100 Oddities for a Dungeon!

Clint Staples

Not the dungeon you delve into - the one you are thrown in. Herein we will investigate the strange things prisoners leave, find, or make; or the things used to make their lives harder, easier, or at least more interesting - as in "may you live in interesting times." Read on for our list of the Oddities - the strange and stupifying, the heroic and horrible, the ingenious and the inglorious. Here are twenty-five to get us started, but feel free to contribute your own.

1. A much-worn digging tool made of a sharpened human femur. In a pinch it would also serve as a light club or short sword.

2. An image of the attractive mate of the gaoler. It might be a photograph, an engraving or cameo, even a magical image trapped in a small gem. It has become valuable as gaol currency, but the gaoler suspects its existence, so whoever is caught with it will suffer.

3. A set of three matching cups and a ball, very worn. The ball is the receptacle of a con man's soul, who used to run the game.

4. A section of rope 2d6x feet long, made from woven hair (if you roll a 6 on either of the dice, roll again and add the result to the length. Continue until you roll something other than a 6).

5. Hiding in the straw ticking of a dungeon bed is the mad spider familiar of a deceased former prisoner, desperate to escape to it can resurrect its former master. It appears to have a cunning plan.

6. Tied to the leg of a dungeon bed is a length of twine, hidden by being covered by dirt from the floor. It leads beyond the cell, and is attached to one of the following (roll 1d6) 1-2: The leg of another prisoner's bed; 3-4: a small bell in the guard's quarters; 5: a small bell in the Warden's quarters; 6: the collar of a trained rat that belongs to the one whose bed the string is attached to.

7. An iron maiden, a terrible torture device that the gaolers call Lucinda, supposedly after the spirit of the one who haunts the device.

8. A small but wickedly sharp knife that once belonged to the torturer or surgeon who works for the dungeon. It is easily hidden, but not particularly effective as a weapon.

9. A torn fold of parchment bearing the last will and testament of a former inhabitant of the cell. leaving all their worldly belongings to the bearer of the document. That person is identified only by a set of initials. Curiously, the parchment is notarized and witnessed by a lawyer, and could well be a legitimate document.

10.  A shiv made from one of the wooden spoons allowed to prisoners at meal times.

11. A loose brick is actually a trigger to open a passage in the wall, which eads down a winding, crumble of staricase, to a glowing pentacle on the floor of a small chamber that stinks of brimstone.

12. A satin ribbon, still smelling faintly of perfume, in a color known to be favored by the gaoler's wife.

13. A section of brick wall slightly different from its surroundings. Rumor abounds as to what, if anything is behind it (roll 1d4): 1:Nothing; 2: A way to freedom; 3: A corpse (animate or not) walled in while alive; 4: A secret cell for the King's forgotten twin brother.

14. A coin of the realm, struck with the name and semblance of a ruler never known to have taken the throne.

15. A broken set of manacles in a pool of blood. The lie where they fell (some incongruous place like the middle of a room, the end of a hallway, etc.). No one touches them after what happened last time.

16. The roots of a massive tree, the Hanging Oak, run just behind the walls and beneath the floor here, projecting a knobbly knuckle through the surface on occasion. Some say that the Hanging Oak speaks to those who caress the root in just the right way.

17. A terrible scream of agony occasionally resounds, coming from beyond a particular wall. Everyone knows that that wall is backed only by hundreds of feet of uncut stone and earth. There is a 3 in 6 chance that the scream can only be heard by a select few.

18. A flap of bloody cloth, folded around three severed fingers, relatively fresh. The bloody ends have gnaw marks.

19. A simple copper ring, green with corrosion. If cleaned, it has an inscribed code that, if deciphered, reveals an escape route. There is a 2 in 6 chance that this ring is an elaborate trap to secure secret sacrifices for a cult of demonologists.

20. Spots of blood appear mysteriously on a wall or floor. If they are not cleaned off, over the course of several days they spell out a message from something from the beyond (roll 1d6): 1: The ghost of a slain torture victim; 2: A mystic attempting to send a message to his former lover, who once inhabited this cell; 3: A demon drawn by the incredible suffering of the dungeon; 4: A guard, who uses the spot as a place to administer secret punishments to "deserving" prisoners; 5: The offering of a mad guard to his devilish master; 6: A vampire who has recently been incarcerated, or hired as one of the guards;

21. A set of manacles bound to the wall, instill a persistent vision of the sacred sword of a holy warrior tortured to death there. 

22. 1d6x bricks scattered throughout the dungeon have imprints of footsteps embossed into their surface. If they are collected and laid out in the correct pattern, they lead "somewhere" else entirely.

23. A leather thong, on which there is a token made of wolf hair and a fang, bound with the sinew of an elk. When held or worn, the token causes an intense longing to run with the pack under the moonlight, to hunt prey and savage it with fang and claw.

24. Hidden in a waste bucket (it might be a prisoner's latrine or the receptacle for amputations), is a demon's binding stone. 

25. A massive and ponderous executioner's axe, black and bloodied, drips fresh blood on the morning of an execution.