The 10' hallway default. How? Why?

aco175

Adventurer
I work at a college and the main buildings have halls that are 10ft wide. People can pass one another easily without needing to rub up against one another.

I mostly make them because I have lots of Dungeon Tiles from 3e days that we like to use.
 

Larnievc

Explorer
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.
Used to be 5’ when I was a nipper.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
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.
Because graph paper generally came in two colours. Blue which most kids had access too. So a square was 10 feet and you could doodle your dungeon in math class. Those crazies with their green graph paper were not allow to play D&D
 
I used to think that 10ft was chosen pretty much to avoid having to line-up characters or monsters if a fight occurs in a hallway, but actually I think it's more common than 5ft in real life... private houses might have 5ft hallways, but public places, factories and offices usually have larger ones. The closest thing to a dungeon I've been has been castles and mines, and they also were closer to 10ft than 5ft.

It's not that every dungeon or locale needs to have this size of passages, of course, but it makes sense to me that most places do.
 

Jer

Adventurer
Gygax used 10' halls and suggests 3 men can fight abreast in such.
Which fits with my preferred scale of treating squares as a meter on each side instead of 5' (though I'll typically also have corridors that are narrower and only 2 meters in width instead of 10').
 

S'mon

Legend
Which fits with my preferred scale of treating squares as a meter on each side instead of 5' (though I'll typically also have corridors that are narrower and only 2 meters in width instead of 10').
Yeah, and especially as minis get ever-larger, a floor scale of 25 mm for 1 meter starts to get closer to the minis scale. It's already the case that many of my Paizo flipmats and other building interior & sailing ship maps look more like a 1m scale than a 5' scale.
 
I'm no SCHOLAR on the topic, but...

D&D has always used miniatures. Not EVERYBODY used miniatures for D&D, but D&D was heavily derived from tabletop wargaming and use of miniatures. Currently the accepted miniatures scale is 25MM but it used to be smaller (20MM?) - because miniatures were again initially taken from table wargaming which had figures representing a lot more than one individual and it was desirable to have a smaller scale to better fit lots of miniatures to a table. As miniatures companies began providing miniatures for RPG's they initially kept to the same scale.

Distances in D&D were measured in scale had differing scales for indoor and outdoor action. Outdoors it was more like a straight-forward tabletop wargame. Indoors it didn't cover nearly as large an area, movement of individuals was more restricted and range of weapons and spells was also reduced to fit the smaller scale of the action. As D&D was developed the use of multiple scales for measurement was dropped entirely, and only ONE scale became used - 1" on a table top=5'. Miniatures also increased in size, which better fit that scale and they also then lent themselves better to painting details on them.

From the beginning/early days of D&D, dungeons and structures were being drawn out on graph paper. This provided multiple benefits. For one thing you didn't need to be an architect, just able to make it LOOK like something appropriate. But also in early editions elapsed time for exploring dungeons was carefully marked in turns but distances moved in a turn altered according to the other actions the party was taking. Mapping as you go meant much slower movement, then there was looking for traps or secret doors, etc. As DM, by drawing stuff in big, obvious, 10' squares you make your job of tracking how far the party has moved MUCH easier. And then of course a 10' corridor meant at least 3 PC's could line up abreast, with a second rank with missiles, spells and occasionally reach weapons and combats were more dynamic and interesting. Rooms were even LARGER and combats looked more like they did in open terrain outdoors (even if the movement, along with spell and weapon ranges were reduced).

Was it unrealistic? You bet. Still is. Hopelessly so. But it makes for FAR better game play.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Gygax used 10' halls and suggests 3 men can fight abreast in such.
I'm tempted to use colorful language but... Gygax was just incorrect on that one. YOu can construct cases where it'll work, but it doesn't generalize.

Below is a man in a 5' square. Imagine lopping 2' off each side of this - you could stand in it, sure, but taking vigorous action with bladed weapons and not lopping your neighbor's head off would be challenging.

1568655899175.png


Image from: D&D: Have You Ever Wondered What A Five Foot Square Actually Looks Like? - Bell of Lost Souls
 

S'mon

Legend
I'm tempted to use colorful language but... Gygax was just incorrect on that one. YOu can construct cases where it'll work, but it doesn't generalize.

Below is a man in a 5' square. Imagine lopping 2' off each side of this - you could stand in it, sure, but taking vigorous action with bladed weapons and not lopping your neighbor's head off would be challenging.
Well it was 1e AD&D, so he had different space requirements for different weapons. You could fit more gladius-armed Romans or spear-armed hobgoblins into your frontage than axe-swinging gauls or flinds swinging flails.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
The default was basically mechanical.

In the original D&D the standard of measure was that each map square indoors represented 10 feet. It was 10 yards outdoors. And since most dungeon designs were drawn on what's essentially graph paper it was really hard to plot a corridor that was smaller than that.

That original game also called for using the map board from an Avalon Hill game called Wilderness Survival as the standard for outdoor terrain. Like many mapped board games that board was divided into one inch squares.

So an "inch" indoors was one square on the graph paper, and represented 10 feet, while an "Inch" outdoors represented 10 yards.

Part of that was the idea that things like archery are inherently limited when in doors: Range is limited by how high the arrow's trajectory. the "arch" of archery, could be. Can't be higher than the ceiling indoors, while the the lowest limit outdoors would be the height of the forest canopy outdoors.

So the default standards were that distances were always expressed in "inches", with an inch representing 10 feet indoors and 10 yards outdoors.
 

andargor

Rule Lawyer Groupie
I'm not sure if this was mentioned in the thread, but there was a specific rule in AD&D for miniatures where each 10' square depicted in the maps would be split in a 3x3 grid for miniatures, each 1" square being equal to 3 1/3 ft. Sounds confusing, but it worked for us for years.

AD&D 1E DMG, p.10

 

S'mon

Legend
So we could go Old School Minis with 1" = 3.3 feet, 25mm = 1 meter (I think those are close enough as makes no difference) but in the Old School Minis Renaissance we can use the same scale for length as for width! :)
 

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