Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things In A Box: A Random Table

Boxes. Adventurers frequently come across boxes while exploring, and think nothing of opening them to see what is inside. Frequently, the answer to “What’s in the box?” is “Treasure!” or "Trap!", although sometimes it’s just mundane stuff like supplies or trade goods, and yes, there is the occasional monster. Who leaves those boxes full of stuff lying around all the time for characters to rummage through? I don’t recall very many times in my life when I walked into a room, saw a box, dug through it until I found something I wanted, and took it (well, except for my toy box as a kid, but that was MY toy box). Even if it’s not a usual occurrence in the real world, there seem to be lots of boxes for characters to dig through as they tramp around the dungeon (or tower, castle, inn, cave, extra-dimensional lair, etc.) Below is my random “Things In A Box” table, inspired by the great random tables found at Beyond The Black Gate, Carjacked Seraphim, and The Society of Torch, Pole, and Rope, among others.

Things In A Box
A Random Table (d100)
  1. 1d10 pp, 1d100 gp, 1d1000 sp, 1d20 ep, 1d12 cp
  2. a very fine 6” glass sphere, cool to the touch, resting in a velvet “nest”. Any application of heat (including body heat) will cause it to explode in 1d4 minutes into thousands of tiny shards causing 1d6 damage, + 1 additional point due to shards buried in flesh every turn of movement until healed. If transported without damage, sphere is worth 600 gp.
  3. an 18” lump of lodestone, adheres to nearest iron or steel object, can be removed with strength check. If stuck to armor, -2 to armor class until removed due to awkward size & weight.
  4. 1d6 random books, non-magical
  5. a 12” wax figure of the person opening the box, perfect in all details
  6. a monocle on a 24” silver chain
  7. a severed medusa head, person opening box must make saving throw or be petrified
  8. 1d4 random potions in correctly labeled metal flasks
  9. a slightly smaller box, same construction as the original box. Roll again for contents.
  10. small leather bag filled with sand
  11. a well used hand of glory (non-magical) and a braid of long blond hair
  12. hornet’s nest, swarm of hornets immediately attack all within 30’ radius
  13. 10 iron spikes, a metal hammer, and 100’ of silk rope
  14. 14 copper discs, 6” across, with text written on one side in an undecipherable script
  15. an imp dressed in motley, on opening box he jumps out, yells “BOO!”, then flies away. If caught, he answers to the name Jack.
  16. a cloud of purple dust puffs out, causing all in 10’ radius to save vs breath attack or sneeze violently for 1d3 turns. make a random monster check due to noise
  17. large leather-bound book in an unknown language
  18. bones of a small human child
  19. large bundle of dried leaves from a rare medicinal plant, heals 1d6 damage if burned and smoke is inhaled
  20. small gold plated goblet studded with semi precious stones
  21. silver hand mirror with monogram “L.C.“ on the back
  22. burlap sack containing strips of salted meat (2d4 days rations)
  23. a portal to elsewhere in the dungeon, appears as a miniature staircase inside the box leading down into darkness
  24. a hand drawn treasure map on a 3’ square piece of sheepskin
  25. small carved stone idol of a many armed, winged humanoid with a horse head
  26. copper torc with a small ruby set on each end, resting on a stone slab. If worn around the neck it will immediately adhere to the wearer’s skin and the rubies begin to heat up, doing 1d2 damage the 1st round, 1d4 the 2nd, 1d6 the 3rd, 1d8 the 4th, 1d10 the 5th, 1d12 the 6th, and 1d20 the 7th. After 7 rounds it will immediately cool down and can be worn with no further damage to that person. If removed and worn again later or worn by a different person it will once again adhere and heat up.
  27. a smooth egg shaped stone, with a blue 8 pointed star painted on it. If touched it will cause 1d10 points of electrical damage
  28. a pair of silver dueling daggers wrapped in very soft leather and tied with a braided cord, worth 200 gp each or 500 gp as a matched pair
  29. 6 white candles, 6 brass candlesticks, and silver tinder box
  30. a folded tapestry depicting the first meeting between the king of the lizard people and the queen of the troglodytes
  31. pair of lightweight blue crystals, 6” long and radiating very slight magic. If placed in water and allowed to float, one crystal will always point towards the location of the other crystal, regardless of distance.
  32. small, simple platinum hoop earring. If worn in right ear will allow the wearer to hear soft sounds as if they were at a normal volume. if worn in left ear it will amplify all sounds to a painful volume causing 1d3 damage per minute, if not removed it will cause permanent deafness in left ear in 4 minutes.
  33. a pair of well made black leather boots with 3 shiny steel buttons on the back, 2 pair of bright purple socks
  34. green woolen cloak with carved wooden clasp in shape of a star
  35. sack of smooth, fist sized river stones
  36. 36 bloody teeth, freshly pulled
  37. small red cloth-bound book, “Rites and Sacrifices of the Lost Children of the Crow”
  38. 4 random holy symbols, all crudely carved from wood
  39. femur and tibia tied together in the shape of a cross, wrapped in red velvet
  40. set of 96 wooden building blocks in a variety of shapes
  41. 8 plain but sturdy clay mugs, matching decanter with wax stopper (full of sweet wine)
  42. a package wrapped in fancy paper, labeled “For Victoria”, containing a variety of ladies undergarments
  43. ogre sized loincloth, heavily soiled. if handled save vs poison or become ill, lose 1d4 points of Con for 1d4 days
  44. large sack of glass marbles. There is a weak seam on the sack, 15% chance per round of splitting open if roughly handled (ie. combat, running, strenuous movement)
  45. 15 scrolls, all containing the same random 1st level wizard spell
  46. poorly made wand of healing. Recipient must be wacked hard on the forehead, causing 1 point of damage then healing 1d6 points, 2d10 charges remaining
  47. a paralyzed goblin, regains movement 1d6 turns after opening box
  48. a large metal bucket with a padlocked lid, contains an ochre jelly which bursts free if the lock is opened
  49. 14 twigs tied together in a bundle with rotted cord
  50. a mummified hawk
  51. a trapped wraith bursts forth and immediately attacks when the box is opened (automatic surprise). Inside the lid is a painted rune of undead entrapment.
  52. 4 random gems in a silk pouch
  53. 7 dwarven made hoods (2 yellow, 2 green, 1 purple, 1 tan, 1 brown) and 1 shiny red apple
  54. 3 small wooden boxes, identical except for a number branded into the top (1, 2, 3), and a scroll tied with blue string. Scroll reads “Will you fly, will you fall, will you go through the walls? Choose carefully, you cannot choose again”. When a box is opened the contents of the others immediately disappear forever. #1 contains a ring that immediately teleports wearer to random location in the dungeon before crumbling to dust, #2 contains three potions of flying, #3 contains a 6” steel orb, if touched a 10’x10’, 20’ deep extra-dimensional pit opens directly beneath it, containing 3 skeletons that immediately animate and attack any who fall in. Pit will close in 5 rounds.
  55. A desiccated dwarven corpse, arms and legs have been cut from torso to fit in box
  56. Box full of mirror shards, a mirror inside of the lid reflects a distorted image of the opener. Mirror shatters in 1d4 rounds (even if lid is closed) and a duplicate of the opening character, identical in all respects but of the opposite alignment, appears directly in front of the box and immediately attacks the opener, ignoring all others. If either the duplicate or the opening character is killed, the duplicate and all it’s possessions disintegrate into black dust. Closing the lid will reset the sequence, and it is possible to have multiple duplicates of the same (or different) characters at the same time if the box is opened again. Under the mirror shards in the box is a 3” high crystal pyramid pulsing with a faint white light. If removed from the box the pyramid will cease to light.
  57. heavy leather sack with 12 caltrops
  58. 18” iron cauldron full of live frogs
  59. Black metal, open faced helmet with a chrome spike on top
  60. 40’ of heavy iron chain
  61. wooden bucket with cover, full of 3” iron nails, 2 wooden mallets
  62. 3 old wool blankets
  63. 6 vials of oil, bundle of rags, 2 torches
  64. 8 animal skulls-2 dog, 2 monkey, 1 bear, 1 snake, 1 cow, 1 tortoise
  65. a finely woven black cape, wrapped around a pair of men’s black leather shoes
  66. box is ½ full of dirt, 2 garden trowels and a small bag of pumpkin seeds are lying on top
  67. 12 arrows with dried black liquid on the tips (poison, save or vomit for 2d6 rounds) in a leather quiver
  68. 5 hand towels, a hair brush, 2 combs, and a bar of flowery smelling soap
  69. 2 magical cloaks of protection +1, infested with disease. save vs poison or suffer severe internal pain and bleeding beginning in 1d3 days, lasts 2d4 days, causes 2d6 damage per day, all damage heals at ¼ normal rate, contagious to any who come in contact with infected character(s)
  70. 14 decks of cheap playing cards and a pair of silver dice
  71. 3 shrunken heads (2 elf and 1 gnome)
  72. rats nest made of clothing, 5 rats, hole chewed through rear of box
  73. hand drum, 3 tambourines, and a pair of silver hand bells, all with symbols of chaos crudely painted on them in purple paint
  74. 3 dried gourds on a bed of straw
  75. 6 pots of paint, wooden pallet, 2 large paint brushes
  76. black doctors bag containing 4 vials of holy water, 6 wooden stakes, a wooden mallet, 5 dried garlic bulbs, and a note-”I waited as long as I could but they were trying to break down the door. I’ll try to lead them away. Sorry. -J”
  77. large glass jar full of iron shavings
  78. padlock and 97 keys (none of which match the lock)
  79. empty saddlebag, bit & bridle, and riding crop
  80. carved wooden toys-2 boats, 1 horse & wagon, 4 soldiers, 1 dog
  81. well used mandolin with broken neck
  82. 2 small oil lamps and a flask of highly explosive oil. if oil is used in any lamp it will explode for 2d6 damage to person lighting lamp
  83. charred human skull with a large quartz crystal in it’s mouth
  84. well used set of alchemical tools, 2 glass beakers, and 4 empty glass bottles with corks
  85. sack of dried apples, in bottom of sack is a severed human fist
  86. four 10” stone statues of minotaurs and a wooden model of a maze
  87. 2 red candles and a 2’ wooden wand topped with a halfling skull. If both candles are lit and the wand is held there is a 10% chance of Orcus taking notice
  88. basket full of dried mushrooms
  89. set of well made men’s clothing, folded and neatly stacked
  90. helmet shaped like a fish, the inside is always cool and clammy to the touch
  91. pair of 6’ white feathered wings on a shoulder harness, folded and wrapped in white silk
  92. miniature pick and shovel, 30 rocks painted gold
  93. opening box causes a vacuum, if room has doors they immediately slam shut and characters will suffocate in 2d6 rounds unless box is forced shut (strength check)
  94. stuffed porcupine
  95. bundle of sheet music composed by Vin of Telarine, tin flute, brass kazoo
  96. severed human head, will open eyes and attempt to speak but makes no sounds
  97. plague doctors mask, wide brimmed black felt hat
  98. roll twice and combine results, ignoring rolls of 98-100
  99. roll three times and combine results, ignoring rolls of 98-100
  100. roll four times and combine results, ignoring rolls of 98-100

I want to thank Professor Pope and Roberius Rex for giving the table a read through and for providing me with feedback and a few corrections.

Images courtesy of


jgbrowning said...

Some great ideas there. I must admit that the lack of the most famous "Thing in a Box" made me chuckle. Or maybe I just have Saturday Night Live on the mind... :)

Tim Shorts said...

great tables

Dyson Logos said...

Somehow I missed this when you first posted it. Awesome stuff. And I agree with Joe, it definitely needs an entry that reads "Richard".

thomasd said...

Thanks for taking the time to create and share these tables! Good work!