OSR: Generic Laboratory

Patrick Stuart set a challenge. I needed a generic laboratory for a chapter of the Monster Overhaul. Lo and behold, it all worked out.

Original: Pits of the Black Moon by Dyson Logos.

It's about as poetic as those dreadful sonnets students are forced to write and about as artpunk as an office photocopier used to make zines, but it's done, and (hopefully), it's useful.

Small Dungeon Considerations
  • I try to aim for 6-12 rooms. Fewer than six isn't really a dungeon; more than 12 doesn't fit on one page in the format I've chosen, and often leads to duplicated ideas. This limits map selection. Having a d# of rooms lets GMs easily roll a random room number.
  • I try to pick maps where the natural room order (if you start numbering where the PCs enter the dungeon and increment in some sort of logical path) matches the layout on the page, so each room's description is close to its number. Sometimes (like in this map), it doesn't work perfectly, but it's something to aim for. Dyson has so many maps that picking one is often the hardest part of a generic dungeon; this challenge was helpfully specific.
  • I edit maps to make them fit the page, the concept, or the format restrictions. Dyson's maps have shadows so rotating them can lead to odd effects, but trimming off a few rooms or adjusting some details is trivial and can significantly change the nature of a map. In this case, I cut off the entire left wing of the dungeon.
  • I try to strike a balance between evocative language and impenetrable prose. These generic dungeons are supposed to be instant GM assistants. Every line should add meaning or utility, but if a GM has to stop to untangle a sentence, the generic dungeon becomes less useful. Distilled essence of dungeon or Reader's Digest pablum? Your call.
  • All generic dungeons (and all bestiary entries) receive periodic punch-up passes, where I try to identify boring bits, excise dull words, and look for repeated adjectives.

Here's a bonus Generic Grotto.


  1. beautiful dungeon and great tips! thank you!!

  2. This is great. You have made some beautiful things.

  3. The "hateful shrine to personal nemesis" is fantastic, I know *exactly* the kind of person who owns this place...