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What’s Your Dungeon’s Purpose?

A dungeon without a purpose is a poor dungeon indeed.
What’s Your Dungeon’s Purpose?

A dungeon must be more than a hole in the ground stuffed full of monsters and treasures. A dungeon without a purpose is a poor dungeon indeed.

In almost all cases, someone decided to build the dungeon. An undertaking of such magnitude is unlikely to be done on a whim. Whoever built the dungeon did so for a specific purpose. That purpose shapes the layout and feel of the place.

Remember, a dungeon might not still serve its original purpose. New inhabitants may use it for a different purpose. If this is the case, the new inhabitants will modify the dungeon to suit their needs.

There are several types of dungeon:


Originally built as a cellar for an above-ground building such as a castle or church, the dungeon has survived the destruction of the above structure.

Colony or Community

Some communities choose to live underground. Such locations are often extensive and ramble over several levels. They contain everything needed for underground life.

Fortress or Refuge

Built as a place to withstand a natural disaster or one's enemies, the dungeon is heavily fortified. Entry is difficult, and individual levels, sub-levels or places of importance will likely feature additional defensive points.

Lair or Home

Some villains feel safer underground and live there with their minions. Such a dungeon will have everything the villains needs for long-term living. A villain's quarters will be the most secure location.


Built to find minerals, metals or gems, a mine is likely a long, rambling affair. It lacks many of the features of a typical dungeon and may or may not be still active.


Built to carry waste away from a settlement, a sewer is a filthy, loathsome place.


Built to venerate a deity (or possibly a whole pantheon), a dungeon designed as a temple was likely established to worship a power of darkness or death. Alternatively, a temple dedicated to a good deity may have been built to ward approaches to an entry to the Ebon Realm or other place of fell aspect.

Tomb, Crypt or Sepulchre

Often built to house the earthly remains of a great or notable personage, a tomb, crypt or sepulchre is likely to have undead lurking within. It is also likely to have many shrines and similar locales. Some such places could be necropolises designed to house thousands of the dead.

The Final Word

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