Monday, March 12, 2012

4D6 Rooms

Okay, so we had an awesome game of Pathfinder last night, and I have a lot of things to write up.  But it's a busy day, so while I find time to work on those things:


I have been thinking a lot about old-school randomly generated dungeons,  inspired in part by maps like the one above, from this blog that I like.  So here's the Challenge:

Write short (~ 100 words) descriptions of dungeon rooms, with dimensions no larger than 50 ft to a side. No named treasures or detailed item lists --- describe the room quickly, and don't stress the details.  Write 4, and post them in the comments.  Each set of four will have one randomly chosen room (via the roll of a 1D4) incorporated in my next dungeon and into my game --- more than one, if they are awesome.  But at least one.  Once it would no longer encourage certain players to cheat, I'll post the whole dungeon here.


A heavy wooden door opens on to this small side chamber.  In one corner, a low sill surrounds a well about four feet across, with a bucket and a coil of rope nearby.  A wooden rack against the far wall holds a few rusty swords and axes.  A large table to the left holds a single guttering candle, a steak slowly turning green, and an open book.  A pile of stale hay in the corner reeks of urine, and a small broken mirror sits near the door.  

The delicate oak door to this room is warm to the touch.  The room is covered in multicolored tiles set in vibrant patterns, and 10 large tubs dip into the floor.  Two large platinum drains open in the floor of the room, which tilts gently down to meet them.  The walls are lined with decoratively carved busts of children with gentle jets of steam puffing from their mouths. Shallow pools of water fill all the tubs but one, which is filled instead with a leathery amphibian husk. 

A partial roof collapse here has let in a mass of twisting roots, wet with a foul dark water.  In the rubble pile that dominated the center of the room, five huge red mushrooms glow softly. A tiny blue man smoking a pipe shelters under one of the mushrooms. holding a tiny shovel and looking distressed.

a 20 foot by 20 foot room of crudely hewn stone.  6 goblins with cleavers and a large ham.  One locked chest.  One scared chicken of medium quality.

Post 'em in the comments.  I'll use 'em.  Though maybe not like you expect.


  1. The heavily weathered door swung back into the gloom on balefully silent hinges. Tripping over the slightly raised threshold his movements were judged by thousands of glittering mad eyes staring out through the mountains of wicker cages that filled the room. He was given a split-second to gasp in a lungful of musty air before the hundreds of peacocks loudly and violently judged him.

    The name ‘bottomless pit’ was always a misnomer in his experience, there was always something living down them and they were usually hungry he thought listening to the scraping sounds below him as he tried to get a better grip on the door handle he was hanging from. Everything had been going so well until the floor had shimmered and fallen away.

    The room was dark except from where cleverly set skylights threw bright puddles of light down onto the collection of marble statues. Plush carpet and the rich purple curtains added to the decadence as well as hiding any other doors and with the benefit of muffling any loud exclamations of ‘Wow! Look at the tits on that one!’

    The door had only been about two feet high, your standard rusty metal might-give-you-tetanus type of affair. Scrambling through it he was confronted by an odd earthy smell, striking a light he looked around; tubes of all sizes stuck out at random from the walls and ceiling opening out onto the middle of the room where they seemed to be emptying onto a huge pile of socks.

    1. I have always feared peacocks...

  2. You turn a well used knob and open a plain door and step inside. The room is roughly circular with walls made of smooth metal which transition seamlessly into the floor. The only feature of the room is the gap between the door you entered and the wall no thicker than the width of a human hair. The door silently shut above you. The floor of the room slopes steeply downward in the direction of a large hole which you are currently glissading towards at an alarming rate. From the hole drifts the smell of rendering grease and artificial banana.

    You step through a curtain of woven hair and into a room with a low ceiling. A fire of dung sits burning on an open hearth in the corner casting a pale orange glow about the room. The walls appear damp and stained. The dirt floor is littered with insect casts and mussel shells. On a crude table sits a locked box. Under the table is a folded cloak and short oak stave. Opposite the fire, with his back to you, sits a man covered with festering boils. As he slowly turns your eyes are draw to two things, the filthy leather codpiece which appears to be his only clothing and his immaculately cleaned and waxed eyebrows, as white as the driven snow, which drape to rest on the codpiece.

    Dropping through a metal grate in the ceiling you enter a room of smooth polished marble with no discernable cracks or joints. The wall to your left features a single round valve with small spiders engraved in the fine filigree of the perimeter of the handle. A single highly faceted ruby is set into the wall above the valve. The wall behind you features a series of runes made of silver wire set into the marble like veins. The wall ahead is polished well enough to see your reflection. There are scorch marks on the wall to your right.

    Behind an ornately carved rosewood door with an intricate pattern of green vines made from bronze studs is a room of immense proportion. The cyclopean walls are a rough yellowing stone which seem to glow at a frequency high above the visible spectrum. You can see across the vast expanse of the room despite the lack of a visible light source. Across the flagged floor are strewn bronze, silver, and copper tools and ornaments of many ages. In the center of the room is a pedestal upon which is a gilt statue of a nude dwarf lying supine on a bed of glittering objects. The look of pain on his face defies description.

  3. The heavy wooden double door opens into an octagonal room, not large, but stretching up for at least two stories. Bookshelves, elaborately carved but discolored and falling into decay, cover each wall. The tops of the shelves and the ceiling are almost lost in the gloom. The ceiling may once have held some kind of painting or decoration, but is now blackened by smoke. The shelves are uniformly empty, but a few scraps of paper and binding can be seen in the heap of ashes in the center of the room.

    The door to this room is small and unremarkable, belying the strangeness inside. Hundreds of mirrors double and triple the torchlight, illuminating a space that is less a room than a labyrinth of mirrored glass. As you move farther into the room, you realize that not all of the reflections are the same. Some show only certain members of your party. Others show your faces as children or as twisted with extreme old age. Others show things that cannot possibly be in the room with you. . . . Can they? You suddenly realize you can no longer see the entrance.

    The door to this room hangs askew, dangling from one intact hinge. The walls were once painted with elaborate frescos designed to give the illusion of windows overlooking a sunlit garden. A four poster bed stands in one corner, holding only the moldering remains of a mattress. A wardrobe, apparently empty, lies overturned in the middle of the floor. In one corner, formerly rich garments and textiles have been haphazardly piled and seem to have been serving something as a nest. The room smells pervasively of mildew, and perhaps something worse.

    From outside, the view of this room through the open doorway shows a dim and empty room with a crumbling fireplace built into one wall. Immediately upon stepping into the room, your perception changes and the room appears to be a pleasant chamber, with rugs spread on the stone floor and comfortable-looking chairs facing a crackling fire. You can hear the faint sound of cheerful voices in another room and if you look through any of the room’s three doors, including the one which you came through, you see them as they must once have been – inhabited and welcoming. Despite all of this, you can’t feel the heat of the fire or the velvet upholstery of the chairs, but only the familiar cold damp of the air.

    (P.S. I totally vote for the peacocks, too.)

  4. You enter the room through a rough hewn plank door of modern construction. The far wall of the room is glass looking out over a dry rocky mountain range covered by scrub and giant cactus. The floor is red polished concrete, the wall are tan hand-formed stucco. A bee-hive shaped fireplace is in the corner. The furniture in the room is all appears well used, with leathers and worn wood. However, closer inspection reveals all to be modern manufacture. The room appears warm and inviting but the further you move into the room the more you begin to feel cold, creeping, soulless dread.

    Opening the thin aluminum door you see a room with well worn paneled walls and threadbare carpets. A large sideboard is along the left wall. Its bottom doors are locked with a padlock and hasp. The top of the sideboard is covered with crude pornographic images. A crib, well over six feet long, painted with images of young children mounted on antelope slaughtering giraffes is in the center of the room. A bookcase along the left wall is filled with bound journals and etchings. A candle gutters on a small end table in the corner illuminating a glinting collection of surgical equipment. On a hook on the far wall is hanging a large plush kitten costume.

    Shouldering through the thick oak door your eyes are immediately drawn to the large trestle table in the center of the room. The table is set as if a feast is being prepared for the occupants. Roast fowl with mushrooms, tankards of ale, and hundreds of tiny cakes, are set on silver platters. Seated around the table are well dressed and bejeweled men who sit motionless as if frozen in time. The second step you take triggers a great weight to lower, winding a clockwork mechanism. By the time the weight reaches the floor the men have begun to rise and turn towards you, knives raised, in an avalanche of spasmodic, orgasmic, mechanical motion.

    You enter a room of rough hewn stone. Thousands of lifeless eyes glare back at you from the dim light of the room. After striking a match you see an innumerable amount of child’s dolls on shelves. Closer inspection reveals the dolls to be identical, differing only in the location of the stains on their brightly colored dresses. Burning your fingers you drop the match exposing a floor slick with blood and masses of tangled chain. As the match burns out the smell of a mass of stranded jellyfish fills the room.

  5. A slender, innocuous door slides open to a room that slightly smaller than ten feet by ten feet square. The walls are made of the coldest, smoothest ice with no imperfections. In the center of the room is one silver ice pick—held by one, small, red-eyed gremlin.

    The large iron door opens on rusty hinges into a room filled with countless rows of perfect white roses. Each is tipped with red. As the door closes, the heavy floral sent mixes subtly with something else--coppery and metallic. As you near the bushes you see that the red tipped blossoms are not naturally edged in red. Each bud appears as though it has been dipped gently in blood. As the door clicks closed you begin to hear soft screams from the soil at your feet.

    The paint on the cream colored door is chipping and marred by random metal panels with no purpose. The room beyond is just as mundane. Twenty by twenty feet square, it once hosted the experiments of the intellectual titans of a bygone era. Now its obsolete scientific chambers silently hum and smell ever so slightly of decomposing flesh. The long tables in the center of the room are piled with dirt, broken pottery, and heavy glass beakers. From the broken glass chamber at the back of the room, you can hear the gravelly wheezing of something larger than a normal human.

    The two foot by two foot metal hatch in the floor opens to a twelve foot by twelve foot chamber below. The walls are polished black granite, but the floor sparkles like it is covered in the richest gems. The only problem is the room is filled almost completely with water. The surface of the water moves as something slithers below that you cannot see.

    1. There is a typo in the first room description of the above entry and it is driving me nuts.

      Hell is an essay I cannot edit.

    2. Always issues with the ice pick...

  6. The entry to the room is a heavy wooden hatch, 4 feet square and elevated a two feet off the ground. Through the hatch is a 4-foot passing of similar dimensions before it opens out into a space 20 x 20 x 20 room. The walls and floor are a kind of metallic mesh, with cracks just large enough to stick a pinky through (if that seemed wise). It is too dark to see anything on the other side of the mesh. All-told, there are three passages, all similar, in the South, East, and on the ceiling. Walking in the room silently is nearly impossible, with the room making thunderous metallic vibrations.

    It is a compact “library” of curiosities—in jars, glass-topped boxes, bins and shelves (in various states of smashedness, rot, bleaching, or desiccation). It appears the collection was intended for a much larger space, since there is only a tiny desk and chair in the NE corner of the room, and the heavy wooden shelves are on tracks which slide in peculiar ways so that it is only possible to reach two shelves at a time, with all the rest pressed tightly against each other.

    This is a small (30 diameter circular) temple to so many gods that any worshippers must have been simultaneously angering as many as they pleased. The central pillar, a 5-foot diameter column has small altars to the gods which require liquid sacrifices, with drainage built in. The remainder of the room has altars with candles, incense-burners, boxes and reliquaries. The only visible entrance is through a circular staircase through the floor, South of the pillar. While some of the idols are well-crafted, all are of simple materials.

    This was clearly the kitchen—the East wall is dominated by a large fireplace with a large broken kettle and a mummified goat-on-a-spit in it, with an oven on the side. A water pump and sink are next to a large wooden bench-table on the North wall, the table scarred from much chopping and not a few burns. There are chains hanging from the ceiling, some apparently to hang meats, some to hang baskets of other supplies, and some of which must have supported the pots, spoons, and knives which are now scattered all over the floor.