• Justin Handlin

Nice Chest! 5 Unique Treasure Chests for your Dungeons and Dragons Game


Giant Treasure chest on mountain with massive golden sword and adventurer looking at it.

When it comes to delving deep into dangerous dungeons, the treasure chest represents the spoils of war. In a world of fantasy, it’s common to store powerful artifacts, coins, jewels, and other valuables in wooden or iron chests. For many, it is a simple, and effective way to protect their goods from theft…most of the time. For this reason, lost keeps, temples, libraries, or even damp caverns used by bandits are likely to contain some sort of chest filled with treasure.


Considering how iconic treasure chests are to the world of Dungeons and Dragons, and by extension, all fantasy games. A chest should radiate mystery, danger, and excitement. This is especially true if the chest is important to the adventure in some capacity. As such, each one should have an intriguing description and evoke the same wondrous images of the monsters or creatures that guarded it, or the dungeon in which it was discovered.


Here are 5 different chests, each one far beyond the simple wooden or metal chest. In these examples, we give these unique guardians of treasure a variety of mundane and magical features. This ensures they can properly store, preserve, and protect the valuable treasure that they hold inside. If you’re looking to enhance your Dungeons and Dragons experience, then try tossing a few of these into your stories and campaigns.


Chuul Carapace

Description. The hardened carapace of the large alien crustacean of the chuul was hollowed out. The outer frame of these creatures can endure for ages, making them perfect for long-term storage. The large claws are left as an intimidation tactic to scare away thieves. As hard as any plate armor, they can’t be simply broken. The top has a small compartment opening that is the approximate size of a shield. The inside is filled with a stone frame and velvet covers. The stone makes the chest difficult to move and the cloth gives it a refined look.


Features. The jagged points of the carapace are coated in the potent crawler mucus (DMG) contact poison. The brown-colored poison blends in nearly perfectly with the outer husk. A character that succeeds in a DC 17 Wisdom (Perception) or Intelligence (Investigation) check notices the slight color differences of the chest’s frame when compared to its sharp edges. A character that succeeds on a DC 16 Wisdom (Medicine) or Intelligence (Nature) check identifies the strange discoloration as crawler mucus. If the character fails the check by 5 or more, they misidentify it as harmless algae growing on the chest.


Trap. The trap is activated when the chest is touched. The crawler mucus takes effect on contact. Simply wearing gloves or washing off the poison can render it ineffective. A creature subjected to the poison must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The poisoned creature is paralyzed. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.


Drowned Sea Locker

Description. The chest is fashioned from thick maple and reinforced with mithril bands. It is always moist and dripping wet. Its outside bulges as if overfilled. Its outside is encrusted with barnacles, sea algae, and wisps of seaweed clinging to its surface. Despite its constant oozing of seawater, the contents are always dry, even if it is completely submerged.


Features. Carved in Deep Speech, as if written in haste. The chest reads “Ye who open this here chest. Be warned, for ye take your last breath.” A character that casts the detect magic spell or similar magic quickly identifies that the locker is sealed by the arcane lock spell. A character spots the trap with a successful DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check. The character must succeed on a DC 24 Dexterity check using Thieves’ tools (this includes the arcane lock enchantment). On a failed check, the trap is triggered.


Trap. The trap is activated when the chest is opened. A dark purple cloud of gas from the Far Realm is released. Each creature in a 10-foot radius sphere of the chest must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the creature is diseased for 1d4 hours. The diseased creature can breathe only underwater.


Silver Dragon’s Skull

Description. An adult silver dragon’s head hollowed out and preserved, serves as a spacious treasure chest. Its elongated beak-like snout with glimmering plated facial armor and long backswept horns make for perfect storage for weapons. Its hardened eyes remain open, directing a baleful glare to those nearby. By design, it gives the feeling as if the eyes are watching and following any who looks at it. The chest opens at the mouth, its top part serving as the lid, and the bottom as its container.


Features. A character that succeeds on a DC 13 Intelligence (Arcana) or (Nature) check can identify the chest as the head of an adult silver dragon. If they fail the check by 5 or more, it is misidentified as an adult sapphire dragon. The chest is protected by a powerful glyph of warding spell trap that holds the use of the dragon’s breath weapon. A character spots the trap with a successful DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check. A character who succeeds on a DC 18 Intelligence (Investigation) check believes that, with a file, a small mirror, and narrow-bladed scissors, they might be able to disable the trap. The character must succeed on a DC 20 Dexterity check using Thieves’ tools. On a failed check, the trap is triggered.


Trap. The trap is activated when the chest is opened. A blast of icy paralyzing gas explodes out from the chest. Each creature in a 60-foot cone must make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw, taking 58 (13d8) cold damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. If the creature fails the save by 5 or more, they are paralyzed for 1 minute and gain a level of exhaustion. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns. Additionally, a successful dispel magic (DC 15) cast on the chest destroys the trap.

 

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Stone Cold Coffer

Description. Blue and white marble veins dance across this stone chest's surface. The air is filled with a cool thick mist and smells of a winter breeze. Icicles cling to the stone chest and the floor around it. The coffer’s lid is simply a large, oversized tablet with arcane glyphs etched across its top.


Features. The stone coffer is finely crafted. Etchings and iconic dwarven techniques were used in its creation. Imbued with the chill of the mountain peak, the area in a 5-foot radius around the chest creates the frozen hazard slippery ice (DMG). A character spots the trap with a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check. If they fail by 5 or more they confirm no evidence of traps or even a lock. The coffer relies on the massive weight of the solid lodestone lid. A creature that tries to move the lid must succeed on a DC 27 Strength (Athletics) check. A character that can lift 900 lbs. automatically succeeds on the check. Spells such as levitate, and telekinesis can also be used.


Trap. The trap is activated when the coffer lid is opened. The coffer is trapped with the souls of 2d6 snow maidens (CoS). When triggered the snow maidens are released and attack. Additionally, each creature within a 20-foot radius must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save the target takes 45 (10d8) cold damage and its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken. This reduction lasts until the creature finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.


Vagabond’s Strongbox

Description. The small haphazard iron box is a simple collection of damaged pieces of iron scraps with rusty chainmail sections. All bound with rusty chains and leather straps that look as if they will crumble at a touch. It may not seem like much, but for a simple vagabond, it protects their most precious possessions.


Features. This cheap, muddy improvised box seems fragile but will hold up against the punishment of travel, and it even has a simple padlock to prevent access. A character that succeeds on a DC 12 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check confirms there doesn’t appear to be any traps on the small chest. A character that succeeds a DC 10 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools can open the simple padlock. Anyone who looks inside only sees a collection of junk: rusty copper pieces, a few rocks, a sling, a kitchen knife, and a few scraps of faded and worn paper with no writing on them.


The inside items have all been placed under the effects of the programmed illusion spell. This makes the items appear as mundane worthless items until removed by the dispel spell or similar magic. The volume of the actual items is up to the GM, some examples are platinum coins, spell scrolls, rare jewels, or important documents. A character that casts detect magic can clearly see the illusion aura surrounding the strongbox and its contents. A character must succeed on a DC 19 Intelligence (Investigation) check to see through the illusions. Each object requires its own check. Additionally, etchings inside the bag contain thieves’ cant that says “Nothing for you here.”


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