20 Dungeon Statues with a Secret

Because sometimes a statue is not just a statue...

Dungeons always seem to have statues. Perhaps one of the most durable forms of art available to the average dungeon builder, they are often used to add a feeling of grandure and awe to important locations such as throne rooms, temples and grand entrances.

Fallen Statue by Matt Morrow

Fallen Statue by Matt Morrow


Not all statues are created equal, however. Often they can act—in some clever fashion—as an automated guardian or trigger for a secret door; some even have as a secret storage niche hidden within. Use the table below to determine a dungeon statue’s secret.

  1. The statue is hollow and large enough to conceal a secret watcher. Cleverly hidden holes enable the guard to listen and hear what is being said in the area. Alert PCs (DC 20 Perception check) spot these hidden holes, and the mechanism to open the rear of the statue.
  2. Some portion of the statue is hollow—whether by accident or design—and insects swarm within. Explorers getting too close to the statue irritate the insects—perhaps spiders, ants or centipedes—and they attack.
  3. The statue has a clenched fist and it holds something within—perhaps a valuable gem. Perceptive characters (DC 20 Perception) can see the item in question, but must break the hand to release the item.
  4. The statue has a clenched fist holding a black bead (a bead from a necklace of missiles). A strange word—“Zarnoth”—is carved into the statue’s plinth. When anyone speaks the word out loud, the statue unclenches its fist and the bead falls to the floor before exploding. (The GM should determine which bead to use for this trap, based on the strength of the party).
  5. The statue is intricately carved and the figure it depicts wears a billowing cloak. The cloak has several hidden niches within (DC 20 Perception spots).
  6. At first glance, the statue appears to be made of pure gold, but a DC 20 Appraise or DC 20 Profession (stonemason) check reveals in truth it is a normal stone statue expertly covered in gold paint.
  7. A slender pipe hidden in the floor links the statue to a hidden niche overlooking the area. A person concealed in the hidden niche speaking into the pipe creates the illusion it is the statue that is speaking.
  8. The statue stands on a rotating plinth. Every hour, it turns to face a random direction.
  9. The statue was used as an execution device. It is hollow (like #1 above), and enemies of the dungeon builder were often trapped inside to slowly die of starvation and thirst. A PC opening the hidden compartment (DC 20 Perception spots) is surprised by the skeletal remains of the statue’s last “occupant” as they tumble out.
  10. The statue has an animate skeleton encased within it. Faint sounds of scrambling issue from inside, and the statue (because of the trapped skeleton) radiates a faint evil aura.
  11. The statue is precariously balanced. If it is touched, searched or hit with a weapon it falls over and shatters. This creates a lot of noise and alerts all the occupants of nearby areas who make a DC -10 Perception check.
  12. The statue stands on a revolving base. A switch on the back of the statue activates the mechanism, and can make the statue revolve in either direction. Revolving counterclockwise raises the statue up from its base (and vice versa). If explorers allow it to unscrew for five minutes they discover a small storage niche hidden beneath.
  13. The statue was dropped while it was being installed and a deep crack runs through its core. If moved or subjected to a weight of more than 100 lbs. (perhaps by someone climbing on it) the statue cracks down the middle and falls apart.
  14. The statue’s arm are detachable (DC 20 Perception spots) and interchangeable. Swapping the arms over opens a nearby secret door.
  15. The statue radiates faint conjuration magic (DC 16 Knowledge [arcana] identifies), but this is as a result of a magic aura spell cast to distract intruders and thieves.
  16. The statue was originally intended to serve as an animated object, but the crafting wizard never finished his job. A DC 20 Knowledge (arcana) check reveals the statue’s was likely intended for this purpose.
  17. The statue was originally part of a acid-spraying trap, which has long since run out of acid. A faint corrosive smell lingers around the statue’s open mouth (through which the acid was originally spewed).
  18. This obsidian statue of a warrior maid originally held an ornate glaive, which has long since been removed. It lies forgotten elsewhere in the dungeon, and is also crafted from obsidian. A DC 20 Perception or Profession (stonemason) check reveals it and the statue are part of a set.  Sliding the glaive back in the statue’s hands depresses a hidden switch and opens a secret treasure niche in the floor behind the statue.
  19. A low railing of black iron surrounds the statue. Anyone crossing the railing and touching the statue activates a trap (DC 20 Perception spots, DC 20 Disable Device disarms). The railings suddenly slide out of the floor, rising up to the ceiling trapping the character.
  20. This statue simply depicts a huge hand holding a long, ornate horn. Characters playing the correct music through the horn can summon a number of minor magical effects. These effects—and the music required to summon them—are depicted on a number of nearby frescos. Sadly, this music also summons all the occupants of the nearby rooms.

GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing

If you enjoy the table above and like dungeon dressing, check out GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing–winner of Endzeitgeist’s Top Ten of 2014! Crammed with over 300 pages of information and charts designed to bring your dungeon alive, GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing is an essential part of any GM’s arsenel.


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