What are the must-have elements of a classic OSR dungeon?

Whizbang Dustyboots

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My 71-year-old dad turns out to be loving the D&D games we've had over the past year and change, including games played alongside one son, a daughter-in-law, a grandchild and family friends. So far, I've mostly stuck with the Five-Room Dungeon model, just because the groups have tended to be small and time limited.

But there's been increasing demands, especially from my son, to play more often, so I purchased the Dungeon of Terror miniatures scale mega-dungeon (181 keyed locations, as I recall) PDF from 0one Games and have begun stocking the entrance areas for my dad's next visit to town.

Previous adventures have checked off a number of classic D&Disms I wanted my dad to see, including a room full of magical pools, giant vermin, humanoid races, quirky magic items (a +1 longsword, +3 versus rats, which also grants a bonus to saving throws versus diseases), magic mouth spells, and so on.

This is the first time in decades I've taken on a mega-dungeon, and while 0one Games has some suggestions for content -- some of which are over the top, like a wing of the dungeon with dozens of orcs, which neither my group nor my miniatures budget could handle -- I'd like to make sure a lot of other classic D&Disms get in the mix, like a mysterious talking statue, rival factions of dungeon denizens and so on.

Are there any (positive) ideas that scream "classic D&D dungeon" to you that I ought to be remembering?

Thanks for your help.
 

WillyDJ

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The 'dungeon ecology' monsters. Your cubes, slimes, jellies, fungi and whatnot.
Mysterious pools, the effects of drinking from are random each time.
Cryptic puzzle traps of the 'Speak friend and enter' variety.
Mimics! Nothing screams D&D dungeon more than the furnishings going for you.
 

DMH

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The first thing that comes to mind is the gargoyle face from Tomb of Horrors- an obvious trap that still draws some characters into its embrace. They just can't help themselves and the result is more likely a laugh than a cringe.

Chessboard rooms are one thing that drive me crazy. Hate them, but they were a thing way back when.

Another from Tomb is the choice. There is a room with 2 bags full of great loot and a bound and gagged prisoner (a slyph IIRC). When one of them is opened or released, the others vanish forever. If you replay the dungeon, all of them should be given different descriptions and loot for the bags.

And the last from Tomb is the sacrifice. A door will open only if certain kinds of gems are destroyed by a statue. No xp or cash for those gems.

Something I think needs to be more sprinkled through dungeons are adventurer corpses with and without small amounts of loot.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

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The 'dungeon ecology' monsters. Your cubes, slimes, jellies, fungi and whatnot.
Good call. I've been eyeing the Reaper Minis gelatinous cube mini (and the more expensive/fancier ones from Otherworld).

Mimics! Nothing screams D&D dungeon more than the furnishings going for you.
You know, I'll go one further and say that I need to remember piercers, lurkers below and trappers in the dungeon. They're all ridiculous but 100 percent classics.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

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Chessboard rooms are one thing that drive me crazy. Hate them, but they were a thing way back when.
I think 0one Games actually put one on their map. There's a decent variant of that old trope in World of Warcraft's Karazhan dungeon that I might rip off.

And the last from Tomb is the sacrifice. A door will open only if certain kinds of gems are destroyed by a statue. No xp or cash for those gems.
Excellent choice. Forcing people to give up treasure to advance is a definite classic.

Something I think needs to be more sprinkled through dungeons are adventurer corpses with and without small amounts of loot.
Already in the plan, since I'm using Ptolus for my setting, which has a professional adventurer class. I even have put adventurers on the wandering monster table (more in number and lower level when they're entering the dungeon, and a separate entry for fewer of them higher in level as they depart).
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
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Are you are using the dungeon dressing charts from the 1e DMG?

One location that can be fun and terrifying to explore is the wizard lab. Unfortunately the chart for it is rather lacking in high weirdness or even critters or critter parts pickling in jars.

Another is the fighter's exercise room with dummies that have been sliced in half, are porcupines of arrows, burnt with fire or acid and have fist marks in the chest and face area.

Any such room should be encountered before the owner to drive home how dangerous they are. And to show their personalities and potential weaknesses.

Something that just came to mind is the newspaper. Apparently they were popular in the very early days to add depth for settings. Throw some new and old ones in the living rooms, possibly some in humanoid languages the characters can speak and read.
 

keehnelf

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Teleporter traps

Rust monsters (dick move if played as written, but classic)

Pit traps (with spikes and/or hidden doors in the bottoms) if you haven't done one of those yet

Gelatinous Cube
 

keehnelf

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Something I think needs to be more sprinkled through dungeons are adventurer corpses with and without small amounts of loot.
Invariably these make good dungeon dressing--they can provide clues for watchful adventurers about the surroundings, as well as an easy source of non-obvious treasure.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
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I decided to search for any blog posts that might help and this is what came up on the first page: http://www.amazon.com/CASTLE-OLDSKULL-CDDG1-Role-Playing-Supplements-ebook/dp/B00AW5BH3C not a blog post, but its TOC looks quite interesting. Pity I don't have a kindle reader.

Mimic monsters. I don't mean mimics, but rather critters like gas spores. Strangely there are very few official ones, but that is easy to fix- just reskin goblins and bugbears.
 

MrBubbles

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Previous adventures have checked off a number of classic D&Disms I wanted my dad to see, including a room full of magical pools, giant vermin, humanoid races, quirky magic items (a +1 longsword, +3 versus rats, which also grants a bonus to saving throws versus diseases), magic mouth spells, and so on.

Thanks for your help.
The Rat Catcher, I love that sword.

Oh, secret doors. And trap doors are also a thing back then (with or without a ladder if representing a "secret door" trapdoor).
 
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