20 Signs of Secret Doors

Looking at the maps for Castle of the Mad Archmage and the descriptions got me thinking not only about the information the text conveys, but what it doesn’t. There are secret doors all over the place, sure, but that’s all the information you get. Everything else is up to the GM, which is as it should, but even GMs need help now and again.

So, because I was inspired to devise it for my own use, I now share with you this list of signs of secret doors, conveniently numbered if you might wish to select one using some kind of mechanism for generating an integer from 1 to 20 at random.

20 Signs of Secret Doors

  1. Half a footprint leads into the wall.
  2. A loose brick with no mortar holding it in place.
  3. A wall sconce is slightly askew of true.
  4. An innocuous, if out of place, drain in the floor conceals the opening mechanism.
  5. A semicircle drawn in the dust from by the dragging corner of a revolving panel.
  6. A loose baseboard panel covers a latch.
  7. The corner of a tapestry pokes out of the door frame.
  8. Liquid or another fluid substance — i.e., melted wax, runs under the frame.
  9. A fine coat of plaster dust signals a door to mocked up match the masonry.
  10. The torch flame flickers, indicating a draft passing between stones in the wall.
  11. The tip of some unlucky adventurer’s blade is wedged between the door and jamb — this secret door also only opens inward; it’ll take some shoving to move the last fellow’s body.
  12. Scratches in the paint indicate the nearby bust’s nose rotates.
  13. The chandelier overhead droops lower than the rest, as the gear to which it is attached has begun to slip through wear.
  14. Light rapping suggests this section of wall is significantly less thick than that on either side.
  15. The mural in which it is concealed shows the outline in the flaking in the pigment.
  16. A rat hole at floor level leads into what should be sheer bedrock, by the map’s reckoning.
  17. The halberd held by the decorative suit of armor resists being bumped a little too strongly, being attached to a pull chain in the floor.
  18. The fountain built into the wall shows no sign of running water’s effect on its basin.
  19. The wardrobe has no rear panel.
  20. The gargoyle’s slightly wider left eye allows an adult-sized finger to push the catch hidden within.

2 thoughts on “20 Signs of Secret Doors

  1. An excellent list. I especially like number 18.

    Till now, I have not been using secret doors to their full potential. I think that a little detail like this is going to make my game’s just that much better.

    • Glad you’ll find this useful.

      Number 18 was kind of a nod to the fountains in Nethack. Kicking them has various effects. Thinking of that put me in mind of one disguising a door.

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