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DUNGEON REAL ESTATE: Or How Many US Homes Do Kobolds Occupy in B2?

Nice fixer-upper in a prime location
with lots of history & character!

I often have a hard time understanding just how realistic dungeon space is in various adventures. 

When a room is six 10-foot squares by three, how big would it feel IRL? What if we compared it to the average US home?

  • The area of a 10 x 10-foot dungeon square is 100 sq. ft.
  • The area of the average US home in 2019 is 2,300 sq. ft.
  • Therefore, the average US home is 23 dungeon squares (most likely split between two floors)
As found in B2 Keep on the Borderlands

For comparison, the kobolds in the Caves of Chaos (above) occupy an area of ~37 squares or 1.6 US homes in 2019. Here I excluded hallways.

But, Gygax didn't write B2 with a sense of 2019 US homes. He was writing in 1970 when the average US home size was 1,500 sq. ft. or 15 squares 

This would mean that our kobolds occupy ~2.5 US homes in the 1970's. Another question: What does a 1970's floor plan look like if converted into a dungeon?

Not really much because roughly the above house (excluding the porches) is roughly 40 ft x 30 ft or 1200 sq. ft. (so 12 squares). The bedrooms themselves would only be defined by a single square.

It ain't pretty, but it will do

So, it looks like our kobold lair above is something like 2-3 houses at the ends of a couple of streets. And each "house" is large enough to contain 3 bedrooms, a lounging area, and some sorta kitchen. This gives me a new appreciation of how dense dungeon areas really should be and how much room for various activities there is. 

And this gets back to the "white box" issue when combat starts in D&D or when exploration is occurring. The above 4 x 3 room should not be blank at all. Its going to be packed with stuff, especially if occupied by creatures, just like walking into anyone's home.

There could be traps anywhere. There could be gems, jewels, and bags of coin hidden various places. And when the swords come out, its gonna be harder to swing that 2H in these sorts of close quarters.

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