[[quoteright:379:[[Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/la-stairs_7308.jpg]]]]

->''"You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike."''
-->-- '''[[VideoGame/ColossalCave Colossal Cave Adventure]]'''

Dungeon Crawling is the act of exploring a dungeon (or other dangerous area) while looking for treasure or [[PlotCoupon some other]] [[MacGuffin important object]]. The characters must [[EverythingTryingToKillYou battle enemies (usually monsters)]] and use their [[VideoGameItemsAndInventory skills and equipment]] to negotiate obstacles (usually [[BoobyTrap traps]]). Usually, but not always, there is a BossBattle at some point, and a MacGuffin or PlotCoupon at the end.

This is basically what many {{Role Playing Game}}s (especially video game ones) are all about - at least historically - but it is actually one of TheOldestOnesInTheBook, since even myths feature it (a trip into the underworld is part of TheHerosJourney, after all). However, it was the ''Cliffhanger'' film serials of the early 20th century [[TropeCodifier that defined the trope]], and the ''Franchise/IndianaJones'' movies that made it popular again later.

The term comes from early {{RPG}}s, such as ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', that often had the player characters exploring some wizard's dungeon. "Dungeon crawl" is analogous to "pub crawl," a continual stroll from dungeon to dungeon to dungeon.

Note that in RealLife a "dungeon" was a type of prison, often in the lower parts of a castle, but the games expanded it to mean "any ruins or subterranean area." In fact, the term is used today for ''any'' dangerous area in an RPG, even open-air ones, as long as the same fight-your-way-across logic applies to it. This is usually to distinguish it from the two other kinds of locale in such games, [[ThrivingGhostTown towns]] (generally defined as anywhere that has [[TalkToEveryone peaceful NPCs]] or [[AdamSmithHatesYourGuts businesses]] like [[SortingAlgorithmOfWeaponEffectiveness stores]], [[TraumaInn hotels]] and [[YouAllMeetInAnInn bars]]) and [[OverworldNotToScale the overworld]] (which, in most cases, is exclusively for getting between towns and dungeons, with the only real obstacles being {{Random Encounter}}s.)

Apparently the whole dungeon shtick originated from a skirmish wargame played by Gygax, Arneson and others that involved breaking into a castle through the cellars - this turned out to be so much fun that tunnel fighting became a regular theme. Stir in [[Creator/JRRTolkien Professor Tolkien]]'s Moria scenario for a little fantasy and the rest, as they say, is [[TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons history]].

With the increasing trend towards WideOpenSandbox-type game designs, the term "Dungeon Crawl" has taken on a certain derogatory connotation when used to describe a game. It is usually synonymous with TheMaze, which not only represents the opposing [[SlidingScaleOfLinearityVsOpenness linear]] game design tradition, but also implies developer laziness. The ease with which a dungeon generally forces players to follow [[OneTrueSequence one path]] through a game and [[FakeLongevity keep them tied up for a long time in a small space]], all without having to [[InsurmountableWaistHeightFence resort to illogical barriers]], is all too easy for developers, and annoying to players. Dungeons, after all, are reasonably expected to be fully enclosed structures whose walls are well reinforced -- often by the very earth itself, if located underground, as they often are -- making a single, static path through them more or less "justified". Dungeon Crawls often cheaply limit options for traversing them using a spaghetti strand of enclosed corridors, keys and doors, and other barriers requiring unique items to surmount them -- all of which are less realistically implemented in a wide-open setting.

Dungeon Crawlers are also a subgenre of [=RPG=]s in which the story, setting, and town areas (usually one at most) are downplayed in favor of massive dungeons requiring level grinding, trap-avoidance, and endurance. {{Roguelikes}} are a subgenre of dungeon crawler, further distinguished by [[RandomlyGeneratedLevels procedural level generation]] and highly unforgiving game mechanics.

Not to be confused with the game ''VideoGame/DungeonCrawl'', though it is a good example of this trope.

Compare AdventurerArchaeologist.

* BonusDungeon
* DiscOneFinalDungeon
* DungeonTown
* TheMaze
* NoobCave
* TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon

'''Note:''' Several other video game settings, such as TempleOfDoom, aren't necessarily dungeon-specific - they could also refer to themed PlatformGame levels, or to places of relative safety.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* The main point of ''Manga/MagiLabyrinthOfMagic''. People seek to conquer the dangerous dungeons that have started appearing all over the world for fame, glory, and power.
* ''Manga/MahouSenseiNegima'' has Nodoka doing this after she gets separated from everyone else during [[spoiler: the gateport incident]], and choosing her share of treasure like a professional [[MinMaxing MinMaxer]].
** The Baka Rangers' excursion to Library Island (and everything the Library Expedition Club did) definitely counts too. Nodoka even references it as the source of her [[http://www.mangafox.com/manga/mahou_sensei_negima/v23/c205/19.html trap-spotting skills]].


[[folder: Fanfiction ]]

* Done in ''FanFic/TheDresdenFillies'' when Harry and the mane six enter [[spoiler: Trixie's]] castle to rescue Spike.


[[folder: Films ]]

* In ''Anime/TheFumaConspiracy'', the second half of the movie is dedicated to Lupin & the gang exploring an ancient cave to find the treasure. DurableDeathtraps abound.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* One early fantasy depiction of Dungeon Crawling was the Fellowship's passage through Moria in ''[[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings The Fellowship of the Ring]]''.
* Very common in ''SwordAndSorcery fiction'':
** The Creator/LordDunsany story ''The Hoard of the Gibbelins'' is one of the earliest examples and is close to an UrExample of the genre.
** Common in Literature/FafhrdAndTheGrayMouser stories such as ''The Jewels in the Forest'' and ''Thieves House''
* There are some scenes reminiscent of this trope in ''{{Dracula}}'', although they omit the "and take the monster's stuff" step once the monster (Lucy) has been tracked to her underground crypt and dispatched. Later vampire novels have added other elements of this trope, like death-traps (''Salem's Lot'') and guardians to protect the sleeping undead.
* Seems to be given a knowing nod in the ''{{Dragaera}}'' story "The Desecrator", in which desecrator is the Dragaeran term for archeologist, but the job has the typical fantasy cast of raiding ancient structures for treasure and having to fend off magical barriers.
* In the ''Literature/Alcatraz'' series, librarians are all either evil cultists or vengeful undead, therefore every time the heroes infiltrate a library, it turns into dungeon crawling with monsters, traps and other dangers.
* As its title suggests, the majority of the plot of [[PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth]] is DungeonCrawling.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* HerculesTheLegendaryJourneys gave us the MadeForTVMovie ''Hercules in the Underworld'', which was inspired by the story of Hercules' twelfth labour (see Mythology below).
* In the ''Series/{{Angel}}'' episode "Awakening" has Angel and his friends travel to hidden subterraean caverns to find a mythical sword, the only thing that can kill the [[NighInvulnerability Nigh Invulnerable]] Beast, who had [[TheNightThatNeverEnds blocked out the sun]]. [[spoiler: The find the sword, kill the Beast and bring daylight back - unfortunatly, it's AllJustADream to give Angel a moment of perfect happiness and make him lose his soul]].
* The trek through the Cave of the Winds in ''Series/BuckRogersInTheTwentyFifthCentury'', "Journey to Oasis".


[[folder: Mythology ]]

* A number of Ancient Greek heroes (Orpheus, [[{{Homer}} Odysseus]], Heracles) go into the Underworld, where they face challenges like from monsters (such as Cerberus), obstacles (such as the River Styx), and gods. It's as early as [[Literature/TheAeneid Rome]] that the scene starts getting [[{{Deconstruction}} deconstructed]]. Perseus, who doesn't go into the literal Underworld, might be the straightest Ancient Greek version of this trope in the sense of "go underground, kill monsters, take their stuff."
* [[TheMaze Theseus and the Minotaur.]]

[[folder: Newspaper Comics ]]
* A few years ago, ''PrinceValiant'' ran a story where the local dwarves, the [[CelticMythology Tuatha,]] kidnap Aleta into their subterranean realm. Val and a group of companions have to pursue them into the dark tunnels, fighting weird monsters and finally discovering the [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings vast underground city of the dwarves.]] The whole thing was very clearly meant as an affectionate homage to TabletopGames and this trope.

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* The ''TabletopGame/ArkhamHorror'' spinoff ''TabletopGame/MansionsOfMadness'' is this genre as applied to the CthulhuMythos, with areas such as churches, university buildings, estate grounds, and the eponymous mansions serving as the dungeon.
* Similarly, ''BetrayalAtHouseOnTheHill'' is a modern-day, horror-based example of this genre.
* ''VideoGame/DragonFable'' has the 100 Rooms of Doom dungeon.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' is probably, if not the TropeNamer, at least the TropeCodifier. "Killing evil and stealing its stuff" is the game's unofficial motto, after all.
** And there is also the old TSR board game 'Dungeon', which literally is "Wander through the wizard's dungeon picking up treasure."
** Interesting to note is that when Gary Gygax started making fantasy rules for Chainmail, D&D's precursor, he moved the action from standard tabletop war game battlefields to underground dungeons so he could save time and money on designing maps.
* ''WarhammerFantasyRoleplay'' allows for this style of play (alongside many others), and has had many dungeon-based adventures published for its three editions over its thirty-odd year existence. The original Warhammer wargame can be used to stage underground battles between adventurers and monsters too, and this was very much a popular use for it in its early days.
* [=HeroQuest=] was a simple dungeon crawler boardgame, produced jointly by Creator/GamesWorkshop and MB Games in the late 80s, set in the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' world. A more complex and in-depth version with some RPG elements called Advanced Heroquest was produced by Games Workshop alone. Sci-fi versions set on giant derelict spacecraft - Space Crusade and Advanced Space Crusade - followed the same pattern.
* Warhammer Quest was a dungeon crawl themed board/tabletop game with RPG elements, also set in the ''Warhammer'' world.
* ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' has a sub-gameline, ''Dungeon Fantasy'', devoted exclusively to this genre. It is one of the most popular parts of the line.
* ''MageKnight'' had a variant called Dungeons which pitted teams of heroes against each other as well as against the monsters and traps.
* ''TabletopGame/{{Munchkin}}'' is nothing but this. Along with much backstabbing and stealing.
* The Creator/GamesWorkshop BoardGame ''TabletopGame/SpaceHulk'' is basically this genre RecycledInSpace liberally crossed with the Creator/JamesCameron film ''Film/{{Aliens}}''.
* ''Thunderstone'' is a deckbuilding game in which you build your deck in the village, then take it to the dungeon to kill monsters.
* One of ''TabletopGame/{{TheSplinter}}'''s two realities (The Realm) was created as by the citizens of the other (Earthside) to serve as a hyper-realisitic infinite dungeon crawl, making it a diegetic dungeon crawl within a recursive RPG.


[[folder: Video Games ]]
* The very core of ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' and its many, many sequels is DungeonCrawling.
* ''VideoGame/{{Wizardry}}'' came out in 1981. But Richard Garriot (of ''Franchise/{{Ultima}}'') released ''Akalabeth'' in 1979. The game name comes from part of ''Literature/TheSilmarillion''; such "homages" were common with Garriot in his early games. Of course, ''Dungeons and Dragons'' came out in 1974...around the same time "Dungeon" was a popular game on mainframe computers.
** Between D&D and Dungeon was pedit5[=/=]orthanc1, m199h and VideoGame/{{dnd}} for the [[MainframesAndMinicomputers PLATO Network]].
* Also released in 1979 was Creator/{{Epyx}}'s ''VideoGame/TempleOfApshai'', where the entire point of the game was to enter the Apshai temples, fight the monsters, and grab the loot.
* ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei'' was originally a classic first-person crawler like those mentioned above, then became a third-person crawler with occasional first-person elements.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Diablo}}'' series, which began life as a {{Roguelike}} which had you killing demons and undead in a sixteen-level dungeon and ultimately became the HackAndSlash series we know and love today.
* ''VideoGame/EtrianOdyssey'' is a contemporary dungeon crawler that pays homage to games like ''VideoGame/{{Wizardry}}'' and introduces some spins of its own, most notably the F.O.E.s which are visible [[BeefGate boss-like]] [[BossInMookClothing enemies]] that move with each step you take.
* ''MasterOfTheMonsterLair'' features this -- with a dungeon you make yourself -- along with a deconstruction of some of the assumptions usually implicit to this premise; having a dungeon near your town is considered ''desirable'', as it acts as a tourist attraction, lures monsters out of the wilderness where they pose more of a danger to ordinary people, and the items monsters hoard in dungeons can be quite valuable. In this game and ''MyWorldMyWay'', which is an [[IntercontinuityCrossover otherwise unconnected game that takes place in the same world]], "Dungeon Maker" is a respected profession.
** Global A has done a couple of other games like this, such as the ''Dungeon Maker'' trilogy, including ''VideoGame/DungeonMakerIITheHiddenWar'', and ''Adventures to Go!''
* Ubiquitous in ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' games, but [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyI the original game]] has some of the most basic examples. Not surprising, considering how much it owes to ''D&D''.
* ''VideoGame/{{Runescape}}'''s Dungeoneering skill is exactly what you'd expect.
* ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', along with the bulk of its MMO kindred, buries most of its best treasure in various dungeons.
* As mentioned above, the {{Roguelike}} ''VideoGame/DungeonCrawl'' is ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin.
* ''SolomonsKeep'' for the iPhone is one, where you use a student wizard to traverse the eponymous keep, fight monsters and bosses, loot treasure and defeat the evil necromancer- as his graduation exam, no less.
* Parodied in ''PlanescapeTorment'' with the Rubikon Dungeon Construct. The Modrons, beings of pure Law, are trying to study dungeon crawls in order to understand them, so they create a simulated dungeon with randomly generated rooms, filled with identical constructs that drop "loot" which looks valuable but is entirely worthless, even as VendorTrash. Somewhere in the dungeon is the Evil Wizard Construct, who is a CardCarryingVillain that you have to fight because that's what evil wizards are for.
* The many, many caves you have to explore in the various Franchise/{{Pokemon}} games. Places like, for example, [[VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue Silph Co. and the Pokemon Tower in Lavender Town]] also count, as they both have stuff to find and are crawling with enemies to defeat, and usually contain one final Boss.
* A staple of ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series. Most quests seem to involve as [[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Farengar]] put it 'delving into an ancient ruin' usually to defeat a particular enemy or to aquire an item for the quest-giver. Usually this is the main method of getting loot such as weapons, armour and other things [[VendorTrash you can sell at a later date]].
* In both ''VideoGame/MegamanLegends'' games, the protagonist is a Digger, someone who made exploring the many enigmatic ruins in the ScavengerWorld their profession. True enough, exploring these ruins is how you acquire most of the equipment and money you need.
* ''VideoGame/StarFoxAdventures'' has both Krazoa Palace and the two Force Point Temples. In terms of gameplay, the four satellital regions of Sauria are explored like dungeons, but they're more into DungeonTown territory.
* The trope is downplayed in ''VideoGame/{{Okami}}'' and ''VideoGame/{{Okamiden}}'', since the dungeons and mini-dungeons are a secondary aspect of the games, both in plot and in gameplay, and only two of them (Moon Cave and Oni Island) are noticeably complex.
* One of the major gameplay devices in ''VideoGame/{{Pikmin}} 2'' is exploring underground caves that are based on different everyday places. These caves can be either short, long or ''gargantuan'', depending on the case.
* Dungeons are present in the first ''VideoGame/BaldursGate'', but almost all of them are optional and relatively small. Most of the time you'll be exploring the wilderness instead. The second game put much more emphasis on dungeons though, with more, larger and more complex dungeons, and very few wilderness areas to explore. Both {{Expansion Pack}}s added massive {{Bonus Dungeon}}s for your crawling needs: Durlag's Tower and Watcher's Keep, both of which have multiple levels, nasty monsters and traps, and of course treasure.

[[folder: Webcomics ]]
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' started off as this, before the CerebusSyndrome hit it. One of the compilation books is even called ''Dungeon Crawling Fools''. There's also a lampshading of the activity by the cleric Mallack in reference to his membership in an evil adventuring party, "Ah, the life of an adventuring cleric. I remember it well. A perpetual struggle to maintain the hit point totals of four or five nigh-suicidal tomb robbers determined to deplete them at all costs."

[[folder:Web Original]]

* Under the surface of the world of ''Literature/MotherOfLearning'' is an enormous catacomb of tunnels literally referred to as "The Dungeon". Many missions for young mages involve going down into the dungeons.


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ReBoot has one of these during the episode ''Wizards, Warriors, And A Word From Our Sponsors''. 66 floors of RPG references and parodies.
* Parodied in the Dragon Pig episode in the Season 2 of ''Wakfu''. The Dragon Pig's lair is built like a typical RPG-dungeon, giving [[IdiotHero Tristepin]] an edge due to being [[GenreSavvy "the only one of us with experience from dungeon crawls"]].
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'': "Vault of Bones" has Finn take Flame Princess to a real life version of a dungeon crawl. It plays out much like that sort of video game would.
** Got a video game adaptation called ''Explore the Dungeon Because I Don't Know!'' that will be set entirely in Princess Bubblegum's dungeon.


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* It is the job of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunnel_Rat Tunnel Rats]] (most notably in Vietnam and other guerrilla wars) to crawl into insurgent tunnel complexes to search for weapons, intelligence and the enemy. Being a tunnel rat is one of the worst jobs one can draw as it was highly dangerous and possibly one of the quickest paths to PTSD.
* This has also been the job of military enginneers since [[OlderThanDirt fortification was invented]]. One of the main ways to break down a wall, if you can do it, is to dig under the wall, burn the supports to the tunnels and let gravity do its job (it's more effective setting off a charge of gunpowder but works more or less the same). One of the most effective counters to that is to dig under that tunnel and do the same thing. If two tunnels run into each other they fight underground. Now do you see ''just one'' reason why TheEngineer is considered a {{Badass}} kind of soldier?