Excerpts 02/09/2007

Dungeonscape Excerpts
By Jason Bulmahn and Rich Burlew

Build a dungeon or two, or adapt your character for upcoming dungeon challenges, with the help of the material you'll find within Dungeonscape. To see what's in store for your next door-bashing, trap-filled dungeon adventure, read a few excerpts below, which include paladin options, door descriptions, an adventuring kit, a prestige class, a swarm, and a new trap.

Dungeon Terrain: Doors

A dungeon with walls made of ice or flesh demands doors a bit more exotic than those of simple wood or stone. The following new door types help to define unusual dungeons. Unless otherwise noted, these doors function in much the same way as those presented in the Dungeon Master's Guide (page 60).

Substances such as air, magma, and insects are not typical for doors, since walls made of such substances can be penetrated, unless they are held together with walls of force or similar magic. Doors are often made of a different material from the surrounding walls, setting them off as portals.

Bone Doors

Ribs and spines make up the frame of this macabre door, and skulls form much of the body. Some doors of bone have the same effects as bone walls, but more often these portals are imbued with permanent magic mouth spells that ask for passwords. Such a door might also include an alarm spell that sets off loud shrieking if intruders attempt to bypass it.

Energy Doors

This gleaming door is made of searing energy, such as fire, burning cold, acid, or electricity. An observer can see the swirling energy within the door's rune-scribed frame. The door does not open; instead, the PCs must walk though its energy field to continue on. Such portals usually punctuate walls of more solid material. Choose any single energy descriptor. Anyone who passes through the door takes 2d6 points of damage of the chosen energy type. Such doors can be translucent (providing concealment) or opaque (for total concealment).

Flesh Doors

A flesh door might be a relatively thin membrane, resembling an eardrum or diaphragm, that responds to a particular vibration. Breaking through the membrane is fairly easy, by dealing piercing or slashing damage, but such intrusions often trigger alarms or traps. Some flesh portals resemble muscular valves, opening only under a particular set of circumstances, such as a mind blast or other stunning effect, or when dealt a particular type of damage. Instead of breaking a valve door, creatures can attempt to squeeze through with a successful Strength or Escape Artist check, as though it were stuck.


Doors made from glass are used primarily to achieve a desired aesthetic effect. They are usually clear, to show off the contents of the enclosed space, and always carefully balanced. As with walls, doors made of glass can shatter when broken, though being thinner than walls, they produce fewer deadly shards. Anyone adjacent to a door of glass when it shatters takes 1d6 points of slashing damage (Reflex DC 15 half). Glass doors can also contain pockets of poisonous or acidic gas that are released if the door is shattered. Due to the glass's transparency, Open Lock checks to unlock a glass door receive a +2 circumstance bonus. However, the locking mechanism might be rendered invisible to avoid standing out (in which case this bonus does not apply).

Golem Doors

A truly bizarre -- and truly secure -- creation, a golem door is carefully crafted from pieces of iron and adamantine. It opens only with the proper key or when so commanded by its creator. Such a door shares many of the traits of an iron golem. It does not have hardness but instead has damage reduction 10/adamantine. It is immune to all forms of magic, with some exceptions. Rusting effects, such as a rusting grasp spell, deal damage to a golem door normally, as if it were a ferrous creature. Electricity damage weakens a golem door temporarily; for 3 rounds, the DCs to open or break such are door are reduced by 5. Fire damage cancels this effect and fortifies the door, increasing open and break DCs by 5.

If someone tries to open a golem door without the proper key or command word, the door belches forth a cloud of deadly poison in the square immediately outside the door and in squares adjacent to that square (inhaled, Fort DC 19, initial damage 1d4 Con, secondary damage 3d4 Con). The cloud is 20 feet tall. A golem door can produce a poison cloud once per hour. It dissipates after 1 round.

Ice Doors

Like glass doors, those made of ice are often clear, delicately sculpted, and easily damaged, so they rarely secure critical areas. Due to an ice door's transparent nature, Open Lock checks to unlock it receive a +2 circumstance bonus on the roll. Fire damage can readily destroy an ice door, just as it does a wall made of ice, and other forms of energy act as they would on an ice wall.

Plant Doors

Like walls of living vegetation, plant doors are a favorite among druids. A plant door has the same requirements and characteristics as a wall of plants, although it is thinner. Plant doors made of fungus also exist. Sometimes plant doors do not open in the normal way but form passages for those entitled to pass.

Void Doors

A void door appears as inky, liquid blackness filling a rusted door frame. A thin curtain shaped from the stuff of the Negative Energy Plane, this door does not open but is simply passed through. The negative energy has a strange effect on the senses: Anyone reaching through is unable to sense anything beyond, even the floor. Neither sound nor light can pass through a void door, making it difficult to determine what lies on the other side.

More powerful versions of void doors also exist. Some deal damage to creatures that pass through, and exceptionally dangerous versions bestow negative levels.

Water Lock Doors

This circular bronze barrier is inscribed with Aquan runes. It has a latch set in its middle, and it is cool to the touch. This door serves as an "airlock" that holds back water. On the other side might be a subterranean lake, an artificial pool, or even a portal to the Elemental Plane of Water. Opening such a door could flood an entire dungeon level. The area beyond could be flooded or dry (having already been emptied) -- simple observation does not reveal any hints, other than condensation on a cold surface.

Releasing the water produces a torrent that can sweep PCs off their feet; each character in its path must succeed on a DC 20 Strength check or be pushed 4d20 feet and take 3d6 points of damage. On a successful check, a character holds his ground and takes no damage. Closing a door through which water is rushing requires a successful DC 25 Strength check. After the initial push, water continues to flow beyond the door, creating a shallow or deep pool (DMG 64).

Zombie Doors

Made from corpses that have been stitched together, zombie doors are a favorite of necromancers. The bodies retain their limbs and have a reach of 5 feet, lashing at anyone within reach who does not speak the proper command word (attack +2, 1d6+2 points of bludgeoning damage). A turning or rebuking check that affects at least 4 HD of undead deactivates a zombie door for 1 minute, allowing it to be opened or closed easily. If the result of a turning check is destruction, the door crumbles. If the result of a rebuking check is command, the door attacks only those targets designated by its new master. Zombie doors do not count toward the total Hit Dice of undead a spellcaster can control.

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