D&D Poll: How Big Do You Like Your Dungeons?

The title says it all really. :smiley:

This is just a quick poll to see what makes a good size dungeon (in your opinion).

Whether it be only a few chambers, like in a small cave system, or maybe something larger, like that of the Underdark… Or from a few rooms of a home or building, to a crawling dungeon complex of a castle or catacomb. What does it for you? Is it bigger the better, or just keep it brief? Anyway, here is your chance to not only vote for your overall preferred size (for most situations), but also to leave a comment about what has been your favourite dungeon and why?

My favourite size dungeon probably comprises:

(E.g. Think of your most memorable dungeon you played. How many “rooms” did that have?)

  • None! I hate dungeons. (Please explain why.)
  • 1-2 Rooms only.
  • 3-5 Rooms.
  • 5-15 Rooms.
  • 15-25 Rooms.
  • As many as an area will allow.

0 voters

I think a better response would be, “as many as needed to tell the story.”

If the storyline is, “this is a poor peasant family” the correct size is one room.

If the storyline is, “finding your friend in this horrific prison complex seems a daunting prospect” you better have a fair number of rooms on multiple levels with appropriate security.

An example of a bad design is an insect nest of wandering tunnels that fills up an entire large area leaving the overall tunnel complex looking very square.

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@GCoyote

Well, that’s part of the hidden question behind this poll… :innocent:

You see, it’s as much about asking about the kind of dungeon people may recall as liking, but in a different way. By asking the question, it has people recall the kind of dungeon they have played before, and I hope are likely to pick the size that related to that story that they liked at the time. In a roundabout way, it gives feedback in other ways for us.

I would have liked to have heard from the person who chose “none” to find out why they had chosen such. That’s the one area that is open to interpretation in other ways.

Anyway, it was just a piece of fun… nothing to take too seriously. :grinning:

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Agreed, but it is a valid design question. I’ve seen more than one dungeon that could have been great with a little editing. It either wandered about for no real purpose or lacked a believable scale for the story that the author was trying to tell.

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I chose “As many as the area will allow” but I’d have mush preferred a choice that read “As many as needed to tell the story.”

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Claudius33 is good at having largish areas with only the elements needed to move the story along accessible while the rest adds color and depth.

I select as many as would allow, but that really should mean as many as would allow to convey what is intended. As @GCoyote stated, you only need one room for a poor peasant family. Likewise an average merchant can live above his shop, but the living area should take up the same amount of space as the shop if the player has access to it for any reason.

As for dungeons specifically, it depends on where they are located. If the Dungeon is Undermountain, absolutely anything goes. You could decide that Halaster kidnapped the Netherlands because he wanted more cheese and windmills in Undermountain. It would work because this is a wizard who insane enough to abduct an entire country just for cheese and windmills - both the landmass and anyone/anything that happens to be there - and would reasonably have the power level to accomplish it.

The types of dungeons I specifically dislike are minotaur mazes and random hell pits.

After encountering two minotar mazes of them in a four-part module series, I feel like there should be a minotaur maze etiquette rule of no more than one per module or module series, but zero would be better. Why can’t minotaurs live in a quaint village with thatched cottages or something similar.

By random hell pits, I specifically mean that one with all the lava. I mean its fine when you’ve wandered into a hell dimension, active volcano, or anywhere else where you would expect to find lava. If it’s being used to convey, hey folks this play is evil - no.

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Dragonlance had a nice on take on minotaurs, branding them as good sailors and fearsome pirates.

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@Pstemarie

This is, in this sense, a given. i.e I am assuming the dungeon design makes logical sense. The difference being to do with potential “depth” of gameplay.

@Sachie

That “poor peasant family” may have just found an old tunnel under their home open up. All of a sudden, that single room no longer applies.

But, if that chamber led to some other mystery…?

I suppose this poll is as much about asking what a player thinks of when they think of exploring a closed environment… In terms of size.

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If your module is high RPG, you need to talk to loads of people, backtrack often, do tons of errand quests, the smaller the areas-the better. If your game is more hack&slash, and you have tons of loot, larger areas are best. You can tell by opening modules in the toolset. Those that have A LOT of areas use smaller spaces and are more RPG, while formidable H&S modules have fewer, larger areas.

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@Jedijax

Yes, area size will depend upon a number of factors with respect to the actual design…

However, in your memory of playing a “dungeon” do you recall any specific designs that had you think this is either too long or too short… and/or found one that suited you well… If so, was there a memory of how big it had felt at the time?

For example, I remember playing Ultima Underworld with fondness and they were “big” dungeons! So, for me, my gut response was an answer that went along with its size. So what about you? :slight_smile:

EDIT: Someone else having played the same game may have voted differently, of course. But that’s part of what I am trying to ascertain.

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For me, it depends on many different things. Not only area, also on the story of the dungeon, what awaits the players at the end and so on.
For example, on my PW we had a four stories high dungeon, with increasing size from the top to the bottom. Because it was a hill with the entrance at the top and the exit at the bottom. It also functioned as a mine.

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@ Lance_Botelle

Or maybe peasants can just have normal peasant issues, and not have tunnels open up under their homes. For example in Blaark Chronicles I - Portage, you’re sent off to assist the farmers with their cattle being stolen. When you talk to them, they’re all more interested in marrying off their kids and all want you to help by playing matchmaker for them than the stolen cattle.

It was a nice change from farmers being overrun by undead, orcs, kobolds, goblins, actual plague, magical plague, and other things to the extent that you’d expect there to be a great famine going on (but there usually isn’t as nobody needs to eat food) or farmers are significantly better in combat than they let on. If I had a wishlist for peasant farmers, it would be the next time the local ruler sends the player to deal with an undead infestation, you find that the farmers already took care of the problem themselves before you got there.

Now, I hope I encounter a module where minotaurs are living in port cities and engage in seafaring professions.

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@dunahan

(@Sachie - See comments at the bottom of this post.)

Agreed… But, this question was seeking a more “gut” response that was based on an experience you may have had. :slight_smile: I have added a little extra in the first post to give an example. (See also my post above yours, where I explain how I had a fond memory of Ultima Underworld, which influenced my own position.)

In other words, I believe we are in agreement that different scenarios and story lines affect the dungeon size… So, based on the dungeon you give as an example, that sounds like a possible “big dungeon”, which may require one of the larger options in the poll?

I hasten to add that sounds more like an exciting dungeon than a single room peasant scenario. :grinning: Please note: I have no objections to smaller scenarios, as they can certainly add something… It’s just that my preference tends to lie with “bigger dungeons” in which I can get my teeth into … maybe some people like bigger, smaller, or somewhere in between?

Does that help explain the sort of vote I am looking for. :slight_smile:

My gut feeling made me vote for 3-5 rooms, but I don’t really like dungeons, to be honest. Dungeons with like 5 levels will probably make me quit the module/game…still, it all depends. If the story is good enough to keep me hooked then it might work. So my response should probably be “It all depends” . I have some vague memory of playing a module series for NWN1 called…eh…Lords of Darkness (or something), and if I remember correctly (I could have gotten this mixed up with another module), there was a dungeon with 5 levels, and I remember hating that, and that I was so relieved when I got out of there. I’m much more fond of adventures above ground in a sunny village. Still, I use dungeons and caves in my own modules, for the sake of variation with the story, so there is that…

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@andgalf

I must admit, I voted “bigger”, but I hope that size also reflects detail to cover it as well… that is, I don’t want a big dungeon with little to do in it. And I include combat after combat as “not” something that will necessarily make it “better”. A bigger dungeon has to be quite involved and thought through for me to appreciate it.

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Yep, I agree with that. All too often there’s the style of “fight after fight” and that just gets exausting and feels lazy.

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I immediately thought of the minotaur, Rikar, a 6th level magic user in DLQ2 Flint’s Axe. He lives south of town, in a small house far from the hunting trails.

Next, I saw Pstemarie’s post about the Mariners.

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I voted between 5 and 15, with the idea that more than that means it’s not a dungeon but a palace, or a skyscrapper. But obviously that depends heavily on the story behind it. A prisoner escaping a drow prison will have a lot of tunnels to explore in the Underdark, but a thief trying to get a well-known gem in a lord estate will normally not have to dig (or find) an underground passage with so many forks. Again, it depends if we’re discussing a side-quest or the starting point of an epic campaign I guess.

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