Sometimes, you haven’t had time to design every last room in your dungeon. To maintain the illusion of detail, utilise the descriptions below to describe chambers the party reach which you have not yet designed.
I’ve talked before about the illusion of detail in a dungeon. Descriptions of empty areas go a long way toward bringing a dungeon to life and to setting the physical scene for the players. These are good things.
Use the room descriptions below to flesh out your dungeon. (Check out some sample corridor descriptions here). Remember to modify them to suit the dungeon the PCs are exploring. Much of the descriptions below are designed to be read aloud to the players. Information inside brackets can be gleaned through investigation.
- A large arched niche pierces one wall of this chamber. Filled with rotting wood and rubble the niche appears to be a dumping ground of sorts. Elsewhere in the room, several sections of floor are cracked and pitted.
- This irregularly-shaped room has an uneven floor. Several small puddles have gathered in the deeper depressions. Elsewhere, small pieces of rubble litter the floor.
- The arched ceiling of this chamber rises to a height of 20 ft. in the centre of the room, but is barely man-high where it meets the walls. The arches holding the ceiling aloft are carved to represent writhing tentacles; a few have been defaced but the upper portions of all remain untouched.
- A jagged, one-foot crack runs across this chamber’s floor. Beyond, two archways lead into narrow corridors.
- A pile of rotting wood, rubbish and other detritus partially obscures one wall of this chamber. Clearly used as a rubbish dump, the stench of decay and rot hangs heavily in the air
- A low mortared wall of dressed stone surrounds a shaft piercing this room’s floor. Two broken buckets, one still attached to a short length of rope, lie discarded nearby. The room’s ceiling is of natural unworked stone—as if the chamber had not been finished. Four archways—one in each wall—lead elsewhere.
- This large chamber was the scene of an ancient battle. Skeletal remains of at least a dozen humanoids lie scattered about the room where they fell. Several rusting broken spears and shattered, rotting shields lie among the fallen.
- Part of one wall of this room has collapsed, revealing the natural rock behind the dressed stone wall. The rubble has been moved to create a breastwork across one of the room’s exits. Splatters of old, dried blood decorate the top of the breastwork.
- The remains of a cold camp are evident here. A tattered cloak—sized for a gnome or halfling—along with two empty wineskins and the stripped bones of a chicken and crusts of mouldy bread bear testimony to an explorer’s rest.
- Scorch marks on two of the room’s walls and the floor bear mute testimony to—surely—some kind of fire magic being used here. The ceiling remains untouched, but the scorched, cracked bones of some unfortunate humanoid mars the centre of the scorched area.
- Twin niches pierce the wall on either side of this room’s archway. Each niche is about five-foot deep and features a wide shelf about two-foot up from the floor. Scuff marks and a slight worn sheen to the floor show where many people have crossed the chamber.
- The chamber seems to be a nexus of sorts. Six archways pierce its walls. A narrow strip of carven runes surround each archway, perhaps providing a clue as to what once lurked beyond.
- This room features a dual-height floor and ceiling. Toward one end of the room, the floor and ceiling, is five-foot higher than the rest. Shallow steps divide the room and link the two areas together.
- Two lines of pillars run down the sides of this chamber, holding the ceiling aloft. The domed ceiling is 30-foot high at its highest point. Two of the pillars show signs of damage; each appears to have been struck repeatedly with a heavy object.
- A raised dais dominates the centre of this chamber. Upon the dais, stands a beautifully carved fountain surrounded by a sunken pool. The fountain has been crafted to depict a trio of thick tentacles bursting forth from the pool’s centre. No water now flows here and the pool is dry and full of rubbish, refuse and dust.
- This wide chamber narrows as it approaches a ten-foot wide archway dominating the end wall. The carven stone faces of three hideous humanoids glare down from above the archway.
- Four pillars once held the ceiling aloft, here. Three yet stand, but one has fallen scattering rubble about the area. One of the other pillars obviously once held a secret for a small one-foot square niche at its base stands open and (sadly) empty.
- A gaping open pit in one of this chamber’s doorways blocks access to the area beyond. Two skeletons, pierced by dozens of tiny stone spikes, lie in the pit. The chamber beyond boasts a stone plinth and altar set in a semi-circular niche. The chamber’s other doorway—twice the width of the trapped one—appears unprotected.
- Water oozes down one of this chamber’s walls. A mottled black and brown mould covers the wall and is slowly growing outwards across the floor. The faint scent of decay hangs in the air. Amid the mould lies a discarded warhammer; thick mould and small mushrooms cover its rotting wooden haft.
- The once smooth floor of this chamber has been hacked and smashed. Nine small holes, only about a half-foot deep mar the floor. Near each stands a small pile of rubble.
This material appears in the Gloamhold Campaign Guide available from Raging Swan Press.
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