Engineering Dungeons

Several factors are vital to the development of a thriving, and realistic, dungeon, whether it be nothing more than a long lost collapsed mine, or the bustling underbelly of a metropolis. Each will share elements that define what it is, and each will have things that are unique. The former greatly assists a Game Master in dungeon building, providing basic guidelines and quick-and-gritty playing, while the latter strikes a chord of creativity, letting the mind wander and develop as the game and setting needs. None of the following should be classified as canon and should be changed to suit the development schemes created by the Game Master. However, they are provided as a groundwork fundamentalism, and to provoke ideas.

Purpose (Why Does the Dungeon Exist?)

Of fundamental importance is the reason a dungeon exists. Some are natural, carved by water and beast, and others are constructed, cut by brute force and levied with magic. Should a dungeon be a prison, or a home? Perhaps it is a temple or a tomb. Knowing the answer to this question will help a Game Master define features encountered, as well as adding depth to the campaign.

Table 1: Purpose
d20 Dungeon Purpose
1-9 Shelter
10-12 Economic
13-15 Military
16-17 Prison [See Table 1.1]
18-19 Religious
20 Experiment

Shelter — A dungeon built for shelter is a protective place, whether designed to keep the weather out, or to house entire nations. They are built to be secure and safe. Often, there is a centralized structure within the dungeon where those it guards can collect and gather, usually stockpiled with wealth and equipment, as well as food and water. Such places are always well guarded. If a sheltering dungeon is large and occupied by intelligent beings, it will ordinarily function as a city of sorts, and be very active; such places fall outside the scope of this work, however. Rarely rushed, the interiors are crafted with intense care, and will often bear marks reminiscent of those that use, or once used, the dungeon; litter will not normally occur in an active dungeon, though monstrous occupants might not care. If rushed, no such evidence (though, littered evidence, such as broken lanterns, might be found) will be found, and the interiors will have a ramshackle and rustic feel; this is especially true for shelters found in caverns. A dungeon of this sort will always have sections which serve specific uses such as latrines, food storage, and others, in a logical and easy-access manner.

Economic — Crafted to provide monetary assistance, commonly in the form of a mine. A dungeon of this sort will typically have reminders of its purpose scattered around, from wall-mounted torches to coins and picks lying on the ground; depending on the nature of the structure, and activity, there might even be workable lodes remaining. An economic dungeon does not need to be a mine, as it could function as a secretive location for the trafficking of illicit goods and services, or even a means to hide such things. In the latter case, all manner of lethal traps are prone to exist, though in the former cases, typically only natural traps such as explosive or corrosive gasses will be present. Cave-ins are a potential and deadly risk.

Military — Used to house forces, weapons, and to function as a defensive structure, a dungeon of this sort is a well-guarded and vicious place. However, if inactive, age will deteriorate and weaken the structure, though remains, especially those of corpses and arms and armor, will be left behind. Walls are usually thick, and numerous secret passages will be present, as will stockpiles of gear, food, and water. Murder holes and other defensive implementations are likely to exist in this sort of dungeon, as well. An active military installation always has guards and sentries; they are well prepared and trained for defense.

Prison — Dungeons of this kind are built to keep things in, whether people, items, or monsters. They are very effective (assume all prison dungeons are equivalent to a maximum security environment,) laced and riddled with traps and false passages. Every door will be barred, locked, and reinforced, and keys are difficult to obtain. There is normally a single, or a series in larger dungeons, of exact pathways which connect to every section of the dungeon, but can only be accessed with special techniques. An active prison will always have guards and look-outs, but they are not necessarily well-trained. If the dungeon also has a military purpose, the guards will be highly trained, elite forces. Also, the active dungeon will contain a number of items held prison, befitting the specific purpose of the dungeon itself. The nature of the imprisonment helps determine some basic features of the dungeon. For example, a prison constructed to house lawbreaking spellcasters must have means to prevent or limit magic use within its walls. The following table can be used to provide general ideas for which sorts of things prisons can be built:

Table 1.1: Prisons
d20 Prisoner Type
1-7 Nonmagical Prisoners
8-10 Magical Prisoners
11-15 Animals
16-17 Monsters
18-19 Nonmagical Valuables
20 Magical Valuables

Religious — Tombs, temples, and sanctuaries are the typical dungeon type, though large cemeteries and mausoleums are not uncommon. As a religious structure, icons and relics of the faith and culture building the dungeon will be very commonplace. Murals and depictions of stories from the religion’s canon will adorn the walls. The nature of the faith determines if there are traps, their severity, and many other aspects. For example, a temple to a God of Thieves would be expected to contain many traps, both of the annoying and lethal variety, often intermixed or overlapping. Several alcoves and bedchambers, as well as centers of worship will exist within the structure. Faiths of an evil nature, or those which are typically outlawed will often create emergency exits for the high priests. of utmost value in this sort of dungeon are the holy relics and writings, varied in number by the needs and means of those residing within, and these will always be well guarded and protected with powerful divine magic. Active religious dungeons are guarded and maintained by the clergy, though some, especially those of a warlike mindset, will have trained and equipped warriors on call.

Experiment — Experimental dungeons are places where the extraordinary is performed. Whether powerful magic, twisted and oft perverse crossbreeding, architectural principles, or the feasibility of a new technology, a dungeon of this type exists to be a playground of the unique. Everything within its walls serves to further its purpose, generally crafted in such a manner as to be a labyrinth of the bizarre. A more mundane structure, however, will appear quite ordinary, having standard features. More often than not, the builder of the dungeon infuses it with bits of their personality, and the structure reflects it; note, however, that experimental dungeons are not necessarily the products of madmen or the insane, but these do compose the great majority of such structures.

Note: Seldom does a dungeon serve a single purpose, though it is not impossible for that to happen. As such, a Game Master should choose, or roll, as many of the above options as is fitting for the concept. For a completely random dungeon, it is suggested that at least two rolls are made, with a duplicate result being the only result; ie, the dungeon is of the rare sort built for a single, and often very effective, purpose.

Builder (Who Created the dungeon?)

Who built a dungeon is, arguably, just as important as why the dungeon exists. Each condition of creation imparts a certain level of similarity, and these will become standard and well-known to those who dwell in the fantasy world of the campaign; dwarves, for example, might be known for their high, vaulting archways, and purple worms leave perfectly smooth tunnels wherever they pass. These trademarks of construction add great depth and allow for creative descriptions, giving a lasting, and enjoyable experience when dungeon delving.

Note that a dungeon’s builder, if some sort of creature, does not have to be the current resident of the dungeon.

Table 2: Builders
d20 Dungeon Crafter
1-6 Intelligent Race [See Table 2.1]
8-13 Burrowing Monster
14-17 Natural Conditions
18 Magic
19-20 Combination [Roll Twice]

Intelligent Race — Creatures with intelligence and knowledge will use it to their advantage, crafting structures of heightened utility to their own needs. They typically have some sort of trademark, often dictated by religious or cultural elements which they use in nearly everything they make. Some have preferences and consistently use the same materials and motifs, while others are varied and wild; some use brute force and slave labor, and this can lead to self-identifying graffiti or abnormal features. In all cases, a dungeon built by an intelligent race will always use the location to its greatest advantage, and will serve its purpose fully.

In mixed structures, where part of the dungeon was formed by natural events and part handcrafted, an intelligent race will place doors and other small structures. The following table is a sampling of the possible races which are capable of building dungeons:

Table 2.1: Intelligent Races
d20 Intelligent Race
1-3 Dwarf
4 Gnome
5 Goblin
6-10 Human
11 Kobold
12 Giant
13 Dragon
14 Drow Elf
15 Undead
16 Prysmal Eye
17 Ogre
18 Troll
19 Halfling
20 Orc

Burrowing Monster — Some beast, whether intelligent or not, with the natural ability to burrow through ground is responsible for the groundwork of the dungeon, created simply by the creature’s own movement. Sometimes, such a monster is controlled via magic, such as the use of earth elementals or the enslavement of worms, and it still qualifies as this sort of construction method. Areas formed in such a manner do not naturally have doors or traps, and generally have very smooth and reflective surfaces, resembling large tubes rather than a hallway; some creatures leave trails of porous holes, where appendages like tentacles traveled. Such dungeons are typically very stable, provided there is not an excessive amount of passageways, and will generally become the lair of a beast of similar size and ability as that which formed it. Any creature with a burrowing movement speed can create a dungeon of this sort. Note that even low or non-intelligent creatures usually have escape passages, and such dungeons are prone to have numerous, long, winding sections.

Natural Conditions — Weather and environmental conditions cause the creation of these types of dungeons, taking centuries to develop, and are always classified as a living dungeon. Standard features are typical to caves, with stalactites and stalagmites being common, as is fungal growths and other natural subterranean plants. Dungeons of this sort do not have native doors or traps, though they can be subject to cave-ins and other natural disasters.

Magic — Forged entirely of magic, through use of spells such as stone shape and earthquake, a dungeon of this sort is crafted with specific needs in mind, as the power necessary to construct it is enormous. These places are often home to myriad magical traps and devices, and are often very confusing and labyrinthine. A dungeon borne of magic is exceptionally rare, and as such, when they do exist, tend to be very small, and function as a workshop, home, or laboratory for some powerful spellcaster.

Location (Where is the dungeon?)

Location plays a key role in the development and construction of a dungeon. Not only does it often directly relate to cost, but transportation of goods, availability, and ease of construction are key ingredients to its successful completion. In addition, where the dungeon sits determines many things about the dungeon. For example, a dungeon created within an underground coral reef is not going to be built by dwarves, though it would probably function as a very effective prison. Some dungeons sit under cities, and some are enlarged portions of fallen castles; others are caverns crisscrossing a mountain passage, and still others are bi-planar gateways between worlds.

Table 3: Locations
d20 Dungeon Location
1-10 Terrain [See Table 3.1]
11-13 Civilization
14-16 Ruins
17 Underwater
18 Aerial
19 Planar
20 Combination [Roll Twice]

Terrain — The dungeon lies in a natural environment, carved into the ground from above. Some terrains are easier to build into than others; it is much easier to carve a dungeon into the granite of a mountainside than to create one in a swamp. A dungeon of this sort will typically be composed of materials readily available to its terrain, though imported goods are possible; such things, however, should be reserved for special rooms and areas. Natural dangers, too, are governed by the sort of environment in which a dungeon resides, so that there is little chance of stepping in quicksand while exploring a granite floor, but the likelihood of such an incident increases dramatically in a swampy location.

Accessibility is a major factor when dealing with a location, making some environments more likely to be selected than others, depending on the needs of the dungeon crafter.

Table 3.1: Terrain
d20 Terrain Location
1-8 Plains
9-11 Desert
12-14 Hills
15-16 Forest
17-19 Mountains
20 Swamp or Jungle

Civilization — Resting beneath the surface of a settlement, whether a city, a castle, or even a single family dwelling, this sort of dungeon is located as close to sentient beings as possible. They are normally well-known and active, but it is not always the case, such as the hidden subways used by a thieves’ guild, for example. The deeper a dungeon of this sort goes, the more likely it is to be occupied by foul creatures, and the less standardized it becomes. Sometimes, the civilization springs into being because of the dungeon beneath it, and at other times, they co-exist without either being the wiser.

Ruins — Lost and buried under the fallen remains of a settlement, a dungeon found in ruins is often forgotten and riddled with dangers, occupied with a variety of creatures possessing it as their home. These dungeons were once used for a particular purpose, and they may still function as such, but they never have their original occupants, save them being undead in form. It is likely that any known location of a ruined dungeon will have been explored and pillaged for its loot. Traps and doors are generally in poor shape and may not function properly.

Underwater — Sunken beneath the waves and tides, an underwater dungeon is usually crafted from some sort of rock or coral, typically serving as a home or lair for an aquatic creature, though sentient races can, and will, construct such dungeons for any reason. These dungeons are normally difficult, if not impossible, for land-based creatures to discover and explore, and are limited in size by the availability of their material. Doors do not normally exist within the structure, though traps, especially those of a poisonous nature, are often used. Game Masters are encouraged to develop these dungeons only when means to explore them are readily available to the characters in the campaign.

Aerial — Almost always crafted from magic, an aerial dungeon is a lethal venture for any character lacking the means to fly, as a solid floor is not likely to exist. These dungeons are very different than most others, as they are capable, usually, of moving, albeit, at a very slow speed. Some aerial castles, however, are stationary and exist within clouds, formed as a sort of treasury for powerful giants or dragons. Disorienting, the walls of an aerial castle are usually transparent, with doors and nonmagical traps being generally nonexistent.

Planar — Crossing barriers of existence itself, a planar dungeon is either wholly composed of some otherworldly material, or is a bridge between two, or more, realities. Such dungeons are very dangerous, and often are the lairs of very powerful creatures; these dungeons cannot exist without being constructed by magic, and when found, are usually part of a prison complex or the laboratory of a potent spellcaster. The treasure one can obtain within a planar dungeon is generally unmatched, though the risk in getting it is very high. Unless a planar dungeon contains elements of the normal world, anything nonmagical is unlikely to be present.

Size (How big is the dungeon?)

A dungeon’s size, or more appropriately, its depth, is a major factor for its existence, both in navigability and its general logistics. A very large dungeon is hard to maintain and is more prone to circumstantial malfunction and invasion, while a very small dungeon is usually of little importance. This feature, too, is very important for the Game Master, who must map out, populate, and determine the contents of the entirety of the dungeon. Therefore, the following table is provided to assist and to provide general guidelines for the approximate size of the dungeon to be explored. Each dimension should be rolled for or selected at the discretion of the Game Master.

Table 4: Size
d20 Depth Width Length
1-8 1 level 8” (1 sheet) 11” (1 sheet)
9-13 2 levels 16” (2 sheets) 22” (2 sheet)
14-16 3 levels 24” (3 sheets) 33” (3 sheets)
17-19 4 levels 32” (4 sheets) 44” (4 sheets)
20 5 levels 40” (5 sheets) 55” (5 sheets)

Width and Length are measured in sheets of standard 8” x 11 ½” graph paper, with each single square being the normal four squares to one inch ratio; on the graph itself, a single square will represent five feet. Note that each level of a dungeon need not be the same dimensions in width and length, though a means to descend or ascend must exist between levels. To facilitate map-making, it is suggested that all sheets of graph paper that compose the same level have an identifying marker placed in a corner, using standard coordinates, with width being the X-axis and length being the Y-axis.

This, technically, makes depth the Z-axis, for those with an affinity for 3D objects. Please refer to the section entitled Drawing the Map for guidelines on how to effectively place the starting location(s) and to bring the map together for a cohesive whole.

Entrances (How to enter the dungeon?)

Dungeons do not usually advertise their presence, but rarely, an obvious entrance will exist. These typically will lead into dungeons which have been pillaged many times, or are places held by evil groups, awaiting the foolish with ambushes and deadly surprise. To create a fully working dungeon, the number, location, and accessibility of its entrances must be known. Roll or select, based on the following table, once for each column. This must be done for each entrance the dungeon has.

Table 5: Entrances
d20 Number Known? Hidden?
1-12 1 Yes No
13-16 2 Yes Yes
17-19 3 No Yes
20 4 No Yes

A known entrance indicates that a large percentage of the local population knows about the dungeon, can point the party in its direction, and in many cases, can provide a map as well. It does not mean, however, that any of these people have been inside the dungeon or can provide details of what may, or may not, be inside.

A hidden entrance means that few, if any, know the exact location of the dungeon entrance, or that there is some sort of special circumstance needed to gain admittance, such as the bearing of a certain staff or the utterance of a password prior to entering.

Typically those who have access are a select group, and they are generally not willing to share access to outsiders. Game Masters are encouraged to develop methods and manners to discern the nature of a hidden entrance, that being an adventure unto itself.

Table 5A: Entrance Method
d20 Method
1-12 Door
13-16 Shaft
17-19 Passage
20 Magic

A dungeon entered through a door is one that often serves some sort of domestic or military service, though prisons and other types are not uncommon. The door itself can be trapped or locked and is often made of some material appropriate to whomever and wherever the dungeon is built.

A shaft-entrance dungeon is typically one originally intended to be a mine, as the shaft extends upward to service labor or function as means to provide oxygen. However, it does not need to be and those dungeons created by the motion of animals and creatures also creates shafts.

Generally, a dungeon of this sort will be located deep underground and the shaft may have some sort of mechanism to raise or lower objects.

Passages that are already existent are well suited for forming the entrance to a dungeon as no additional work need be made, and it provides a safe and easy access point for those who would normally dwell within. These places are often lairs and are full of twisting and winding passages, generally existing within caverns and other naturally-made locations.

A dungeon entered by magic is one prone to be deadly and often home to several unique creations, though temples and other areas such as prisons designed to contain relics or powerful inhabitants will also require some sort of magical key. Personal laboratories, or those places that exist partially between realities, will also generally be inaccessible without magical aid. Game Masters should be as creative as possible when developing dungeons of this sort.

Age (How old is the dungeon?)

The age of a dungeon determines many things and helps provide a base for determining whether doors, traps, and other features are in working condition, despite being unoccupied if that is the case. It also can determine whether a section of the dungeon has become unstable, or to add general descriptive features. Note, however, that entropy is a convenience and should only be applied when the Game Master wishes it to be. The older a dungeon, the more likely it is to be known, and the more likely it is to have been entered. However, this also works to keep it occupied. In the oldest dungeons, items of great power and mysterious abilities may still be found. And sometimes, such places may foment a need for conquest, such as a lost dwarven ruin overrun by fell orcs. Legends almost always shroud an old dungeon, while new ones are eager to make their mark.

Table 6: Age
d20 Dungeon Age
1-11 1d4 Millennia
12-14 1d2 Millennia
15-16 2d8 Centuries
17-19 2d4 Decades
20 1d4 Decades

Drawing the Map

Having a fundamental understanding of the basic concepts composing the dungeon, a Game Master can begin to actually draw it, keeping in mind design decisions that are appropriate and reflect the engineering skill and creativity necessary for the dungeon itself.

Of course, completely random dungeons are possible as well.

Dungeon maps are created in the following order, with each table being checked as needed:

1) Entrance structure and location [Table 7]

2) Pathway direction [Table 8]

2a) Pathway features [Table 9]

3) Return to 2

Of primary importance is the placement of a possible dungeon entrance; only one entrance must be initially mapped, with all others being located and entered onto the map as needed.

In general, if the dungeon is to have a centralized or singular entrance, it should be located near the outer edge of the map, though a more labyrinthine dungeon should have its entrance located toward the center. Additional entrances, which also serve as exits, can be placed wherever the Game Master would like using the basic design concept as a guide. Note that any square marked with a “—”whether vertical or horizontal is a pathway; each pathway should be determined per the appropriate table.

Table 7: Dungeon Entrance
d20 Entrance Number
1-4 1
5-8 2
9-12 3
13-15 4
16-17 5
18-20 6

Each pathway may lead along a hall, or other passage, or may open into a room or chamber. The direction and dimension of such factors are determined below. If a passageway is indicated, then check for direction; rooms and chambers are rarely tilted at angles, though, if the Game Master desires such geometry, then rolling for them is acceptable. Content is then determined, with attendant rolls on the various subtables, with this process continued until the entirety of the dungeon is created.

Table 8: Pathways
d20 Pathway
1-11 Passage [Table 8A]
12-19 Room or chamber [Table 8B]
20 Dead end
Table 8A: Passages
d20 Passage Number Direction Slope
1-2 1 Straight Flat
3-4 2 Straight Flat
5-6 3 Straight Flat
7-8 4 Straight Flat
9-10 5 Straight Flat
11-12 6 Straight Flat
13-14 7 45° Left Flat
15-16 8 45° Left Slow
17-18 9 45° Right Slow
19-20 10 45° Right Steep

Three rolls are required on the above chart, once for determining which of the passages is to be used, and another roll to see if the passage is tilted; the third roll is used to determine if the passage itself has a gradual incline or recess. If the passage has a 45° direction, then it can be drawn by using diagonal sections of the grid, rather than straight linear; a right motion causes the passage section to shift toward the right edge of the graph paper, while a left motion does the reverse. With practice, placing and drawing such angled sections will become easy; if it is difficult, then simply use straight passages. Note, it is also possible the passages are rounded, using curves, instead of following straight lines.

Table 8B: Rooms & Chambers
d20 Length Width Depth Exits Shape
1-3 5 feet 15 feet Small 0 Triangle
4-8 15 feet 20 feet Small 1 Trapezoid or Parallelogram
9-14 10 feet 10 feet Medium 1 Rectangle or Square
15-16 20 feet 25 feet Medium 2 Polygon [Table 8B-1]
17-18 25 feet 30 feet Medium 2 Circular or Ellipsoid
19-20 30 feet 35 feet Large 3 Non-Geometric

One roll for each column should be made, each determining a relevant aspect of the pathway’s dimensions. Length is generally the number of feet extending from the point of entry, the pathway crosses, with width being an indicator of the distance across the widest portion. Depth measures the size category of monster or creature which can easily maneuver within the pathway; creatures larger than the listed size can enter but must do so in cramped conditions, with penalties and effects subject to the Game Master’s discretion. Exits indicate the number of points of exit, placed wherever the Game Master deems appropriate. Shape determines the geometric identity of the room or chamber; if the shape is non-geometric, the Game Master should draw any shape that is wanted, using the space’s physical dimensions. Note, in general, the only difference between a room and a chamber, is that the former has a door at its entrance. Refer to Table 10 for information on room/chamber type, if desired.

Table 8B-1: Polygon S
d20 Number of Sides
1-3 5
4-12 6
13-16 8
17-19 10
20 12

Each of the feature types should be checked to determine if it is present or not, at the Game Master’s discretion; it is not required that each hallway or room be checked. If a door is found, it may exist at one, or all, of the entrances/exits of that particular pathway; roll again, once for each of the entrances, with a Y result indicating that that exit also has a door, and then consult Table 9B for further information, again per door.

While possible, it is not suggested any single pathway have more than one trap, as it is assumed the passage itself is trapped, rather than any doors which may have their own. Monsters that are located within a pathway are considered to have made the place their home, though it is not their lair unless treasure is also indicated; Game Masters should place an appropriate creature, using the dimensions on the passage as a guideline, as well as the nature of the dungeon. Treasure, unguarded, is rare, but possible; consult the appropriate table to determine the treasure type, and then Monsters and Treasure for the specific treasure present; if monsters are present, the treasure available is determined by the monster, rather than by Table 9C.

* – Game Masters are encouraged to develop descriptions based on the known facts about a dungeon, disallowing or modifying any roll to keep the contents logical and exciting. The tables for decorative features are for inspirational and creative purposes only and do not attempt to cover all possibilities.

The Game Master should check once per column, per door, to determine the features and functions of the discovered door. A locked door will have some mechanism which prevents it from being easily opened; in most cases, the Pick Lock class ability can be used on these doors, though in a magically constructed dungeon, it may not be possible. Table 9A-1 provides a difficulty for the lock, if the Game Master should need it. Secret doors do not make themselves known, though some abilities can detect them; unless found, the presence of these doors should not be revealed. A door which opens one way is difficult to navigate, as once it is opened, the way one enters is not the way one leaves. Traps on doors are fairly common, and the same guidelines for traps in general apply here equally. Any door has a 1:20 chance of being false.

Table 9: Features
d20 Door? Trap? Treasure? Monster? Décor?*
1-15 N N N N Y [Table 9E]
16-19 Y [Table 9A] Y [Table 9B] N Y [Table 9D] Y
20 Y Y Y [Table 9C] Y N
Table 9A: Doors
d20 Locked? Secret? One-Way? Trapped?
1-15 Y [Table 9A-1] N N N
16-19 N N N Y [Table 9B]
20 N Y Y Y
Table 9A-1: Locks
d20 Difficulty
1-3 Average Level – 2d4
4-7 Average Level – 1d4
8-16 Average Level
17-19 Average Level + 1d4
20 Average Level + 2d4

A trap which is not accessible cannot be disarmed; the reason being the device which triggers or otherwise functions as the trap is, itself, not present locally. A trap which is not visible causes the difficulty of its disarming to increase by ten. Lethal traps cause damage, whether by injection of poison or by arrow; they do not necessarily result in death. Non-lethal traps are those that hinder movement, or cause some condition which does not directly inflict damage. Rarely, 1 in 20 times, a trap will actually be layered with another; in these cases, roll again for the secondary trap, and apply all results as normal.

Table 9B-1: Non-Lethal Traps
d20 Trap Type Area of Effect Attack Roll?
1-7 Immobilizer Immediate Y
8-13 Movement [Table 9B-1A] 10-foot radius Y
14-15 Confusion 30-foot radius Y
16-18 Puzzle 45-foot radius Y
19 Trick 60-foot radius N
20 Magic 90-foot radius N

Area of effect indicates the maximum distance the trap can affect, starting at its origin, and extending outward.

If an attack roll is required, all creatures within the area of effect must successfully be hit, treating the trap as having an attack bonus equal to its difficulty.

Immobilizing traps render its victim immobile, whether by unconsciousness, paralysis, or simply falling into a pit. They never cause petrifaction. In any case, these traps prevent further movement.

Movement traps, unlike those of an immobilizing nature, actually move those affected. This is generally not caused by teleportation, though a dual-layered trap might. Instead, these are usually such things as falling hallways or sliding staircases and generally have the characteristics detailed below, bearing in mind that no movement trap will lead into a solid wall. Each column result should be determined separately.

A confusion trap generates confusion, generally by shifting position, or by causing sensory deprivation. This effect is not magical in nature, though it can mimic a magical effect, such as blindness or deafness. Rarely, 1 in 20 times, a confusion trap will also function to counter magic.

Table 9B: Traps
d20 Accessible? Visible? Lethal? Difficulty
1-3 Y Y N [Table 9B-1] Average Level – 2d4
4-7 Y Y N Average Level – 1d4
8-16 Y Y N Average Level
17-19 Y Y Y [Table 9B-2] Average Level + 1d4
20 N N Y Average Level + 2d4

Puzzle traps deny further progression unless successfully solved, much like a riddle or other challenge of mind and body. Typically, these types of traps cannot be disarmed.

A trick trap is any kind of trap that seems to be of one kind, but is actually another. Any such trap has a difficulty four points higher than normal and two rolls should be made, one to indicate what the discoverer initially believes is present, and once more for what the trap actually is. If both results are the same, then the trap is especially confusing and should be considered to be of that type.

Magic traps can have any effect which the Game Master wishes, using the difficulty of the trap as a general guide to the spell, or spell-like abilities the trap has. However, as a non-lethal magic trap, no damage should be taken.

Table 9B-1A: Movement Traps
d20 Distance Direction
1-3 50 feet Same level
4-10 100 feet (One level) Down
11-16 200 feet (Two levels) Up
17-19 300 feet (Three levels) Down
20 400 feet (Four levels) Up

If a movement trap has a same level result, the termination of its distance is on the same level of the dungeon as the trap. If such a trap results in an effect which would be outside the dungeon, then it is treated as a one-way exit, if above, or it moves the affected to the lowest possible level if below.

Table 9B-2: Lethal Traps
d20 Trap Type Area of Effect Attack Roll? Damage
1-5 Arrow Immediate Y 1d4
6-9 Guillotine 10-foot radius Y 1d6
10-11 Crushing [Do not roll damage] 30-foot radius Y 1d8
12-13 Non-magic Element 45-foot radius Y 2d6
14-16 Pit [Table 9B-2A] 60-foot radius Y 3d6
17-19 Poison [Do not roll damage] 90-foot radius N 4d6
20 Magic 120-foot radius N 4d8
Table 9B-2A: Pit Traps
d20 Depth Spikes?
1-3 10 feet N
4-10 20 feet N
11-16 30 feet N
17-19 40 feet Y
20 50 feet Y

Area of effect indicates the maximum distance affected by the trap, starting from the point of origin and extending outward.

If an attack roll is required, all within the area of effect must be successfully struck using the difficulty as the attack roll bonus.

All affected victims sustain the damage rating, though a successful save vs. traps reduces by half. Should a Game Master wish, damage can be increased or decreased based on the desires and specifics of the dungeon.

An arrow trap launches a number of bolts, spears, arrows, or other missile weapons as it is sprung. These missiles are sometimes coated with poison, though this is left to the Game Master’s discretion.

Guillotine traps are designed to remove body parts, whether hands, or feet. Sometimes, these traps are meant to behead an unfortunate victim. One in twenty such traps are the latter and result in death unless disarmed before being sprung; all others result in damage taken, with an additional effect of causing severe blood loss, equal to 1d3 points per round until magically healed. Game Master’s are encouraged to develop rules for the loss of particular body parts, and to be creative in the application of this type of trap.

A crushing trap generally involves grinding and crushing, sometimes as the floor rises, or as the walls come closer. Regardless, these traps typically require a lot of time to be effective, at least ten full minutes. However, during this time, a very complex lock mechanism (often five to fifteen levels higher than the average party level) is in place, preventing escape, though a Game Master can allow a check to open it. Crushing traps always result in death should its victims be unable to escape.

Non-magical element traps deal damage through application of an elemental force, such as fire, acid, cold, or electricity. By definition, these traps are not magical, though the effects may be similar to those of a given spell, at the Game Master’s discretion; if this is chosen, do not roll damage above, but apply the rules for the spell as normal, using the trap difficulty as the caster level.

A pit trap is a hole in the ground, with features as detailed below. Note, damage should be determined using the above table, but based on the distance of the fall, as found on the table below.

Poison traps deliver a toxin to the bodies of those within its effects through whatever means the Game Master deems appropriate. The nature of the poison should be determined using the rules as found in Monsters and Treasure, using it’s disarm difficulty as its save difficulty.

Magic traps can have any effect the Game Master wishes, using the difficulty of the trap as a general guide to the spell, or spell-like abilities the trap has.

A pit trap with spikes deals an additional 1d6 points of damage when fallen into, and may be poisoned. If the spikes are poisoned (1-8 on a d20), the exact poison should be determined per the rules in Monsters and Treasure. Note, pit traps cannot be disarmed, though they can be jammed.

Table 9C: Treasure
d20 Roll Contained? Modifier # of Rolls Treasure Type
1-3 Y -10% 1 2
4-8 Y -5% 1 4
9-14 Y 1 6
15-16 Y 1 8
17-18 N +5% 1 10
19-20 N +10% 2 12

One roll for each column should be made, with each factor noted.

Treasure found in containers may be locked or trapped, or possibly both, with the Table 9A used to determine the specifics. The modifier column result is the percent value added or subtracted when rolling for the presence of a particular type of treasure, such as coinage, or gems, as noted in Monsters and Treasure, based on the treasure type itself; this modifier applies to all such rolls. Game Masters are encouraged to limit or increase the value of any found treasure, per the needs of the campaign.

Table 9D: Monster Commonality
d% Commonality
75 Common
95 Uncommon
00 Rare


Commonality determines the relative chance of meeting a specific monster type within the environment of its type. When using these tables, ensure the proper terrain or climate table is used; in cases where multiple charts may be appropriate, use whichever is preferred. In addition, these tables are meant to be modified and expanded, to suit the needs of the Game Master.

Desert, Hot Common

01–04 Ant, Giant (Worker) 28-32 Horse, Light War 81-83 Pony 05–06 Bird of Prey, Small 33-37 Horse, Riding 84-88 Rat, Giant 08–11 Crocodile (Alligator) 38-60 Npc [Table 9D-1] 89 Skeleton12–13Dog (Coyote) 61-62 Jackal 90-93 Snake, Venomous 14–17 Gnoll 63-67 Kobold 94-96 Spider, Medium 18–22 Goblin 68-72 Lizardfolk 97-00 Spider, Small 23–25 Griffon 73-74 Ogre26–27Hobgoblin 75-80 OrcUncommon

01–02 Ant, Giant (Solider)
28-30 Harpy
64-75 Snake, Giant Constrictor
03–06 Basilisk
31-34 Hippogriff
76-83 Spider, Large
07–08 Bird of Prey, Large
35-40 Lizard, Giant
84-87 Troll
09–12 Bugbear
41-45 Manticore
88-90 Wraith
13–15 Bulette
46-48 Medusa
91-92 Wyvern
16–18 Chimera
49-50 Naga, Spirit
93-95 Wight
19–22 Cockatrice
51-53 Naga, Dark
96-00 Zombie
23–24 Doppelganger
54-56 Rakshasa
25–27 Ghoul
57-63 Rust Monster
Rare 01–02 Ant, Giant (Queen) 59 Ghost 82 Prysmal Eye (Nonocculus)03–05Behir 60-63 Lamia 83 Roc06–15Dragon, Blue [Table 9D-2] 64-67 Lammasu 84-85 Spectre 16–30 Dragon, Brass [Table 9D-2] 68 Lich 86-88 Sphinx, Androsphinx 31–45 Dragon, Copper [Table 9D-2] 69-75 Lion 89-91 Sphinx, Criosphinx 46–50 Dragon, Gold [Table 9D-2] 76-79 Mummy 92-94 Sphinx, Gynosphinx 51–55 Dragon, Red [Table 9D-2] 80 Naga, Ghost 95-97 Sphinx, Hieracosphinx 56–58 Ghast 81 Naga, Guardian 98-00 Yrthak Desert, Cold Common 01–04 Bear, Brown (Grizzly) 60-66 Gnoll 91 Ogre05–10Bugbear 67-73 Goblin 92-93 Orc 11 Cat 74-77 Griffon 94 Skeleton12–16Dog (Coyote) 78-80 Herd Animal 95 Wight17–54NPC [Table 9D-1] 81-83 Hippogriff 97-99 Wolf 55–57 Ghast 84-86 Hobgoblin 00 Zombie58–59Ghoul 87-90 Horse, Heavy War Uncommon
01–02 Bear, Cave
26-45 Giant, Frost
66-80 Tiger
03–04 Blink Dog
46-50 Hydra, Cryohydra [1d8+4 Hd]
81-90 Troll
05 Doppelganger
51-60 Lycanthrope, Werewolf
91-97 Wolf, Winter
06–15 Dragon, White [Table 9D-2]
61 Rat, Giant
98-00 Wraith
16–20 Eagle, Giant
62-64 Remorhaz
21–25 Ettin
65 Spectre
Rare 01–15 Dragon, Gold [Table 9D-2] 71-80 Giant, Cloud 87-90 Lycanthrope, Werebear 16–40 Dragon, Silver [Table 9D-2] 81-85 Giant, Storm 91-00 Purple Worm41–70Frost Worm 86 Lich

Forest Common 01 Ant, Giant (Worker) 49-50 Frog, Giant 84 Owlbear

02–03Arrowhawk, Small 51-52 Fungus, Violet 85-88 Rat, Giant 04–05 Baboon 53-55 Gnoll 89 Screecher 06–07 Bear, Black 56-62 Goblin 90-91 Snake, Giant Constrictor 08–09 Bird of Prey, Small 63 Harpy 92-93 Snake, Venomous 10 Boar, Wild (Razorback) 64-69 Hobgoblin 94-96 Spider, Small 11–13 Bugbear 70-71 Jaculus 97 Spider, Medium 14 Cat 72-76 Kobold 98-99 Tick, Giant 15 Dog (Coyote) 77 Lizardfolk 00 Toad, Giant 16–48 NPC [Table 9D-1] 78-83 Orc

Uncommon 01 Ant, Giant (Solider) 24-26 Chimera 61-63 Lycanthrope, Wereboar

02–04Ankheg 27-28 Cockatrice 64-67 Manticore05–06Ape, Great 29 Doppelganger 68-75 Ogre 07 Arrowhawk, Medium 30-35 Dragon, Green [Table 9D-2] 76 Pseudodragon08–10Assassin Vine 36-43 Dragonne 77-80 Rust Monster 11 Basilisk 44-47 Ettercap 81 Satyr12–13Bear, Brown (Grizzly) 48 Giant, Hill 82-83 Spider, Large 14 Bird of Prey, Large 49-51 Griffon 84-85 Tiger 15–16 Blink Dog 52 Hippogriff 86-93 Troll17–18Bulette 53-55 Lizard, Giant 94-99 Wolf 19–23 Centaur 56-60 Lycanthrope, Werewolf 00 Wyvern

Rare 01 Ant, Giant (Queen) 22-27 Dragon, Gold [Table 9D-2] 65-67 Phase Spider 02 Arrowhawk, Large 28-34 Dryad 68-70 Rakshasa

03–06Behir 35-36 Hag, Annis 71 Shambling Mound 07 Couatl 37-42 Lycanthrope, Werebear 72-76 Sprite, Grig 08 Dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus 43-48 Lycanthrope, Weretiger 77-83 Sprite, Pixie 09–14 Dragon, Black [Table 9D-2] 49-53 Nymph 84-94 Treant 15–21 Dragon, Red [Table 9D-2] 54-64 Ogre Mage 95-00 Unicorn

Hills Common 01 Ant, Giant (Worker) 54-64 Goblin 84 Minotaur 02 Arrowhawk, Small 65-67 Griffon 85-89 Orc

03–04 Bear, Black 68 Harpy 90-91 Rat, Giant 05–08 Bird of Prey, Small 69 Hippogriff 92 Raven09–11Boar, Wild (Razorback) 70-75 Hobgoblin 93 Pony 12–14 Bugbear 76-77 Kobold 94-95 Snake, Venomous 15 Cat 78 Lizard, Giant 96 Spider, Small 16–22 Gnoll 79 Manticore 97-00 Wolf 23–53 NPC [Table 9D-1] 80-83 Ogre

Uncommon 01 Ankheg 17-22 Dragon, Brass [Table 9D-2] 76-78 Rust Monster 02 Ant, Giant (Soldier) 23-30 Dragonne 79-80 Skeleton 03 Arrowhawk, Medium 31-33 Ettin 81-83 Snake, Giant Constrictor 04 Assassin Vine 34-36 Ghoul 84-85 Spider, Large 05 Barghest [Table 9D-3] 37-50 Giant, Hill 86-87 Spider, Medium

06–07Basilisk 51-54 Gorgon 88 Troll08–09Bear, Brown (Grizzly) 55-57 Lion 89-91 Troll, Hill 10 Behir 58-60 Lycanthrope, Wereboar 92-94 Wight 11 Bird of Prey, Large 61-63 Lycanthrope, Weretiger 95 Wolf, Worg 12 Bulette 64-67 Lycanthrope, Werewolf 96 Wraith 13 Blink Dog 68-70 Medusa 97-99 Wyvern14–15Cockatrice 71-74 Ogre Mage 00 Zombie 16 Doppelganger 75 Phase Spider Rare 01 Allip 21-40 Dragon, Copper [Table 9D-2] 63-65 Hag, Annis 02 Ant, Giant (Queen) 41-45 Dragon, Gold [Table 9D-2] 66-70 Lycanthrope, Werebear 03-07: Arrowhawk, Large 46-50 Dragon, Red [Table 9D-2] 71-80 Lynx, Giant 08 Banshee 51 Ghast 81-85 Rakshasa09–15Bear, Cave 52-56 Giant, Cloud 86-90 Roc 16 Bodak 57-58 Giant, Stone 91-00 Spectre 17–20 Chimera 59-62 Giant, Storm

Jungle/Swamp Common 01–03 Assassin Vine 46-47 Goblin 84-87 Snake, Venomous 04–06 Baboon 48-49 Hobgoblin 88-90 Spider, Small 07–10 Boar, Wild (Razorback) 50-52 Jaculus 91 Spider, Medium 11–13Bugbear 53-57 Kobold 92-94 Stirge14–17Crocodile (Alligator) 58-70 Lizardfolk 95 Tick, Giant 18–36 NPC [Table 9D-1] 71-76 Orc 96-97 Toad, Giant 37–41 Frog, Giant 77-81 Rat, Giant 98-99 Troglodyte 42–43 Fungus, Violet 82 Rust Monster 00 Zombie44–45Gnoll 83 SkeletonUncommon 01 Ankheg 59-63 Hag, Green 86-88 Owlbear

02–03 Ape, Great
64-66 Lizard, Giant
89 Roper 04–05 Behir
67-68 Locathah
90 Sahuagin 06–10 Bulette
69-71 Manticore
91 Shambling Mound 11–20 Dragon, Black [Table 9D-2]
72 Medusa
92-93 Snake, Giant Constrictor 21–30 Dragon, Green [Table 9D-2]
73-76 Naga, Water
94-95 Spider, Large 31–50 Dragonne
77 Naga, Dark
96 Tiger 51–55 Ettercap
78-83 Ogre
97 Troll
56 Ghoul
84 Ooze, Gray
98-99 Troll, River 57–58 Gibbering Mouther
85 Otyugh
00 Wyvern
01–03 Barghest [Table 9D-3]
31-50 Hydra [1d8+4 Hd]
71-75 Ooze, Ochre Jelly
04–06 Couatl
51-55 Lycanthrope, Weretiger
76-77 Phase Spider
07–11 Dragon, Red [Table 9D-2]
56-58 Naga, Ghost
78-84 Rakshasa
12–16 Dragon, Bronze [Table 9D-2]
59-62 Naga, Guardian
85-94 Treant
17–21 Dragon, Gold [Table 9D-2]
63-65 Naga, Spirit
95-00 Will-O’-Wisp
22–30 Hag, Annis
66-70 Ooze, Black Pudding
Mountains Common
01–05 Arrowhawk, Small
54-55 Eagle, Giant
76-85 Troll
06–15 Basilisk
56-63 Giant, Hill
86-89 Wolf
16–20 Bear, Brown (Grizzly)
64-66 Griffon
90-00 Wolf, Worg
21–25 Bird of Prey, Large
67-70 Harpy
26–53 NPC [Table 9D-1]
71-75 Minotaur
Uncommon 01–05 Arrowhawk, Medium 31-40 Dragon, White [Table 9D-2] 86 Remorhaz 06 Barghest [Table 9D-3] 41-55 Giant, Frost 87 Roc 07–15 Bear, Cave 56-80 Giant, Stone 88-95 Troll, Hill 16–20 Chimera 81-82 Gorgon 96-00 Wolf, Winter 21–30 Dragon, Silver [Table 9D-2] 83-85 Manticore Rare 01–05 Arrowhawk, Large 51-53 Frost Worm 94-98 Ogre Mage 06–15 Dragon, Red [Table 9D-2] 54-70 Giant, Cloud 99 Prysmal Eye (Nonocculus) 16–25 Dragon, Copper [Table 9D-2] 71-75 Giant, Fire 00 Purple Worm26–35Dragon, Gold [Table 9D-2] 76-91 Giant, Storm 36–50 Ettin 92-93 Medusa Plains Common 01 Ant, Giant (Worker) 22-25 Gnoll 71-72 Pony 02 Arrowhawk, Small 26-45 Npc [Table 9D-1] 73 Pony, War 03–04 Baboon 46-50 Goblin 74-77 Rat, Giant 05 Bear, Black 51-53 Herd Animal 78 Raven 06 Bird of Prey, Large 54-56 Hobgoblin 79-80 Skeleton07–08Bird of Prey, Small 57 Horse, Light War 81-82 Snake, Giant Constrictor 09 Boar, Wild (Razorback) 58-59 Horse, Riding 83-85 Snake, Venomous 10–15 Bugbear 60 Jackal 86-88 Spider, Medium 16–18 Cat 61-66 Kobold 89-94 Spider, Small 19–20 Dog (Coyote) 67 Ogre 95-00 Wolf 21 Elephant 68-70 OrcUncommon

01–02 Ankheg
25 Ghoul
71-75 Toad, Giant
03 Ant, Giant (Soldier)
26-31 Griffon
76-79 Troll
04 Arrowhawk, Medium
32-37 Hippogriff
80 Werebear
05–09 Basilisk
38-41 Horse, Heavy War
81-83 Wereboar
10 Blink Dog
42-45 Lion
84-86 Weretiger
11–12 Bulette
46-49 Manticore 87–91 Werewolf
13–14 Centaur
50-53 Ogre Mage 92–98 Wolf, Worg
15–17 Chimera
54-56 Rust Monster
95-98 Wyvern
18–20 Cockatrice
57-63 Screecher
99-00 Zombie
21–22 Fleshcrawler
64-65 Shadow
23–24 Fungus, Violet
66-70 Spider, Large


01–02 Ant, Giant (Queen)
41-45 Dragon, Gold [Table 9D-2]
84-85 Pseudodragon
03 Arrowhawk, Large
46-50 Dragon, Red [Table 9D-2]
86 Rakshasa
04 Banshee
51-65 Dragonne
87 Roc
05–07 Barghest [Table 9D-3]
66-70 Ghast
88 Spectre
08 Behir
71 Ghost
89 Sphinx, Androsphinx
09 Bodak
72-73 Lamia
90 Sphinx, Criosphinx
10 Couatl
74-75 Lammasu
91 Sphinx, Gynosphinx
11–13 Dinosaur, Triceratops
76 Lich
92 Sphinx, Hieracosphinx
14–16 Dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus
77-80 Pegasus
93-96 Wight
17–25 Doppelganger
81-82 Phase Spider
97-00 Wraith
26–40 Dragon, Copper [Table 9D-2]
83 Prysmal Eye (Nonocculus)
Planar, Common
01–10 Barghest [Table 9D-3]
28-35 Doppelganger
71-90 Quasit 11–25 Belker
36-45 Hellhound
91-95 Shadow26–27Blink Dog
46-70 Imp
96-00 Wraith
Planar, Uncommon
01–02 Achaierai
66-70 Genie, Djinni
81-85 Salamander03–05Allip
71-75 Genie, Efreeti
86-93 Shadow Mastiff 06–20 Elemental, Air [Table 9D-4]
76 Ghast
94-97 Xorn21–35Elemental, Earth [Table 9D-4]
77-78 Invisibile Stalker
98-00 Tavis (Worm) Wyrm 36–50 Elemental, Fire [Table 9D-4]
79 Nightmare51–65Elemental, Water [Table 9D-4]
80 Phase Spider
Planar, Rare
01–15 Banshee 33-50 Devourer 91-93 Lich
16–30 Bodak 51-75 Ghost 94-00 Titan
31–32 Couatl 76-90 Hag, Night

Underground Common

01–05 Bugbear
56-60 Hobgoblin
93-94 Snake, Venomous
06–33 NPC [Table 9D-1]
66-75 Kobold
95-96 Spider, Small
34–40 Ghoul
76-80 Orc
97-98 Troglodyte
41–45 Gnoll
81-90 Rat, Giant
99-00 Zombie
46–55 Goblin
91-92 Skeleton


01–02 Ankheg
25-27 Gibbering Mouther
83-84 Otyugh
03 Assassin Vine
28-30 Locathah
85-86 Rust Monster
04–05 Behir
31-45 Lycanthrope, Wererat
87-90 Sahuagin
06 Bulette
46-50 Manticore
91-92 Shadow
07–10 Cloaker
51-60 Medusa
93-95 Spider, Medium
11 Doppelganger
61-70 Minotaur
96-97 Troll
12-13 Fleshcrawler
71-72 Naga, Dark
98 Troll, Hill
14–15 Gelatinous Cube
73-76 Ogre
99 Wight
16–17 Ghast
77-80 Ooze, Gray
00 Wraith
18–24 Giant, Hill
81-82 Ooze, Ochre Jelly


01: Aboleth
43 Golem, Stone
81 Ooze, Black Pudding
02 Bodak
44 Golem, Iron
82-85 Prysmal Eye (Nonocculus)
03 Darkmantle
45-50 Green Slime
86-87 Roper
04–10 Drider
51 Lich
88-90 Spectre
11–30 Elf, Drow
52-54 Mimic
91-94 Spider, Large
31–40 Giant, Stone
55-60 Mummy
95-00 Vampire
41 Golem, Clay
61-65 Naga, Guardian
42 Golem, Flesh
66-80 Ogre Mage
Table 9D-1: Npc Subtable
d% Race Classed? Level Gear/Treasure Party?
01-10 Half-Orc No 3d4+8 14 No
11-20 Gnome Yes 2d4+12 12 No
21-25 Halfling Yes 1d4+12 10 Yes – 1d3+3
26-40 Half-Elf Yes 1d4+8 8 Yes – 2d4
41-49 Elf Yes 1d3+6 6 Yes – 2d4
50-64 Dwarf Yes 1d3+3 4 Yes – 1d3
65-00 Human Yes 1d3 2 Yes – 1d3+3

Each column, as needed, should be determined. Race indicates the race, with all attendant abilities as presented in the Player’s Handbook. If an Npc is classed, the third column indicates the level or hit dice of that Npc; Game Masters are encouraged to assign whatever class to the Npc as needed for the encounter. The fourth column indicates the treasure type available, and all items and equipment should be selected or rolled accordingly. If a party is indicated, the number range provided after the dash details the number of Npcs encountered; this column is checked only once.

Table 9D-2: Dragon Subtable
d% Dragon Age Mated? Laired?
01–05 1 No No
06-10 2 No No
11-20 3 No No
21-60 1d3+3 No No
61-80 1d3+6 No No
81-90 10 Yes Yes
91-95 11 Yes Yes
96-00 12 Yes Yes

Each column should be determined. If a dragon is mated, there is a 25% chance of offspring, and a 50% chance the mate is encountered as well; the mate will vary in age, plus or minus three, with a minimum of age four being required for maturation. Mates are nearly always (90%) the same variety of dragon; however, offspring of non-like dragons do not gain any additional benefit, and are always the same variety as the father. An offspring will always be of 1d3 age, and will typically be in the lair. Dragons encountered outside their lair will not have any treasure.

Table 9D-3: Barghest Subtable
d% Hit Dice
01–10 1
11-25 2
26-50 3
51-60 4
61-70 5
71-85 6
86-95 7
96-99 8
00 9
Table 9D-4: Elemental Subtable
d% Hit Dice
01-40 1d6
41-79 3d4+3
80-94 1d3+15
95-98 1d8+16
99-00 3d4+18
Table 9E: DÉCOR
d20 Number of Features Décor Type
1-14 1d2 Physical [Table 9E-1]
15-20 1d3+1 Condition [Table 9E-2]

The number of decorative features should be determined first, followed by one roll per such feature on the table to determine the specific details.

Table 9E-1: Physical Decorations
d% Physical Decoration
01-06 Liquid [Table 9E-1A]
07-15 Temperature [Table 9E-1B]
16-25 Artwork
26-40 Litter/Debris
41-60 Functional Object
61-75 Sound [Table 9E-1C]
76-80 Odor [Table 9E-1D]
81-00 Lighting [Table 9E-1E]

Liquids are anything that is not a solid-state object, such as acid, magma, or water, and which is either standing or moving. In the case of moving water, often produced by subterranean streams, the Game Master may wish to treat the stream as a passageway, determining direction, its depth, and so forth as normal; it is possible, at the Game Master’s discretion, that a liquid decoration serves as the entrance to an entirely different dungeon, or possibly, an extension of the current one, being composed of one or more floors of an aquatic nature. Use the following table to determine the basic descriptive qualities of a liquid decoration.

Table 9E-1A: Liquids
d% Type of Liquid
01 Mercury
02-05 Acid
06-10 Alcohol
11 Magma
12 Blood
13-20 Oil
21-25 Poison
26 Liquid Metal
27-30 Tar
31-40 Mud/Quicksand
41-00 Water

Any liquid has a 25% of being a pool, meaning it does not move and is possibly built into a stable foundation such as a fountain, or other physical structure. All pools have a 5% of being magical.

The method of activation is crucial to the effectiveness of a magic pool, and should be determined only for such. Specific abilities of magical pools can be determined using the following table:

Table 9E-1A-1: Magical Pools
d% Activation Effect
01 None Wish
02-03 Spell Removal
04-20 Condition Negation
21-50 Bathing Cursed
51-70 Offering (Magic) Empowering
71-80 Offering (Money) Bestowing
81-85 Offering (Money) Teleport
86-95 Offering (Money) Money
96-99 Offering (Money) Treasure
00 Offering (Money) Transformation

One roll per column needs to be made.

Magical pools that do not have activations simply function as soon as they are encountered, and typically do not grant saves. Those which require an offering require a character to sacrifice an amount of money or treasure, especially magical items, of the Game Master’s choice. If a magical pool activates by bathing, then a character must physically enter the pool, willfully subjecting, and accepting, any consequences from the pool’s nonmagical and magical aspects, though it is possible an ordinarily damaging pool of this type does not directly harm the character. A conditional activation means some special circumstances must be met, such as functioning only in pure darkness or in total silence, or possibly, only functioning for a specific race or class of individual; the details should be determined by the Game Master. Spell activations require a spell, typically one that serves a counterproductive result (for example, an alcohol or oil pool might require a fire-based spell to activate), before the magical effect is generated; in some ways, a spell activation is a conditional activation, and the Game Master must determine the exact requirements. In all cases, magical pools can be activated once, having a 20% chance for a second activation. If the pool is activated a second time, a third activation has half the normal chance (10%) to be effective, and so forth, regardless of whom attempts the activation.

A wish effect grants the character a one time use of the spell of the same name, typically with the stipulation that is must be used immediately or be forfeited. If a pool has a removal effect the character activating it is severely affected, typically losing one experience level, or suffering the permanent loss of a class or racial feature, or possibly even having an attribute considered non-Prime. Game Masters should use such effects sparingly with the more powerful removals having some means to counter the effect. A negation effect is similar to a removal, only the effects are temporary, having a duration decided upon by the Game Master; the recommended duration is 2d4 days. Pools which have a cursed effect afflict a curse, as per the spell, upon the activator, or affect in a manner not listed previously, at the discretion of the Game Master. Empowering effects enhance a character’s performance, typically by granting a bonus to specific checks or die roll types, with the more potent granting a lesser bonus (for example, an empowerment that aids attack rolls might grant a +1, whereas one that aids a character’s move silently could grant a +6 or more).

A pool that grants a bestowment permanently give a character an ability they did not previously possess, or otherwise increases a character’s abilities on a permanent basis, such as gaining more hit points, an armor class improvement, or an attribute increase.

The exact details are left to the Game Master to decide, based on the needs and the individual character(s) involved. If a pool functions as a teleport, the activator is moved to a new location, which may or may not be in the same dungeon or even realm of existence. Such pools should be reserved for special situations, or treated as non-lethal movement traps, and determined as such.

Pools that grant money or treasure should have their specific results determined by the charts for treasure (Table 9C) and those found in Monsters and Treasure. Transformative pools affect a character much as a polymorph spell, though it can also function as a petrifaction attack. Game Masters must use their judgment and desires to resolve the specific effects of a pool of this nature.


Table 9E-1B: Temperature
d20 Temperature Severity
1-3 Increase Mild
4-6 Decrease Moderate
7-9 Increase Severe
10-12 Decrease Mild
13-16 Increase Moderate
17-20 Decrease Severe

Each column should be used to determine the specifics of the temperature alteration.

Mild temperature changes can be noticed with a successful Wisdom check (difficulty 4), though characters such as rangers, druids, elves, and barbarians may be excluded from needing to check, as the Game Master decides. Likewise, a moderate temperature change can be detected with a successful Wisdom check (difficulty 0). All characters are able to detect a severe change in temperature.


Artwork decorations can be any kind of architectural design, from archway engravings to colonnades, as well as mosaic murals or even tapestries. In any case, such a piece has the same chance to be magical and have the same abilities as a magical pool, detailed above.

Decorations of the litter/debris kind are typically refuse, left-overs of various sorts, dependant on the nature, purpose, and other factors of the dungeon. Game Masters must use their knowledge of the dungeon’s logic to properly determine what may be found, though common items include broken weapons, spent torches, and the remains of bodies.

A functional object, by its nature, is some item that still operates ranging from a throne, to a spoon, and anything else the Game Master can imagine. It is recommended that the Game Master use the equipment lists in the Player’s Handbook as a guide to the possible items that may be found lingering, noting, and keeping in mind the purpose, and creator of the dungeon.

Table 9E-1C: Sounds
d20 Type of Sound Loudness
1 Whistle Faint/Distant
2 Hiss Soft
3 Melody/Singing Normal
4 Moan Loud
5 Noise (Incomprehensible) Faint/Distant
6 Creak Soft
7 Rasp Normal
8 Resonation/Echo Loud
9 Squeal Faint/Distant
10 Thunder Soft
11 Conversation (Voice) Normal
12 Mechanical/Grinding Loud
13 Instrument/Music Faint/Distant
14 Laughter/Giggle Soft
15 Scream Normal
16 Crying Loud
17 Animalistic/Grunt Faint/Distant
18 Squeak Soft
19 Shatter Normal
20 Shuffling Loud

Sounds that are faint or soft require a successful Listen check to notice, having a difficulty of 6 and 4 respectfully.


Table 9E-1D: Odors
d20 Type of Odor Strength
1 Floral Faint
2 Spicy/Peppery/Cinnamon Light
3 Earthy Normal
4 Sweet Strong
5 Decay/Death/Rot Faint
6 Pungent/Retching/Vomit Light
7 Fruity Normal
8 Body/Halitosis/Sweat Strong
9 Salty/Ocean Faint
10 Stale Light
11 Vinegary Normal
12 Alcoholic Strong
13 Fecal Faint
14 Fungal Light
15 Toxic/Burning/Sulfur Normal
16 Fresh/Bleach Strong
17 Leathery/Oily Faint
18 Bloody Light
19 Cooking/Baking Normal
20 Paper/Wood/Paint Strong

One roll per column is needed to determine the full aspects of an odor; there are no special rules for odors, save those a Game Master may wish to utilize.


Table 9E-1E: Lighting
d20 Lighting Effect
1-3 Pitch Black
4-6 Grayscale
7-11 Flickering
12-15 Soft Glow
16-17 Lit
18-19 Bright
20 Blinding

Pitch black lighting conditions cause blindness to any character that does not have the darkvision ability. A grayscale lighting condition effect allows full use of either duskvision or twilightvision; those without either ability are effectively blinded, though the penalties are reduced by one. In a flickering environment, the same rules for grayscale apply, thought the blindness penalties are reduced by half. A soft glow or a lit condition allow any character with visual means to see, but a soft glow does not hamper those with an adverse reaction to light. In a brightly lit area, characters are affected as per grayscale (blindness penalties are reduced by one), but no form of vision except standard is usable, and those with an adverse reaction to light are affected as normal. Blinding conditions are the same as pitch black, though no vision works, and those with a reaction to light are treated as though exposed to direct sunlight.


Table 9E-2: Conditions
d20 Sensation Description Strength Magical?
01-06 Paranoia/Being Watched Faint No
07-12 Falling/Vertigo Mild No
13-14 Tired/Fatigued Overwhelming Yes
15-17 Lost/Confused Strong No
18-20 Trapped/Buried Ordinary No

Conditions are normally not caused by magical effects, though they can be if the Game Master desires. Instead, the phenomena created are done through mental manipulation and design. For example, corridors might be built in a dungeon in such a way that those unaccustomed to them feel a sensation of vertigo, spiraling upward in a gradual shift of direction, or they may cause one to feel trapped or confused by slowly narrowing before re-opening to normal width. The exact method of how each condition is delivered is left to the Game Master to decide.

Any condition with strength other than strong or overwhelming has no impact on a character’s abilities, other than roleplay implications.

However, should the strength be strong, the character suffers impairment as the Game Master deems fit, though it is suggested no penalty greater than two be assigned; saves are allowed to resist the effects, this generally being a Wisdom or Constitution save having a difficulty equal to the level of the dungeon. At an overwhelming strength, a character may become unable to continue by self-volition; a Wisdom or Constitution save is allowed, with failure resulting in the equivalent of paralysis, lasting until the character is removed from the cause of the condition or until a successful save is made (this secondary save is allowed once per ten minutes.) The save difficulty for an overwhelming condition is the level of the dungeon where it is encountered.

10 Room Type
d20 Room Type Condition Occupied?
1 Laboratory [Table 10A] Pristine Yes
2 Bedroom Overflowing Yes
3 Throne Ordered Yes
4 Torture [Table 10B] Ramshackle Yes
5 Lavatory Pristine Yes
6 Kitchen Overflowing No
7 Training Ordered No
8 Treasure [Table 9C] Ramshackle No
9-11 Storage Ordered No
12 Arboretum Pristine No
13 Menagerie Overflowing No
14 Library Ordered No
15 Dining Ramshackle No
16-17 Cell Ordered No
18 Shrine Pristine No
19 Barracks Overflowing No
20 Sepulcher Ramshackle No

Room type is entirely optional and is far from complete, acting as a sample of the most common possible variations. It is meant to be used for situations when the Game Master is unable to quickly determine the contents, or style of a room, such as on-the-fly gaming, and the results should always be adjusted to fit the general scheme of the dungeon so that in a military dungeon, for example, the results of a barracks is increased while that of a shrine may be non-existent. Each column should be rolled for, with a confirmed occupation indicating the presence of some monster or other inhabitant, as further determined using the appropriate encounter or Npc tables.

A room in pristine condition is immaculate, easily navigable, and looks as though it has been untouched; everything is in order. Those which are in ordered condition are arranged in a logical manner, making efficient use of available space, and allow easy movement and access to contents. This is the most common room condition, especially in a thriving dungeon, where rooms are under constant use. If a room is in a ramshackle state, it is disused or used so often and by different occupants that items appear out of place, or are strewn in such a manner as to be disarrayed. These rooms are often more difficult to navigate, reducing movement through as though the terrain were moderate. An overflowing room is hard to enter, as contents are haphazardly arranged, often stacked to the ceiling or in other hazardous arrays. Such conditions effectively reduce the size of the room by one category, going from large, for example, to medium – rooms that are small remain small, but movement, in any case, should be treated as though the terrain were rough. These descriptions should be used to determine how many furnishings are to be found within the room, so that an overflowing room has many more than a pristine space.

Some rooms have additional information such as contents, which are found by consulting the table mentioned for that room type and then, in specific descriptions of said contents. Specific notes on some room types can be found below:


A laboratory has a 5 in 20 chance (any roll of 1-5 on a d20) of being functional, but will always be such if it is occupied, or at the discretion of the Game Master. Such rooms are normally filled with a wide array of alchemical or magical experiments, and typically have an assortment of mundane gear as well, these being somewhat bulky and encumbering. Non-functioning laboratories tend to have ruined, broken, or otherwise ineffectual contents.

However, there is a chance of precious and semi-precious items such as gems and metals being present. Laboratories are often well lit, have various scents and can be hazardous, prone to explosions, or containing noxious vapors in addition to the likelihood of items such as acid, poison, and other harmful liquids being strewn about. Note, too, that a laboratory need not be alchemical in nature, but can be used for all manner of research, and are often found in experimental dungeons. Use the following table to determine what purpose the laboratory serves:

Table 10A: Laboratories
d20 Laboratory Type
1-8 Alchemical [Table 10A-1]
9-14 Magical Experimentation
15-17 Monstrous
18-19 Technological
20 Amalgam (Pick Two)

Alchemical Lab

Alchemical labs are designed to create nonmagical and quasimagical substances. Laboratories that are constructed for magical experimentation often involve spell research or summoning of powerful beings, but also of the manufacture of magical items.

These labs will often resemble an alchemy lab, superficially, but the contents are often enchanted or protected with magic effects.

Monstrous laboratories are structures built for experimentation on animals and monsters, including breeding, dissection, and manipulation. Laboratories designed for technological research will often have devices that may resemble magical items, but are completely nonmagical in nature, and often, composed of advanced equipment beyond the general understanding of most.

Table 10A-1: Alchemical Furnishings
d% Furnishing
01-05 Furnace (Proving, Bellows, Athanor, Muffle, Gridiron)
06-15 Glassware (Alembic, Pelican, Catalysis, Cycler, etc.)
16-20 Impure Metal
21-25 Rare (Essential) Earths
26-30 Gemstone/Powdered Gemstone
31-40 Crockery/Aludel/Mould
41-45 Cementation Box/Coagulator
46-50 Brazier/Cauldron/Crucible
51 Scroll/Papyrus/Book
52-65 Basic Tool (Shovel, Iron Poker, Tongs, Balance, Mortar/Pestle, etc.)
66 Dyoptra
67-70 Fruit and Herb Presser
71-80 Incense
81-90 Herbs
91 True Metal
92-00 Phial [Table 10A-1A]

Roll on the above table as often as desired, though a minimum of five is suggested.

Table 10A-1A: Phials
d20 Phial Contents
1-14 Water
15 Alkahest
16 Aqua Vitae
17 Oricalc
18 Variable Mercury
19 Vitriol
20 Potion

Bedroom/Sleeping Area

Bedrooms are sleeping quarters and will often contain a bed, dressing area and storage compartments, and other things, such as personal lockers, based on the individual(s) that use it, this often matching the general theme and purpose of the dungeon itself. Sometimes, a bedroom is a communal area, used by numerous individuals; this is similar to a barracks, but the latter is distinguished by being used solely for military personnel, always in a pristine condition.

Throne Room

Throne areas are those which house the political, religious, or other emblematic symbols of authority and dominion, generally used by a particular individual or group who controls and rules over the occupants of the dungeon. They are often larger than other rooms in the dungeon, well-protected, and oft-times littered with secret passageways to enable the ruler to escape if needed.

Such a room does not necessarily contain an actual throne, but that is quite common, especially with intelligent races.

Torture Chamber

Torture chambers are rooms designed to elucidate information from prisoners (or to kill them,) and are typically found in prisons and military dungeons, though certain religious structures might have such areas as well. An active (occupied) torture chamber will typically smell of death and blood, and will generally be poorly lit.

Numerous instruments and liquids will be present as well, possibly with the subject of the task in close proximity. Use the following table to determine further information, rolled as often as desired:

Table 10B: Torture Chambers
d% Instrument
01 Abacinator
02 Animal Carcass
03 Axe (Hatchet, Matchet, Machete)
04 Barrel Pillory
05 Bastinado
06 Bell Collar
07 Body Press
08 Boiler
09 Branding Iron
10 Branks (Scold’s Bridle)
11 Brazen Bull
12 Brazier
13 Bury Pit
14 Cannon Muzzle
15 Cat’s Paw
16 Cauldron
17 Cave of Roses
18 Chain Whip
19 Chastity Belt
20 Club (Mace, Maul, Hammer)
21 Crucifix
22 Cuirasse
23 Cyphon
24 Diele
25 Drunkard’s Cloak
26 Dry Pan
27 Ducking Stool
28 Ear Chopper
29 Firing (Crossbow, Bow, Spear)
30 Flayer (Scourge, Cat-o’-Nine Tails)
31 Foot/Hand/Head Press
32 Gas
33 Gibbet
34 Gridiron
35 Guillotine
36 Gunpowder
37 Hanging Chair
38 Heretic’s Fork
39 Impalements (Hook, Spike, Spear)
40 Infernal Device
41 Interrogation Chair
42 Iron Chair
43 Iron Collar
44 Iron Gag
45 Iron Maiden
46 Judas Cradle
47 Knee Splitter
48 Ladder Rack
49 Lead Sprinkler
50 Manacles
51 Mancuerda
52 Mannaia
53 Mask of Shame
54 Mazzatello
55 Mute’s Bridle
56 Mutilation Shears
57 Nail
58 Necklace
59 Noise-Maker’s Fife
60 Oven
61 Pear of Anguish
62 Pendulum
63 Pinchers (Mastector/Castrator)
64 Piquet
65 Poison
66 Pyramid
67 Pyre
68 Rack
69 Revolving Drum
70 Ripper
71 Rope
72 Sawblade
73 Scavenger’s Daughter
74 Scottish Maiden
75 Shrew’s Fiddle
76 Skeffington’s Gyves
77 Skull Splitter
78 Spanish Boot
79 Spanish Donkey
80 Spanish Gaiter
81 Spanish Mantle
82 Spanish Tickler
83 Spider
84 Spiked Punishment Collar
85 Spiked Torture Helmet
86 St. Elmo’s Belt
87 Starving Animal
88 Stocks
89 Stones
90 Stork
91 Straight Belt
92 Strappado (Squassator)
93 Suffocator/Garrotte
94 Sword (Dagger, Misericorde)
95 Tar and Feathers
96 Thief-Catcher
97 Thumbikins (Finger Screw, Toe Screw, Thumbscrew)
98 Tongue Ripper
99 Water Pit
00 Wheel


A lavatory is a room constructed to serve as a location for waste disposal, if indoor plumbing is available, and also as a room for cleaning, such as bathing, and basic hygiene. They are often part of another room, especially large bedrooms, but can serve as a communal area, as a public bath, for example, and can sometimes double as celebratory locations. Lighting is normally good, though fecal and urinal stenches are common in the largest lavatories, acting more as a latrine than otherwise, and actually being such in dungeons built for militaristic functions.


Kitchens are where food is prepared and cooked and are normally well-stocked for such things, having numerous knives, crockery, and other basic utensils. An open fire is common, and the smell of food radiates, though an inactive or unoccupied kitchen likely smells of dust and mildew, especially that of fungi.

Training Chamber

A training chamber serves a wide variety of functions, acting as either a school or a battleground, to all manner of variations, depending only on the specific reason the training area exists, this often reflecting the greater theme and purpose of the dungeon.

Litter, even in an occupied room is common, as are remnants and supplies for the type of training being conducted. This type of room can also serve as a means to domesticate livestock and animals, provided it is large enough.

Treasure room

Treasure rooms serve one purpose, they protect and store treasure. They are also carefully guarded and often trapped. The exact amount and nature of the treasure held within should be determined by the appropriate treasure tables, noting that it is much more likely that it is contained, and often layered with many traps. In addition, a Game Master, at their discretion, may treat the treasure as a hoard, doubling or even quintupling the amount within. If a treasure room is occupied it should be considered the lair of whatever is encountered therein.


Rooms built for storage are often large, locked, and overflowing with barrels, crates, and sacks full of the supplies needed to keep the dungeon running for an extended period. However, other types of storage are possible as well, such as weapons, armor, and even magical objects, though these should be few, or considered a treasure room instead.


Arboretums are rooms built as gardens, housing an assortment of plantlife grown for varied reasons, from herbal concoctions, to the simple beauty of the plants. These rooms are often well lit, unless fungi are being harvested, and often have a very flowery scent, in addition to a sensation of wetness. They rarely feel cold, however, and sometimes hold plants of a monstrous nature.


Barracks are like bedrooms only they always house multiple individuals and are always in pristine condition, serving as a militaristic room designed to house soldiers and others trained in the defense of the dungeon. However, should the original intent of the dungeon not be its current use, barracks are treated exactly like bedrooms.

Cells are designed to hold a single creature or thing being carefully guarded, locked, and protected, preventing entry or retreat into, or out of, the cell. They are the norm in a prison dungeon, and normally, some exist within a military dungeon as well. The lighting is often very poor and the smells range from the haunting odor of death to worse.

Dining Hall/Room

A dining room is meant to be serve as a place to meet and eat food prepared in the kitchen, and as such, will always be located near the latter. Inside, there is often an elaborate setting such as a large table, numerous chairs, fine silverware, and expensive dishes. However, this is not always true, as any area where food is eaten can be considered a dining hall. These places are often lit by torches or candles, and are normally not the brightest.


Libraries are storerooms for books and scrolls. Often, these will be in an ordered or pristine manner, though the more eccentric rooms will be otherwise. Most will not hold magic, though that is possible, and will always hold books related to a subject the dungeon builder feels appropriate, often related to the theme of the dungeon itself. A religious dungeon generally contains large prayer-books and tracts of faith. A library in an experimental dungeon can be a room more valuable than entire cities.


A menagerie is like an arboretum except it is designed for animals and the occasional monster. Such beings are typically caged in individual cells, much like a prison, and often have low light, or none. The whole of the room smells of mixed scents, the most common being that of fur or blood, but depends entirely on the type, and amount, of creatures contained. Litter is very common, with common tools being pronged polearms or tattered strips of leather.


A shrine is a holy place, acting as a place dedicated to a god.

There is always a shrine within a religious dungeon, and will often have a relic of some sort contained within. Shrines are normally brightly lit, though the specific deity may alter this, as it will for doors, traps, and locks. Robes and icons of the faith are common items in a shrine, as are pews or other faith-dependent trappings.


A sepulcher is a tomb, often tied directly to a shrine, wherein the remains of a(n) (un)dead being resides. Sometimes, a sepulcher is very large and holds sarcophagi or graves, or acts as a mausoleum, holding the bodily remains of an entire family or clan. These places are poorly lit, most often, and are typically cold and often sealed with magic to prevent looters.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Engineering Dungeons, Copyright 2008, Troll Lord Games; Text Copyright 2007, Robert Doyel; Author Robert Doyel.

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