old-draw-well-in-forestOne of my long RPG love affairs is the well. I don’t know what exactly sparked it–a video game, a novel, an RPG adventure–but wells fascinate me. No RPG village is complete without one and every one holds a secret (well, that would get old and boring after a time, so most hold only water and sadness, but some hold secrets). In fact, I once placed a ruined village JUST so the well could hold a nasty secret. Here is a small table of 40 interesting things to hide in your wells. I encourage additional entries in the comments below. You can roll 1d4 for the tens place and 1d10 for the ones place.

  1. A talking fish: Maybe it can teach you how to talk to all fish, maybe it grants wishes, or maybe it just knows juicy gossip.
  2. A skulker: Whatever or whoever it is, it climbs out of the well under cover of darkness and makes trouble. It might wet children’s beds, steal their valuables, or it might drag them off to eat.
  3. An elemental: Water is the safest bet here, but earth would work just fine as would combinations of water and other elements. A steam elemental might even mean heated well water.
  4. A hermit: Why live in a well? There’s plenty of water and fish and fungus to eat, and lots of solitude for meditation and study. Just don’t think about where they poop.
  5. A monster: Whether a deadly fish or some other grue, this beasty is a danger to anyone it can get it’s claws into. It might be a mindless beast, a clever stalker, or building it’s own empire of evil right under town. But they usually stay put, an unwelcome surprise for intruders.
  6. A ghost: A strange apparition that hints at events of the past. It might be a victim of murder most foul, an accidental death, a criminal who faced vigilante justice, or any number of other possibilities.
  7. A prisoner: Who imprisons someone in a well? And what special precautions would they have to take to keep them from being found and rescued?
  8. A maze: Depending on how swiss-cheesy your world is, most wells might have a maze of twisty water-filled passages at the bottom. Getting lost down there would almost certainly lead to a slow death by hypothermia.
  9. A small dungeon: Down a well is a good place to hide a 5 room dungeon. Maybe it’s a series of natural caves, maybe it’s a more formal dungeon–in which case, who builds a dungeon in a well, and why?
  10. A collapsed entryway: I’d love to tell you that a well should be an entrance to a megadungeon (and it totally SHOULD) but that’s a lot of work unless you already have a megadungeon. Instead, how about what looks an awful lot like the entrance to a megadungeon, only it’s collapsed, or sealed, or otherwise unable to be opened . . . for now.
  11. A safehouse: The nefarious characters in your town occasionally need to lie low until the heat is off. Who’s going to think to look for them down a well? Depending on who built it, this might just be a dryish nook with a go bag stashed in it, or it might be a lavish apartment with all the amenities of home.
  12. A secret passage: Another option for the rogues of the city is a secret passage into a nearby building through the well. Depending on the prominence of the local thieves’ guild, this might be a single crude tunnel or an entrance to a city-wide network.
  13. A workshop: There are plenty of activities that are frowned upon inside town limits. A hidden workshop is just the ticket to practice these illicit activities without fear of reprisal.
  14. A shop: Similar to a workshop, hidden shops allow the sale of forbidden, illegal, or stolen goods without the trouble of taxes or the watch.
  15. A temple: In addition to those gods for whom open worship is considered unsavory, there are a few who would consider a lair close to water or underground, or in the dark.
  16. A treasure vault: Down a well is a good place for hidden treasure, in this case a full fledged vault complete with high quality locks, maybe traps or other hazards.
  17. A piece of jewelry: A glimmer in the water turns out to be a piece of jewelry.
  18. A lump of crusty coins: Wells are often used as wishing wells, so this well has several lumps of fused coins welded together in a mass.
  19. A handful of uncut gems: The lower walls of the well are unworked stone, and a handful of raw gems are embedded in the wall.
  20. A piece of gear: tucked away out of reach of the water is a corroded piece of equipment. How it got there is anyone’s guess, but cleaned up it could be made serviceable again.
  21. A watertight scroll case: Afloat on the water is a scroll case. Mostly watertight, it’s contents are only smeared in a few places. It could be a letter, a map, or even a spell of some sort.
  22. A skeleton: An old and brittle skeleton either on a bit of dry land or scattered in the water. Most of the evidence of how it got here has rotted away years ago.
  23. A mummified corpse: Wedged into a niche in a wall or lying on a shelf is a corpse that has been slowly dried out by the steady cold air billowing around. It’s possessions are still intact, but terribly brittle from age and dehydration. Some of it may yet be salvageable though.
  24. A waterlogged body: Bloated and foul, this corpse bobs gently on the water. It must be fairly new. Why is it here? There may be some clues nearby. Unless the reservoir is large enough, this is likely to foul the water unless it is removed.
  25. A set of gnawed bones: This skeleton is fairly fresh and scattered about. The long bones are cracked open and all show scrape marks. Obviously something cleaned these bones, but what? Is it down here with you?
  26. A stone cairn: A pile of small rocks placed over the dead. It has some small amount of loot all badly water damaged. More importantly who builds a cairn in a well? What happened to the person who built the cairn? If they left, how did they get out?
  27. A crypt: Carved out of the rock and covered in decorative touches, this crypt is the final resting place of someone of importance. It’s location is an odd juxtaposition with the care put into it’s production.
  28. A mineral encrusted corpse: A body covered with hardened mineral deposits. It’s gear may be salvageable under the rock if it can be broken free without too much damage.
  29. A pitfall trap: The sides of this well are coated in an extra-slippery algae, and the water isn’t terribly deep at the bottom. It has the potential for a nasty fall.
  30. A set of stone spikes: The bottom of this well is lined with sharp stone spikes. A hasty descent will lead to a good deal of damage, even though the water is fairly deep.
  31. An oddly sloped shaft: This shaft gets wider as it descends. The last few yards slope sharply outward, necessitating climbing on the ceiling to exit. No mean feat. Hope you used a rope to get down.
  32. A thick cloud: The bottom of the well is filled with a dangerous gas that is heavier than air. Descending to the bottom will at best lead to suffocation.
  33. An unstable ceiling: At the bottom the well widens to a small cave system. Too much noise and the vibrations cause chunks of the ceiling to collapse dangerously.
  34. A mess of vines: The water in the well is choked with water vines. Moving in the water is likely to get you badly entangled. This may result in drowning if one is unwary.
  35. A portal: The elemental plane of water is the most likely, but it could lead anywhere–from a nearby house to another plane. Strange locations are likely to alter nearby reality and the well water. A portal to the plane of fire will heat the well, to the negative plane may poison it.
  36. A madman’s scrawl: A set of writing in bizarre script. It is no existing tongue but can be translated with effort. Once deciphered though, it makes little to no sense.
  37. A ship: Depending on the size of the cave the well leads to, this could be a simple rowboat or a much larger vessel. Either there is somewhere to go, or this is an odd find indeed.
  38. A huge pile of bones: The floor of the well is home to a huge pile of bones of all description. This macabre monument might be the result of a predatory creature or someone with an interesting way of disposing of bodies. Either way there is certainly an interesting array of goodies beneath and within the pile, if it can be gotten to safely.
  39. A strange garden: Either lit by magic luminescent fungus or lightless and populated by pale colorless flora, this garden is host to a multitude of varieties of plant or fungus and was at least at one time tended. A bench and a stone path add finishing touches.
  40. A broken statue: At the bottom of the well is a statue shattered into several large chunks. It does not appear to have been carved out of the surrounding rock, so it has either been placed here and later broken, or shattered from being toppled into the well.