The Static Dungeon Is the Same, Is the Same, Is the Same . . .
In the beginning we all play with Static Dungeons where the orc in 5A is waiting for us with his treasure chest so that we can pick up 20,000 copper pieces and swim in them like the dungeon exploring Scrooge McDucks we all secretly want to be. Then we get a few dungeons under our belt and suddenly the Static Dungeon becomes a problem filled with Quantum Ogres and that derisive shake of the head from the veteran players as the new kids continue to wade in the shallow end of the pool.
We're shamed away from the simplicity of the Static Dungeon and what happens to so many of us is that we trade the simple pleasure of the Static Dungeon for the complexity and added difficulty of the Dynamic Dungeon. As Dungeon Masters we increase our workload by taking into account the way that sound reverberates in the dungeon or the restlessness of 30 orcs who haven't killed, eaten, or screwed anything in the last four hours. Yet this trade-off begs a question: in increasing the difficulty of the game have we increased the amount of fun we're having?
With the Static Dungeon a lot of the more complex problems that a Dungeon Master encounters are eliminated. The dungeon is stocked ahead of time with treasures, traps, and monsters; only unlike the Dynamic Dungeon, they all stay put. You don't have to pull out a compass and determine if the orcs in 6B can hear the players talking as the walk up hallway 6Q, and if so, how do they react. 6B will be a battle because that's where the orcs are.
Essentially the biggest benefit to running a Static Dungeon is that it allows the Dungeon Master to focus her attention on what the players are actually doing and not on trying to juggle the reactions of her monsters and the motivations of the various factions playing for power within the dungeon (which can be a lot of fun if done correctly). Instead her monsters react to the players in predictable patterns often ascribed in the modules she's running and all the Dungeon Master has to do is follow along. By simplifying the Dungeon Master's responsibilities it allows her to focus on the fun aspects of running and not on the bookkeeping and added complexity that often comes along with the Dynamic Dungeon.
I can't honestly tell you that running a Static Dungeon will be more fun than a Dynamic Dungeon, or attempting to run the Ideal Dungeon; but I can tell you that if adding complexity to the game takes you away from the fun aspects then simplifying your game is the answer. Yes being simpler does mean that running the game is easier, but that doesn't mean you aren't having a good time.
Now if you'll excuse me, there's a ogre in next room guarding a big ass treasure chest and I forgot to take my money bath this morning.
Feel like you're missing something?
Part 2: The Static Dungeon Is the Same, Is the Same, Is the Same . . .