D&D Dungeon Design: Flow, Rhythm, and Pacing
image source: World of Warcraft instance map of the Naxxramas dungeon
My last post talked about the concepts of contrast relating to dungeon design. Here I want to explore how sequencing of contrast builds anticipation and then later resolves that anticipation. It’s basically a study in how to create drama in your dungeon. Let’s define a few things first:
Flow: The emotional movement of dungeon encounters/spaces in sequence.
Rhythm: Variation or lack thereof in the sequencing of dungeon encounters/spaces.
Pacing: The changes in tempo/emotion of the rhythm and flow of a dungeon.
When I say dungeon encounters/spaces, I mean that these can refer to encounter difficulty, encounter type, room design, monster types, or anything else in your dungeon that can be put into sequence. Use rhythm, flow, and pacing as abstract concepts when planning out all parts of your dungeon. Now let’s see how these can be used: