Friday, November 13, 2020

The Ideal Dungeon Room

 This post was partially sparked by a discussion in the OSR discord, which was mostly just me and some others joking around, but I do have some of my own thoughts on the matter.

But before we get into that, let's show some of the thoughts people had:

  • the radius of the system's fireball spell.
  • the optimal size of a dungeon room is big enough that it's a shock when it is packed wall to wall with goblins but small enough that that number of goblins doesn't threaten the verisimilitude of the local ecosystems.
  • The optimal size for a dungeon room is three times as large as is physically possible from the outside.

All great points to be sure.

The 30x30 room

The first concept I want to go over, is the 30x30 room, and why I don't like it. A 30x30 room isn't necessarily a room that is 30 feet by 30 feet, but rather refers to having your dungeon mostly filled with rooms of the same shape and size.

If, for example, the players are mapping the dungeon, it can make it harder for them to navigate their map, or more prone to making mistakes. Additionally, it makes it more difficult for the person running the game to find exactly what's going on with the larger dungeon map. Having different sized rooms around the place frequently creates sort of a landmark effect for your own brain and for the players.

Bigger is Better

Whenever possible, dungeon rooms should be as big as possible. Of course filled with all sorts of obstacles and other goings-on. There's nothing more boring than a blank room that just tell you what monsters and loot are inside. Throw in some hidey holes, water pools, piles of old dung, or overhead vines.

These are all things that clever players can use to their advantage whether in combat or not, or even better, can give the enemies powerful advantages.

Size is also beneficial to players, as it provides more options when trying to set things up, and once again, can be an advantage to certain enemies, like gretchlings, who mustn't touchis the lightsisis.


This is all just my opinion, of course. You are welcome, and encouraged to have, your own. In fact, I greatly encourage responses. As that just means more overall content, and a chance for me myself to learn something new.

A room full of goblins is a great idea though. Somebody do that.

1 comment:

  1. In general I agree on bigger is better.

    But I also think the viability of big rooms greatly depends on what light sources are available to the PCs.

    In rooms that are bigger than your light source's radius, it becomes increasingly difficult to determine which parts of the room has been illuminated/explored previously. In many cases bigger rooms will require that you rule very loosely on light sources for the sake of convenience.

    30x30 rooms can pretty neat since when you stand in the middle of one, the entire thing is illuminated by the torch.