The Ghoulshaft – ancient desert crypts

Barzoum – or the “Ghoulshaft” is an infamous dungeon located off the Opal trail, deep in the Blacksand region of the Ossuan desert.

The tombs of depraved aristocracy

A place of great evil, the ancient burial place of Barzoum is constructed vertically and descends almost a mile into the black earth. Here rests sleepless the souls and corpses of the depraved and murderous noblemen, priests and necromancers of the old Koparan empire. The minds and acts of the Koparan aristocracy was wicked beyond comprehension during the years of the empire, and their ill deeds finally led to the destruction of the great city Amun-Shar – the jewel of the east and the capital of the empire.

The Ghoulshaft today

Over the centuries, the surface structures of Barzoum have withered and crumbled in the strong desert winds. Left are only gaping mouths, and winding stairs descend into the inky blackness of below. Alcove-tombs pepper the walls, some contain monetary as well as occult treasure. Others contain curses and undead abominations. While some of the alcoves are shallow and houses only a single grave, others stretch further into the desert bedrock forming vast catacomb labyrinths. An example of such a catacomb is the SVART GRIFT, or “Black Grave” of the dread necromancer Khamul.

Explore more peculiar places:

The Haunted Cloister – Free dungeon module for fantasy roleplaying games

The Haunted Cloister is a short (3 pages) module containing a three level dungeon map, a short background and a random table of curse effects. It is not a fully detailed adventure, and there is lots of opportunity for the referee to add her own ideas to the dungeon.

What happened in the monastery?

The monastery is located in a secluded mountain area. It was the monastic home of the monks of the chalice. A century ago a disguised hag snuck a curse into the well of prayers, bringing doom to the cloister.

Today, the darkened halls echo with ghastly whispers. The monks haunt the monastery as vengeful apparitions.

No one goes here – treasure may still be found.

Download the Haunted Cloister pdf

The Haunted Cloister is free to download and print for personal use, but please do not publish it online or in print without written consent by the author.

Dungeon Crawl – a creepy crawly dungeon trap

Not only is this trap designed to harm the victims physically, it will also teach an unfortunate tomb robber the true meaning of loss and despair.

How the trap works

The three trapdoors opens when (and only when) pressure is applied to all three simultaneously. This means that the trap will trigger only when there is a victim on top of each trapdoor, dispersing them in one pit each. Two of the victims will fall into the lairs of giant dungeon centipedes (feel free to switch to other monsters if you wish). The third one will have to helplessly watch through the iron bars as his comrades perish.

All hope might not be lost, though! Perhaps the adventurers falling into the monster lairs are mighty warriors able to fend off the abominations. Perhaps the trapped man or woman in the middle can lay down fire support by spell or missile weapon? Maybe after all there is treasure and glory at the end of this nightmare?

More dungeon traps

This trap is part of a series of isometric dungeon maps of deadly design, check out the others:

Click here for a larger version of this map. Feel free to download it and use for your personal campaign, but please din’t publish it online or in print without my consent.

Dungeon pit trap – Entombed

Do not fall into the pit, and if you do: do not pull the lever. When the three-hundred metric tonne dormant golem “LORD SLABATHOR” comes crashing down he’s not getting up again. There is little that could save you from spending eternity in this dark tomb.

This is a one-time trap, and you need to a be a special kind of stupid to trigger the full severity of it. How curious are your players?

Click here for full a size image.

For more nasty dungeon traps, check out Boulder Dash and Leap of Faith.

Dungeon pit trap – “a Leap of Faith”

Yet another unfair and deadly dungeon trap to make your players hate you. The “Leap of Faith” trap consists of two pits with spiked floors. The first one is easily spotted and likewise easy to jump over unless you are encumbered or wearing heavy armor.

The other pit, however, is more sinister as it is covered by a trapdoor that is activated by pressure. Jumping over the first pit and landing on the other side will therefore trigger a nasty surprise.

The mechanism of the trapdoor can be locked by turning any of the two torches 45 degrees clockwise. This is apparent for a character examining the torch holders. Turning the torch will temporarily deactivate the trapdoor and make it safe to stand on for one turn (10 minutes) as the torch slowly moves back to its upright position. The trapdoor mechanism makes a sound when the torch is turned. The characters may hear this sound if the party is otherwise quiet. The mechanic sound could give a careful party a hint about the trap.

The Dungeon Master should probably place some treasure at the bottom of the covered pit trap. Perhaps the remains and equipment of a not-so-lucky thief?

A word of warning on traps in roleplaying games

Keep in mind that some of the traps like this one and the rolling boulder trap will almost certainly kill characters that walk into them. You might want to consider the experience level of your players (players, not characters) before implementing them into your own dungeon adventures.

Players experienced in old-school dungeoneering are usually careful when exploring. They have a decent chance to find or forebode the traps. OSR games (Old School Reinassance, clones of early eighties D&D) ususally doesn’t have rules for spotting or avoiding traps, but relies on the players figuring it out.

Less experienced players, or players used to later versions of D&D, might find such traps extremely unfair and get turned off if their characters die an instant, gruesome death.

To tone down the difficulty of this trap, you as a Dungeon Master can choose to:

  • roll skill checks to see if the characters can spot the trapdoor,
  • allow for saves or ability checks to avoid or mitigate damage,
  • substitute the spikes for water