• The VOIDRUNNER'S CODEX is coming! Explore new worlds, fight oppressive empires, fend off fearsome aliens, and wield deadly psionics with this comprehensive boxed set expansion for 5E and A5E!

D&D General The 10' hallway default. How? Why?

log in or register to remove this ad

When they started publishing modules they needed to use a scale that average Joe Gamer would be able to recreate on standard graph paper. 5 foot per square would not have fit so well on the 2 inner panels of the module cover unless they were smallish dungeons. And we, of course, emulated the published stuff.

That's my guess anyway.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
Convenience and ease of use with mini scale. 1” was 10 yards outside, 10 feet indoors. 1 square on the graph paper being set to 10 feet made handling all those indoor ranges easy.

Because squares are 5 feet, and two characters aren’t allowed to occupy the same square for more than 6 seconds. Having to walk single-file down hallways would be a pain.
QFT. Hallways, rooms, and boats (in particular) are all wider in tactical gaming than in real life, to make life easier for people moving little figures around a grid.


Victoria Rules
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.
Exactly this.

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?
First time I saw it was 3e, though late-era 2e might have done it also. A few outlier modules from 1e used 5' squares, and there's one (in Dungeon mag. I think?) that had my DM swearing a blue streak until he finally realized the written descriptions only made sense if the map was seen as having 7-and-a-half foot squares!

My problem with 5' squares is that it takes too many of 'em to cover a big room (a cavern 100' x 120' ends up looking like a fine-grain sieve), yet mappers never think to highlight every other line to allow easier by-10's counting.

And 25mm scale has, sadly, long since died out. It's 28mm now, if not larger - modern Gnome minis are as big as old-time Human minis. Annoying when half your character pieces are in one scale and half in another.

I was walking along some long corridors in a hospital earlier this year and I noticed they where pretty close to 10 feet wide. Celings where about 10 feet high too.

Also consider, most PCs don't walk around dungeons with tape measures. It doesn't make sense for characters to estimate distances to more than one significant figure. It makes more sense to describe a room as "about 40 feet across" than "37 feet across" or even "35 feet across". The maps can then be seen as approximations, not accurate blueprints.


3e actually went over to default 5' hallways in a lot of products. You see it on eg Paizo dungeon flipmats as well as maps. It may be realistic but it's less fun than 10' corridors allowing room for maneuver.

Gygax used 10' halls and suggests 3 men can fight abreast in such.


Re minis scale - some modern minis like Nolzur's are pushing 40mm! Given that battlemats often seem to be pretty implausibly scaled (ships are the worst, but also many building interiors), I tend to just assume that a D&D 'foot' is a good bit smaller than a real world 'foot'. Perhaps 5' in D&D land is somewhere between 1 meter and 4 feet IRL.

Remove ads