101 Dungeon Ideas
Written by M. A. Packer
That’s right, I’m at it again with more excessive free time on my hands (not really, I just don’t get out much). Anyhow, here’s another list containing my favorite dungeon ideas to come spewing out of the curdled right hemisphere of my brains. As usual, my laziness prevents me from fleshing these out in greater detail for you, which means any referee who wishes to utilize these ideas will need to spend some time beforehand drawing up the dungeon and fleshing out its creepy crawly denizens. But I’m sure you’re up to the challenge!
01 Ruins of Alvinius: Out in the deepest and most ancient part of a giant forest is rumored to exist the treetop ruins of a grand elven city. Now the ruins are stalked by a creeping terror that attempts to envelope any living thing that enters.
02 Carnal Keep: An abandoned manor out in the wilderness is reportedly a gateway into a chaotic dimension of illusionary and carnal delights that tempt anyone who enters. Powerful demons will seek to turn the party against each other in the hopes of keeping them away from their treasure.
03 Choked Hollow: In the midst of a great forest is a single, colossal tree whose interior is hollow and rotten. The walls are lined with scraggly vines and choked by the webs of arachnoid creatures who thrive and multiply. They have laid many thousands of eggs in a chasm nestled within the cankered roots of the great tree, waiting until they can hatch and release a flood of chittering evil into the world. A great queen guards these eggs and gnaws at the roots for nourishment.
04 Maw of Dipsiz: Out in the middle of the sea is a creature of unfathomable size, which creates maelstroms in order to draw ships down to its gaping maw. Once swallowed, its victims will find themselves in a cavernous pool of acid, surrounded by the wreckage of many doomed ships and creatures. Strange, fleshy valves open along the stomach chamber, leading elsewhere in the creature’s body, providing some hope of escape.
05 Wellworth Labyrinth: In the middle of a prosperous village stands a well of considerable width, which sages believe to have been constructed by dwarves in centuries past. An iron grate covers the massive well, sealing off access to a dungeon complex used by dwarven kings to seal away dangerous magical entities.
06 Sukalp Caverns: Somewhere along the coast is a submerged cave, which leads into networks of flowing waterways. Many of these channels flow downward into a single, large cavern which contains an underground lake. At the center of this lake stands a small mound of rock, atop which stands an ancient shrine to an evil deity.
07 Aglayan Toprak Isle: A flat island floats above the land in a region that is cut off by dangerous cracks in the earth from whence bubble scalding lakes and furious jets of steam lash out at unsuspecting persons. Atop the floating island is said to be a valley dotted with rows of columns and odd shrines that contain powerful, extradimensional creatures.
08 Agris Ayna: Up in the mountains looms a curious pyramid of glass whose outer surface occasionally sparks with bolts of lightning. The only way to enter it is through a crack in the terrain, which afflicts one of its far corners. Once inside, adventurers will need to bypass terrifying traps and battle against a menagerie of constructs.
09 Globe of Toplanarazi: Far, far to the north in the jagged, broken glaciers is said to be an orb of brass as large as a castle. A wavering line of drifting icebergs leads to the entrance: a circular opening, which leads to its hollow interior. When entered the walls will glow brightly and any caught within will be whisked away to strange dimensions consisting of any kind of terrain imaginable, with every monster imaginable. The way always leads out, but all those brave enough to explore each of the overlapping climates in the dimensional sphere will eventually land in a treasure chamber containing much wealth.
10 Bogularak Labyrinth: Out in the wastes rests an immense, broken structure of stone. Many parts of the building float in the air around it and parts begin to sag as though trapped in a moment of time in which it is erupting. Its interior is warped with many passages thrown wide open and others compressed to the point that one must squeeze through sideways. Many chaotic anomalies permeate the place, making it unpredictable and dangerous as merely entering a room will cause spells to go off or monsters to suddenly leap into existence.
11 Utulma’s Cradle: Deep in the crater of a volcano, suspended by massive, charred chains over a lake of lava and fire hangs a fortress, blackened by the eternal flames of its domain. Living in this citadel are many kinds of fiery creatures and beings from the burning planes. The only known way to enter this place alive is to carefully traverse the great chains, which hold it up in the air.
12 Greed’s Grotto: Out in the barren hills is hidden a heavy, brass disc, which plugs a steeply dropping entrance into a cave system occupied by many creatures. Somewhere in these twisting tunnels is another entrance leading to a vault containing countless coins, which lay in heaps and mounds all about. These are illusionary, however, and camouflage many undead terrors, which will spring forth and attack any who disturb the glittering baubles. Anything picked up will canker and crumble into worthless dirt.
13 Kartecigi Kale: In the windswept snow planes of the north are the piled bones of a colossal dragon whose ribs have been entrenched upright into a formidable wall and its skull fashioned into the gatehouse of a stone fortress. The fortress is inhabited by bloodthirsty warriors who conduct raids in the outlying wilderness under the guidance of a powerful shaman.
14 Havoc Saray: In recent years, travelers speak of a new fortress appearing out in the wastes where scarcely any water is to be found, and yet veritable mountains of thorns and briars encircle this place, warding off intruders. There are paths through the thorns, but these are twisting and treacherous, and many vile things skulk about the winding brambles. The fortress itself serves as the stronghold to an order of undead knights who, even now, labor to revive their ancient king: a cruel and malicious man bent on obtaining godhood through the sacrificing of every innocent he finds. The king’s corps is chained to a massive log, which burns with hateful energy when approached, and once per day the undead knights take it in turn to hack at the chain with magical swords, which break after each swing, yet each swing brings them closer to bursting their master’s bands.
15 Kalpis Kess: A seemingly mundane cave outside of town has a secret wall, which opens and drops sharply into an underground river. Following the river, which becomes exceedingly deep at points, will flow into a great, wide chamber with a rather low ceiling. At the end of the chamber is the ornate outer wall of a sunken temple that had been built a thousand years ago to honor strange, ancient beings who even now lay entombed within and will waken if disturbed.
16 Solmazlik Harrow: Hidden in a mage guild’s basement is a curious cube no larger than an outhouse, but whose surface is covered in strange carvings. Should a primer be discovered for the runes etched on the front of the cube, the structure will reform itself so that a doorway appears. Passing through this doorway will reveal a maze with gravity-defying passages going in all directions. Insectoid constructs populate the maze and attempt to turn away intruders lest they discover the central chamber where a powerful lich is entombed with all of his artifacts.
17 Colossus of Nehir Surmek: Straddling the great river where it leaves the mountains, a stone monument stands and casts a stern gaze over the regions beyond the jagged slopes. Somewhere by his left shin is a hidden door, which opens into his leg, leading into a narrow stairwell that climbs into his main body. The body of the colossus contains many secret chambers, some of which contain undead creatures while others possess small amounts of treasure that had been hidden away by a greedy king in ancient times.
18 Gemi Sarkma: Somewhere along the coast is a reef of jagged stone where an ancient giant’s ship had crashed during the previous age. Because of the magical qualities of the vessel, it remains rather intact, though its lower bowels are flooded by the sea. Sea creatures use it as their fortress and keep treasures in its lower holds.
19 Cage of Ormanda: Deep in the jungles is an ornate stone pyramid, covered completely in vines. Clearing some of the vines away will reveal a pair of stone dragon’s heads. If special carved stones are set into the dragons’ mouths the entrance will open, leading into a veritable maze of pit traps and monster-infested rooms. The carved stones may be acquired from collectors of antiquity in a nearby city, but these wealthy men will likely send assassins to slay the party and claim whatever treasure they come by in the pyramid.
20 Venom Pots: Travelers warn of a certain part of the desert where the ground will open and drop into rocky tunnels containing giant, venomous creatures. The treasures of many lost caravans lay strewn about these places.
21- Downward Spiral: Hidden below an old church in the city is an immense, cylindrical pit, which drops deep into the earth. A circular stairway spirals down the entire length of the pit until it converges with round chamber. Water flows waist-deep in this chamber and columns rise high above one’s head, obscuring the hiding places of swimming and climbing creatures.
22- Yuksek Crypt: Out in the midst of the most monster-infested region of mountains is rumored to exist a tower whose foundation crumbled long ago, yet it remains fully standing in the air, upheld by powerful magic. The ruined base of the floating structure repels all grappling hooks and ladders, but a large balcony on the lowest undamaged floor is wide enough to admit several persons, provided they may find a way to enter. Inside the tower is filled with glass jars containing preserved and dormant monsters, which will burst forth from their enclosures if disturbed even slightly.
23- The Cosmic Disc: Nomads and dervishes who brave the deepest desert regions speak of a curious vessel crashed into the dunes. This vessel is of otherworldly craftsmanship and emits strange lights and sounds during the night. Its interior is alive with living machines that continue to perform their duties even though the crew that once manned its sprawling decks had perished long ago.
24- The Temple of Mind’s Eye: A noble family keeps a secret from the populous: their eldest son has been in a deep sleep since he entered an old tomb and will not waken. Should the tomb be explored and a lich’s journal recovered, one will learn that the young man’s mind has merged with the will of the lich, causing his very thoughts to take form into a citadel of metaphorical terror. Only be entering the youth’s mind and slaying the lich in his fortress of memory will the curse be lifted and the lich be destroyed once and for all.
25- Dunyasi Delve: Nestled far below in the roots of the mountains is a kingdom that once belonged to a mighty clan of dwarves. Consisting of one great, magically preserved chamber stand six great spires, which extend from the flowing lake below to the cavern roof above. Each spire contains level after level of simple housing with noble mansions at the top. Aqueducts span each of the towers and the bridge-like avenues of the streets interconnect like spiderwebs directly above glistening water, which hides terrible watery denizens that continually watch the dark, forgotten city for intruders.
26- Katran Kemiklari: Out in the bubbling swamps and tar fields rests the ghastly remains of a colossal insect whose interior holds many labyrinthian tunnels and chambers, all remnants of its inner workings. Monstrous slimes and molds roam about its dried and crumbling body, and a terrifying creature lairs in the head, peering out of its glass-like compound eyes for approaching victims.
27- No Land: Positioned on a tiny island a short distance from the lakeshore is a huddled collection of torn, mildewed tents. During the night when the moon waxes full, however, the tents come to life and colorful lanterns cast a cheerful glow over what appears to be a circus. Many strange and shadowy personages wander amid alluring and splendid displays while gaily clad and charming figures cry out to visitors with promises of fun and amusement. Anyone entering the No Land will be subjected to powerful illusions, which mask dangerous undead beasts. A powerful necromancer and illusionist stands in control of the cheerful facades and uses his magic to warp the minds of travelers, trapping them inside until they perish, further supplying him with the corpses he requires for his perverse rituals.
28- Yorgun Kull: In the middle of a shallow pond leans an old, moss-choked tower. The water bubbles around its foundation as though the earth were ready to draw the structure down into itself at any moment. Inside, the walls and floors are choked with mud and the stench of dead things hangs thick in the air as muck-dwelling creatures writhe out into the open and attack any living thing foolish enough to set foot in their domain.
29- The Bridge of Derin Su: Far below the rolling waves of the sea there stretches a jagged crevice in the earth. Spanning the interposing cliffs of this mighty ravine is the sunken ruin of an ancient galley, which hangs crooked like a dilapidated bridge. Vast treasures, which the ship’s original crew had foolishly packed into its hull, sank the vessel and now an aquatic dragon and a vicious host of marine creatures protect it from would be adventurers.
30- Eski Asili’s Beard: Deep in the jungle where the trees collide with a steeply climbing cliff, an ancient shrine with the face of a humanoid being is carved into the rock face. Dense vines grow and tumble down from the open mouth, serving as the only means of reaching the ruin, but horrid flying creatures assail anything that climbs the strange beard, and inside even greater dangers wait in the form of cunning traps and wandering beasts.
To be continued...