Walking through the dimly lit forest you can hear the foliage crunch beneath your boots. You suddenly come across an area of the forest floor that seems to have been flattened. As if someone had been lying down here but that can’t be because this is a space of about 60 square feet. You swallow and realize your mouth is dry and then, you feel the earth beneath you tremor.
Every Game Master knows how hard it can be to accurately describe a scene, let alone the creatures within it. I’m here today to help guide you through some of the things that have helped me describe size to my players.
1) Compare your creature to your players
From tiny to gargantuan I find that it paints a clear picture when I compare my creatures to my players character. They are well aware of their size for the most part so saying things like, “The giant towers over you which casts a shadow across the entire party. You find yourself staring at his shins before raising your gaze and painfully craning your neck trying to take in the full magnitude of this creature only to see a giant club swinging toward you and your party. Roll for initiative.”
2) Give your players actual dimensions
Even before the times of the pandemic I found myself giving actual sizes of rooms as added description. Now that all of my games are digital, saying something like, “Opening the ornately carved wooden door, it creaks open which echoes in this vast open room. Looking across from you you can see a door 150ft away while it seems the width of this room reaches 40ft across.” Working in actual dimensions of the rooms you’ve designed into the word vomit you give to your players helps them visualize the space they’re in. Some might even write those dimensions down for later use.
3) Compare Things to Animals
Growing up you learn about all different kinds of animals from small mice to huge elephants and they easily give you a sense of size. Comparing
your creatures to real life animals is a great way to describe size very easily to your players. You can compare your creatures to notably scary animals like “The beast walking toward you looks to be the size of a tiger.” Or you can make it into an alliteration like, “Hamster the size of a hippo.”
4) Use Big Buildings and Structures
There are so many iconic structures all over the world that you can use to help your players envision the sheer size of things or even just buildings in general. “As the beast bears down on you can feel the weight as if a ten story building collapsed on your chest.” You could also use something like, “As the giant snake starts to unfurl you see the endless coils spilling out of the canopy as long as the golden gate bridge.”
5) And when all else fails use a Tarrasque
Big. Really big. Fucking big. Really fucking big. Holy shit that’s fucking big. Sweet Lathander did that thing just swallow a tarrasque?!
Hope you found that helpful! Check back often for more resources and helpful DM tips. In the meantime, remember to download your FREE 25 Shopkeeper NPCs.