose of your dungeon.  First, roll on the “Dungeon Location” chart to determine what environment your dungeon takes place in, then roll on the “Dungeon Purpose” chart to determine why, exactly, this dungeon is here, and what role it takes in the world your characters play in.  Or don’t roll anything and just choose from the list.  That’s cool, too.  Oh an you’re more than welcome to roll multiple times.  Many of these entries are better when combined with other entries.

While we’re here and talking about it, I should remind you that every step which brings you closer to the dungeon itself can be an adventure.  If you roll up a Volcano Wizard Fortress, I think you owe it to your players to describe what it looks like on your travel to the volcano, create some small adventures before you get to the fortress itself, and deal, somehow, with the guards who are outside the fortress.  I mean, if I was a wizard, and I owned a volcano fortress, I probably wouldn’t leave the front door open, leading down to a set of stairs into a safe and cool start area.  I might, however, leave an open door that leads down a set of stairs to an empty Start Area Four, in which all doors lead to veins of liquid magma.  That’d show ’em.

Oh, and when you get done making your dungeon, maybe you’d like to populate it with Random 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons monsters?

Where is this Dungeon located?

01 – 03 At the heart of a city

04 – 06 At the heart of a ghost town

07 – 08 The Dungeon is a City

09 – 11 Outside a small village

12 – 13 At the site of an acient battle

14 – 16 At the heart of a forest

17 -19 At the heart of a jungle

20 – 21 At the heart of a Fungal Bloom

22 At the heart of a strange forest made up of odd plant-life

23 Inside a crystal forest

24 In a topiary garden

25 – 26 In the canopy of a forest or jungle

27- 28 Inside the great trees of a forest or jungle

29 – 31 The base of a great mountain

32 – 34 At the peaks of a mountain

35 In a Magnetic Mountain

36 – 37 In the middle of a mountain pass

38 – 40 Inside a canyon

41 – 42 Inside an ancient excavation site

43 – 44 Inside a dormant volcano


45 – 46 Inside a very active volcano

47 – 49 Amid badlands

50 In a land constantly buried under mudslides

51 – 52 In a land constantly torn up by earthquakes

53- 55 In a swamp – a wetlands dominated by trees

56 – 58 In a marsh – a wetlands dominated by grasses and reeds

68 Inside of an iceberg / the dungeon is the iceberg

59 – 60 In a bog – a wetlands covered in peat

61 A castle in the clouds

62 A series of floating landmasses in the sky

63 Suspended via Orbital Ring

64 – 66 In a frozen wasteland

67 On top of an iceberg

69 On the back of a giant monster

70 The dungeon is a giant monster

71 – 73 A sea cave

74 – 76 A sunken city

77 On a giant ship

78 Inside some sort of breathable liquid, swimmable gas

79 On a series of islands

80 Connected via a river network

81 – 83 In the midst of a desert

84 – 85 In the midst of salt flats

86 – 87 As a part of a huge man-made monument

88 – 90 Deep in the Underdark

91 – 92 Within a wildmagic zone

93 – 95 In another dimension  / A gateway to another dimension

96 Amid floating stones

97 In a land of perpetual rain

98 -99  In a crater left behind by an asteroid

100 On top of a smoldering coal seam like in Centralia, Pennsylvania, or Burning Mountain, Australia

Why is there a dungeon here?  What purpose does the dungeon serve?

01 – 03 A Prison with cells, guards and common areas

04 – 05 An Oubliette, similar to a prison, but with the intention of forgetting the prisoner even existed.  No guards, no cells, and no way out

06 – 07 A pen for training slaves

08 – 09 The headquarters for a secret / semi-secret organization

10 – 12 A place of worship for a cult

13 – 15 An ancient temple

16 – 18 Catacombs

19 – 20 One mammoth tomb

21 – 22 An ancient place of learning / A forgotten library

23 – 24 The creation of a madman

25 – 26 Some creature or society’s food supply

27 – 28 Provides some natural resource of magic

29 – 30 A site of great magic, where rituals are often performed / are about to be performed

31 – 33 A sewer system

34 – 35 A gateway between worlds

36 – 37 An elaborate and luxurious home, full of curios

38 – 40 A dangerous, but necessary way to get between two destinations

41 There is no Room Negative One, or none that the players no about, since they were teleported/dropped into the middle of the dungeon.

42 – 43 A mine

44 – 45 A factory / A workshop

46 – 47  A black market

48 – 49 An observation post

50 A monster hotel / destination spot / hospital

51 – 52 Left behind by a mysterious civilization

53 – 54 A staging ground for an invasion / a past invasion

55 – 57 A warrens / Cheap monster housing / Slums

58 – 59 A barracks

60 – 61 An intentional maze / A labyrinth

62 – 63 A vault

64 – 65 A terrible curse which has frightened off all but the ignorant and the foolish

68 – 69 A once great place, which has become infected / infested

66 – 67 The Dungeon is haunted and has frightened off all but the ignorant and the foolish

70 – 72 A meeting ground or neutral zone between two or more powerful tribes

73 – 74 A training simulation of a real dungeon

75 – 77 A rite of passage

78 – 79 The creator of the dungeon built it to prove how intelligent and diabolical he can be

89 – 81 The dungeon is a gigantic monument

82 A Den of Thieves

83 An assassin’s guild

84 A mercenary headquarters

85 A raider’s hideout

86 -87 A house of sin

88 – 89 A castle – a fortified structure, intended to protect its citizens

90 – 91 A keep – a fortified structure designed to protect something

92 – 93 A nursery / Breeding ground / Spawning pit / Evolution vat

94 – 95 A magic laboratory / An experiment chamber

96 Training grounds

97 – 98 Surviving the dungeon is seen as sport / part of a contest

99 An arena

100 An intentional death trap, for the purpose of misdirecting wary adventurers away from the real hiding spot

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