Dungeon Doors – You’re Doing It Wrong!

In almost every D&D game I’ve played, I see the same scene play out again and again. The party gets the quest, we march miles through the woods, fight a few kobolds, and we finally come upon the dungeon door. We’re a party of mighty warriors, wise holy men, and spellbinding mages, but a dungeon door becomes our most terrible foe. A great debate ensues. Should we open it? What if it’s locked? Oh my lord, what if it is trapped? But most terrifying of all, what if there’s a monster on the other side!

In our last D&D session, I barreled through every door of the dungeon like a runaway boulder. Every time the DM would point out that there was a door, I would declare it opened. He remarked that I was “the least cautious ranger ever.” Which was true; I went down every dark passage with caution to the wind. While many of you might be reading this and thinking I’m playing it wrong, I argue that I just want to play.

I’m not a munchkin or a rollplayer. I love to roleplay and chat up my party and NPCs, but I see no reason to ever debate opening a door. I think it’s strange to be wary of lurking monsters because isn’t that why you’re in the dungeon in the first place? I want a vicous bugbear on the other side of that door or I just wasted 5,000 gold on my +2 Dirk of Vicious Bugbear Stabbing.

I do understand the reasons why someone might be afraid of barging into a room of zombies though. I would curl up into a ball and weep if I ever did that in real life, but that’s because I can’t fling fireballs with a snap of my fingers. When I’m playing Dungeons and Dragons, however, I’m playing a Hero. Capital H. And a Hero is going to kick that door into a zombie’s face.

I think some players are so careful because of the tales of old school DMs dropping a PC down a pit because their player chugged the last Mountain Dew. I know the feeling. I died in my first turn of D&D ever because I fell down a chimney and broke my neck. 4E is different though. With healing surges, temporary hit points, first aid skill checks, and saving throws versus death, it is outrageously difficult to die in 4E. In fact, I’ve never seen it happen. Hitting zero HP is more like being knocked out, but people still panic when their health ticks down.

And if somehow you do die (like Josh, my DM, will arrange for my character when he reads  this article), then it’s not the end of world. It can be part of the story, and you can work it into a new character. When Agragorn bites it, at least his companions can carry his last words to his brother, Fragragorn.

So remember, my fellow dungeon delvers, you’re not commoners with an eight in every stat, you’re BIG DAMN HEROES. Don’t rap on those dungeon double doors with a feebly balled fist. Knock on it with your hammer and tell that dragon who’s boss.

2 Responses to “Dungeon Doors – You’re Doing It Wrong!”
  1. 8one6 says:

    I’ve always been a fan of “kick in the door!” Traps were the reason hit points and the reflex save were invented.

  2. David says:

    Exactly! Chances are you’ll fail the check to find the trap anyways, so in the end it’s going to smack you in the face whether you like it or not. Why prolong it when you’ve got plenty of HP to spare?

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