Over the next two to three months, I’m going to start each week with a five-room dungeon every Monday. There are a variety of reasons for this, but let’s tackle the actual concept of the five-room dungeon first.
The traditional structure of the 5RD is as follows:
• Room 1: Entrance And Guardian
• Room 2: Puzzle Or Roleplaying Challenge
• Room 3: Red Herring
• Room 4: Climax, Big Battle Or Conflict
• Room 5: Plot Twist
And between the various locations we have connectors – halls, voyages, doorways, etc.
In most 5RD designs, the 5 “rooms” happen in sequence, you go from 1 to 2 to 3, etc.
These obviously don’t need to be rooms, and for this series, I’m not sticking to the methodology in question for the write-ups for these maps, but I’ve taken the challenge to draw a bunch of maps that have only five “areas” plus the connectors between them. This size of adventure location works great for episodic play and short adventures even if you eschew the 5RD concept itself. A nice small encounter area works great for a few hours of play and with some groups still provides enough material for multiple sessions (in our Empire of the Petal Throne campaign even a two-room dungeon can easily absorb 2-4 sessions of our time if it is being used by the Shunned Ones or a secret society of one of the many gods of Tekumel…)
When I first encountered the “Five Room Dungeon” on various blogs, I always thought of it as “too damned small”. Mentally it was a very small space. So constrained that it didn’t initially appeal to me until I started looking through some of my smaller maps and realized that I have drawn a number of maps with approximately 5 “areas” or even fewer that still took up a full page.
So, for the next two to three months, I’ll start each week with a Monday five-room dungeon map that tries to break from my preconceptions. Bonus points to Matthew J Neagley for writing “The Nine Forms of the Five Room Dungeon” for Gnome Stew back in 2012 from which I picked up a lot of ideas regarding layout.