12 Red Dragon Lair Features

A red dragon’s lair is rarely nothing more than a cave stuffed full of treasure. Red dragons are wily, cunning and in-tune with the surrounding environment; their lairs should reflect their intrinsic connection with fire, flame and heat.

 

Use the table below, to add major features of interest to the red dragon’s lair. Such features are both flavoursome and things for the PCs to interact with as they explore the lair.

  1. Billowing clouds of hot steam drift from jagged cracks in the cavern floor. The steam hinders visibility and a gently breeze blows it toward the lair’s main entrance. 
  2. A pool of bubbling, boiling water divides the area in two. Fed from deep, super-heated springs the pool is a favourite place for the dragon to bathe. The pool is 20-foot deep and the water is scaldingly hot. Creatures in the pool without fire resistance or immunity are quickly boiled to death.
  3. One section of wall is partially melted. Clearly, it has been exposed to a sudden blast of incredible heat. A slag heap of cooled rock heaped in strange and weird shapes lies at the base of the wall. The top of a partially melted helmet sticks out of the slag heap, but is impossible to remove without magic or mining tools. Diligent PCs discover the remains of a warrior encased in the rock (perhaps still bearing some magical items). 
  4. Deep piles of splintered and scorched bones cover the floor to a depth of several feet. The vast amount of bones hinders land-based movement and provides macabre evidence of the dragon’s rapacious hunger. 
  5. As #4, but the bone piles hide several deep holes in the floor. Such bone-filled pits are excellent places for baby dragons to lurk and play. Alternatively, a PC accidentally stepping into such a hole quickly sinks to the bottom of an ever-shifting morass of bones. Escaping without help or magic is virtually impossible.
  6. Lava seeps up from far below into this area through fissures in the floor before flowing away deeper into the lair. The air here is super-hot and heat shimmers obscure vision. Occasionally, pressure builds up in the chasms and lava then spurts forth like a fountain potentially deluging anyone unfortunate enough to be passing at that moment. Evidence of these occasional explosions—small patches of lava dripping from the ceiling are evident to those paying attention.
  7. Suffocating clouds of steam stream from a wide vent in the floor. The steam is so dense it blocks all vision and anyone without fire resistance or immunity lingering in the cloud experiences trouble breathing. Characters in the steam must hold their breath or start to suffocate. 
  8. A great shard of black rock shot through with vivid red veins of some other mineral thrusts upwards through the floor. Easily 20-foot in diameter the rock literally pulsates with heat. The air near the stone is scorchingly hot and anyone touching the rock without magical protections is horribly burnt. (At this point, the boundary between the Prime Material and Elemental Plane of Fire is particularly weak; the rock is a shard of elemental stone that has somehow pierced the barrier between worlds. Skilled spellcasters may be able to carve a piece of the rock away for use in crafting certain fire-based magical items).
  9. A veritable river of magma oozes through the caverns. Bubbling up from some deep repository, it flows sluggishly through the cave system out into the world. In several places, the river cuts caverns in twain forming a dangerous barrier to cross. (The profusion of lava and the resultant heat is the main reason the dragon chose this cave as its own and it loves bathing in the molten rock). 
  10. Geysers of hot mud dot several sections of the cave system. The geysers explode every now and then showering the surrounds in scorchingly hot mud. The muffled thumps of these explosions are audible through much of the rest of the caves. Thick mud covers the walls, floors and ceiling in the geysers’ vicinity.
  11. The broken skeleton of a dragon lies among the rubble and ruin of an old battle. Chunks are missing from the walls, gouges in the floor show where claws struck stone and so on. The dragon’s vertebrae at the base of its neck are shattered; this was likely the killing blow although many of its bones show signs of extreme, savage violence. 
  12. In the distant past, the dragon’s lair was one large cavern in which fire giants built a great hall. A deluge of lava buried much of the giants’ home; here and there, ancient stone work—huge, cunning fitted unmortared stone blocks—emerge from the walls, floor and even ceiling.

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This article appears in 20 Things #33: Red Dragon Lair. Members of our Patreon campaign got 20 Things #33: Red Dragon Lair completely free as a thank you for their awesome support. Join today!

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