D&D 5E What Don't You Like About Dungeons?


Magic Wordsmith
So you've decided to play this game called Dungeons & Dragons. But, perhaps after some experience with the game, you've decided you don't like dungeons. I feel like I see this a lot in various online discussions and I find it unusual to take a stance against the very thing the game was seemingly designed around and still continue playing it.

While the game can feature adventure locations and situations that aren't or don't involve dungeons, what is it specifically about dungeons that you don't like? When you hear that it's time for a "dungeon crawl," what sort of negative things does that conjure in your mind? If you're a DM, why do you avoid running dungeons in your own games?

If you do like dungeons (or at least like them as much as other adventure locations), what do you like about them? How do you approach them as a player? If you're a DM, what kind of resources do you use to help you design and run them effectively?

(I'm making this a D&D 5e thread because that is the most recent and arguably popular version of the game. If you're going to talk about other editions or even other games, please say so explicitly so as to mitigate misunderstandings as to rules or the like.)

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Once the dungeon gets too big in terms of number of encounters, things start to become stagnate. This may be moreso if the environment stays the same. I think it can be better if the dungeon changes from a church basement that leads to a set of sewers, maybe followed by an underground lake and finally ends at the cavern of overgrown mushrooms. This is loads better than just a brick basement for 20 rooms.

Mostly the same advise for the types of monsters as well. The base monster can be found in several parts of the dungeon, but add other allies, neutrals, and even allies of the PCs that could be in the dungeon.

I'm running the Against the Giants series at the moment and there is a lot of the same here, and I find it getting boring.


I think dungeons are like 80s music. Great in the 80's when they were fresh and new.
Dungeons are a convenient tool in video games because it restricts the movement of the pixel characters for easier coding.
D&D is similar.

DM: "You come to a junction and you can go left or right."
Player: "Fantastic, we go left".
DM: "You walk down a corridor 20 feet when..."
Player: "Wait, we were searching for traps and secret doors!"
DM: "..."

Riveting. I mean this has to be the most interesting adventure ever made...

Dungeons are great, but for the whole adventure or even two sessions in a row... ugh.
Once you become an adult, you have to be a particular mindset for repeating that kind of game, hour after hour.
It is fun when you are in high school, and it is fun to return to it now and then, mostly for nostalgia.

But that is one mind-numbing movie, and you will note that the underdark portion of the D&D movie was only a small fraction of the entire adventure.

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I love dungeons, but in line with some of the comments above, not when it gets repetitive, or when it is clear that rooms were added for the sake of adding rooms. I don't think there's a size limit, but it does get harder to keep it fresh and interesting as size increases.


A suffusion of yellow
I think dungeons are like 80s music. Great in the 80's when they were fresh and new.
hey! The 80’s was the perfect era of great music, I still listen to it!

but Dungeon crawls are boring, having to visit and search each room for a couple of coins and maybe the secret artifact of BBEG slaying is naff. Just gimme an overview, a roll to see if I find treasure and get me to the next part of the story.
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Dungeons are great. But they take too long to get drawn up and to maneuver around (the dungeoncrawl part). Meanwhile, just adventuring out in the world only needs a few set pieces drawn out and the rest described. Might be faster to handle via Virtual tabletop, but I think most of us are not good enough with the app we use to do so in a quick manner. The novelty of the dungeon crawl is no longer enough to carry the long wait times in a tabletop game since its been mimicked via video games for decades at this point.

The result has mainly been that we rarely do actual true dungeons in D&D these days and mostly do set pieces and roleplaying exclusively in campaigns. I don't think it's a coincidence that this is also almost exclusively what we see in Let's Plays on Twitch and YouTube, dungeoncrawling has fallen out of favor for the most part.

I often find myself liking nothing but dungeons. For example, in Tomb of Annihilation, I was kind of bored by the overland travel, but completely enthralled by the Tomb at the end. Give me stone corridors with traps and secret doors all day every day. Maybe it's because I cut my teeth on dungeons in the 80s?

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