I don’t often run dungeons, but I am about to include one as a major part of a current story.
Background: The PC’s are investigating a ruin discovered near a community. The amount they can explore each day is limited by the work of excavation. Each night they retire to an encampment of workers and supervisory knights near the dig.
Out of dungeon role-play events:
1. The PC’s awake to find the corpse of a creature from the ruin in their bed/tent. Someone doesn’t want them there.
2. An eccentric noble claming to own the land the site is on comes and watches the work and asks many questions. His interest does not seem entirely noble.
3. A local knight attempts to molest a young woman near the encampment.
4. Mercenaries arrive offering to assist with the dig.
5. A mysterious woman is seen in the darkness watching the area but dissapears whenever approached. That night the encampment is filled with mist and a vast pack of wolves attack.
6. When the PC’s go to the church for healing they discover the priest has been possessed by a very malevolent spirit which tries to destroy them.
7. The inquistion arrive and attempt to arrest everyone concerned with the dig.
As always the strength of these ideas lies in the vividness of delivery - naturally each is merely the germ of a more expansive story. However hopefully this will both provide variety during the dungeon exploration and, importantly, greatly raise anxiety about what they will eventually discover in the ruin…
Additional Ideas (3)
Or you could go Elizabeth Peters (Must read for anyone who runs archaeological adventures)
9: A member of the party is murdered (Or if resurrection isn't easy, a major figure on the dig). The killer's agenda is unknown.
11. Digging makes thirsty - a few workers came out on a drink, and fail to return, or return with trouble.
12. Digging makes weary - the workers complain of being so tired that they can't continue anymore. Is it only a ploy to get more money, is a little rest needed, or is there something sinister going on?
14. The digging uncovers a surprisingly recent corpse.
This should happen after other events which seem calculated to slow/stop the escavation have occurred, such as sabotage. The corpse is a murder victim and the murder had inadvertently selected the ruins as a good place to hide the corpse. The ruins previously were shunned due fear (substantiated or not) of evil spirits. The murderer may have instigated the sabotage either directly, or indirectly.
15. Hordes of poor peasants show up daily with digging equipment and begin digging everywhere. Rumors of the treasure have spread and the large unreasoning mob is desperate and grows every day. Depending on their desperation, they may try and run the PC's out of their claim.