My Favourite Dungeon Map

I’ve posted a lot about dungeon design and I’ve even posted some of my own first megadungeon maps. I realised today, though,  that I’ve never shared my favourite dungeon map.

Mottled Spire_web


I’m sure you recognise the map below; it’s Xak Tsaroth from Dragonlance DL1 Dragons of Despair, the first instalment in the epic Dragonlance series of adventures for 1st Edition.


I love this map or so many reasons. The adventure came out (I think) when I was about 12 years old–I actually remember discussing it on the phone with a friend–and I think this was the first dungeon map I’d seen that wasn’t “flat”. I love the way the levels interlink with each other and the different feel for each of the areas that map manages to convey. The map even manages to convey some of the history of the dungeon–that’s no mean feat for a dungeon map!

I wish I could map like this. With my ongoing design and development of the megadungeon Gloamhold, the dungeon maps are beginning to cause me worries. I know what I want the dungeon to look like in my mind’s eye, but translating that to the page is a “challenge”. My maps often look like a drunk spider has staggered across a page before dying. Still, at least with my level of skill I can’t do anything but improve!

What’s Your Favourite Map?

Have you got a favourite dungeon map? If you have, let me know what it is in the comments below!

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

13 thoughts on “My Favourite Dungeon Map”

  1. Mine would have to be C1 – the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. We got absolutely slaughtered there, which was nice, but later as a DM I slipped a conversion into my Savage Tide campaign and got hold of a copy. Wow – not only the classic top- and side views, but page after page of drawings of all the important locations, from the PCs point of view. Plus, I love the whole Aztec vibe.

    Adventures sure did have more content when the statblocks were smaller!

    1. C1 has a great map, but funnily enough I’ve never actually run that module. I did–like you–explore a bit of the shrine during the Savage Tide AP, but that’s the extent of my experience with the adventure. That said, you are right–the player handouts in that adventure are second to none!

  2. Pharaoh was a favourite of mine – like DL1 it’s realising of the environment felt utterly compelling both when I played and later DMd in the early/mid 80s. Many happy memories. Likewise, The Quest for the Heartstone had an interesting 3D map.

  3. @ john garlick specifically and others generally … i too loved the map stuff in Pharaoh. I think you’re talking about the general set up of the giant pyramid specifically. Great stuff.

    This map from the dragonlance adventure … insanity. love it!

  4. I LOVE this map- in addition to looking great, it played well, also! Been a long time since I used these modules and it might be time to resurrect them!

  5. I always loved that Map. I think my favorite maps have been those that show layers such as a temple that was built over a older temple. If you get to Wash. D.C. take the tour of the National Cathedral. when they built it they gave it that age as you go further down you find older styles.

  6. Have you tried mapping using Isometric Graph paper? It makes “3D” style maps MUCH easier to produce.

    1. I haven’t. Good idea. I’ll try and track some down. (Although, I did just get a new iPad and an Apple pencil. I use Penultimate and it’s got a rather marvellous rubber function which means my maps are almost legible now!)

  7. I absolutely LOVE this map- I was mesmerized by it when I got it- I had it for years before I finally got to run my party through it- so much fun! I’d have to give it some thought, but this map is definitely top-5 for me, and very well could be #1…

  8. A group of friends and I (ancient all), were discussing our favorite modules of all time. The reason I mention this is because it overlaps.
    My favorite map (and module) was the venerable B1 “In Search of the Unknown”.
    I had been playing AD&D for a few months (homebrew) and saw the Blue boxed set in a book store. It was cheaper than the 1ed PHB, so I bought it (not knowing there was a difference) and used it to teach a few friends how to play.
    That module and map influenced my map making for the next few years.. .who am I kidding? I still like to use magic mouth spells, cross shaped rooms, and stairs in the middle of the passageway that serve no basic purpose.

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