The 10' hallway default. How? Why?

Sacrosanct

Legend
10' is a pretty good distance. The other thread about a 5ft square helps put things in context of the actual scale. Which makes me wonder, "How did the 10' wide hallway become the default size?" That's an incredibly wide hallway, and real life tunnels and dungeons and castles don't even come close to being that wide. Especially odd to consider when the builders of D&D tunnels and hallways are small goblins or kobolds.

And yet, pretty much every dungeon passage and castle hallway in early D&D is 10' wide and 10' tall.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
It's kind of weird you know.
In a game called Dungeons & Dragons, people tend to extremely underestimate the impact of dungeon design on combat.
 
"How did the 10' wide hallway become the default size?" real life tunnels and dungeons and castles don't even come close to being that wide.
I'd always assumed because the default indoor scale was 1" = 10' so when you sit down with your graph paper to design a dungeon you use 10' as the unit, and it's most convenient to draw rooms & corridors along the lines.

1" = 5' has always been much closer to the nominal 25mm (more like 30+) scale D&D figures have always used. Was it 3e or late 2e that finally got around to adopting that?
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
I've always wondered... perhaps 10ft hallways are an added remnant of architectural scale and the graph paper that was available at the time? i.e. 1/4" graph paper also fits a common architectural scale of 1":40'
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
1" = 5' has always been much closer to the nominal 25mm (more like 30+) scale D&D figures have always used. Was it 3e or late 2e that finally got around to adopting that?
I don't think so. I mean my old lead cast minis from OD&D certainly were not 25mm scale. When we switched to 25mm (3E) those figures were noticeable larger. But I suspect someone around here will know for certain what the old scale was.
 
I don't think so. I mean my old lead cast minis from OD&D certainly were not 25mm scale. When we switched to 25mm (3E) those figures were noticeable larger. But I suspect someone around here will know for certain what the old scale was.
A lot of wargames back then used 15mm, as did Traveler (IIRC, though I never laid eyes on a Traveler mini). But for 1e AD&D, when I got serious enough to start buying & painting minis (badly!) it was already officially 25mm. But what that meant never seemed consistent - I remember getting a druid figure back in the day, don't remember who made it (Grenadier, maybe?), but it was like 7' tall next to the better-sculped Ral Partha's the DM had.

I still have some old minis, and, yes, they're noticeably smaller than the current plastic ones, but not, like 15mm vs 25mm smaller.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
10' is a pretty good distance. The other thread about a 5ft square helps put things in context of the actual scale. Which makes me wonder, "How did the 10' wide hallway become the default size?" That's an incredibly wide hallway, and real life tunnels and dungeons and castles don't even come close to being that wide. Especially odd to consider when the builders of D&D tunnels and hallways are small goblins or kobolds.

And yet, pretty much every dungeon passage and castle hallway in early D&D is 10' wide and 10' tall.
Gary already had stats for the Gelatinous Cube and wanted to make sure dungeon corridors could accommodate it?
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I don't think so. I mean my old lead cast minis from OD&D certainly were not 25mm scale. When we switched to 25mm (3E) those figures were noticeable larger. But I suspect someone around here will know for certain what the old scale was.
Grenadier started with 15mm. Then 25mm with Ral Partha. And Reaper up to 35mm. I love some of my old minis, but they look less imposing on the same table with Reaper minis lol

"Great barbarian? That looks like a halfling!"
"Is that a baby wyvern?"
 

Mort

Community Supporter
I thought it was the other way around. The GC was 10' square to fit the dungeons. I could be wrong though.
Sorry, I was being facetious.

The Gelatinous Cube, as far as history goes was designed for the 10' square dungeon corridor.

Doesn't mean Garry didn't secretly design it first and just didn't tell anyone:cool: (no not really).
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
As was mentioned, probably just ease-of-use. Back in the day, each square on a sheet of graph paper representing 10' just made for easier counting and faster description. When players were expected to actually map their own journey through a dungeon, being able to recalculate a described 40x30 foot room into a drawn 4x3 square on graph paper just made it so much more efficient and precise. And a corridor described as 80 feet long could be drawn out at 8 squares simply and quickly with no additional math required.
 
So that players with characters using large weapons that need lots of room to swing would not whine about the lack of space for their awesome greatsword or get yelled at when they hit their own teammates when a smaller hallway made them stand too close together during combat.
 

zenopus

Explorer
I'm guessing it was what Gygax thought worked best on standard graph paper (say, 4 or 5 squares per inch) for a reasonably sized dungeon map. One can fit more/larger rooms and longer corridors if using 10' per square scale. If using 5' per square you'd fit less rooms per sheet (or make them all smaller) and the corridors would be half as long. Per Mike Mornard, Gygax rarely used minis in play so table scale didn't matter so much as mapping convenience.

Gygax was drawing maps in a style like the one below in the beginning. (See here: Visualizing Castle Greyhawk)

The rooms would be pretty tiny at 5' per square, but are reasonably sized at 10' per square. For ease in drawing, it makes sense to use the same size squares for corridors.

castle-greyhawk level 1.jpg
 
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