What I like about dungeon core stories is the territory management, the worldbuilding, the imagery, and other cool ideas that make the dungeon more wondrous or fun. I like the slice of life stuff, and the slow discovery of the mechanisms of magic by the dungeon and the implications they have on the world. Like the dungeon of evolution where population reductions were a necessary function of dungeons to prevent the magic being consumed out of the world and the apocalypse happening.
The best dungeon stories are the Travelers, though there not much dungeoneering in that one, and obviously There Is No Epic Loot, Only Puns which is the best dungeon story any dungeon could be. Dungeons are cool because of their ecosystem, not because of their Dungeon Keeper references. I don’t even know why dungeon fairies are a thing, those had never made sense to me.
Wrote: Because, for some reason, the MCs always turn into murderhobos.
Chiisutofupuru Wrote: If there is a dungeon core story with an actual plot, maybe I'd try reading one, but so far I honestly haven't seen one (not that I've looked very hard).
The problem with dungeon core stories - that what often results in the above comments - is that a lot of the writers don't think it through beyond the very first step of the stories. The concept originated from a GAME (anyone remembering "Dungeon Keeper" around here?), and a story can't simply adapt a game concept without changing and improving on it. Stories center around characters - and if you really check around RoyalRoad you'll find that a lot of dungeon core stories are either abandoned or becoming repetive after the first arc of the first dungeon build is complete. And that would have been the moment where you need to have characters in the story that would be able to carry on the story...
To create a good dungeon core story, the writer has to have more for it than just the idea "Take character type cliche#284 and reincarnate them as a dungeon core in 08/15-type fantasy world #1847". There needs to be an idea that goes beyond "build a map and insert monsters and traps", because that only works in games against a computer sending in enemies.
As to what that "more" is I'm open to any idea - there are several dungeon stories that I consider good here on RR, but a lot more I already dropped and marked as "not interested". The good ones usually have characters in them that are more than cliche outlines, but it is not only that - there are a few interesting stories due to writing style even if the people are very limited or cliched, while others with a lot of good characters turned me away for other reasons.
In my own case (my dungeon core story hit "trending" ten days ago without me doing anything for that) there are probably two things that especially helped:
1) the dungeon core story was never intended to be my first publication here on royalroad.
I started writing a different story and built the world for that one, while planning the dungeon core story to be the secondary story. And then came the March Madness 2019 Contest where my first story wouldn't fit the entry requirements. I decided to switch the story order around and entered "The General Core" into the contest.
But that meant I already had a world to place a dungeon into and even prepared for that even if it wasn't intended to be the first story.
That definately helped when designing and writing the story
2) I have several decades of experience in playing pen-and-paper roleplaying games, ten years of them as dungeon master
This has resulted in a different style on writing the story (one commenter even called me on that "you only use present tense for describing things during a roleplaying session"), but it also meant that the descriptions (especially during chapters with dungeon exploring) are more interesting to the readers/players than "the corridor goes north ten meters and is three meters wide". And you also learn as a gamemaster that to keep a players interest the shopkeeper has to be more interesting than a numbers clerk (same goes for any other character encountered during a story or adventure).
It's an unfortunate fact that most people writing on royalroad start writing here without much experience. And then they look "what do others write about here" and confuse the facts that there are a few very good and high-ranking dungeon core stories as well as hundreds of others (that are a lot less interesting) with the imagination that it must be easy to write something like this, especially if they already played the modern variants of the old dungeon keeper games and had fun with them.
But no one can be perfect in anything they just start, everyone needs to learn their business first - even if its writing and if you never plan to make money from it.
In fact I decided to start with the two sphere stories as a way of training and learning (another reason why I never expected to make it trending this fast) writing stories without bungling the stories in what I consider my main world, Avarion.
So as a summary back to the original question:
A dungeon core story needs more to it than simply "build a map and watch heroes fail to take it" to become interesting. Otherwise it's only a retelling of how to play a game (which can be interesting in itself as some people have commented, but in that case the "more" are good game mechanics, strategy descriptions will never be interesting without working rules behind them)
Andar Wrote: In my own case (my dungeon core story hit "trending" ten days ago without me doing anything for that) there are probably two things that especially helped:
I really like General Core, it's clear that you really took these points to heart.