10 Suspiciously Detailed Dungeon Ceilings

PCs are a suspicious and paranoid bunch. And with good reasons. In the depths of a dungeon, it’s not necessarily only the monsters that can kill them.

By Matt Morrow

By Matt Morrow


Wise adventurers pay careful attention to their surroundings. Sights, sounds and smells can all provide a hint—or warning—about what lies beyond.

Use the table below, to generate details of atypical sections of ceilings the PCs encounter during their dungeon exploration. The GM can use these descriptions as nothing more than window dressing or they could form the basis of a trap or provide a hint as to an upcoming encounter.

  1. Riven with cracks this section of ceiling looks unstable even to the untrained eye. Occasionally, dust sifts down from above. A fine covering of gravel and grit covers the floor and indistinct tracks cross through the area.
  2. A dried blood stain mars the ceiling. It seems something sprayed blood across a section of ceiling before being dragged off to a nearby shadowy recess. Blood splatter on the floor mirrors the bloody drag marks on the ceiling.
  3. Spider webs cover the ceiling, being particularly dense over the mouth of a natural chimney leading upwards. Dust covers the cobwebs—they’ve clearly been here for some time—and several darker clumps hint at creatures entombed within.
  4. Strange, slender pale white stalactites festoon the ceiling. Delicate in the extreme, many of these growths glisten with moisture in the party’s lights. The atmosphere in the air is damp.
  5. Cracks mar the ceiling; from these a faint breeze issues, redolent with moisture and the fetid stench of rot.
  6. Soot stains the ceiling. The staining is worse above one corner where the charred remnants of several unidentifiable chunks of wood lie half hidden among a large pile of ash.
  7. Roots from some form of unknown plant grow down through the much-cracked ceiling. A faint breeze also issues from the cracks, making the roots sway gently. The roots grow thickly and reach almost to the floor; explorers must push through them—or crawl under them—to continue.
  8. The ceiling appears normal in all regards, but as the party traverses the area, perceptive PCs hear the rock seemingly groan.
  9. Someone—or something—has daubed a sigil of sinister character—a riven skull—upon the ceiling. They appear to have used blood—now dried—for their “art”.
  10. Mottled black and brown mould grows thickly upon the ceiling and down one wall. The air is heavy with the smell of rot and discoloured water drips down from the ceiling and through the mould. Puddles cover the floor.

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GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing: Crammed with over 300 pages of information and charts designed to bring your dungeon alive, this massive tome was Endzeitgeist’s choice as the number one book of 2014 and is now available in both Pathfinder and System Neutral Editions!

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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