Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My 2,000cp on Empty Rooms & Hallways

Over the years much blood has been spilled in megadungeons. Yet that flow can not match the ink spent writing, drawing, and talking about them. This past week a significant amount was spurred by a post in which Tenkar discusses the lack of enjoyment he and his group had playing Dwimmermount, stemming from empty (aka boring) rooms and other rooms with such ridiculous things as 9 rats with 2,000cp.

Now, I haven’t read Dwimmermount, but I have read Joseph Bloch's Castle of the Mad Archmage, Michael Curtis’ Stonehell (anxiously awaiting part 2), Greg Gillespie’s Barrowmaze I & II, and Castle Zagyg, and I’ve played in Castle Zagyg and Stonehell.

Truly empty rooms are rare. There’s usually something in it. Yet at the same time there are empty places in megadungeons... and even regular sized dungeons! Most of the truly empty spaces in dungeons are the hallways, and that’s something that I don’t see getting talked about much.

Is a hallway really very different from a room? In most places I go, hallways are just as likely to have a piece of furniture, some sort of decorative flourish, and sometimes even utilitarian feature like a telephone. Posters, pictures, murals, sculptures, tables, chairs, etc. Why shouldn’t there be just as great a chance for there to be a trap, monster, special, or empty in a corridor?

I know I like putting things in hallways. Sometimes a statue, or a tapestry. Even a pile of burnt torches and a shattered shield. A lot of time it works best as an indicator of what’s in the room. Rat droppings, graffiti, scorch marks, funky smells, etc. can all be big clues about what’s to come. Also, there are some monsters that would benefit from having confined spaces to work in to reduce their target’s ability to maneuver - I’m thinking stirges, swarms, and things that drop from the ceiling or fly.

So I suggest the next time you're designing a dungeon, or other interior location, spend a moment and think about those empty areas linking the "interesting" bits together.

1d12 Hallway Features
  1. Decorative architectural feature (columns, arches, domes, etc.)
  2. Fountain
  3. Mosaic
  4. Mounted head (1-3 Animal, 4-5 Monster, 6 Humanoid)
  5. Mural
  6. Privy/closet
  7. Seat/bench
  8. Shelves
  9. Shrine
  10. Statue
  11. Tapestry
  12. Weapon/Armor (decorative 95%, real 4%, magic 1%)

1d20 Additional Hallway Features

  1. Bloody smears
  2. Bottle of Booze (5% chance still has some in it)
  3. Broken weapon
  4. Burnt out torch/dented lamp
  5. Chatty inchworm
  6. Cigar stubs
  7. Eyeball fungus
  8. Feces
  9. Flickering continual light gem embedded in ceiling (half pried out)
  10. Gnawed bones
  11. Graffiti
  12. Humanoid body, completely covered with mold (harmless, smells bad)
  13. Loose stone (1cp under it)
  14. Magic Mouth/Programed Illusion
  15. Phosphorescent fungus (harmless)
  16. Scorch Marks
  17. Scrap of cloth (silk, wool, cotton, gold, fur, leather)
  18. Severed appendage (25% fresh)
  19. Trail marks
  20. Vermin (rat, bug, etc.)


  1. I never considered this before. This is definitely something I'll give some thought.

  2. Put something in the hallways! It's always a good idea and it breaks things up from the walk to door, open door, have encounter, get treasure, walk to next door school of dungeoneering.

  3. A chatty inchworm!

    "Don't go that way!"


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