Cyclic Dungeon Generation
A downloadable document
Cyclic dungeon generation is the name given to the level creation algorithm in Joris Dormans’s 2017 roguelite Unexplored.
Taking inspiration from games like The Legend of Zelda, this algorithm generates dungeons by composing together cycles: circular loops of linked dungeon rooms designed to create a specific flow of gameplay.
There are several types of cycles that can be used to construct a dungeon, such as lock and key or hidden shortcut.
By nesting multiple different cycles, a dungeon can be generated that feels more like a human being intentionally designed it, rather than a purely random scattering of chambers.
This document attempts to adapt Unexplored’s cyclic dungeon generation algorithm into a process that can be used to quickly create engaging non-linear dungeons for tabletop roleplaying games.
This document includes:
- An explanation of cyclic dungeon generation and a process for randomly generating a dungeon from a set of 12 cycles
- A step-by-step example of using cyclic dungeon generation to create an adventure called "The Tomb Under the Tree"
- A simple but perilous adventure, "The Tomb Under the Tree", designed for use with Old-School Essentials but easily adapted to other game systems