The characters in “Gothic Brunch” recently visited the manor of the Di Rosalba family while tracking a necromancer in the city of Creedhall. Knowing they’d want to poke around a bit, I used Tramur’s Lakehouse by Dyson Logos as the map. My notes and additions follow.
The home is owned by a brother and sister, Ellena & Martinus di Rosalba. Their bedrooms are in the loft (section on the right). Beneath it, the eastern wing is functional, containing a dining room, a kitchen, and two servants. In the west wing is an entryway and Martinus’s public display of curios – itself a thing to behold. But of course, his prizes are not viewable there! Importantly, he is an important member of the Labyrinth Dredgers, an NPC faction that seeks out arcane items and lore in service of the Church and fighting the truly evil monsters that plague the land.
Uncatalogued artifacts purchased from adventurers or recovered by the Dredgers reside in the basement. All ceilings here are 10’ high. The air is cool and humid; the walls are stone (mostly worked. though somewhat less so in various areas).
In my game, I placed a few tokens to represent some of the major items. I also put an arcane rune engraved in the floor in the corridor (room 1) between the doors to rooms 2 and 6, and a gear engraved in the floor in that same corridor between the doors to rooms 4 and 5. These engravings have no mechanical effect but could give an observant player some clues about what lies in those rooms.
- Entry corridor. Entered from above by way of a trapdoor. All doors to the side rooms are secured with an arcane lock spell (DC 16 or the password “DREDGE”).
- Storage room. This room contains several crates of trinkets that have not yet been catalogued. The door to room 3 is locked with an arcane lock spell (DC 16 or the password “LABYRINTH”.
- Secure storage. This room contains single-use magical items. In addition to the extra lock on the doors, the ceiling has a small glyph of warding (DC 16 to discover). When the room is entered by anyone who is not related by blood to the Di Rosalba family, the glyph released the stored spell hunger of Hadar centered in the room. This will also alert the clockwork guards in room 5.
- Examination room. A table with a number of precision instruments and notebooks, plus several crystals used as arcane foci if specialized wards are needed when examining new items.
- Clockworks & Armory. A few racks of well-maintained weapons, primarily daggers and crossbows but also one musket (treat as heavy crossbow). Additionally, a clockwork huntsman and a clockwork hound (commissioned from the Incendiary Guild, found in Tome of Beasts) stand here, to be summoned by a Di Rosalba or the arcane alarm system in room 3.
- Storage room. Contains similar trinkets as room 2.
- Closet. Contains 3x broom of animated attack. These are long-forgotten and will attack anyone who opens the door, although once their target of their ire falls unconscious, they will return to their normal quiescent state.
The initial set of uncatalogued items (trinkets) I used were as follows:
- A small brass box inlaid with sylvan designs in pewter
- A silk handkerchief which unfolds into a fur hat
- A small leather pouch of good luck charms
- A pewter merchant’s weight engraved with the symbol of a powerful trade guild
- A devil’s tongue preserved in quartz
- A bloodstone candlestick which was recently given to you by a wandering peddler
- A linen handkerchief printed with a dragon’s skull and crossbones
- A scarred pewter figurine of a sahuagin warrior
- A brooch crafted from the flower of a dryad’s tree
- An onyx cameo of a water god
Here’s an example set of cyphers (single-use magical items) for room 3, tweaked slightly by me:
- A broken rosewood staff withered by magic. When held and activated, the cypher heals a nearby creature of 4d8 hit points.
- A winged spider preserved in amber. When thrown at a target, the cypher explodes into a burst of spiderwebs (grappled, DC 15).
- A monocle crafted from the lens of a devil’s eye. When held and activated, the cypher allows you to see through clothing and armor until a short rest.
- A large fragment of an obsidian sphere, containing a shifting cloud of light. When held and activated, the cypher allows you to scry an individual creature known by name. However, you can only see their face.
- A small golden sphere with a pair of crumpled silver wings. When held and activated, the cypher allows you to teleport a small object you can see to your hand.
- A jagged spindle of blue crystal containing a flickering shadow. When impaled into flesh, the cypher dissolves and increases your speed by 10 feet until you take a short rest.
- A hematite sphere engraved with monstrous faces. When held and activated, the cypher conjures an area of daylight for 1d6 rounds.
- A small leather pouch containing black ichor. When smeared onto flesh, the cypher dissolves and transforms you into a raven for 1 minute.
- An iron amulet with a stylized hammer symbol. When activated, the cypher dissolves and increases your size (one size category, advantage on strength checks, +1d4 weapon damage) until you take a long rest.
I hope this gives you some ideas about how to create a simple dungeon built around key themes and NPCs in your own games!