Excerpts Archive | 6/28/2012
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1st Edition DMG Excerpts: Dungeon Generation
Bart Carroll

In 1974, the world changed forever when Gary Gygax introduced the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The legacy of his innovative ideas and the extensive reach of his powerful influence can be seen in virtually every facet of gaming today.

To help honor his work and his memory, we've created limited-edition reprints of the original 1st Edition core rulebooks: the Monster Manual, Player's Handbook, and Dungeon Master's Guide. These premium versions of the original AD&D rulebooks have been lovingly reprinted with the original art and content, but feature an attractive new cover design commemorating this re-release.

Your purchase of this monumental book helps support the Gygax Memorial Fund—established to immortalize the "Father of Roleplaying Games" with a memorial statue in Lake Geneva, WI.

In this preview of the 1st Edition re-release of the Dungeon Master's Guide, we explore a sampling of the wealth of advice offered inside. From the chapter on running campaigns, the DMG even provided the following warning:

Unlike most games, AD&D is an ongoing collection of episode adventures, each of which constitutes a session of play. You, as the Dungeon Master, are about to embark on a new career, that of universe maker. You will order the universe and direct the activities in each game, becoming one of the elite group of campaign referees referred to as DMs in the vernacular of AD&D. What lies ahead will require the use of all of your skill, put a strain on your imagination, bring your creativity to the fore, test your patience, and exhaust your free time. Being a DM is no matter to be taken lightly!

A daunting task, but the DMG sought to help by offering page after page of ways to create and improve your campaign. In today's excerpt, we look back to the appendices of the book and the tables for creating random dungeons.

Appendix A: Random Dungeon Generation

When you need help in designing a dungeon — whether it is a level in your main dungeon or a labyrinth discovered elsewhere — the following random generation system has proven itself to be useful. It must be noted that the system requires time, but it can be used directly in conjunction with actual play.

The upper level above the dungeon in which adventures are to take place should be completely planned out, and it is a good idea to use the outdoor encounter matrix to see what lives where (a staircase discovered later just might lead right into the midst of whatever it is). The stairway down to the first level of the dungeon should be situated in the approximate middle of the upper ruins (or whatever you have as upper works).

The first level of the dungeon is always begun with a room; that is, the stairway down leads to a room, so you might go immediately to TABLE V. and follow the procedure indicated or use one of the following "starter" areas. Always begin a level in the middle of the sheet of graph paper. Keep a side record of all monsters, treasures, tricks/traps, and whatever — a normal dungeon matrix.

Discretion must prevail at all times. For example: if you have decided that a level is to be but one sheet of paper in size, and the die result calls for something which goes beyond an edge, amend the result by rolling until you obtain something which will fit with your predetermined limits. Common sense will serve. If a room won't fit, a smaller one must serve, and any room or chamber which is called for can be otherwise drawn to suit what you believe to be its best positioning.

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Bart Carroll
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.
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