What? A “wandering” tomb?? What the heck is that?
In medieval times, especially during times of war, marauding groups would charge across the countryside and die in numerous ways. Battle. Starvation. Disease. Natural disaster. Or simply not stopping to ask for directions.
A great leader of the time, Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the Ottoman Empire, died at the age of 71 in 1566 while fighting in southern Hungary. Apparently a tomb was built over the spot where his tent stood and where he died, according to Norbert Pap at the University of Pecs (see article here).
Well, that got me thinking. What other kinds of tombs may lay hidden, waiting to be plundered by adventurers willing to disturb the dead? And what might be waiting for them in the dark? Here’s what I came up with for a traditionally medieval European world.
Three tables – a resident, something bad in the tomb, and something good in the tomb. Interpretation is up to you…
Random Tomb Resident (d8)
Random Tomb Contents – Bad (d6)
- Unfinished task
Random Tomb Contents – Good (d6)
So I grab a few dice and roll up a few examples that might work in a 5e campaign…
- Bishop, Poison, and Armor. Bishop Casini perished during a long journey between the churches under his thumb but swore that his underlings poisoned him. He never found any evidence, but eventually wasted away with no medical attention on the road. His blessed gauntlets were buried with him and he was eventually Sainted by the church for his good deeds despite his reputation for a particularly nasty disposition. The Gauntlets of Casini do offer the wearer some additional protection (+1 to AC) but make the wearer more susceptible to disease and poison, granting a -1 penalty to all Constitution saves against them.
- Prince, Curse, Relic. Prince Adran of Garomor fell victim to a group of bandits on the road while traveling to meet his bride. Though he and his retinue managed to slay their attackers, he was mortally wounded and perished. The survivors buried him and continued the journey to his bride to be with the wedding gift, a small crown that once belonged to Adran’s grandfather, Baron Davos. Though of great value, the girl could not bear to keep such a gift so she insisted that it be buried with her betrothed. Any who find it will suffer the Curse of the Unrequited. Any interaction with people the wearer finds attractive and may consider a relationship with will suffer a Disadvantage to any Charisma-based rolls while in possession of the crown.
- Lord, Bones, Gold. Lord Kavla of the Bene province was exploring the borders of his land and visiting the people on the borders with his guards when an earthquake broke open the world and swallowed their leader whole, along with a few members of the party. A marker was placed at the site and his memory was honored by the men who remembered him. It was rumored that he had a large bag of gold with him and was distributing coins to the people he found who needed and deserved them. If his remains are found, he will have a small chest filled with 10d10 gold pieces and 1d6 precious gems.
Any world worthy of an adventuring party has to be full of similar little burial spots just waiting to be found. And who doesn’t want to open the old door to a tomb to discover a group of skeletons seeking revenge for their untimely demise or an expensive item just waiting to be plucked from its former owner?
Just a few ideas to explore if you’re in need of a random tomb for your players to plunder. 🙂