Not all areas of a dungeon are inhabited. Some are—or appear to be—empty. Such areas don’t have to be boring.
Clever GMs can use such areas to great effect for they can give hints as to what has gone before, be used to foreshadow future events, as the location of forgotten trinkets or even as somewhere for the PCs to rest. Use the table below, to generate details of the empty areas the party discover during their explorations (and don’t forget to tailor the result to suit the mood and style of your dungeon).
- In several places, water drips through the ceiling of this place; consequently a large muddy puddle of cold water covers much of the floor. The sound of dripping water here is subdued, but relentless.
- A mass of smashed and rotting wooden furniture fills one corner of this area. Dust covers the pile, but perceptive PCs hear the sounds of small creatures scrabbling about within.
- A row of three-inch squares pierce one wall of this place at about head height. There are a dozen holes in total and several yet contain splinters of wood. Ten feet out from the wall, a similar line of a dozen holes pierce the floor.
- The tracks in the thick dust criss crossing this area are a confused jumble. It seems many different creatures have passed through here.
- A faint breeze issues from a network of cracks in one of the walls. Splinters of wood and a mass of sodden, rotten clothes hint at this area’s purpose. Two torch sconces—one bent and nearly torn from its fixings—jut from opposite walls.
- A wooden barrel—staved in close to its bottom—lies on one side in the middle of the floor. A small hammer and a pair of dented drinking cups lie nearby. The barely detectable smell of stale wine hangs in the air.
- There is no airflow in this area and the smell of sweat and mould hangs heavily throughout. Thick black mould covers the floor and some shattered pieces of wood that may have once been furniture.
- A scorched, partially burnt overturned table lies across the entrance to this area. Two sagging benches are propped up against the wall nearby; they are not burnt but show signs of rot.
- Part of the wall has collapsed spilling mud and rubble onto the floor. The sections of the wall near to the collapse are similarly unstable and prone to collapse. Further into the chamber, several of the floor’s flagstones have sunk several inches into the ground creating an area of tricky footing.
- The remains of a tripwire trap stretches across the entrance to this area. Long ago disarmed, the trap was designed to act as an alarm. The mouldering string comprising the tripwire is looped around two small piles of precariously balanced rocks.
This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.
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