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Making Dungeons

I’ve mentioned over the past several months how my boys and I have fallen in love with Minecraft. Well, I’ve just discovered the “adventure” mode for this game, and now my love has turned to an addiction, an obsession. In the adventure mode, I can start up a server, modify it — create dungeons and other types of adventure quests — and then let my boys loose in it. Adventure mode restricts the mining the players can do, so it’s all about exploration, discovery, battling monsters, and any other concept I can think of. I’ve downloaded a world editor, and I’ve begun to experiment with creating various locations for adventure exploration. I am totally thrilled and hooked!

I’m just learning the skills for Minecraft adventure map design, and I have limited artistic talent, so my first attempts at seriously creating in Minecraft are relatively basic. But here’s an example of what I’ve done:

It’s supposed to be the front face of an abandoned evil temple.
Minecraft Dungeon Facade

This feeling of creating a world, (just a small part of a world to start with), and a dungeon adventure is like being a Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master again. But this is better than just that. I mean, I’ve played D&D and DMed campaigns several times in the past several years, but this creating an adventure world and dungeons for my boys to explore is more like what I did 30 years ago with and for my friends. This exercise is really taking me back to my RPG roots. Back to my classic feelings for adventure gaming.

As much as I love the gaming aspect of adventure role-playing games — the sitting with my friends around a table, with the books, dice, miniatures, paper, and pencils — what stirs me at a visceral level is simply creating a dungeon. Drawing out the map, coming up with a theme/story/quest for it, and then populating the rooms and corridors and caverns with monsters, traps, tricks, and treasures.

I still have notebooks full of old dungeon maps I drew up back in my teens, (when I had so much free time for such “unproductive” activities). The notebooks are stashed with all my old D&D game books and modules, and are some of my most cherished old gaming material. I haven’t thrown away any of it. Here’s the map, (two levels), for a dungeon I made circa 1985:

Old D&D Dungeon Map

Old D&D Dungeon Map

The above dungeon was one I not only mapped, but wrote up and DMed for my friends at the time. But I’m still drawing up dungeon maps just for the hell of it. Here’s a dungeon map I drew up within the last couple of years:

D&D Dungeon Map Doodle

This is something I drew while wasting time, here and there, over weeks or months. Note that the label says, “Level 5”. That’s right, there are at least four other maps that go along with this one. But I’ve never put any text, (or thought), to this megadungeon, it’s really just a doodle. But it’s doodling I really enjoy. And this is why I’m so excited about designing “old school” dungeons in Minecraft for my sons to play in, like I did when I was their age. This is a truly exciting revisit to the most imaginative days of my life.


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One Response to Making Dungeons

  1. Bill2 says:

    I love looking at D&D maps. Even without the text it let’s my mind imagine what could be in the rooms. I wish I still had some of the old adventures I created way back in the day. I envy you if you are getting that good feeling creating again.

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