Once, I described my ideal approach to room descriptions in map keys: start each key with a label that describes the function of the room, like "kitchen", "pantry", "bathhouse", "torture chamber", "casino". For the most part, there's no need to describe individual contents of such rooms except in the ways they are distinctive ("The giant-sized hearth has an entire elephant roasting on a spit.") They are assumed to otherwise contain everything such a room would typically contain, and the GM describes these generic contents in as much detail as seems necessary, using the label as a guideline.
There's something I would like to do with these labels, but what I need to do first is to think about the broader categories of room types. Here's what I have so far:
- Containment: Where people put stuff they want to keep. If the stuff they want to keep has special needs, the area will have special features related to those needs: Huge, deep, watertight areas for cisterns, cool, dry areas for dry food storage, freezers in high-tech areas for perishables, cages for animals/prisoners. Otherwise, the main concerns are easy access for the owners, protective measures to keep unauthorized people out. Examples: treasure vault, pantry, root cellar, jail cell, museum.
- Disposal: Where people dumps stuff they don't want to keep. There's no real concern for maintaining the stuff contained here or preventing access; the only concern is to keep it away from other areas to avoid bad odors, contaminated food, or other problems. Primitive or bestial areas will mostly just be areas on the outskirts of the inhabited areas; more sophisticated areas may have sewers or transportation routes to move waste from other areas to the disposal areas, or airlocks to cut down on miasma, or processing areas/compost areas to break down/transform undesirable waste into something more useful. Examples: latrine, cesspool, middenheap, boneyard, compost heap.
- Task/Job: Where people do crafts, prep work, or other activity. The main concern is having the necessary tools, work surfaces, and supplies necessary for the given job. Secondary concerns might be protection of valuable raw materials, protection from unpleasant by-products of the process (odor, noise, heat,) and special environmental conditions for some tasks. Examples: kitchen, smithy, farm, brewery.
- Fortification: Where people defend the rest of their areas. Mostly, this is about controlling access: gates that can be sealed, moats that can be uncovered, doors that can only be opened from one side, windows that can allow safe observation of a route or location. There may also be manually-triggered defenses or weapon ports to allow filling a zone with crossbow bolts, boiling oil, or poisonous gas. Sometimes, there are special features for defending against special dangers, such as a high-tech sterilization area to defend against contaminants. Examples: watchpost, gatehouse, parapet, airlock.
- Living: Where people eat, sleep, and relax. There may be separation by activity level (quiet areas, general areas, boisterous areas.) There may be separation for activities that are dangerous to casual observers or passers-by. There may also be separation based on cultural distinctions (ritual areas, upper class areas.) Some "jobs" that don't produce anything (entertainment) would be included here. Examples: bedroom, dining hall, arena, casino, throne room.
In addition, there would be combos (prisons would include Containment for prisoners, Fortification to control access, Task/Job for torture chamber) and uncategorized (trick areas, or anything that has no discernible use) You could use this as a crude d6 chart for general room category: on a 6, roll 2d6 for a combo, with a 6 result for one or both dice on the second roll indicating unclassifiable features.)
I'm wondering if there are any other room concepts that can't somehow be classified under one of these categories, or a combo of two or more categories.