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ID: 8441


May 29, 2016, 9:26 am

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25 Things to Find in a Nook, Alcove, or Grotto


That looks interesting, I make a search check for loot.

Wait... what comes at me?

1. A Wax Sealed Urn

A foot and a half tall funeral style urn sits in an alcove, undisturbed on a pedestal. If the PC breaks the seal, they find that the urn was filled with a noxious fume. The vapors fill the area where the PCs are standing, forcing them to make a save check or be overcome with coughing. Damage is minimal, but could serve as a great trip up before a sneak attack

2. An Undead Woman

An undead woman is hung in an iron cage. Rather than being a flesh gnawing cannibal corpse, she retains most of her knowledge and self, but is very deeply deranged by her long imprisonment and subsequent starvation. She laments the fact that she cannot die, but can only feel hunger, hatred, and self loathing. She will attempt to persuade the PCs to let her out, if only to kill her. If they release her, she falls to ground and rises as a greater zombie, with improved speed, high initiative, and should prove a dangerous foe. If they attempt to kill her in the cage, they will find that they cannot. The iron cage keeps her from perishing.

Creative DMs will craft some suitably devious and soul wrenching story as to who she was, and why she was placed in the cage.

3. The Vomiting Vulture

The wall alcove is a pocket ossuary, with bones piled around a gargoyle shaped like a vulture. If the PCs come to close, or try to wrench the jewels from it's eyes, the statue will animate, shriek terribly, and being forcefully vomiting at them. The vomit is a moderate strength acid attack, and has a horrific stench. The easiest thing to do is to back out of puke range, but the loud noise the statue makes is sure to draw dungeon denizens for a random encounter or two.

Once, the bodies of the unhallowed or unworthy dead would be placed in the alcove, and the VV would puke on them, the acid eating away their flesh and leaving only bones. This prevented the unwanted spread of dungeon disease.

4. The Helping Hand

The Helping Hand looks like a massive fist carved into the side of the wall. It is an animated object and it responds to voice commands. If the wrong command is given, the five foot tall hand does nothing, or it strikes out at the object giving the wrong orders, a punishing torso crushing hit. The hand is agile, and can attempt to capture things. Things it captures it can deposit into an oubliette directly underneath it. If the correct command is given, the hand will move and reveal a passage behind it, a hidden treasure room or magical arsenal. It can also retrieve things from the oubliette. finally, the hand can lift PCs, one at a time, through a tiny passage above it into a new level, area, or secret part of the dungeon.

5. Oubliette Trap

Rather straight forward, the recess in the wall has a steel grate in the floor that leads down into an oubliette. The trap mechanism is basic, the wrong person steps in the right place, and the grate swings open, dropping them twelve feet into a six by six hole. The normal threat would be getting back out, a simple task with team mates. That is assuming there is nothing else in the oubliette. A great place to hide a swarm of large rats, a zombie, or something from the Bestia Excrementum

6. Undead Goblin on a Stick

Not the most subtle of traps, the undead goblin on a stick is a zombie goblin, impaled on a large pike. Stepping to close awakens the creature, at which point it lunges for them, claws and shrieking. While not a serious threat, it can bite and claw, and it's loud noise can trigger a random encounter.

7. Midden-Golem

Oh shit, a literal shit monster. The alcove looks like a trash dumpster, until it starts to move. The entire mass of random corpse parts, discarded trash, and gathered dungeon debris, is a golem. A sort of cleaner, the midden-golem will on occasion stir, wander around a bit, picking up offal and detritus before returning to it's lair. If killed, it likely has all sorts of things buried in it, certainly an interesting place to find valuable gems, magic rings, and other small things that are easy to lose in the dark of a dungeon. Of course, all the items will be well caked in feces and gore.

8. Enterolans

Entrails, the discarded viscera and assorted organs that make up the digestive system, are messy. At some point, a dungeon was an open, operational place, and attempts would be made at keeping it clean. Animating a pile of entrails to slorp along and slurp up organic matter proved to be rather ingenious. The 'enterolans' would come out after dark and scour the halls and corridors, picking up organic waste, and vermin before returning to their cubby holes, where they digest and excrete the remnants (often into a drainage cistern or oubliette with running water). After being abandoned, enterolans become territorial, and highly aggressive, seeking to clamp onto something and suck it apart, tearing at it with lamprey like intestinal maws.

9. A Cursed Sword

Obviously a masterwork sword of exceptional craftsmanship, the weapon is clutched in the hands of a funerary corpse. To take the sword the PCs must break the corpse's hands. The sword is of low to moderate magic power, and attuned to necromantic powers. The curse comes into effect in that the weapon attracts the undead, adding zombies and skeletons to every random encounter, increasing in number as times goes on. Living beings slain with the sword rise as undead themselves, approximately an hour or so after death.

10. A Small Fountain of Trickling Water

A grotto sinks back into the wall. Inside the natural fissure there is a flow of water, cascading down into several shallow pools before vanishing into the dark earth. The water is tainted, drinking it without purifying it will cause delayed nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and quick dehydration. If purified by boiling, or by spell, it is safe to drink.

11. A Ghost in an Iron Mask

The spectral figure of a child lingers near a pile of very badly decayed and rotted toys. There are chains around it's neck, and a cold cruel iron mask over it's face. If the PCs approach the ghost will shriek and make a great deal of noise, sobbing and screaming. This naturally will start drawing random encounters down on the PCs. If one of them has a toy, the ghost can be mollified for a while. Destroying the ghost will require either blessed weapons, a strong priest, or finding the corpse of the child and the mask under the mound of decaying toys.

12. A Nest of Large Spiders


13. A Dungeon Worm

Dungeon Worms are rare and hostile creatures. Often the apex predator of any subterranean environment, these large creatures are sensitive to vibration, but almost completely deaf. Finding one of these is a sign of neglect, and somewhere there is a breach in the exterior of the dungeon construction, and the outside under-realm. The PCs have not just stumbled onto the worm, but it's point of entry as well. It might be easier to collapse part of the dungeon and block the creature from getting back in that killing it, or this could serve as a fright filled jaunt into the underground space outside of the dungeon. What sort of strange creatures live in the perpetual darkness?

14. Hypnotic Spores

There are strange fungi that grow in the depths of dungeons. The PCs find large puff-ball mushrooms, and disturbing them causes them to burst, filling the air with spores. These spores cause hallucinations (really crazy random encounter, like giant kobolds, tiny giants, talking cockroaches, zombies that want to debate politics, a giant severed penis) and the PCs should treat these like a legitimate random encounter.

15. A Zombie Chorus

An alcove filled with zombie heads, they pose little threat, but they make a terrible racket when something living walks in front of them. Great for setting off random encounters, but also good for spooking PCs, they are not near one, and they hear it start it's death-dirge.

16. Fresh Corpse

The PCs find a body in an alcove, hung from a statue like a macabre decoration. This is nothing new, as they have likely seen plenty of corpses thrown in random places, this is a place of death. The worrisome thing is that the corpse is fresh, still warm to the touch and has not yet felt decay or rot. Bonus points if the corpse is someone the PCs have met in the past. Who killed them, and who stripped them of their gear and hung them in such a dire warning?

17. Necro-Wolves

Wolves are not a common encounter in dungeons, so finding the recessed lair of a pack of zombie wolves is a surprise. The creatures are still pack hunters, and are now immune to fear or critical injury. If the wolves are not slain, they will continue to shadow the PCs, either attacking them, or howling. the howling will keep PCs from resting, and can attract random encounters.

18. A Shrine of Death and Madness

The PCs stumble across a giant skull, sitting lurched to the side. If they get too close, the skull will shudder and float up into the air. A nimbus of anti-light and fire will surround the Gigaschadel and the prophet of death and madness will attack the PCs.

19. The Shrine of Pain

The PCs encounter a series of corpses hung in a ceremonial fashion (see 16 above) and if they keep following their path, they will find the perpetrator of these heinous acts. The Priest of Pain is waiting for them, the demon has claimed this part of the dungeon for it's own, and has been waiting for the PCs. It plans to loot them of their gear, make playthings of them, and once they are broken and dead, they will become it's tapestries and trophies. The thing appears as a grotesquely muscled human wearing a bloody ratty loincloth and an iron helmet. It attacks not to kill the PCs, but to incapacitate them. It will make aimed attacks to shatter legs, knock them unconscious, or leave them in such a state of fear that they try to hide. These is favors the most, and draws out their torture the longest. If the PCs overcome this foe, they have made the dungeon a safer place.

Or they have become fresh decorations.

20. A Freakish Zombie

The PCs have seen plenty of undead, and the average zombie or skeleton is just a low level threat. The PCs stumble upon a particularly nasty zombie freak.

21. The Grave Knight

The Grave Knight is trapped in his alcove, and is possibly some sort of undead. Rather than attacking the PCs, the Grave Knight will challenge them to their purpose, and their convictions. Those who are brave, valorous, and wise, he will offer guidance and rest to. Inside his small vestibule, there is room for 2-3 PCs to rest, and he has a small gold cornucopia and horn of drinking water that he can offer hospitality with. If the Knight ascertains that the PCs are knaves, scoundrels, thieves, murderers and such, he will dourly draw his weapon, a rusty but still powerful longsword, and he will fight them. If slain, the Grave Knight has impressive loot (+3 sword, +3 full mail armor, Horn of Water, Cornucopia of Fresh Fruit, Holy Symbol +5, funeral jewelry, etc) but random encounters increase afterwards.

The Grave Knight is the positive counterpart to the Priest of Pain.

22. A Smoker

The PCs find a makeshift smoker, complete with dried meat hanging above it. Tastes like long pork. There are several swollen wineskins next to the smoker, they are filled with blood.

23. A Shallow Pit of Infants

There is a terrible mewling sound as the PCs approach the alcove. The floor is recessed two feet, and while there is treasure, it is surrounded by a large number of what looks like infants crawling around in gore and filth. The infants are undead, and are of no real threat to the PCs, but should cause a shock or horror check. This, this was done deliberately. Whoever did this...

24. Slime in the Dungeon!!!

The PCs find a slime seeping through a grotto. What looks like just a foul slick across the floor reveals itself to be a predatory organism, wrapping itself around the nearest PC, flowing through armor and soaking through clothing. The PCs have to think and act quick before the thing starts digesting them. Slimes are repelled by alcohol, the stronger, the more effective.

25. Limbo

In the deepest part of the dungeon, very close to where the heart is, where the big bad is dwelling, the PCs find an alcove. It's small, but for some reason, everything ignores them. As long as they stay inside the recess in the wall, nothing will bother them. Not the demon Priest of Pain, not any of the necro-wolves, none of the slimes, zombies, skeletons, nothing. So long as they stay, they are safe. The sanctuary of the alcove is absolute. No matter how hungry or thirsty they are, they cannot perish. The only way to die is to leave the alcove.

But it's safe inside.

Additional Ideas (1)

26-Urn Beast

The PCs find a number of sealed urns in the alcove, and if being PCs they decide to smash them open, several will contain gold coins, until the last one, which contains a furious Urn Beast , the undead soul of somebody who was really against cremation in life. It's touch causes burns, weapons do it no damage, fire spells just make it angry, and only water, or spells of ice, will put it out and effectively kill it, at least until someday it dries again and re-ignites.

27-Giant Centipede

The PCs find a huge centipede the size of a cobra in the alcove, and it strikes out at the nearest one. Whilst it has no webbing, and a strike or two with a sword will kill it, it is very hard to hit and it's bite is very poisonous indeed. In stats terms, it has low stamina but a high skill, and it's bite does a lot of hit point damage.


The PCs find a large number of different potions, but sadly, they are all Flawed Potions and do not have the expected effects when drunk.

It's a trap!

29-The PCs find a large amount of gold, but the first one to try and get it will fall into a six foot deep pit trap with a number of spikes at the bottom.

30-Distressed Damsel

The PCs find a bound and gagged young woman in the alcove. Assuming they ungag and untie her, who she is and why she is tied up is up to the GM.

2016-05-30 11:38 PM » Link: [8441#96067|text]
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Comments ( 10 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted axlerowes
May 29, 2016, 23:46

Ah! That had a refreshingly classic feel. Made me want to dig up some graph paper, pencils and a copy of the monster manual. I enjoyed the none-to-serious tone and I liked the straight-taking unaffected voice.

Enterolans, nice one, I hope the PCs packed a lawn gnome*.

Oubliette has always been a disappointing word for me. It is just a hole in the ground! But the way Oubilette rolls of the tounge makes me think magical puzzle box, chamber of secrets or torture room. What is the etymology on that one?

Voted valadaar
May 30, 2016, 8:31
Indeed, very old school! Awesome, dreadful stuff here!

Oubliette is of French origin - to forget. Lock em up and throw away the key.

May 30, 2016, 13:18
Voted Mageek
May 30, 2016, 14:16
Good collection of dungeon elements. My only reservation is that pretty much anything could fall into this list. I'd really like to see this broken down into several collections. One could, for instance, distinguish between monsters, items, traps, and dungeon features.

Limbo is great.
Voted Cheka Man
May 30, 2016, 23:40
A very fun submission and I added 5 things to it to make it into a 30.
Voted shoehat101
June 8, 2016, 13:42
Some Really cool stuff in here. Very Creative. I particularly like the vomiting vulture.
Voted Mourngrymn
August 14, 2016, 17:00
Should change the title to a 30 sub...
August 15, 2016, 15:59
I only intended it to be a 25

Read a little thing on FB about the optimal length of things. The two I remember, bullet lists (like this) should be 25 items, and podcasts should be approximately 22 minutes
Voted Isharii
September 23, 2017, 15:36
just the sort of extras I was looking for, great submission. thanks
November 14, 2017, 22:16
Great resource! Will add to favorites.

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Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

Ring of Soul Binding

       By: valadaar

This ring keeps soul in the body even when the wearer is killed, making bringing life back to the wearer much easier. However, if it takes too long, the wearer will begin to rot and become undead. Removing the ring causes the spirit to pass on immediately.

Ideas  ( Items ) | February 22, 2007 | View | UpVote 2xp

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