Mystic Ruins: Dungeon Dressing

Wizard’s towers, the laboratories of mad alchemists and the ruins of elder empire: all are favourite sites for adventurers seeking wealth and magic. Not everything found in such places, holds earth-shattering magic…

Ruined Tower by William McAusland (Outland Arts)

Ruined Tower by William McAusland (Outland Arts)

 

Not everything found in such ruins is of great importance, however. Sometimes, abandoned rooms hold little of note. Use this table to generate details of minor points of interest the PCs discover in the dungeon. Reroll inappropriate results.

  1. Several everburning torches and lamps light this chamber, casting stark shadows into the corners.
  2. The slight breeze in this chamber wavers with voices just beyond the edge of comprehension—or it could just be the PCs’ imagination.
  3. A miniature waterfall flows down this particular wall, occasionally flashing with motes of light.
  4. If a PC presses his palms to the stones, he senses the slightest buzzing humming through your bones.
  5. The steps leading down to the next level are carved with warnings in almost every Common language and several more esoteric tongues.
  6. Each time the party enter the next room or pass through a doorway, a set of chimes jangle in the distance.
  7. These tunnels are entirely circular, almost as if they were used as oversized pipes rather than passageways.
  8. A single raised dais is set in the middle of this chamber, without any markings or other clues to indicate its purpose.
  9. The wall is honeycombed with dozens of carved insets, each one sealed off with sets of tiny iron bars, like miniature jail cells.
  10. A hole in the centre of the room bubbles with black tar, with channels feeding the muck off to a set of outflow pipes in one wall.
  11. The rooms here are full of stone pillars, but few—if any—appear to be load-bearing.
  12. Roots puncture the ceiling, creating a knotted mass that hangs just overhead.
  13. The smell of wet grass fills the area, though no vegetation grows here.
  14. Ancient bookshelves are now little more than cobwebbed wrecks, looking ready to collapse if touched.
  15. A strange spiral has been carved around the floor, with the centre circle just large enough for someone to sit or stand within.
  16. Whoever constructed this place sure had a thing for snakes, seeing as how every decorative element evokes scales, fangs or coiled bodies.
  17. The walls and ceiling are filthy, but the floor is spotless.
  18. Water periodically spouts from the mouth of a reptilian face carved into the wall.
  19. Glyphs etched around the room appear to aligned to astronomical bodies and events.
  20. The altar set at the head of this room has been so thoroughly defaced it’s impossible to tell to which power it was dedicated.
  21. A black robe lies in a heap on the ground, with a mass of thorny vines poking out from the hood and sleeves.
  22. The floor simply ends in a massive drop-off into absolute darkness.
  23. This door opens onto another smaller door, which opens onto another smaller door, which opens onto another…
  24. A pleasant aroma of pipe smoke follows the party wherever they go.
  25. The padlocked chest in the corner has a sign above it reading “Don’t Touch!”
  26. Dust hangs heavy in the air, making it difficult to breathe easily.
  27. A cloud of fireflies flit about the party, lighting the area but making it difficult to concentrate.
  28. The trees and shrubs in the area look to have been trimmed into a variety of humanoid and animal shapes.
  29. A window in this room looks out onto a night vista, even during the day.
  30. This portion of the ruins has sealed burial chambers all along the sides, making it look more like catacombs.
  31. Lengths of rusted chains lie scattered about; some are shattered or snapped in half.
  32. Several large jars stand along one wall, their lids sealed with thick bands of wax.
  33. A metal frame stands in the middle of the passage, looking like an ancient mirror except for the absence of any glass.
  34. Every so often, a flowery scent drifts by the party, making them momentarily drowsy.
  35. From this spot, the party can clearly see through several open arches and into the empty chambers beyond.
  36. While lamps hang by chains from the ceiling, they all appear entirely dry of oil or other fuel.
  37. Rats appear practically omnipresent here, fleeing from the party’s approach around every corner.
  38. The air is redolent with the reek of rotting fish.
  39. A finger of air keeps brushing a PC’s neck—and just his neck. Their hair doesn’t even waver, no matter how strong the sensation becomes.
  40. Square portions of lighter-coloured stones hint at where ancient portraits might’ve once hung on the walls.
  41. A long stone table fills most of this room, where old denizens might’ve once have conferred or dined together. No chairs are evident, however.
  42. Every inch of this area is thickly coated in white ash. No amount of scrubbing ever quite clears the surface beneath it.
  43. What doors that remain have no locks, knobs, latches or other obvious ways to seal or open them.
  44. The floor is covered in white and black tiles, forming complicated patterns that make those viewing it dizzy if looked at for too long.
  45. Odd holes have been worked into the ceiling, perhaps serving to draw in fresh air or suck out nasty fumes.
  46. Blue-green algae slicks the stones, making it incredibly difficult to keep your footing.
  47. Despite the obvious age of the wood panelling and trimming throughout the area, none of it looks rotted or warped.
  48. The party’s breath frosts the air as they step into the chamber, even though it was rather muggy just outside.
  49. Every interior space seems crafted according to a vastly different architectural style and method.
  50. Not a single door in the area has is locked, barred or otherwise trapped.

Urban Dressing: Mystic Ruins

If you want more cool details for the mystic ruins in your campaign, check out Alternate Dungeons: Mystic Ruins. Jammed packed full of advice for transforming the ruins of eldritch powers long since gone into an unforgettable dungeon, Alternate Dungeons: Mystic Ruins is an essential resource for GMs everywhere!

Subscribe & Save

Enjoy our free GM Resource. If you don't, unsubscribe. Powered by ConvertKit

A full-time freelance writer, Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, pulp, and more. He also writes for a wide variety of RPG developers such Paizo, Modiphius, and Privateer Press. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the popular Pathfinder Tales line. WordFire Press has launched his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. He is made out of meat.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One thought on “Mystic Ruins: Dungeon Dressing