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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