20 Strange Discoveries to Find in a Mine

The underground is a realm of tunnels and pits, replete with ancient relics and long-forgotten mysteries. Sometimes the burrowing of creatures intent on looting the earth of its riches uncovers such strange occurrences and wandering PCs discover them in the course of their adventures.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Use the table below, to determine what strange discoveries the PCs make in the mine:

  1. Massive yellowed bones line the walls ahead; this passage weaves through the ribcage and emerges through the jaws of a gigantic ancient dragon skeleton.
  2. Thousands of rat skulls comprise the walls of the tunnel for nearly a hundred feet. Millennia have turned them to stone, and some have grown stalactites.
  3. Waves of heat and choking gases pour from a tunnel offshoot. A dull red glow suggests magma flows somewhere beyond.
  4. A giant mirrored piece of metal blocks the passage. It is impossible to say with any certainty if the object is natural or crafted.
  5. A thousand holy symbols of forgotten religions fill a shallow pit in a small off-shoot tunnel.
  6. Mild acid drips from the ceiling and pools on the floor before continuing its journey through the rock. The acid irritates the skin, but is otherwise harmless.
  7. The sound of rushing water suggests an underground stream up ahead, but the liquid dripping from the walls is blood red and smells of copper.
  8. Two desiccated corpses lie frozen in fatal conflict. Between them sits a fist-sized lump of pyrite, or “fool’s gold.”
  9. For several hundred feet, the tunnel is carved through a deposit of sparkling white quartz. The quartz is worthless—it crumbles if chipped from the walls—but dazzling in such concentration.
  10. Every few minutes, a deep, sonic pulse echoes through the mine. The pulse is barely audible but causes dust and grit to sift down from the ceiling.  It is irregular and ceases before the PCs can confirm its point of origin.
  11. A dense blue mist sublimates from the walls, filling the tunnel and obscuring vision beyond 5 ft. The mist smells oddly sweet and leaves a sticky residue on everything it touches.
  12. The PCs’ metal equipment pulls them towards the walls where lumps of magnetic lodestone jut from the rock.
  13. A deep pit drops 30 feet onto the massive upturned three-eyed head of a hideous stone idol of alien aspect. The remainder of the statue remains buried—deliberately.
  14. The walls are covered in soot except for the morbid silhouettes of several humanoid figures.
  15. The tunnel passes through a house-sized cavern, wherein a giant lies interred. His bony hands still clutch a stone club and he is adorned with an obsidian crown untouched by time.
  16. A dozen pottery shards are partially embedded in the walls. The markings are obviously ancient, but belong to no culture the PCs recognize.
  17. A rusted mass of springs and spikes pins an ancient desiccated corpse to a wall. Perhaps this is a trap—or some terrible punishment—from a forgotten age.
  18. Thin veins of iron spiral around the length of the tunnel for a hundred feet. They spark with electricity, but are harmless.
  19. The air hangs thick with humidity, and one wall is boiling hot. The sound of rushing water from beyond the wall drowns out all but shouted conversation.
  20. Off the main path, well-worn green steps lead down to a solid wall of onyx. Judging by their steep angle and massive size, this passage was not made for human feet.

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20Front_#5_220This article appears in  20 Things #5: Subterranean Mine, which is available in August 2016. It will also appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.

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Jeff Gomez’s steady migration has taken him from sunny southern California to snowy Boston, and then back again. Now the proud owner of a self-sustaining online business, he devotes his time to his blog, Zenith Games, and freelance writing for RPG publishers. In addition to products on his website, such as Jacob’s Tower, Jeff has written adventures, edited universes, collaborated on classes, and line directed source books (over 800k words in 2015 alone).

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