Tag Archives: Deadly Dungeons

Deadly Dungeons 23: Flippy Turny Fally Room

FlippyTurnyFloorRoomThe room is circular, with at least one exit aside from the one the players entered through. The ceiling must be slightly higher than the room’s radius. The walls, floor, and ceiling are all of flagstone.

In the center of the room is a chest-high obelisk, perhaps 8 inches on each side. Atop the obelisk is a Y shaped piece of brass. There is an axle between the prongs of the Y, which supports a rotating stone disk with a flagstone pattern carved into it. When the players enter the room, the flat sides of the disk are oriented up and down.

The flagstones of the walls also have an odd pattern to them. Every 3ft or so, there is a perfectly circular stone, creating a sort of “polka dot” effect. This element of the room is purely decorative, but serves as an important red herring to obfuscate the room’s trick.

Rotating the disk atop the obelisk has no effect, until it has been rotated a full 180 degrees. So that the side which once faced up, is now facing down. A loud “clicking” sound will reverberate through the room, and the entire floor of the room will flip over, revealing an identical floor and identical obelisk on the other side.

Any occupants of the room will, of course, be dropped into a pit.

If the walls around the edge of the room are examined, players may notice vertical scratches on the walls near to where they meet the floor. If the players follow the scratches around the room, or specify that they are examining the wall 90 degrees from the room’s entrance (where the axle would be mounted) then they will find that the scratches have made a sort of half-circle.

There is no visible gap between the walls and floor which is any more pronounced than the gaps between any of old, cracked and worn flagstones. However, water or sand could be used to discover that the small space between the wall and floor doesn’t “fill up” as it ought to.

This room COULD be used to drop players into a deadly pit, but I would recommend against it. Because, while I don’t think this room robs the players of agency, it IS a little bit cheap. (I considered having the players sense a slight wobble as they stepped into the room, but that just felt painfully obvious for a trap which must already rely on a red herring).

Instead, this room ought to drop the players into a new section of the dungeon. With their pre-explored escape route forever lost to them, exploring the dungeon will take on a new sense of urgency. How long will their food rations last? Can they find a safe enough place to rest each night? Will they ever see sunlight again?

On Monday I’ll post my recommendation for a good room to drop the players into.

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Deadly Dungeons 22: The Slide Room

The Sliding RoomThis room is exceptionally simple in function, but can prove quite confusing to players. Particularly if they need to flee quickly!

The room itself (shown here in red) is actually just a small chamber which rests inside of a much larger one. It is mounted to the walls, floor, and ceiling of the larger chamber by a set of expertly crafted rails, which have been treated with a magical oil which does not degrade over time. So perfect are the mechanisms which move this room, that it does not produce the normal rumbling vibrations which would normally be a dead giveaway that something was amiss. Those who are particularly in tune with the ground (such as dwarfs) should be given a chance to notice the movement, but only when they are inside of the moving room itself. And even then, their ability to detect the movement is not certain.

Every corridor which can be used to approach this room is strewn with pressure plates. When activated, these plates will cause the room to move into position to receive the approaching characters. The pressure plates are specifically placed far enough away from the sliding room that it will have ample time to be in position before anyone is within eyesight of its doors. If these pressure plates are detected and avoided, there is a 4-in-6 chance that the room will not be in position when the players arrive, and they will instead find themselves looking into a long featureless room. If the players choose to enter this room, roll a check every few turn to determine if the sliding room moves to crush them.

The inside of the sliding room itself is almost entirely featureless and boring. It must be, or else the extremely sensitive weight detection mechanism would be too difficult to calibrate! So long as any character is inside of it, the room will move to a new position any time one of its doors is closed. If it is at the south-most position, it will move north, if it is in the north-most position, it will move south. If it is in one of the two central positions, randomly determine whether it will move north or south.

So, for example, if the red room is in the position shown above, and the players approached it from the curving corridor on the southern side of the map, then it would glide to the south-most part of the larger chamber before they arrive. If they see the room, and all enter it, then close the door behind them, the room will glide back to the position shown on the map. If they then exit it, and close the door behind them, it will not move, because there is no weight inside of it (unless they left equipment weighing at least 30lb behind). If the party’s halfling then enters the room, and closes the door leaving the others outside, they will see the room slide away with their halfling inside of it.

The 1 Hour Dungeon

1 Hour DungeonRemember when you told your mom that you were leaving food out “as an experiment?” but really you just didn’t want to clean it up? No? That was just me? Well that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing with my GMing lately. I’ve been shamefully avoiding preparation, and justifying my laziness by calling it an experiment in improvisation. But unlike my childhood self, I’m legitimately interested in how the experiment will turn out. So after working on being a better improvisor for the last few weeks, I thought it would be an interesting change of pace to sit down and give myself a single hour to create an entire dungeon adventure. The idea is to simulate the time crunch I experience while improvising a dungeon for my players, while still actually preparing something in advance of the game.

This is what I came up with, all within 60 minutes, which includes the map. I have cleaned up the text a bit, though. I don’t want to ask anyone to understand my sketchy shorthand.

Note that my thought is that this would be used with a game system similar to the one I wrote about last Wednesday. The idea is that the players begin with no classes at all, similar to The Funnel of DCC RPG. As they play through this dungeon, they will seek to define their character.

General Info:

Old man Herst recently pulled down a bunch of trees at the end of his property. His onions were profitable last year, and he’d like to increase his crop this year. While tilling the soil, though, he discovered the most peculiar thing: a stone stairway! Leading right down into the earth! It was the damndest sight he ever done seen, and when he was telling the tale down at the pub that evening, you overheard him.

It’s perhaps 2 in the morning now, and you and your friends have gathered around the stairs. You’ve heard it said that treasures can sometimes be found beneath the earth–treasure enough that a bunch of farm hands like yourselves could buy a better life for yourselves.

Mouse PersonRoom 1: The walls and floor are a moss-covered flagstone. Stones are missing here and there, exposing the earth. The ceiling is almost entirely exposed earth, supported by stone arches which criss-cross the ceiling. Roots poke through here and there, and it looks as though it wouldn’t take much for the dirt to collapse into the room. These conditions persist throughout the dungeon, unless otherwise indicated.

There’s also a good deal of timber in this room, stacked in piles against the east and western walls. It is clearly old and rotten, perhaps part of the structure which originally stood over these stairs.

Exits to the North and South are visible upon entering the room. The secret exit to the West can be revealed by moving the timber aside.

There are 6 mouse-folk here, huddled in the corner and clutching their clubs. Their fur is mottled, and they appear to be malnourished.

Room 2: The walls have corpse shelves here, though most of these are empty. There are 12 shelves in all, but only three bodies remain. Close examination of any of the empty shelves will reveal a small pressure plate in roughly the same spot on each shelf. Pressing the plate does nothing. Close examination of the wall across from any shelf will reveal a small hole, the purpose of which is unclear.

Moving any of the three bodies which remain releases the pressure plate under their heads, and a crossbow bolt is fired at the player’s back from across the room. Also under each of these bodies, roughly where the small of the back would be, is a small ovoid piece of amber. Each is worth 10gp.

Room 3: Some of the floor stones here have been pulled free, and water from above has formed into a pond which is 2ft deep at its deepest point. There are six mouse people here, drinking the water. Two more stand guard.

Aside from the water, there are three shelves in the room which were once filled with books. The shelves have now been knocked over, and the books scattered about the floor. Most are torn to pieces, and nearly all of them are covered in black mildew and small mushrooms. Thoroughly searching through the books will reveal only one book which is still in good condition. It is written in an odd script, but anyone who makes a successful intelligence check will strangely be able to read it.

Studying the book from cover-to-cover takes 8 hours. Once completed, the reader’s mind will be awakened to magical power. The player may immediately become a 1st level wizard, and may use this book to prepare a 5lb Mage Hand spell.

Once someone has been awakened in this manner, the book must rest for 100 years before it can awaken another.

Room 4: Most of the stones from the walls and ceiling have been piled in the center of the room in a 4ft high mass. Mouse folk have burrowed small nests in the dirt here. There are 14 adult mouse people here, and 26 young.

Beneath the pile of stone is a small chest containing the treasures of the mouse people: 16 gp, 42 sp, 317 cp, and 1 ruby worth 25gp.

The secret door in this room is opened by pushing on a hidden stone, and can only be discovered by performing a search check on the appropriate wall.

Room 5: In the center of this room is a wooden chair with skulls piled up around the base of it. Several skulls are nailed to the sides and legs of the chair as well. A young man in black robes with skulls haphazardly sewn onto the shoulders is nervously pacing here. He is Hezaphezus the Malevolent Bringer of Doom and Unlife. An inept necromancer of 18 years. He already cast all of his spells for the day, but carries a dagger and a Wand of Cold, which deals 1d6 damage and has 1d10 charges. Also on his person are 30 gp.

Room 6: Eight shambling corpses are here, banging on the door which leads to room 5. If zombies can show emotion, these zombies are angry. They’re so intent on getting through the door that they will not pay attention to the players unless they are attacked.

The flagstones on the floor of this room make a spiral pattern which twists towards the center of the room. At the center of the floor is a glass lens, about 1ft in diameter. If you look through it, you will see the plane which your soul would be bound for if you died today.

Room 7: This is the lair of the Spidersnake. The room has no obvious features upon entering. However, it is bisected by the web of the spidersnake, and anyone attempting to move from one door to the other will become tangled.

The spidersnake itself rests in a web funnel it made in the ceiling of the room. Among the bodies in this funnel the players can find 40 sp, 8gp, and a sword whose blade always seems to be covered in a thin layer of green slime. This is a Sword of Rotbane, which sets fire to any undead it successfully strikes.

Room 8: A statue on the Western wall stretches an arm straight out, pointing at a spot on the floor. The statue wears a crown. If the base of the statue is inspected, the players will find writing which reads only “The Pretender.”

Any player who kneels before the statue will cause a crossbow bolt to fire from the tip of the pointing finger.

Stairs: The dungeon descends further down…though to what I have not yet determined.

Deadly Dungeons 21: Firebelly Statue

Firebelly SilvertongueBuilt into the wall is a huge iron statue of a man’s torso. The man’s pot-belly starts at the floor, and the man’s head meets the ceiling at eye level. His massive hands grip tightly to the floor, which is indented and twisted to fit around his clasping fingers.

There is a large opening in the belly of the statue, with a fireplace inside of it. Preferably this statue would be used in an inhabited area, so that the players can first encounter it with a fire blazing. This isn’t necessary, however the puzzle will probably be more difficult to figure out if there’s not an active fire.

At the base of the iron statue is an engraving, apparently an epitaph for whomever the statue depicts.

May the world never forget the name of Elric Warmaker. So skilled in war that he came to be called the man of the iron skin, for no wound would scar his body. He fought with a fire in his belly, and united all the peoples of the Uklik.

The gods had given him more than a warriors gifts, for in peace he spoke with a silver tongue. He won twice as many wars with his words as he ever did with stone and steel.

Though the mouth of the statue does not appear unusual upon viewing, it in fact is on very discrete hinges. Having been undisturbed for centuries, though, these hinges are quite stuck. The only way to open the mouth would be with a crowbar, or other lever instrument. Within the mouth is a silver tongue the size of a grown man’s torso. The value is not high as a piece of art, but such a large amount of silver is worth plenty on its own!

Lifting it might be difficult though.

Deadly Dungeons 20: Dancing Skeleton Room

Dancing Skeleton Clip Art - Unknown SourceThere is nothing tricky about the dancing skeleton room.

Nor is there anything deadly.

Nor even is there anything dangerous.

No map has been provided, because the room is both extremely plain, and extremely variable. It may be any shape or size, and have any number of doors. Its features may be entirely plain, or if you wish, the room may have wooden floors and mirrors on all of the walls. The only important element of the room is that it be large enough to support a large number of medium creatures. I’ve used 50-100, though larger or smaller groups may also work.

Upon opening the door to the room, the players are greeted with a truly bizarre sight. Droves of skeletons are dancing in unison. Graceful, energetic, wild dancing, with occasional maneuvers which could never be performed by a body with muscles and ligaments. One style of dance flows seamlessly into another, and no dance ever repeats.

The skeletons will ignore the players unless the players interact with them. If the players dance with the skeletons, the skeletons will gather around them and emulate the player’s movements. If the player sings, the skeletons will try to sing backup–though their voices are a high pitched screeching which can’t enunciate words very well at all. The skeletons will be intrigued by anything which involves new and exciting ways to dance. And that is all they care about. If the players propose a dance competition, the skeletons will gleefully participate. But the winner will quickly grow bored of their prize once they run out of ways to dance with it.

If at any point the skeletons do have reason to perform an action, they will dance while they do it. Even tied up, a skeleton will find a way to rhythmically wiggle in their bonds. The only time the skeletons will stop dancing is if the players deal damage to one of their number. In this event, the skeletons will wail and cry in their high pitched screeching. They will flee from the players, and cower in the corner as far from their attackers as they can. Once they have been attacked, they will not dance again. If the player returns to this room after some time has passed, she will find the skeletons standing nearly motionless, shifting sadly from one foot to the other.

These skeletons provide no experience points.

Deadly Dungeons 19: Bladesea Sailing Ship

BladeSailShipThere’s a boat in this room. A big-ass wooden sailing ship resting on the floor of the dungeon.

What the actual fuck?

The walls and ceiling of the room are a massive aquarium filled with sea life, from the green & leafy kind, to the toothy and bitey kind. It is not immediately apparent, but players who observe closely will be able to make out passages in this aquarium which lead out and away–presumably to the sea. The glass walls are not reinforced with magic, but rather, with remarkable feats of structural engineering. So while the glass is quite tough and won’t be shattered with a single blow from a hammer, it’s still possible to break it using mundane means. If that occurs, this room, and likely the entire dungeon, will flood.

The only horizontal entrance to this room opens onto a small 10x10ft alcove in the wall. If players step to the edge, they will see that the actual floor of the room is roughly 15 feet below where they are now. A wooden bridge long enough to reach the deck of the ship hangs from a crane on the ceiling. Unfortunately, it’s currently about 20ft higher than the surface of the entrance platform, and the lowering mechanism can be plainly seen on the deck of the ship, near the wheel.

The floor of the room has been painted blue, and is covered in dozens upon dozens of slits which run parallel to the ship. From these slits, massive 5ft diameter saw blades rise and fall in a rolling pattern, with each blade rising from its slit only after the one before it in line has reached its apex and begun to recede. This creates the image of a rolling sea of steel blades. By studying the pattern of movement, a player could easily run across the floor safely. However, at best they’d only have one chance to climb up the sheer 15ft side of the wooden boat before they were reduced to bloody chunks by the sea of steel.

The ship itself does not appear unusual in any way, save for its location here in the dungeon. There is a wheel for steering, a deck, masts with sails which are currently tied. The floor of the room has a “pocket” in it, shaped particularly so as to keep the ship upright. I have refrained from populating the ship, as there are simply too many interesting possibilities. I personally like the idea that someone wealthy and powerful created this room simply to use the ship itself as an office or dining hall, with kitchens and stores below decks. It might also serve as an excellent treasure chamber, or prison. I leave the specifics up to you.

One thing I will note is that while the entrance is the only horizontal way into or out of the room, there are two vertical exits. One is a trapdoor on the ceiling just above the main mast. It can be seen easily by anyone who looks up, as it stands in contrast to the aquarium. The other is a trapdoor in the bowels of the ship which leads to a room further down. This trap door is not secret, but it is concealed by barrels full of grog.

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