In my stories, there are two fractions of beings called Shining ones - and regardless of their war, they live (very close to each other) in Nightshine Asylum, an abandoned fortress from an age of civil war on the eastern plains.

Nightshine Asylum was built in northern part of the Cloudy Mountains. It is accessible from Thunder Pass via a very long underground staircase.

The Guardian House was built to provide shelter from snow storms that are very frequent in all the Cloudy Mountains and mostly in Thunder Pass. Also it is used as the gate to Nightshine Asylum.

Unnamed hostile1 fraction (because I still haven't given them a name) lives in the (original) upper part of fortress.

Friendly2 fraction Old Thirteen lives in the (additionally built) bottom part of fortress and attempts to keep unwanted visitors out - for various (mostly security/safety) reasons.

But how to keep unwanted visitors out (of Nightshine Asylum, and mostly Thunder Pass' Guardian House), if you cannot use magic (because it would disclose your presence) and you must keep yourself safe from the enemy (because enemy is much stronger than you) by staying at home.

Reason for not using of ways like physical barricade is simple: the Guardian House must be kept ready to be used (as shelter from snow) by anyone who will need to use it. Outside of the House is not sufficient space for placing of any barricade (Thunder Pass must be passable, it is a trade route) - and inside too, of course, because the House is quite small (only one room sufficiently large for comfortable staying for some hours, for one family with two children).

  • 1 - hostile to people, mostly to Desert People
  • 2 - friendly to all people, excepting White Hunters
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ Is there a reason these entities cannot use the regular ways to keep someone out? Like a gate, or a locked door, or a razor wire fence, or a moat, or dudes with guns and guard dogs? Or a secret entrance and you have to know the secret? I take it these regular ways are not OK for this scenario. Why not? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    May 6 '17 at 17:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The in-story names and scenery details seem like a distraction from the question. $\endgroup$
    – Nat
    May 6 '17 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ Keep the Guardian House locked. Travellers along Thunder Pass can be issued with keys to the Guardian House. Keys are returned when they reach the other end of the Pass. Any unwanted visitors would be kept out. Also, put a lock on the door to very long underground staircase leading to Nightmare Asylum. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    May 7 '17 at 1:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I too would like to know why normal means of keeping people out won't work. I'm debating voting to close this question as off-topic, because, since there are no reasons fences, locks and guard dogs won't work, this is kind of just asking for us to invent some story for you. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    May 7 '17 at 1:46


So: The Guardian House is a place of refuge

by anyone who will need to use it

That means no dumb barriers like spikes. There has to be some way to sort out the people who need to use it as a shelter, and people who want to get in who do not need shelter.

You need to be able to tell one group from the other, which means you need something intelligent which lives in the house and is capable of throwing out the unwanted. You need a bouncer. Like a bouncer, this resident of the House will turn away some at the door when he doesn't like the looks of them and evict others once their nature becomes apparent. Like a bouncer he must be capable of dealing with the ordinary sorts of troublemakers expected, and able to call for backup - in the nightclub analogy, the police or possibly muscle from elsewhere in the establishment. You can make the bouncer whatever sort of entity is congruent with your story. enter image description here

It is pretty poor engineering to have a place of sanctuary open to all serve double duty as the gate to a place where outsiders are unwelcome. I like the idea of the bouncer grousing and grumbling about exactly this.


At the back of the Guardian House is a stairway into the mountain. By going up the stairs you come to a decent sized room carved into the stone. No windows and crappy ventilation, sorry. The room holds a sizeable supply of dry wood needed to keep the Guardian House warm during storms. Maybe some emergency food as well.

Hidden in the room is a secret door. Lack of windows and the "unfinished" construction of the room, it is just a place to stack wood securely, make the door very hard to find unless you know where it is and how to open it.

Behind the door is a short corridor leading to another room with crappy lighting and "unfinished" construction. The corridor probably has some sort of a simple lethal trap. A poisoned bear trap, for example.

In the second room there is a chest with a decent amount of various small denomination coins and low value trinkets. It should look like the stash of a moderately successful bandit from a generation or so ago. The chest is also trapped with a much better hidden trap.

The second room also has very well hidden secret door leading to the stairway to the nightshine asylum.

Adding permanent staff is also an option. Depending on the specifics of the Thunder Pass a small inn secure from the elements might be economically viable.

You should also make sure as many of the regular travelers as possible are trustworthy.


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