Saturday, August 8, 2020

[Dungeon] Temple of the Berserkers, one-page OD&D adventure

 As a little exercise, I drew a dungeon and stocked it according to the guidelines in the 3 original Dungeons & Dragons booklets. Behold, the Temple of the Berserkers!

Download PDF with map & key!*

(for a one-page adventure, print "2 pages on 1 sheet")

* 2020.08.11 - updated the file with a new map and a couple of minor edits.
Big thanks to John Bragg for spotting the error in the elevation levels!

* 2020.08.24 - now with a players' map, with traps, secret doors and labels hidden!


I started with the map (because I love drawing maps). 40-ish rooms, interconnections, etc., and I added some features like statues and secret doors right away. Then I reserved the bigger or more peculiar rooms as "specials", but didn't put anything in them yet.

Instead, I went through the rest of the areas, stocking them randomly, as a level 1 dungeon. The OD&D procedure is clunky (and can be substituted with a single-roll stocking method), but I used it more or less as written. Next, I rolled up random monsters for each populated room.

At this point, due to a freak coincidence, I rolled Berserkers three times. And so, a theme emerged. A temple/dungeon mostly overtaken by Berserkers, and a couple of other creatures and NPCs, who are either their leaders, allies, or, in some cases, enemies they can't get rid of.

With this theme set and most rooms stocked, I returned to the specials and adjusted them to fit the theme (or not fit the theme, as OD&D dungeons are not supposed to be all logical...). 

I like how it all came out and it was fun to make. Enjoy!


  1. Sounds interesting and flexible! I'm going to use it for sure. Thanks!!~

    1. Thanks! Let me know your opinion if you end up using it, as is or part of it!

    2. I will have to fuss with it some as we are playing AD&D 1e, but likely not too much. I’ll definitely let you know!

    3. Yeah, all the monsters are present in the MM. Maybe the treasure amount has to be adjusted.

  2. I like this little dungeon a lot! When I make a dungeon I design very intentionally but I'm not sure the results are necessarily better than by-the-book randomness with some post-hoc adjustment.

    Coincidentally, I've been thinking about Berserkers a lot myself and fitting them into the ecology of my own campaign has been fun.

    How do you populate the Special rooms? Do you have a table of unique features or do you just make them up as needed?

    1. Random stocking definitely lets me accomplish *more*. It's much easier to make a bigger, more extensive dungeon if you are helped out by random tables. It's even better psychologically: I'm an anxious person, and NOT being the sole "author" of the dungeon, sort of being able to delegate part of the job to a randomizer is actually a big relief... :)

      I don't think I've ever even thought about Berserkers before yesterday when they came up 3 times out of 5 on random rolls :D :D

      For Special rooms - it's a mix.
      - In this dungeon, part of it came from the map, especially the phase when I added markings for secret doors, statues, altars. I didn't know at that point what are they exactly going to be, but at least they gave me a starting point: "okay, there are these Berserker guys, what would be their statue?"
      - Some things are just off the top of my head, and I see if I can fit them in.
      - And I have a bunch of supplements, PDFs, printouts, blogposts that help a lot. I haven't consulted them for this dungeon, though I did make great use of OD&D Supplement IV, Greyhawk, which has a nice collection of ideas for traps, specials, tricks.

    2. When I work on dungeons, I get a lot of mileage out of Michael Raston's tables:

      And occasionally the Hack & Slash compendium of Empty Rooms:

      And the Tome of Adventure Design is *sometimes* helpful... Although I'm not as enthusiastic about it as I used to be. Some tables are great, some are just filler.

    3. I enjoy ruminating on what belongs next to what, otherwise I probably would use more randomized dungeons. That said, I should use some random/procedural generation just for a change of pace. Michael Raston's stuff is so excellent (I recently bought his Blasphemous Roster book).

      I made "berserker salts" a treasure/drug/poison rendered from dead monsters and a gang to exploit the effects. Hopefully, it'll be fun when my players find some.

      My favorite of your Specials was the evil magic sword and the inscription that is basically a dare. I already have an idea on where to place a similar statue in my dungeon... Thanks!

    4. "Berserker salts", lovely :D
      I entertained the idea of warriors huffing fumes from a crack in the ground, to achieve the berserker trance state... I didn't put it into this dungeon, but definitely storing it for a later Special :) On the hindsight, it would be a great fit for this temple: the Berserkers take over the former temple of Thasaidon, because it has this source of berserking gas (maybe put it in area #21, instead of the fountain of variant size).

      Yeah, I'm quite happy about the evil sword trick :D Glad you liked it too.

    5. I used the sword statue in my latest dungeon. Just wanted to tell you:

    6. Cool, I'm glad to become a part of the Thurstle Island stuff :D

  3. Beserker salts are definitely going to start appearing on "minor treasures" tables along with healing potions, alchemists' fire, oil, thieves tools, fire breath, anti-burn oil.
    Quibble with the map: At #6, there's a down staircase, with no counterpart on the left half of the map. Maybe the long hallway in #24 slopes down gradually, and a down staircase by 18?
    It always bugs me when dungeon maps do that without an explanation.

    1. Thanks for pointing out the level discrepancy! Do you happen to be a Dwarf? ;)

      I like the idea of a long sloping hallway (a 10' change in level over ~150'). In such a version, a staircase should be added near #28, too.

      OR a staircase *UP* by #18, that brings back the left side of the complex on the same level as the big octagonal hall (#3).

      Anyways, I'll think about this and eventually update the map!

    2. Not a dwarf, I've just messed with a lot of free-and-cheap PDF dungeons. Always take a couple of crayons and determine where the creator missed a change in elevation.

      The secret door between the two hallways in #24 is a fixed point. Either the entire left half of the dungeon slopes downward (10' over 150'), or the narrow hallway slopes downward after the secret door (10' over 70').

      Or a staircase at #28, so that #22-32 are all on the lower level. Then no need for a sloping hallway.

    3. I took the path of least resistance and added a stair to #28. Updated the file and map in the post.

      Thank you!