My First Dungeon

Michael O. Varhola

Being a packrat is certainly a dubious characteristic, as I am continuously reminded in my ongoing attempts to keep Skirmisher HQ and my home office organized, but once in awhile it does result in some nice surprises. Case in point is, in fact, the first dungeon I ever created, sometime during the summer of 1982! I have, accordingly, scanned this 35-year-old document and shared it here. It depicts the lair of a Fire Giant and a number of affiliated flame-related monsters and is presumably set into the base of an active volcano in some lonely wasteland. 

What strikes me is how little my approach to dungeon design has changed since this first effort and how I remain drawn to the same themes. There are any number of things I would do differently today but they are surprisingly few or cosmetic in nature. I never write anything by hand anymore, for example, would not put descriptive text any more extensive than a right on a map, would include either the Salamanders or the Hydra but not both, would probably include some humanoid minions — such as the Fire Ogres that I have been inserting into adventures the past few decades — and would absolutely include a lot more description. It nonetheless bears mentioning, however, that this is actually a self-standing adventure!