Room Sizes

A little idea as I get back into things -- In some adventure products you get boxed-text room descriptions like, "The double doors open into a courtyard that is 80 feet deep and 90 feet wide. Once well cared for, the dirt floor is now choked with weeds. In the center of the yard sits a large pool, etc., etc." [D&D Module B7 Rahasia, Tracy & Laura Hickman, area #2]

There's a debate to be had about whether giving the room dimensions (80×90 feet) at this point is justified. Cognitively, you'd think that (a) the PC's attention would be first attracted to the stuff in front of them (especially any hostile monsters!) before dimensional details, and also (b) to get exact footage you'd probably have to get in, explore, and pace it off. The counter-argument, I suppose, might be that letting the players draw the area on the party map allows them to mentally situate themselves there. Sometimes I go back-and-forth about whether the dimensions should be the first thing described, or the last.

Here's a synthesis: Give the players some notion of room size first, quickly, by just using the terms "small, medium, or large". Only give exact dimensions after a fight has been resolved, and exploration/ searching/ pacing/ mapping is possible. Of course, this requires some kind of consistency in your "size" descriptions, such that you're playing fair with the players. Here goes after a bit of research:
  • Small -- Up to 200 square feet (10×10 or 10×20). Small living quarters or chapel.
  • Medium -- Up to 2,000 square feet (from 20×20, 30' diameter around, to 30×60 or 40×50, etc.). Tower central room, guard hall, castle kitchen, big living quarters.
  • Large -- Up to 20,000 square feet (from 50×50, up to 50×100, max 100×200). Keep great hall, largest DMG Appendix A room/ chamber/ cave size.
  • Huge -- Up to 200,000 square feet (from 100×200, 150×350m, max 400×500). Major cathedral, largest DMG Appendix A cavern size.


Back To Posting

I've had to take off most of June & July in order to deal with some band stuff, and also to teach a pair of accelerated summer math classes. Hopefully I'll be back to some D&D writing, blog posts, and replies to email & comments that have been sitting here for a while.

And if I don't, I'll come back and erase this so I don't look like a big doofus. :-)