20 Things to Find in a Well

Most dungeons seem to feature wells—the dungeon’s denizens need to drink after all—and inquisitive adventurers always seem to end up searching such locales…

By Matt Morrow

By Matt Morrow


Thus, find below a list of 20 things PCs could find hidden in a well—some of the things below have ended up in the well by accident, while others were deliberately hidden. All are designed to add interest to an otherwise bland encounter area.

  1. A broken, rotten bucket floats at the bottom of the well. Wet rope trails in the water like a tail.
  2. Pieces of the well’s wall have broken away and fallen into the water below. The rubble juts from the water, like a tiny island.
  3. Halfway down the well’s wall a brick decorated with the faint engraving of a star hides a secret storage cavity (DC 25 Perception spots). Within, in a mouldy pouch, lies a potion of cure moderate wounds and 50 gp.
  4. A wooden ladder stands in the well shaft, enabling access to the water 30 ft. below. The bottom of the ladder’s legs are rotten. If anyone weighing more than 150 lbs. climbs down the ladder, a leg snaps and the character falls into the shallow water below, which does nothing to break his fall.
  5. The rotting body of a dungeon denizen floats in the well. Consequently, the water is fouled and anyone drinking it must make a DC 14 Fortitude check or contract filth fever. (The DC of this save is increased by 2 because of the level of contamination in the water).
  6. A pile of bones cover the well’s bottom. The water is cloudy, and the bones are not immediately visible from the top of the well shaft.
  7. The well is 50 ft. deep and 15 ft. wide. Crude, slippery steps (DC 10 Climb scales) are cut into the well’s wall. Two buckets stand precariously on the bottom step.
  8. A small underground stream feeds this well, and occasionally fish can be caught here.
  9. An iron grate once protected the top of this well, but someone has smashed its hinges and cast it into the shaft. It is wedged halfway down, making it impossible to access the water below.
  10. An iron spike has been driven into the lip of the well. From it, a knotted rope leads into the well, ending just above the surface of the stare far below.
  11. The water in this well constantly bubbles. An active underground spring feeds the waters which drain away through fissures in the rock halfway up the well’s wall.
  12. Steps lead down the walls of this wide well. Halfway down, a niche in the rock holds a lantern and two full oil flasks.
  13. The air at the bottom of this well smells fetid. Harmless chemicals permeate the water giving it a brackish taste. The water is, though, perfectly safe to drink.
  14. An animated skeleton stands motionless in the water. If it spots a living creature at the top of the well, it mindlessly tries (and fails) to climb the well’s slippery walls.
  15. Moss grows in great profusion over the well’s walls. The moss is slightly phosphorescent and gives off a low green glow in total darkness.
  16. A wooden shield floats in the water. A faded rampant griffon device decorates the shield.
  17. Hidden in the muck at the bottom of the well lies a small stone, watertight coffer. The coffer can only be detected by someone probing the bottom of the well (DC 20 Perception spots). It is heavy (50 lbs.) and contains a small store of wealth (127 gp, 2 pp and three tiny red stones—garnets each worth 50 gp).
  18. A trapdoor lies at the bottom of the well. Mud covers it (DC 25 Perception spots) and the well must be drained somehow before the door is opened. Beyond lies the cramped prison-tomb of an ancient, now insane, vampire…
  19. A long iron chain runs from the ceiling down into the well and ends in a wooden platform. A complex set of pulleys and levers enables the user to raise and lower the platform into the deep well. Buckets stand on the platform. If the platform is raised or lowered, the clank of chains alerts any creatures nearby that someone is at the well.
  20. A rocky outcrop protrudes from the well wall just above the surface of the water. A goblin—or other dungeon denizen—imprisoned by his fellows huddles on the outcrop. In return for his rescue and safe passage out of the dungeon, he is very forthcoming about his fellows.

GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing

If you enjoy the table above and like dungeon dressing, check out GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing—Endzeitgeist’s choice as the number one book 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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

5 thoughts on “20 Things to Find in a Well

  1. Very nice article. I may use some of these. I made a random dungeon using the tools at Wizardawn, and the one room had a well, and in the description it said that there was a cool breeze in the room, so I decided the breeze was coming from the well. The players wanted to know why there was a breeze from the well, so they lowered the thief down to check it out. I quickly decided that the well actually led to an underground lake. Now the group wants to lower a canoe down the well and explore the lake. http://wizardawn.and-mag.com/rpg_bdd.php

  2. A forest elf girl lies in the shallow water, unconscious where her father dropped her in to save her from the Fire Dragon burning down the Forest Elf village.
    (From “GATE”)

  3. Another great list! These are great tools to use when making campaigns for in my https://fyxtrpg.com/ games. Keep up the good work! I especially like the vampire one. It’s like a water well for people and could be a blood well for the vamp! hehe I am a firm believer that there is a story or adventure in anything in a campaign. These lists help GMs improvise and broaden their worlds into fun places to explore.