How to: Make an Epic and Worthwhile Dungeon

Tutorial By Battlemapsta

K guys now that I'm back I might as well share some of my knowledge to those that are willing to learn about how to make good dungeons. Now it's true, there are better terrainers and WAY better triggerers than me but this should help either way.

Edit: To see people's reaction to this I made all pictures in image format.

Dungeon Making

For basics there are many things to know in general to make a dungeon successful, and fun.

1. Bosses
One of my favorite topics. Bosses make a challenge to the player. Bosses drop rewards or quest items. Without one the dungeon is pretty much pointless if you have heroes or units that can fight there. Just so you know as you continue to read this, this also applys to units and not only bosses.

Now dungeons can be mazes sure but in this tutorial I am concentrating on the fighting ones where you need to be at your best wits to survive.

Bosses can be anything but it has to have a bit of relation to the other units in the dungeons.


Now the above picture I gave is a good example of making sense with bosses or units relating to each other. Like I wrote in the picture you see murlocks in battle ready position for an invasion while randomly a fel guard is behind them all. This really makes some people wonder "What is that thing doing there". Now I know some people really don't even care about it but still it's best to fix it by either;
1. Change the model so if you have a dungeon full of murlocks that you make the boss a murlock too.

2. Add a storyline with depth in it. By this for any beginners confused is that you can't have this.

The dungeon of Luskwood is inhabited by murlocks along with their evil felguard leader (whatever).

Now some of you might be thinking "It still sounds ok... no need to change it"
Now I like lore and storylines in dungeons so I'd like to write this for something like that.

The gloomy dungeon of Luskwood has been deprived of all it's people in the last eon. The Elven tribes of the north-east inhabited this peaceful place untill murlocks from the murky waters below set an assult onto the great keep. The resistance was outnumbered as the people of Luskwood hopelessly met their deaths.

It was also known about these murlocks that their great leader, (whatever), was a messanger of the demon lord Kil' Jaden. He enslaved the murlocks to continue off where Archimond had failed at destroyed Azeroth. The murlocks are now corrupted as they thrive in legions among the ancient keep known.... as Luskwood with their demon leader aside to lead them into conquest.


Now that to me was a summary as I could've wrote a whole page to make people understand the storyline more clearly as I know readers here may have been confused to death by what I wrote.

2. Items

Another imporant thing in a dungeon are items. They can be both quest, buff enhancing, or maybe rare items at which have useful magical properties. For dungeons add a bit of uniqueness to the variety of items for their different purposes.

Here are some examples of items useful in a dungeon.
Also remember this...... if you want items to not be too repetitive you can try making more items and for all items you should make it have a % chance. By this I don't mean everytime you kill a mob, a awesome item drops.
1. Potions of different types like Health, Mana, Etc. These should most likely be dropped by any mob in the dungeon.

2. Buff Enchancing items like weapons, armors, shields are always good for any heroes that you might be playing as in a dungeon. Make a very low drop chance for these items and make them all drop from any unit in the dungeon. In addition you should add boss-only drop items and make it so only one of the the many great items drop when you kill him.

3. If your dungeon is a target of a quest, then add quest items. By this I don't only mean like "pick 5 roots and return to quest giver". To add a little more interest in case a dungeon is for like a rpg add items that give you quests with a low drop chance. This is a good idea that is also used in the popular MMO, WoW.

4 (Optional)
This is not required but could be cool for more fun. Do you who played TFT remember the NE level where you entered Sargaras's tomb and found these wierd shadow orbs? If you put I think 10, you can make the most powerful shadow orb. If you do something like this in your dungeon, than a bit of keen eye work can be involved in claiming the ultimate prize of finding all the pieces. It's kind of like D2 in Act 2. Find the viper amulet and the staff of kings and you get a horadric staff which is better than both items by themselves.

If you don't get what I mean post and I'll try to make it easier to understand.

5 (Don't do This)

Now I've been giving you item types you could use for your dungeon but here is a major tip.

By this I mean that you don't find all these items of different types for no possible reason which could also unbalance the dungeon since you can easily pass through it with your heroes.

To be more specific it's like this. You walk in a dungeon and look, You find 10 health potions, 4 mana, an item that gives +20 strength, and a quest item. Now you pick it up, and by the time you finish the dungeon you notice that you only used up 2 health potions and that's it.

Now here is the other way around. If you walk in the enterence and the same items are there but the monsters are extremly difficult. Now as we all know, heroes have limited space. Would you want to walk all the way back to the enterence for 1 potion???? It would be repetative

Here are some example of dungeons being random with items and one that is ok.

This is ridiculous to walk in a dungeon enterence with all this loot. Now I know that people would be like WOOT free stuff! Even I would say the same but still here is a good example of how to do it.
Now this is good for several reason.
1. Only 2 items and not about 20 like in the other example.
2. There are creeps guarding it so it's fair that you get these items if you slay them. But the creeps shouldn't be too easy because it would still be like getting them for free if they were.

Now the way I wrote it is easy for me to understand but if not for you, then tell me and I'll edit it as well.

3. Terraining

K here is another thing you have to make sure about. By terraining I mean making some sense as to how your dungeon looks. By this you could be random and make a volcano in an aquatic world. For this it's acceptable as in also reality, volcanoes come from the ocean untill they form islands.


The picture above which I made is a good example of making sense with terraining. Now here is the thing. Some people when looking at the picture may be saying "WTH is black abyss doing in the middle of an ice field. Well that is a good question because really to make sense with that you need a storyline like with the types of units in dungeons I discussed about. I already got in depth with one so you get a good idea about it. If not here is a good one.

Before Illidan Stormrage's ascent into Outland, he was sent on a task to destroy the Lich King within the Frozen Throne but because of the Night Elves' interference, his spell was unsuccessful and the Frozen Throne remained untouched. Depsite the spells failure to destroy the Lich King, the vast earthquakes caused by the destructive spell created mysterious voids in the arctics. Because this spell originated from Sargaras's eye this may be the cause of such a dramatic change in Icecrown.

4. Balancing

This one is obvious as you might hear this a lot. Make the units balanced to the power of your hero/units. You may as well check balancing tutorials for this general requirement. Also don't make your units too strong and the dungeon creatures too weak. Also make bosses at least harder than the strongest regular unit in the dungeon as well as stronger than your unit/hero.

5. Look of your Dungeon

Here is something you need to be aware of. Your dungeon as I've already talked about needs to be balanced, but the look of it also determines people opinion's about it. You need to make it look good by putting time and effort into it. You can't get other people to help you do it unless it's for an important reason like you and someone else sharing parts in making a campaign.

Here are some examples of a boss battle area in a dungeon.


In this picture you see an open, barren area. If this is what someone would consider a boss arena, then I beg to differ. If this is how you think an area in the dungeon should look like, then just know that your wrong and have to spice it up a little.


In this picture you now see a bit more spicing up in the dungeon by removing parts of the walls and adding a bit of creative terrain. Now for an average looking dungeon room we need to add doodads.


Now the final product. In this I removed more parts of the walls and added a lot of doodads. I added fire traps because of the lava and some side traps as well. I placed remained corpses near them so it looks realistic that people might have died there. I also added a large pile of skulls to show again that a lot of people died in that place. Also I added units which in this example is the boss. Now this isn't my best work for a dungeon area but this would be considered an average good looking boss arena.

So in conclusion, be creative about how your dungeon looks so it doesn't look really plain.

Here are ideas that can help you out in making a dungeon.

1. Dungeon Layout

Now your sitting there thinking "What should I make for a dungeon". If your not that creative that try for example copying a dungeon from any video game you like. Try WoW ones since the same units should be in WC3 except the latest ones such as for the BC. Before I was working on a Stratholm undead map but it's 12 mbs so I really can't post it in my topic.

Here is a picture of my map and Stratholm in WoW.

My Map

Using other people's ideas for dungeons are good as long as you execute them well which is why this tutorial is here to help you.

2 Boss Battles

K I've been over bosses in general but now it's time for the fun part... boss battles. There are many, many ways to make a boss fight but here are a couple of things to know about the boss.

1. I've been through models and storylines about bosses so now you need to make sure their abilities make sense. If I were making an ice dungeon with an ice boss, unless it's some magma beast near a volcano I would never give it fire abilities. I can think of hundreds of abilities for them but just make sense.

Nature Boss- Nature abilities
Ice Boss- Ice Abilities
Fire Boss- Fire abilities

2. This is for anyone who missed reading this atop my post. Make bosses harder than the normal units in the dungeons. If for example you have 2 heroes in the dungeon, make the boss harder than at least 1 hero. If it's only 1 hero try to make the boss hard enough for the hero to need to use like a specifc strategy to defeat them.

Now here are strategies for boss battles. Here is a list of things that would happen in a boss fight if you felt like adding it.
1. Teleporting
The boss may teleport you to a different area in the map along with itself to change battle strategies of the enemies.
2 Dummy Events
If you don't know what a dummy is, then search the forums for a tutorial on one. I promise you that if you look hard enough, that you'd find one. For this you can make dummy units that can cast spells to change the course of the boss fight. They could maybe should rains of fire or blizzards in specific areas or maybe buff the boss or even debuff you. The possibilities can be as good as endless.
3 Adds
If you ever played some WoW or any other fighting MMO or rpg, you'd know that adds are extra amounts of creatures coming in and attacking you. Use this for maybe a life specific trigger of the boss so if the boss has 500 hp, then 5 dragons spawn and attack you.
4. Objects
This may already sound wierd but by objects I mean things that assist the boss and that you'd have to do something specific to get rid of them. Maybe a portal that spawns monsters and the only way to close it is to like destroy an orb. Maybe an attacking object that does damage to you. Possibilities for this are also endless with the right amount of imagination.

Edit: Also I found this old map which is a little buggy with triggering but see if you can beat Diablo. It was for the boss contest months ago but I forgot to finish it entirely.

This is a good example for any new player even though gameplay would be sloppy because of my triggers.

3. Monster Individuality

This is a fun thing you can use for making monsters more different from each other than just names and abilities. By this I mean you can use the text I'll provide to change the names of the mobs. Here is the list I'm talking about. I don't have every color but an ok amount.
1. (Red)
Use this text before you monsters name so it's like...

2. (Gold/Yellow)
|cffffcc00 |r
This one is a bit more confusing but the|cffffcc00 is before the name and the |r is after the name so again this is how it would look like for the grunt.

Like I said I have a few but in case your confused or worried that your unit will have that text showing then don't worry.
All you need to do is write those texts I provided onto the Unit:Name section in the object editor. In the editor the text will be shown but in the game it will only show like grunt in my examples with the 2 colors I gave.

Here is a pic of a boss in my strat map with a red name.


Just for more proof here's a look at it in the editor like I said.

The (Boss) is only an editor Suffix, Don't worry about it

So use these well so you can be a little more original by like making bosses red like I did and use the gold for like rare units. The choice is all yours. There are many other color codes but I won't bother to find them since I think there is a tutorial with all of them.

Also you can use these 2 codes the same exact way for like the loading screen if you enabled it in the Scenario options and by this I mean for like the yellow code type the beginning part of the paragraph and the end part after the last word in the paragraph or you can make different types of letters colored differently.

4. Traps

Here is a fun thing to add to a dungeon that shouldn't be taken lightly in game. Traps make the dungeon more dangerous and require timing to avoid which is good to trick the player.


Here is a simple fire trap I used in a quick project I made called the "Gnoll Citidel". It does damage when someone steps between them when they fire becoming a really deadly obstacle including if a dungeon is on a countdown.

The trap variety can also be endless depending on how you think about it. It could be a freezing trap, burning trap, slowing trap, etc. Again it's all up to you.

Also if someone is wondering how I made my trap in the pictures then I'll show you this really simple one. Again I'm not really good at triggering but it still works.

First for my trigger I used a counter that ran all 5 firetraps that I made.

One Timer Events Time - Every 8.00 seconds of game time Conditions Actions Trigger - Turn on One Base <gen> Trigger - Turn on Two Base <gen> Trigger - Turn on Three Base <gen> Trigger - Turn on Four Base <gen> Trigger - Turn on Five Base <gen>

Now each trap trigger is the same like this.

One Base Events Unit - A unit enters Fire Trap 1 <gen> Conditions Actions Unit - Cause (Entering unit) to damage (Entering unit), dealing 500.00 damage of attack type Chaos and damage type Fire Trigger - Turn off (This trigger)

The fire Trap 1 thing just so beginners know is a region between both flames so since I have 5 traps, they're 5 regions.

Just in case also I made all 5 trap triggers initially off just so no leaking occurs but because of this poorly done trigger it might as well leak anyway. Still for beginners it's a very good trigger.

Still despite me sucking bad at this, advanced triggers can make grand traps that can do all kinds of crazy stuff like releasing a following boulder of death or causing the ground to sink killing all units.

5. Dungeon Quest Givers

This one is just as it sounds. Quest givers inside dungeons can be quite useful because you can do a specific task in the dungeon and get a good reward to help you get through the rest of it. They aren't really required for dungeon success but can become quite handy as long as a good reward would be granted.

6. Dungeon Events

Again like it says.. dungeon events get pressure going depending on what the event is. They make the dungeon have more edge and it would require strategy to get through the obstacles.

A perfect example is Stratholm as well because there are 2 events in the undead side.

1. The ziggurats because you need to kill the priests inside to deactivate them pretty much and when 3 are off, a gate opens.
2. You know it and you hate it, the 1 hour save challenge from the baron. This leads to much frustration and careful planning which actually gives it's reputation as one of the craziest dungeons in WoW.

So use events to spice up your dungeon and maybe even add some events for rewards or bonuses if you feel like it.

7. Rare Monsters

Again another useful thing for dungeons that are used all around WoW. For your dungeons you should have a trigger that has like a 15% chance of a rare monster to be in the dungeon. It's quite obvious that it should also drop some good rare loot so make some rare loot for it to drop.

8. Epic Quests

Now I've been talking about quests for a while but this is where it gets interesting. Epic quests in this case are quests that follow a certain plot line to happen. In other words here's an example.

You're killing stuff in a dungeon and you see prisoners locked up in chains. They say you need a key so you get one and free them and they run away giving you an item. Later on before the boss you see the prisoners but armored up about to fight a legion of the dungeon's creeps. They ask you to assist them in the epic battle.

Here are some picture examples of the same situation;

1. Prisoners

2. Epic Battle (Now they all ready to fight a great demon)

It's kinda similar to that at which randomly something you did before becomes something bigger for you to get through the quest. They usually bring thrill to players if they're made and designed well. It's all your choice in how it will go so be creative!

9. Puzzles

Puzzles can be both confusing and fun. Putting one in a dungeon increases difficulty but puzzles can be used for many different reason like..

1. Secret Loot
2. Secret Area
3. Continue Dungeon
And the list keeps going on and on

Here is also a good example of one:


In this picture you see 9 switches. This makes for good puzzle because if triggered right there could be a combination you need to make of 3 of those triggers to raise the elevator in the front to continue on. These are like brain teasers but still make for some confusing yet interesting fun in a dungeon.

If you put one in your dungeon, then you sure are making it better but make sure you trigger right with it because triggering will have to be involved unless your making a really easy one where you might be hiding something by another object.

10. Chained Events
This is one where in the progression of the dungeon, your actions and decisions affect the overall outcome and plot of the dungeon. Here is a good example of one.

You just entered a dungeon with one hero. Three corridors lay in front of you and you must decide to which to head into. You choose the the corridor to the very right and move the hero past the archway enterance of the corridor. Suddenly, the archway shuts inself and you are stuck in this corridor to where it shall lead.

That is a basic situation. Here is one more "interesting". (Note: The majority of this example is inspired to me from the game Diablo: Helllfire.

You are in the final area of the dungeon where a massive gate stands between you and your determined foe, the last boss. The gate is locked and in front of you, lies three books and a lever. Along your journey through the dangerous dungeon, you have discovered notes telling that the boss is extremely powerful and you can either use the lever to release him in his full fury or you can use an alternative to weaken the boss. It says that if the books are read in proper sequence, then the boss will be weakened and the door shall open. With this bit of advice, you choose to do the books but you read them in the improper sequence. Now you are teleported to hell with the final boss in front of you and much more powerful than you would normally expect from simply ignoring the books and pressing the lever.

This also leads to another issue which I will address right now.

11. Hints/Materials of Advise
This is a nice thing I noticed when playing Diablo 1 again.

Along your journey through dark Cathedrals, catacombs, caves, and even the most darkest recesses of hell, you will find great objects of knowledge and help. One such example are books that tell about the history of a dark Sin war where heaven and hell are met in an endless war. Some books talk about a demon lord known as Diablo; Lord of Terror, and youngest of three ultimate demon lords known as the prime evils. As you continue your quest deeper and deeper to reach hell to end a demon plague in the city of Tristram, you will discover that all fate has led to a confrontation to the demon you have been haunted about hearing from the dark pages. Tristrams elder and storyteller, Cain, alerts you that the only way to end the demon spread in Tristram is to destroy Diablo who is trapped beneath Tristram in hell.

Basically from this example, I am trying to say that things along your way through a dungeon such as books that talk about the lore and history of the dungeon can lead to a more realistic and breathtaking experience. While first introducing you to the dungeons lore as well as foreshadowing a possibly future for your units to face or experience.

Use such items to your advantage and you might include some books with faints descriptions of methods of maybe slaying a boss or type of creature. The possibilities are in the sole hands of the mapper and creativity will be your best tool.

Questions and Answers

This is a new section addressing the community's question with replies that I'll answer back
Q- What if the layout of the dungeon changes to suit the new creeps? Such as a forest dungeon having a lake in the middle of it were you were fighting trolls, and in the end you fight a naga or some such creature?
A- For this issue create a storyline addressing why the area is attracting such creatures when they vary from others in the dungeons such as the troll and naga.

K guys take this info for your own fun. Please post feedback about it as well and I am hoping to update it casually in case I missed something. Also I would submit my Stratholm map but it's 12 mb and it's way higher than the max in the forums.

NOTE: I had this pop up a lot before so I am going to state it here. I NO longer have the strat map due to a windows reinstallation. So please, do not pm and message me about info regarding the map, or simply the map itself.

Click here to comment on this tutorial.
Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Silkroad Online Forums
Team Griffonrawl Trains Muay Thai and MMA fighters in Ohio.
Apex Steel Pipe - Buys and sells Steel Pipe.