Sunday, February 6, 2011

Dungeon Stocking

Somewhat inspired by this post at The Lands of Ara, and somewhat inspired by the fact that I'm currently stocking some levels of Nightwick Abbey, I've decided to spend a bit of time talking about how I go about creating the various levels of my campaign dungeon.

The first thing I do is slap together geomophs in a pattern that roughly fills up a 6 to 1" sheet of graph paper.  This usually takes about 20 geomorphs laid out in a rectangle (5x4).  I make sure to get them from varied sources, but I prefer the ones that make their geomorphs available in pdf form.  If possible I prefer to do things by hand with pencil and paper and cut out geomorphs as opposed to computers.  As I copy them, I fix dead ends, cap the ends, and otherwise change the layout to make more sense as a cohesive level.

Here is a now outdated map of the second level.  I made this one using MS Paint, and it fits a full 8 to 1" piece of graph paper, and therefore is considerably smaller than my current dungeon plans.

click to embiggen

Then I set about stocking the thing.  I estimate that a dungeon of that size is roughly 100 rooms (it's sometimes more and sometimes less) and use the LL percentages for dungeon stocking to figure out what the rooms should contain.  I tend to fill in the "specials" first, but if I don't have any in mind I usually start with groups of monsters.

To do this, I use the "Dungeon Random Monster Level Determination Matrix" found on page 174 of the DMG.  I then roll on the appropriate chart in the Fiend Folio to determine what monster inhabits a room.  I reroll any results make since for the individual level until I get one that does make some semblance of sense.  I use the Fiend Folio charts to determine the number of monsters, raising the die number as appropriate for deeper levels.

I take the results down in short form on a piece of paper.  Then I go about placing traps of various sorts and the treasures associated with otherwise empty rooms.  After I've come up with all the possible monsters, treasures, traps, etc.  I place them in whatever rooms on my map seem appropriate.

Last, I come up with a random encounter chart for the dungeon level.  To do this I take the Random Monster Level Matrix and associated 6 different monsters with each result.  So if a random encounter shows up, you roll 1d20 to determine its level and then 1d6 to determine the individual monster.  Occasionally I'll associate an especially unique monster with a random encounter instead of the an individual room.  If the monster is slain, its result is replaced with a more common dungeon foe.

So that's more or less how I stock.  I occasionally use the RC or the Mentzer Red Box as well, though I tend to stick the DMG, FF, and LL.


  1. Thanks for this, it is always helpful to hear what specific charts, methods, etc. other people use. I am still in the mapping phase of my megadungeon project, but am starting to look ahead to the stocking aspect.

  2. Have you thought about doing a post around a "walkthrough" of stocking a sample level?

  3. @ Carter
    Thanks. I decided to post i tup here because it's the sort of thing I find interesting.

    @ Cole
    I hadn't until now. When I start working on one of the sublevels I'll probably do so.