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Descent into Darkness

Descent into Darkness

Tonight we entered the ruined city of Xak Tsaroth after a long journey. Between the illnesses and dating (two related subjects imo) the adventuring party was made up of just Goldmoon, Raistlin, and Sturm. Tanis joined in for the second half. We ate pizza made fresh from the grocery store and baked in our oven. For dessert, our dessert specialist brought delicious oreo cupcakes, which also turned out to be diabetic-friendly, which is nice even though game nights are decreed to be “Freedom Fridays” as far as food is concerned.

The heroes of the lance were in the swamp surrounding the ruined city. Realizing they had missed the turn, they backracked until they found a side path which crossed a murky pool over a fallen obsidian obelisk. Everyone had to make a dexterity check to cross, and Goldmoon was so adept, she was able to read the writing on the monument as she crossed. Unfortunately she read it from end to beginning:

Home our of grace the in
Us reward gods the
Deeds generous their and
People its of good the to speaks
You surrounds beauty whose
Tsaroth Xak of city great the

Heh. This adventure is so ripe in material, and I was so eager to get to the dungeon, that I missed out on a great iconic scene from the Dragonlance saga in the swamps. I think I will find a way to weave it into next session. Moving on.

Across the obelisk, the swamp opened up into a clearing with a giant black steaming pit on one side and a holy temple with doors shining bright gold in the afternoon sunlight. They tentatively approached the pit but the stench and feeling of evil persuaded them to turn towards the golden doors of the temple.

It was a temple to Misha-kala, goddess of healing, and the statue turned to life and spoke to Goldmoon about blah blah blah, go out and heal girl, but first retrieve the disks in the dragon lair at the bottom of this dungeon. Then the statue sticks its tongue out at Raistlin and turns back to stone.

There are multiple doors exiting the temple. The one they choose leads to a room covered in frescoes depicting ancient scenes of glory. Five hideously filthy stunted creatures scrabble and scratch at the plaster walls, forming globs and piles of the plaster. The creatures eventually notice they are being watched after inadvertently giving away everything they know. They beg for mercy and weep and moan, while the heroes try to figure out what they are.

GullydwarvesEventually they realize they are gully dwarves, universally despised creatures so low that they don’t even have beards. Raistlin uses his beard cantrip to grow 7 inches of beard on each of the 5 gully dwarves who immediately begin grovelling at his feet and worshipping him as a lord. They command the dwarves to show them the way to the dragon, and the dwarves agree but suggest that the first go see the gully dwarf king.

And so they set off down a long flight of circular stairs. Before they set off, the dwarves argue about which one of them will be the guide and they start climbing up the wizard to try and perch on his head. The others join in a game of king of the hill to get to the top of Raistlins head and be declared the guide. Somehow it all works out, but the chosen guide angers Raistlin by leading him back to the wall for some more plaster. Raisltin hurls him down a flight of circular stairs, and they listen to every bone crunching bounce all the way down.

Goldmoon rushes down the stairs and at the bottom, uses her staff of healing to bring the dead dwarf back to life. All the otehr dwarves watch and a feud starts between them as Raisltin and Goldmoon make charisma checks to determine which of them they will follow as their lord. Goldmoon gets two, Raislin keeps two, and one goes to stand by Sturm and declares himslef to be an atheist (whose player Dr Karen Khar is also an avowed atheist) who doesn’t believe in magic. This while Goldmoon is performing miracles and Raistlin is wielding beard magic.

OK so we went on for another couple hours of hilarious gully dwarf action. They met a group of 30 gully dwarves, awed them wth their power, and for the rest of the night a tug of war took place between Goldmoon and Raistlin over who had the most worsippers. Goldmoon was ahead from practically the beginning, even though Raistlin would do anything to impress the loathsome creatures, including taking part in their ritualistic cavortations in “The squirming Chamber.”

The dwarves led them through some old sewer shaft chutes the led to a lower portion of the city, hundreds of feet below the surface. They lnded in the mud of the bakery, or Squirming Chamber as the dwarves called it, and after napping for a few hours, set out into a cavern that they realized was a shop-fronted street of the old city.

There was a swift flowing river, which the dwarves suggested riding down to the next level, but first they were required to make a dwarf bridge so the heroes could search the bank-like building on the other side. This led to a battle with ghosts known as Spectral minions.

Spectral Minions in the Sunken City of Xak Tsaroth

Spectral Minions in the Sunken City of Xak Tsaroth

They entered the bank and saw a ghostly figure behind a counter. Four spectral guards lined the walls, and when the ghost demanded payment of 500 Tsarothian sculli, Tanis and company tried to bolt. Unfortunately the ghost were twice as fast as the fastest character, could fly and pass through inanimate objects, so fleeing led to them being quickly surrounded beside the river. It was quite an intense battle which was nearly the death of them.

Raistlin fired off as many magic missiles as he could before attempting to flee, taking his dwarves with him. Sturm hacked right and left against the two assailing him but could not hit in fa after four or five rounds of rolling 5 or less I let khar re-roll and re-roll and re-roll on one turn ad she still couldn’t hit! Sturm was eventually knocked unconscious and into the river. At this point Raistlin diverted his escaping dwarves to rescue the knight before he drowned, thus saving him.

Xak Tsaroth02Tanis fought a ghost on the dwarf bridge, standing atop the heads of the sputtering gully dwarves, as she swung against an incoporeal opponent. She fought like a wild woman and injured the ghost before a magic missile of Raistlin saved her bacon as well. Goldmoon held her own swinging her +3 staff back and forth with abandon, slaying more than one ghost. Raistlin on the other hand tried his hand at hand-to-hand and immediately rolled a 17, oh yeah… but no a 3rd level wizard does not hit an AC 2 ghost with a roll of 17. Meanwhile 6th level fighters could hit armour class 2 with a roll of 11 or so. Can’t do that without THAC0.

After Sturm’s fall, Goldmoon started using her staff’s ability to Remove Curse to dispel the remaining spirits, then healed everyone up.

Ancient Desert Tomb

Ancient Desert Tomb

An ancient stone edifice pokes from the shifting dunes of the deep desert. In a world of magic and monsters, tomb looting is the most dangerous adventure. A tomb is a locale whose very design is to defeat the curious and greedy. The most difficult crypts are locked, hidden, trapped, and guarded vaults, and this one is no different.

This encounter area continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.

The ancient desert tomb is located deep in the vast wasteland of the scorching desert near a dried up river bed. It is a low lying rectangular building of tightly fitted stone blocks, now mostly covered by sand. Only one corner and the doorway are visible. The door is inset into the wall at a slight incline so that it will always slam shut unless barred by something strong enough to hold the heavy stone door open.

Hey a tomb in the desert guys lets check it out

Hey a tomb in the desert guys lets check it out

Once inside the dim foyer, the tomb robber is greeted with a chamber with two exits. Across from one locked door is a small fountain with fresh water trickling into a basin. Across from the other locked door is a bench. On the wall opposite the entrance is written in ancient hieroglyphic script “Enter ye who find this place. Take water if thou thirst. Find rest if thou art weary. Do thou not transgress beyond this chamber. The eternal slumber of Pharaoh will be disturbed and thou will provoke his wrath.”

The water is fresh and pure but an undetectable curse befalls anyone who touches either door within twelve hours of drinking the water. It will instantly turn to poison in the gut, requiring the creature to immediately make a saving throw versus poison or die painful death.

Scorpions are like super spiders

Scorpions are like super spiders

Beyond the doors are scorpions. In the next room is a pedestal that shoots laser beams and endless piles of skeletons that rise and attack, 1-4 per round while anyone living remains in the room or util the mummy in the next chamber is slain. The final chamber houses the false pharaoh, in a sarcophagus richly adorned in gold and lapis lazuli, worth at least 500 gold intact, or half that for the stripped gold and gems. Inside is a mummy wearing royal death jewelry worth at least 1,000 gold pieces who will attack until destroyed or until no one living remains int he tomb. The floor is made of round stone tiles, and the tile under the sarcophagus is a secret door (unedetectable unless the 2,000 lb casket is moved) that leads to the lower level.

tomb04It continues on from there. Trapped hallways. Poisonous beetles shaped like gold coins and mixed within piles of real coins. Fireball flinging flaming skeletons. Royal sacrificial chamber. A magical portal chamber to who knows where. Second false tomb, and final real tomb with a mummified skull demilich in a suit of ethereal armor. Or something. You get the idea: locked, hidden, trapped, and guarded

NASA Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Kansas

NASA Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Kansas

There was no game last week, instead we made a trip to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Kansas for my son Jackson’s 17th birthday. Great fun was had by all, including a brand new game of Ticket to Ride, an instant favorite. This week we were back to the game, crossing the half-way mark of DL 1, Dragonlance Dragons of Despair.

Goldmoon

Goldmoon

This week also saw the triuphant return of one of our players after an absence that was way too long. She filled the character of Goldmoon with life, and was very excited to be playing a Native American Princess. I had to try and explain t the player that yes indeed she actually is wearing pants, but the cover of the adventure did not aid in that argument.

We began after a short recap about flying pegasi and unicorn forest lords; a flight out of town pursued by hobgoblins; and finally an encounter in a tunnel through the mountains betrayed by dragon-men disguised as priests. The dawn finds them atop the mountains staring eastward across the great ameri-Krynn plains. Smoke rose from the sites of the plainsmen villages, including the village from whence came Goldmoon the princess. Though they had planned to take the shortest distance east to the ruins of Xak Tsaroth, the decided to detour through the villages.

First they came to Que Teh which was abandoned leaving meals half eaten (the players finished those right up) and even left – gasp – their children’s rattles scattered about(!) Goldmoon’s village of Que Shu was similarly abandoned except for the savagely erected gibbet in the center of town upon which hanged three smoking corpses. After much intrusive investigation it was determined to be hobgoblin corpses.

A placard was deciphered by the magus to read that the Lord Verminard was in command and he would not allow his armies to capture prisoners. After much discussion it was determined that Verminard was a powerful northern warlord whom their missing friend Kitiara had spoken about joining on occasion. Sturm and Tanis had both heard their companion speak of the powerful warlord who could seemingly show up anywhere at any time and then disappear just as fast.

The heroes of the lance figured out that the native tribes must have been taken prisoner and hauled off to the south. They must however continue their quest to the ruined city to meet whatever destiny had decreed for them. Soon after they spot a naked indian being pursued by four draconians. They slay the enemy and rescue Nightshade a scout from Que Teh who swears fealty to the princess of the plains. He says hye was sent from his peaople to search for an escape for them, who were slaves of the southern armies.

Later that night, after seeking camp in an old abandoned mine shaft, they were surprised by four trolls staggering up out of the depths for their nightly hunt. They immediately attempt to retreat, bu not before Nightshade is killed in grisly manner, his head popping like a popcorn kernel between the rotted jagged teeth of the troll. Then the wizard’s charmed guardsman meets a similar fate before they escape.

The blue staff shows off its magic, healing the most grievous wounds from the troll battle, and the next day they finally enter the salt marsh surrounding the ruins. They come to a spiderweb-like rope bridge crossing over an especially deep section of swamp. Tanis decrees that they cross the bridge with the utmost caution: tying ropes to one another as well as each one tying off to the bridge itself as they cross. Basic OSHA Fall Prevention. I had no idea my wife had such knowledge, but after years of gaming, she has learned many of my tricks. It is a good thing too, the text reads something like: “If a character falls in the water, they attract a monster from the wandering monster table.

For fun, I rolled to see what they would have attracted, and it came up catoblepas. Death cattle! Description: does 1d6 damage or gaze causes death.

Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles Goodness

Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles Goodness

Dwarven Forge Cavern Tiles Kickstarter is in its final week, and it is looking pretty amazing. I became a convert during their last Kickstarter, and love using these tiles to build epic set pieces, or to throw together at the table. Sometimes even the players build the floor plan! It is great fun and looks awesome. I am a fan.

Orc Manor

Orc Manor

A roving warband of vicious orcs has slaughtered the inhabitants of a fortified Manor, and are reaping a harvest of plunder and occupation while they terrorize the surrounding lands.

This encounter area continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.

Breaking from tradition, this adventure idea heralds from the future rather than the past. Experimenting with the incredibly awesome Dwarven Forge Game Tiles (obligatory eternal thanks to Dave for acquiring them) I was trying to combine them with my other game-board building goods to make an ultimate dungeon. Multiple levels was a key element of this design, and it has four elevation changes, which is more than I hoped for when setting out to build this manor house. The map begins in the dungeon, goes to the main floor with surrounding outside area, then the upper floor with attached portico, and finally to the tower.


Zero level adventuring was also on my mind
. When the new 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons releases in the fall, our group will most likely wrap up our AD&D romp through the original Dragonlance series of adventures, and start over in a new campaign. A zero level adventure is a great way to start a new campaign, and what better than to be naked and chained to a wall? Last time, during the playtesting phase of the next edition of Dungeons and Dragons, the players started in the sewers beneath a ghost town, having been captured by orcs.This adventure is a variation of that theme, with the characters captured and chained up in the cellar beneath a pillaged Manor house, and must escape before being tortured, killed, and ultimately eaten by the vile humanoids.

For groups who prefer to have their starting equipment and/or levels, the alternative flips the adventure on its head, as the characters seek to rescue the town princess (or etc.) from the depths of the Manor House before it is too late.

Root Cellar and Furniture Storage

Root Cellar and Furniture Storage

1. Root Cellar/Jail Cell

The room is dark and dank. A pile of moldy sugar beets, overlooked by the orcs, provides sustenance for those trapped behind the locked heavy oaken door, banded in bronze.

Have every player begin with one mundane item, such as a candlestick or iron pick. For added challenge all prisoners are chained, hand and foot, to iron spikes hammered into the stone walls and floor.

2. Furniture Storage/Guard Room

Cupboards, armoires, settees, tables and other antique pieces of furniture are stacked against the walls of this chamber. In the center a large oak table sits covered in food and drink, coins, and blood stained gore.

There are always 1d4 orcs in this room, and 1d4 of them are usually passed out. The coins amount to 1-10 gold piece value in copper and silver coins. 1d4 items of furniture are worth up to 100 gold apiece due to the antique value and craftsmanship, but they are delicate and must be moved carefully to retain their full worth.

Defiled Subterranean Chapel

Defiled Subterranean Chapel



3. Subterranean Chapel/Defiled

This chamber reeks of the stench of corruption. What was once an ornately carved chapel with a steeply arched ceiling and marble plinth to a deity unknown, is covered in filth from the wretched sacrifices of the orcs who worship their sick deities through acts of pain, death, and decay.

Hiding behind the lecturn, an orcish witchdoctor is intently carving hateful runes into a golden holy symbol. The orc has a Wand of Purple Lightning Bolt (1d6 damage per charge spent to all within 30 ft line including rebound, 10 charges) and it can summon 1d4 skeletons from the grisly remains in the chamber as an action. The witch doctor can also raise any slain character as a zombie as an action. Two statues in the back of the room are coated in filth. If they are cleaned, they will grant a boon to any who assist. The statue on the left is of Garl Glittergold, god of gnomes, merchants, and beggars and it will grant a permanent +1 specialty bonus to a single tool or weapon the character possesses. The other statue is of The Unknown Majus and will grant a free cantrip to any spellcasters who pay obeisance to the might of the Unknown Majus.(Create Water for divine casters, Create Fire for arcane.)

Basement Wine Cellar and Natural Spring

Basement Wine Cellar and Natural Spring


4. Natural Spring/Cavern Expansion

The sound of picks can be heard. Prisoners break rock and drop them into a natural spring pool. A trio of big black orc brutes, wielding metal studded whips and tridents keep half a dozen slaves toiling until they are dead.

The slaves are villagers from nearby. Their mayor was eaten and they offer vassalage to any who will defend them from further travesty. The orcs are savage, and wear chain or banded armor, and have short swords and daggers in their belts. They each carry 2d6 gold coins.

5. Basement Wine Cellar

The chamber has racks along two walls and a gurgling fountain in the north wall. Rickety wooden stairs ascend to a door at the top.

Nothing of interest here but a few bottles of wine and fresh water from the fountain.

Orc Manor Main Floor

Orc Manor Main Floor

Orc Manor main floor, which includes the storage chamber, the barracks, the guarded entrance, and the front yard.

Orc Manor Upper Floors

Orc Manor Upper Floors

The upper floors include the pillared treasure chamber, the orc chieftains dining hall, the open air porch, and the un-defiled astrological observatory tower.

zero2hero

A group of brave young souls traveled towards the edge of civilizations in hopes of gaining fame and fortune. Then they got captured by orcs.

The rules of the game are very simple: roll the six ability scores (4d6 drop the lowest) three times, do not bother putting them into the attributes — right now they are just three nebulous sets of numbers. The characters are literal blank slates, with no class, nor even race or sex (all virgins). Imagine them as hooded figures of questionable lineage. Each character has 2 hit points and an armor class of 10. That’s it.

Each character should be allowed one mundane non-weapon item worth no more than a single gold piece, such as a rock, nail, or ice pick, as well as a loin cloth and moth-eaten cloak. This can be altered for other adventures than the one presented here: Slave Pens Under Ghost City.

The player chooses one of the three sets to begin playing that single character unless and until another is needed. The others are considered “hovering in the background” until needed. The fact that each player rolls up three sets of scores means they will not be as worried about losing a character. In fact, some of the characters might have terrible scores and be purposefully put into perilous positions. The zero level adventure can be very deadly in order to winnow out the excess characters.

During play the characters will want to do things, like attack, break something, try to read a scroll, or search for traps, whatever. At that point the player puts one of their numbers into the applicable attribute, and makes the necessary roll. If it is successful they make a note of their deeds done. Eventually the characters end up with most of their ability scores filled in, and a set of deeds that will point to a character concept.

This method allows players the time to choose which score went where as they are needed, and the dynamic of needing a good roll at the moment, countered by the optimal ability score placement for any future character concepts, creates a great spread of the numbers, not always optimized towards the future class, but gives a character real character.

This can also be used for deciding racial factors, by asking if anyone has the ability to detect sloping passages, for example, a dwarf might be revealed. Uncovering themes, backgrounds and other specialties, depending on the length of the zero level adventure are also possible. Even class abilities can be discovered through play, such as a character making a wisdom check to pray to her deity for divine aid, or a sagacious character making an intelligence check to detect the presence of magic.
Whoever survives the adventure becomes a first level character. They can keep the two extra hit points as a reward.

Under Ghost City

Under Ghost City

1. Slave Pens
The room is dark.
The large dank room has been divided into a number of small cells by the iron bars stretching from floor to ceiling. A stone table and a rancid pool of water occupy one corner, near a heavy oaken door as the only exit.

A ring of keys hangs on a hook by the door, which will open all the cell doors, but not the door to the chamber, which is also locked (DC 10 to unlock). There is a well concealed secret door 10 feet above floor level in the west wall.

2. River run-off
The sound of rushing water becomes overwhelming as the door opens, revealing a splashing river flowing through the mist-filled chamber from iron-barred openings in the north and south walls.

The river is fast flowing and deep. The ground is pebbly, with a number of larger sharp rocks, and the iron bars require super-human effort (DC 21) to bend. Once through a person has a 25% chance to survive the roiling, airless passage before being dumped into a reedy pond on the outskirts of the ruined town where reside a gaggle of 10 goblins. (HD ½, HP 5, AC 12, Atk 1, Dam 1d6, 50% chance of 2 HD leader)

3. Guard room
The hallway has a trip-wire set to ring a bell if anyone approaches from area 1.

The room contains a table and stools in the center and piles of filth in the corners.

4 orcs (Orc (HD 1, HP 8,8,5,5, AC 14, +2 Atk 1, Dam 1d8) Two orcs are big and bulbous and grant an extra +2 with their battle axes, while the other are tall and skinny and grant +2 damage with their compound short bows. One of each duty is always on duty while the others sleep in their trash piles.

The room contains 4 sets soiled studded leather, 2 battle axes, 2 short bows, 20 arrows, 2 daggers, a lantern, 2 flasks oil, 2 sets manacles, skeleton key to open any door in dungeon, and a cask of really terrible beer.

4. Blutus the ogre
The stench should have warned you away. A huge hulking form squats in this small chamber, snoozing with his chin resting on the spike of his club. It Is an ogre.

The ogre (HD 4, HP 24, AC 14, +4 Att 1, Dam 1d10) is automatically surprised and sits there grinning if the characters attack. He then commences to pound each of them into paste. He is also willing to barter and trade, loving things that are shiny most, and tasty, second most. His treasure consists of 45 gold, 2 roasted chickens, a large bag, 1 short sword (toothpick), and a large tangled coil of rope – 50’.

5. Pool room
This chamber looks to be natural, but overlaid long ago with tile murals depicting joyous bathers enjoying the steaming warmth of the natural spring. Now the tiles are decaying and falling away, but the pool looks as inviting as ever.

Anyone who swims in the pool is invigorated and earns 1 permanent boost to hit points and forever afterward has a distinctive healthy glow.

There is also a purple worm randomly passing by who will eat the first person to get in the pool, and then disappear forever.

6. Supply room
The door opens to reveal a room stacked with a jumble of farming equipment, animal handling, and other implements of the rural life. The room smells of rust and abandonment.

This room is a supply chamber for the farming and animal handling of the slaves. All sorts of tools are kept here, mostly in bad, rusted conditioned, after the orcs swept through the town and collected the abandoned relics.

7. Treasure vault
This chamber appears to be the main storage vault of the occupying orcs. Suits of studded leather, a suit of chain, and battle axes, bows, 200 arrows, 2 long swords, back packs, bags,etc.

… and a small locked and trapped chest (poison gas DC 12 or death 10 ft radius) which contains 150 gold, and a scroll Fireball. In one corner stand is a banged up suit of Heavy Plate with a symbol of a rising full moon on the breast plate. (-1 AC, -25% value until repaired). The secret door is hidden behind the armor (DC 12) the sound of running water be faintly heard from that corner of the room.

8. Mausoleum

This shadowy vault contains three alcoves on either side of the chamber. The floor is tiled in a mosaic pattern depicting the grim reaper.

Six skeletons rise from the caskets in the alcoves to attack. If the characters survive, the doors (locked DC 13) leads to the surface. Each skeleton wears a sigil ring worth 50 gold due to the historical significance of the noble families.

9. Waterfall cavern
The sound of a waterfall becomes ever louder until the hallway, dripping wet, enters a natural cavern with a waterfall splashing through a hole in the ceiling. Daylight!

If the characters defeat the giant crayfish (HD 4, HP 21, AC 15, +4 Att 2, Dam 1-12) that calls this pool home, they can escape.

10. The church
From the doorway the open sky becomes visible. The stairs lead to the same deserted shrine last seen when entering the foul pit.

11. Captains Room
This chamber reeks of blood and smoke. The room contains a pile of rotting furs against one wall, food and drink heaped on a table, and a few disfigured corpses in pools of their own spreading blood.

This is the room of the orc chieftain (HD 3, HP 17, AC 15, +3 Atk 1, Dam 1d8). He wears chain, wields a battle axe, and has a lockbox under his furs with 50 gold, and a silver necklace worth 75 gold.

12. House slave room
A dozen house slaves live and til in this smoky chamber. Cooking the questionable foods, washing the clothes, and generally aiding the orcs in whatever way they can, even being occasionally eaten themselves.

The humans (HD 1, HP 1, AC 10, Dam 1-2) will try to talk the party into turning back, and if that fails they will attempt to stop them while calling for aid on the captain or the guard chamber. There are a few knives, food, and some pots and pans about, as well as wineskins and flasks of oil.

perytonOnce the “heroes” have pulled themselves out of the mire and are back on the road to freedom, it might be time to harry their journey towards civilization with a Peryton.

wizard dungeon

Beneath the enchanted Wizard Obitallo Amber’s mansion, the cellars are under assault by devils out of hell. The wizard’s apprentice children have already fallen prey and only a wizard locked cellar door holds them back.

This encounter area continues a series called Ancient Encounters, culled from ancient notebooks of campaigns past. The idea came after writing about re-using an old adventure, and I realized these great encounters deserve a little more attention. Hopefully others can be inspired by this series to make their own adventures, or to use elements of these admittedly “brief,” “vague,” and “improvisational encounters as building blocks for great games.

While spending the night in Amber Mansion. A soft knocking on the door opens to reveal the old white bearded man who introduced himself as Obitello the enchanter. He held a hand written note in a shaking hand. The rays of moonlight fall across his silvery hair and white robes from the windows in the hall as he read aloud what he was planning on slipping under their door.

“I only have a moment of clarity before the darkness descends over my mind. I do not know who you are, or why you are here, but you are in danger. The magic on this island is strong, and tainted by chaos of the elemental abyss which bubbles up from below. Unless the devils who have invaded this house are destroyed, all who enter are doomed to be enslaved by them, slowly turning into devils yourself. My three apprentices, who are also my children, have succumbed to the darkness. You will be next, already it may be too late. Leave now and save yourselves, or descend into the dungeon below and eradicate the evil that is older than this house. The hearts of my children bind the demons to this land. Take them away and the demons can be destroyed.”

1-The doors open upon a clean well-lit chamber of stone blocks. The soft light is provided by two softly glowin luminescent globes hovering near the ceiling. Further in, the sound of splashing water comes from a fountain, and next to it a stand containing ever-burning torches. Next to the entry is a neat stack of cut logs. From the northeast can be heard the tinkling of bells and colored lights shine from under the door jamb.

two softly glowing globes of light that hovered fifteen feet overhead become agitated and start moving about erratically if interefered with. The will o’ wisps are not be amused. Being dual purposed guardians of the enchanters dungeons, as well as givers of light, they become angry and their lights wink out, making them practically invisible. The heroes find the best method of finding them was to rush wildly around the room and the wisps would find them, becoming visible to attack.

1a-The room has three game tables set up. Cards, a spinning wheel, dice, and other strange gambling games are flashing and ringing, while overseeing it all on a wide bench in the corner is a smiling devil reclining on a cushioned bench. In one hand he spun a beating heart encased in crystal like a basketball on his fingertip. In the other, he swung a silver chain with tiny razorblades on the links. The chain wrapped around his arm, his waist, and even around a leg. He greets them heartily and invites them to stay. A young man named Sfart in a purple velvet suit plays frantically at one of the tables. He is pale.

1b-a swmall locked closet to the south – locked – a fine piece of work from a famous locksmith in Shalazar – Party sees a large bronze bound chest in the room. There are also two rolls of canvas, and a barrel holding a pair of sledge hammers. As party moves closer to get a better look, a huge fist forms from one side of the chest and takes a swing at a chin, and notice the tools and the canvas start to tremble and shake.

1c-The door in the north wall is heavy oak, and it is round. It looks like it was not part of the original construction of the dungeon, possibly older. Written in chalk across the door are the words “Frog God” and a chain once crossed from handle through the hinges, locking the door closed, but they now hang broken and limp.

2-This area of the dungeon looks completely different than the clean square lines of the previous area. The walls seem to be widened from natural caverns, and the floor is a strange metal grating. Beneath the floor, lapping water can be heard. The area is completely dark, but the feeling of being watched makes your hair stand on end. Ahead, a large statue of a bulbous man-frog looms. It sits like Buddha on a stone bench. In its lap is a stone tablet, and its eyes are made of large unfaceted emeralds.

(reading the stone tablet grants a boon. Prying an eye away unleashes a jet of boiling water causing 10 points of damage. The gems appear to be worth 250 gold pieces apiece, but they will explode in a burst 1 for 2d12+6 whenever the hydrodemon chooses as a minor action. Owner takes the full force but those in the burst can make an Acrobatics to drop prone and take half damage.)

2a- Alters of the Frog God
The second statue is of a strange vampire fanged manta ray who stands behind a stone chair with its wings fanned out around it. It also has emerald eyes (same as above). If someone sits in it, they suffer from temporary paralysis (fortitude attack +12 to break free and slip out) as the ixitchatl bends in for a bite on the neck. The wound never heals, but opens up, and gills form underneath. The character loses a healing surge (permanently) but gains the ability to breathe water for short periods – up to 1 half hour.

2b- Fire God Alter – burning forked tongue frog devil
There is a half finished ritual scrolled in primordial. It is of unknown type, but if the ritual is completed (skill challenge) it causes a fireball to instantly ignite in the chamber (3d12+12) DC 24 acrobatics or endurance for half damage.

2c- Water God Alter
A half finished ritual will cause heavy stone doors to slam into place and a water filling chamber trap to be set off. Meanwhile, a green glow emenates from the well-like alter.

3- Library
This chamber is a library as in the Strongholds. THe room to the south opens into a capacious well furnished library. Without wasting a second, player can cast detect magic items and discover 4 scrolls amongst the miscellany. One was a deed for a duplicate magic library, the other a deed for a magic armory. The other two scrolls were recipes for alchemists fire and frost.

3a- teleportation Room
This room is dark except for the strange glowing rune inscribed in the floor. It appears to be a teleportation circle, but it is glowing a sickly red rather than the arcane blue of past circles you’ve seen. In addition, 3 small imps are cackling as they work on the circle. One is cutting himself with a night, dipping his finger in the wound and smearing his blood into the runic cracks. Another has a jar of blood he uses, and the third has a greenish leg torn from some unfortunate creature, with which he cuts off strips and gobbets to smear into the etched circle. When they notice the door open, they begin to work more furiously. You can feel an occasional gust of hot wind come from the area above the circle.

The imps are 4 minor actions from opening a portal to hell. Characters can undue any of their work as a standard action. With 8 successes, the teleportation circle is fixed. If the imps are successful, an evil demon steps forth to give them battle.

3b- Hidden Shrine
This small chamber is lit by candles placed in an arc in front of the silver statue dominating one coner of the room. The staue depicts a white gowned man with eagles wings in plate armor and a great sword over the shoulder. He holds his hands palms up and out, as though expecting something. At his feet is an empty bowl.

The statue is a puzzle – This room is quiet and illuminated by a pair of ever-burning candles at the base of a statue in silver. The statue depicts a maiden with swans wings folded over her back pouring water into a basin at her feet. The gleam of coin sparkles from the basin. There are 45 gold coins in the basin. If a character drops a coin in, they will have a feeling of well-being, and 5 minutes later will be granted a boon.

Additionally, there is a fragment of black bone under the edge of the fountain (DC 26) from the finger of a kua toa a pushed a cursed emerald under the statue. If it is removed from underneath, a golden scroll will appear in Erathis hand, it is a deed to a Chapel to Erathis, and will instantly convert any suitable area into a magic embued chapel to the fey lord of magic

4- Electric Floor Room
This room is large and empty. The floor is made up of tight fitting metal plates of alternating light and dark gray.
When anyone steps on a square, the door slams shut and becomes electrified (15 damage if touched) (the door can be disabled with a skill trap challenge – 4 successes before 2 failures. The floor can as well, but only if one of the metal plates is pried open.)
The floor also becomes electrified, doing 2d10+6 and ongoing 10 damage and stunning/slowing anyone in the room (except for the two squares by the doors, which stay un-electrified.) Save ends stun, causing the PC to be dazed/slowed until out of the room or until the electricity is no more. Levitating higher than 5 ft off the floor will deactivate the electricity, as will wearing thick rubber soled boots)

5- There are three denizens in the chamber, as well as a hypnotizing mirror. In front of the mirror is a deep spiked pit, and the mirror was such that it drew the will of those who strayed to near. If party disturb a coating of ice that covers one statue, it turns into a large fist of ice hovering abo0ve the statue it once covered. Meanwhile, the flames that coated the other statue like a blanket slowly pull upwards into a ball of flame that rested atop the statues head.

Like many of the enchanters creations, these were living spells. The enchanter had been casting the spells with a type of sentience that gave them a life – and will – of their own. These were two such spells. The first was a ball of flame-fireball, and the other was a Bigby Icy grasp-blizzard storm.

Hidden in one corner of the room was a silver lizard, standing on its hind legs. It held a ball of silvery energy that it formed into a large round shield of force. It wore a belt and tucked into the belt was a wand, which for the cat-sized lizard was a walking staff.

6- Refuse Chamber
In the center of the room is a marble pedestal upon which rests a softly glowing book, surrounded in a nimbus of light..It will take 4 rounds of mental combat with the spell book to wrest control of the book and not suffer madness. Each round, the victim must make a check, and if they fail, they suffer the attack, but if they succeed, they direct the attack at the otyugh,

7-the enchanters laboratory.
In the chamber stood a blazing angry Pit Fiend. He had only one wing, the other had been savagely hacked of, leaving an oozing stump. In one hand he held a silver sword, a fabled silver sword of the githyankee. In the pit fiends other hand he held a pair of silver chains. One ended hooked into Shalazar Shackleton who stood like a puppet on a rope, and the other chain led to the third apprentice wizard, Isolda, whose chest was an open and gaping wound. Standing next to the pit fiend on the wizards oaken experiment table so they were eye level with each other stood the succubus they had slain earlier. She looked as healthy and alive as ever, only she had a golden cage rising from her ample bosom, and inside that gilded cage the heart of Isolda beat fluttering and frantic. The succubus let out a long and low chuckle.

If victorious the wizard is awake at the door to meet his saved children, and promises the heroes anything and everything he had. He mentioned he was a great enchanter, and could magically enchant any item they had.

This dungeon was recounted in a series of game night posts in early 2011, starting here.

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