Why do we have so much trepidation about hallways in the movies? Is it the fact that they seem to be haunted in horror films? Or that sometimes they stretch to infinity when we know we should be reaching the end? Or running to the end of a hallway only to be presented with another equally horrific hallway or even multiple choices… The options are endless it seems.
Well, why not apply that same horror to our RPG sessions? Dungeons are full of creepy halls connecting rooms full of danger and hope. Imagine what fun you might have introducing a new aspect to a traditional dungeon that has a long hallway or two just begging for some new angle, odd moment, or insane encounter?
Take a sense. Find just the right element (or two or three). Mix in a few sensory descriptor words and BLAM! Instant creep factor.
Let’s take the first five elements in the list… None of them seem too creepy off the bat, right?
Then let’s look at the first 10 items in the descriptors list:
Now let’s combine those pieces with a few die rolls in the context of a creepy place and see what we come up with:
(Smell/Wall/Horrid) The dark hallway stretches before you into the distance, but it’s not the darkness that’s worrisome. It’s the stench. Something foul is oozing from the walls only to collect in puddles on the floors. Every step releases more and more noxious gas that grows more overwhelming the deeper you get into the complex…
- (Touch/Floor/Warped) As you set foot in this hallway, you notice something odd about the floor right away. Small irregularly raised bumps cover it in no discernible pattern. Some nubs are rounded. Others are sharp. And each is at a different height or width from the others. Every step you take is painful and awkward. But the group of giant insects coming towards you seems to have no such problems…
- (Hearing/Window/Peeling) The outer walls of the abandoned keep are dotted with windows now laid bare to the elements, any glass or wooden coverings long gone. But as you approach the first window from the inside you notice a strange noise as though hundreds of small curls of some hard material are rippling in the wind. You don’t feel any wind, nor do you see any physical peeling near the window at first, but as you get closer the palpable blackness huddled around the frame erupts towards you and strikes!
- (Sight + Touch/Door/Closed + Burned) One of the half dozen doors in this hallway is closed for some reason. And as you get closer you notice that the center of the wood has been burned though you see no scorching on the frame or walls around the door on this side. If you get close enough, you feel heat erupting in waves through the burned area. Something is on fire on the other side…
- (Taste + Smell/Ceiling/Open + Scratched) This hallway looks like all the others in the complex with one unique difference. The ceiling has been punctured in large gashes as though something with claws had been trying to dig through the floor above. Even stranger, a sickly sweet yet overwhelming sense of rot emanates through the gashes. Something died up there…
Though any of these descriptions might feel at home in a horror movie, they would be equally at home in any fantasy, crime, or science fiction setting. Feel free to use them!
Many more options will be available – using the 5 senses in unique combination with 20 different elements and 50 descriptive terms you will have more than 50,000 different possibilities to play with. And when you add in your own imagination, the sky is the limit!
Or as Poe says in “5 and 1/2 Minute Hallway”…
“I live at the end
Of a 5 & 1/2 minute hallway
But as far as I can see
You are still miles from me in your doorway” – Poe/5 and 1/2 Minute Hallway lyrics @ Metrolyrics
Now let’s figure out what’s waiting in the hallway AND the door!!
Little Spaces: Horrid Hallways will be available soon, but in the meantime feel free to play with some of the random generators and pick up one of the other Little Spaces products at RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, Paizo, or d20pfsrd!