20 Pieces of Sewer Dungeon Dressing

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 dungeon dressing should also be markedly different.

By Maciej Zagorski (The Forge Studios)


Use the table below, to determine what minor piece of dungeon dressing the PCs discover:

  1. Ahead, the bricks lining the sewer wall have fallen, creating a tumbled pile of slippery rubble blocking the walkway. (The rubble is unstable; unwary PCs will likely slip and fall into the sewer channel).
  2. Here the sewer channel narrows, and the walkway correspondingly widens. Someone has bridged the channel with a thick, but rotten, wooden plank. A rusting iron spike is driven into each end, nailing it in place.
  3. The stench of excrement, urine and rot is particularly strong in this area.
  4. A wooden lantern lies on its side amid the filth coating the walkway. Its oil has leaked out, creating a particularly slippery area. The lantern is still vaguely warm to the touch, suggesting someone passed this way recently.
  5. This section of walkway has crumbled away leaving a five-foot wide gap explorers must traverse to continue. The rubble from the walkway fills the sewer channel creating a dam of sorts. After excessively heavy rain, the water level rises here inundating this section of walkway.
  6. A single, mouldy knee-high leather boot stands incongruously amid the muck. The white glint of bone and the smell of moulding flesh emerges from within. Investigations reveal the unfortunate boot wearer’s leg was severed just below the knee. Of the rest of the body, there is no sign.
  7. A crudely scratched sigil decorates one wall. It comprises three pips with an arrow over the last pip. (The sigil is a code used by the local thieves’ guild; it tells members that a secret exit to the streets is hidden in the third passageway ahead).
  8. The mouldering remains of a dead cat lie on the walkway. By the looks of things, its back is broken.
  9. The murmur of voices is discernible to sharp-eared PCs. Investigation reveal the voices come from behind the wall, but here is no obvious secret door here. (The sewer channel shares a wall with the cellar of the building above).
  10. Part of the ceiling has collapsed, dumping bricks and rubble into the sewer channel. The blockage has formed a dam, and the “water” level is higher behind it. Dextrous explorers can use the dam as a means to cross the channel. Those slipping and falling dislodge a crucial stone in the dam, causing the entire thing to collapse.
  11. Greenish/brown slime coats the walkway. Footsteps are clearly visible in the muck heading in the opposite direction to the party’s direction of travel.
  12. A niche carved into the sewer wall holds a broken, rusting lantern.
  13. A rusting metal grill protects a narrow chute joining the main channel at a steep downward angle. The dry passage beyond the chute is barely three-foot wide.
  14. Water oozes through the crumbling bricks in the ceiling before dripping into the sewer. From a distance, the water’s soft pitter patter sounds like rain. The walkways here are particularly slick.
  15. A broken grate hangs from one wall, attached by only a few thick rusting pins driven deep into the wall. The gate is wide enough to block the walkway, but is not strong enough to stop any vaguely determined explorer. Its twin on the opposite walkway is in much better condition.
  16. A strange, wide track in the muck suggests something large, like a snake, slithered through here recently.
  17. A mouldering, slime-covered rat corpse lies on a ledge. Its eyes are missing and its tail has been partially chewed off.
  18. A slimy island of excrement and mud partially blocks the sewer channel. Anyone standing on the island discovers—rapidly—its consistency is that of quicksand.
  19. Faded and smeared chalk sigils decorate this wall; they are now illegible.
  20. A glimmer of light comes from up ahead. When the party reaches the light, they discover a narrow hole in the ceiling enables a thin beam of sunlight to reach into the sewers. The air here is a little clearer and sounds of the street clearly filter down into the gloom.

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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.

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