20 Minor Events to Experience in a Sewer

Sewers are noisome, dank places full of civilisation’s leavings. Such places are wholly different to a normal dungeon. Thus, it stands to reason, the minor events the PCs experience while exploring should also be markedly different.

By Maciej Zagorski (The Forge Studios)


Use the table below, to determine which minor event the PCs experience:

  1. A loud rumbling from above the ceiling breaks the quiet. It seems to head along the sewer before fading away. (A heavily laden cart has just passed along the street above).
  2. A muted splash of something—or perhaps someone—falling into the water sounds from a random direction.
  3. A loud splash caused by something falling into the sewer from a random direction breaks the quiet. A minute later, ripples reach the party’s position.
  4. The air grows rank with the stench of decay and excrement. Weak-stomached explorers may become violently sick as a result.
  5. Splinters of wood—perhaps the remains of a makeshift raft—float passed the party, spinning gently in the current.
  6. The mouldering remains of a decomposing dog float passed the party, before gently coming to rest against the walkway slightly further down the passageway.
  7. A thick glob of slime—dislodged by the party’s passage—falls from the ceiling onto one of the PCs’ heads. The slime is nothing more than slime, but its greenish colour could cause minor panic…
  8. The indistinct sound of singing reaches the PCs’ ears. The faint sound echoes through the sewer making determining where it came from impossible.
  9. A foaming wave of excrement flows down the sewer. Powerful ripples precede the wave, giving explorers almost a minute’s warning.
  10. A thick miasma hangs in the air. Tendrils of a fog-like vapour rise from the fetid waters and provide concealment to anything more than 20 ft. away. The smell here is terrible.
  11. If the party possesses any mundane light sources, their flames suddenly turn blue as they encounter a pocket of flammable gas. If the PCs do not quickly retreat or extinguish their naked flames, there is a loud explosion.
  12. Bats nest on the ceiling. Bright lights disturb them and they flap about screeching until the intruders leave. In the confusion, the bats might extinguish one or more of the party’s lights or knock an explorer into the filth of the sewer’s channel.
  13. The squeaking of many rats emerges from the darkness ahead. Rats infest this stretch of the sewers and the party are about to invade their home. The rats—normal rats, not their more dangerous giant brethren—are scared of the PCs and avoid them if given the chance. Signs of their presence: gnawed bones, piles of droppings and so on—are everywhere.
  14. A distant scream echoes through the sewer. It is suddenly cut off and is not repeated.
  15. The party catches the faint flicker of torchlight from a side tunnel. Investigations reveal a pair of filthy sewer men cleaning a blockage. They haven’t seen anyone else since starting work.
  16. A congealed floating island of muck and debris floats passed the PCs. A large rat, its glimmering eyes glaring at the party, perches atop the island. If attacked, the rat dives into the water.
  17. A fragment of the walkway suddenly gives way under a PC’s feet. Only quick reactions save the PC from tumbling into the sewer’s fetid water.
  18. The pungent stench of rotting vegetables foreshadows the PCs’ discovery of a heaped pile of rotting vegetables.
  19. A sudden wind issues through the sewer, blowing the stench of excrement and urine into the PCs’ faces.
  20. If the PCs have a mundane light source it suddenly—and inexplicably—goes out.

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This article appears in 20 Things #13: Noisome Sewer. For more free 20 Things lists, check out our Free Resources page.

For more free content, check out our Free Resources page.

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