So, here is the recent outputs of my ever-evolving dungeon generator code for Tablesmith. The idea is that you generate a big map. I use this ZORBUS map generator and also a local installation of Wizarddawn, mostly. Although I enjoy drawing maps, I find my own style of mapping is a little lame and IMHO dungeons ought to be the weirder the better, dig?
|fixing to throw down a gauntlet. Are you an all-powerful demigod, or a scrub? Well? Which is it?|
So, you make a vast, mostly lightless land. Then, if your players are brave (they are!) they agree to consensually hallucinate entry of their avatars into this perilous realm. If you the DM/Judge/Whatever are brave (you are!) you may try it like this:
You get your random map and have your mass-generator make you THREE different levels, slightly more dangerous than what you would feel comfortable with. Why? Because death is right around the corner. BUT, you don't look at the listings. Instead, you place each listing into a separate envelope. And you sit down to play. When the avatars go hence into the deeps, you have a player pick an envelope and you play the dungeon inside it, with the map you already made! You AND the players will have about as much awareness of what is going to happen... a kind of magic.
Your random encounter table ought to include some badass wizards, some crazy nasty dragons or near-dragon substitutes, friendly dungeon caretakers, a couple of settlements with some friend-able factions, and a fuck-tonne of treasure there for the taking, with plenty of things for each class to do. Unlocking locks, slaying beasts, turning undead, deciphering codes, tracking escapees, maps to follow, frenemies to make, and many many saving throws. So much treasure that you level up a lot, but dangerous enough to get that you die a lot if you fuck around and find out. And you have to get somewhere safe with the treasure to get your XP. Sprinkle around some easily defensible safe rooms with water and a toilet (I mean, why the fuck not?)
|the pseudorandom lightless realm in question|
I use the Moldvay random encounter method : every other turn roll a d6 and on a 1 you get an encounter moving toward the party from some short distance away (2d6x10") is how I interpret it. If you wanted to really and truly up the ante, you could have a random encounter happen on a 1 or a 2. You are free to make the random encounter table to your liking, because that will take some of the pressure off of you to totally think on your feet - you can stock it with RP opportunities, combat, horrid events, mysterious clues, helpless supplicants, or faction leaders for players to align with. Whatever you want the mostly flavor of the thing to be, the Random Encounters is where you really customize it. And feel free to slightly modify the weird entries if they don't suit your sensibilities but be fair and consistent or some players will catch on and get cranky (in my experience). You can pick some core beasties for the level, a couple of humanoid factions, and keep an eyeball on one of your bigger rooms for a possible small settlement.
EXAMPLE NOAH'S RANDOM ENCOUNTER TABLE (2d6):
2: A BADASS RANDOM WIZARD and ENTOURAGE (have these generated previously)
3: FRIENDLY NATIVE (some talky, wimpy race of under-dwellers, plenty of food and rough gear to trade, possible henchpersons or replacement PCs)
4: NPC Party (again, generate randomly, I usually have like 6 pregenerated parties on a separate sheet with their alignments and gear and some motivations)
5: swarm of beasties, small and irritating
6: pack of beasties, few but dangerous
7: wandering beasty, large but not a top-level predator (see below)
8: strange possibly dangerous environmental disruption (lights out/on, noxious gas, gravity fluctuations, chaos magical flux, mass-migration of vermin)
9: mindless undead or automaton (I like robots, because genre purity is dumb)
10: ethereal undead (gotta keep clerics useful, too)
11: random unguarded treasure but slightly hidden (in addition to whatever might already be generated in the room)
12: A Dragon. Whatever that means (I like Manticores, myself). Run for your life, or stay and get trounced or possibly make a powerful ally.
I include, as an attached file, one of these that I have made this morning. I challenge you to use it, and I will think of a prize if you let me know how it goes. I am thinking of making a donation of some copies of my gamebook to the local High School's gaming club near where I work, and maybe I will include you as the benefactor if you will let me know how your session(s) go.