D&D 5E How to Stock and Key a Dungeon Traditionally(and tips on Dungeon Design)

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Yes, becoming less common in, say, 1992.
Yeah, true. And started becoming more common again with the OSR, though I don’t think it will ever again be the main way of playing.
It actually kinda funny we are talking about dungeon design at all. At some point, it was received wisdom that the only real dungeons being run were modules (as they were called). A DM might come up with 5 room locations, but in their scene to scene games big dungeons were an ancient relic.
Yeah, there are folks who make their own “real” dungeons again now.
 

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the Jester

Legend
Yes, becoming less common in, say, 1992.

It actually kinda funny we are talking about dungeon design at all. At some point, it was received wisdom that the only real dungeons being run were modules (as they were called). A DM might come up with 5 room locations, but in their scene to scene games big dungeons were an ancient relic.
I don't know... I have never run or played in a campaign that didn't feature multiple big ass dungeons. At least that I can recall. I'm currently playing in four campaigns, and we're in a big dungeon in three of them.

In the mid-90s, the biggun in my campaign was the Hill of Skulls. Later it was all about Bile Mountain, including multiple revisits with different groups of pcs. In 5e, it has been Marble Hall.

So while they did drop out of fashion for a while, I don't think big dungeons ever really went away in play.
 

I do tend to think ‘designing‘ empty rooms is pointless since they can just be handwaved in dialogue “you pass through the first few room and find nothing of interest…”. Of course some otherwise empty rooms may contain clues - but in that case theyre not actually empty
IMO not if you are actually mapping the whole thing, in the right situations. In some cases it would like be making a detailed map of the underdark and arguing every cave, opening or passage has to have "something" in it.

But, the biggest take away to me is "it depends".
I mean… One of the things that we’ve learned since then is that they actually did know what they were doing, and had good reasons behind a lot of their design decisions. Sure, adhering slavishly to this guideline is limiting, but it is good general advice for the kinds of games they were running.
I think that is over generous. I have learned that sometimes they knew what they were doing and made design decisions I agree with. But do agree that there is value in taking their advice into consideration.

In part, my reluctance is that when I see people harken back to the games originators, it often appears to me that are trying to support their position by name dropping. Not supporting their position with evidence or logic.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I think that is over generous. I have learned that sometimes they knew what they were doing and made design decisions I agree with. But do agree that there is value in taking their advice into consideration.
Sure. My point was more that there are a lot of design choices in the early editions that, at a read, people thought sounded crazy and wrote off. But, it often turns out that there was a good reason for these things.
In part, my reluctance is that when I see people harken back to the games originators, it often appears to me that are trying to support their position by name dropping. Not supporting their position with evidence or logic.
People do sometimes do that, but I don’t think it’s being done here. @FallenRX explains the logic behind it - specifically that classic dungeon delving is a sort of push-your-luck game of risk and reward. Empty rooms are an important part of that risk/reward balance because they drain resources but don’t present an immediate danger. They contribute to the difficulty of the dungeon in a softer way than an encounter or hazard.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
What purpose do empty rooms serve?

1) Realism? It doesn't make sense for the [insert dungeon justification here] to be jammed full of monsters?
1a) Realism - the room once had a purpose but that purpose is no longer valid, thus the room has been abandoned.
2) Spacers? If it wasn't for the empty rooms the monsters in room 7 would kill the monsters in room 14?
Which comes right back to realism.
3) Safe rest zones?

4) To lull the players into a false sense of security, so they might actually be surprised when the perfectly ordinary chest turns out to be a mimic?

5) Because I drew lots of rooms on my graph paper and can't think of enough stuff to fill all of them?

6) Something else I haven't thought of?
Other than maybe #6 these are all meta-considerations. If I'm designing a constructed (as opposed to natural-cavern) dungeon, one of my key considerations is to ask myself "Why was this room built in the first place and what was its purpose then?", regardless of what it might be used for now.
 

aco175

Legend
I like to have some cluster areas with rooms. Some may be empty or act as a bedrooms, but the monsters may be gathered in another area eating or in a ritual. At night, the monsters may be in the other rooms, but fighting will draw all of that cluster to fight. Each cluster is also far enough from other area that fighting in one area may not draw attention from the other areas.
This last part is a little gamey, since noise in caves and such would travel more than the space I tend to make. Things like underground rivers and chanting may excuse some, but some other parts may just be overlooked.
 

Other than maybe #6 these are all meta-considerations. If I'm designing a constructed (as opposed to natural-cavern) dungeon, one of my key considerations is to ask myself "Why was this room built in the first place and what was its purpose then?", regardless of what it might be used for now.
So, do meta considerations matter? Gygax was making meta considerations when he wrote that advice. You can tell from the monsters he invented and his published modules that 4) was a big thing for him, and 5) was something that happened on a regular basis.
1a) Realism - the room once had a purpose but that purpose is no longer valid, thus the room has been abandoned.
Does realism always matter? If you look at a classic adventure like The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (not written by Gygax) you can see that realism wasn't a consideration when populating that dungeon.

Hidden Shrine has no empty rooms.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
What purpose do empty rooms serve?

1) Realism? It doesn't make sense for the [insert dungeon justification here] to be jammed full of monsters?

2) Spacers? If it wasn't for the empty rooms the monsters in room 7 would kill the monsters in room 14?

3) Safe rest zones?

4) To lull the players into a false sense of security, so they might actually be surprised when the perfectly ordinary chest turns out to be a mimic?

5) Because I drew lots of rooms on my graph paper and can't think of enough stuff to fill all of them?

6) Something else I haven't thought of?
I missed this before, but the primary purpose they serve is to chew through resources, without posing an immediate threat. In that sense, you can think of them a bit like the lowest-difficulty type of encounter. They also serve as a pacing tool. They give the players breathing room between actual encounters.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
We had a thread recently in the Older Editions forum talking about the original dungeon design/random stocking guidelines, which might be useful reading/additional context.

 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So, do meta considerations matter? Gygax was making meta considerations when he wrote that advice. You can tell from the monsters he invented and his published modules that 4) was a big thing for him, and 5) was something that happened on a regular basis.
Yes, some of his monsters were purely meta-inventions. Doesn't make them perfect, or something I'd use often if ever. (exception: Rust Monsters!)
Does realism always matter? If you look at a classic adventure like The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (not written by Gygax) you can see that realism wasn't a consideration when populating that dungeon.
I've never run or played HSoT though with luck I one day will. That said, there's certainly space for funhouse dungeons with some vague underlying rationale that causes all kinds of incompatible creatures to live cheek by jowl - Gygax's Dungeonland and Beyond the Magic Mirror are two such.

But unless the specific intent is that a dungeon be a funhouse type of place, then yes: realism always matters.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
But unless the specific intent is that a dungeon be a funhouse type of place, then yes: realism always matters.
The school of dungeon design laid out at least as early as, for example, Dragon issue 10, in Richard Gilbert's Let There Be a Method to Your Madness article. Then we have the "Gygaxian Naturalism" idea which Gary put in a lot of his later module work, trying to rationalize dungeons a bit, putting at least a nod in to food chains and so forth.

The other major school of thought (aside from just occasional funhouse dungeons meant as an exception to the rule) is the Mythic Underworld concept Jason "Philotomy Jurament" Cone explicated early in the OSR (2007, I think?), as a way of explaining and extrapolating on the original weird dungeon rules from OD&D. Stuff like why doors are normally stuck for PCs but open easily for dungeon dwellers. Or how PCs can't see in the dark but inhabitants of the dungeon can by default.


I think there's definitely some value to having at least some things about the campaign world be kind of casually realistic. Physics working more or less as it does in reality, for example, so players can engage in problem solving by doing stuff like using a marble to detect a sloping floor, or water to find a crack in the ground, or a crowbar to help them open a stuck door. But I definitely enjoy the Mythic Underworld concept and how it reminds us that we have license to make dungeons and adventure sites places of strangeness and mystery where "realism" is at best a secondary concern.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The school of dungeon design laid out at least as early as, for example, Dragon issue 10, in Richard Gilbert's Let There Be a Method to Your Madness article. Then we have the "Gygaxian Naturalism" idea which Gary put in a lot of his later module work, trying to rationalize dungeons a bit, putting at least a nod in to food chains and so forth.
Indeed. Though, and I'll say this right now to be clear, it's all too possible to overthink this stuff and end up with a very boring dungeon.
The other major school of thought (aside from just occasional funhouse dungeons meant as an exception to the rule) is the Mythic Underworld concept Jason "Philotomy Jurament" Cone explicated early in the OSR (2007, I think?), as a way of explaining and extrapolating on the original weird dungeon rules from OD&D. Stuff like why doors are normally stuck for PCs but open easily for dungeon dwellers. Or how PCs can't see in the dark but inhabitants of the dungeon can by default.
The bolded is the sort of thing that has always annoyed me both as player and DM. The door is what it is, and should in theory behave the same way no matter who is using it (exception of course being the presence or absence of a key if it's locked). If it creaks loudly when the PCs open it they've a natural right to expect it to creak at least somewhat when a dungeon occupant opens it. If it's stuck for the PCs it should be stuck for the monsters. Etc.

As for seeing in the dark, this one makes a bit more sense in that creatures who tend to live in the dark (including Dwarves) will naturally evolve toward being able to see there, and most adventurers are surface folk. Elves are the oddball exception, but we long ago ruled their night-sight only works outdoors and isn't much use indoors or underground.
I think there's definitely some value to having at least some things about the campaign world be kind of casually realistic. Physics working more or less as it does in reality, for example, so players can engage in problem solving by doing stuff like using a marble to detect a sloping floor, or water to find a crack in the ground, or a crowbar to help them open a stuck door.
Yes, and further value comes in that if-when these things don't work as expected it's an anomaly which will - or should - prompt the players/PCs to investigate.
But I definitely enjoy the Mythic Underworld concept and how it reminds us that we have license to make dungeons and adventure sites places of strangeness and mystery where "realism" is at best a secondary concern.
Agreed as long as the strangeness and mystery has an underlying rationale. For example I love isolated local gravity wells; where marbles and water do move uphill and the PCs have to figure out why, or when walking the downhill path feels like walking uphill. Rationalizing these things in the setting can be a PITA, however, which is why I rarely if ever get to put one in a dungeon.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
It’s a difference in gameplay style. Empty rooms are important for location-based campaigns, where the challenge is in navigating the space and managing risk vs. reward while your resources slowly dwindle. But this type of campaign is growing less and less common in favor of more event-based campaigns, which very much are “moving from scene to scene.” In this style of play, an empty room is mostly just a dull scene, because the dungeon is less of an exploration challenge in and of itself, and more of a backdrop for the adventure.
Absolutely. This is something that works in TSR editions of D&D but really doesn't in WotC editions.
I don’t think there’s any particular problem with it in 5e, and I can’t imagine why there would be in 3e. Probably wouldn’t work with 4e though.
The problem with it in 5E is that there are basically no risks and all rewards. So there's no balancing of risk vs reward to be had. There are no supplies to really worry about. See the various threads on how exploration is gutted in 5E. There are class features, background features, cantrips, low-level spells, and easily gained magic items that circumvent all the traditional exploration problems. Food, water, light, carrying capacity, getting lost, etc. All meaningless in 5E.

The PCs big resources dwindle (spell slots), but they have infinite small resources (cantrips). To actually make a 5E PC's resources dwindle you need to hit 3-4 deadly encounters per day (or the equivalent) because they can generally handle medium and hard encounters with just cantrips or short-rest recharge resources. That's what 5E is balanced around. The PCs are dirty with features, abilities, spells, etc. The referee really has to work to get those resources to go away...and the lower the PCs are on resources, the more apt they are to stop all forward progress and long rest. And then there's the highly risk-adverse nature of many players. They will try to long rest after every single fight if allowed to. And when not allowed to they will complain endlessly.

Throwing in far more and far deadlier encounters than typically makes any narrative sense is what you have to do. So every single day is an EPIC ADVENTURE TO BE SUNG ABOUT FOR AGES or it's a pointless waste of time. And given the...poor wording...of the long rest rules, RAW is that you can be in combat for up to 1 hour during a long rest and still get your long rest. So either the referee kills the PCs or they get their long rest every night, recharging all their resources. So having one encounter in a day is literally a waste of time, unless it happens to kill a PC. But healing and resurrection are super common and easy in 5E, so even that's not really an issue anymore. It's the Monty Haul edition in regards to player resources.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
The bolded is the sort of thing that has always annoyed me both as player and DM. The door is what it is, and should in theory behave the same way no matter who is using it (exception of course being the presence or absence of a key if it's locked). If it creaks loudly when the PCs open it they've a natural right to expect it to creak at least somewhat when a dungeon occupant opens it. If it's stuck for the PCs it should be stuck for the monsters. Etc.
To me it's a matter of embracing the setting conceit. If doors in the dungeon DO behave differently for adventurers vs. monsters, why?

Sometimes it might be a relatively mundane explanation- I have lived with doors which had a bit of a trick to them, hung incorrectly or where the lock was slightly misaligned, where you had to know the trick- pull up on the handle to get them un-stuck from the frame, or push in slightly to get the lock mechanism lined up, or what have you. Gary described dungeon doors as commonly being swollen with moisture, having rusted hinges or other difficult qualities. It would make sense that someone who lives with those doors would be accustomed to dealing with them and their idiosyncrasies and handle them more easily than an intruder.

But I'm also on board with a dungeon being an inherently inimical place to surface dwellers, where the regular daylight rules and expectations don't apply. Actually I was researching something else and ran into an article in Dragon #40 from Douglas Bachmann, Believe it or Not, Fantasy Has Reality, where he goes into the same Joseph Campbell idea that the Mythic Underworld concept draws on. He talks in the piece about the distinction between Home Areas and Wyrd Areas.

A Home Area is one in which everyday life as we know it exists; it is the Primary World.

A Wyrd Area is the realm of the Dark, the actual world of Faerie. It is in Wyrd Areas that one encounters monsters and has adventures. All AD&D dungeons are Wyrd Areas. It might be worth noting that gold and mithril are items with close connections with Faerie, with Wyrd Areas, and it would seem most appropriate that gold coins not be available and gold/mithril mining not be permitted in Home Areas.

The boundary between Home Areas and Wyrd Areas should be set out clearly. The use of mile stones, walls, magic barriers, hedges, toll gates, rivers, and ditches all serve to clearly separate the Primary World from Faerie.

Indeed. Though, and I'll say this right now to be clear, it's all too possible to overthink this stuff and end up with a very boring dungeon.

...

Agreed as long as the strangeness and mystery has an underlying rationale. For example I love isolated local gravity wells; where marbles and water do move uphill and the PCs have to figure out why, or when walking the downhill path feels like walking uphill. Rationalizing these things in the setting can be a PITA, however, which is why I rarely if ever get to put one in a dungeon.
I'm on board with creating a specific, rationalized explanation if it's not too much work and I think it will pay off in terms of the players problem solving. But I agree with your earlier point that it's all too possible to overthink it.

I absolutely do not feel beholden to realism in making a fun dungeon. Magic and mystery and weirdness are more important.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The problem with it in 5E is that there are basically no risks and all rewards. So there's no balancing of risk vs reward to be had. There are no supplies to really worry about.
Sure there are. Ammunition, carrying capacity, and of course, hit points and spell slots, are all supplies that any group is going to need to worry about. Most groups will need to worry about food and water, at least in the early levels. And some groups will have to worry about light sources.
See the various threads on how exploration is gutted in 5E. There are class features, background features, cantrips, low-level spells, and easily gained magic items that circumvent all the traditional exploration problems. Food, water, light, carrying capacity, getting lost, etc. All meaningless in 5E.
Light is fairly easy to work around with a cantrip, but that does cost a cantrip slot, which is limited - that light cantrip could have been a mage hand or a firebolt or something. Still, this is one I can see a lot of DMs wanting to house rule to make more of a thing. Food and water will be a concern for most groups; sure there are spells that can circumvent the need for it, but that’s just trading one resource for another. Carrying capacity can only really be circumvented with magic items, which the DM is in charge of distributing, so just don’t hand out bags of holding and the like if you want this to be a concern. And the only feature I can think of that circumvents getting lost is the Ranger’s Natural Explorer, which only works in their favored terrain. Most of the time, this is still a concern for most parties.
The PCs big resources dwindle (spell slots), but they have infinite small resources (cantrips). To actually make a 5E PC's resources dwindle you need to hit 3-4 deadly encounters per day (or the equivalent) because they can generally handle medium and hard encounters with just cantrips or short-rest recharge resources. That's what 5E is balanced around. The PCs are dirty with features, abilities, spells, etc.
Even with mostly medium and hard encounters, PC’s ability resources will dwindle. Hit points will be lost, which will require spells to heal (unless they rest to heal; more on that in a bit); blasters will use AoE spells to deal with groups of enemies quickly; utility spells and abilities will get used in exploration challenges; paladins will use their smites; barbarians will use their rages; druids will use their wild shapes; bards will use their inspiration dice; fighters will use their action points, etc.
The referee really has to work to get those resources to go away...and the lower the PCs are on resources, the more apt they are to stop all forward progress and long rest. And then there's the highly risk-adverse nature of many players. They will try to long rest after every single fight if allowed to. And when not allowed to they will complain endlessly.
If the PCs can reliably finish a long rest in the middle of an adventuring location, the DM isn’t pushing them hard enough. I roll for random encounters at least once an hour in dungeons, with additional rolls when PCs take risky actions. I would say that sleeping in a dungeon absolutely constitutes a risky actuon, so over eight hours, that’s a LOT of rolls.
Throwing in far more and far deadlier encounters than typically makes any narrative sense is what you have to do. So every single day is an EPIC ADVENTURE TO BE SUNG ABOUT FOR AGES or it's a pointless waste of time.
It makes plenty of narrative sense for adventurers to be running into tons of monsters in a monster-infested dungeon.
And given the...poor wording...of the long rest rules, RAW is that you can be in combat for up to 1 hour during a long rest and still get your long rest. So either the referee kills the PCs or they get their long rest every night, recharging all their resources.
Good luck surviving a 1,000 rounds of combat without being able to stop and heal…
So having one encounter in a day is literally a waste of time, unless it happens to kill a PC. But healing and resurrection are super common and easy in 5E, so even that's not really an issue anymore. It's the Monty Haul edition in regards to player resources.
One encounter a day?? Yeah, that’s pointless alright. But I thought we were talking about old-school dungeon delving play here. The old-school dungeon is not a place you can adventure in for a whole day and have only one encounter.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Food, water, light, carrying capacity, getting lost, etc. All meaningless in 5E.

The beauty of D&D is that while we're all playing the same game, we're all also playing different games - because that is not my experience with 5E so far. I mean, if you'd said "sometimes meaningless" or "all meaningless past X level" or "meaningless with this combination of characters" I might find your description more convincing, if not more recognizable to my experience - but as written, your posts makes me think we're playing different games - which to me is what makes D&D, D&D. 🤷‍♀️
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Sure there are. Ammunition, carrying capacity, and of course, hit points and spell slots, are all supplies that any group is going to need to worry about. Most groups will need to worry about food and water, at least in the early levels. And some groups will have to worry about light sources.

Light is fairly easy to work around with a cantrip, but that does cost a cantrip slot, which is limited - that light cantrip could have been a mage hand or a firebolt or something. Still, this is one I can see a lot of DMs wanting to house rule to make more of a thing. Food and water will be a concern for most groups; sure there are spells that can circumvent the need for it, but that’s just trading one resource for another. Carrying capacity can only really be circumvented with magic items, which the DM is in charge of distributing, so just don’t hand out bags of holding and the line if you want this to be a concern. And the only feature I can think of that circumvents getting lost is the Ranger’s Natural Explorer, which only works in their favored terrain. Most of the time, this is still a concern for most parties.

Even with mostly medium and hard encounters, PC’s ability resources will dwindle. Hit points will be lost, which will require spells to heal (unless they rest to heal; more on that in a bit); blasters will use AoE spells to deal with groups of enemies quickly; utility spells and abilities will get used in exploration challenges; paladins will use their smites; barbarians will use their rages; druids will use their wild shapes; bards will use their inspiration dice; fighters will use their action points, etc.
I concur on most of this. Light is the biggest issue. Food in the wilderness getting circumvented by a background is lame, but easy enough to disallow if the DM wants food to matter. Using the variant encumbrance rule, weight and carrying capacity definitely matter, IME. Ammo too.

One encounter a day?? Yeah, that’s pointless alright. But I thought we were talking about old-school dungeon delving play here. The old-school dungeon is not a place you can adventure in for a whole day and have only one encounter.
This one is more about wilderness exploration/hex crawling, and is a legit issue IME. I wound up switching to a variation on the "Gritty Realism" rest rules to better enable wilderness encounters to mean something without always having to be scaled super hard.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I concur on most of this. Light is the biggest issue. Food in the wilderness getting circumvented by a background is lame, but easy enough to disallow if the DM wants food to matter. Using the variant encumbrance rule, weight and carrying capacity definitely matter, IME. Ammo too.
By food in the wilderness getting circumvented by a background, I assume you’re referring to Outlander? I don’t think that one is a big deal. Foraging already lets you find enough food and water for 1d6 characters on a success, Outlander just allows you to succeed without a roll and find the full 6 people worth of food and water, and only in terrain where there’s enough food and water available. But foraging is still a task you have to perform, which should come at the exclusion of performing other tasks simultaneously (with the exception of rangers, who can keep watch while performing another task).
This one is more about wilderness exploration/hex crawling, and is a legit issue IME. I wound up switching to a variation on the "Gritty Realism" rest rules to better enable wilderness encounters to mean something without always having to be scaled super hard.
Ah, I see. Yeah, by default overland travel isn’t much of a combat challenge. The gritty realism rest variant can help alleviate that. Personally, I treat travel as primarily an exploration challenge; the encounters that can occur while traveling aren’t really meant to be a mortal threat, but rather to push players to want to keep watch for danger, as opposed to other travel tasks like navigating, tracking, foraging, or making a map. Unless you’re a ranger, you can’t do those things and stay alert for danger at the same time, which means you’ll be surprised at the start of combat if you do get ambushed.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
Light is fairly easy to work around with a cantrip, but that does cost a cantrip slot, which is limited - that light cantrip could have been a mage hand or a firebolt or something. Still, this is one I can see a lot of DMs wanting to house rule to make more of a thing.
Cantrips are not that limited. Every caster with cantrips gets at least two. As long as one person in the party takes dancing lights or light, you're good. It's better if two or more take it. But considering 5 of 13 classes are casters with cantrips...you're more than likely going to have access to these two. Something like 2/3 to 3/4 of all races in 5E have darkvision. Yes, black and white vision and disadvantage on perception checks, I know. It's a non-issue...unless you house rule it.
Food and water will be a concern for most groups; sure there are spells that can circumvent the need for it, but that’s just trading one resource for another.
The outlander background with the wanderer feature utterly circumvents the need for rolling to find food and water. As long as food exists in the area, you find it. Period. You find enough to feed yourself and up to five other people. Automatically. The rules for foraging are really lax as well. Make a survival check and you get WIS mod + 1d6 pounds of food and WIS mod + 1d6 gallons of water. A pound of food and a gallon of water are one day's worth for a medium-sized creature. So really a non-issue...unless your characters are always traveling through the desert...or you house rule it.
Carrying capacity can only really be circumvented with magic items, which the DM is in charge of distributing, so just don’t hand out bags of holding and the line if you want this to be a concern.
If the referee decides to make carrying capacity an issue, many simply ignore it, then yes...magic items. But there's also the artificer. Who at 2nd-level can make their own bag of holding. And trust me...if you're playing an exploration-focused game where weight matters...any artificer will immediately make a bag of holding. Unless you house rule it. Then there's the genie-pact warlock...who starts the game with a vessel that's "an extradimensional space in the shape of a 20-foot-radius cylinder, 20 feet high." Unless you house rule that, too. So the presence of either one obviates carrying capacity as something you can push. And how many races have powerful build and double carrying capacity now? At least five. So if you decide to make it an issue, the players will immediately make it a non-issue...or you house rule it so they can't...and then the complaining starts.
And the only feature I can think of that circumvents getting lost is the Ranger’s Natural Explorer, which only works in their favored terrain. Most of the time, this is still a concern for most parties.
Have you looked at the rules for getting lost? The highest check is DC15 and multiple characters can forage. At 1st level a ranger can generally be expected to have a +4-6 in survival. If you have a druid or nature cleric in the group, they're likely to have a +6-7 in survival. So even the worst terrain possible you're going to have at most a 40% chance of getting lost. But only if you're not on a trail. If you travel slow, +5. If you have a map or can see the sky and stars, gain advantage. And there's a really good argument to make that the Outlander background feature wanderer obviates this entirely as well. Once they've seen a map or been through an area they memorize the terrain. So...you guessed it, a non-issue...unless you...wait for it...house rule it.
If the PCs can reliably finish a long rest in the middle of an adventuring location, the DM isn’t pushing them hard enough.
Let me introduce you to the ritual spell called Leomund's Tiny Hut...it's a 3rd-level spell so, logically, it's available at 5th level. So once a party with a wizard reaches 5th level they never have to worry about getting a long rest ever again. The genie warlock can enter their vessel from 1st level...at 10th level they can take others with them. So agian, a non-issue unless you house rule it.
I roll for random encounters at least once an hour in dungeons, with additional rolls when PCs take risky actions. I would say that sleeping in a dungeon absolutely constitutes a risky action, so over eight hours, that’s a LOT of rolls.

It makes plenty of narrative sense for adventurers to be running into tons of monsters in a monster-infested dungeon.
Sure. But not so much in overland travel. And again...leomund's tiny bunker.
One encounter a day?? Yeah, that’s pointless alright. But I thought we were talking about old-school dungeon delving play here. The old-school dungeon is not a place you can adventure in for a whole day and have only one encounter.
You've never had a 5th-level party with a wizard tiny hut after one fight have you? I have. Immediately banned tiny hut. That didn't go over well. But at least my next group complained endlessly about how tiny hut was banned. That's always fun.
By food in the wilderness getting circumvented by a background, I assume you’re referring to Outlander? I don’t think that one is a big deal. Foraging already lets you find enough food and water for 1d6 characters on a success, Outlander just allows you to succeed without a roll and find the full 6 people worth of food and water, and only in terrain where there’s enough food and water available. But foraging is still a task you have to perform, which should come at the exclusion of performing other tasks simultaneously (with the exception of rangers, who can keep watch while performing another task).
Yes, one person in the group of 4-6 isn't watching, instead they're foraging. Oh no. The rest of the group is watching. That's not some amazing gotcha. And again, as per the above on how laughably easy it is to forage, it's a non-issue.
Ah, see. Yeah, by default overland travel isn’t much of a combat challenge. The gritty realism rest variant can help alleviate that. Personally, I treat travel as primarily an exploration challenge; the encounters that can occur while traveling aren’t really meant to be a mortal threat, but rather to push players to want to keep watch for danger, as opposed to other travel tasks like navigating, tracking, foraging, or making a map.
And that is obviated by the presence of a ranger, an outlander, or someone with a good survival skill. The designers really went out of their way to make exploration a non-thing in 5E. At a certain point it's obviously pointless to bother with. They designed it to be skipped over. So just skip over it and get on with the game. Unless you house rule the hell out of the game, these are not places you can make pressure for the PCs. They are just too easily obviated by PC abilities even from 1st level.
 
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