AdventuresCampaign Trail

Mapping and Stocking Your Dungeon Using Randomly Generated Dungeons

Over the last little while here on the Campaign Trail I’ve looked at the 4 Types of Dungeons and the 5 Room Dungeon. Dungeons come in various forms such as lost temples, haunted houses, natural caverns, or even the lower holds of a sunken ship. In this article, I’ll map and stock my temple dungeon using the random dungeon generation tools that come with the D&D 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide.

What is a Randomly Generated Dungeon?

A randomly generated dungeon is exactly what is sounds like, a dungeon that is randomly generated using some form or randomizer, most commonly dice. The random dungeon can be rolled up ahead of time as part of prep or during play by the gamemaster. You can even roll up your own random dungeon for a solo adventure, where only the nice know what lies beyond that locked door. I remember one summer vacation I was stuck inside sick, I rolled up a random dungeon for my party of six PCs using the 1st edition Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Alternative methods include:

  • using a random generator to create the entire dungeon for you such as this one on donjon
  • rolling dice with faces that have shapes of rooms and passages printed on them (usually a d6 or d12)
  • pulling out dungeon tiles from a “hat”

dice-rndLike these dice from rpgshop.com

My Dungeon So Far…

In my 4 Types of Dungeons I created an outline for a dungeon using the tables in chapter 5 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide for D&D 5th edition. I made the following random rolls.

  • Dungeon Location (d100): In a chasm
  • Dungeon Creator (d20): Kuo-Toa
  • Cults & Religious Groups (d20): Worshipers of an evil deity
  • NPC Alignment (d20): Neutral
  • NPC Class (d20): Ranger
  • Dungeon Purpose (d20): Temple or shrine
  • Dungeon History (d20): Abandoned due to plague

I then looked at using a 5 Room Dungeon to create some interesting encounters to put into the dungeon that fit this story.

  1. Entrance with Guardian
    The dungeon is at the bottom of a chasm and is hard to find and hard to get down to.
  2. Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge
    The players need to defeat the guardian by solving a puzzle or destroying it using what they can learn about the temple and its goddess.
  3. Trick of Setback
    The temple is not empty and the players will need to deal with Kuo-Toa, who capture an NPC ally.
  4. Big Climax
    The players take on the Kuo-Toa archpriest and try to save their NPC ally.
  5. Reward Revelation
    The players find the item they went to the shrine to find hidden in a pile of junk or when one of them is called to it.

Mapping the Dungeon

It’s now time to map out the dungeon. I could easily just draw the area outside the temple and four interconnected rooms and call it a day. Sometimes that might be all you need. But for this adventure, I want a little more delving and I’m going to roll a bit to expand the dungeon. It’s time to open up the Random Dungeons section in Appendix A of the D&D 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide.

When I use a generator to create a random dungeon, I’m not actually looking for a pure random dungeon. What I want is a tool to help me quickly come up with a base for my dungeon and fill in some gaps.

Here are some guidelines I follow…

  • if you don’t like a roll, re-roll it until you do
  • if ten rolls into building your random dungeon you have a good base and now you think you can make the dungeon better on your own… do it
  • quit rolling when you have what you need or when you are bored… you’ll know when
  • if you are getting close to the edge of the paper, close off that area of the dungeon, force some turns or just get more paper
  • as mentioned on page 292 in the DMG, use connecting areas to add doors on shared walls between chambers and passages that aren’t connected
  • once you are done, get out the eraser and make it look how you want

Rolling the Dungeon

I am building a temple that fell down a chasm. So I want my random dungeon to do the following:

  • look like a temple that has broken up in a long fall
  • feel like a place that Kuo-Toa have been using as their home
  • fit the encounters from my 5 room dungeon outline

The very first thing you do when you are rolling a random dungeon is create a starting area, which I like to put in the middle of my graph paper. For this article, I rolled a d10 and got a 2 which gives me “Square 20 x 20 ft., door on two walls, passage in third wall” and I rolled 3 exits. From there I created the following map. I followed my guidelines and this map is about 80% random.


So we have a random map with 8 main chambers.

Stocking the Dungeon

The DMG has tons of content to help your dungeon map turn into a living place for adventure. In Appendix A, you’ll find charts to roll monster motivation, traps, tricks, noises, and contents to fill your chambers.

I need to fill 8 rooms, so I rolled on the Dungeon: Temple or Shrine table. The empty rooms can be filled by the rooms from my 5 room dungeon or left empty. Even if you make your own dungeons, rolling a few times for each room on these tables can provide you some great ideas for each room.

  • Prison for captured enemies
    • Empty Room
    • Current State: Pool of water
    • Air, odor and contents: Air is clear and damp, smell is dank, scattered teeth and fangs
  • Workshop
    • Trick: cracked gem that reverses gravity
    • Current State: Pristine, in original state
  • Well
    • Monster (random creature)
    • Current State: Rubble, ceiling partially collapsed
  • Trophy room
    • Empty Room
    • Current State: Holes, floor partially collapsed
  • Dining Room
    • Trick: Painting is a Magic Mouth that speaks a riddle
    • Current State: Rubble, ceiling partially collapsed
    • General Furnishings and Appointments: Rug, shelf, box (large) full of powder
  • Central temple
    • Empty Room
    • Current State: Furniture wrecked but still present
    • General Furnishings and Appointments: Couch, keg, buffet cabinet
  • Crypt for the high priest
    • Monster (dominant): Koa Tao
    • Current State: Pristine, in original state
    • Religious Articles and Furnishings: Altar, statue, robes
  • Cells where the faithful can sit in quiet contemplation
    • Monster (dominant w/ Treasure): Koa Tao
    • Current State: Pristine, in original state
    • Religious Articles and Furnishings: Vestments

In Part 4, I complete this series with some finishing touches for the dungeon such as a proper introduction, read aloud text, and details and encounter notes for each chamber.

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