Friday, May 20, 2016

Top signs adventurers have been here already

Here are some clear signs you've had adventurers come through an area.

All statues are destroyed. Or at least broken up and knocked over. After all, they could have been golems so they needed to be attacked. Then, if they weren't golems, clearly they were housing treasure or covering up some treasure.

Doors are destroyed, or spiked and locked and barred. Adventurers never forgive a stuck door, and slay them utterly. On the other hand, a door that will open clearly can be used to get the adventurers from behind. Those will be locked, barred, jammed, and spiked to the best of the adventurer's abilities. If those doors lead nowhere, so much the better. Clearly there is a secret door they just can't find past it which conceals grave danger.

Traps are re-set. Pretty much, if a trap can be re-set after what it guards is gone, delvers will have done that. A group of thorough and expert adventurers will leave behind a heavily trapped corridor to a locked (and spiked!) vault door to an empty vault. They may add their own traps, just to get future adventurers who might try to loot their already looted places. Great is the fear of, and jealousy of, other adventuring groups.

Furniture is hacked up. Or, honestly, just gone without a trace to be sold to "collectors" the delvers have convinced themselves are out there. You know, the kind that buy moldy old dungeon furniture at a markup. The rest will have been hacked into tiny pieces to ensure there wasn't any treasure hidden inside, legs broken off to see if they're actually staves, wands, or rods, and chair cushions carefully sliced open to check for gems. Mirrors will be broken, in case they spring magical evil twins.

Bodies are dismembered. The intact ones have already walked off as undead servants under the control of the party's spellcasters. The others have been thoroughly rendered lootless. Teeth, possibly valuable organs, skins, clothing, weapons, fingers that could conceal loot, etc. have been cut off.*

Weapons are broken. No adventurer is foolish enough to leave weapons lying around. If they can't be taken immediately to be cashed in in town, they'll be cached secretly for later. If that's not practical (or simply not trivially easy), they'll be destroyed. Hacked up, smashed, burned to cinders, and otherwise ruined. If that's not possible, they'll be trapped and/or hidden.

Dead ends are heavily marked up. A dead end always has a secret door, therefore all dead ends will be scorched, hacked, marked with pick marks, and tapped. They may also be trapped, to nail any rival adventurers attempting to find the as-yet-undiscovered secret door the original delvers couldn't find in their previous half-dozen attempts to find the door that must be there.

More to come in the future I'm sure . . .

* By the way, in any game system, this only takes "one round." That's 1 second, 6 seconds, one minute, etc. - plenty of time for a complete and thorough search that finds all loot. Usually this can be done simultaneously with other actions, such as fighting, running away full speed, casting spells, or looting other bodies.


  1. Your players are far, far, far, far more thorough than mine ever were.

  2. Egads, I'm with Evileeyore. Even my most thorough and paranoid players weren't quite THAT bad. Might just have been their level of gaming experience, though.

    In-character, I'd wear thin on that and probably be the first to urge moving on. Something hard to simulate in games is a sense of tedium, strain, and boredom that comes with...well, scorched earth.

    1. You guys just haven't lived.

      These are slightly exaggerated, but not much. There are few standing statues, intact bodies, intact doors, bits of usable furniture, or un-thrice-searched dead ends in Felltower . . .

    2. Sure, but then how many times can PCs like Vryce and Dryst come to the same dead end without getting bored and setting up a trap or something for the next time they come down that same dead end corridor?

      Honestly I'm kinda surprised they haven't restocked some areas of Felltower just to make it interesting for the next trip...

  3. Now imagine what players would think if they come to a scene like that. A corridor, heavily trapped, ending in a dead end with lot of pickmarks everywhere.
    Dead bodies, badly mutilated, crushed weapons, furniture and decorations.

    Well, the people I play with (and I myself) would fall for it. :P

  4. In my slowly-ongoing campaign, the PCs leave the areas more heavily trapped than when they came in. There was even an almost TPK when they triggered one of their own traps.

  5. I've never known adventurers to do half of these things, and only one to ever intentionally destroy a weapon (he was under the impression that since a club had no resale value, an _enchanted_ club would also have no resale value and smashed it like a toddler throwing a hissy fit).

    I've never seen adventurers re-set traps or lock doors behind them; they usually dismantle any traps they disarm.

    Never seen them try to turn intact corpses into undead servants nor mutilate corpses they can't use; one time one of my characters skinned a bear after beating it solo but that's probably the messiest thing any of us ever did to a body in-game.


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