Friday, April 12, 2013

Unexpected Encounters #3

This idea came to me during an elevator ride a few days ago.

The PCs are crawling through a dungeon or similar area when they notice an illuminated panel embedded into the stone ceiling.  The panel is definitely not stone.  In fact, it looks very out-of-place here, the material like nothing they've seen before.  Adventurers can see the shadow of something between the panel and whatever light source is above it.  Whatever is up there isn't moving, but curved like multiple serpents.

There's a mechanism for opening the panel if someone looks for it.  Otherwise, smashing it to pieces also works.  The light source comes from two luminous cylinders mounted 6" above the panel.  Is it powered by magic, electricity, power cells, crystals, or something else?

The DM can either pick one of the following, roll randomly, or choose his own creation.  Also, there's nothing to stop you from describing multiple illuminated ceiling panels or something else adventurers can see as a silhouette.

1.  Intestines!  A little examination and knowledge reveal they are from a humanoid and have been removed and placed above the panel within 24 hours.  Whose innards are these and why were they put there?  Was it for some kind of religious ceremony?  Does someone plan on collecting them afterwards?  Are they from a regenerating beast?

2.  Circuitry!  Tubes and connected wiring lie on top of the panel.  Perhaps they fell from the advanced-looking mechanism 3' above the panel or maybe it was deliberately cut down (sabotage)?  This, of course, begs the question: why are there mechanisms between the dungeon's levels?  Is it part of a space ship?  Was this dungeon built by aliens or beings from another dimension?  If so, then what other properties or capabilities does this structure exhibit?

3.  A gateway to another world!  3' above the panel is a swirling plane of kaleidoscopic energy, sitting directly on top of the panel are ropes.  Why?  Where does this portal lead?

4.  The severed tentacles of some eldritch beast!  The tentacles are leaking traces of a milky white fluid.  There's no sign of the creature from whence these appendages came.  Perhaps the PCs will face it further down the corridor.  However, that still does not explain why the illuminated ceiling panel is here or what its function is.

Ultimately, there should NOT be a 3 second answer easily satisfying all.  The point of these unexpected encounters is to inject a bit of mystery into the game.  What's D&D for if not to explore the unknown?

If you use this in your adventure or have some wild theory about what this illuminated ceiling panel is and why it's here, then please post a comment below.  I'm curious as well.  ;)