Foul and odious places, torture chambers—and their attendant cells—are terrible places of pain, suffering and woe. Many villains, dungeon lords and the like maintain torture chamber either to act as a deterrent to those who would betray or assault and them or as somewhere for them to inflict pain on those who displease them.
Use the tables below to add depth and verisimilitude to the torture chambers in your campaign.
Major Torture Chamber Features
Torture chambers are horrible places. Often dark and dank they can seem infused with the suffering and pain of those who have endured the torturer’s attentions.
- The chamber is dark; only the flickering illumination provided by several candles and a smouldering brazier provide any light.
- Deep recesses—complete with manacles driven into the stone—pierce the wall. Each recess has a good view of the chamber; here are chained those who’s torture begins with watching their fellows suffer.
- Rats dwell in a network of small fissures piercing the walls. They have learnt to venture forth once the screaming has stopped to feast on the victims’ leavings.
- A short flight of stairs lead down into the chamber which has a double height ceiling. Several hooks hang from the ceiling; from one hangs a small cage barely large enough to hold a hunched man.
Minor Torture Chamber Dressings
Torture chambers are replete with horrors beyond the imaginations of most sane folk. Not all such features, though, are as large and domineering as an iron maiden or rack.
- The room’s walls are slick with water oozing through cracks in the stone. It is cold in the torture chamber.
- A pile of wood and sacks of coal—fuel for the chamber’s fires—stand against one wall.
- A bucket of dirty water and a filthy scrap of cloth stand next to one of the instruments of torture.
- A small, filthy cage contains six half-starved, feral rats. Sometimes, the torturer feeds them “off cuts” from his victims.
Major Prison Cell Features
Prison cells—chambers of misery, despair and pain—are rarely featureless chambers with no interesting features.
- The cell is sunken below the level of the corridor outside. A flight of narrow steps leads down into the cell. In places, water oozes through cracks in the walls low down near the floor.
- Sets of manacles high up on one wall lead to short lengths of rusting chains set deep into the stone. The manacles are set at such a height as to keep a prisoner’s arms above their head.
- Deliberately designed with a low ceiling, humans and the like cannot stand upright in this cell.
- A length of chain hangs from the ceiling; driven into the ceiling with a gigantic iron spike it reaches down to about seven-foot above the floor. Bloody manacles hang from the chain.
Prison Cell Dressing
Prison cells are rarely featureless chambers.
- Mouldering straw covers the floor of this cell; the smell of rot mixes with that of urine, excrement and fear.
- Marks on the back of the cell door show where a previous occupant has scratched pitifully at the wood.
- A splatter of dried blood decorates one wall.
- Graffiti—cursing the lord of the dungeon—hidden under a pile of mouldering straw decorates one section of floor. A sharpened bone lies among the straw.
The material in this article appears in 20 Things #38: Torture Chambers, which is available here at the Raging Swan Press shop.