How to Build a Homebrew Hades Dungeon in Dungeons & Dragons

We create a homebrew version of Hades in Dungeons & Dragons

Hades is a roguelike action dungeon crawler video game. You play Zagreus; son of Hades, who seeks to run away from Hell. It’s a game where you will die several times but each death allows you to learn grow and get better and faster. Along the way, Zag will gain the favor of his cousins on Mount Olympus to help him escape.

It honestly could be its own Dungeons & Dragons campaign guide. Theros is the closest official content available to craft your own Hades-style world. We’re going to take a look at that concept and build our own homebrew version of Hades you can play with friends or solo just like the game.

Plot

We need to start at the beginning; how does the game begin? What sets you on your quest? You could play it one of a million different ways but we’re going to present the main storyline to set the focus.

Instead of playing as Zag, you can play as a prisoner trapped in the Nine Hells. But how did you get there?

  1. You were killed on a quest and devils dragged your soul down to the Hells.
  2. You were sent here to retrieve an artifact or soul but ended up getting trapped yourself.
  3. You are a devil yourself; either a tiefling or some other fiend who seeks to explore the Material Plane.
  4. You’re a celestial who ended up there on a mission from your god but things didn’t end well.
  5. You are a traveler who slipped through a portal to the Nine Hells and are presented with a trial to get home.
  6. You heard about the escape room in the Nine Hells and just had to try it out.

No matter what it may be, you’re here now and the only way to escape is to make it through the gauntlet. The god of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus or Erebos sets up the challenge to prevent anyone from escaping so easily.

Generic Hero

If you want to play as Zagreus we recommend choosing a Gladiator from the official D&D ruleset.

Dungeons

As you escape from the Hells, you must pass through small dungeons or rooms. Each room contains several enemies, items, or NPCs to help you on your path. Exiting to the next room rewards the character with a blessing they can use to help them combat future encounters.

Enemies

There are several enemies in the game that you can pull right from D&D. Creatures such as the Erinyes are the first boss you come across. You can pull their stat block right from the Monster Manual and call it good.

Of course, some creatures may be too powerful for lower-level characters but there are some things you can do to balance out encounters. Taking the Erinyes for example, you can reduce the number of attacks they make if you’re character is low level.

It’s all about balance and knowing what creatures to throw at your characters. Though Hades is challenging there are difficulty settings you can mess with to make it less frustrating.

Other bosses include the Minotaur and Champion. As for the final boss, we recommend using the stats for a pit fiend. As for standard enemies we recommend using the following: Lemure, Manes, Dretch, imps, nightmare, shadow demons, succubus, and barbed devils. Basically, any creature that is considered a fiend.

Upgrades / Blessings

Blessings are a major mechanic of the video game and can be added into the D&D version in a couple of ways. Characters can gain access to blessings by completing one dungeon and moving on to the next.

Items. By glancing through the guidebook or online you can find a number of items to benefit your playstyle. They can be put into a random roll table and you’re good to go.

Spells/Abilities. Spells and abilities are another simple blessing system you can add to the game. Each room offers a chance to learn a different spell or skill that you can use to combat enemies.


That’s the groundwork for building a Hades-like encounter in D&D. We’re working on building a more detailed one for our homebrew game and will talk about it in greater detail when it’s complete.

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