You come to a door, What do you do?
Whether you are a new player or an old hand, and they are encountered in the farthest reaches of deep space to the hole a Hobbit lived in this one question gets asked planned for and faced a lot.
This is such a common part of Roleplaying Games that the door might be described as much as an obstacle as a easier passage. Perhaps viewed by some as a the most basic form of Channeling trap.
Because the Door is something that separates you from the Mystery of “what is on the other side?”
To a certain extent the determination of what could be on the other side is answered easily by Anything. From Rats to Liches, nothing to everything the possibilities are limitless but the should not be Quantum or Schodingers. Because a Door as much as it is a barrier for one side it is a barrier for another
The character and through them the player is on one side wherein they know a great deal about the side they are on and may in some cases want to know more about the other. So a Dm should be prepared by knowing what is on the other side of the door and answering questions the players ask whether dumb or intelligent fairly.
The players may also interact with one or more doors enough to where they get an idea as to the character of the dungeon or the doors themselves to where the doors gain verisimilitude and by extension add to the believability of the Dungeon and universe because they become a part of the landscape in the players minds.
As a part of the interactive landscape they then become more than obstacles, they then become tools for both the Gm and the players, which is why I drop many of the funhouse aspects of the set of door rules in the AD&D DMG (1E). They are hindrances to creativity and logical verisimilitude.
Allowing or making the doors a neutral part of reality rather than essentially traps by default (as the rules seem to imply) also makes the dungeon seem more real. Imagine an encounter involving a Goblin who has a hard time getting through a door , something that theoretically cannot happen by the rules in the DMG. Taking an opportunity to show that the road taken by the monsters is just as hard as those taken by the players adds depth and interest and makes the Refereeing DM seem more fair and honest.
But what is the one thing that keeps the road from coming inside?
So maybe the next time you want to knock that door flat? Thank it first because it kept a whole lot of mystery from just walking right in and setting up shop. So players and DM’s can prepare for the next part of the adventure.
And Planning is half of the battle.
The photographs used in this post were taken by me of the very nice door to the entrance of the Swig Tavern on Colfax in Lakewood.