12 Perils to Encounter in a Mine

Mining is a dangerous endeavor even under the best of circumstances. Introduce elements of fantasy into them and only the bravest or most foolhardy would dare venture into a mine. What creatures have taken up residence and now use the perils listed below to their advantage?

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Use this table, to generate the details of the perils the PCs could encounter in a mine:

  1. A boarded over hole in the tunnel floor is all but hidden by a thick layer of dust and rubble. The boards collapse under any significant weight and drop the hapless explorer into a smooth, steep chute that deposits them into a chamber on a lower level.
  2. A rough hole in the tunnel wall is blocked by the skeletal remains of some poor unfortunate miner; his arms are outstretched into the tunnel and may snag an unwary explorer. A large chamber lies beyond the hole; the air within becomes increasingly noxious the further inside one ventures.
  3. A large pool of water covers the tunnel floor. The tunnel has flooded from below; a deep shaft at the bottom of the pool links the tunnel with a large flooded chamber with numerous exits.
  4. The recently deceased corpse of a prospector or explorer leans against an abandoned mine cart filled with bones. The strangely dessicated corpse is discolored and disfigured, clear signs of the virulent disease that awaits anyone foolish enough to investigate too closely.
  5. A large hole with smooth sides in the tunnel floor hinders further progress. Likely made by some large burrowing creature, it drops straight down before curving out of sight. Anyone getting within 5 feet of the hole runs the risk of the broken, crumbling edge giving way beneath their feet.
  6. Thick, sticky webbing fills a long section of tunnel. The webs can be burned away easily over the course of several minutes, but this fills the tunnel with a thick, foul-smelling haze.
  7. A rickety rope bridge spans a seemingly bottomless 20-foot wide chasm. Anyone attempting to cross the bridge without first making some necessary repairs to it are in danger of it giving way beneath their feet.
  8. A tunnel with moist walls overgrown with a pale blue fungus induces a soporific effect on creatures breathing the damp air. Any creature spending more than a few minutes in the tunnel fall into a deep slumber, as evidenced by a nearby skeleton partially hidden by the fungus.
  9. A wide underground stream cuts across the tunnel ahead, exiting through a large hole near the tunnel wall and dropping away into the unknown. Crossing the stream means contending with fast-flowing cold water and a slippery streambed that could sweep the unwary into the depths. After rain, the stream becomes a raging torrent.
  10. An explosive pocket of gas fills this area. It instantly ignites when any sort of flame or strong heat source is introduced. Cautious explorers might note the area’s fire-blackened walls, floor and ceiling.
  11. A set of old, rusted mining cart tracks leads into a completely black tunnel that doesn’t seem to permit natural light of any sort. The darkness is impenetrable to all but magical light.
  12. The tunnel walls are veined with a peculiar type of crystal that refracts and reflects light in myriad directions, making it difficult to see. Creatures relying on sight may find themselves at a disadvantage trying to navigate or defend themselves in such tunnels.

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20Front_#5_220This article appears in  20 Things #5: Subterranean Mine, which is available in August 2016. It will also appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.

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Ronald Calbick is in his 40s and has been playing RPGs since he was ten years old. He’s stuck primarily with D&D, starting with the “Blue Cover” boxed set and all the way up through Pathfinder and 5E. He’s married, with two grown children, works as a web developer for Fun.com, and is a Gulf War veteran and reserve police officer.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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