Someone Has Been Here

It is rare that a group of adventurers are the first to have plumbed the depths of a perilous dungeon. Others have doubtless tried, possibly succeeded. Wicked creatures will always flock to dark holes after they have been expunged of previous inhabitants. New terrors will arise. Things will crawl forth from holes in the ground, and oozes will seep from abandoned wells to congeal in basements.

Sometimes, someone else is already there. Sometimes, they left behind something of interest.


SOMEONE HAS BEEN HERE

Albert Robida, The End of the Knight
How can you tell?


Sometimes I want to flavor up a dungeon while I'm scribbling it out on paper. Sometimes I decide mid-session that my dungeon is lacking a little in atmosphere. One habit that I have is that when I roll for random encounters or wandering monsters, if nothing shows up I inevitably pick out a non-monster roll from one of my other tables. Be it social encounters, flora and fauna, weird occurrences or loud noises. Dungeon dressing is another good 'event' for when you don't need a monster to show up, but you need some flavor in the dungeon. Try rolling 2d6 and checking the results.

Let's get started - Table A
1. There's a corpse. Roll on Table B to see where it's located.
2. Something was left behind. Roll on Table C to see what it was.
3. There was a message left for those who came afterwards. Check Table D for the details.
4. Something is amiss. Peer at Table E for a clue.
5. It looks like they're here right now. Let's consider Table F.
6. There's a path of destruction to follow. Table G details the extent of it.

Albert Robida, Lady Showed Up Without Fail

Where's the corpse? - table B
1. Lodged in a trap. A few bodies impaled on spears, or riddled with crossbow bolts in a hole-lined corridor.
2. Trapped inside of a room that only appears to open from the outside.
3. Half-stuck in a wall or other solid object after a teleportation spell went wrong.
4. Decapitated, the head piked as a warning sign to others.
5. Withered and desiccated at the bottom of a pit.
6. Laid out in a makeshift burial ceremony by their allies, no doubt.

What was abandoned here? - Table C
1. Some healing salves and bandages, long-forgotten but still good.
2. Four silver arrows with a note that reads: "You might want these."
3. A chipped sword and a battle-tested spear, not yet rusted or decayed.
4. Moldy food and decent cookware, still hanging above a burnt-out firepit.
5. A climbing kit - an anchor was installed and a rope is still attached.
6. Dry firewood, tinder, flint and steel.

The message reads - Table D
1. Writing on the wall. It says: "They don't fear torches."
2. A few words in dwarven glyphs, along with a crude map.
3. Lyrics to a bardic poem. The lower half of the page is flecked with dried blood.
4. Chalked on the walls: "Darts, a hand's breadth from the floor. Paralysis."
5. A stone cairn has been piled here, along with parchment that reads: "I'll come back for you."
6. A bloody hand-print and message: "Here died Harolf, who slew his foe before his wounds t-"

Subtle signs - Table E
1. A splatter of lantern-oil, spilled in a dark corner.
2. A silver arrow, the haft snapped and the tip damaged.
3. Numerous footprints in a room otherwise filled with ancient dust and cobwebs. They wind in a strange pattern to avoid pressure-plate traps.
4. Scorch marks from a fire spell, leaving behind imprints of its victims.
5. A door with a locking mechanism has been wedged open to prevent it from closing.
6. Discrete, nearly-hidden chalk-marks have been made at various intersections.

Who are these people? - Table F
1. Five zombies, the undead corpses of a previous adventuring party. At least one is heavily armored.
2. A lone thief, the rest of his party dead to traps.
  • Roll 1d6. The thief is: 
  • 1-3: Evil. He will try to befriend the party and betray them ASAP.
  • 4-5: Neutral. He might offer advice on dungeon as he heads for exit. If party seems hostile, might try to buy them off.
  • 6: Good. Will warn them of traps and give details, will offer to pay if party will help retrieve the corpses of slain companions.
3. Driven mad by a miscast spell, an old wizard wanders the dungeon and babbles nonsense.
4. A pair of stalwart, loud barbarians are in search of violence rather than treasure.
5. Chained to a wall to be devoured later, a Cleric without their holy symbol.
6. The lonely, neutral ghost of a former adventurer who knows the dungeon well.

Albert Robida, A Blow On The Head


Chaotic scenes - Table G

1. Body parts and bloodstains lead to an Oni:

  • Roll 1d6. The Oni is:   
  • 1-3: Playing word-games with victim.
  • 4-5: Devouring leftovers.
  • 6: Asleep.
2. Fifteen goblins are engaged in combat with three invading orcs. Too distracted to notice newcomers.
3. A pair of thieves are trying to escape a trapped pit while being attacked by a dozen skeletons.
4. Three human cultists are trying to bargain with a witch, and are ritually sacrificing captives in her honor.
5. An owlbear has followed another adventuring party into the dungeon and has them trapped behind a locked door.
6. A lone thief is desperately playing a snake-charming flute, trapped in the corner of a room by six giant vipers.

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