10 Suspiciously Detailed Dungeon Treasure Chests

There are few things adventurers like finding more than a treasure chest. Most such chests are—of course—locked. Many are trapped. The most commonly trapped kind of treasure chest is one that has a detailed description.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Of course, not all detailed treasure chests are trapped. Sometimes, the room itself is trapped while other times the owner simply doesn’t have the time, skills or resources to trap every chest in his lair. No matter, while discovering a treasure chest is a matter of intense joy for most adventurers, the wise adventurer is also cautious.

Use the table below, to add flavour to the next treasure chest your PCs discover:

  1. This iron-bound chest is secured with a large, prominent padlock hanging from an iron hasp forged to look like a jagged tooth.
  2. Three heavy iron chains are wrapped around this otherwise unremarkable chest. Each is secured by a padlock hidden behind the chest. The padlocks are hard to reach, without moving the chest.
  3. The faint smell of ozone hangs in the air, in the immediate vicinity of the chest.
  4. This chest is clearly old. Its iron bands are worn and rusted. In places, the chest’s wood is slightly splintered as if someone has tried to smash it.
  5. Sitting on a slightly raised plinth, this iron chest looks particularly heavy. No lock is obvious, but a riot of engraved flowers decorates its lid.
  6. The wall directly behind this chest is scorched as if it had been caught in an intense, fiery explosion. The chest itself seems in excellent condition.
  7. Sitting directly opposite its twin, this chest is made of highly polished oak. The chest doesn’t appear to have an external lock, but a large and unbroken waxen seal covers up something just below the chest’s lid.
  8. This chest’s lid bears several deep gouges, as if someone had used an axe or other heavy weapon to try and break in. Behind the chest, perceptive PCs spot a smear of dried blood low down on the wall.
  9. A dagger pins a piece of parchment over the chest’s lock. From a distance, the parchment seems to have nothing written on it but meaningless squiggles and geometric shapes.
  10. Drag marks on the floor show this chest has been moved. Curious PCs tracking the drag marks back across the room discover a small area of melted and pitted stone.

And—of course—a final note. The chests presented above don’t have to be untrapped. A cunning GM could use the descriptions as the basis for a cunning trap!

20 Things II_SNE_220This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.

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