Sunday, 25 July 2021

Dungeon Process: Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep (Part 6 - Revisions and Final Layout)

This is the sixth and final (long-delayed) post in my series documenting my full dungeon-writing process. I have had a lot of fun writing the Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep, and I hope my intentional reflection has been as insightful to read as it has been to write. 

Check out all the all the other posts in the series here.

Cover page of my dungeon: Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep

Slime Baroness and the Lady of Unterbranch Keep

Link to the full PDF of the dungeon. 


Checklist for my final pass:

  • Spell check and proofing
  • Check treasure values and locations
  • Finalize maps (page numbers & room highlighting)
  • Add page numbers to all room references
  • Print test (B&W and colour)

Final Layout

Now that all content has been finalized and proofed, I could go back and update the maps with highlighting and page numbers. This was very satisfying to finally see come together. With 60 rooms, I'm almost certain I've probably made an error in there somewhere that I won't catch until I run the dungeon. 


This process of intentional dungeon design and documenting my thoughts along the way has been very fun—and enlightening. 
Even though this final post has been delayed by almost two months, I am still very excited about this dungeon. I really hope to run it for some players soon. I'm happy with the way the maps turned out and the way everything fits together. I believe that there are some cool ideas buried here, but the whole thing is maybe not the best content I've ever written. A haunted keep isn't too innovative. Which is fine, since I was very focused on the layout, maps, and process for this dungeon. Even if the final product is something mediocre, the lessons learned have been invaluable. 

Once I work out any kinks with this map and layout style through playtesting, I believe it will be very successful. It was loads of fun to really take a step back and work out a way to set up a dungeon geared towards running at the table. I hope to replicate this for future dungeons. 

The spark tables idea for generating room contents was fun, but I'm not 100% satisfied with it. I will try something new next time. I think it got good results, but made me really zoom in on one room at a time instead of thinking at a bigger scale with interacting factions and contents. 

The long break I had between this post and the last one let me sit on this whole project. I believe that I got bogged down with the combined work of actually making the dungeon AND writing about the process on the blog. The final revisions and post grew to be this huge task I kept procrastinating in favour of smaller and more manageable projects (Stay tuned for this years' One Page Dungeon Contest entry...). 

I hope to return to this series in the future with a new post once I've run this dungeon. If I have any edits after that I may polish it up more and release on my page

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

The Series


  1. Just curious, despite getting bogged down did you find documenting the process helped refine/define the process?

    This is something I am particularly interested in at the moment so I'll be going back through the other posts, thanks for writing it all up.

    1. I would say yes, this has been a very valuable exercise.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Very clear and attractive presentation! I am only coming into the final product not having seen the process.

    The encounters are flavorfully characterized, and I do like having a treasure manifest so people running cash-> xp systems can see just how much can be expected.

    In spite of it being system neutral you might want to have an overall guide to the monster and damage presentation, in particular what CD is supposed to mean (a critical hit? max damage?)

    typo on p. 31 "socerer"

    1. Thanks for checking it out!

      You're right — good tips on making the system neutral presentation a bit more clear. Thank you.

  3. This has been a really great series. I was directly inspired by your use of spark tables as a starting point for dungeon creation when I made my entry for the one page dungeon contest.

    It sounds like you weren't satisfied with how the Spark Tables worked for you? I'm curious to hear where you thought they fell short.

    1. Hey thanks! I fully stole the idea of spark tables from Chris McDowall and electric bastionland.

      I think my particular set were just too repetitive. And I mixed up some general room contents (treasure, trap, etc) which I think would be better kept separate.

      I'm working on a couple other dungeons and I'm trying out spark tables of 2d10 instead of 2d20. Hopefully the smaller size will allow me to create more satisfying entries.