...this section got my interest "dungeon/underground/location-based adventuring." Maybe because I did not come into the hobby through D&D, dungeon crawls have never had any real appeal to me. The average description of them just sound boring to me and very repetitive. I would like to see a blog from you on the appeal of dungeon crawls, if you're interested.
Of course! Great topic! I'll be honest, I like a mix of both dungeon-based and overland/city-based adventuring. Probably if all my games did was muck about in dungeons, we'd all get pretty bored pretty quickly.
I think when some people think of dungeon crawls, they think of open/bash down the door, fight orcs, and grab loot as all there is to it. In one case, yes, dungeons can just be obstacle courses set up for your player characters to navigate; games such as X-Crawl excel at this line of thinking. But although a dungeon can be simply a maze or series of obstacles, to have it stop there is to really sell it short.
A dungeon is not just a place where each level exists independently of each other. The Lizardmen on Level 2 will allow you safe passage...for a price. Meanwhile, the gnomes who are conducting excavations on Level 3 just want to be left alone, but they've been harassed by a family of rust monsters, which have been forced out of their lair by the Lizardmen. The Hobgoblin in the secret passage in Level 4 hate everyone, but they want the Evil Blood God Cult down on Level 7 gone, just like everyone. Just like a hamlet or village is full of the interlocking parts, rivalries, trade, and opportunities that make it come to life, should should a dungeon be as well.
If your dungeon isn't functioning as a living, breathing, interactive place, then you might be missing out on the part that really brings it to life.
In addition to that, there's a reason we're fascinated about stories such as the trapped Chilean miners. The interior of the earth, even in a fantasy world, is one of the last great unknowns, and holds a vast potential for fear. It's associated with tombs, fey folk, and even the supernatural underworld itself. It runs the gamut from Orpheus to the Mole People. It's the idea of dying somewhere with thousands of tons of earth pressing over you, away from the eyes of man and god alike. When your band is traipsing through the wilderness and they enter a dungeon, they're on the frontier of the frontier.
Really, dungeons can be as exciting and as unique a location as you want to make them. In fact, if your dungeon is safe, unremoved from the world, or predictable, it's no wonder you have little appetite for them.