By my reckoning there are types four types of dungeon complexes: the Wizard Tower Dungeon Complex, the Necropolis Dungeon Complex, the Sewer Dungeon Complex, and the Prison Dungeon Complex. Each has a benefit and a drawback to its use.
The Wizard Tower Dungeon Complex
This sort of dungeon requires the player to say that yes the wizard had no problems with manpower and was able to create the dungeon with little word of its proportions getting out to the greater world by using multiple contractors, architects, and crews with really tall fences ringing the construction area the entire time and no one curious about what was going on behind those walls. The wizard then went through their labyrinthine underground complex hiding their magical artifacts and trinkets like some sort of bumbling Santa Clause of the ancient world. Afterwards they invited a lot of wonderfully hungry predators into the dungeon and got eaten I suppose.
I've never liked that set-up as it takes a lot of leaps of faith on the part of the player in a logical world. Now in the world of Dungeons and Dragons that sort of scenario makes a certain level of sense, but it doesn't hold to any sense of verisimilitude.
The Necropolis Dungeon Complex
This sort of dungeon makes a lot of sense. We've all heard of Egyptian tombs filled with treasures beyond belief, mummies, deadly traps, and curses. To add additional types of undead monsters, competing adventurers, and power hungry minions of dark and vile powers into the mix is not that far of a stretch. My only problem with this sort of dungeon is that it tends to be a little one dimensional.
"Oh, another undead that I can turn?" yawned the cleric . . .
The Sewer Dungeon Complex
This dungeon is only good under certain circumstances: namely sieges and vile cults. Outside of those two occasions there is never going to be a time when you have an adventurer say, "Hey guys, you know that Necropolis filled with unbelievable riches sounds cool and all, but I'd rather climb over other people's shit and explore the sewer!"
The Prison Dungeon Complex
My favorite type of Dungeon is the Prison Complex. In a Prison dungeon you're provided with a slew of options that make it easier for you as a Dungeon Master and Referee to establish a reasonable explanation for why certain creatures are present in your dungeon. I like having easy answers to complex questions.
I also like that with a Prison complex you're able to easily explain why there's a + 5 Great Sword stashed in room A5 - it's the confiscated possessions room for the prisoners - or why there is a ton of food in room B89 - it's the pantry for the kitchen. Everywhere you go in this dungeon there is a simple explanation for why you're finding all that cool guy stuff.
That's coolness right there son.
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