10 Perils to Encounter in an Abandoned Building

Adventurers often seem to explore abandoned buildings. Whether it be a (reputedly) haunted manor house, a peasant’s home in a ruined village or even the demesne of a mysteriously disappeared wizard such places make excellent adventure sites. They are also stuffed full of dangers…

By Bradley K. McDevitt

By Bradley K. McDevitt


Sometimes, the party encounters magical traps or the ghostly remnants of those who died in the house. Other times, they fall prey to much more mundane dangers. Use the table below, to add minor points of interest to the party’s exploration.

  1. The floorboards are weak—riddled with woodworm and rot. When a character steps on such boards they break, possibly dropping the explorer into a lower part of the building.
  2. Mould grows voraciously over a wall. Invisible spores fill the surrounding air. Characters breathing in the spores could develop a nasty disease.
  3. A wooden door is swollen shut. Characters pulling it open may be surprised (and injured) when they wrench it from its hinges and it topples over…on top of them.
  4. Dripping water has severely damaged the ceiling. As the party passes underneath, pieces of it collapse—perhaps injuring those below.
  5. A ratty, mouldy rug covers the floor. Perceptive characters notice the middle of the rug moving slightly—as if it is breathing. Removing the rug reveals a hole in the floor through which issues an intermittent breeze.
  6. The floorboards are weak—riddled with woodworm and rot. When a character steps on the board they break and trap the unfortunate’s foot in place.
  7. Shards of pottery (or glass) and chunks of wall and ceiling litter the floor. The pottery shards lie hidden among the other debris and act as caltrops.
  8. A wooden door is swollen shut and tremendously rotten. Characters trying to yank the door open with its handle instead pull it off in their hand—making it much harder to open the door with subsequent attempts.
  9. A veritable field of small mushrooms and mould cover the floor—thriving in the damp, gloomy environment. Water drips down from above making the whole rather slippery (particularly for those moving rapidly).
  10. A large pile of rotting furniture, joists from the ceiling and so on blocks access to a door or corridor. The pile is unstable; if taken apart without care and caution, it collapses onto those trying to clear it.

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This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things, available in March 2016. For more, check out our Free Resources page.

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