20 Things to Find in a Ruined Castle

Ruined castles cluster thickly in many borderland regions. Whether destroyed by war or abandoned with civilisation’s ebb and flow such places are a magnet for adventurers searching for forgotten treasures or lurking foes.

Ruined Tower by William McAusland (Outland Arts)

 

Ruined castles often contain many minor features of note that might point to the cause of the castle’s fall or to more recent activities among the ruins. Use the table below, to add depth and flavour to the PCs’ adventure in a ruined castle:

  1. Rubble covers the floor. Moss and lichen grows among the rubble giving the whole area a mottled, almost diseased, grey/green look.
  2. The skeletal remains of some animal—perhaps a large dog or wolf—lies slumped in a corner. Close examination reveals one of the animal’s forelegs is broken.
  3. A swath of short, stubby grass covers the ground. Hidden among it, perceptive explorers find several rotting crossbow bolts and a splintered wooden shield.
  4. Dark brown mould grows over large swaths of the floor and walls. The whole area smells of damp.
  5. The remains of a cold campfire fill a small hollow dug into the corner of the room. The ashes are cold, and leaves have blown on top of them suggesting the fire was set weeks or months ago. A small pile of unused wood lies nearby.
  6. Decrepit, rotting wooden scaffolding clings to the wall. The bottom level is the sturdiest, but the upper levels collapse if subjected to more than 100 lbs. of weight.
  7. Tumbled stones and splintered wood lie all about the place. From within the pile, comes the sound of chittering of small, scampering creatures. Rats—normal sized, not their giant brethren—dwell therein.
  8. The walls in this area were once whitewashed. Now faded and peeling the whitewash exudes a forlorn aura. Part of a tapestry, now weather damaged, hangs from a rusty iron fitting.
  9. A great profusion of ivy grows up the wall, reaching high up toward the sun. A light-weight, skilled climber could use the ivy to reach the upper levels.
  10. One of the stones has been removed from the wall. Within lies a once-secret storage niche. It is empty.
  11. A sundered stone statue, that once depicted a fierce warrior wielding a longsword standing on guard, lies shattered on the floor. It looks like the statue has been deliberately attacked. Nearby, another statue in much better condition yet guards the area.
  12. Someone has dug a small pit into the floor near one corner. A small coffer, its lid stoved in, lies on its side nearby. PCs investigating the coffer discover two gold coins underneath it—missed by the previous looters.
  13. Splatters of dried blood cover the floor. Thick cobwebs festoon the walls and any surviving parts of the ceiling.
  14. A discarded dirty wool blanket lies on the ground. Nearby, lie a wineskin and an unstrung shortbow (but curiously no arrows or bowstring).
  15. In this area, the walls are cracked and leaning drunkenly. Shadows cluster thickly—perhaps too thickly—under the overhang.
  16. Light streams in faintly through a hole in the wall. Dust motes float through the air, blown by some soft, unseen breeze.
  17. One of the flagstones beneath the party’s feet shifts alarming when trod upon. The flagstone—old and weathered—conceals a small storage niche. Whatever was stored here has long since rotted away, leaving nothing but a congealed, browny-green slimy mess behind.
  18. Graffiti daubed on one wall identifies this as, “The Basher’s Place”. The graffiti is surprisingly—or perhaps worryingly—high up on the wall, fully eight-foot above the floor.
  19. The initials and names of people who lived in the castle (or who were perhaps imprisoned within) are scratched into the walls of this area.
  20. A small oak has taken root amidst the ruin. It’s leaves reach upward to the sunlight and several branches have grown through nearby arrow-slits and windows. The leaves seem to have a slight red tinge to them. A small haversack hangs from a branch high-up in the tree and only perceptive PCs spot it from the ground. It contains 45 sp and 3 gp as well as a change of traveller’s clothes and a dagger.

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