Campaign: The Ball Dungeon Master Tips Dungeons and Dragons Stuff for Dungeon Masters

How I make maps for dungeons

In a recent game, our heroes found themselves in a big dome hosting a glamorous party, but with some dodgy happenings in the shadows.

Indeed, underneath the dome was a small dungeon type basement.

I realised while I was drawing the map for this dungeon, that I approach dungeon map making in a bit of a different way that might be of interest to others.

Let me start by saying my players are not fan of dungeons! So when I deploy them, they have to be small and make sense in line with the story.

Start with the entry points

My dungeons almost always have several entry points. Some public ,some private and some hidden.

I start by drawing roughly where those entry points are.

  1. Stairs from the bar backroom
  2. Hidden path from graveyard
  3. Spiral staircase from the balcony that only VIP guests have access to.
  4. Stairs from the foyer.

Rooms for entry points

I then add where does these entry points lead to.

  1. Stairs from the bar backroom leads to wine cellar.
  2. Hidden path from graveyard leads to some sort of escape route.
  3. Spiral staircase from the balcony that only VIP guests have access to acts as entrance for VIP guests to the basement.
  4. Stairs from the foyer leads to a room for lost goods.

First connections

I then start connecting the rooms.

Here I wanted to connect the wine cellar with the lost items room and since these are staff related, I added staff quarters and a staff toilet in between.

Note, in hindsight, the toilet could also have been an access point if the guest toilet upstairs and the staff toilet downstairs were connected to the same sewage system.

Next link

Next up, I wanted to connect the hidden path from the graveyard to the story. What would this serve as?

As the patron of the establishment is a Wraith hiding in plain sight, this could double as both escape route and “storage” for a secret unit of undead guards she could call upon as last resort.

So I connected this new undead guard quarters to the guest entrance, but through a hidden door.

Centre point

Now I was looking to bring it all together with the highlight of the basement: The VIP lounge.

This would be connected to the guest entrance. It would also have servant entry points leading to the left side of the map that I started with. This would allow staff to cater for the VIP guests.

Finally, I added a row of acolyte quarters, as VIP guests would be visiting to stay for a year.

Final touches

As a final touch, I added the Wraith’s chamber (Avalena Ena’s Chamber). Directly connected to the VIP lounge, but also a hidden path to the Undead Guard Quarters.

And the very last thing I added was the round sacrificial platform in the middle of the VIP lounge.

And that’s done!

I find this way of creating dungeons and building layouts in general a fast and efficient way as you end up with only what you need, but in a logical structure that makes sense in the world.