Concealed and Secret Doors

In addition to all other types of doors, the arcane architects of most fantasy buildings like to include a few secret and concealed doors. These can range from simple priest-holes to pivoting bookcases opening into hidden crypts. The only limit is your imagination.

Secret doors operate differently from normal doors. First and foremost, they must be found. This isn't something that happens without effort (if it did, the door wouldn't be very secret!). With the exception of elves, characters must search for secret doors to find them.

Searching a 20-foot section of wall takes about 10 minutes, during which the characters tap, thump, twist, and poke, looking for secret catches, sliding panels, hidden levers, and the like. The exact amount of time can vary according to the amount of detail on the wall. A relatively barren wall section will go fairly quickly, while one loaded with shelves, ornamentation, sconces, and other fixtures will require more time. A character can search a given wall area only once, although several characters can search the same area.

Normally, when a character discovers a secret door, he has found the means to open it. Therefore, no roll must be made to open the door. In very rare cases, the character may discover that the secret door exists (by finding its outline, for example) but not know how to open it. In this case, a separate check must be made to open the door.

Secret doors cannot be forced open by normal means although they can be bashed down with rams (at half the normal chance of success). Indeed, it is even possible for characters to see the secret door in operation and not know how it is operated. ("You burst in just in time to see Duke Marask, the vampire, disappear from sight as the sliding bookcase swings back into position.") In such cases, knowledge that the door exists will increase the chance of finding its opening mechanism by 1.

It is a good idea to note how each particular secret door works and how it is concealed. While such notes have no effect on the mechanics of the game, they will add a lot of flavor and mystery at the expense of a little effort. Which is more exciting—to say, "You find a secret door in the north wall," or "You twist the lion-headed ornament over the mantle and suddenly the flames in the fireplace die down and a panel in the back slides up?"

Furthermore, colorful descriptions of secret doors allow you to place the burden of remembering how a given door works on the player characters—"What, you forgot what to do to make that secret door open? Well, I suppose you'll have to search again." If used in moderation, this will help keep them involved in your game, encouraging them to make maps filled with all manner of interesting notes.

A concealed door is a normal door that is purposely hidden from view. There may be a door to the throne room behind that curtain or a trap door under the rug. The door isn't disguised in any way or opened by secret catches; it is just not immediately obvious.

Any search for concealed doors will reveal them and once found they can be opened normally. Elves can sometimes sense concealed doors (if they make their die roll) without having to stop and search. No one knows how this is accomplished, although some theorize elves notice subtle temperature gradients when they pass near these doors.

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