Players and GMs are both interesting creatures, not least because what is exactly one person's cup of tea is another's cup of arsenic. Some people love dungeons where you roam from room to room, killing monsters, and they require very little reason to explore each room. Others grow bored by the 10th room, finding the whole thing rather dreary and repetitive and need much coaxing to get into the whole thing. You may well get both popping into the same game. Heck, the GM may be one thing, while the players are another.
I have to admit that I fall into the latter camp. I'm not big on dungeons. I don't care if it's a haunted house, a cave, or a sewer complex, if I have to trawl from room to room smacking baddies over several sessions then it's going to get old fast. You can extend my interest through a number of different ways so, in telling you about how you can wrangle dungeon play out of me, maybe I can tell you how to wrangle dungeon play out of your own players, or GM.
The Five Cardinal Rules.
Keep it Short. Does that castle really need us to explore ALL of its rooms? Wouldn't it be more interesting if we could somehow make a beeline to where we need to go? I mean, even in action movies they don't waste time with repetitive scenes in the same location. Instead, they vary up the location even if they don't vary up the pace or events. I mean, it's not like we can't do the castle this session, smack some gnolls as we head to a second castle next session, then deal with the other castle in the third session. Must we spend six sessions all in the one place?
Keep it Varied. A series of traps is about as boring as a series of monsters. Keep varying it up and don't make it all static set pieces. An ogre could knock down a column to bar our path (forcing us to Climb / Jump it later) before rushing out to get us. A trap could lead to a monster. A monster could accidentally set off a trap. The structure might start collapsing. A lightning spell could set off a hovering storm. A monster might surrender or barter for its escape, turning a physical challenge into a social one.
Keep me Guessing. Wait, what? This isn't a haunted house at all but a place at a connection to the Abyss whose energies are slowly warping the structure and everyone inside? Now you've got me! A castle dungeon where we also have to figure out who killed the king by going through old clues and interrogating the few living, friendly NPCs? Cool. Throw me a mystery and I'll doggedly explore.
Keep it Interesting. Make sure the rooms aren't ho-hum. Make me feel like I'm really exploring somewhere I'll never get to visit through fantastic room descriptions or, failing that, fabulous set piece locations. Give me places I'd like to explore and keep enough variation into those locations so that I don't think I've seen it all already.
Keep Accepting Me. Put me in a castle for six sessions and I'm going to try and talk to monsters. I'll use Charm spells if I have to. Waste scrolls. Try to trap one. Or I'll slow things down by chatting to PCs while we're sleeping, making sure we set watches, and trying to learn about their back stories. Accept it unless it's actively hurting your game (and by hurting it, I don't mean boring you). You can set time limits, say, 10 minutes of in-game chat every hour maximum. Put an hour glass on the table. That's fine. But don't try to remove it all or I'll grow fidgety and fidgety players are ... well. We don't really need to finish that answer, do we?
DISCLAIMER: I never advocate derailing someone else's game. I'm just pointing out here that I'd sneak in little actions to blow off steam. Its the same as an action hero in a largely political game sneaking out to the pub for a random punch up that leads to nothing more major than a few cuts and bruises. If it helps them cope with a game that's not much their thing, and doesn't disrupt the game, then good on them. Its worth accepting.
So there we go. Another article. This one inspired by a comment by Shimmin Beg. This should also cast further light onto the Ship-Based Campaign which I'll be varying it up every session and keeping up a constantly evolving pace (hopefully). No giant mega-dungeons there, I assure you.