The Dellorfano Protocols: Random Room Table Edition
I've been doing a lot of asking people to buy things from me lately, so I figured it was time for something free. As you all probably know, I am the project manager for the Swords & Wizardry 3rd Printing (which is on Kickstarter at the time of this posting). Part of the Kickstarter is an adventure I'm putting the final touches called Zaya's Promise.
The adventure is a dungeon the titular character, Zaya, inadvertently made while dreaming. It's meant to be a constantly-changing environment that's complicated to navigate. During my 3rd playtest, I realized having a static map for the dungeon made it too static, so I opted to build up a random room table. I want the rooms to be specific shapes to allow for what's inside them, but I also want a completely unpredictable map.
Since I'm doing my own cartography for this, I opted to build my own graph paper that would allow me to place a room entry in each box. While giving the idea the second test run this afternoon, I thought it might be fun to run The Dellorfano Protocols using one of the custom pieces of graph paper I put together.
The Dellorfano Protocols (as named by the awesome Dyson Logos) are a set of rules for using dice to draw a dungeon map from scratch. The whole protocols allow for a fully completed static map with hallways that are random lengths and the possibility of overlapping rooms. I'll post those at a later date. These are slightly simplified to create a random table instead of a map.
To create a random table map of your own, do the following:
- Print out this template to get a page full of 10x10 squares.
- Alternatively, make your own with any old piece of graph paper with squares as big or small as you want. The template has room for 12 entries per page.
- Grab two different colored d6s. One will represent the length of your horizontal walls, and the other will represent the height your vertical walls.
- Alternatively, you can determine which is the horizontal and which is the vertical by where they land when you roll. The die further away from you is the horizontal, and the die closer to you is vertical.
- Pick a place to start, then roll 2d6. Add 2 to your results.
- Adding 2 is done to keep you from ever having long, one-column rooms.
- The template boxes are 10x10, so d6+2 gives us a maximum room size of 8 squares. This allows us to keep one square's worth of buffer. Keep that in mind if you decide to change the size of your squares or the dice you use.
- Draw the room based on the results on the dice. Don't worry about doors this first go around. Draw a room in each of the 12 squares this way.
- Once you've got all your rooms drawn, go back and check to see which walls have doors. Roll 1d4 once per wall.
- 1-2, the wall has a door - pick somewhere and add it.
- 3-4, no door on this wall.
- The last thing you'll need to do is number everything. In my example above, I made the table a simple d12 table by adding in the numbers for each room.
- If you want to randomize what entrance the party enters the room from, give those numbers as well, for rolling with a d4, d3, or d2. If you don't have a d3, ignore 4s. You can use a coin to function as a d2 if you don't have a fancy one (I don't).
This will give you some rectangular rooms to work with. You can go with the super simple and leave them that way, or you can add a little more character to the dungeon by changing the shapes of the rooms, erasing walls and replacing them with rubble, adding water features, and whatever other kind of details that will make it your dungeon instead of just a mess of rooms.
Tip: If you want to add some details to your map, but you suck at even doodling them, pick up some drawing templates. They range in price from super cheap to kinda pricey depending on what kind you get, but they help out a lot. Everything from standard shapes (circular rooms are even easier with a circle template than with a compass) to landscaping and architectural designs that will allow you to add furniture and the like.
When you're ready to use your new random room table, just roll a d12 (or whatever other size table you make), and look up the room corresponding to the number on your die. Make an additional roll with a d4, d3, or d2 to choose which entrance the party comes through. To account for whether or not a door is locked and/or trapped, I often make another random table that I roll when we're playing.
Enjoy your map making!