Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Small Details: Stairs


Stairs are a simple form of transportation. In dungeons, stairs often mean a transition. In many dungeons  the deeper you go the more terrifying and deadly the adventure. Along with the promise of great treasure. Many heated discussions were held around the gaming table whether to to take the stairs. Was it too soon? How healthy was the party. Resource considerations. A transition of geography and philosophy.

Steps are a common feature in dungeons. While most of the time they are denoted by a series of shortening parallel lines, I like to slip in a detail of two to tell the story of that location. Or throw in a simple trap to keep the party on their toes even when encountering a simple feature.

1. One of the steps is missing. In fact, doesn’t look like one ever existed. Rushing up or down the stairs could cause an injury.

2. The steps in this set of stairs are slanted slightly down, as if running water had worn them down. Because of this the stairs are very smooth.

3. The stairs are covered in a white limestone. Each step has a coat-of-arms engraved into the limestone. The handrail on the right side is polished wood held in place by brass brackets secured to the wall.

4. The stairs are made of brittle wood. The stairs tremble and make loud cracking noises when stepped upon. If the steps collapse, a skeleton is found, a hammer in its hand, nails scattered on the floor around him.

5. The stairs are covered with an oily substance. There bottom step is a false step. Anyone who steps on it the step falls, there is flint attached to the step, there is a 3 in 6 chance that it sparks and ignites the oil on the stairs.

6. The stairs have large handrails running up both sides. The wood is scarred and discolored. From the fourth to the tenth stairs is a black scorch mark. At the bottom are decorative posts, if the right one is twisted the middle section of the stairs (4th to the 10th stair) rise to reveal a hidden area.

7. At the top of the stairs there is a simple illusion of more steps. The lead person falls into a pit. At the bottom of the pit are planks with iron spikes driven through to cause further damage.

8. Lit candles sit on the right side of every step. Wax pools at the base of each candle. They extinguish if someone steps on the step they are on. In one day they relight. If removed, they are normal candles. 

9. A horrific scene, the stairs are made of a mix of bone, flesh and sinew. Sections of the stairs move, and as it does it creates a wet, sliding slime slurping noise.

10. A very narrow set of stairs, a person will need to climb sideways, spirals. Anyone in heavy armor cannot pass through. They’ll need to remove their armor to pass. At the top of the stairs foot stone with “Eleanor” engraved into the stone. If the stone is removed there is a urn filled with ashes. Within the ashes is a simple gold necklace with a ruby pendent.