Dungeon Crawls and Exploration in D&D 5e

This is going to be a short how-to post on how to DM mega dungeons and wilderness exploration. I have participated as both a player and a DM in many dungeon crawls and wilderness exploration adventures. Many of them have been horrible slog fests that bored me to the point of wanting to quit playing. Honestly, it was that bad. 

Thanks to Jonathan Pruitt & Jim Davis at WebDM and Justin Alexander at The Alexandrian, I have a great way to handle exploration in D&D 5e.

Breaking Down Dungeon Crawls and Exploration in D&D 5e

Like combat, exploring a dungeon or a hex map should be broken up into turns. Don’t think of it as real-time, movement-by-movement game play. The game turns break down like this:

  • Combat: 6 second turns
  • Dungeon Exploration: 10 minute turns
  • Hex Crawls: 4 hour turns
In all cases, the DM-Player interaction is the same:
  • DM asks what the player(s) are doing
  • Players describe what they want to happen on their turn based on the time limit
  • DM rolls for events like combat, encounters and events
  • DM describes the results of the players actions and the events that occur based on dice rolls.
  • Rinse and Repeat

This is a very simplified version of the process, but it shows you how you can get through a HUGE map in a reasonable time. Mega dungeons can be run much faster and easier using this method.

Listen to Jim Davis Describe This In-Depth

Again, thanks to Jim, Jonathan and Justin for their hard work on reviving this lost art and making DMing D&D 5e easier. 

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7 Responses

  1. With all the doggone snow we have gotten as of late I am stuck inside, fortunately, there is the internet. Thanks for giving me something to do.

  2. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and also the rest of the site is also very good.

    1. There are several magic items that have a boomerang effect on them. Most of them are cursed artifacts. Take it to a wizard to have it properly identified.

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