Memorable game maps spring from a melding of design intent and fortunate accidents.Jennell Jaquays, from design notes on the Crevice map from Halo Wars.

Jaquaying is an approach to designing dungeons to encourage non-linearity and variety in the player experience. It can also be used when designing non-dungeon location maps or scenario structures.

In jaquayed dungeons, certain elements are deliberately present, but the choices of the players mean that they may encountered in many different orders or in different ways. The result is a high degree of emergent complexity and customization from a finite set of modular and connected elements.

The approach was codified by Justin Alexander and named after Jennell Jaquays, whose design philosophy and work on dungeon designs in multiple old school adventures helped inspire it.[1] Jaquayed dungeons are more reflective of real world complexity that linear ones.[2]


The following techniques can be used when jaquaying a dungeon:

  • Multiple entrances[3]
  • Loops[3]
  • Multiple level connections[3]
  • Discontinuous level connections[3]
  • Secret or unusual paths[3]
  • Sub-levels (i.e. levels not part of the standard sequence)[3]
  • Divided levels[3]
  • Nested dungeons[3]
  • Minor elevation shifts[3]
  • Mid-point entry[3]
  • Non-Euclidean geometry[3]
  • Extra-dimensional spaces[3]
  • A variety of types of connection between dungeon levels, e.g.
  • Combining different level connections together[5]
  • One connector accessing multiple levels[5]
  • Invisible transitions[5]
  • False connectors (appearing to move level without doing so)[5]
  • Misleading connectors[5]
  • One-way paths[5]
  • Keys and locks (aka remote activation of some paths)[5]
  • Landmarks to help players orient themselves[2]

Not every technique should be used in every jaquayed dungeon. Even a single technique used repeatedly in a variety of ways can give the same effect (and may provide a more unified theme for a dungeon).[6]

Jaquaying techniques can work on dungeons of any scale, even as small as two rooms.[7]


  1. Justin Alexander (2010-07-23). "Jaquaying the Dungeon". The Alexandrian. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Justin Alexander (2010-07-28). "Jaquaying the Dungeon – Part 3: The Philosophy of Jaquaying". The Alexandrian. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 Justin Alexander (2010-07-26). "Jaquaying the Dungeon – Part 2: The Jaquays Techniques". The Alexandrian. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 Justin Alexander (2010-08-18). "Jaquaying the Dungeon – Addendum: Dungeon Level Connections". The Alexandrian. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Justin Alexander (2010-08-27). "Jaquaying the Dungeon – Addendum, Part 2: Tips & Tricks". The Alexandrian. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  6. Justin Alexander (2010-08-02). "Jaquaying the Dungeon – Part 5: Jaquaying for Fun and Profit". The Alexandrian. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
  7. Justin Alexander (2013-09-09). "Jaquaying the Dungeon – Addendum: Jaquaying on the Small Scale". The Alexandrian. Retrieved 2020-02-01.
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