Decrepit and deteriorating, an abandoned settlement poses both unique dangers and enticing opportunities for adventurers. No adventuring site is riper for the looting than a place forgotten and abandoned by protectors and authorities. Still, abandoned doesn’t always mean empty: deserted settlements are attractive to squatters, hermits, vermin, urban monsters, bandits, outlaws, feral dogs and other wild animals, and even the undead, who may often find the lonely, decaying husk of a once-lively place an apt and fitting lair.
Great is the lure of unguarded manors, keeps, shops and guild vaults, to be sure, but adventurers may visit an abandoned village for any number of reasons. A patron might ask the PCs to recover something left behind, to find someone hiding there or to discover some clue or evidence of the truth behind the ruin of the place.
A settlement, however, is rarely laid out with defence in mind; it is a place for common people to live and work, and this fact may make it difficult to imagine an abandoned village as a conventional dungeon—especially given the open, non-linear nature of a typical urban sprawl. This section provides GMs with advice for transforming the ruins of a deserted settlement into a memorable dungeon-crawling experience.
Extract: Abandoned Village Dressing
Use the table below, to generate features of interest in an abandoned village.
- A small fortune in stolen gold and illicit goods is concealed beneath a hidden trapdoor set into the floor of an unassuming dwelling (Perception DC 15 to notice).
- Creaking floorboards increase the DCs of Stealth checks by 5 within the structure.
- Dust cakes the floors in virtually every structure, reducing the DC of checks made to find or follow tracks through the building by 5.
- Light undergrowth grows up through the floorboards within one or more structures.
- Vultures line the roof of one building, waiting for something to die.
- Looters have stripped one structure bare, leaving no furnishings or dressings of any kind within.
- A hasty barricade has been constructed, barring a door within one room.
- Animal tracks—from a variety of animals—cover the floor within a structure. Animal droppings can also be found here in profussion.
- Burnt-out candles line a magic circle against evil within the once-well-hidden cellar of a structure, and occult paraphernalia line the shelves.
- An enormous hole has been punched through an upstairs floor, making some upstairs rooms much more difficult to access.
- The floorboards comprising the ground floor of the structure have almost entirely collapsed into the cellar. Those that remain are rotten and collapse if any weight greater than a halfling is placed upon them.
- A mass of poison oak covers one entire wall of a structure, both inside and out.
- A blackened fire pit has been dug into the centre of one room; rabbit bones, a sloppy lean-to, and the assorted remains of an old campsite are all strewn around it.
- Bear traps (2d4) litter the ground floor within this otherwise-secure structure.
- An ordinary pack of rats scurry underfoot on the ground floor of the structure. They live in the cellar, but holes in the walls let them move easily throughout the building.
- Curtains of thick cobwebs choke an entire room or structure, providing concealment (20% miss chance) unless burned or cleared away.
- Heavy undergrowth (30% miss chance) chokes the foyer and entranceway to one structure. It also crowds out the light from inside making it dark within no matter the time of day.
- Copper coins line the inside of a very heavy chest inside one otherwise-empty room.
- Silver filigree lines the bannisters of a sprawling manor otherwise stripped of its valuables. Removing the silver is time consuming, but it is worth 75 gp as scrap metal.
- Golden ingots are stacked neatly in a wagon just behind one structure. It seems that looters had prepared the wagon, but didn’t make it out alive.
Praise for Alternate Dungeons: Abandoned Village
“It remain a good tool for a GM who does not have time to create a detailed abandoned village and can be the source of memorable encounters/adventures.”
–Martin S (four stars)
“this is a fresh and well-rounded offering…”
–Endzeitgeist (four stars)
A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible GM’s Resource by Daron Woodson
Released 14 September 2015; Pages 12
Download a Free Sample Abandoned Village Sample