It’s been a long time since I had anything comprehensive (or coherent) to say on the progress of my game system, so let’s put some things out there.

I previously touched on character generation — which really, should look familiar to most players of D&D and similar games. I can’t really impress the awesome of Trades in a blog post, it’s one of those things you kind of have to read.

After characters, a large portion of the game is the dungeon generator. This is designed to work similarly to character generation — so if you can make a character, you can make a dungeon. That’s the basic idea anyhow.

Dungeons have six scores, like characters, which you roll to determine — like characters. This is kind of a big deal. It allows the GM a degree of ownership without making them wholly responsible for a dungeon’s difficulty.

You can even make the players roll a dungeon’s scores.

A dungeon’s scores directly inform DCs — such as for disarming traps, picking locks, breaking down walls, and so forth. I like to call these the dungeon’s “passive defenses,” rather like the passive defenses of a character.

Dungeon defenses are fairly low — averaging around 10 — but this is important because many of the numbers in the system are lower all around.

There will eventually be “classes” of dungeons — but I don’t currently have the resources to develop them fully as such. They’ll have their day though.

The next important component after scores and defenses is the dungeon’s layout. This is functionally a template that GMs can drop rooms into — the minigame of dungeon-crawling is about “checking out rooms” after all.

Given my desire to avoid certain kinds of micromanagement, there will be no special rules for vision or hearing — I think this is a space I think is better left “blank” to be filled in by the individual GM. More on that another time.

The template creates a space for multiple entrances, for a “boss room,” for a treasure hoard — and for the dungeon’s “secret,” whatever that may be. I’m of the mind that dungeons should contain secrets whether PCs find them or not.

Alongside this dungeon template are lists of rooms organized by their role in a larger dungeon ecology. Lairs include living spaces, forts include barracks, that sort of thing. The “smallest viable dungeon” is four rooms.

You can of course create microdungeons or encounter areas composed of three or fewer rooms — it’s just more difficult to fully support. Maybe you have a single giant operating out of a cave in the side of a cliff.

You don’t really need a generator for that.

A table is included for the GM to fill with encounters. I tend to think of these encounters as “exhaustible,” so when PCs overcome a specific encounter it remains vacant until the dungeon is restocked.

Finally — the dungeon generator could be used to create pieces of a larger dungeon. Since each piece can be made self-sustaining or interdependent, a GM can use the generator to create chains of dungeon areas for a megadungeon.

Put another way:
For dungeon, use generator. For more dungeon, use more generator.

I hope to make dungeon generation as compelling as character creation tends to be in RPGs, supported with classes, roles, themes, and whatnot. Part of that would include monster themes to match the dungeon.