What could One D&D do to bring the game back to the dungeon?

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For the attrition element, I would suggest using counter tools to make it less obnoxious. An easy inventory and encumbrance management app for adventurers would actually be really nice, especially if it also worked for vehicles, steed bags, etc. Good for tracking spell components, too.

There are also various gimicks like curses and diseases and timed disasters and encroaching dangers you can use to create time pressure in spite of wizards and to eat up resources. These are especially available in planar adventures. A dungeon on the plane of fire with a shrinking pocket of cool air and earth at the entrance and a portal home at the very end is going to eat up a number of spells each day and demand haste.


I've seen characters that have carrying capacities so low that they cannot carry their default starting equipment.

How so? Backpacks list how much weight and volume they can fit in them.

I have never seen a player try to wear multiple backpacks at a time. Do yours?
Yes... multiple backpacks & multiple quivers especially.
Here is what the 5e phb has to say about containers
Container Capacity
Container Capacity
Backpack* 1 cubic foot/30 pounds of gear
Barrel 40 gallons liquid, 4 cubic feet solid
Basket 2 cubic feet/40 pounds of gear
Bottle 1 1/2 pints liquid
Bucket 3 gallons liquid, 1/2 cubic foot solid
Chest 12 cubic feet/300 pounds of gear
Flask or tankard 1 pint liquid
Jug or pitcher 1 gallon liquid
Pot, iron 1 gallon liquid
Pouch 1/5 cubic foot/6 pounds of gear
Sack 1 cubic foot/30 pounds of gear
Vial 4 ounces liquid
Waterskin 4 pints liquid
* You can also strap items, such as a bedroll or a coil of rope,
to the outside of a backpack.

L i f t i n g a n d C a r r y i n g
Your Strength score determ ines the amount of weight
you can bear. The following terms define what you can
lift or carry.
Carrying Capacity. Your carrying capacity is your
Strength score multiplied by 15. This is the weight (in
pounds) that you can carry, which is high enough that
most characters don’t usually have to w orry about it.
Push, Drag, or Lift. You can push, drag, or lift a
weight in pounds up to tw ice your carrying capacity
(or 30 times your Strength score). W hile pushing or
dragging weight in excess of your carrying capacity,
your speed drops to 5 feet.
Size and Strength. Larger creatures can bear m ore
weight, whereas Tiny creatures can carry less. For
each size category above Medium, double the creature’s
carrying capacity and the amount it can push, drag, or
lift. For a Tiny creature, halve these weights.
Encumbrance rules determine how much a character’s armor and
equipment slow him or her down. Encumbrance comes in two parts:
encumbrance by armor and encumbrance by total weight.
Encumbrance by Armor: A character’s armor (as described on
Table 7–6: Armor and Shields, page 123) defines his or her
maximum Dexterity bonus to AC, armor check penalty, speed, and
running speed. Unless your character is weak or carrying a lot of
gear, that’s all you need to know. The extra gear your character
carries won’t slow him or her down any more than the armor already
If your character is weak or carrying a lot of gear, however, then
you’ll need to calculate encumbrance by weight. Doing so is most
important when your character is trying to carry some heavy object.
Weight: If you want to determine whether your character’s gear
is heavy enough to slow him or her down more than the armor
already does, total the weight of all the character’s items, including
armor, weapons, and gear. Compare this total to the character’s
Strength on Table 9–1: Carrying Capacity. Depending on how the
weight compares to the character’s carrying capacity, he or she may
be carrying a light, medium, or heavy load. Like armor, a character’s
load affects his or her maximum Dexterity bonus to AC, carries a
check penalty (which works like an armor check penalty), reduces
the character’s speed, and affects how fast the character can run, as

shown on Table 9–2: Carrying Loads. A medium or heavy load
counts as medium or heavy armor for the purpose of abilities or
skills that are restricted by armor. Carrying a light load does not
encumber a character.
If your character is wearing armor, use the worse figure (from
armor or from load) for each category. Do not stack the
For example, Tordek is wearing scale mail. As shown on
Table 7–6: Armor and Shields, this armor cuts his maximum
Dex bonus to AC to +3, and gives him a –4 armor check
penalty (and cuts his speed to 15 feet, were he not a dwarf and
thus able to move normally even when encumbered by armor
or a load). The total weight of his gear, including armor, is 71-
1/2 pounds. Since Tordek has a Strength of 15, his maximum
carrying capacity, or maximum load, is 200 pounds. A
medium load for him is 67 pounds or more, and a heavy load
is 134 pounds or more, so he is carrying a medium load.
Looking at the medium load line on Table 9–2: Carrying
Loads, his player sees that these figures are all equal to or
less than the penalties that Tordek is already incurring for
wearing scale mail, so he incurs no extra penalties.
Mialee has a Strength of 10, and she’s carrying 28
pounds of gear. Her light load limit is 33 pounds, so she’s
carrying a light load (no penalties). She finds 500 gold
pieces (weighing 10 pounds) and adds them to her load, so
now she’s carrying a medium load. Doing so reduces her
speed from 30 feet to 20 feet, gives her a –3 check penalty,
and sets her maximum Dexterity bonus to AC at +3 (which
is okay with her, since that’s her Dexterity bonus

Encumbrance (Optional Rule)
A natural desire is to have your character own one of
everything. Thus equipped, your character could just reach
into his pack and pull out any item he wants whenever he
needs it. Sadly, there are limits to how much your character,
his horse, his mule, his elephant, or his whatever can carry.
These limits are determined by encumbrance.
Encumbrance is measured in pounds. To calculate
encumbrance, simply total the pounds of gear carried by
the creature or character. Add five pounds for clothing, if
any is worn. This total is then compared to the carrying
capacity of the creature to determine the effects. In general,
the more weight carried, the slower the movement and the
worse the character is at fighting.
Basic Encumbrance (Tournament Rule)
Encumbrance is divided into five categories: Unencum-
bered, Light, Moderate, Heavy, and Severe Encumbrance.
To calculate your character’s encumbrance category, first
figure out the total weight he is carrying (including five pounds
for clothing). Then look across the row corresponding to your
character’s Strength on Table 47 until you come to the column
that includes your character’s carried weight. The heading at
the top of that column shows his level of encumbrance.
Use Table 49 to figure out the encumbrance category of
your character’s mount or beast of burden.
The Max. Carried Wgt. column lists the most weight (in
pounds) your character can carry and still move. But move-
ment is limited to 10 feet per round, as your character stag-
gers under the heavy load.
Specific Encumbrance (Optional Rule)
The maximum total weight your character can carry is
determined by his Strength, as listed on Table 47.
The basic encumbrance rule gives general categories of
encumbrance but does not allow for fine distinctions.
Some players and DMs may take exception to the idea that
adding one more pound to a character suddenly shifts that
character to the next (and drastically worse) encumbrance
category. They may want to use the following optional
table; Table 48 reduces a character’s movement rating 1
factor at a time.
To determine your character’s movement rate (see
“Movement” in Chapter 14: Time and Movement) for a
given load, find the row on Table 48 with his Strength
score. Read across it until you find the first column in
which the number of pounds listed is greater than your
character’s current load. At the top of that column are two
rows for base movement rates. Characters with a base
movement rate of 12 use the top row; those with a base
movement rate of 6 use the bottom row. The number in
the appropriate upper row is your character’s modified
movement rate.
Tarus (a human with a base movement of 12) has a
Strength of 17 and is carrying a 140-pound load. Looking
across on the 17 row shows that 140 falls between 133
and 145 on the table. Looking at the top of the 145 col-
umn shows that Tarus has a modified movement rate of 7.
He can carry five more pounds of gear (total 145 pounds)
and maintain his speed, or drop seven pounds of equip-
ment (to 133 pounds) and increase his speed to 8.


Magical Armor and Encumbrance
One of the special properties of magical armor is its
effect on encumbrance. Although magical armor appears to
weigh as much as normal armor, the weight of magical
armor applies only toward the weight limit of the character.
It does not apply when determining the effects of encum-
brance on movement and combat. In essence, the armor
appears to weigh as much as normal armor (especially if the
wearer is in water over his head), but does not restrict or
hamper the character.
Cwell the bard finds a suit of chain mail +1. Lifting it up,
he finds it weighs 60 pounds. Cwell is already carrying 50
pounds of gear. Donning the chain mail, he is now carry-
ing 110 lbs. of gear. Cwell’s Strength is 12, which means
that he can carry only 30 more pounds of equipment.
However, when calculating the effect of all this weight on
his movement, Cwell is considered to only be carrying 50
pounds of gear—the magical armor doesn’t count. Fur-
thermore, he does not suffer any combat penalties for the
chain mail’s weight.
Effects of Encumbrance
Encumbrance has two basic effects. First, it reduces your
character’s movement rate. If encumbrance categories are
used, Unencumbered has no effect on movement, Light
reduces the movement rate by one-third
(round fractions
down), Moderate reduces it by one-half, Heavy reduces it by
and Severe lowers the movement rate to 1. If the
optional system is used, the character’s movement rate is
reduced to the amount found by using Table 48. The move-
ment rate determines how far your character can move in a
round, turn, hour, and day. As his movement rate gets lower,
your character moves slower and slower. See “Movement” in
Chapter 14: Time and Movement for more details.
Encumbrance also reduces your character’s combat abili-
ties. If encumbrance reduces your character to half of his
normal movement rate, he suffers a –1 penalty to his attack
roll. If he is reduced to one-third or less of his normal move-
ment rate, the attack penalty is –2 and there is an additional
AC penalty of +1. If your character’s movement is reduced to
1, the attack roll penalty is –4 and the AC penalty is +3.
Clearly, the wise thing for a heavily encumbered character to
do is to quickly drop most of his gear before entering battle.
I didn't include 4e simply due to lack of access & because it weasn't really my thing so I don't have much odf an idea how it worked then.

So the 5e backpack for example... does it hold 30 pounds counted against your strength times 15 carrying capacity or nullify it? Does a PC even need to use a backpack? Where do they carry a backpack, 5e doesn't actually have body slots on the sheet or even defined anywhere in the core books like in the past. Can you wear a backpack a quiver a jacket & a cloak together?

Then on top of all that there is a second rather serious problem. This is where the minor penalties that came with some of the lower encumbrance levels in the past came into play. By having a somewhat low & reasonably achievable minor penalty players were encouraged to track it/7 try to stay under the lowest they can while carrying everything they felt they needed so they could tell at a glance is that ## pound doodad was a thing they could carry or were willing to if they could. The rule itself in 5eis designed in such a way that players are encouraged to not bother tracking a number that is so generous they will never be impacted by it so they just never bother. When an ## or even ### pound doodad comes up everyone is sure they can carry it until the GM starts naming all the things they know bob is carrying & now everyone needs to sit there watching bob calculate how much he is carrying (this is going to be slow because it's likely this is the first time he's ever calculated it). Players aren't concerned about ever bothering to track it so being forced to do it on the fly mid session results inthem looking up all of their gear plus this.... "how much did that adamantine door I stole 15 sessions ago weigh? how much does the solid gold tea set weigh?... remember I we got it like 5 levels ago... what about the mahogany walking stick with jade inlays, what does that weigh? What about the teak figurine? um.. no I don't remember where we found it, I think it was a random encounter... etc" only to ultimately wind up with "ok so I give my solid gold teaset & the marble idol to Alice & can carry it now" because the limits are so excessive before anything occurs.

I've seen characters that have carrying capacities so low that they cannot carry their default starting equipment.
strength times 15.
  • Lets say it's an old volos kobold with the -2 strength & a fighter who dumped strength to start with 6 strength.(lets call him Bob)
    • That gives them a 90 pound carry capacity.
    • A fighter starts with
    • [*]You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
      • (a) chain mail(20lb) or (b) leather armor(10lb), longbow, and 20 arrows(1lb).
      • (a) a martial weapon and a shield(6lb) or (b) two martial weapons(1 to 18lb each depending on weapon but only 3 are 10 pounds or above ).
      • (a) a light crossbow (5lb)and 20 bolts (1lb)or (b) two handaxes(4lb each).
      • (a) a dungeoneer's pack(61.5lb) or (b) an explorer's pack(59lb).
    • adding the heaviest of each effectively usable with each option that amounts to 61.5+4+4+18(longbow)+3(whip or scimitar)+20(chainmail)
      • That adds to 110.5 which is slightly more than a character with sixstrength can carry
        • The first step in solving that looks like this is a good place to start
          [*]Dungeoneer’s Pack (12 gp). Includes a backpack(5lb), a crowbar(5lb),
          a hammer, 10 pitons(5lb), 10 torches(1lb each), a tinderbox(1lb), 10 days (2lb each)
          of rations, and a waterskin(5lb). The pack also has 50 feet of
          hempen rope strapped to the side of it(10lb).
        • Easiest way for Bobto shed 20.5 pounds is for this PC to give 10 days of food & a waterskin to Alice the 8 strength wizard who has a carry capacity of 120lb & starts with choices between 3 A/B options that combined A and B amount to 14lb plus either a scholar's pack (11lb) or explorer's pack (59lb).
    • That gives Alice's eight strength wizard ample room to carry the too heavy food & water for bob's six strength kobold fighter even while carrying all of a second wizard's gear. In a normal group there is likely to be at least one PC who dud not completely dump strength who is likely to have the ability to carry240-600lb before they are impacted in any way at all...
How badly did that PC roll when they decided to dump strength?


The "dungeon" aspect can be metaphorical-- a ruined tower, an owlbear's lair, an underwater castle, etc, are all classic sites for adventure. I find Gus L's work to be helpful in analyzing what qualities in both scenario and game design help or don't help with running dungeons

I find two claims in this thread to be odd:
1. the idea that locations that you can explore procedurally lack story. Does Castle Ravenloft lack story? Does a dragon's lair or a haunted house or the secret passageways under the city contain no potential for story?
2. the idea that location-exploration, even of literal dungeon-y spaces, is antiquated or not popular. Especially given the popularity of videogames, everything from zelda to dark souls. Exploring locations and levels in those games is very enjoyable, and they derive much of their ethos from dnd.

Personally, I like dungeons. Dragons though...meh. ;)

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
As near as I can tell, here's what's going on. Some DM's have gotten used to using darkness as a tool to surprise players and keep them on their toes. Light sources, to them, are a trade off- how many minutes of light do you have? What do you have to give up (shields, two handed weapons) to have it?

This has run right into players wanting magic-users to feel magical at all times, not fire off a sleep spell and be reduced to throwing darts or flaming oil, as well as a general apathy towards the style of play that has you tracking ammo and rations.

WotC claims that 5e is more friendly to the old school approach to gaming, but it doesn't take long to realize that's really lip service. Cantrips that are as effective as crossbows are available to most caster classes; they also don't require ammunition. Light is plentiful. Spells that provide food, water, and shelter are common.

Adventure guidelines lean into limited encounters between rests, there's lots of out of combat healing available if groups want to use it, and players have ample opportunities to "opt out" of parts of the game that they may not find enjoyable. In addition, these same guidelines tell us to award players with tons of money, so purchasing ammo, rations, or whatever is generally not a problem either, as long as you can carry the stuff. Anyone can learn to use Thieves' Tools, Feats exist that make finding traps and secret doors a snap.

Honestly, I'm actually surprised darkvision has a penalty at all, though many groups seem to ignore it entirely, and some are optimized to the point that the disadvantage doesn't even slow them down.* I mean, darkvision had no real disadvantages to speak of in 3e and 4e, and I don't remember that being a big problem either.

*Supposedly. When I run, and enforce the disadvantage, I've had players run into ambushes and traps enough to make them break out a light source, but I've had people claim this isn't a meaningful enough penalty.

The only way to force a certain style of play is to put your foot down and invoke optional rules- but to my mind, if the players really want to just hang out in their Leomund's Portable Bomb Shelter and eat Goodberries, why not let them? It's obvious they don't think getting lost in the wilderness and scrounging for edible grubs and tubers is any fun- if it was, then they wouldn't be using these options.

I mean, so what if the party isn't using light? Most monsters have ways to not need light either, so the way I see it, it's a wash. Granted, there are things like Drow, Warlocks, and Twilight Clerics that can give themselves a much longer range than 60', but that's not usually what the complaints are about- it's more that "too many" races have darkvision.

That was a well-articulated response, and points out some things I hadn't considered.

I think I understand the argument, but...there's a lot more to dungeon delving than worrying about supplies. That seems like an overly strict/narrow interpretation of the experience. I do agree that the fear of having pushed things too far, and worrying about being able to get back to safety, are part of the experience, but that doesn't have to be driven by counting torches and rations. I think there are other interesting options for achieving the same kind of tension, and maybe with less book-keeping.

Elsewhere @Charlaquin has outline their method for keeping track of time, and using it as pressure. The One Ring has (or used to have in 1e, not sure about 2e) a measure of "Eye Awareness", and if that score gets too high, bad things happen.

And all of that said, I find the OSR game "Five Torches Deep" quite appealing, although I haven't played it yet, and one thing I like is the clean approach to tracking supplies.

But the question isn't presented in a marketing or design strategy meeting. It is explicitly presented as a hypothetical for people that love D&D, love dungeons, and want those things to work together. In the context of this question no one cares about the opinions of people that don't like dungeons. They're irrelevant.
How do you answer a question on how to get people back to the dungeon if you don't care about people who don't want to do dungeons? It's a question that's attempting to NOT be answered, and is itself irrelevant.

Making a combat encounter, at the minimum, requires picking a handful of monsters out of the Monster Manual and running the mechanics they give you. Making a dungeon requires a lot of thought, planning, and probably making traps, set-pieces, rooms, puzzles, etc.

The way you get people into dungeons is to make all of the pieces of a dungeon as simple to pick up and use as monsters for a combat.


I wasn't making an argument about what D&D should be, just what it could be. It's counter productive to argue about whether One D&D should embrace the dungeon. No one can answer that question. More interesting to me, and the point of the thread, is how could One D&D embrace the dungeon if WotC decided to make that a goal. All this arguing about whether we should embrace the dungeon is entirely beside point.
So then, I take it your argument is something like "assuming that WotC wants to reorient the game back towards the dungeon, how should they do it?" But that is pretty much guaranteed to get responses like "why would they want to do that?" and "I don't think that's a good idea" because the vibe is very much that you think the game should be more focused on dungeons...or why would you pose such a hypothetical?

But my answer is still the same: it doesn't need to do anything, because all the tools are already there. It is easy to run dungeon crawls in 5e. Done it many times. Not really sure what they could do to make it easier. There are lots of examples of dungeon maps, lots of monsters that specifically live in dungeon-like environments, the starter sets all include dungeons or dungeon-like sections, there are rules for traps, lots of rules for movement using a 1" grid that is specifically designed for dungeon encounters, many if not most settings include some version of the Underdark... D&D5e is a very dungeon-friendly game!

Edit: unless you are getting at something like the original Gygax/Arneson 70s-style campaigns, which were almost all dungeon? Because I definitely do not think that would fly with modern players, though it's a fun way to play on occasion and I wouldn't mind taking part in such a campaign. It would certainly be easier to DM!


The last time a DM tried to put me in a classic dungeon I collapsed the dungeon without ever stepping foot in it. Thank you Pick of Earth Parting.

So yeah, make sure you get rid of all terrain distortion magic, too.

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