Dungeon Evolution

In which ol’ Greywulf takes a long and scientific look at how Dungeon layouts have changed through the ages. Nah. Not really. Here’s some pictures.

Classic D&D:


Third Edition D&D:


Fourth Edition D&D:


The rooms are taking over! Run for the hills!

Maps created by the quite frankly awesome and wonderful Demonweb Random Dungeon Generator.

PS I love ’em all. Even Fourth Edition. Just so you know.

24 Comments on “Dungeon Evolution”

  1. Now Wulf…to be fair, classic D&D most often used a scale of 1 square = 10 feet on its dungeon maps. The latter editions reduced that scale to 1 square = 5 feet. So in actuality, the rooms in 4th edition are really about the same size as rooms found in classic editions.


    Dead Orcss last blog post..Legends of Thule: The Möbius Pendant

  2. Terrain and movement have become so important in 4e D&D that the rooms had to get bigger. Try fighting in a room that’s 3 squares x 3 squares. Sure it’s 15ft x 15ft, which sounds like plenty of room, but on a battle map the characters would be on top of each other and movement would be impossible.

    It is funny to take a step back and look at the evolution of dungeons. Your observation about room size is bang on the money. It happened so gradually that I didn’t really note it until you pointed it out.

    Amerons last blog post..Skill Challenge: Temple Treasure

  3. 4E’s maps annoy me to no end with the sheer size rooms need to be in order to make the rules usable. That said, they’re not really a major improvement over past editions in terms of layout. The 1E map you’ve drawn is perhaps a little exaggerated though not by much. I was just looking at the 1E classic “Temple of Elemental Evil” and the layout of the map, along with the actual quality of the drawing (they hand wrote the secret doors!) is pretty much garbage.

    MJ Harnishs last blog post..Fear of Girls: The Series

  4. Hmmm that makes me think, the next dungeon I create needs a hell of a lot more dead ends! Although… the cave system my group are currently exploring has its fair share of caves with no other exits, so I’m on the right track, I think ;-)

    The Recursion Kings last blog post..Delving deeper

  5. Wow, that first one reminds me of some of the maps from “The Bard’s Tale”. So many hours, so much graph paper :)

  6. Most of the maps are fairly linear. The one with the most corridors is the most linear, I think.

    Remember: Always draw the maps as graphs and see how many loops there are. There should be enough, if the map is supposed to offer players choices as to where to go.

  7. Ahhh … did someone mention the Bard’s Tale? How many hours I lost to that game, and some of those dungeons were a real challenge to map (Darkness! Teleporters! things that spin you round!)

  8. So basically, 4e is Col Mustard in the Enchanted Cavern with the Cursed Great Sword?

    HAHA, 4e iz bordgame lulz

    C’,mon, if you’re gonna bash, be original.

  9. @Dirk Oddly enough I used “one big room” (actually a gladiatorial arena) to introduce my players to 4e, and that worked pretty well – plenty of room for them to move and manoeuvre.

    @Recursion King Watch out for 7th Edition and beyond where the rooms exist only on the Negative Plane!

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  10. @dirk; 5e will pretty much be car wars. you’ll build your character from a selection of body types, armor, and weapons (still mostly procured from uncle albert’s), then have a big duel against your friends. division 30 duels will be limited to 30,000 combined XP and GP. afterwards, everyone will agree to try a BLUD duel next time, and your still-nameless PC will be unceremoniously shuffled into a box.

  11. 9th edition: “Throw back to the room” — Players are the rooms themselves (I want to be an 8th level Guard Barracks with 2 exit points) and NPCs are adventurers that fight monsters and collect loot through you.

    – Great post and maps

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