Sunday, May 19, 2024

Classic Dungeons Into 5 Rooms

As another random idea I had that I will probably never do, I thought it would be interesting to take classic modules (I was thinking at the time of G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief) and convert them into a 5-room dungeon mini-adventure for Hack'D. There's something that really draws me to this idea - the whole minimalism and distillation of it. I mean, it would be likely to start limitless debate: what five 'encounters' are the most iconic for that module, and how do you then translate these into the five rooms? For G1, there has to be a great hall where a bunch of giants are meeting. There has to be a cloakroom where giant guards are napping. There has to be a dungeon where orcs are being held prisoner... but what else? What other areas would HAVE to be in it? And then, how do you structure this in such a way that it honors the 'flow' of the original adventure? Is it possible to get it down to five?

Could this even be done? I mean, what about White Plume Mountain? Tomb of Horrors? Heck, the Caves of Chaos? Is it even possible to distill these adventures down that far without losing what they originally were?

Part of the challenge of Tomb of Horrors (for instance) is just how many different dangerous obstacles there are... it is the sheer volume of traps that makes it the meat grinder it is. Each 'room' in the five-room dungeon would therefore need several obstacles to overcome. For example, the entry would have three halls as options, and two of these are deadly traps. Maybe this could be expanded to five... so you could right away build a whole bunch of dangerous traps into the first encounter area, and that echoes a little bit of the scale of danger of the original.

This kind of design challenge checks all the boxes for me. I like echoing iconic and classic as much as possible, and is it very, very tight. The entire thing would fit onto the front of a sheet of standard paper (map and five keyed encounter areas). 


  1. So with the Caves of Chaos you could have the Minotaur's maze, the Owlbear den and the Shrine of Chaos leaving me with two areas housing a couple of the 6 factions (goblin, hobgoblin, orc, bugbear, gnoll, kobold), maybe with slaves from the other four ?

  2. map !