20 Things to Find Under a Ruined Castle

Ruined castles almost always have dungeons, burial vaults and cellars. Such locales are the favourite haunts of undead, necromancers and other foul things trying to hide from the sun’s harsh radiance. Heroes often explore such places, in search of gold and glory.

Use the table below, to add minor points of interest to the PCs’ exploration:

  1. Water oozes through the wall—from the cracks between the faced stone blocks—to collect in a small pool on the floor. The air is musty. 
  2. Dusty cobwebs festoon the ceiling, obscuring it from sight. In places, they hang from the ceiling and drift gently in the breeze.
  3. The sound of water dripping into some far off pool or puddle reaches the party’s ears.
  4. The skeletal remains of a warrior lie sprawled across the flagstones. A spear rammed through the unfortunate’s ribcage pins the remains to the floor. One skeletal hand still clutches the spear’s shaft as if the he tried to pull the spear free before succumbing to his wounds.
  5. A rotting wooden door hangs from its upper hinge at a crazed angle. Soft shards of damp, rotten wood and the remains of the door’s missing hinge lie on the floor nearby.
  6. Splatters of bat guano dot the floor. 
  7. A patch of white and dull brown fungi grow in a damp corner amid the bones of some previous unlucky explorer or denizen. Water oozes down the wall, behind the remains.
  8. Deep cracks mar the ceilings. A faint, damp breeze emerges from the cracks hinting at a connection to another, unknown space. After lengthy periods of rain, water drips from the cracks.
  9. A pungent brown mould covers the floor. Indistinct marks amongst the noisome growth suggest someone has recently walked through the area.
  10. A few small blobs of wax on the floor against one wall could—perhaps—betray the presence of a secret door (if the PCs spot them).
  11. A faint smell—akin to that of a wet dog—lingers in the air.
  12. Shallow, muddy puddles partially cover the floor. Anyone walking through the puddles leaves easy-to-follow tracks for a score—or so—feet. 
  13. The next door the PCs discover is pinned shut by an iron spike hammered into the floor. The iron spike is not rusted, suggesting it has not been here very long.
  14. A small pyramid of carefully selected and piled stones decorates one corner. Clearly “harvested” from the ruins above the stones are carefully slotted together. Chips of stone and masonry dust cover the ground nearby.
  15. The air is hazy, and the smell of burning wood yet lingers. 
  16. A faint outline in the floor suggests the presence of an as-yet unsprung pit trap. 
  17. A bent torch sconce—forged to represent an ornate basket—hangs at an odd angle from the wall. From the looks of it, something gave the sconce a terrific whack which almost knocked it loose.
  18. A scrap of burnt parchment rests on the floor. A spellcaster can determine it likely once held a magic spell and was consumed by flames when its magic was called forth.
  19. In this section, the ceiling is unusually low—explorers taller than a dwarf must crouch before moving through the area. 
  20. The crude chalk figure of a kneeling woman, hands clasped in prayer, decorates one wall. The picture is practically life-sized but poorly done. If the area is wet, water has oozed down the wall giving the figure a blurred, streaky appearance.

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This article appears in 20 Things #27: Ruined Castle. Members of our Patreon campaign got 20 Things #27: Ruined Castle completely free as a thank you for their awesome support. Join today!

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