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D&D General How often do the adventures you run include a "dungeon" element?

How often do the adventures you run include a "dungeon" element?

  • Every adventure

    Votes: 8 14.8%
  • 90% or more of adventures involve a dungeon

    Votes: 14 25.9%
  • 50% or so of adventures involve a dungeon

    Votes: 14 25.9%
  • 25% or so of adventures involve a dungeon

    Votes: 7 13.0%
  • Less than a 1/4 of adventures involve a dungeon

    Votes: 8 14.8%
  • NO DUNGEONS!

    Votes: 3 5.6%

  • Total voters
    54

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
So the frequent discussion on these board regarding short and long rests and number of encounters per day made me wonder the frequency with which dungeon environments are a part of people's games and how long characters tend to spend there. While dungeons are a part of my games, wilderness and town encounters (or town outskirts) are much more common. As such, retreating to a safe place to get a rest or sleep the night is less of a concern - at least in terms of safety. PCs in my games are much more likely to forego a rest because of time concerns than safety - though in dungeons and some wilderness environments safety is also a concern. Only once since we started our current game has the group taken a long rest during an adventure, and even short rests are not that common.

By "dungeon" I mean an underground network of caves, tunnels, chambers lairs that require entering into or emerging from and is distinct from the surrounding environment to some degree and might holds the possibility for more than one encounter (so just a owlbear cave is not a dungeon - an owlbear cave that connects to a variety of tunnels occupied by goblins, and is the top layer of a buried temple complex would be). The kind of place PCs might spend more than one adventuring day.

And to be clear, the entire adventure does not need to involve a dungeon, but has a dungeon aspect. Thus, while the classic adventure, N1 - Against the Cult of the Reptile God, mostly takes place in the town of Orlane, the finale does involving raiding the a swamp-located dungeon lair. Something like X1 - Isle of Dread (if I remember correctly) does not have a dungeon aspect.
 
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Esbee

Dungeon Master at large.
I guess about 25% or so...

There's often a dungeon present and they occur regularly, but players don't always go in. My group tends to be the traveling kind, and have more overland and wilderness adventures, with a healthy dose of in-town shennanigans than anything else.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Every adventure in my campaigns has a dungeon. I am running Dungeons & Dragons after all. The game just tends to work better in that context in my experience.

Some of my one-shots will be set-piece encounters with no dungeons. But even for one-shots I prefer to present a dungeon or other adventure location to explore.
 

aco175

Legend
Seems harder to pin down based on your parameters. Most of what I would call an adventure involves some town/NPC intro with some investigation into leads or smaller encounters and some sort of larger dungeon, but most of these are in the 4-10 room range that can be run in a night or two. I tend to never have anything larger than this.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
You leave a 40% gap there between “about 50%” and “more than 90%.”
Oops! I got distracted while drafting this post and missed one! I'll see if I can edit.

Edit: I can't :( Treat "about 50%" as 50% to 75% and "more than 90%" as anywhere around 75% and 99%. This isn't meant to be scientific anyway.
 

The game doesn't work the way I want without a dungeon to make attrition happen - so 'always'.

Although I wouldn't define dungeons as necessarily underground - just in a bounded space, so an island or demiplane or drifting ship or Domain of Dread or whatever else I can come up with.

I haven't done it in a while but a hexcrawl, to me, is just a huge dungeon with walls that are really far apart.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Oops! I got distracted while drafting this post and missed one! I'll see if I can edit.

Edit: I can't :( Treat "about 50%" as 50% to 75% and "more than 90%" as anywhere around 75% and 99%. This isn't meant to be scientific anyway.
Voted 90% but it's a bit less than that I think.

And "include" can mean anything from the entire adventure is a dungeon (common) to there being a dungeon as just a part of something bigger (less common but it happens). I can even think of a few adventures that in the end didn't have a dungeon element but would have if the party had ever got to it... :)
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
The game doesn't work the way I want without a dungeon to make attrition happen - so 'always'.

Although I wouldn't define dungeons as necessarily underground - just in a bounded space, so an island or demiplane or drifting ship or Domain of Dread or whatever else I can come up with.

I haven't done it in a while but a hexcrawl, to me, is just a huge dungeon with walls that are really far apart.
If you treat scenes as rooms and transitions as halls, any adventure can be a dungeon 😜
 

HJFudge

Explorer
I'd say that about half have a dungeon element, even if it's only used as kind of a 'break' from what the adventure is about. It provides context, in many ways, to combat and puzzles.

Now this is true in adventures where the PCs are on a quest, where they are acted rather than being acting upon. Those where they are travelling or searching or what not. I tend not to have the actual travel scenes give them combat, because in my world the roads and travel paths are GENERALLY pretty safe (I do switch this up on rare occasion, as that provides a good narrative twist and keeps them on their toes).

In adventures where the PCs are being acted upon primarily, where they are running or what not, that adventure tends not to feature a dungeon.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Definitely not every session, but definitely every adventure.

Though I'm using the concept of "dungeon" fairly loosely here, as in "building/structure with numbered rooms full of traps, monsters, and treasure." Which may or may not be the intended definition for the question.
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
I got tired of dungeons after running the double-sided ziggurat in B4 The Lost City in 1983.

I try to stay clear of large underground dungeons as much as I can. I mostly use small cavern complexes, that may have been modified by current or past inhabitants.

I prefer wilderness locations, surface ruins.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I don't remember the last time I ran anything in what I would consider a dungeon. Abandoned buildings now and then. I don't do location based scenarios, everything is event driven.

So unless you count the occasional basement (I don't) then it's never.
 


robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
Sure there are dungeons in my adventures, but I generally plan on adventuring days where the action will be exciting and relentless medium/hard encounters (backing off if things get out of hand). When traveling, for example, I plan days where multiple challenges will occur over the course of a day. Out of the frying pan into the fire kind of thing.
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
I run open-world, open-table sandbox campaigns, so the definition of "adventure" for one of my games is "one game session, in which the player characters leave their home base, travel to somewhere dangerous, and then return." Whether a given party decides to delve the dungeon or brave the wilderness is going to vary wildly from party to party, even within the same campaign, with lower-level parties favoring the relative predictability of those upper dungeon levels. A party typically needs to have at least a few 4th or 5th level characters in it—either that, or a whole company of men-at-arms—before striking out into the wilderness becomes truly feasible.

And to be clear, the entire adventure does not need to involve a dungeon, but has a dungeon aspect. Thus, while the classic adventure, N1 - Against the Cult of the Reptile God, mostly takes place in the town of Orlane, the finale does involving raiding the a swamp-located dungeon lair. Something like X1 - Isle of Dread (if I remember correctly) does not have a dungeon aspect.

X1 most definitely has a dungeon: the temple and caves on Taboo Island. (I also like to place the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth elsewhere on the Isle of Dread, since the aesthetics line up so well, but that's just a personal choice.) :)
 

I really wish adventure was defined. I mean, you mention N1 which takes about two to five, 4 hour, sessions to run. If you are talking about my own creations, and a quest that spans two to five sessions, then there is almost always at least one "dungeon."

I will say this though, my dungeons are almost always small. I have a hard time actualizing a goblin filled cave that has 25 rooms and only holds 20 to 30 goblins. I keep my dungeon designs from 5-10 rooms.
 


jgsugden

Legend
I don't know how to answer - but I guess all of them involve dungeons.

The general progression is a railroady adventure for levels 1 to 4, and then sandbox for levels 5 to 16, then a railroad towards the end of the campaign (somewhere between 17 and 20th level).

Levels 1 to 4 tend to feature a couple short dungeons (with a time pressure), then the end of the campaign tends to be a huge gauntlet style dungeon adventure.

From levels 5 to 16, however, there are dozens of story hooks out there and the PCs get to choose which ones they want to follow. Some are dungeons, and some are urban/political, and some are travel games, and some are other things entirely.
 

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