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So, I’ve been going over the “dungeon ability scores” thing since I shared it. Like my other posts related to “making dungeons like characters,” this will be relevant to my Kickstarter project if we hit the tabletop RPG over-fund goal.

Link: A Better Class of Dungeon

At some point I started looking at dungeon ability scores as more of a risk/reward breakdown, kind of like the dichotomy of character physical/mental ability scores. Secrets and puzzles started looking like two sides of the same coin.

I decided to merge the two under the heading of “mystery.” Mystery is a reward for many adventurers who delve beneath the earth — it’s separate from “treasure.”

For a time, I thought maybe a dungeon would need only five scores, but I reflected on the reasons that adventurers plumb the depths and “Tomb of Horrors” came to mind. No one goes into the Tomb of Horrors for the treasure or the mystery — the place is legendary for being a deathtrap. And that’s when I hit upon an idea.


Some adventurers do it for the treasure. Some do it for the thrills. Some do it to become more powerful. And some do it to become famous.

Certain adventurers seek out the most dangerous dungeons specifically to challenge their reputation as fearsome deathtraps. And what happens when they walk out alive? The adventurers who succeed do so go down in history as brave and foolish enough to test their mettle. But mostly brave.

So when you roll up scores for a dungeon, they might look like this:

  • Encounter 10 (+0)
  • Monster 12 (+1)
  • Obstacle 8 (-1)
  • Treasure 10 (+0)
  • Mystery 11 (+0)
  • Reputation 14 (+2)
  • A dungeon with a poor Reputation score is one that isn’t known or understood very well — it might be obscure, or there could be some deliberately misleading information about its history, occupants, and contents.

    When you ask an NPC about what to expect from Castle Doomgloom, they might just be wrong for all they don’t know about the place. A dungeon with a good Reputation score by comparison, is well-known for the dangers that lurk within.

    Not that it makes it any safer, mind you. Knowing is only half the battle.

    And it isn’t like telling people about the contents of a dungeon necessarily increments its Reputation score. It might alter Reputation, but plenty of fools wander into a dungeon and die, and they’re simply never heard from again.

    You might figure that for every plus-one of a dungeon’s Reputation score, there’s one good rumor floating around about the place. This should be related to its other scores — presumably the extreme ones. A “reputable” dungeon with a great Treasure score might be known for a choice magic sword.

    Now, a dungeon with a good Reputation will likely warn adventurers about more than just its contents — it might also warn the PCs if a dungeon has recently been looted as well, which suggests an entirely new genre of dungeons — cast-offs from higher-level parties. The PCs could be “adventuring scavengers.”