|Nick Bolhuis RPG Superstar 2011 Top 16|
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What I always find helpful when designing a dungeon is working out some kind of history to help guide/justify your choices. How old is this ruin, how recently has it been opened? Why was it empty? Was it abandoned or intentionally left behind? Was everyone inside slain? Why was it sealed? Is it a prison, or did some calamity or collapse close it's doors. What was the ruin used for when it was new? Did people live here? or worship here? Is it still in good repair, or are the tunnels starting to crumble? Is collapse and issue the players should be worried about? What about this artifact, what is it and why is it significant? Was it lost or left behind? Is something guarding it, like a monster or construct or something. Or maybe a Last Crusade style ghost-knight hanging out in there with a bunch of tests and what all waiting to determine the worthiness of whoever comes for it. Have others come for this artifact before? What happened to them? These are all things that can help define what would make sense to be in here
Anything that is unoccupied for a time invariably attracts vermin. Vermin is a nice category of monsters since they cover a good CR range even before you start tweaking them with templates. Depending on how powerful your group is you might be talking about a few small spiders, or gigantic centipedes who fill entire corridors.
Oozes are also great for lost dungeons, since they'll just sit in there, eating bugs until something softer/tastier wanders in.
Naturally the undead also belong in forgotten dungeons, but you can go with a fun dwarfy theme here, like skeletal arms swinging floating axes, or skeletons with flaming beards.