How a Dungeon Forms

A Dungeon is a specific type of naturally-occurring pocket dimension which can form when a certain series of conditions are met. Much like mushrooms growing in damp and shady areas, a Dungeon can arise anywhere where there are monsters, traps, winding halls, tantalizing treasures, places to explore and hazards to encounter. The basic life cycle of a Dungeon is as follows:

  1. The base structure of a Dungeon is created and allowed to fall into some degree of disrepair. This is usually somewhere subterranean and sectioned off into many enclosed rooms and passageways. Examples include libraries, basements, sewers, cave systems, mineshafts, parking garages, subway tunnels, and of course, literal mundane dungeons.
  2. The Dungeon gradually accumulates hazards and valuable items. As conditions deteriorate, the Dungeon becomes populated first with dangerous vermin, then with bigger and more exotic creatures. At the same time, people will enter wishing to store something valuable where it will be protected by the natural hazards of the Dungeon, installing additional traps along the way. Alternately, they will enter simply because they wish to explore, and are curious as to what could be inside, likely having heard rumors about treasures or wondrous artifacts. Most of either group usually die, leaving their valuables on their cooling corpse and providing a source of nutrition for the monstrous denizens within, as well as bait for future adventurers.
  3. At this point, sufficient thematic density has been reached, and this location will begin to gravitate towards other locations in metaspace with a similar tonal spin, namely other Dungeons. this will be noticed as strange effects and occurrences within the body of the Dungeon. Things will start to drift in from other similar universes as existential walls thin, portals open, and realities overlap. Foreign ontological rulesets will also begin to function, allowing for the use of magical or technological objects that would previously have been useless piles of junk, made inert by incompatible local physics.
  4. The Dungeon will now grow so thematically dense that it forms a deep thematic-gravity well, and tears itself loose from the host universe. The newborn Dungeon will now either gravitate towards a previously established Dungeon and be subsumed into its aesthetic mass, or remain independent and begin to grow and develop. In either case, the Dungeon will now send out feelers into surrounding universes, opening portals in thematically similar locations so that adventurers and explorers may stumble into the Dungeon while exploring dungeon-like locations, and continue to fuel and nourish its development.

If you think you’ve discovered a location that either leads to or is in the process of becoming a Dungeon, good job! This will be an excellent test of your adventuring skills, as well as a way to upgrade your gear and gain some extra funds (if you survive). If you think you might have killed a new species, unearthed a previously lost legendary artifact, or discovered a brand-new Dungeon, please report any pertinent findings to the appropriate office at the East Gygax College of Adventuring and Dungeoneering.

The above text has been released as part of the East Gygax College of Adventuring and Dungeoneering's public education initiative, "Dungeons and You!"