Dungeon room size; or: How much space per character and creature?

7 posts / 0 new
Last post
I can't seem to find any of the information I'm looking for anywhere. Can someone on here help me?
I am not entirely used to 4th ed combat encounter building. I just want to know how big combat space should be, or how many spaces should it be per space occupied? My rooms have, so far, felt really really cramped. I know there's probably not a set amount, but how about a rule of thumb regarding the matter?

Thank you ahead of time!
My rule of thumb:

16 x 16 map: Might be one big room or a couple smallers ones plus corridors. Corridors are almost always 2 squares wide.

24 x 24 map: Big set piece or dungeon "sector" comprised of multiple rooms and corridors.

32 x 32 map: Towns, complete dungeon levels (sector design), single-map scenarios.

Make maps too big and your players will clump in the center and have the whole encounter there. It's a waste.

Finally, and most importantly in my opinion, all maps are "circular." What I mean by that is the map is designed such that if there are chokepoints (doorways, hallways, etc.), there are ways to move around the map to get around them.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Err on the side of making it too big. At worst, you'll have some wasted space.

Don't feel the need to fill every space with interesting stuff, though. The maps for most published encounters generally seem to strike a good balance, I feel.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Err on the side of making it too big. At worst, you'll have some wasted space.


+1

Making maps too small easily results in cramped combat limiting mobility and tactical options of both sides resulting in rather dull combat with everyone just standing in place wishing they could do something more interesting.
Err on the side of making it too big. At worst, you'll have some wasted space.


+1

Making maps too small easily results in cramped combat limiting mobility and tactical options of both sides resulting in rather dull combat with everyone just standing in place wishing they could do something more interesting.

Though I've also found that certain groups tend to like to find a location and stand in it.

If you have space and you want the fight to move around in it, it can help to move the monsters, even if they'll take damage. If that seems tactically implausible, make it more plausible by giving the monsters goals that superscede their own survival, such as targeting a specific back row character, trying to obtain and leave with an item, or perform some other task that requires them to be elsewhere in the room.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Most of the maps I run would probably fit in 16x16, with maybe 10x10 representing a map that's intentionally restricting. I've never really felt satisifed with a map bigger than 24x24 or so. Most of the big map combats I've played as a PC in just involved the first few turns moving up while being sprinkled with arrows, which wasn't very interesting or fun.

Terrain effects or traps can help to spur the party to move around if they tend to always clump up, as can minions with mildly annoying auras.

    When designing an encounter map, I generally try to envision how the fight might go down in my head, running a few mental scenarios to see if there's anything that sticks out as questionable, and then adjust the size and contents of the map accordingly.
 One good thing to remember when designing combat maps is that the average range of most powers and thrown weapons is about ten squares... (Projectile weapons will have longer ranges but almost never get used at anything even approaching their full range unless outdoors in a clear area...)
When I want a "close-quarters" battle, I generally make the map small enough that pretty much anybody can take a shot at anybody else range-wise if they simply move and attack (while using line-of-sight/effect - i.e., room shape, terrain, obstacles - to provide "safe" areas and cover), while if I want a wider more open feel to the thing I make it large enough that there are areas the characters couldn't hit without using at least two move actions to actively maneuver into position...

 Indoors, unless a fight is suposed to be in some huge area, I never make the map bigger than a few squares more than my fastest PC can double-run (or run-charge) across. Outdoors, unless I have really big (or really fast) flying opponents or creatures with extreme movement abilities like jumping spiders, I generally try to keep it so that if both sides made a full-out double-run or run charge from within a few squares of the edge, they'd meet in the middle.

Of course, map size is sometimes dependent on encounter design - 16x16 may occasionally need to be 24x8 or 20x12, etc, depending on the needs of the scenario.

Show

I am the Magic Man.

(Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.)

 

I am the Lawnmower Man.

(I AM GOD HERE!)

 

I am the Skull God.

(Koo Koo Ka Choo)

 

There are reasons they call me Mad...

Sign In to post comments