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Please Don’t Assault the Furniture

posted Wednesday, November 19th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
Fluff/InspirationThird Edition

A friend brought up the story of a campaign I ran where a fighter got more than he bargained for. This story contains a spoiler for Dungeon #126′s “The Clockwork Fortress”.

Our heroes were tasked with assaulting a mighty clockwork castle, where they made it across the drawbridge and into the forecourt unscathed. They encounter a massive wall with a huge door in the middle, covered with mechanics and pipes and parts. The fighter knocks on the door.

A voice booms from a brass pipe in the door, in Dwarven.

“Who are you?”

The party discusses. Whichever dwarf is behind this door, they surmise, is probably some low-level guard, and probably a warrior, so he should have low enough Sense Motive to be fooled by a well-crafted lie. The party’s rogue replies. “Let us in. We have important business.”

“Are you a Maker?”

The rogue thinks. “Yes. We are all ‘Makers’, and you must let us in.”

There’s a pause, and the voice booms again. “You are not a Maker.”

The fighter decides this isn’t going anywhere. Whoever’s behind this door is going to need convincing the hard way. No door in this campaign has ever withstood his might, and this party has left a trail of wood splinters and torn hinges in their wake.

“I punch the door.”

“Suddenly,” says the DM, “the massive brass door lifts itself off its hinges and launches an attack. It slams at you twice, dealing…”

The player’s eyes widen as I roll against his low AC. There never was a dwarf warrior. This door is an intelligent construct, its very own door guard, and after a campaign of “I force the door” and “what’s its hardness?” the doors are finally fighting back.

“…one regular hit and one critical hit, for… forty-nine damage.”

“Help! I’m at -7!”

Two campaigns later, the player is still afraid of doors.


  1. Palm

    November 20th, 2008

    Epic ^^

  2. Eric Maziade

    November 23rd, 2008

    OMG! I love this so much!!

  3. Redzion

    November 7th, 2009

    My DM loves to suddenly reveal that the room is a mouth.

  4. Gippy

    November 9th, 2009

    I love it when DM’s improvise to stop the bs people pull ;)

  5. Jonathan Drain

    November 11th, 2009

    The player later said of the encounter,

    “This is the tuffest door i have punched.”

  6. Michael Mol

    November 12th, 2009

    I love it!

    I once had a party where a couple of the newbie players decided their characters decided they were going to loot the trading guild’s offices after hours.

    The rogue tried to pick the lock and failed. So he stood behind the wizard, who blasted the door with a fireball. (This is 4e, so it’s an easy thing to cast)

    Door shatters, but releases a blast of necrotic damage. The dice indicate it completely misses the wizard, but that it hits the rogue standing behind him with nearly maximum damage. (For the sidesplitting laughs it gave the room, I let them find some campaign-altering devices in there. Several forged seal stamps, IIRC.)

    Not to be deterred, they hit the other door…and discover a cellar with all sorts of weird, disturbing tables with red stains on them. They place the body of an unconscious man (I forget where he came from…) on one of the tables, and then search the place. They see a door, and, not willing to be nailed by another trapped door, blast it from the other side of the room.

    They were right. It was trapped. Necrotic, even. And they were out of range.

    The unconscious man wasn’t; He was on a table right next to the door. The damage took him well into the negative. I considered it, looked through the monster manual for undead, and then ruled that the unconscious man had become a zombie.

    “Uh, and it says that zombies obey whoever created them. Huh. Well, causally-speaking…Congratulations! You have your own pet zombie!”

  7. jerry

    December 9th, 2009

    Kinda reminds me of the coat rack that I put in one of the players inn rooms. There is nothing like waking a PC up with an attack from furniture.

  8. Happy Jacks RPG Podcast » Now That’s Comeuppance…

    December 10th, 2009

    [...] out the cool twist at d20source.com regarding the much-abused dungeon [...]

  9. Nick

    December 10th, 2009

    We had something a little more embarassing happen in our campaign. Our druid decided to attack the Candelabra on the wall. But he rolled a one, and smacked his face against it. He then stepped back and attempt to throw a potted plan at the candelabra. He rolled another 1. It got hooked on the chandelier. He attempted a reflex save to dodge what he believed to be an imminently falling chandelier. He rolled another 1 and dodged valiantly into the candelabra. With his face. The chandelier remained hanging. Finally the druid tried to tear the candelabra from the wall. He failed. Twice, and then fell to the ground weeping. The candelabra advanced to level 2 for defeating a fifth level druid. The party immediately voted to replace the druid with the candelabra as it was a more effective combatant.

  10. Mornatur

    December 10th, 2009

    And it´s only a door… Try something like a dark gothic version of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’s castle´s furniture… Awesome. Some players wanted to run away.

  11. Tappy

    December 11th, 2009

    This reminds me of the castle Heterodyne in Girl Genius!

  12. Dorkbootie

    December 13th, 2009

    I miss playing D&D! Sounds like you are an inventive and fun DM.

  13. Cloutch

    December 13th, 2009

    I second Dorkbootie. Been way too long, need to find myself some good fun players.

  14. OmnusI

    December 14th, 2009

    I love this story. It’s got a nice reverse-gazebo feel to it.

    I still think the most memorable thing my players remember from the Planescape campaign I ran was the city made out of modrons. Not every surface and artifact was a modron, but enough were that they were constantly offending and apologizing (and pretty soon gave up on trying to sit on anything).

  15. V

    December 16th, 2009

    Ah, but then there are the times your character cannot logically object to being told ‘No, it’s okay, kick the door down’ even when you know it’s a trap… I lost my first ever character to an exploding door. =\

  16. Monosyllabic Manifesto » links for 2009-12-19

    December 19th, 2009

    [...] Please Don’t Assault the Furniture « Jonathan Drain’s D20 Source: Dungeons & Dragons Blog Something I would have done. (tags: DnD, dungeons and dragons, rpgs, gaming) [...]

  17. Sid

    February 7th, 2010

    buahahahah epic

  18. Ty

    May 19th, 2010

    That’s great! Wish I’d thought of it. Love being the evil DM.

  19. Luke

    November 10th, 2010

    Reminds me of when I had just the bard of the party enter a room and proceed to get beaten into the negatives by a candlestick.

  20. travisofearth

    December 8th, 2010

    my players always do that, and now thanks to this i can get them off their little destroy all trip

  21. GlimGarrick

    March 3rd, 2011

    This is so beautiful. I’m definitly using this in the next quest I deign.

  22. Takun

    May 5th, 2011

    That reminds me of MOTHER
    “Lamp Attacks!”

  23. Baliseth

    October 5th, 2011

    Wow….and I made the mistake of reading this to my husband, who is also our DM….damn it, now he’s got ideas….*hides*

  24. trololol

    October 5th, 2011

    D= 4Th. letter in the alphabet so this web site is called 420 where is all the pot related things?

  25. Sunyaku

    October 6th, 2011

    The worst part about this post is that it’s so awesome that I don’t want to send it to my players until I’ve DONE THIS to them!!

  26. Chris

    January 31st, 2012

    For those playing 3.5 I have two words… animated objects. Or if you really want to make the players regret things, mimics lol.

  27. Watson

    November 13th, 2012

    i do not play ANY game that requires dice, because i roll like nick’s druid up there. all the time. unless i’m rolling for (my own) damage, then i roll high! it almost never fails hahahaha

  28. Kenifin

    March 18th, 2013

    Lol, reminds me of a door in one of my dungeons. It was Mimic, and it was, of course lurking.

    As the pc’s approach it, the party’s ogre fighter/blacksmith senses motive on the door.

    There were no hints, no in game indications, and I write my dungeons on the fly, so he could not have read ahead in my papers.

    The bastard just sensed motive out of the blue, and I was forced, after his roll of 18, to reply “It’s lurking”.

    Stupid precognisant players.

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