I must admit that some of what I just read at Dungeonaday.com raised my hackles a bit. I think a decade after the design of 3E D&D, I see that Monte's need for systematization is perhaps enormously misguided. I sometimes half-jokingly call myself OCD, but I honestly think there's a compulsiveness to Monte's system-building which leaves me a bit stunned.
For starters, the very first line of the first sample room I saw (#6) had me sighing. "In this temple to an evil god, everyone has the barbarian's ability to rage..." Mostly discarding any consideration of thematics, the basic instinct seen here is to reach for a pre-written mechanic and just reference it. There's an aspect to the verbosity of 3E, that gets you handcuffed into looking for ways to avoid actually making up new mechanics, and this is one example. As enormous as is the text for this room, the primary mechanic here is actually not new, it's just a reference to something else in the game already.
Honestly, I think that's uninspiring game design. I remember seeing this at a few of the computer game companies I worked at. A crown-jewel example is the 3E proliferation of spells that raise your Int/Wis/Dex/Con/Cha... "Hey, there's a spell to raise Strength; just change the ability name and we can act like we created 5 new spells". Design by expanded systematization I definitely don't like.
This leads me to look warily at his "Dungeon Design Assumptions". Item #1 says this:
1. Things get more dangerous as you go deeper... 3rd Edition created a system that used Challenge Ratings to match relatively appropriate encounters to a given group of player characters (the key word being "relatively"). Matching monster toughness with PC toughness has always been in the game in one form or another, of course. But in dungeon design, this isn't that important, because the dungeon level dictates (or at least suggests) the difficulty of the encounters. Things too easy? Go down. Things getting pretty dicey? Go back up...
Sounds good, right? Well, my concern with Monte is that this italicised dictum will itself turn into yet another set of handcuffs. I recall purchasing Monte's Fane of the Demon God and at some point realizing that every encounter in the entire module was at exactly the same, fixed Encounter Level. My suspicion here is that Monte will be specifying an EL for every dungeon level, and get hung-up on every single room being the exact same EL throughout. If the "go up/go down" is meant to dependably let PCs choose their own EL, then he will have to do this, leading to predictability and a lack of surprises in the general sense of "is this really dangerous for us?"
In Item #2 he says, "In a standard campaign, the DM controls the level of challenge for the players. But in a dungeon like this, the players can choose to seek encounters that might be too challenging for them in order to get bigger rewards, or stay and face easy challenges for low rewards." It's a bit hard to swallow this characterization of a "standard campaign" for someone trying to assert an "old-school" stance on these matters.
In Item #5 he says, "The player characters are not the first adventurers to explore this place, and they won't be the last. As they explore, your PCs will find the remains of previous adventurers. They will hear about other parties coming to the dungeon to test their own mettle. They may even encounter them while delving into the depths themselves. This contributes to the dynamism of the dungeon environment."
In the broadest theory that might be nice, but the problem is that what it really references back to is Gygax's original campaigns where he actually had different competing PC groups meeting every night of the week, all racing to plunder the same dungeon mega-complex. I don't believe that you get the same effect when you attempt to mechanically recreate it with pre-placed NPCs. (Much in the same way that computer AI opponents do not trigger my fight-or-flight reflex the same way that real, human opponent minds do). Something never smells right when I read a prepublished adventure with one "this room was sacked by earlier adventurers" sitting by itself in the middle of a dungeon level (as occurs in Monte's room #6).
Maybe this project will be a raving success. Monte certainly has a productivity level which I can only look at with envy. But when I look at the enormity of the text written for a single room (even quasi-empty, as with Monte's sample room #6), I feel like all the effort is put on exactly the wrong end of ship. I'd like my core rule system to be finely systematized, robust, and short. I'd like my dungeon designs to be large in room-count and atomically brief in room description and statistics. This work seems like pretty much the exact opposite of that.