8,000 Pieces of Graffiti to Discover in a Dungeon

Dungeons are not pristine environments. Chances are the party is not the first to dare its precincts. Previous adventurers, the dungeon’s builder or even its residents all leave their marks.  Graffiti is a common feature of dungeons.

By Bradley K. McDevitt

By Bradley K. McDevitt

 

Graffiti can have four main purposes:

  • Decoration: Whether created by skilled artisans or bored guards, some graffiti is designed to decorate a locale. Such graffiti might take the form of stylised pictures or religious phrases.
  • Message: Graffiti can serve as a means of passing on a message. These messages could be a lament for a fallen comrade, the ravings of a madman or even a final message from a doomed explorer.
  • Warning:  Adventurers—when they survive—sometimes leave warning of what lies beyond. Of course, these warnings could be hopelessly out of date or just plain wrong.
  • Lure: This seemingly benign or welcoming graffiti serves to entice explorers or visitors further into the dungeon (perhaps to a specific location).

Use the tables below, to generate the details of graffiti found in a dungeon or other hostile locale.

Message (d20)

The graffiti says:

  1. “Not this way.”
  2. “Your doom is near.”
  3. “The darkness has eyes!”
  4. “Beware. It lurks in the dark.”
  5. “Alas, poor Enrulf.”
  6. “Don’t search for me.”
  7. “This way.”
  8. “I’m sorry.”
  9. “Tell Engelf I loved her.”
  10. “I’m watching you.”
  11. “For glory!”
  12. “Pray for my soul.”
  13. “Don’t delve too deep.”
  14. “Go Back!”
  15. “I tried.”
  16. “Hungry. So hungry.”
  17. “Fear the dark. Seek the light.”
  18. “The old man lied.”
  19. “Safety lies beyond.”
  20. “Welcome.”

Characteristic (d20)

If you want to add a notable characteristic to the graffiti, use this table. The graffiti is:

  1. Written hastily in chalk.
  2. Written in dried blood.
  3. Written in fresh blood.
  4. Carved crudely into the wall with a dagger or similar blade.
  5. Crudely written—as if by a child.
  6. On a piece of parchment stuck or pinned to the wall.
  7. Smeared as if someone has tried to rub it out.
  8. Written in charcoal like that from a burnt torch.
  9. Written very low down on the wall at roughly knee height for a human adult.
  10. Hidden behind an open door, tapestry or other covering.
  11. Shows excellent—even cultured—penmanship.
  12. Written on the ceiling.
  13. Covered by cobwebs.
  14. Written in overly large—or small—letters.
  15. Only half written; the message ends abruptly as if the writer had been interrupted or distracted.
  16. Written upside.
  17. Written back-to-front.
  18. Written on the floor.
  19. Each word is written in a different colour chalk.
  20. Obviously written in several different hands.

Special Characteristics (d20)

Sometimes there is more to graffiti than meets the eye. The graffiti is:

  1. A trap. It contains an explosive runes
  2. A trap. It contains a glyph of warding.
  3. Written in more than one language.
  4. The first letter of each word spells out the command word of a magic item hidden somewhere in the dungeon.
  5. Covers up an older piece of graffiti.
  6. Written so as to conceal an important secret message.
  7. It disappears once read, like a magic scroll.
  8. Glowing slightly. It gives off illumination equal to a candle.
  9. Slowly burning itself into the wall.
  10. Wriggling and writhing across the wall.
  11. Only visible to those with dark vision (in the dark).
  12. Written in invisible ink.
  13. A trap. The graffiti contains a hidden sepia snake sigil.
  14. Obscuring the trigger for a secret door.
  15. Written to subtly highlight the trigger for a secret door.
  16. Apparently gibberish. However, in reality it is a pass phrase dungeon denizens use to identify themselves to fellow denizens.
  17. The air in the immediate vicinity is much colder.
  18. Written in some form of ink that resists all but magical cleaning.
  19. Written in huge letters the height of a grown man.
  20. The letters hang in midair, blazing with light equal to that of a torch.

GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing


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This article appears in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things. Alternatively, you can read even more 20 Things lists on our Free Resources page.

 

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