Corridors

Corridors are rubbish. They’re just the bits between the dungeon encounters, the place where brave heroes get back into their marching order and head for the next door in the dungeon. If you’re really lucky, there will be some half-assed pit or other trap to slow down the action and give the Rogue a reason for living.

Other than that, they are nothing more that square after square of necessary but oh-so-boring dungeon tile with the occasional bend to break up the monotony.

But they don’t have to be that way.

Dungeon corridors should be a part of the adventure, and unlike your typical randomly thrown together dungeon room, They Have a Purpose. Corridors get you from A to B. They take you on a journey (even if it’s a very short one), and they should hint something about what’s coming next. A corridor leading to a Throne Room should be festooned with aged portraits of Kings past, all looking down on the adventurers with disapproving expressions. A corridor with a single blood trail down the centre hints that there’s quite possibly something Large (and possibly Still Eating) in the room ahead.

There could be shadowy alcoves in which that are Scuffling Things, and small objects discarded by past and current occupants.Corridors are your chance to add some detail and dressing to the dungeon without the players thinking “how can I use this in combat?”.

That’s not to say corridors should be nothing more than sight-seeing tours between battles. Corridors can be dangerous places where Kobolds drop oil from above, floors give way suddenly and spikes erupt from walls without warning. A corridor could be flooded (“Close the door! Quick!”), or have no clear path from one end to the other.

I would argue that the best kind of corridors are ones where the traps are obvious. Have walls lined with skeletal flailing arms, an uneven pathway across necrotic slime and  flying skulls which attempt to unbalance the heroes. Make the players think “How the heck are we going to get across?”, and feel a real sense of achievement when they do.

A well designed corridor will make them want that next door, find a creative way to reach it, and give them a hint of what’s to come.

Bog standard ten foot wide dull as ditchwater corridors? Ha! No thanks.

They’re rubbish.

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6 Responses

  1. John says:

    May I point you to some very non-rubbish corridors in this tumblr feed?

    http://subterraneandesign.tumblr.com/

  2. drow says:

    all completely true. and something i’ve been thinking about for the dungeon generator, but haven’t completely figured out how to implement it.

  3. UHF says:

    Good place for a trap. I like using a trip line to DISABLE the spike pit. Let the players find it, but make it extremely difficult to understand what it does. Seriously… do this old school… let them argue it out for 10-20 minutes.

  4. by_the_sword says:

    There was one really cool trap in the original S2 White Plume Mountain, where the corridor was lined with large copper disks that gradually heated any metal that passed between them. At first there was only a little warmth but by the time characters made it to the end of the passageway, they could have cooked in their armor.

  5. Quite intriguing Sir Greywulf….if you don’t mind a little cross-blog pollination here’s the link to my take on this, which was a response to Greg Bilsland’s take on it….enjoy!

    http://www.escapevelocitygaming.com/featured/my-dungeon-doesnt-even-have-corridors/

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