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One strategy, if you want to base your dungeons on real tombs, is to use more than one tomb. Imagine an ancient culture that buried its kings in a single complex for many generations. Rather than using a common crypt as other noble families might, each king expanded the complex, carving out his own separate tomb from the others. A single tomb might look much ...


2

You may consider thinking outside the tomb. Why does the tomb itself have to be the maze? Can it be located somewhere treacherous and hard to reach? You may have it centered in a winding, narrow canyon, which presents its own dangers. Perhaps half of the task is finding out where it is, or its entrance. Perhaps there's some artifact required to breach its ...


2

Most tomb designs these days are for solely the remembrance and housing of the dead, but that has not always been the case. In the 18th and 19th centuries, doctors had recognized the value of dissecting cadavers as an aid to learning, yet the practice was illegal, prompting the advent of body snatching. This led to competition between body snatchers trying ...


2

This depends in part on the design of the rest of your world, but a sufficiently complex set of ruined buildings -- possibly buried, possibly not -- would correspond pretty closely to the classic halls-and-rooms dungeon. I know of one college campus, for example, which is mostly connected either on upper floors or at basement levels, and which has something ...


16

@RobertF 's post with its pictures of Djoser's pyramid were intriguing... after looking more into that, I found that the pyramid itself is part of a larger funerary and religious complex. So, while the areas under the pyramid (the "tomb" proper) are relatively small and simple, the entire complex consists of large open areas, tight maze-like corridors, big ...


14

I think we have similar lines of thinking. Looking to the real world not only is a great resource that can be inspiring, sometimes drawing a map lends itself to grid-based 2-dimensionsal thinking. D&D maps are also grand in scale and as you and others have pointed out, with the focus on what's fun. I too think this can backfire when suspension of ...


15

In addition to excellent examples provided by Robert and Wesley, I think it bears mentioning that it is worthwhile to make the distinction between "realistic" and "realistic in a fantasy setting". Most real-world cultures would build their tombs on the assumption that the stiffies are not going to get up and walk away on their own (barring some resurrection ...


4

While not specifically a tomb, you might try researching various catacombs. The Paris catacombs are 300km of underground tunnels. They were built up over time so they are twisty not laid out neatly. Maybe mix in some of the Roman catacombs as well. There are Roman catacombs that are 4 stories deep and similarly vast size wise.


38

There are several examples of tombs from Ancient Egypt that could serve as inspiration for a D&D style dungeon. You can check out the Wikipedia articles on each of three sites pictured below. It seems that historically, the labyrinth of passages in many Egyptian tombs were functional (and also may have confused tomb robbers). Tomb complexes housed the ...


3

The main issue is size. D&D dungeons are sprawling mazes. Most real world tombs and dungeons are small, cramped, and relatively utilitarian. The the limited size means most of the fun things in a D&D dungeon just won't fit - you can't reasonably fit exploration, puzzles, hazards, and monsters all in one small tomb - maybe just one or two things. ...


31

Fantasy fiction tends to exaggerate features of the natural world. Instead of spiders, you have giant spiders. Instead of house fires, you have sentient fire elementals. Similarly, fantasy tombs are larger and more dangerous than real-world tombs. I'd suggest two options if you want to balance realism and fantasy fun like you describe: use a tomb of ...


19

In short, D&D-style tomb-dungeons are not particularly realistic. But that doesn't mean you can't make them seem like they are. Many prehistoric cultures (such as the peoples of pre-Roman Britain) used burial mounds rather than "tombs" to bury their dead. These mounds where not always used to bury a single individual either. In addition, they were ...



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