10 Signs of Previous Exploration to Discover in a Dungeon

In all likelihood, the PCs are not the first adventurers to explore the dungeon. Others will have come before them and they’ll have left their mark on the dungeon.

Fallen Statue by Matt Morrow

Fallen Statue by Matt Morrow


The signs of their explorations can serve to highlight the dungeon’s history and to add a sense of verisimilitude and depth to the complex. Use this table, to generate minor points of interest the PCs encounter during their adventures:

  1. A smear of charcoal on the cavern wall shows where a previous explorer extinguished a torch.
  2. Signs of cold camp—empty waterskins and discarded, mouldy food—give mute testimony to where previous explorers rested.
  3. A large chalk cross decorates the wall next to the entrance to a passageway from which a strange odour emanates.
  4. The muddy, booted tracks of a small group of humanoids lead down the passageway before eventually petering out.
  5. A discarded torch lies on the floor near a scorched and burnt bright red cloak.
  6. The faint smell of smoke reaches the party’s nostrils.
  7. Rubbish fills the natural depression in the cavern floor. Digging through the trash reveals food wrappers, dirty clothes and long splinters of polished wood.
  8. Someone has dug several pits in the muddy floor of this cavern. Each hole is about 3 ft. deep, but seems to fulfil no purpose. Small mounds of mud stand next to each hole. Some have begun to fill with muddy water.
  9. A shredded backpack hangs from a natural protrusion in the wall. Water drips onto the backpack, which is soaked and covered in mould.
  10. A small pool of clear water fills a natural depression in one wall at about waist height. Several gold coins—perhaps left as an offering to some god or power—glint invitingly in the water.

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This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017. For more, check out our Free Resources page.

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