Art is always a good thing to include on hallways
& make it about an upcoming room

There is a nice blog post here that I discovered in KNOCK! Vol. 1 about not making corridors featureless expanses. This matching with my own philosophy about not fighting in "white rooms" that are 30' x 30'. Or trying to create actionable empty rooms.

From the post:

Almost every time the players turn a corner something interesting should happen.  This doesn't have to be a fight, just something interesting.  Dungeons should not only be places of danger, but places of wonder.

The below list is just something I have been thinking about while keying a ~50 room dungeon I drew by hand using 2d6, a random roller, and graph paper. But I do want to liven up some of the hallways: (1) so they are interesting, but (2) so they might provide a reason to be carrying 50' of rope with a grappling hook or having party thieves.

Nothing super inventive here, but helps to keep me honest about the inclusion of things. I'll maybe try to do a Dreamland's version later.

For every hallway 60'+ roll 1d20 on the table below is what is going to trouble the players:

01 | Ceiling is covered in green slime (1-3) or floor is covered in brown mold (4-6)
02 | The glint of coins can be seen floating in mid-air (1-3 whatever PCs think it is, it's NOT a gelatinous cube; 4-6 whatever PCs think it is, it IS a gelatinous cube)
03 | The maw of the earth has opened up a 30' gap
04 | Pit trap (1-3) or Pit trap with rusted spikes (4-6, save vs Poison)
05 | Grave Wind- torches are automatically blown out (can't light in the hallway)
06 | Filled with giant crystals; thieves & halflings hide easily; dwarves want to mine it (save vs. Paralysis)
07 | Caved in (1-3 can't be cleared; 4-6 slowly crawled through 1 by 1)
08 | Alter is built into the wall (1 lawful 2-3 elemental 4-5 neutral 6 chaotic)
09 | Magic sconces light with a mysterious green flame all chaotic creatures turn invisible
10 | It is flooded to the (1-3) knees (4-5) waist (6) chest
11 | A small fountain (1-4 brackish water; 5 clean water; 6 potion)
12 | Sound echos really well (roll an additional encounter check)
13+ Unique tile patterns (helps provide a landmark for navigation)

Again super quick with stuff I was thinking about while folding laundry. Some of these options might be covered in room stocking, but maybe you'll be inspired by a few. And if so, add them in the comments!

OD&D: Opium, Dunsany & Dreamlands Part III


PURPOSE: After monsters here and here, we have traps and treasure as the next components up for re-skins. Here are the recommendations from OD&D. The purpose is to not really change the "maths" or "mechanics" of the thing being reskinned but to change its description and context.


  1. False stairways

  2. Slanting passages

  3. Misleading stairwells

  4. Teleportation trigger

  5. Sinking rooms

  6. Illusions

  7. Mind control

  8. Geas area

  9. Dead-end passages

  10. One-way doors

TWILIGHT LANDS RESKIN: “ARCHITECTURAL MANIFESTATIONS”: Riffing on the “mythic underworld” traps, I am trying to describe here how buildings and structures can become “overgrown” like an untended garden.

  1. VESTIGIAL ARCHITECTURE: Architecture retains semblances of life because life conceived it. When left unpruned by daily use and conception, it tends to grow wild. Extra doors, extra faucets, too many tables. And with frequency stairs that go nowhere ending in a curl like a fern.

  2. GULLETS: A primary example of architectural manifestations that are either very slick slides or subtle, almost hallway-like passage ways that lead deep into a structure. Generally considered a manifestation because few peoples of the Twilight Lands build elongated slanting hallways as a method of moving about a building. Sometimes these structures are helpfully marked by a maw-like frame.

  3. MISLEADING ARCHITECTURE: A subspecies of vestigial architecture that has a far more malevolent end. A “rancid” secret door that opens to serpent strikes, a mass of crustacean claws, or a thick searching tongue. A stairwell that leads up up up but ends in a one-way door and a small platform over an abyss. Or benign rug whose ornate center opens into a pit.

  4. INVISIBLE HALLWAYS: It is also possible that abandoned structures have room separated by physical distance but have corners, walls, or objects that have fused symbolically or metaphysically. Such fusing forms a connection between the two areas unseen by mortal eyes. So when walking towards a wall, a person seemingly walks through it and into another room, but the reality is they have just traveled down an invisible hallway instead of just on the other side of the wall. Pools and fountains in particular seem prone to this sort of fusing are mirrors which are symbolically just solid water.

  5. GRAVE SOIL: One of the easier architectural manifestations to spot as it appears as if mold or black soil has spread across a room. A unique property of this earth is that valuables float to the surface while anything living or once-living sinks like a stone in water.

  6. ECHOS OF OCCUPANCY: Slamming doors, glittering candlelight in the distance, foot-steps just walking past a closed door. But no actual source, as they are merely mimicry the structure cries out like a parrot who prays- the correct words but no thought to its meaning.

  7. ARRESTING PAINTINGS: Untouched by time or rot, these paintings are masterworks whose presence cannot be ignored. They are not magical in so much as anything else in the Twilight Lands, but to any vaguely intelligent mind, they are rapturous. The viewer will become obsessed with the painting desiring a deep need to possess it and care for it and worship it (often in manners that match the theme of the painting). Very valuable, very encumbering, and very hated by forces of social order.

  8. EVANGELIZING RELIQUARIES: Years of worship and reverence can endow an object, statue, alter, or another object with a residual power that emanates like heat from a piece of coal. These objects can be shielded until an appointed time or ceremony to ensure only select recipients are held under sway. But abandonment removes the forethought brought by proper tending and so the “select recipients” are now simply those who stumble within range- like a tar pit on a moonless night. These objects impress their purpose upon the viewer, clouding vision, thought, and will. Most die in the process of trying to complete the appointed goal.

  9. COILED HALLWAYS: A “cousin” to MISLEADING ARCHITECTURE are passages that branch inexplicably like tumor vasculature and coil like a labyrinth. They seemingly go somewhere but often end nowhere. However, these passages have been known to somehow attract riches and lairing monsters.

  10. TRANSLOCATED DOORS: A door in the right place its not always a good thing if its the wrong type of door. In abandoned structures, its possible for doors to translocate. A cell door might now be in the middle of a hallway. A portcullis guards the kitchen. Or a door to a treasure vault might translocate to another symbolically valuable area like the ruler’s bed chambers.

I never know if I am quite hitting the right vibe with the theme, nor if, in my own head, I have a strong concept of what adventuring in the Dreamlands is really about. But maybe I am trying to add too much complexity to the initial steps. Especially for this re-skin exercise and my larger belief that to really get started in D&D you just need monsters, treasures, and traps. Then place them on a decent map and you'll most likely get a solid "B" material to run with.

Because again D&D is about play.

IN THESE HELL-HAUNTED HALLS: Nightwick at 50 Sessions

At the end of March, our weekly group hit session 50 (!) of our Nightwick campaign. In order to celebrate this note-worthy milestone, I worked with the player of Sotar to assemble some stats around the collected session reports up to this point. And as our DM might say: Behold! A harrowing tale of our adventure is rendered for your very eyes in an infographic! (click here for better res)

I know that there are many campaigns that have lasted longer than 50 sessions, however, I think there is still an under-reporting of those experiences. I still think people don't believe classic gaming, especially dungeon crawling, can deliver the experience that is often claimed. This is not true. In fact, my experience the Miranda's Nightwick only reinforces to me the value of a large dungeon that functions as a tent pole for the campaign. And I hope this infographic and the session reports it was derived from help provide evidence for that.

So trust in dead frogs. Grab the dungeon you've always wanted to play or stack three single-level dungeons on top of each other. Put 'em in a notebook and scribble all over them. Pull a single rulebook off the self-use that and little else. Don't think too hard. And just play.

It also important to remember that something is better than nothing.  All D&D is hackwork and a half-assed idea that gets your game on the table is better than a perfect one that takes months. ~In Places Deep