Quick Castles (DnD Other)
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You need a castle, quick! These tables generate European-style fortified structures made from stone and wood. This makes the structure only, so use in conjunction with the tables in chapter 5 of the 5e DMG to give the castle a location, creator and history.
Decide on the size of the structure, from 1 to 6 (or roll 1d6). The structure has a number of floors equal to its size + 1. Then roll 1d8 and add the size of the castle:
|d8 + Size||Central Structure|
|2-3||Timber tower or fort|
|5||Stone tower or fort|
|6||Timber keep on a motte|
|7||Shell keep on a motte|
Timber tower. A small structure light enough to be constructed atop a cliff or steep hill and used as a watchtower or guard post. They do not include living quarters except a simple garrison.
Timber keep on a motte. Timber keeps are light enough to build on a mound of earth called a motte. They are surrounded by pallisade of wooden stakes, logs or iron railings.
Shell keep. A shell keep is a circular stone wall on top of a motte, with wooden buildings backing the inside. It is the heaviest kind of keep that a motte can support.
Rectangular Stone Keep. This structure has solid stone walls, and usually found on flat ground, being too heavy for all but the most robust mottes. They might be square or barlongue.
Circular stone keep. Compared to rectangular keeps, circular keeps have lessened construction costs and are harder to breach. However, it is harder for defending archers to concentrate their attacks upon besiegers.
Fortress. A grand stone tower of strategic military importance rather than a noble’s home.
Gothic keep. A gothic keep uses flying buttresses to support taller structures, vaulted ceilings and larger windows. Rooms within thus has better lighting and space, and are more comfortable to live in than the usual dank, dark castles.
Grand keep. The largest defensible structures, often with exotic designs such as cross-shaped or curved cross-sections.
A fortified structure has at least a simple parapet with crenellations on its tower and walls, and a ditch. Roll 1d20 on the following table a number of times equal to your structure’s size. Duplicate results indicate two of that type of defense, or an especially grand version of that defense (for example if you roll a 5 and a 6, this could mean two moats, or a double width moat.)
|d8 + Size||Central Structure|
|17||Concentric curtain wall|
Brestache. The structure has an additional gallery that overhangs the upper floor, with a sloped roof. They are particularly useful for circular keeps or towers to help archers coordinate their defense. The brestache is wooden for sizes 1 to 3; stone for sizes 4 to 6.
Machicolations. A machicolated battlement projects outwards from the wall, and its floor has openings through which objects can be dropped on attackers at the base of the wall.
Moat. The ditch is broader and filled with water. It’s width in feet is 5 times the structure’s size.
Hoardings. The walls have an overhanging wooden gallery supported by corbels, positioned in front of the crenellations. A wooden roof protects the hoardings and the battlements. This allows for a second row of archers, who can also angle their shots downwards.
Shuttered merlons. Merlons are the upright sections in a crenellated wall, and often had arrow slits. Wooden shutters over these could be closed to offer protection whilst reloading.
Barbican. The gatehouse is specially fortified with a tower and reinforced gate.
Artillery. Key sections of the battlements, particularly at a shield wall, have embrasures for artillery pieces.
Shield wall. One section of the curtain or keep wall is taller and thicker, facing the most likely line of approach the structure.
Mantlet wall. The base of the keep is protected with an additional low stone wall.
Splayed talus. The base of the structure's towers have massive flared or splayed base. The thicker sloped wall provides extra protection against artillery, foils scaling ladders and siege towers. Objects dropped by defenders can bounce into attackers.
Concentric curtain wall. The structure has an additional wall with a number of towers equal to structure size. This also creates an additional ward (see below).
Grand tower. Near the centre of the structure is a tower, with a number of towers equal to twice the structure’s size.
Unusual Materials. Stone constructions are instead built from (roll 1d6) 1) iron, 2) obsidian, 3) magical force, 4) marble, 5) ice, 6) shell from a monstrous creature; Wooden constructions are instead crafted from (roll 1d6) 1) ivory, 2) crystal 3) darkwood, 4) bamboo, 5) carcasses, 6) fungus.
Magical Defense. Roll 1d6. 1) Moat filled with acid or lava, 2) arcane artillery, 3) grand wall of force, 4) illusory magic can make the structure look like a rock formation or forest, 5) can teleport once per day, 6) castle in the sky.
In addition to the central keep or tower, a fortified structure has ancillary buildings in a surrounding ward (courtyard or bailey) enclosed with a palisade. Structures of size 3 or greater also have an inner ward enclosed by a wall (except for a shell keep which is its own inner ward).
Use the structure’s size to determine the contents of the wards. Include all the buildings of its size or less numbered below. Distribute the buildings amongst the wards. The central structure itself holds a number of these buildings (of your choice) equal to its size.
- store room, servants' quarters
- kitchen, gatehouse, workshop, stable, cellar
- chapel, great hall, granary, solar, shed, paddock, workers' quarters, dungeon
- wash house, visitors' apartments, granary, brewhouse, cookhouse, bakery
- garden, library, training grounds, terraces, governor’s house, prison; inner ward buildings are duplicated into two wings
- castle town; inner ward building are duplicated into four wings
Towers, forts and fortresses do not have permanent residences for nobles: replace solar, apartments and governor’s house with barracks and armories.
Finally, and optionally, roll 1d20 on the following table for an unusual feature.
1-2. No unusual feature.
3-5. Secret tunnel, connecting the central structure to beyond the outer wall.
6. Tunnel system, an additional underground maze-like retreat.
7-8. Butterfly house, or other exotic menagerie, in the inner ward.
9. Mausoleum in the inner ward.
10. Perfectly symmetrical.
11. Renowned architecture.
12-13. Hexagonal or other polygonal cross-section.
14. Folly. Many or all of the defensive structures and buildings are decorative only, and may even be “sham ruins”.
15. Wizards Tower. Replace one building in the central structure with a wizard’s laboratory (or study for any other kind of magic user.)
16-17. The castle stands at the edge of a cliff.
18-19. The central structure is carved into a cliff.
20. Overgrown with vegetation.
The first two castles were generated using the Quick Castles method above and the tables in the 5e DMG. Also presented are a “mushroom fort” and a single-paragraph dungeon adventure!
- A Wizard's Small Fortress
I want a random size, so roll a 2. My d8 roll for the structure table is an 8, so the total is 10. This is a three storey fortress. I roll twice on the defenses table, 18 and 2; and 15 on the unusual feature table.
Yargle’s Tower is a three storey fortress with a wooden brestache on top of a grand tower with four storeys. The courtyard contains the servants' quarters, kitchen, gatehouse and stable. The central fortress holds a store room, cellar and Yargle’s study.
Yargle’s Tower was originally built by dwarves in the swamps of Gettingham Down. It was overrun by demons during an abyssal insurrection. Many years later it was claimed by the human wizard Yargle, who enslaved the remaining manes and dretch left abandoned there.
- Epic Castle
Let's pick the size this time: 6. My d8 roll is 7, making this a seven storey grand keep. My defenses rolls are 7, 11, 9, 17, 7, 6; the unusual feature roll is 16.
Kastrum Citadel is a seven storey grand keep is situated at the top of a cliff. A natural river forms a 30 ft. wide moat before cascading down in a waterfall. The inner wall and concentric curtain wall have two layers of hoardings and shuttered merlons, and the gatehouse is protected with a barbican.
The outer bailey encloses a castle town. The middle ward has north and south wings, each containing a garden, training grounds, terraces, governor's house and prison. The inner bailey has north, south, east and west wings, each containing servant's quarters, kitchen, gatehouse, workshop, stable, chapel, granary, shed, paddock, workers' quarters, cellar, visitor's apartments, granary, brewhouse, cookhouse and bakery. The keep holds the wash house, library, great hall, solar, dungeon and store room.
The cliff below is riddled with sea caves. Kastrum was thought to be impenetrable, but was conquered during a massive hobgoblin invasion in a siege that lasted two years.
- Festung Pilz
A fortress sits on the top of a hill. It is shaped like a massive mushroom, the upper floors blooming out and shadowing the entire hill. A massive column of granite reinforced with a blend of adamantine, mithral, and steel holds the cap approximately four stories above the top of the hill, with a single spiral staircase going up the middle. Arching ribs made of pure mithral, steel, and adamantine forged together keep the cap from collapsing from its own weight. Foundations larger than the castle itself are laid under the hill, with catacombs all throughout it.
Mushrooms and other fungus are cultivated within, to be fed to specially bred cows and goats. This improves the endurance of the fortress in the event of a siege. "Gills" are cut into the bottom of the cap, each holding numerous rooms for dropping stones, tar, and a special type of toxic fungus grown in the catacombs. Additionally, a rope system allows the fortress to drop troops and other things out of the fortress faster than marching down the spiral staircase, as well as allowing for tactical deployment behind any forces foolish enough to close with the base of the fort.
- Ruined Tower
This simple three story tower of humbly carved stone has seen better days. The roof is dilapidated, the walls are missing stones, and ivy is starting to cover the entire thing. Inside, a simple staircase spirals along the outer wall connecting the three levels. Each floor is one entire room with no divisions. The bottom floor has been taken as a den by a particularly foul tempered brown bear, primarily because a large hive of bees is located just outside the door. If you make it past the bear and ascend the precariously unstable stairs to the second floor you would be confronted by a room overgrown with ivy. This room is filled with the sounds of happy insects going about their daily lives. A thorough search will reveal a small silver dagger hidden in the remains of a desk. The third floor is a relatively clear space with a single stone pillar in the centre it radiates slight conjuration and transmutation magic reminiscent of travel magic. Where does the pillar take you? Spoiler: It actually shrinks everyone in the room to approximately 1 inch tall and gathers them all at the base of the pillar. A message carved in the stone there relays the following message in an obscure dialect of common: My home is in the bottom of this tower, pray you have good reason to bother me! The PCs must now travel to the bottom of the tower past all the (now) giant insects, monstrous birds, and other myriad dangers!