Types of dungeons



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WILDERNESS, WEATHER, & ENVIRONMENT


DUNGEONS

TYPES OF DUNGEONS

The four basic dungeon types are defined by their current status. Many dungeons are variations on these basic types or combinations of more than one of them. Sometimes old dungeons are used again and again by different inhabitants for different purposes.

Ruined Structure: Once occupied, this place is now abandoned (completely or in part) by its original creator or creators, and other creatures have wandered in. Many subterranean creatures look for abandoned underground constructions in which to make their lairs. Any traps that might exist have probably been set off, but wandering beasts might very well be common.

Occupied Structure: This type of dungeon is still in use. Creatures (usually intelligent) live there, although they may not be the dungeon’s creators. An occupied structure might be a home, a fortress, a temple, an active mine, a prison, or a headquarters. This type of dungeon is less likely to have traps or wandering beasts, and more likely to have organized guards—both on watch and on patrol. Traps or wandering beasts that might be encountered are usually under the control of the occupants. Occupied structures have furnishings to suit the inhabitants, as well as decorations, supplies, and the ability for occupants to move around (doors they can open, hallways large enough for them to pass through, and so on). The inhabitants might have a communication system, and they almost certainly control an access to the outside.

Some dungeons are partially occupied and partially empty or in ruins. In such cases, the occupants are typically not the original builders but instead a group of intelligent creatures that have set up their base, lair, or fortification within an abandoned dungeon.



Safe Storage: When people want to protect something, they might bury it underground. Whether the item they want to protect is a fabulous treasure, a forbidden artifact, or the dead body of an important figure, these valuable objects are placed within a dungeon and surrounded by barriers, traps, and guardians.

The safe storage type of dungeon is the most likely to have traps but the least likely to have wandering beasts. This type of dungeon normally is built for function rather than appearance, but sometimes it has ornamentation in the form of statuary or painted walls. This is particularly true of the tombs of important people.

Sometimes, however, a vault or a crypt is constructed in such a way as to house living guardians. The problem with this strategy is that something must be done to keep the creatures alive between intrusion attempts. Magic is usually the best solution to provide food and water for these creatures. Even if there’s no way anything living can survive in a safe storage dungeon, certain monsters can still serve as guardians. Builders of vaults or tombs often place undead creatures or constructs, both of which which have no need for sustenance or rest, to guard their dungeons. Magic traps can attack intruders by summoning monsters into the dungeon. These guardians also need no sustenance, since they appear only when they’re needed and disappear when their task is done.

Natural Cavern Complex: Underground caves provide homes for all sorts of subterranean monsters. Created naturally and connected by a labyrinthine tunnel system, these caverns lack any sort of pattern, order, or decoration. With no intelligent force behind its construction, this type of dungeon is the least likely to have traps or even doors.

Fungi of all sorts thrive in caves, sometimes growing in huge forests of mushrooms and puffballs. Subterranean predators prowl these forests, looking for those feeding upon the fungi. Some varieties of fungus give off a phosphorescent glow, providing a natural cavern complex with its own limited light source. In other areas, a daylight spell or similar magical effect can provide enough light for green plants to grow.

Often, a natural cavern complex connects with another type of dungeons, the caves having been discovered when the manufactured dungeon was delved. A cavern complex can connect two otherwise unrelated dungeons, sometimes creating a strange mixed environment. A natural cavern complex joined with another dungeon often provides a route by which subterranean creatures find their way into a manufactured dungeon and populate it.
DUNGEON TERRAIN

WALLS


Sometimes, masonry walls—stones piled on top of each other (usually but not always held in place with mortar)—divide dungeons into corridors and chambers. Dungeon walls can also be hewn from solid rock, leaving them with a rough, chiseled look. Or, dungeon walls can be the smooth, unblemished stone of a naturally occurring cave. Dungeon walls are difficult to break down or through, but they’re generally easy to climb.


Table: Walls

Wall Type

Typical Thickness

Break DC

Hardness

Hit Points1

Climb DC

Masonry

1 ft.

35

8

90 hp

15

Superior masonry

1 ft.

35

8

90 hp

20

Reinforced masonry

1 ft.

45

8

180 hp

15

Hewn stone

3 ft.

50

8

540 hp

22

Unworked stone

5 ft.

65

8

900 hp

20

Iron

3 in.

30

10

90 hp

25

Paper

Paper-thin

1



1 hp

30

Wood

6 in.

20

5

60 hp

21

Magically treated2



+20

×2

×23



1 Per 10-foot-by-10-foot section.

2 These modifiers can be applied to any of the other wall types.

3 Or an additional 50 hit points, whichever is greater.


Masonry Walls: The most common kind of dungeon wall, masonry walls are usually at least 1 foot thick. Often these ancient walls sport cracks and crevices, and sometimes dangerous slimes or small monsters live in these areas and wait for prey. Masonry walls stop all but the loudest noises. It takes a DC 20 Climb check to travel along a masonry wall.

Superior Masonry Walls: Sometimes masonry walls are better built (smoother, with tighter-fitting stones and less cracking), and occasionally these superior walls are covered with plaster or stucco. Covered walls often bear paintings, carved reliefs, or other decoration. Superior masonry walls are no more difficult to destroy than regular masonry walls but are more difficult to climb (DC 25).

Hewn Stone Walls: Such walls usually result when a chamber or passage is tunneled out from solid rock. The rough surface of a hewn wall frequently provides minuscule ledges where fungus grows and fissures where vermin, bats, and subterranean snakes live. When such a wall has an “other side” (it separates two chambers in the dungeon), the wall is usually at least 3 feet thick; anything thinner risks collapsing from the weight of all the stone overhead. It takes a DC 25 Climb check to climb a hewn stone wall.

Unworked Stone Walls: These surfaces are uneven and rarely flat. They are smooth to the touch but filled with tiny holes, hidden alcoves, and ledges at various heights. They’re also usually wet or at least damp, since it’s water that most frequently creates natural caves. When such a wall has an “other side,” the wall is usually at least 5 feet thick. It takes a DC 15 Climb check to move along an unworked stone wall.
SPECIAL WALLS

Reinforced Walls: These are masonry walls with iron bars on one or both sides of the wall, or placed within the wall to strengthen it. The hardness of a reinforced wall remains the same, but its hit points are doubled and the Strength check DC to break through it is increased by 10.

Iron Walls: These walls are placed within dungeons around important places such as vaults.

Paper Walls: Paper walls are the opposite of iron walls, placed as screens to block line of sight but nothing more.

Wooden Walls: Wooden walls often exist as recent additions to older dungeons, used to create animal pens, storage bins, or just to make a number of smaller rooms out of a larger one.

Magically Treated Walls: These walls are stronger than average, with a greater hardness, more hit points, and a higher break DC. Magic can usually double the hardness and hit points and can add up to 20 to the break DC. A magically treated wall also gains a saving throw against spells that could affect it, with the save bonus equaling 2 + one-half the caster level of the magic reinforcing the wall. Creating a magic wall requires the Craft Wondrous Item feat and the expenditure of 1,500 gp for each 10 foot-by-10-foot wall section.

Walls with Arrow Slits: Walls with arrow slits can be made of any durable material but are most commonly masonry, hewn stone, or wood. Such a wall allows defenders to fire arrows or crossbow bolts at intruders from behind the safety of the wall. Archers behind arrow slits have improved cover that gives them a +8 bonus to Armor Class, a +4 bonus on Reflex saves, and the benefits of the improved evasion class feature.
FLOORS

As with walls, dungeon floors come in many types.



Flagstone: Like masonry walls, flagstone floors are made of fitted stones. They are usually cracked and only somewhat level. Slime and mold grows in these cracks. Sometimes water runs in rivulets between the stones or sits in stagnant puddles. Flagstone is the most common dungeon floor.

Uneven Flagstone: Over time, some floors can become so uneven that a DC 10 Balance check is required to run or charge across the surface. Failure means the character can’t move in this round. Floors as treacherous as this should be the exception, not the rule.

Hewn Stone Floors: Rough and uneven, hewn floors are usually covered with loose stones, gravel, dirt, or other debris. A DC 10 Balance check is required to run or charge across such a floor. Failure means the character can still act, but can’t run or charge in this round.

Light Rubble: Small chunks of debris litter the ground. Light rubble adds 2 to the DC of Balance and Tumble checks.

Dense Rubble: The ground is covered with debris of all sizes. It costs 2 squares of movement to enter a square with dense rubble. Dense rubble adds 5 to the DC of Balance and Tumble checks, and it adds 2 to the DC of Move Silently checks.

Smooth Stone Floors: Finished and sometimes even polished, smooth floors are found only in dungeons with capable and careful builders.

Natural Stone Floors: The floor of a natural cave is as uneven as the walls. Caves rarely have flat surfaces of any great size. Rather, their floors have many levels. Some adjacent floor surfaces might vary in elevation by only a foot, so that moving from one to the other is no more difficult than negotiating a stair step, but in other places the floor might suddenly drop off or rise up several feet or more, requiring Climb checks to get from one surface to the other. Unless a path has been worn and well marked in the floor of a natural cave, it takes 2 squares of movement to enter a square with a natural stone floor, and the DC of Balance and Tumble checks increases by 5. Running and charging are impossible, except along paths.
SPECIAL FLOORS

Slippery: Water, ice, slime, or blood can make any of the dungeon floors described in this section more treacherous. Slippery floors increase the DC of Balance and Tumble checks by 5.

Grate: A grate often covers a pit or an area lower than the main floor. Grates are usually made from iron, but large ones can also be made from iron-bound timbers. Many grates have hinges to allow access to what lies below (such grates can be locked like any door), while others are permanent and designed not to move. A typical 1-inch-thick iron grate has 25 hit points, hardness 10, and a DC of 27 for Strength checks to break through it or tear it loose.

Ledge: Ledges allow creatures to walk above some lower area. They often circle around pits, run along underground streams, form balconies around large rooms, or provide a place for archers to stand while firing upon enemies below. Narrow ledges (12 inches wide or less) require those moving along them to make Balance checks. Failure results in the moving character

falling off the ledge. Ledges sometimes have railings. In such a case, characters gain a +5 circumstance bonus on Balance checks to move along the ledge. A character who is next to a railing gains a +2 circumstance bonus on his or her opposed Strength check to avoid being bull rushed off the edge.

Ledges can also have low walls 2 to 3 feet high along their edges. Such walls provide cover against attackers within 30 feet on the other side of the wall, as long as the target is closer to the low wall than the attacker is.

Transparent Floor: Transparent floors, made of reinforced glass or magic materials (even a wall of force), allow a dangerous setting to be viewed safely from above. Transparent floors are sometimes placed over lava pools, arenas, monster dens, and torture chambers. They can be used by defenders to watch key areas for intruders.

Sliding Floors: A sliding floor is a type of trapdoor, designed to be moved and thus reveal something that lies beneath it. A typical sliding floor moves so slowly that anyone standing on one can avoid falling into the gap it creates, assuming there’s somewhere else to go. If such a floor slides quickly enough that there’s a chance of a character falling into whatever lies beneath—a spiked pit, a vat of burning oil, or a pool filled with sharks—then it’s a trap.

Trap Floors: Some floors are designed to become suddenly dangerous. With the application of just the right amount of weight, or the pull of a lever somewhere nearby, spikes protrude from the floor, gouts of steam or flame shoot up from hidden holes, or the entire floor tilts. These strange floors are sometimes found in an arena, designed to make combats more exciting and deadly. Construct these floors as you would any other trap.
DOORS

Doors in dungeons are much more than mere entrances and exits. Often they can be encounters all by themselves.



Dungeon doors come in three basic types: wooden, stone, and iron.


Table: Doors
Break DC

Door Type

Typical Thickness

Hardness

Hit Points

Stuck

Locked

Simple wooden

1 in.

5

10 hp

13

15

Good wooden

1-1/2 in.

5

15 hp

16

18

Strong wooden

2 in.

5

20 hp

23

25

Stone

4 in.

8

60 hp

28

28

Iron

2 in.

10

60 hp

28

28

Portcullis, wooden

3 in

5

30 hp

251

251

Portcullis, iron

2 in.

10

60 hp

251

251

Lock



15

30 hp







Hinge



10

30 hp







1 DC to lift. Use appropriate door figure for breaking.
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