Most people that have been playing the game longer than, oh say... 15 years should recognize the rather iconic map above. Even those of you that may have cut your teeth on 3rd edition have seen it presented there. It is, of course, the dungeon originally provided in the AD&D 1e Dungeon Master's Guide. It and the accompanying sample of play have together long been a sort of touchstone for me in the way that things like Village of Hommlet, In Search of the Unknown, Bargle & Castle Mistamere or Keep on the Borderlands are for others.
I realized something about this map and I recently. Despite it's importance to my early understanding of the game I've only ever used it for off-the-cuff, ill-prepared ventures. I've never actually sat down to stock and prep it like I now normally do. That's rather a pity, I think, because it's a well-constructed level. That secret door in room 3 (hiding somewhat in plain view and challenging the party to put the clues together to find it) is a prize in and of itself. Overlook it and you've got only a handful of standard 1st-level-dungeon-looking rooms on the top half of the map to explore. Discover, it though, and the whole level opens up.
Beyond room three one can reveal the nooks and crannies of those odd passageways and the weird little side rooms whose overall layout and construction beg the questions "what?" and "why?". Why this little bit here and that narrow passageway to nowhere there? What earthly (or unearthly) purpose is served by the three 10' square rooms that terminate the narrow halls in the south-east quarter? That series of rooms beyond the secret door is just dying to be stocked and described, is it not?
So here is what I am proposing to do and this is where those reading along can come into the picture if they so desire. I'm going to stock that thing room-by-room here on the blog at a rate of three rooms per week starting next week. I'm encouraging those reading this to do the same. At the end of this process the world will have (hopefully) several stocked dungeons based on a single, iconic map. The differences and similarities between them can be an interesting statement on the game and its participants.
I offer only some simple guidelines for this venture:
- Use any version of D&D, the clones or even another game (even genre) entirely to complete the dungeon.
- Provide as much or as little detail as you desire as you go.
- To get started add a comment to this blog saying that you're getting started and provide a link to your blog so we can all go see.
- You can join the fun at any time and take as long as you like doing it.
- Use as much or as little of the background and the few existing room descriptions associated with the map from the DMG as you like. The only requirement is that you use the above map.
- I'll be posting three rooms per week starting Monday, February 7th.
- I encourage you to not only stock the thing, but talk about your choices and dungeon-building philosophy as well. For instance, if you're using randomly generated results, talk about why. If not, also talk about why. Will it be a themed dungeon? The value in this project to me is in hearing about what a particular DM likes as well as seeing it directly applied.
- Will there be winners? Will there be prizes? Everybody is a winner but there won't be prizes.
- If you want to play but don't yet have a blog, start here.