20 Things to Find in a Pit

Adventurers are always falling into pits. Well, they are in my campaigns anyway…

Spiked Pit by William McAusland (Outland Arts)

Spiked Pit by William McAusland (Outland Arts)


The bottom of a pit shouldn’t be a featureless cube. Beyond a simple trap designed to kill or impede intruders, a trap is a great opportunity to tell a bit more of the dungeon’s story.

Some pits hold trapped monsters—or even adventurers—while others have additional dangers such as iron spikes and so on. More, however, hold the detritus of previous delves. Use the table below, to generate minor points of interest a PC might find at the bottom of the pit.

  1. A DC 15 Perception check reveals small holes cut into the pit’s wall near one corner.  A climber using the holes gains a +5 circumstance bonus to escape the pit.
  2. Iron spikes line the floor of the pit. Dried blood covers several toward one of the pit’s walls showing where someone (perhaps) fell in.
  3. An adventurer’s rotting body lies twisted and broken at the bottom of the pit. Stripped of all useable equipment by his companions, he lies abandoned. His mournful ghost might linger nearby…and it might mistake the PCs for his perfidious companions.
  4. This pit intersects with a natural cavern, the entrance to which breaks through one wall. The cavern has no other exits, but water dripping down through the ceiling could keep a trapped explorer alive for quite some time.
  5. Four burnt out torch stubs lie on the floor of the pit. The burnt and shrivelled remains of thousands of tiny spiders carpet the floor.
  6. Dungeon denizens use this pit to dispose of their garbage and waste. Anyone falling into the pit takes 1d6 less falling damage than normal because the rubbish cushions his fall. However, the pit is rife with disease and a character in the pit must make a DC 12 Fortitude save or contract filth fever.
  7. An empty wineskin and the faint smell of wine linger at the bottom of the pit.
  8. Iron spikes, driven into the wall, provide a makeshift ladder of sorts for those trapped in the pit.
  9. A discarded, dented helmet lies in one corner.
  10. The remains of a healer’s kit are scattered about the floor. Some of the bandages are caked in dried blood.
  11. “Forgive me” is daubed on a wall in large, chalk letters.
  12. A near-empty sack holding 13 gp and 16 sp mixed in with shards of glass from a large mirror is the only thing in the pit. Unwary PCs investigating the sack suffer 1 damage from the glass shards.
  13. A torn, brown jerkin hangs from a natural protrussion on one wall.
  14. A bent iron spike protrudes from one wall at knee height. It falls out if anyone puts their weight on it.
  15. The pit’s walls are slick with water oozing from many small cracks in the rock. The walls are hard to scale (+5 DC) and water fills the pit to a depth of roughly 1 ft.
  16. The pit’s walls are slick with moisture; faintly glowing mould grows in the many cracks, providing a sickly yellow light (equal to dim illumination) throughout the pit.
  17. A narrow crack splits the pit’s floor. A faint, cold breeze sporadically issues forth.
  18. The shards of a broken flute lie discarded in the pit. Nearby, a frayed length of rope and a discarded ration pack are piled neatly in a corner.
  19. A small niche in one wall of the pit holds a primative clay statue of a squat, naked woman. Four silver coins fill a bowl in front of the statuette.
  20. Cracks criss cross the walls of the pit. Bent and twisted copper coins have been hammered into many of the cracks—perhaps in some sort of bizarre offering. Coins only fill cracks up to a height of about 3 ft. Three discarded small sacks lie in one corner. Careful examination of the coin-filled cracks reveals they (crudely) spell an unfamiliar name.

GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing

If you enjoy the table above and like dungeon dressing, check out GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing. 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 arsenal.


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8 thoughts on “20 Things to Find in a Pit

  1. Appreciate the free lists and have purchased a number of Raging Swan products on DriveThruRpg. Spelling errors are common in your products but this article was egregious. I suggest you run all your articles through a spell checker prior to release. In this short article alone we have the following words misspelled:
    shrivelled –> shriveled
    protrussion –> protrusion
    mould –> mold
    beeze –> breeze
    primative –> primitive
    criss cross –> crisscross
    arsenel –> arsenal

    Thank you

    • Thanks for the proof-reading, Rainer. Several of these typos are because I use UK English and not US English; mould is a classic examine if this as is shrivelled. That said, beeze is definitely wrong and I’m correcting it now!

  2. I love your lists. If you were to put them all into an iPad app or sell them as a Fantasy Grounds module, I would purchase them. Wish you would also convert your settings and adventures to Fantasy Grounds as well.

    I’ve purchased over half your portfolio of products to date, most in PDF off of drivethrurpg.



    • Thanks for the kind words, Will. I did look into building an app last year, but things never worked out. Perhaps I’ll look at it again!

  3. Why would a pit into a dungeon hold/house a monster? The monster has to eat,cal how many people are falling into the pit?

    • Could be an animal with a climb speed such as a spider, there are plenty of arachnids/insects in the wild that hunt out of a comparative pit.