How large should a room be in a dungeon?

28 posts / 0 new
Last post
I was looking at some of these attack ranges, and I was wondering how many squares should in your typical room in a dungeon? I know there's no hard and fast rules, but I'm looking for an average number, so if I want a small room I know to have less or if I want a big room I know to have more
I normally use rooms between 30 and 60 feet on a side. Such a size leaves room for maneuvering and tactics, without being too large to cross in one turn.
I was looking at some of these attack ranges, and I was wondering how many squares should in your typical room in a dungeon? I know there's no hard and fast rules, but I'm looking for an average number, so if I want a small room I know to have less or if I want a big room I know to have more

A room should be as large as it's needs to be to accomplish the reason it was built for. If it's the main feasting hall it will be a lot larger than a doorkeeper's watch station. Rooms are designed to fit the purpose within the use of the structure, not to fit the desire for certain tactics of the rule set.

As such, there is no typical room. At best you'd find that corridors will be 5, 10 or larger multiple of 5 feet wide as a metagame sop to the way graph paper is laid out.
You might find this D&D Team article useful.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drdd/20070827a

While you are at it, you might want to think of what to put in the room; so, this article might be good.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drdd/20070921

Between those two articles, you should get a starting point for thoughts on rooms and contents.

One example of starting to put it together was done as part of the infrequent articles of the Dungeoncraft column (episode 1 was Oct and episode 2 was Feb)

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dudc/20080213a
The size really varies. I usually have 10 foot corridors, with 5 foot corridors branching out. As for rooms, a great hall might be 120 feet long, and 40 feet wide(and people will be using the tables for cover, and chandeliers and stuff are probably going to be dropped on the PCs if they decide to get into extended fights under them. A little guard station might be about 15 by 20 feet, with a table, a drum, some mats, and chairs. The drum is used for reinforcements, and the table is supposed to be used for intel purposes, although it will probably be used for gambling. Kitchens for a small group of people will be about 15 by 10 feet, with an oven, making a t shape. Kitchens for large groups of people are bigger, with shelves, ovens, flues, benches, pots hanging from the ceiling etc.

Just go with how big the room should be then add about 5 feet to either dimension.
every room should be 70 feet wide and 140 feet long. this is b/c it will force players to make use of charges and ready actions, in addition to normal movement tactics, as well as allow for ranged characters to make for use of their skills. also with this type of room most aoe's won't be able to hit every single tile in an area. also each room should be 90 feet tall to allow large jumps and limited flight, as well as chains hanging every 5 feet to allow climbing to be possible. a full dungeon should consist of 10 foot wide corriders(this is so everyone can comfortably walk about with out having to crowd) that are 120 feet long before coming to a right angle turn into another 120 foot long hallway which leads to another room of the dimensions i outlined above. all traps should be in the tunnels as rooms will be used for combat. this should be done across the entire dungeon and in every dungeon. if you feel the need to be creative, simply make one of the rooms have spiked chains instead of normal ones.

j/k of course.
For a standard 4 on 4 encounter a 6x6 square room will give you room to manuver, but as you say most range weapons will have range.

If you make a 6x8 room and put a 2x3 desicrated alter of Tyr in the middle. Then you'll have about the same number of squares, but now there is something to block line of sight. The defenders have places where they can create bottlenecks, and the striker has to use his/her skills to manuver around.

Even better, have a series of 2x3 prison cells attace to a 6x2 room. Treat that as one encounter area. Then there is all sorts of watching your back and nooks to run away from fireballs. Especially if you trick the players into opening the cells all at once.

All in all, I would say in the dungeon enviroment rather than using the ranges to limit ranged attacks, use bottlenecks and objects to make the scene more tactically interesting.
that prison cell room you talked about reminded me of one of the more memorable rooms in one of the dungeons i put together for my group.

the group (falsely) believed a particular church to be in league with a cult of vecna and broke in to investigate. in the church's cellar they found entrance to to a dungeon beneath the church and found a torture room and several cells full of 2 to 3 people each. what the party did not know, was that the church was currently involved in fighting a rather persisant vampire clan, and had managed to capture a number of bloodsuckers that they were attempting to torture for information on the lair of their master. so the caged vampires spin a tale of lies about how they are just commoners being tortured and sacrificed, and the party naturally lets them all out. needless to say a fight breaks out shortly after, which causes enough of a comotion that several of the temple guards followed by the higher ranked clergy join the fray. needless to say things got a lil messy. the party ended up locking themselves in a cell and hiding behind the wall to avoid AoE and attacks. the temple won, and all of the PC's lived accept for the wizard who got dominated before he could get in the cage. of course, the clergy were not overly happy....
I was looking at some of these attack ranges, and I was wondering how many squares should in your typical room in a dungeon? I know there's no hard and fast rules, but I'm looking for an average number, so if I want a small room I know to have less or if I want a big room I know to have more

One thing I have clearly seen running and playing in 4e test games is that areas need to be a bit bigger then they where in 3e. The greater tactical importance plus greater ability by defenders to block passage means you need more space to move.

With 4e, I'll be moving back to 10ft halls in many cases, and bumping up room size a bit.

Jay
One thing I have clearly seen running and playing in 4e test games is that areas need to be a bit bigger then they where in 3e. The greater tactical importance plus greater ability by defenders to block passage means you need more space to move.

With 4e, I'll be moving back to 10ft halls in many cases, and bumping up room size a bit.

Jay

i'm generally loath to say things like this, but your comment saddens me. qoute-unquote defenders may have gotten some cool bottleneck abilites, and the other roles may have too, but why should that change anything? there have always been meat shields and battle field movers and the such. just b/c 4e is going to focus a lil more on movement, why should the world change to better suit a new battle mechanic?
i know this may not be the best stance to take as i am effectively telling you how to play a game of pretend, but i simply do not understand why the story, the world, and the enviroment needs to change to better take advantage of new mechanics. but then again, i've never been very big on meta-gaming.
i apoligize if i have offended you, the bottom line is that it's your game and as long as you and your group have fun, it's a successful method of playing. but for me personally, i have no intention of widening my corriders. they will continue to be exactly as wide as the creature that built them needed them to be to fit whatever purpose they serve.
Another thing to be careful about is choke and pinch points. 4th is built to allow for moving dynamic combat. if 2 defenders wall off a 10 hallway that is the only way into an encounter area, the combat that results isn't very dynamic, , just a series of step up and dies. Plan for way around and alternate paths to keep combat moving.
Another thing to be careful about is choke and pinch points. 4th is built to allow for moving dynamic combat. if 2 defenders wall off a 10 hallway that is the only way into an encounter area, the combat that results isn't very dynamic, , just a series of step up and dies. Plan for way around and alternate paths to keep combat moving.

most smart creatures will have been planning for that type event from the start. for instance hobgoblins, will anticipate such an attack and will respond accordingly. even the dumber creatures like orcs and goblins, take to bullrushes to break through the meat wall(orcs) or ranged attacks(goblins). not to mention what happens when the NPC's make a meat wall to in the hallway themselves and start moving forward.

personally, i don't see how anything in the game changed except that characters(npc's and PC's) have more specific abilities and a less generic swings. aside from learning a new rule set the only thing i plan to change in my game for 4E is that i'll be a slightly more descriptive at times.
In an early adventure we had, every room was 30' x 30'. Doesn't matter what was in it, 30' x 30'.

10 goblins 30' x 30'
5 bugbears 30' x 30'
a troll 30' x 30'
Brontosaurus 30' x 30'

I pole vault over the Brontosaurus, whats on the other side?

another Brontosaurus.
In an early adventure we had, every room was 30' x 30'. Doesn't matter what was in it, 30' x 30'.

10 goblins 30' x 30'
5 bugbears 30' x 30'
a troll 30' x 30'
Brontosaurus 30' x 30'

I pole vault over the Brontosaurus, whats on the other side?

another Brontosaurus.

rofl. so naturally you ate brontosaurus sandwiches till you were sick. :D
i'm generally loath to say things like this, but your comment saddens me. qoute-unquote defenders may have gotten some cool bottleneck abilites, and the other roles may have too, but why should that change anything? there have always been meat shields and battle field movers and the such. just b/c 4e is going to focus a lil more on movement, why should the world change to better suit a new battle mechanic?
i know this may not be the best stance to take as i am effectively telling you how to play a game of pretend, but i simply do not understand why the story, the world, and the enviroment needs to change to better take advantage of new mechanics. but then again, i've never been very big on meta-gaming.

To a certain extend it bothers me also. I don't like doing things for purely metagame reasons. On the other hand I have never seen a D&D map that wasn't highly metagame. Making the world conform to a 5ft grid already distorts things heavily. Tables, chairs, windows, everything is moved around and sized so they fit the gird. In the real world buildings often did not follow straight lines and where not rectangular. It actually bothers me at times, but in the end it's more important that the game play smoothly then there be an accurate 7ft by 8ft table. So instead there are a lot of 5ft by 10ft tables.

More importantly, 4e does not focus a little bit more on movement. The entire game system has been rewritten from the ground up to have a much more of a miniature board game at it's core. Movement, tactical options and your powers that block others tactical options are now major core elements of the game. The typical 3e map (both what I make and find in 3e books and adventures) are a bit too narrow and small to let those parts play out.

Jay
To a certain extend it bothers me also. I don't like doing things for purely metagame reasons. On the other hand I have never seen a D&D map that wasn't highly metagame. Making the world conform to a 5ft grid already distorts things heavily. Tables, chairs, windows, everything is moved around and sized so they fit the gird. In the real world buildings often did not follow straight lines and where not rectangular. It actually bothers me at times, but in the end it's more important that the game play smoothly then there be an accurate 7ft by 8ft table. So instead there are a lot of 5ft by 10ft tables.

More importantly, 4e does not focus a little bit more on movement. The entire game system has been rewritten from the ground up to have a much more of a miniature board game at it's core. Movement, tactical options and your powers that block others tactical options are now major core elements of the game. The typical 3e map (both what I make and find in 3e books and adventures) are a bit too narrow and small to let those parts play out.

Jay

i can see your point, and in a way i agree. but i have to admit i see a bit of a difference between using rough estimates to smooth out game flow(though i will admit to using preformed pipe cleaners at times to simulate objects i don't want to fit neatly into a 5x5 format) and re-designing encounters and areas to allow combat to operate fundamentally different. i guess when i think about it i think "when the orcs got this table they didn't put any real thought behind how big it was, as long as it was big enough." vs. "this dungeon was built for X purpose and is structured the way it because someone focused on their purpose." or possibly "this cave was selected for a reasons and has been dressed up for the reasons the dwellers have"

to think about it another way, look at what sort of combat is occuring in most dungeons/keeps. the PC's are generally speaking invading or attacking while the NPC's are playing defense and/or ambush. now given that your thinking from the mindset of either holding out or striking in surprise why wouldn't you put in place choke points, tunnels to double back, temporary walls to use for cover, etc through out your dungeon/keep? i mean yes it means that the players are not going to be able to use certain abilities/tactics, but isn't that the general norm when battling on your enemies terf? on the other hand not every creature/monster/NPC is going to be very tactical about things, in which case when they build it will simply be a "minimal amount of work needed to get the pace done well enough" mentality. and i just don't see a bunch of quasi-lazy bums widening a tunnel to allow for better fights. especually since most types that build this way don't plan on fighting in there home as much as they outside in the open.

one more point. it was mentioned that one concern is that the defender could form a meat wall and make all fights easy as pie. my response to that is:
a-ok, good for the players. this dungeon tactic is certianly not new since fighters have been walking out front since 2e or earlier.
b-it's not like the NPC's are always so dumb to allow such a thing to happen.
c-it's not like the NPC's are always so dense that they can't come up with a reasonable method of dealing with it. especially since in all likelihood the NPC's will have either seen or used the same tactics before(tank and spank isn't that original).
A room should be as large as it's needs to be to accomplish the reason it was built for. If it's the main feasting hall it will be a lot larger than a doorkeeper's watch station. Rooms are designed to fit the purpose within the use of the structure, not to fit the desire for certain tactics of the rule set.

As such, there is no typical room. At best you'd find that corridors will be 5, 10 or larger multiple of 5 feet wide as a metagame sop to the way graph paper is laid out.

This.

Most "dungeons" are buried ruins, old prisons, etc. As such, they aren't just a set of rooms, they're an actual domicile that makes sense.
Here is reality, read and understand: Rangers aren't dull or underpowered, in any edition. Fighters aren't dull or underpowered, in any edition. Casters aren't "god mode" or overpowered, in any edition. The tarrasque isn't broken. And you aren't voicing your opinion by claiming otherwise, you're just being a pain. Now, stop complaining.
Color me flattered.

LIFE CYCLE OF A RULES THREAD

Show
Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think thatĀ if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

You might find this D&D Team article useful.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drdd/20070827a

While you are at it, you might want to think of what to put in the room; so, this article might be good.

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/drdd/20070921

Between those two articles, you should get a starting point for thoughts on rooms and contents.

One example of starting to put it together was done as part of the infrequent articles of the Dungeoncraft column (episode 1 was Oct and episode 2 was Feb)

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/dudc/20080213a

I'd read all of these which initially got me wondering how big my rooms should be.

Thanks to everyone who replied. I see your points that dungeons should be rooms, so I'll move back to an in-character way of thinking for them ;)
Optimum Encounter Area = (Area of PC's x PC Speed) + (Area of NPC's x NPC Speed)

http://www.hackslash.net/?p=186
Also remember that you don't necessarily need to fight in a dungeon. Some of the most memorable encounters I have ever had were outside a dungeon. One was in a forest glade, where people were taking advantage of cover, cover was being blown up, several pools took people in and out of the water, and flying monsters took advantage of their flight. That and I hid a few people in the canopy with readied actions to shoot at potions that were drawn.
Well, the Wizard's Light spell has an area of 9x9, so your main combat area may be limited to something close to that despite whatever the actual area may be. The Light spell also has a Range 5, which means the party might see an enemy 9 squares away, in the last row of lit squares, while the party's Defender or Striker is in the first row of lit squares, and the Wizard behind them in the last row of dark squares.
Another thing to consider is how you are going to turn the room that you build into a game play space.

I have started to do some thought on this and have been hunting around for cost effective solutions.

1> First, you need to find 1" squares for the minatures to be used on.

Now, you could go and special order a Battlemat from a company like Chessex that deals in Battlemats.

http://www.chessex.com/mats/Battlemats_&_Megamats.htm

Me, I am looking at a cheaper solution.

I found that you can go to my local Walmart and they have have a product under the name Ghostline. This product comes in pre-printed squares mounted on your choice of bristleboard, foam, or cardboard. Sheets come in a range of colours and sizes in the 3 to 5 dollars a sheet range.

http://www.ghostlinebrand.com/ghostlinesection.html

Another option, is to print your own graph paper. The following site is an example that will allow you to make custom sized graph paper along with a range of other types of graphing paper including isometric.

http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/

I have plenty of cereal boxes and the like at my house that would be headed to the recycle bin but a bit of glue and printing out the graph paper (I can get 7x10 squares with margins on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet).

Thanks to the scrapbooking hobby, there are plenty of good glue choices on the market from the really cheap Elmer's glue stick to double sided tape to micro dot in a 'white out tape' dispenser.

Scrapbooking also offers another good item. Tired of strictly white paper then buy a couple of sheets with a different base pattern and print your grid on top of the base pattern (do a test sheet first to make sure your grid is strong enough to be seen).

I also noticed that if you are not as concerned with a grid but just want some room size shapes to put together without having to do lots of cutting and pasting then you can buy a '1lb of scraps'. This again is a scrapbooking product which offers a large mass of different coloured bits of paper that are roughly between 4x4 and 6x4 in size with some larger and smaller pieces. For a few dollars then you will have as many pieces to lay out rooms to cover a major temple dungeon.

The ultimate battlemat though might be a rug. I noticed a couple of rugs at Walmart with 2" square pattern for around $50. These rugs looked to be 4'x6' and marked in three to four shades of grey. Used either as the actual grid or as a base upon which you could tack other grid objects with a finer grid (like homes and dungeons) you could be assured that players would not run the risk of 'running' out of grid for the battle.

I hope the above gives some ideas on where you can put those minatures when you decide how big a room to go with.

Oh, and WotC also has some preprinted minature maps of their own in the minature product line.
Graph paper works well, possibly laminated. It costs about 2 dollars to laminate a piece of paper at kinkos. Or you can make a bigger grid.
Graph paper works well, possibly laminated. It costs about 2 dollars to laminate a piece of paper at kinkos. Or you can make a bigger grid.

For those of us in the 21st century GIMP (probably photoshop too but I don't own that) can make grid lines appear and disappear with a click of a button. I've got it set up so 1 grid is equal to 10 miles.
For those of us who don't feel the need to have a computer to play a pen and paper role playing game, graph paper works well. And almost everything can make grid lines disappear and reappear at the click of a button, its not exactly a novel feature.
And almost everything can make grid lines disappear and reappear at the click of a button, its not exactly a novel feature.

I discovered it yesterday so I was quite excited about it :P

For those of us who don't feel the need to have a computer to play a pen and paper role playing game, graph paper works well.

I'd use something else if I was able to play in person ;) Unfortunately no-one I know in my local area plays D&D.
I have an eisel pad (like you used to see in grade school) with 1 inch graph paper on it. After a good night of adventuring you even get a memento!
I have an eisel pad (like you used to see in grade school) with 1 inch graph paper on it. After a good night of adventuring you even get a memento!

Reminds me of the time I made the credits after one game finished. I was GMing, so I had this really long list. Including
GM-Me
Cartographer-Me
Go to Kinkos and get map laminated person-Me
Character Sheet Assistance-Me
Keeping Noise Level Down Person-Me
Time Management-Me

It was awesome.
Sign In to post comments