I needed to make up some Five Room Dungeons, so I wrote some tables for inspiration. Five room dungeons are an idea from John Four that makes a dungeon from five small challenges. The rooms can be large or small and arranged in many formations. The rooms are:
1. Entrance or Guardian
2. Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge
3. Trick or Setback
4. Climax, Big Battle, or Conflict
5. Reward, Revelation, or Plot Twist
The first thing I wanted was a theme table to tie the rooms together. I decided on eight different themes or places the dungeon could be.
Next I started to work on the rooms. I made some separate table and started brainstorming ideas fitting them into each list. After a few items, I started to come up with things that could fit in multiple lists, sometimes all of them! I decided to take another approach, to break each room up into what generic things could be in them. I came up with something to negotiate with (person), something to find (place), and something to overcome (thing). I was looking for nouns! Now I made lists of people, places, and things. As I looked over these I saw that some of them fit more naturally into the room designs. People fit more naturally into rooms one and four, places in one or three. I decided to weight each room with a negative, zero, or positive; from there picking a randomizer that fit my odds (thanks anydice).
I started tweaking my lists of nouns and realized I needed to weight one of the tables to make some places (planar) more rare. Instead of testing this out with dice, I wanted to run some really quick rolls and see instant results. I wrote an excel sheet to help me quickly randomize, copy, and paste. I forgot about the weighting I had done for the places, and you’ll see that in my original results. Without further ado, here are my six Five Room Dungeons.
1) Treasure Vault
Entrance or Guardian: Upon opening this hidden away area, you notice that it is or was recently inhabited. A tattered rug covers the floor, a table and 2 chairs sit off to the side, a small collection of books on a shelf of a bookcase, a comfy chair for reading and a long hallway stretches off in the distance. The rug hides a pressure plate that starts a slow rumbling in the hallway. If the players move it they can beat the crumbling hall. If the players wait, they realize that they will be cut off from the rest of the dungeon if they don’t move. Dexterity saving throw will get them past the falling rocks with no damage, half for failure. After the hall crumbles, it will take 250 man hours to unearth the whole 250 feet.
Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge: There is a woman, Sarin, caught in a circle of magical energy. She tells the party if the salt circle is broken, she can go free. She is a high level thief looking to loot the vault. She will betray the party if necessary.
Trick or Setback: This is a large room, it has small mouse sized holes that lead into hidden areas in the walls and ceiling. There is a hag, Hilda, hiding here who entered a pact to guard the vault for 101 years. If the vault is breached she will be trapped here forever. The hag uses the holes to enter the walls and cast from cover.
Climax, Big Battle, or Conflict: The vault is locked by a large circle divided in to four quadrants. They are colored yellow, blue, brown, and white. To open the lock a spell from each element (fire, water, earth, and air) must be cast in secession. The order does not matter, as long as they are cast one after another.
Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist: Aside from gold in the vault, there is also a Ring of Three Whooshes. It can cast longstrider three times per day.
2) Giant Burial Chambers
Entrance or Guardian: An unnatural pond, on a mountain top far from much of anything. If you submerge yourself in the pond you will emerge in a dark, carved stone entry room with a similar pool.
Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge: Three stone giant ghosts guard this area. They will warn the characters (in giant) not to disturb the contents of the tombs.
Trick or Setback: A stone Giant lairs here, melded into the stone and watching over the tombs. He has been shunned by his people for something he did long ago.
Climax, Big Battle, or Conflict: A fey lurks here in the shadows, seeking revenge on the giants that lay here. The fey will encourage the characters to seek the sword.
Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist: A sword that contains their souls is here, if used and reduce a creature to 0 HP it will release a soul as a giant shadow under the welders control for 1 hour before vanishing. It has 10 'charges' and turns to a non-magical sword after they are all used, damning the giants souls to the abyss.
3) Shadow Monastery
Entrance or Guardian: A haunted monastery lies in near ruins, the veil between worlds is thin here and shadowy apparitions of the former students can be seen eternally practicing, trapped between life and death. An entrance can be found deep in the bowels of the old monastery, linking to a shadowfell version of the building.
Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge: A monk on the other side says that they are all trapped here by a bell that can be heard ringing in the distance.
Trick or Setback: If the party goes toward the sound they will have an encounter with aggressive monks.
Climax, Big Battle, or Conflict: The Bell is a construct with sonic attacks.
Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist: Before the monk leaves the shadowfell behind, he will open a portal back and give the party a ghost rune. Ghost rune can be transferred to a non-magical suit of armor or weapon. If attached to a weapon, weapon can instead do cold or necrotic damage. If a creature is immune to cold damage, it is reduced to resistant for this attack; if it is resistant it is reduced to normal damage. If the creature does not have a resistance or immunity to cold damage and cold is chosen, critical hits to three times the normal effect.
4) Tower on the Border
Entrance or Guardian: A haunted tower is guarded by the ghost of a wizard, he warns that the darkness shall destroy you.
Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge: There is a black pudding here trapped in a large glass container with a door facing out. On the other side of this large room is an area that has one inch holes in the floor that go down twenty feet to a pressure plate that opens a secret blue portal. The pressure plate must have the weight a large creature on it (the black pudding). The black pudding can then squeeze its way through a passage under the floor and back into the glass container through a hole in the bottom, resetting the puzzle.
Trick or Setback: There is a portal on each wall of this rectangular room, the one the characters step through changes to a different color (green). The other portals are (right to left) black, yellow, and red. If the players choose any but the black, they are teleported d4 hexes (24 miles each) away.
Climax, Big Battle, or Conflict: The wizard from the entrance is here and shadow touched. He is invisible and holds the key of a great cage that surrounds the party. There are signs of someone have been here recently and a tracking check will lead them to bump into the wizard. Defeating the crazy wizard or otherwise finding the key will let the PCs out of the cage. The wizard will explain how the players can get back using the closest shadow portal (d4x6 miles away).
Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist: The wizard wears a robe of illusion, it has seventeen charges that can be used to can cast an illusion spell from zero to fourth level (DM chooses one spell per level). Each spell can be cast for the spells level +1 charge; e.g. a cantrip is 1 charge, a first level spell is 2 charges. It disintegrates after the last charge is used.
5) Prison of the Ravager
Entrance or Guardian: A shadowfell prison holds a bound carrion, or ghoul demon. To enter the foul jail requires a pound of flesh placed into a bedrock mortar in a large boulder in an out of the way place in the forest.
Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge: The Ravager has been imprisoned here for countless years, he asks the party to free him and offers to make them generals in his army as well as lead them out of the prison.
Trick or Setback: This room contains five cauldrons full of burbling liquids. When the red, green, blue, yellow, and orange liquids are drank by themselves they do nothing, when mixed together they do a random result.
2 +1 strengtH
3 +1 intelligence
4 Paralyzed for an hour.
5 +1 wisdom
6-8 Aged by twenty five percent of current age.
9 +1 charisma
10 Polymorphed into a sheep for an hour.
11 +1 constitution
12 +1 dexterity
Climax, Big Battle, or Conflict: An undead fey guards the exit and will die before he lets the demon leave. He knows the Ravager’s true name.
Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist: There is a secret room that has a magic mouth that speaks the demons true name, Catullus.
6) Astral Erratic
Entrance or Guardian: An Astral dragon, Ansmon, makes his lair in this huge chunk of rock and stages attacks on astral raiders from here.
Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge: A very young, seventy-five, elven ranger, Laira resides here and serves as guardian to the dragon’s lair. She was captured infiltrating the dragon’s lair and has since joined the cause.
Trick or Setback: A monk, Ranek, lives here, forced into a contract when the dragon destroyed his monastery on a separate errant in the astral plane. He has been here for only a few years, arriving after the Laira.
Climax, Big Battle, or Conflict: The dragon will attack any who enter here without Laira.
Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist: The dragon keep a journal of his conquests, including mind wiping Laira after destroying her trespassing family.
Next is tweaking of the tables to a specific area and using specific monster instead of generic placeholders.