10 Suspiciously Detailed Dungeon Light Sources

Dungeons are predominantly dark places; here the natural warming light of the sun does not reach and the darkness is so thick explorers cannot even see their own hands in front of their faces.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Most dungeon dwellers don’t need light—their senses have developed to allow them to see in the dark. Some, however, require light—or the heat that light invariably brings—and so occasionally adventurers will come across pockets of light. Most light comes from standard sources—bonfires, lanterns and torches. Other sources of light are more esoteric in origin. Use the table below, to generate such light sources.

  1. Motes of multi-coloured sparkling light hang in the air, flooding the area with a soft light reminiscent of candle light.
  2. A dense fog clings to the floor (or ceiling) of the area and glows with a constant pale green radiance. The fog is thick enough to obscure vision and undulates in a fashion reminiscent to water if someone or something moves through it.
  3. The whole ceiling radiates a faint pale light. When someone enters the area, the light level increases to that of broad daylight.
  4. A large metal ball the size of a man’s head hangs from the ceiling from a long slender chain. Heatless flames writhe over the ball’s surface providing illumination as a torch.
  5. Holes have been carved in the floor here and filled with burning oil. Flames dance atop the oil and the temperature in the immediate vicinity is sweltering.
  6. A pillar of concentrated sunlight shines down through a circular hole cut into the ceiling. The hole is only three-foot wide and the light is directed here through a cleverly positioned series of mirrors.
  7. The rock in the wall is of a special, quasi-magical type. When light is brought here, the rocks absorb and store it. After the light source has been removed, the rocks glow dimly for several hours.
  8. A small pool fills a depression in the centre of the floor. Luminescent water fills the pool and glows dimly. Small multi-coloured glowing fish dart about its depths.
  9. A line of candles stands upright against one wall in a veritable pool of dried and drying wax. The candles are of a variety of colours and sizes. Some are lit while others are not; there seems to be no appreciable pattern to which candles are lit (or their placement).
  10. A carved niche in one wall above the entrance contains a skeleton laid out as at rest. Luminescent insects crawl about and through the skeleton providing a lurid, shifting display of light and shadow on the ceiling.

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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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