20 Treasure Chests

A chest with an actual description? It must be trapped!

Adventurers like nothing more than to find a treasure chest, but often the chest itself doesn’t even get a description. It’s just a chest.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Use the table below to describe the treasure chests your PCs are lucky enough to stumble across. Some of them may be trapped—and no doubt paranoid adventurers will immediately be on their guard given the chest actually has a description!

  1. One end of this wooden chest is scorched and burnt and the metal bands are slightly deformed. Opening the lid is consequently difficult and makes a loud screeching sound, unless the hinges and deformed metal bands are oiled beforehand.
  2. Three thick padlocks attached to iron bands linking the lid to the front face of the chest wards access to whatever lies inside.
  3. The front panel of the chest is decorated with the intricate carving of a slumbering dragon. Some details of the carving—the dragon’s eyes, teeth and claws—are subtly picked out with expertly applied paint.
  4. This wooden chest has beaten copper panels affixed to its sides; the copper catches any light in the vicinity and gives the chest a subtle green glow.
  5. The lid of this chest is battered as if someone or something has tried to break in.
  6. One corner of this chest is darker than the others, as if the wood is wet. A slight smell of mould hangs in the air.
  7. This substantial wrought iron chest has carry handles at both ends. The chest itself weighs over 400 lbs. Although old, the chest is obviously well made and well maintained.
  8. This oak chest is sealed with thick red wax. An ornate seal—depicting a rearing swan—completely covers the lock.
  9. Several panels of this chest have obviously recently been replaced; the wood is lighter than that of the surrounds and is not stained whereas the chest has previously endured rough use.
  10. Intricate carvings of leaping flames and figures writhing within the fire cover this robust stone chest.
  11. The body of this wooden chest has been stained a lurid red colour while the lid is bright blue. The paint on the lid is flecking and obviously old, while the red paint seems to have been redone recently.
  12. This chest stands in the middle of the room and is secured with four chains each of which passes through two iron rings set into the floor before being secured with a large padlock. The chest is also secured by a padlock.
  13. The lid of this chest is covered in blobs and streaks of dried wax of various colours and the stubs of several candles stuck in the wax are visible on the lid’s apex.
  14. Woodworms have vigorously attacked this chest at some point in the past and their small holes pockmark every surface. The chest is old and rickety; it is consequently easier to break into than normal.
  15. A nondescript woollen blanket has been thrown over this chest. Small bells are attached to the blanket between the chest and the wall. They jangle if the blanket is removed.
  16. This chest is narrow—only two feet wide—but four feet high and appears to be more of a storage bin than a chest. The lid is in two halves and opens to the sides.
  17. The lid of this chest is flat and carved with an idyllic woodland scene. The carving is worn, but still beautiful. Pressing the face of a dryad reclining in her tree disengages the chest’s hidden lock.
  18. A row of tiny holes just below its lid perforate the chest’s front, back and sides. (Variously, these could be air holes for whatever is stored within, a false trap to deter thieves or an actual trap.)
  19. The smell of a heady mix of herbs and spices hangs in the air around this small chest.
  20. This chest has been whitewashed (badly) atop which have been daubed a number of mythical or magical symbols of protection. At the GM’s discretion, these may be nothing more than decoration or the basis of some form of warding trap.

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 arsenel.


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