Dungeons and Dragons is a game of adventure, exploration, and danger. But what happens when the players aren't looking? What secrets and surprises are lurking just out of sight? In this article, we'll explore 20 things that players might not notice in a D&D dungeon, but that can have a big impact on their experience.
Just like in real life, the inhabitants of a dungeon have their own routines and responsibilities. Guards may patrol certain areas, merchants may haggle with customers, and priests may perform rituals. These activities can provide valuable information for the players if they take the time to observe, but they can also be a distraction or a potential source of conflict.
Traps are a staple of any good dungeon, but what happens when the players trigger one? Do they simply disappear, or do they reset and re-arm themselves, ready to catch the next unsuspecting adventurer? Knowing when and where traps have been set can give players an advantage, but it can also make them paranoid and cautious.
Monsters and other creatures in a dungeon may guard valuable treasures, but what happens when the players defeat them and take the loot? Do the creatures simply accept their loss, or do they restock their treasure and prepare for the next battle? Players may think they've cleared a dungeon of all its riches, only to find that there's still more to be found.
NPCs in a dungeon can be allies, enemies, or something in between. They may form alliances with the players, or they may scheme against them. They may offer assistance, or they may betray the players at the first opportunity. Knowing who to trust and who to watch out for can be a major challenge for players.
Dungeons can be dangerous places, and not just because of the monsters and traps. Environmental hazards such as cave-ins, floods, and fires can occur naturally or in response to the players' actions. Knowing how to avoid or survive these hazards can be crucial for players.
Dungeon inhabitants may communicate with each other or with outside forces, such as sending for reinforcements or calling for help. Players may not notice these communications, but they can have a major impact on the difficulty of a dungeon.
Dungeon inhabitants may have objectives or missions that the players are not aware of, such as searching for a specific item or performing a task for their leader. These objectives can add depth and complexity to the dungeon, but they can also make it harder for players to know what to expect.
Dungeon inhabitants may study or experiment on the players without their knowledge. This can range from simple observations to more sinister activities such as capturing and studying players. Players may not know what's happening, but the information gathered can give the dungeon inhabitants an edge.
Dungeon inhabitants may fortify or prepare for the players' arrival or return. This could include reinforcing defenses, setting traps, or relocating important items or resources. Players may think they have the upper hand, only to find that the dungeon has become more difficult to navigate or overcome.
Dungeon inhabitants may leave or escape the dungeon when the players are not looking. This could be due to a change in circumstances, such as a shift in power or a change in the dungeon's conditions. Players may think they have cleared a dungeon, only to find that some of the inhabitants have fled and could return to cause problems later on.
The dungeon inhabitants may gather information on the players, such as their strengths, weaknesses, and equipment. This information can be used to prepare for future encounters and give the dungeon inhabitants an advantage.
The dungeon inhabitants may use magic or technology to spy on the players or track their movements. This could include using scrying spells or magical surveillance cameras. Players may not know they are being watched, but it can make them feel paranoid and on edge.
The dungeon inhabitants may relocate important items or resources to protect them from the players. This could include moving treasure to a more secure location or activating powerful magical defenses. Players may think they have found everything of value, only to find that there is still more to be discovered.
The dungeon inhabitants may set up ambushes or traps for the players in areas they have yet to explore. This could include hiding creatures behind secret doors or luring players into a trap-filled room. Players may not know what they are walking into, making it all the more dangerous.
The dungeon inhabitants may use illusions or disguises to hide themselves or their activities from the players. This could include using magic to change their appearance or using costumes to blend in with the crowd. Players may think they know who they are dealing with, but in reality, they could be completely wrong.
The dungeon inhabitants may communicate with other intelligent creatures or entities, such as other dungeons, other planes of existence, or other creatures in the surrounding area. This could include sending messages through magic or using teleportation circles to travel quickly. Players may not know what the dungeon inhabitants are planning, but it could have a major impact on their adventure.
The dungeon inhabitants may engage in internal politics or power struggles, such as factions vying for control or members scheming against each other. This could make it difficult for players to know who to trust or who to negotiate with.
The dungeon inhabitants may experiment with forbidden or dangerous magic or technology. This could include creating powerful artifacts, experimenting on creatures, or dabbling in necromancy. Players may not know what they are dealing with, but it could have dire consequences.
The dungeon inhabitants may use portals, teleportation circles, or other methods of transportation to move quickly around the dungeon or to other locations. This could allow them to bypass areas the players have already cleared, or to quickly respond to threats. Players may not know where the dungeon inhabitants are coming from or where they're going, making it difficult to predict their actions.
The dungeon inhabitants may use divination or prophecy to predict the players' actions or to gain an advantage over them. This could include using magic to see the future, or consulting with powerful beings for guidance. Players may not know what the dungeon inhabitants know, but it could put them at a disadvantage.
While players may focus on overcoming the obstacles in front of them, there is a lot happening behind the scenes in a D&D dungeon. Knowing what to expect and being aware of the unseen dangers can make a big difference in a player's success. So next time you're exploring a dungeon, remember to keep an eye out for the invisible menace.