20 Pieces of Lich Lair Dressing

A lich’s lair is a terrible and dangerous place. Few adventurers are brave enough to explore a lich’s lair (and fewer still are powerful enough to survive the experience). Such a place should be memorable and flavoursome; this is not an average, run-of-the-mill dungeon. Strange—and perhaps deadly—sights and sounds should be the norm.

 

Use the table below, to add detail to the lich’s lair:

  1. Splintered and scorched bones, wisps and scraps of equipment and death’s faint miasma fill the area. The walls are similarly pitted and burned; powerful magic was once unleashed here. The carnage is impressive; perhaps a dozen people died in the conflagration.
  2. Shadows haunt the lair’s nooks and crannies; mundane light has trouble banishing them. The whole place feels claustrophobic as the darkness clusters thickly about the PCs’ lights. 
  3. Tiny floating motes of glimmering multi-hued light float gently through the air. In some places, the motes seem attracted to the PCs (or perhaps the warmth of their life force) while in others the PCs repel them. When a mote touches warm flesh, it explodes into non-existence.
  4. Crumbling mortar and fallen stones have revealed a hidden niche cut into one wall. A gallimaufry of dusty skulls and bones have tumbled from the choked hole and spilt onto the floor. Investigations reveal many of the bones bear unmistakable signs of violence.
  5. Fell arcane runes of unspeakable evil decorate the walls. Seemingly burnt into the very stones themselves the runes are jagged and harsh. Some of the jagged holes in the rock are surprisingly deep—deep enough for a foolish (or brave) explorer to thrust his fingers all the way inside…
  6. Fine grey dust coats the floor; knowledgeable PCs can determine the dust is akin to that created by the disintegrate spell. The PCs discover another grey pile in the next area they explore. 
  7. A broken pick juts from the lock on the next door the PCs find. The pick has jammed the lock; it must be removed if the door is to be opened without being broken down. T
  8. The ceiling sags alarmingly; dust and grit sift down from between the stones onto the floor. Faint marks in the dust suggest someone or something passed this way recently. If the PCs pass underneath, the stones grind and groan dropping more dust and grit onto the PCs’ heads.
  9. Dead rats and spiders coat the floor in a veritable carpet of death. Many of the creatures seem frozen; their bodies are brittle and crack open if stood upon. From the position of the hundreds of corpses, it looks like the rats and spiders were locked in a titanic battle. Dusty cobwebs hang from the ceiling almost to the floor.
  10. A once majestic fresco adorns one wall. Great rents in the mural now show where someone bashed it with a heavy object. Shattered plaster lies mounded against the wall.
  11. A  mass of jumbled bones completely fills a deep niche cut into the floor. Several grinning skulls stare up from the macabre spectacle. The remains of literally dozens of individuals lie within the niche.
  12. The ceiling is painted jet black. Onto this has been daubed a star map of sorts. With extensive study, a knowledgeable PC can discover the map depicts a rare alignment of constellations that will not occur for another 300 years.
  13. An ornately forged brass wand with a burnt-out blue gemstone at its tip lies discarded on the floor. Forged to look like a fork of lightning, the wand is an impractical shape for easy storage. The first PC to touch the item feels a faint tingling in his hand; perhaps the wand’s magic is not entirely depleted. 
  14. Incongruously, a single jet black brick of preternaturally smooth stone juts from the wall by about one inch. The stone could be the trigger for a trap, nothing in particular or perhaps the keystone for some kind of powerful magic.
  15. The next door the PCs encounter is strengthened with scorched panels of beaten brass. Several (blurred) runes are engraved into the brass. Knowledgeable PCs can determine the runes were part of a magical trap (which has —probably—already been triggered).
  16. Glimmering stones set in a sprawling pattern decorating much of the ceiling. The stones glimmer and sparkle in the party’s lights like stars. Investigations reveal the stones each protrude slightly from the rest of the ceiling and; graven runes decorate several of the stones. A knowledgeable PC can determine the glimmering stones represent a star map. Perceptive PCs spot a single black stone set among the others; the stone is placed where no star is known to shine.
  17. Scrawled on the wall in dried and smudged blood are the words, “We should not have come here.” The writing grows fainter toward the end of the sentence as if the person writing it grew tired (or ran out of blood). 
  18. A statue, depicting the lich in life, stands upon a small plinth in a niche in one corner. The niche is cut so the statue can see the entire room or corridor. The figure has been partially smashed. The walls and plinth are partially melted—as if they had been subjected to a powerful acid-based attack—and the statue’s head and one arm lie shattered on the ground. 
  19. The remains of a shattered potion vial lie on the floor against one wall. Dust and grime coat the glass remains, which have been here for many years. Strangely, when first spotted, several of the glass shards seem to sparkle with some kind of unnatural silvery radiance. 
  20. A narrow, rough-hewn staircase pierces the floor. The stair ends in an impenetrable rockfall. The words, “Not this way” are daubed in blood on the top step. Perceptive note the words are best read from the direction of the rock fall.

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This article appears in 20 Things #29: Lich’s Lair. Members of our Patreon campaign got 20 Things #29: Lich’s Lair completely free as a thank you for their awesome support. Join today!

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One thought on “20 Pieces of Lich Lair Dressing

  1. Why does every description of a lich’s lair deal with garbage and decay? Why not the same or similar to a Vampire lair? Why not an exotic mansion with lush well cared for grounds?

    I would assume a lick who wanted to cling to life for eternity would want to preserve the nice fancy luxuries of being alive.

    Maybe an art collector?