A13: Descent into the Underworld

 

Maps

Krelgar Keep RuinsA13 Krelgar Keep Ruins - Player MapA13 Underworld MapA13 Underworld - Player Map

 

Audio

Cave w/ Dripping Water

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RISE OF THE DROW 1 of 3

by Stephen Yeardley & Jonathan Nelson

Backstory

The drow city of Holoth has long been a nexus of power in the Underworld, both naturally and when forged by those who desire it. Holoth is a wealthy city of power-hungry drow families, with various houses constantly vying for position and prestige at the expense of each other.

For years, a house by the name of Gullion struggled for power, only to lose footing with each conflict. After slaying her mother, the drow priestess Maelora came to lead the family. The new Matron Maelora struck a deal with a race of crystalline beings called the Vidre. This magically-sealed pact between her house and the Vidre would facilitate House Gullion's rise to pre-eminence in Holoth. To guarantee this progress, the Vidre granted House Gullion an item called the Vidrefacte. A natural crystal shaped like an enormous carved gem, the Vidrefacte is a powerful artifact capable of draining souls from the dead or dying and transferring their life force into energy which can be stored in the crystal and used at a later time. When granting the artifact to Matron Maelora, the Vidre performed an incantation which permanently bonded the crystal to House Gullion and its insignia.

Matron Maelora ordered the ritualistic sacrifice of many of House Gullion's slaves and low ranking members, in order to fill the magical crystal with energy. After the foul deed was done, over 500 souls were added to the Vidrefacte, causing it to glow and pulsate with a blinding white light. The Matron prayed to the Spider Goddess whilst holding the gem aloft; as she finished her spell, she set the crystal atop a large stalagmite within close proximity of the city's central structures. The stalagmite magically grew until it almost touched the ceiling of the gigantic cave, whilst at the same time the pulsating light from the Vidrefacte diminished. Matron Maelora ordered the sacrifice of more members of House Gullion; the light returned. The Matron summoned the crystal's power again and circular windows appeared. She created a grand entrance dedicated to the Spider Goddess, finding yet more sacrifices were required. After a dungeon to keep prisoners and train beasts was created, the light in the gem flickered out. The Matron was furious that the crystal continued to require these sacrifices; the House was now in short supply of potential victims and if any more creatures were taken from its own stock, it would leave it unable to function efficiently and effectively. Matron Maelora ordered her House to start trawling the Underworld for more slaves and living bounty to be used to power the Vidrefacte. In the meantime, she sacrificed a few medium ranking members of the house, including some immediate relatives she had never much cared for because they'd stood in her way as she rose through the House ranks, and soon the construction of her new home was complete.  She named it Tolgorith Tower and magically ensured the now-hovering Vidrefacte above the top of the structure remained in place, as so instructed by the crystalline beings.

Meanwhile, the Vidre were rather pleased. They had tricked House Gullion and now had a free source of energy. The channeling of souls from their artifact gave them a steady supply of life force which the Vidre need in order to survive and thrive. Little did Mother Matron Maelora know, but she was only obtaining half the energy from each soul whist the Vidre fed on the other half. The more energy the Vidre absorbed, the stronger they became.

This vicious circle continued for many years until House Gullion became a force to be reckoned with. The family had agents installed in all the other houses and every chain of command. It was poised to strike and strike it did; House Gullion took the throne of Holoth for its own, grasping the seat of power to control the entire city. But Matron Maelora was far too power-hungry to stop there. She wanted to dominate the entire region, both above and below ground.  She ordered a lock-down of the Underworld. She ceased outside relations with the mercane, the dwarves, and the other races which traded and dealt with the drow. She found new sources of goods through raids on outlying villages and towns and instead of asking for what they needed, the drow now took what they wanted. This change in lifestyle, while disdained by some, has been accepted by the general populace. Many see Matron Maelora as a gift from the Spider Goddess herself, someone who will "guide us to victory and dominance over the other races with their weak and mewling gods."

 

Changes in the Underworld

The change in drow behavior has adversely affected most of the Underworld, throwing the status quo into utter chaos. Trade routes have been severed, drow raids have increased, and the stability of the entire Underworld is teetering on the brink of destruction. Most affected by the new changes are the dwarves of Embla, a large town in close proximity to Holoth. Over the past few months it has lost numerous warriors, merchants, and officials to drow raids on both trade shipments and the town itself. Embla sent word to the nearby major dwarven city of Stoneholme, but was turned away. Apparently Stoneholme had already closed its borders and barred its gates when the drow took to their raiding activity in the area. Embla is now virtually defenseless and is prepared to beg outsiders for their help.

 

Current events - Matron Maelora's Decision to Further Betray Those Around Her

After a consultation with her daughter, the Oracle of Tolgorith Tower, Matron Maelora begins to suspect that her deal with the Vidre is no longer working to her advantage. The thirst of the crystal artifact seems to be increasing despite the fact that Matron Maelora has decreased her reliance of it and thus consumption of energy from the Vidrefacte has also dropped. Matron Maelora prays to the Spider Goddess and performs many bloody and taboo rituals requesting guidance and clarity. The Spider Goddess finally grants her a vision in which Maelora sees threads of life force trailing off each member of House Gullion. These threads all coalesce at the Vidrefacte where, using Tolgorith Tower, the energy is being channeled down through the earth and directly into the bodies of the Vidre. Hidden below the House, as the Vidre grow in size and power, the more they require the energy from souls. Finally it is all clear to the Matron; she knows what she must do. Gathering the children of the House who she sees with threads coming from them, she has them perform a ritual requesting the further assistance of the Spider Goddess. In another vision, they all see that the Goddess agrees to help, but only with the promise of the expansion of her power. House Gullion must dominate all of the region around the city, both below and above ground. They must spread the word of the Spider Goddess and force the humans above to bow before the her or die, so that they will know her strength and might.

All those involved agree, and the drow Spider Goddess severs the link between House Gullion and the Vidre. The back-ripple of energy from the Vidrefacte is felt by every drow of House Gullion, as the mystical threads seen in the first vision are torn asunder, whilst those who took part in the second ritual feel a personal blessing from the Goddess, something that comes with a price to pay.

This enrages the Vidre who prepare an all out assault on Tolgorith Tower. If House Gullion will not fulfill their agreement then the Vidre will take their souls with force!

 

 

Adventure Hook

The adventure begins in Rybalka, where the PCs are approached by the dwarven blacksmith Quorron and his cousin Miah. Miah is a representative of Embla and has come to beg for their assistance with a growing problem in the Underworld. Representatives have been sent all over the known realms, above and below ground. The forces that agree to help the dwarves could easily be a very mixed bunch, bringing all the inter-species tensions that such gatherings can engender. The dwarves realize this, but hope the over-riding issues concerning the drow will draw these myriad allies and mercenaries together.

 

 

Synopsis

The PCs are approached by Miah from Embla, who requests assistance in the Underworld.

Whilst traveling to the Underworld, the PCs pass through the upper-floor remains and still-intact dungeons of a ruined keep. A number of undead minions of the building's former owner are encountered.  Among these undead are zombie drow, former members of a spy team which had been following Miah as the dwarf headed for the surface to ask for help. There are also indications that the drow had been planning to use the old keep for occasional surveillance of the Overworld. Finally, the PCs may also come across evidence of the previous inhabitants of the keep from long ago.

From all that they find in the keep, the PCs may choose to return to the village to warn the authorities or continue into the Underworld. Whichever choice they make will have implications on how they encounter events in the Underworld.

Eventually, the path down "The Long Road" is taken, along which a drow raid on a dwarven trading transport team is disrupted by the PCs. Clues can be found pointing to "House Gullion" being responsible for the raid as part of a wider plan.

In the next part of this adventure, after the PCs have arrived at Embla, they are greeted by the remaining town officials and merchant circle, who then meet with each other and discuss the current dire straits. It is understood that these sweeping changes to the Underworld came with House Gullion's rise to power. The PCs are asked to infiltrate and uncover additional information on House Gullion and, if possible, dispatch whoever is responsible for the death and enslavement of so many innocents in the Underworld.

The PCs may choose to return to the surface, which allows the drow more time to move in and sack Embla, enslaving its citizens. If the PCs take this path they will lose Miah's help and must take the "Main Road" into the drow city of Holoth, leading to them engaging in a frontal assault on the drow city, which may result in their deaths.

-OR-

The party may decide to press on without additional help from Rybalka; whilst the guards are good at their job, it is unlikely many would survive more than an encounter or two with the drow. Continuing to work with Miah gives them access to the "Back Road", a less-traveled route to Holoth and comparatively lightly-guarded way into the city.

In the final part of the adventure, the party will have decided to EITHER take part in a full-frontal assault of Holoth OR enter the city via the "Back Road" after a more dangerous journey. Whichever route they choose, as the PCs make their way into Holoth they find it under attack from huge crystalline creatures, the Vidre, that focus their attacks on Tolgorith Tower. However, as the PCs approach, they also find themselves targeted by the enraged creatures.

The PCs must make their way through the city to Tolgorith Tower and then into the structure itself. Whilst the Vidre continue to make this difficult as they continue to attack the PCs, the party has to decide how to deal with the tower's drow guards, defeat the children of House Gullion and finally confront the power behind the city, Matron Maelora!

If the PCs can succeed in their mission and either slay or remove the matron from power, they will end her stranglehold on the region and return life in the Underworld to what it was.  If they fail, House Gullion will defeat the Vidre, rebuild and restructure its house (which will take time but is inevitable), and then make its move against the Overworld. Others will have to deal with that particular menace!

 

 

 

Village of Rybalka

The adventure begins in Rybalka where the PCs are either up late drinking at the Thirsty Serpent Tavern or staying overnight at Rybalka Lodge.

 

 

 

 

Request from Below

Quorron and Miah

The PCs are approached in the middle of the night by the dwarven blacksmith Quorron.  His cousin Miah has just arrived from the city of Embla in the Underworld with dire news and a request for assistance. Miah has journeyed to several Underworld outposts, searching for help and assistance, as well as a handful of Overworld sites. He has ended up in Rybalka after a number of fruitless stops along a circuitous winding route; he is now making what he knows will be his last attempt at gaining assistance. He intends to return to Underworld the next day in order to help with the defense of Embla.

Something significantly changed over the last couple months, as relations with the drow became strained, and then were cut off altogether. This happened right around the time the drow of House Gullion took power as the new ruling party in the city of Holoth. Then, one by one, all of the other Underworld races withdrew from their treaties as well and severed ties with the dwarves. Miah suspects that the drow of House Gullion are to blame for these new changes; he believes they are planning something, but doesn't know what exactly. Because shortly after the silent treatment began, drow began to raid dwarven caravans meant for other locations in the Underworld. In order to keep up their food supply and economy, the dwarven town of Embla had to delve deeper into the Underworld and establish new relations with distant races. The drow obviously did not like this and have responded with force, slaying or capturing all the dwarves they could, along with the caravans and their supplies. As far as Miah knows, the dwarves who survived the attacks were captured and dragged back to the drow city of Holoth; none have returned.

Embla has nearly run out of warriors and is sitting virtually defenseless whilst the drow city of Holoth grows ever stronger. Since Miah has relations in the Overworld he was sent to meet with his cousin Quorron and request help from the tall ones. The tall ones are the dwarves' only hope from this part of the world; asking for assistance from them is a first for Embla, and Miah truly hopes he is acting in a right-and-proper manner when requesting assistance.

Miah cannot promise anything up front, but nevertheless begs the PCs for their help and pledges that Embla will be indebted to them for their efforts. Miah wishes to return to Embla as soon as possible.  

 

 

 

Quorron's Offer

If the PCs agree to help Miah, Quorron offers to either loan or give them anything in his shop free of charge, once his fellow dwarf is out of earshot. He knows how difficult it is to ask for help from Overworlders and doesn't want Miah to feel any further in debt as a result of his actions. Part of the deal for being given these items is not revealing anything about it to Miah, under any circumstances. Quorron is adamant about this.

Most standard weapons and armor from the 3.5 PHB or Pathfinder Core Rules can be found here. In addition, there are a few magical weapons and pieces of armor Quorron is willing to loan to the PCs if they specifically promise to help the dwarves; he doesn't go into how they became magical if asked, and a few of them have a rather exotic or ancient feel and look about them. Each PC is offered the loan of one item if they choose the magical pieces or given four items if they pick non-magical equipment. Magical items on offer are as follows:

  • Longsword +1 (about 5 years old)
  • Dagger +3 (over 150 years old)
  • Buckler +2 (about 18 months old)
  • Mace +2 (age indeterminate, but clearly not new or from anywhere close by)
  • Longbow +2 (Elven, although only a true elf will know this)
  • Shortbow +2 (Vikmordere in make and about 200 years old)
  • Chainmail +1 (about 18 months old)
  • Chain shirt +2 (about 400 years old, of an ancient dwarven design)
  • Breastplate +1 (age indeterminate, made for a female and highly engraved with unknown symbols)
  • Studded Leather +2 (about 4 years old)

Skill Check: Search/Perception DC 30 = success will reveal that the head of the mace is slightly hollow, the chamber the same size as a standard vial, perhaps used for holy water. If the GM wishes to use this information in any way, please go ahead. Otherwise it has no direct influence on the adventure.

Skill check: Knowledge (religion) DC 35 = success will reveal that the breastplate's symbols are from an ancient god of Balance and Equality. If the GM wishes to use this information in any way, please go ahead. Otherwise it has no direct influence on the adventure.

After leaving town, Miah will lead them back through a ruined keep and into its dungeon, where an entrance to the Underworld can be found. After they enter the Underworld he will take them immediately to Embla to meet with the town leaders.

 

 

 

History of Krelgar Keep

Krelgar Keep gets its name from a Klavek Kingdom military general named Krelgar Thorntalon, who routed the barbarians that once lived in these lands and oversaw the construction of the keep. Krelgar Keep was constructed almost 300 years ago as the Klavek Kingdom's first effort to gain a secure foothold in the Vikmordere Valley. Their efforts failed miserably when a massive Vikmordere retaliatory assault on the partially-constructed keep decimated the Klavek forces stationed here. Not a single Klav survived.  

Years later, a driven, slightly-crazed necromantic sorcerer named Yul made the ruined keep his home and animated all of the dead Klavekian soldiers, ordering them to serve him and finish building the keep.  When he had trouble controlling the large number of undead, he asked for the help of Tathious, a white dragon. She agreed to help him on one condition; that he would be at her beck and call whenever she required a favor. He agreed and she granted Yul a magical necklace that enhanced his ability to control undead via vastly improved charisma. 

The years passed and soon the keep was nearly complete, although Tathious had begun to call upon Yul far too often for his tastes. Since Yul had amassed quite the undead army, he decided to gather his troops and destroy her. Yul gazed through his crystal ball, watching the assault from the safety of his keep. Then the crystal ball went black; something had blocked his scrying spell. Soon he heard the terrible roar of an enraged dragon outside his keep, but before he could reach a position to defend his home, the creature crashed into the building, knocking down years of work with just a few well placed blows. Tathious's anger knew no bounds and soon the keep was once again a pile of rubble. Luckily Yul had sought cover deep in the dungeons of his keep, where he thought his safety was assured. But Tathious changed into human form and, with a smile playing across her lips, began to descend the stairs, where she would teach Yul a lesson on the proper place of man amongst dragons.

Although thoroughly defeated by the dragon, Yul was made of determined stuff and his sorcerous spirit refused to leave the keep. At first it existed as nothing more than a bitter wraith-like form, bound to the torture room where he had met death at the claws of the dragon, but it grew. Over time, the ghost of Yul poured over his own books and scrolls, somehow maintaining his ability to read and use them, yet continued to be agonizingly frustrated at events that had taken place and his inability to properly control his undead army whilst alive. Eventually he understood his error; as a living creature, he was never "one of them" and therefore had had to rule by fear, a weak and fragile tool, as opposed to authority, a strong and powerful one. Yul determined a way to make amends for his mistake and once again work to control the region. After all, he was destined to do so, something he believed even more fervently now he knew how to overcome his issues with commanding undead. And anyway, what was the death and undeath of a few inconsequential humanoids compared to the rise of a rightful ruler of the region? Yul re-entered his body and transformed into a mohrg, unashamedly proud of all he had done and now able to hold sway over countless undead. Once in this new form, he continued to study his tomes and parchments.

 

 

 

Krelgar Keep Ruins

 

Miah leads the way through the old tower ruins.

A rubble pile can be seen up ahead.  Huge gray stones, flecked with dirt and chunks of ice, glisten in the milky sun. Despite its present condition, this old keep must have been quite grand in its day, judging by the sizable piles of stone strewn about the area and the high quality work exhibited on some of the larger blocks. The footprint of a massive beast is pressed firmly into the ground nearby; it appears to be similar to a reptile, but at five feet across, it comes from a formidable creature. Thankfully there are no other prints in the area save this one.

A twisted circular staircase climbs up into the air, only to end suspended a few dozen feet above the ground.  Perhaps this is a stairway to the heavens?  The same stairway also appears to descend through the pile of rubble and into the frozen ground below.

 

 

 

Map of Krelgar Keep Ruins

Krelgar Keep Ruins (click to enlarge)

R1.  Krelgar Keep Ruins Entrance

A circular twisting stairway climbs up about 30 feet (9 meters) into the air, appearing somewhat comical since the surrounding structure has since been utterly destroyed. The same stairway also descends into the ground, leading to the first cellar level below. The cool temperature and air circulation through this hole has actually preserved much of what lies below. Large stone blocks that have fallen around the entrance prevent significant amounts of water from flowing into the keep below, although there is noticeable seepage.

If the PCs climb UP the stairs to the open top, they are in for a surprise. When Yul transformed into a mohrg and began to reanimate his undead minions, it attracted the attention of a pair of free-spirited extraplanar beings, which felt the pulse of evil energy that comes with any creature's transformation to a wicked undead form.

These two bralani followed what was broadly happening within the keep and made a decision; one would investigate whilst the other would watch over the entrance and swiftly return home if the worst happened. And indeed the worst did happen; the bralani who dared to explore the keep met an untimely end, one wracked with pain, anguish and fear, all of which were sufficient for it to reveal the whereabouts of its partner; Yul's cold iron torture equipment more than did its job.

Using one of his other cold iron items, a set of Dimensional Shackles, Yul managed to bind the second bralani using various threats and coercions as to what would happen to its partner if it didn't agree to his demands. The creature gave in, hoping to turn the trick and trap back on Yul without knowing exactly what was going to happen. At the last moment, it turned into its whirlwind form, realizing it had been fooled, and attempted to fly away. But Yul managed to hold it in place before surrounding it with a Permanent Image. To this day, the bralani sits at the top of the stairs, bound in whirlwind form. The sound of the whirlwind seems perfectly natural for the wide open spaces and their desolate nature.

If the PCs mount the stairs, they will find themselves confronted by an insanely angry whirlwind. They may well mistake this for an air elemental and fight, in which case the bralani will fight back. If somehow the PCs decide to talk to the creature, it will eventually calm down and describe what happened to it. If allowed to return home (which it will want to do) it will take the Shackles with it so they can be destroyed. PCs will notice rather wicked-looking abrasions around the bralani's wrists and ankles if it returns to any form with arms and legs.

If the PCs kill the bralani, they find themselves in possession of the Dimensional Shackles.

Skill Check: Diplomacy vs DC30; Success means the bralani can be reasoned with to calm down after years of imprisonment, failure means it will attack forcefully. Another check can be made at +2.

Any character who is Chaotic Good get +2 to this roll, so attuned are bralani to this alignment.

Combat

Bralani

3.5 | Pathfinder

Dimensional Shackles

These shackles have golden runes traced across their cold iron surface. Any creature bound within them is affected as if a dimensional anchor spell were cast upon her (no save). They fit any Small to Large creature. The DC to break or slip out of the shackles is 30.

Moderate abjuration; CL 11th; Craft Wondrous Item, dimensional anchor; Price 28,000 gp; Weight 5 lb.

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Adventure Location: Krelgar Keep Ruins

Adventure Location: Krelgar Keep Ruins
Dangers:
Drow, Traps, Wandering Underworld Monsters
Lighting: None, light source required
Walls: 5x5 Solid Gray Stone Blocks
Doors: Solid Oak, Some worn, others rotten
Mood/Theme: Ghost Town


 

Cellar Level 1: Food Storage

Barrels of spoiled ale and mead line the north and south walls of the room the spiral stairs descend into and through. A few on the north wall have been knocked over and drained by thieves long ago. None of the drink is suitable and if consumed requires a Fort Save DC 18.  Failure results in a form of food poisoning causing vomiting and fatigue lasting 2d6 hours. A mini-keg of sweet brandy has become a sticky mass over time; now it will have the same effect as a flask of Alchemist's Fire if a lit rag is placed in its tap-hole and it is thrown.

Alchemist’s Fire

You can throw a flask of alchemist’s fire as a splash weapon. Treat this attack as a ranged touch attack with a range increment of 10 feet.

A direct hit deals 1d6 points of fire damage. Every creature within 5 feet of the point where the flask hits takes 1 point of fire damage from the splash. On the round following a direct hit, the target takes an additional 1d6 points of damage. If desired, the target can use a full-round action to attempt to extinguish the flames before taking this additional damage. Extinguishing the flames requires a DC 15 reflex save. Rolling on the ground provides the target a +2 bonus on the save. Leaping into a lake or magically extinguishing the flames automatically smothers the fire.

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R2. First Contact with the Drow

Drow spies from House Gullion had been secretly intending to use the keep as an outpost.  As the drow were in such a hurry to get a base set up prior to assaulting the Overworld, they did not have time to thoroughly investigate the keep from the bottom upwards, but reached the top and made a decision about what should happen next. The drow decided it would be a good base to carry out their covert operations from, so retreated to scout the place out. Half the group was detailed to investigate the ruins and cellar levels whilst the other half went back down through the holding cells to the torture chamber where they had entered.  

It was then that Yul and his undead minions struck; destroying the first four drow was a simple matter, particularly as they split into two groups of two. Yul then sent these freshly-made zombie drow to approach their comrades and trick them into coming close enough for Yul himself, his other undead and the four now-undead drow to fall upon them. Yul quickly converted them into zombies as well, and the eight extra warriors have become a useful addition to his forces. 

The first group of four drow zombies wait in hiding behind the barrels in the side rooms off R2, two in each room marked R3. The other four quietly ascend the spiral stairs from R4 with their crossbows trained on the PCs heads. They open fire as soon as all of them have a good shot. This flanking-and-pincer movement could leave the PCs in a sticky situation! All of the conversions to zombies were recent enough that the drow's poison is still active, and they have no issues at all with using it now.

Combat

Drow raider zombies - 8 in total, 4 in R2 and possibly 4 coming up from R4

3.5 | Pathfinder

Tactics: If the PCs did not hear their approach, the drow surprise the PCs and move in using a triple pincer attack, hitting them from the front, the rear and below.  They start with ranged weapons, attempting to hit the PCs with their poison bolts. The zombie drow switch to melee should the PCs either approach or seem to be outgunning them with spells or ranged weapons.

Drow Poison: Drow poison—injury; save Fort DC 13; frequency 1/minute for 2 minutes; initial effect unconsciousness for 1 minute; secondary effect unconsciousness for 2d4 hours; cure 1 save.

Unconscious?  Should all of the PCs be knocked unconscious by the drow poison, the drow zombies will bind them and take them to Yul in the torture chamber, where they will be stripped of all belongings, killed by the mohrg and turned into yet more zombies and live a life of servitude as slaves to Yul. Tasks will involve helping Yul with experiments, gathering other humanoids for transformation and defending the keep from interlopers from both the Overworld and Underworld.

-OR-

Once they are unconscious, the zombies will take them to Yul. However, before they are killed and turned into zombies, a stronger drow raiding party, one sent to find out the fate of the original eight and, whether alive or dead, return them for punishment, will come to the PCs "rescue". The drow will bind them and take them to the City of Holoth where again they will be stripped of all belongings and instead forced to live a life of servitude as slaves to House Gullion. Most will work on the farm while others will be forced to perform less than desirable acts within Tolgorith Tower. If you choose this option, use the statistics for the members of the drow team from the section detailing the start of the journey on the Long Road.

The GM can decide which is more desirable as their approach to the three-part campaign.

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R3.  Food and Wine Storage

 

These two rooms contain smashed crates which once contained a plentiful supply of food. Wine racks still filled with bottles line the north and south walls.  

Most of the wine has since turned to vinegar, but a few bottles have actually improved with age. A PC that retains either a Knowledge (Culinary or similar), Profession (Cook or similar) skill or is stated to be either a diplomat, bon viveur or alcoholic within their background and successfully makes a Search/Perception DC 20 locates a fine bottle of aged red wine worth 1d4x100 gp. Each bottle holds six glasses and there are up to 6 bottles of such wine in each room. If a glass of wine from one of these delicious but potent bottles is drunk, the PC concerned needs to make a Fortitude DC 15 roll or find their Charisma and Strength increased by 2 each and their Wisdom and Dexterity decreased by 2 each for 5d12 minutes. They will then need to make a Will DC 15 roll or drink another glass. The effects of each glass are cumulative and each glass that is drunk adds 1 to the Fortitude and subsequent Will role. This process will continue until either:

1. A successful Will role is made

2. A PC's Wisdom or Dexterity temporarily drops to zero (an hour's sleep is required to restore 1 point of Dexterity AND 1 point of Wisdom. An hour's rest is required to restore 1 point of Dexterity OR 1 point of Wisdom. After any sleep the Strength and Charisma increases will disappear)

3. There is no more wine left.

None of these effects will be apparent to the PC until a number of minutes equal to five plus their Constitution bonus have passed. A glass of this delicious and unique wine takes three rounds to pour and drink in total. Any PC that is heavily under the influence of alcohol needs a Cure spell that delivers half as many HD of healing as glasses of wine drunk, rounded up. Otherwise the party may find itself with a garrulous and strong but clumsy and poor-decision making member or two.

Treat this as a CR5 trap for reward purposes.

If possible, have these rolls made beforehand, perhaps at the beginning of the game, and use them to spring a surprise on the PCs - "You have one glass and it's delicious! You think you'll have another..." and so on. Make yourself aware of each PCs' Fortitude bonus and have fun.

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Cellar Level 2: Guard Barracks

Hung about the east and west walls of this place are various daggers, swords, spears, and shields. All of the weaponry looks quite normal and in good condition. Some of it has clearly been used recently and may explain that good condition, as care after use often makes the item look "newer" than it actually is. However, these items have all been deliberately weakened and will  last for 1d3+1 swings, thrusts or blocks, disintegrating on the last one . (R4)

5 daggers, 4 shortswords, 3 longswords, 3 spears, 4 light wooden shields.

There are six doors along the north wall, each opening to a small storage compartment where guards - or rather Yul's skeletal troops - once kept fine armor and weapons as well as any items of a personal nature. (R5a-f)

Three doors along the south wall enter the former Krelgar Keep guard barracks. Amazingly these rooms remain the way the guards left them when the Keep was abandoned a few hundred years ago; there is just a thin coating of dust on all the items in the rooms, but nowhere near enough to account for decade after decade of non-use... (R6a-c)

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R4. Too Close for Comfort

About 100 years ago, Yul made use a trio of rogues who had tried to turn the ruins of Krelgar Keep into a hideout, before slaughtering them without compunction. He had them place a trap in front of each of the guard barrack rooms (R6 a, b, & c) to protect equipment stored there from roaming bandits or outsiders. Each was the signature example of the work of these expert trapmakers and intended to destroy anyone who dare enter. After years of practice, Yul is more than capable of skillfully avoiding each trap if there is any reason for him to enter these areas. He occasionally uses them to store his more powerful zombies when they are not needed, along with a number of interesting and valuable items. Once something is stored in here, Yul uses a limited supply of Dust of Tracelessness to disguise the fact the room has been recently used, with a small amount tossed into the air just outside the door way and the remains thrown in R6 rooms themselves.

If the PCs managed to defeat the four drow raider zombies in R2 on the floor above without making any noise or attracting any attention, there will be four more here, waiting to support their brothers and sisters. Two of them are positioned either side of the door to R6b and react as soon as anyone sets foot on the stairs.

Drow raider zombie - 4 in total, if not defeated in R2.

3.5 | Pathfinder

Tactics:If the drow did not hear their approach, the PCs may surprise them. Once the drow raider zombies are aware of the PCs, they start fighting with ranged weapons, attempting to hit the PCs with their poison bolts. The zombie drow switch to melee should the PCs either approach or seem to be outgunning them with spells or ranged weapons.

Evidence: If the area is searched, the PCs find a small gnome-skin satchel with some sheets of what feels like golden parchment inside it. These sheets have a strange symbol-based language on them, one Miah can just about read (if he is with the party) but the PCs will have difficulty deciphering on their own - it is quite likely magic will be required, such as Comprehend Languages. As this is drow Undercommon, it is a language the PCs almost certainly won't have seen before.

If the PCs find some way to read the notes, they turn up evidence that the drow in the keep intended to spy on the Overworld and had been given a mandate to do whatever needed to be done to establish if it is ripe with souls for harvesting. They would've been in the proverbial "backyard" of Rybalka without anyone knowing!

Rough sketches of the path between Holoth, Embla and the keep are in the satchel, as are routes to other Underworld sites, like Stoneholme. Miah studies them and is surprised at the accuracy of the surrounding environs of Embla, but also can make sense of a little-used route towards Holoth. In these times when the drow have taken over most of the main and subsidiary routes, this information could prove vital. The details have been documented in black drow writing on these long strips of strange gold-colored paper.*  A strange black bone quill and vial of about an ounce of jet black ink are also found.^

*This is drow Kllellek paper and is valued for its ability to survive all forms of natural damage.  The paper cannot be torn, burned, soaked, or otherwise naturally harmed.  Magical effects such as a Burning Hands or Fireball spell can damage this paper. (4 sheets sized 9 inches by 12 inches - Value: 100 gp in total)

^A very specific drow quill and ink must be applied to the paper in order for it to adhere.  This ink is made using the blood of a Vvor combined with the liquid from a giant spider silk sac.  Magical spells assist to combine the two and create a very viscous liquid capable of permanently marking almost anything.  (Value: 400 gp per ounce)

New Items: Kllellek Paper, Drow Ink & Quill

Kllellek Paper

Aura faint transmutation; CL 1

Slot –; Weight –

Kllellek paper is a Drow innovation that is made from an alchemical mixture of giant slug and neothelid skins.  These skins are drenched in acid and then pressed together and bonded with a thin outer layer of rendered dwarven fat to hold the entire mixture together to create four sheets of paper that measure 9”x12”.

These components give the paper invulnerability to physical harm, such as tearing, cutting, or burning by natural fire.  Spells that deal damage, such as burning hands or fireball damage Kllellek paper normally, but the layer of dwarven fat gives the paper a +1 to saving throws against these spells.  This bonus applies even if the paper in someone’s possession.

Value 100 gp for four sheets.

 

Drow Quill

This drow writing instrument is made from the fang of a monstrous spider.  A specially made writing tip and cap are fitted to the ends of the fang.  The inside of the fang is coated with an alchemical substance to keep the ink from sticking to the inside of the fang.

The quill holds enough ink to write 25 pages before needing to be refilled.

 

Drow Ink

Aura faint transmutation; CL 1

Slot –; Weight –

This special ink is the only substance that will adhere to Kllellek paper, but it can be used on almost any surface.  The ink is made of a combination of Vvor blood and the liquid from a giant spider’s silk sack.

Drow magic is used to combine the two substances to create four ounces of a very viscous dark gray liquid that can mark almost any surface permanently.

Value 400 gp per ounce.

Statistical Information by Will Myers

Miah will recognize the items immediately. Otherwise a skill check is required:

Knowledge (arcana) DC 25 = Success in recognizing these items, which are rare in the Overworld.

According to legend, all drow originally hail from Svartálfaheimr; a sacred place where priests of darkness rule from grand palaces using the Staff of the Great Serpent to smite all who might oppose them. There is a vague reference to this central point when all routes into the Underworld are described. It will take a Knowledge (Religion) DC 35 roll to know this and recognize that suggestions of paths and roads to this place are just there for religious protection.

map

 

 

R5. Personal Storage Rooms: 6 rooms

a. Storage 1

The door to this room is missing the handle and the lock mechanism has been forcibly removed.  

A smattering of copper coins is scattered about on the floor of this small storage room. One of them is a Coin of Singing

Coin of Singing

Basic Elements

This seemingly standard copper coin gives someone 3 ranks in Perform (Singing) and allows them to Inspire Courage as per the Bardic Music ability once per day, but only for a maximum time of 4 rounds.

This also means that person usually has a handful of coppers or a silver or two to get by on, but rarely more.

Made by casting Enthrall on a copper coin. This assistance from a bard, if the maker isn't one, comes in the form of her Inspiring Competence for a full two minutes during the manufacture process. This allows the magic to take effect.

Advanced Elements

As part of the process, the coin has to be marinated in a mixture of the spittle of the bard who undertakes the Inspire Competence and the droppings of a songbird which have dried and the powder collected at either dawn or dusk. This marinade can be no more than 24 hours old when the manufacture process is started and the coin must sit in it for a  24 hours before the full process detailed above is completed.

Aura: Weak Enchantment; CL: 5th, Craft Wondrous Item, Enthrall, creator must be a bard or get construction aid from a bard; price 2,100gp, weight 1/10th lb

 

b. Storage 2

The door of this room is shut and locked.  A novice thief broke his lock-pick off in the lock mechanism so that it must be removed before one can attempt to open the door.  Open Locks/Disable Device DC 15 to remove broken lock-pick.  Open Locks/Disable Device DC 21 to unlock the door.

A full set of platemail armor rests on the floor of this room.  It is covered in rust.  

Upon closer inspection the armor is actually covered in the dust and debris of a dessicated ochre jelly. With great care, this can be removed by polishing with a cloth for 1d4 hours.  However, if the armor is donned without cleaning and the wearer then either sweats, gets wet through water or rain or is splashed with blood from either himself or foes or similar, the rust-like substance moistens and has the same effect as the acid an ochre jelly normally secrets. This digestive juice-like liquid feels very itchy and uncomfortable on the first round and burns on the second round of contact with flesh; it deals 1d4 acid points of damage per round until completely wiped away. It takes at least three rounds to wipe the substance away and it deals the damage for every round until the cleaning process is complete. Treat dealing with this problem as a CR3 trap.

The armor is in complete working order and in fact is a full suit of platemail +1.

Ochre Jelly Dust Trap

CR 3

Type:  Magic device

Search/Perception: DC 27

Disable Device: DC 15

Trigger:  Proximity trigger; manual reset

Attack: no save to avoid, 1d4 acid damage for at least three rounds after the first round, until washed away

c. Storage 3

The ceiling just above this room has a small crack in it through which water leaks. It has caused the door to swell in its jam.  It will need to be forced open with a Str DC 18.

One of Yul's necromancy spell books was stored here and it remained when he met his untimely demise.  Although thieves came through long ago they saw no value in the book and left it behind, prior to Yul capturing them.  It has taken heavy water damage and Yul considered it beyond use and repair when he finally came across it. However, the pages are of much better quality than Yul remembered and some of the many spells once contained in the book still remain.  The only spells legible are on five pages about seven eighths of the way through the book. Opening the soaked pages without tearing them requires a Dex DC 15 check.

 

 

d. Storage 4

The door for this room has been completely ripped off the hinges and is nowhere to be found.  There is nothing in the room save some very old vermin droppings on a low table. A Knowledge (nature) DC 12 roll identifies them as the feces from large cockroaches. The droppings look very similar to the local Overworld's large black peppercorns, which can be grown around Rybalka and that the PCs may mistake them for if they fail the roll or don't think to make it. The party cook or enthusiastic halfling will be convinced they are just the thing to add a little flavor to tasteless trail rations or leathery cave bat. Good luck with that one if the players happen to sweep them up to season their next meal...

 

e. Storage 5

The door to this room has a rusty hand axe driven into it.  A blood splatter transitions from the surface of the door onto the gray stones of the wall.

This door is locked Open Locks/Disable Device DC 20 and stuck in the door jamb, thus must be forced open Str DC 18.

A party of 4 of Yul's skeletons have stood waiting to join the assault on the white dragon Tathious for all these centuries. Yul keeps reminding himself to do something with them, but he has become attached to his more-straightforwardly controlled zombies. As soon as the door is opened they march out, immediately head for the stairs and attempt to exit the keep. If they are engaged, they will turn to fight; otherwise they exit the keep and head toward the mountains far to the north. They are about 8 to 9 feet tall and armed with wicked-looking artificially serrated claws to better aid ripping through dragon scales.

Combat

Troll skeletons (4)

3.5 | Pathfinder

Wild Side Quest:

If the PCs decide to abandon their quest and follow the troll skeletons, they will lead the way to the lair of an Ancient Female White Dragon named Tathious (5 days travel). Her lair is buried deep in an underground stronghold of the Ancients. Tathious's son Tethsantious (a Male Young Adult White Dragon) will see them entering the ancient stronghold and follow from a distance. If they engage his mother, he will attack from behind; she has saved him twice before and this grudging admiration of her prowess means his desire to protect her overcomes his natural instinct to let a party weaken her before stepping in, killing both the adventurers and his mother and stealing her horde. At least that is the case for today; who knows about tomorrow...

This battle should be near impossible for the PCs to win. If they are able to conquer both dragons they will have access to a massive treasure horde which contains over 20 magical items! GM to roll randomly for the bulk of the items, but reward your players with at least one useful item each if the initial rolls don't turn up anything they can immediately use.

 

f. Storage 6

The door to this room has been smashed to pieces. Only a few rotting chunks of splintered wood remain as the rest is almost unrecognizable debris.

The inside of the room is blackened by fire, most noticeably in the north-eastern corner, where the stone has been melted and re-cooled into its current shape. The brick floor of this storage room has been smashed through; the hole in the floor leads to area R7 a where a charred human skeleton rests in a dungeon cell. There seems to be some kind of writing in the soot on the floor of this room, but it's not very clear and the language doesn't look familiar. In fact, it doesn't say anything, but is a lure to get PCs to step upon the weakened floor, which looks rather sturdy until closely checked.

Well-Disguised Pit Trap

CR 2

Type:  Mechanical

Search/Perception: DC 27

Disable Device: DC 20

Trigger:  Location trigger; repair reset

Attack: DC 20 Reflex save avoids; 10 ft. deep (1d6, fall)

Any PC who falls through this hole may set the trap off in R7a. To avoid doing so, they need to make a Reflex save DC17 Plus the damage they  take from the fall. See room R7a for details of the trap.

If the PCs chip away at the heat-blasted wall, they come away with 4d6 pieces of quartz worth 3d6 silver pieces each.

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R6.  Guard Barracks: 3 rooms

These barracks once housed the Klavek Kingdom soldiers who spent many years guarding the keep while under construction.

Each of the rooms contains six simple beds forged of metal. The old straw filled mattresses have been gnawed and torn asunder at various times and there are shreds of mildewy ticking strewn about. Yul has replaced four of the mattresses in 6a and four in 6c with drow military bedrolls and blankets, taken form the raiders and spies he killed. At the foot of each bed is an old wooden footlocker of Klavek Kingdom origin, circa year 1000.

The current goal of Yul is to use these rooms to lure would-be do-gooders to their doom. Anyone who gets in his way will be transformed and then used in the assault on their own family and friends. Yul has thought this carefully through over the decades and has a very clear plan in mind, but knows he needs to find a way to make his zombies more durable; they have a tendency to fall apart after a decade or so or, if victims are in short supply, the stronger ones turn to feeding on the weaker specimens

a. Barracks 1

The door to this room is trapped. It was originally a high-quality dart trap and now Yul has replaced the originals with drow poisoned darts. PCs may well think that the drow themselves set this up, but an even more cunning mind was at work here, making some of the rolls attached to it higher than usual.

 

Door Trapped: Fusillade of Drow Poison Darts

 

CR 5

Type:  Mechanical

Search/Perception: DC 25

Disable Device: DC 25

Trigger:  Location trigger; Manual Reset

Attack: +20 ranged (1d4+1 plus poison, dart) / Multiple Targets (1 dart per target in a 10-ft.-by-10-ft. area)

Effect: Poison – Drow Poison—injury; save Fort DC 13; frequency 1/minute for 2 minutes; initial effect unconsciousness for 1 minute; secondary effect unconsciousness for 2d4 hours; cure 1 save.

This room is set up to appear to be housing three drow, although they are now the zombies encountered earlier. This room is identical to the description above with regard to the basic appearance. Each of the three footlockers is empty, locked, and trapped with drow poison.  Yul had these set up as decoys to paralyze bandits should they make it past the dart trap.

 

Trapped and Locked Footlocker

CR 2

Open Locks/Disable Device: 16

Trapped: Remove Trap/Disable Device DC 20

Poison needle: Atk +16; Drow Poison—injury; save Fort DC 13; frequency 1/minute for 2 minutes; initial effect unconsciousness for 1 minute; secondary effect unconsciousness for 2d4 hours; cure 1 save.

 

b. Barracks 2

There is a trap on both sides of the way into this room, making it particularly challenging. A scythe is spring-loaded at a height of about two and a half feet on the left and two feet on the right. Both need to be found independently, whilst a failed Disable Device roll for one side adds two to the DC difficult of the other side. If one is set off and a PC jumps back across to the other side, this will trigger the other trap. As can be deduced from the position of the blades, these are designed to severely injury medium sized thieves and possibly behead small ones.

 

Wall Scythe Trap x 2

CR 4

Type:  Mechanical

Search/Perception: DC 21 (second trap is DC 23 if the first one isn't safely found)

Disable Device: DC 18 (second trap is DC 20 if the first one isn't safely disabled)

Trigger:  Location trigger; automatic reset

Attack: +20 ranged (2d4+8/x4, scythe)

 

No-one seems to be using the room at the moment; in fact it doesn't looks as if it has been used for several years, as it is dusty, dirty and full of cobwebs. However, two of the six footlockers contain items that caught Yul's attention a long time ago but have since been relegated in importance in his mind. He hasn't completely forgotten them, so if he sees PCs using them he'll be rather unhappy.

Treasure

Footlocker 1:

Bag of Tricks

This small sack appears normal and empty. However, anyone reaching into the bag feels a small, fuzzy ball. If the ball is removed and tossed up to 20 feet away, it turns into an animal. The animal serves the character who drew it from the bag for 10 minutes (or until slain or ordered back into the bag), at which point it disappears. It can follow any of the commands described in the Handle Animal skill. Each of the three kinds of a bag of tricks produces a different set of animals. Use the following tables to determine what animals can be drawn out of each.

Animals produced are always random, and only one may exist at a time. Up to ten animals can be drawn from the bag each week.

Gray

d%

01-30 Bat

31-60 Rat

61-75 Cat

76-90 Weasel

91-100 Badger


 

Yul partially lost interest in this because every time he produced an animal, it ran away from him. Those he grabbed tended to die of shock and didn't make great zombies.

Footlocker 2:

Pipes of Sounding

When played by a character who has the Perform (wind instruments) skill, these pipes create a variety of sounds. The figment sounds are the equivalent of ghost sound (caster level 2nd).


Yul realizes he can't use these, but hopes to one day transform a bard who may be able to play them.

 

c. Barracks 3

Another trap here, this one slightly delayed after the door is opened.  The only difference between this room and Barracks 1 in look the way they look is that there is a painting on the back wall of this room of a mage battling a white dragon. The mage is blasting the creature with some type of fire-based wand whilst the dragon is using its breath weapon; the two effects are clashing in the middle of the picture in a huge ball of scalding steam.

Yul had two traps set here, but only one will go off. Three rounds after the first person enters the door without disabling the traps, either a Fireball or Iceflame trap will go off, with a 50% likelihood of each.

Fireball Trap

CR 5; magic device; touch trigger; automatic reset; spell effect (fireball, 8th-level wizard, 8d6 fire, DC 14 Reflex save half damage); Search DC 28;Disable Device DC 28. Cost: 12,000 gp, 960 XP.

Iceflame Trap

CR 5; magic device; touch trigger; automatic reset; spell effect (iceflame, 8th-level wizard, 8d6 fire, DC 14 Reflex save half damage); Search DC 28;Disable device DC 28. Cost: 12,000 gp, 960 XP.

Evocation [Cold]

Level: Sor/Wiz 3

Components: V, S, M

Casting Time: 1 standard action

Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)

Area: 20-ft.-radius spread

Duration: Instantaneous

Saving Throw: Reflex half

Spell resistance: Yes

An iceflame spell is an explosion of frigidity that detonates with a low roar and deals 1d6 points of cold damage per caster level (maximum 10d6) to every creature within the area. Unattended objects also take this damage. The explosion creates almost no pressure.

You point your finger and determine the range (distance and height) at which the iceflame is to burst. A silvery, pea-sized bead streaks from the pointing digit and, unless it impacts upon a material body or solid barrier prior to attaining the prescribed range, expands into the iceflame at that point. (An early impact results in an early detonation.) If you attempt to send the bead through a narrow passage, such as through an arrow slit, you must “hit” the opening with a ranged touch attack, or else the bead strikes the barrier and detonates prematurely.

The iceflame freezes fragile and thin objects to a stage where they are extremely brittle and prone to breaking whilst it damages sturdier objects in the area. It can also freeze some metals to such a degree that they become dangerous to touch. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the iceflame may continue beyond the barrier if the area permits; otherwise it stops at the barrier just as any other spell effect does.

Material Component

A small cube of animal blubber and magnesium.

As a lure, partially on display on one drow's pillow, is a gold ring with 2 small rubies on either side of an emerald (value: 1,500 gp).  

 

Evidence! 

The drow leader D'Ker had a magical journal of detailed notes on his squad's activities in the Underworld during the various spying missions it had undertaken. This journal has a permanent invisibility spell cast upon it that can be temporarily disabled for 30 minutes at a time by speaking the words "K'Ithel-Dar", as well as by using spells such as Invisibility Purge, See Invisibility and True Seeing. It is a report detailing the local activity at a number of underground sites and the occasional foray above ground as well, although never for very long, as the notes tend to highlight sightings of devils and demons within Dark Wood.  These types of notes are being compiled by House Gullion in preparation of an all out assault on populated centers of the Under and Overworlds, including the village the heroes are from (Rybalka) once sufficient information was gathered.

The journal is very thin and lightweight as well as being as flexible as cloth. Indeed, it is stitched to one of the drow bedrolls in this room and Yul hasn't detected it. If the PCs find the journal and are able to decipher it - it is written in drow symbols rather than Undercommon -  and show it to the mayor of Rybalka, he will send 9 of his best men to fight alongside the PCs.  He asks the PCs to seek out and destroy this drow house from the inside out. The Overworlders are quite ignorant and have no idea how powerful the drow really are.

9 Guards from Rybalka

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

The footlockers in this room contain the drows' supplies that Yul doesn't have use for.

Footlocker 1*: 

 

Potions of cure light wounds (2), weakened thunderstones (There is a small iron ball-bearing inside each one, and the sudden movement of a throwing action is enough have this hit the side of the thunderstone hard enough to trigger it on the spot, affecting the would-be thrower and those around her) (3)

 

Footlocker 2*: 

 

Masterwork studded leather, masterwork cold iron rapier (Yul has no martial experience and, surprisingly,  hasn't yet recognized the cold iron for what it is, but if it is left here, he will eventually)

 

Footlocker 3: 

 

Sack with 1200 sp, 4 small rubies (40 gp each), 10 tiny diamonds (10 gp each)

 

*These footlockers are locked and discretely trapped as detailed below:

 

Trapped and Locked Footlocker

Open Locks/Disable Device: 16

Trapped: Remove Trap/Disable Device DC 20

Poison needle:  Atk +16; Drow Poison—injury; save Fort DC 13; frequency 1/minute for 2 minutes; initial effect unconsciousness for 1 minute; secondary effect unconsciousness for 2d4 hours; cure 1 save.

 

map

 

 

R7. Dungeon Level 1: Holding Cells

This old dungeon is lined with cells.  All of the doors are unlocked, their mechanisms long since rotted away by the damp and cold of a small stream which once ran through a hole in the room.  The stream changed paths many years ago, but not before leaving a faint culvert in the stone tiles along the center of the room.  There is a charred skeleton that can be seen in the northeastern corner cell, but the sight of what is in almost all the others is much more unsettling; Yul's zombies.

Other than the cells either side of the one containing the skeleton, each cage contains 4 humanoid zombies. They are inert, aside for a gentle swaying, as if there was a soft breeze blowing through a field of sunflowers, and the occasional twitch of a muscle spasm. The most unsettling aspect of this tableau is that the eyes seem to follow you about the room, although this is an illusion. If attacked, they do not retaliate in any way and there is no experience for destroying them.

There are traps on the doors into the north-western, south-western and south-eastern corner cells:

Extended Chill Touch Trap

CR 3; magic device; touch trigger; automatic reset; spell effect (extended chill touch, 3rd-level sor/wiz, DC 13 Will save negates); Search DC 27; Disable Device DC 27.

Although the complete zombies do not move, there are a number of limbs and hands that crawl around this level. Any time a PC stands still, these appendages begin to move specifically towards them, but do nothing but cling to a person if they reach them. There are 12 hands and 8 arms. If the PCs decide to root these extremities out and destroy them, they will find on one particularly large, hairy hand - possibly from a polar minotaur - a Ring of Jumping, Improved. This will be the 6th hand they come across.

Jumping, Improved

As jumping, except it grants a +10 competence bonus on its wearer’s Jump check.

Moderate transmutation; CL 7th; Forge Ring, creator must have 10 ranks in the Jump skill; Price 10,000 gp.

map

 

 

R7a. Prisoner's Skeleton

A long-forgotten prisoner's skeleton, charred and with bones clearly broken, lies on the floor of this unlocked cell, wearing tattered and rotted clothing.  Yul has placed some gold coins around it as a lure for yet another trap. If the skeleton is disturbed, the trap goes off.

Flame Strike Trap

CR 6; magic device; touch trigger; automatic reset; spell effect (flame strike, 9th-level cleric, 9d6 fire, DC 17 Reflex save half damage); Search DC 30; Disable Device DC 30.

The column of flame, which comes down 40 feet to hit the skeleton, will strike those on the floor above who are within the 10 feet radius. The edge of the column starts in the corner of the cell and extends out into the room, the center point being just about where the skeleton is. If a PC falls from R5f, the Reflex save is DC17 plus the damage taken from the fall to avoid setting the trap off. The heat is sufficient to melt the gold into one puddle, which is too hot to handle for 10d6 minutes. It is worth 80 gp if collected.

map

 

 

R8. Dungeon Level 2: Torture Chamber


This torture chamber appears to have been heavily used in even the recent past.  Blood permanently stains the floor, humanoid limb and finger bones are scattered about.  Four human skeletons lie stacked in one corner of the room.  Many strange torture devices line the west wall.  A dark-skinned humanoid is still attached to one of the devices, its face seeming to plead, to beg for freedom from the pain; it is unclear at first if it is alive or dead.

All of this is overshadowed by the sight of the creatures surrounding the humanoid. Yul, a mohrg, and his mob of half a dozen zombies are gathered around a small table with a number of vicious, hooked and barbed instruments, some glistening with surgical splendor whilst others are dull, rusted tools of torment. Even if a number of traps have been set off on the upper floors, these creatures have their backs to you, seemingly unaware of your presence. That is until first one, then a second, then all of the creatures, each open up a single eye in the backs of their heads. As one, they all blink; an act so unnerving everyone has to make a Will save DC 20 or be shaken for 14 rounds.

Yul the Mohrg

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Yul the Mohrg wears two valuable items which help him control his zombies:

 

Periapt of Charisma +6

Although it appears to be just a rough chunk of ruby on a dirty, white gold chain, a periapt of charisma actually increases the possessor’s Charisma score in the form of an enhancement bonus of +2, +4, or +6 (depending on the individual item). This item is attuned to Chaotic Evil creatures and work towards converting the wearer to this alignment. A Will save DC 25 is required once a month, when the moon is at its thinnest crescent, to avoid alignment moving one place towards CE around the alignment circle in the direction with fewest changes required.

Moderate transmutation; CL 8th; Craft Wondrous Item, eagle's splendor; Price 4,000 gp (+2), 16,000 gp (+4), 36,000 gp (+6).

This item also affects Yul's Paralyzing Touch ability, raising the Fortitude save to DC 20

 

Darkskull

This skull, carved from ebony, is wholly evil. Wherever the skull goes, the area around it is treated as though an unhallow spell had been cast with the skull as the touched point of origin (except that no additional spell effect is tied or fixed to the darkskull).

Moderate evocation [evil]; CL 9th; Craft Wondrous Item, unhallow, creator must be evil; Price 60,000 gp; Weight 5 lb.

Yul uses this to give the following benefits to him and his closest zombies:

First, the site is guarded by a magic circle against good effect.

Second, all turning checks made to turn undead take a -4 penalty, and turning checks to rebuke undead gain a +4 profane bonus. Spell resistance does not apply to this effect.

 

Dust of Tracelessness - 25 handfuls.

This normal-seeming dust is actually a magic powder that can conceal the passage of its possessor and his companions. Tossing a handful of this dust into the air causes a chamber of up to 100 square feet of floor space to become as dusty, dirty, and cobweb-laden as if it had been abandoned and disused for a decade.

A handful of dust sprinkled along a trail causes evidence of the passage of as many as a dozen men and horses to be obliterated for 250 feet back into the distance. The results of the dust are instantaneous, and no magical aura lingers afterward from this use of the dust. Survival checks made to track a quarry across an area affected by this dust have a DC 20 higher than normal.

Faint transmutation; CL 3rd; Craft Wondrous Item, pass without trace; Price 250 gp.

Yul keeps this in an urn in the south-western corner of the room. The urn is just over half full.

Yul has developed an additional attack for him and his zombie mob, the Third Eye of Fear, which is designed to leave creatures shaken. See below for details. Yul implants this third eye into what he hopes will be his most trusted creations at the moment of transformation.

New Ability: Third Eye of Fear (Su)

Third Eye of Fear (Su)

When part of a group of 1 mohrg and 5 or more zombies controlled by the mohrg, those with a third eye placed in the back of their skull can blink in unison and can affect creatures with Fear. The fear effect is allowed a saving throw which is a Will save (DC 10 + ½ mohrg's HD + mohrg’s Cha modifier; the exact DC is given in the creature’s descriptive text but is usually DC 17). All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects. A failed roll usually means that the character is shaken. Will save is DC 20 for this effect for Yul.

The mohrg actually controls the blink ability, not the individual zombies. There is a minimal time delay between the blink of each creature, one that can't actually be seen by the naked eye. The effect makes it appear that each of the zombies is independent and very well co-ordinated, but in reality is just the mohrg.

The fear effect affects everyone who can see the blinking action. The duration of the effect is a number of rounds equal to the HD of the mohrg. If save is made, no effect and the person making the save is immune to any further attempt by the individual mohrg for 24 hours.

The third eye also prevents its recipient from being flanked.

 

Yul has his six most trusted zombie creations with him; 4 former Vikmordere barbarians, a polar minotaur and a gray render. This last creature became attached to Yul the mohrg when it first encountered him and quickly paid with its life.

 

Vikmordere Barbarian Zombie (4)

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Minotaur Zombie

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Gray Render Zombie

3.5 | Pathfinder 

 

Once the fight is over and the mohrg and zombies dispatched, the party can investigate the humanoid chained to the wall. It is a drow, its skin pallid and sickly, not too unlike the drow zombies encountered earlier. Whether it is male or female is hard to tell. It has been beaten so its skin, whilst unbroken, is almost entirely swollen and so tender that the merest touch is excruciatingly painful. It looks up at you all, grimaces through mostly broken teeth surrounded by swollen lips, then laughs hoarsely: "This is nothing, nothing I say. I can return to my Mother and enter death's embrace with my head held high, knowing I am safe. You, fools and braggarts, will crawl and snivel and betray all you believe in!" The creature spits at your feet, laughs again, then expires during the next round unless immediate and drastic action is taken. If the drow is kept alive, it is found to be D'Ker, who will only talk under the influence of magic. If the drow dies, there is nothing on the body, which turns out to be female.

Despite the fact that most of the torture devices are in a state of disrepair, they could fetch a small fortune if sold to the right individual or group. That individual or group would have to be of a very particular type however, a type the party might do well to steer clear of. The items are all masterwork versions of their type, are many years old, and include a cold iron rack, a water-boarding tub, manacles on extendable spreader bars, frames to bend creatures backward into unnatural positions and various hanging hooks. There are 8 scalpels on the table, 3 rusted and dirty and 5 in pristine surgical condition. The total for all this equipment would be 3,000 gp.

map

 

 

 

R9. Entrance to the Underworld

The slope downwards

A man-made hole in the east wall was built in order to dump the waste product from the torture chamber into the Underworld. Nobody questioned what happened to the waste, but were happy that it disappeared. The hole is just big enough for a medium character to squeeze through. There is a pile of bricks and rocks next to it, as it someone intended to close off this gap at sometime in the near future.  Cold air drifts into the room through the entrance to the Underworld, bringing with it the harsh sound of stone being scrapped against fleshless bone.

A slope leads from this hole down into the darkness; it is about 10 feet wide and seems to be at least 100 feet long (it is actually over twice this distance). There is a drop either side of the slope. Any PC who chooses to fight on the slope next to the skeleton will need to  make Balance DC 17 rolls. They will also need to take care that they aren't pushed over the edge by the swipes of the skeleton.

As the PCs look through the hole, they see a cart made entirely of bone blocking the slope. The cart is roughly 8 feet square and 5 feet deep. It is pushed by a skeleton, some kind of misshapen giant,  whose right arm is actually the handle of the cart, placed centrally in the design, whilst the undead creature has a long, bone shovel in place of its left hand. There is a spark of activity in the otherwise dull eye sockets, a sudden realization that you are not Yul or one of his zombie minions. The creature awkwardly steps to one side and swings at the lead PC with the shovel, its bent and twisted body creaking eerily each time it moves. The cart fills the space in front of the skeleton, which is able to attack over it with its reach.

But there is more. Within the skull and top of the rib-cage of the underworld giant's skeleton, there is the swirl of gray-blue mist. As you watch, it forms into a small creature, evidence of a violent death visible on its body. It curls into the skeleton, seemingly holding onto the bones of the undead giant, but when you look more closely, you find you can see through the wispy form. Suddenly two spectral tentacles whip out from the creature within the skeleton, reaching all the way over the cart!

Underworld Giant Skeleton

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Spectral Choker

3.5 | Pathfinder

New Ability

Fused Weapon Fighting (Ex)

An undead creature with this quality fights with a weapon that has replaced its hand. Because it doesn't have to think about holding on to the weapon or consider the weak point of its wrist, the creature deal damage as if the weapon was being wielded by two hands.

 

After overcoming the skeleton and its cart, the party can make its way down the slope into the Underworld. The refuse at the bottom of the slope is a mish-mash of broken bones, rotted materials, odd pieces of stone and metal and the occasional lump of putrefying flesh and gristle, although considering the number of bodies (or rather pieces of bodies) that are here, there is remarkably very little flesh and innards strewn about. The most complete body down here is of a male halfling wrapped in a red shroud with about one-third of the flesh and muscle is still on the bones. However, the wrapping is actually a Robe of Powerlessness.

 


Robe of Powerlessness
A robe of powerlessness appears to be a magic robe of another sort. As soon as a character dons this garment, she takes a -10 penalty to Strength and Intelligence, forgetting spells and magic knowledge accordingly. The robe can be removed easily, but in order to restore mind and body, the character must receive a remove curse spell followed by heal.

Moderate transmutation; CL 13th; Craft Wondrous item,bestow curse, permanency; Price 5,500 gp.


With regard to the journey ahead, Miah knows the way, helped greatly by the drow journal if this was found. As they descend the slope, the PCs will feel the drafts and chill of this realm. The real journey to relieve Embla has begun, and the first action is soon upon the party!

 

 

 

Base of Slope R9b. Drow Welcoming Party


At the base of the slope from R8 there is a party of skeletons waiting for the return of the 9 drow raiders killed by Yul. Originally, one of the drow had been detailed to stay with the skeletons, hidden out of sight, to observe the strengths and weaknesses of anything that attacked them. However, when her 8 colleagues failed to return from their spying mission above, she went in search of them and fell foul of Yul the mohrg and its zombies. The PCs will have encountered her chained to the wall, shortly before she expired.

Makinnga's Skeletal Champions (4)

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

One of the skeletons is carrying a cylindrical polished metal case with the following glyph:

 


Cylindrical Polished Metal Case

There is no visible way to open the case and a strange symbol is etched into both the top and bottom of the cylinder.  

The only way to open this case is by using a Knock spell cast by a wizard or sorcerer level 8 or higher.

The symbol upon the cylinder is that of House Gullion.  This cylinder was placed here by the drow raiders that Yul killed as a tracking device and early warning sign that humanoids are approaching.  They ingeniously placed it on the skeletons hoping that anyone coming from the Over or Underworld would jump at the chance to loot the old skeletal remains once the fight was over.  Inside the cylinder are three explosive spheres,  made of a dark metal and covered in tiny magical runes as well as being coated in a slave of slipperiness which the magic runes maintain. If emptied from the tube, these spheres fall to the ground and roll for 30 feet in 3 different directions, before they explode, spewing liquid on everything within a 50' radius with a ranged touch attack (+20 to hit). This substance instantly bursts into flames on contact with the cool air, causing 3d6 damage to all coated beings.  For the following 3 rounds, another 3d6 damage is incurred per round as the liquid burns off. Rolling on the ground or otherwise attempting to extinguish the flames is nearly impossible due to their alchemical nature and the spread of the liquid.  Only complete immersion in water or similar substance that is predominantly water OR otherwise removing oneself from the oxygen rich environment will halt the flames.

The polished metal cylindrical case has a permanent beacon placed upon it, similar to Locate Object, which warns any member of House Gullion within 500' that danger approaches if they are carrying it.

Once all the trials of the keep have been faced and defeated - and, if the PCs choose this path, the guards from Rybalka have been recruited for the journey - Miah leads the PCs (and guards) down into the Underworld, explaining that they are about 2 days' travel from the dwarven town of Embla.

 

 

Underworld Map (click to enlarge)

The Long Road

The PCs take the long underground road to the town of Embla guided by the dwarf Miah.  It will take them between 1-2 days to travel the long road depending on their speed and any potential delays encountered. If Miah is not with them, it will take an additional day for the PCs to complete their journey.

However, about three hours after leaving the keep, the party is ambushed by another drow raiding party, this one alive and well. There is one drow for each of the PCs and Miah plus one more. This additional drow is Sor, a son of House Gullion. Sor won't put himself in any great danger this far from home, but the PCs will have a chance to see him and the House Gullion insignia. He will return to Holoth as quickly as possible in order to relate the tale of "strong Overworlders accompanied by a dwarf" on the Long Road, and with signs of them holding drow items if he was able to spot/perceive them. If the PCs have returned with the guards from Rybalka, Sor will spend 1d2+1 rounds attacking them; he is getting a sense of the strength of the force, but won't kill them yet as they could be useful as sacrifices or slaves. He will rapidly retreat if he loses a quarter of his hit points.

The information for each of them is as follows:

 

Drow raiders

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Sor

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

There won't be any further direct encounters with drow until the caravan attack (unless you as the GM wish there to be, in which case see the "Special encounter" below), although the party WILL be either followed or kept just ahead of, unless they take precautions. As with any journey into the Underworld, light will most likely be required, and this will be both a beacon for the watching drow AND attract all manner of hungry critters. At the very least, the constant flickering of any naked flame should throw up strange shadows and make it seem as if creatures are just out of sight. Once or twice there may be a blast of air which extinguishes some of these naked lights, perhaps reducing the range of illumination to just 30 feet in any direction. Additionally, have the flames change color as some underground gas drifts over them or the PCs walk into a pocket of the same. Examples include:

Carbon Dioxide =Deeper yellow/orange

Carbon Monoxide = Crimson

Hydrogen Sulphide = Dark blue

Methane = Light blue

Gases that will just dull the color of the flame as they restrict oxygen AND can be life-threatening are:

Nitrogen

Nitrogen Dioxide (can kill)

Sulfur Dioxide (can kill)

 

Planned'Em Encounters

 

Planned 'Em Encounters

Any of the following creatures or humanoids may be encountered while traveling this area of the Underworld.  Feel free to choose an appropriate enemy for your party.  The Underworld is not for the faint-hearted, so don't go too easy on them.

Do make sure they encounter a drider or two, and possibly their companions, at some point. Introducing the PCs to this aberration - horrid even by the standards of the drow - should be played as a real chiller! You can choose the outcome - drider(s) escape, PCs escape, drider(s) are killed, a PC really suffers or whatever - but just let the encounter fill them with dread. Ensure the cunning and intelligence of the drider(s) comes through; later on, the PCs may have an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" moment with one of these creatures!

The broad elements are just below the image of the drider and listed under "special encounter".

 

Centipede Swarm

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Darkmantle

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Delver 

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Destrachen

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Gray Ooze

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Lurker Above

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

 

 

Special encounter

 

Special encounter

(EL as appropriate)

Think about introducing the drider(s) with something atmospheric and designed to unnerve the PCs.

 

"As you make your way along the Underworld pathway, the light you are carrying throws up eerie shapes in the shadows and occasionally sputters as the level of oxygen momentarily drops. Even those of you with the ability to see more deeply into the darkness find yourselves confused by the shadows and places that completely lack any differentiation between black and white. The stalactites and stalagmites work to distort any sound that comes your way; the constant drip of moisture and echoing rattle of slipping debris and tumbling of larger rocks and stones has your senses heightened to over-activity. It is difficult to trust anything you think you can see or hear in the vastness of this underground realm.

But those heightened senses may have caught something; ahead, a scuttling shape darts across the limit of your visions both there and not there in an instant. A skittering sound, of bone or claw or carapace or chitinous exoskeleton, plays across your senses and filters into your brain, at once audible and then gone. You flash your sight in the direction of the movement, but nothing is there; if anything, it is stiller and quieter than before. But that can't really be the case, as almost immediately the same sight and sound comes to you from behind you, then back in front of you again, but off to one side. Your instinct is to close together and make ready for any surprises.

Which arrive suddenly! From the darkness flies an arrow, flying towards the flickering torch and its carrier, drawing a grunt of surprised pain from the victim as it successfully hits. Then another, seemingly before the first has struck home, this one more hurried and merely clattering against a second target without causing any injury. More shapes cut across your line of sight, but you can barely register them before the spell goes off, the bolt of lightning shooting towards your mage. It flares, instantly shrinking your pupils with the result of deepening the darkness. Then skittering of multiple legs swiftly closing in assails you..."

 

When you feel the party is ready to have another encounter with a drow-influenced creature, have a drider or two make a few hit-and-run ranged attacks. Good role-playing should have them  concerned with the skittering of the "large spiders" and the arrows separately. They won't have seen a drider before and unless you wish to have Miah explain what they are, keep the PCs in the dark and the suspense levels high!

Consider which of the following encounters is most suitable for your PCs' levels. Some suggestions are listed here:

7th level party

1 standard drider

8th level party

1 standard drider and 6 medium or 4 large monstrous spiders

1 drider with 1 level of fighter [+8 hp; +1 to hit and grapple; +2 to Fort saves; Intimidate +7; Improved Initiative]

9th level party

2 standard driders

1 standard drider with 2 levels of fighter [+17 hp; Cha 17; +2 to hit and grapple; +3 to Fort saves; Intimidate +7, Swim +6; Improved Initiative, Power Attack]

1 drider with 2 levels of fighter (as above) and one standard drider

1 drider with 8 medium or 6 large or 2 huge monstrous spiders

10th level party

2 driders with 12 medium or 8 large or 3 huge monstrous spider

2 driders each with 1 level of fighter (as above)

1 drider with 2 levels of fighter (as above) and 12 medium monstrous spiders

11th level party

2 driders each with 2 levels of fighter (as above)

1 drider with 2 levels of fighter (as above), 1 standard drider and either 8 medium or 6 large or 2 huge monstrous spiders

Driders aren't usually associated with large or huge monstrous spiders, but House Gullion's current link to the Spider Goddess is resulting in some strange alliances! If you want to stick more closely to the rules and guidance, just use medium monstrous spiders.

Drider

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

Spiders

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

 

 

 

Dwarf caravan under attack (color)

 

Dwarf caravan under attack (click to enlarge)

Dwarf Caravan Under Attack

This encounter is very challenging if the PCs attempt to take everything on by themselves. If they work with the dwarves, which is the expectation, it should be appropriate for the suggested level of party undertaking the journey, depending on the amount of responsibility given to the PCs. For example, a high level of responsibility allows you to let them either go after the three major protagonists whilst the dwarves go one-to-one with the rest of the attackers OR have the party deal with the bulk of the lower-level drow as the dwarves form a co-ordinated attack against the cleric and fighter/wizards. Consider the level of the party and them encourage them to stretch themselves by fighting almost to the last!

Just over half way through their journey to Embla, the PCs encounter drow raiders attacking a dwarf caravan.  After the battle, they may find clues which point to the perpetrators of the attempted Underworld highway robbery. If you want to keep the details of what is going on a secret for a little longer, the drow have nothing on them other than letters of marque from Holoth allowing them to attack any trade caravans they encounter and keep 25% of what they find, with the rest going into the city coffers. This is generous for drow agreements and adds to the determination of the attackers.

There are two suggested options when playing through the attack; either the forces can be closely matched before the PCs arrive on the scene and they are the obvious difference between the drow being defeated or not, or their arrival makes up numbers so the caravan has a chance of winning the fight but it is still touch and go. The idea of this encounter is to further show the desperation of the dwarves and the lengths they are having to go to in order to get supplies to Embla.

 

Dwarven forces

This is a sizable dwarven caravan, given the current circumstances. Most of the members of the caravan are from Embla, although there are one or two former residents from Stoneholme and a couple of paid guards who have had previous experience of working for the leader of the caravan pack, both of whom are sorcerers.

The caravan is slow moving, limited by the pace of the 3 gargantuan skildpadders that make up the bulk of the caravan. 2 of these 3 creatures are carrying their maximum medium load of 1,600lb of trade goods, whilst the third is equipped with front- and rear-mounted howdahs for guardian rangers with ranged weapons and the caravan's sorcerers.

 

3 Skildpadders

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

4 dwarven rangers Lvl 7

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

4 Ranger Animal Companion Badgers

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

2 dwarven fighters Lvl 6

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

1 dwarven clerics Lvl 7

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

10 dwarven warriors Lvl 5

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

 

All dwarves have the following

  • +2 Constitution, -2 Charisma (already included into the stats provided).
  • Medium: As Medium creatures, dwarves have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Dwarf base land speed is 20 feet. However, dwarves can move at this speed even when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load (unlike other creatures, whose speed is reduced in such situations).
  • Darkvision: Dwarves can see in the dark up to 60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and dwarves can function just fine with no light at all.
  • Stonecunning: This ability grants a dwarf a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn’t stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. A dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as if he were actively searching, and a dwarf can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. A dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Dwarves may treat dwarven waraxes and dwarven urgroshes asmartial weapons, rather thanexotic weapons.
  • Stability: A dwarf gains a +4 bonus on ability checks made to resist being bull rushed or tripped when standing on the ground (but not when climbing, flying, riding, or otherwise not standing firmly on the ground).
  • +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison.
  • +2 racial bonus onsaving throws against spells andspell-like effects.
  • +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids
  • +4 dodge bonus to Armor Class against monsters of thegiant type. Any time a creature loses its Dexterity bonus (if any) to Armor Class, such as when it’s caught flat-footed, it loses its dodge bonus, too.
  • +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks that are related to stone or metal items.
  • +2 racial bonus on Craft checks that are related to stone or metal.
  • Automatic Languages: Common and Dwarven. Bonus Languages: Giant, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Terran, and Undercommon.
  • Favored Class:Fighter. A multiclass dwarf’s fighter class does not count when determining whether he takes an experience point penalty for multiclassing

 

2 Araneas

3.5 | Pathfinder

These creatures are known as Morrowell Underrock and Astac Tailspinner (although "Tales spinner" is how it comes out when spoken), who appear to be deep gnomes and have levels of sorcerer as well as their innate ability. They both despise the drow, due to being captured and imprisoned for an extended period of time as residents of Holoth tried to convert them to their own wicked ways. Whilst not treated particularly badly themselves - their spider ancestry kept many drow in awe of them - they saw first-hand the level of cruelty and depths of depravity that the drow are prepared to sink to to get their own way. Now they wage a low-key war against the drow wherever they can, recognizing that on their own they aren't equipped to do much but that supporting others is an excellent way of getting their own back. They are very nervous of revealing their true forms, knowing that views against spiders are both high and strong right now due to the activity in Holoth. They appear to have a huge arsenal of low level spells which suggests they are of a greater level of experience than they actually are, and so, when possible, revert to hybrid form to make it appear as if Web is one of their higher-level spells.

 

There are also a number of skildpadder drivers and two dwarven merchants who are there to make any impromptu deals. None of these are in a position to do any more than try to save themselves and, in the case of the skildpadder drivers, their beasts. The dwarven rangers and "gnome sorcerers" will defend from the howdahs and have been given instructions not to leave them under any circumstances except as a last act to save themselves if defeat is imminent. The fighters each command 5 warriors and patrol along the sides of the skildpadders, 2 dwarves per creature, at ground level. They are familiar enough with the creatures to use their legs as cover if possible.

 

Drow forces

1 Cleric Lvl 9

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

2 Fighter Wizards Lvl 3/4

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

4 Drow Knights Lvl 6, riding...

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

4 Deinonychus

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

2 Drow Rogues Lvl 5

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

8 Drow Warriors Lvl 5

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

 

Elf Traits (Ex)

All Elves possess the following racial traits. Variations can occur for sub-types

  • +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution.
  • Medium size.
  • An elf’s base land speed is 30 feet.
  • Immunity to sleep spells and effects, and a +2 racial saving throw bonus against enchantment spells or effects. (Not reflected in the saving throw modifiers given here.)
  • Low-light vision.
  • Weapon Proficiency: Elves are automatically proficient with the longsword, rapier, longbow, composite longbow, shortbow, and composite shortbow.
  • +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks. An elf who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if she were actively looking for it.
  • Automatic Languages: Common, Elven. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Sylvan.

All drow have the following

Poison (Ex)

An opponent hit by a drow’s poisoned weapon must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or fall unconscious. After 1 minute, the subject must succeed on another DC 13 Fortitude save or remain unconscious for 2d4 hours. A typical drow carries 1d4-1 doses of drow knockout poison. Drow typically coat arrows and crossbow bolts with this poison, but it can also be applied to a melee weapon. Note that drow have no special ability to apply poison  without risking being poisoned themselves. Since this poison is not a magical effect, drow and other elves are susceptible to it.

Drow Traits (Ex)

These traits are in addition to the high elf traits, except where noted.

  • +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma (already included into the stats provided).
  • Darkvision out to 120 feet. This trait replaces the high elf’s low-light vision.
  • Spell resistance equal to 11 + class levels.
  • +2 racial bonus on Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities.
  • Spell-like abilitites: Drow can use the following spell-like abilities once per day: dancing lights, darkness, faerie fire. Caster level equals the drow’s class levels.
  • Weapon Proficiency: A drow is automatically proficient with the hand crossbow, the rapier, and the short sword. This trait replaces the high elf’s weapon proficiency.
  • Automatic Languages: Common, Elven, Undercommon. Bonus Languages: Abyssal, Aquan, Draconic, Drow Sign Language, Gnome, Goblin. This trait replaces the high elf’s automatic and bonus languages.
  • Light Blindness: Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds drow for 1 round. On subsequent rounds, they are dazzled as long as they remain in the affected area.
  • Favored Class: Wizard (male) or cleric (female). This trait replaces the high elf’s favored class.
  • Level adjustment +2.

 

8 skeletons (fodder for the first attack wave)

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

The skeletons will be sent in to gauge the response of the caravan, followed up by a volley of spells and missiles which precedes ride-by attacks from the knights.The drow have a strict plan in mind here, and getting unnecessarily killed isn't part of it. If more than three-quarters of the drow lose more than half their hit points, they will retreat. If none or only one have been killed, they will return and attack again about 30 minutes later. If two or more are killed, they won't return.

If any of the drow are killed and the body is searched, evidence will turn up indicating that House Gullion is planning an assault on Overworld villages close to ways out of the Underworld, such as Rybalka (the village isn't named specifically, but there are enough clues for the PCs to recognize the village with a Gather Information DC 12 check.)  The drow raiders have paper documents showing the layout of the land surrounding Rybalka as well as weaknesses in defenses.  Notes written in Drow show arrows pointing from the location of Krelgar Keep and two locations within Dark Wood toward Rybalka, surrounding the village on 3 sides. Again, none of these maps have names, just various landmarks that they will recognize.

 

This is intended to be the last major encounter on the way to Embla. If you wish, have another "Planned'Em Encounter" close to the city, we suggest a swarm of Darkmantles that have just been driven from Embla. Sometimes even new friends can make mistakes...

 

Darkmantle Swarm (8)

3.5 | Pathfinder

 

 

Arrival at the gates of Embla

End A13, continue with A14: Scourge of Embla

 

 

Player Maps

Player Map (click to enlarge)

 

Player Map (click to enlarge)

 

 

New Trap

 

Ochre Jelly Dust Trap

CR 3

Type:  Magic device

Search/Perception: DC 27

Disable Device: DC 15

Trigger:  Proximity trigger; manual reset

Attack: no save to avoid, 1d4 acid damage for at least three rounds after the first round, until washed away

 

 

New Special Ability

 

Third Eye of Fear (Su)

When part of a group of 1 mohrg and 5 or more zombies controlled by the mohrg, those with a third eye placed in the back of their skull can blink in unison and can affect creatures with Fear. The fear effect is allowed a saving throw which is a Will save (DC 10 + ½ mohrg's HD + mohrg’s Cha modifier; the exact DC is given in the creature’s descriptive text but is usually DC 17). All fear attacks are mind-affecting fear effects. A failed roll usually means that the character is shaken. Will save is DC 20 for this effect for Yul.

The mohrg actually controls the blink ability, not the individual zombies. There is a minimal time delay between the blink of each creature, one that can't actually be seen by the naked eye, which is based on the distance from the mohrg of each of the zombies and makes it seem like they are independent and very well co-ordinated, but it is really just the mohrg.

The fear effect affects everyone who can see the blinking action. The duration of the effect is a number of rounds equal to the HD of the mohrg. If save is made, no effect and the person making the save is immune to any further attempt by the individual mohrg for 24 hours.

The third eye also prevents its recipient from being flanked.

 

 

New Feat

 

Fused Weapon Fighting (Ex)

An undead creature with this quality fights with a weapon that has replaced its hand. Because it doesn't have to think about holding on to the weapon or consider the weak point of its wrist, the creature deal damage as if the weapon was being wielded by two hands.

 

 

 

New Items

 

Kllellek Paper

Aura faint transmutation; CL 1

Slot –; Weight 

Kllellek paper is a Drow innovation that is made from an alchemical mixture of giant slug and neothelid skins.  These skins are drenched in acid and then pressed together and bonded with a thin outer layer of rendered dwarven fat to hold the entire mixture together to create four sheets of paper that measure 9”x12”.

These components give the paper invulnerability to physical harm, such as tearing, cutting, or burning by natural fire.  Spells that deal damage, such as burning hands or fireball damage Kllellek paper normally, but the layer of dwarven fat gives the paper a +1 to saving throws against these spells.  This bonus applies even if the paper in someone’s possession.

Value 100 gp for four sheets.

 

Drow Quill

This Drow writing instrument is made from the fang of a monstrous spider.  A specially made writing tip and cap are fitted to the ends of the fang.  The inside of the fang is coated with an alchemical substance to keep the ink from sticking to the inside of the fang.

The quill holds enough ink to write 25 pages before needing to be refilled.

 

Drow Ink

Aura faint transmutation; CL 1

Slot –; Weight 

This special ink is the only substance that will adhere to Kllellek paper, but it can be used on almost any surface.  The ink is made of a combination of Vvor blood and the liquid from a giant spider’s silk sack.

Drow magic is used to combine the two substances to create four ounces of a very viscous dark gray liquid that can mark almost any surface permanently.

Value 400 gp per ounce.

 

 

New Magical Item

 

Coin of Singing

Basic Elements

This seemingly standard copper coin gives someone 3 ranks in Perform (Singing) and allows them to Inspire Courage as per the Bardic Music ability once per day, but only for a maximum time of 4 rounds.

This also means that person usually has a handful of coppers or a silver or two to get by on, but rarely more.

Made by casting Enthrall on a copper coin. This assistance from a bard, if the maker isn't one, comes in the form of her Inspiring Competence for a full two minutes during the manufacture process. This allows the magic to take effect.

Advanced Elements

As part of the process, the coin has to be marinated in a mixture of the spittle of the bard who undertakes the Inspire Competence and the droppings of a songbird which have dried and the powder collected at either dawn or dusk. This marinade can be no more than 24 hours old when the manufacture process is started and the coin must sit in it for a  24 hours before the full process detailed above is completed.

Aura: Weak Enchantment; CL: 5th, Craft Wondrous Item, Enthrall, creator must be a bard or get construction aid from a bard; price 2,100gp, weight 1/10th lb

 

 

New Spell

 

Iceflame

Evocation [Cold]

Level: Sor/Wiz 3

Components: V, S, M

Casting Time: 1 standard action

Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)

Area: 20-ft.-radius spread

Duration: Instantaneous

Saving Throw: Reflex half

Spell resistance: Yes

An iceflame spell is an explosion of frigidity that detonates with a low roar and deals 1d6 points of cold damage per caster level (maximum 10d6) to every creature within the area. Unattended objects also take this damage. The explosion creates almost no pressure.

You point your finger and determine the range (distance and height) at which the iceflame is to burst. A silvery, pea-sized bead streaks from the pointing digit and, unless it impacts upon a material body or solid barrier prior to attaining the prescribed range, expans into the iceflame at that point. (An early impact results in an early detonation.) If you attempt to send the bead through a narrow passage, such as through an arrow slit, you must “hit” the opening with a ranged touch attack, or else the bead strikes the barrier and detonates prematurely.

The iceflame freezes fragile and thin objects to a stage where they are extremely brittle and prone to breaking whilst it damages sturdier objects in the area. It can also freeze some metals to such a degree that they become dangerous to touch. If the damage caused to an interposing barrier shatters or breaks through it, the iceflame may continue beyond the barrier if the area permits; otherwise it stops at the barrier just as any other spell effect does.

Material Component

A small cube of animal blubber and magnesium.

 

 

New Monsters

 

Skildpadder

A massive tortoise like creature towers over you.  A gigantic shell protects wrinkled skin flaps like an impenetrable coat of armor.  Its humongous head turns your way and a giant beady eye looks you over trying to decide if you are to be the next meal.

Giant Tortoise-Bullette

CR 10

XP 9,600
N Gargantuan animal
Init +2; Senses darkvision 80 ft., scent, tremorsense 200 ft., Perception +24

DEFENSE
AC 24, touch 4, flat-footed 24 (–2 Dex, +20 natural, –4 size)
hp 150 (12d8+84 plus 12)
Fort +15, Ref +6, Will +7

OFFENSE
Speed 10 ft.
Melee bite +16 (2d10+16/19 plus grab/20 swallow whole (2d8+12 points of crushing damage plus 8 points of acid damage per round, AC 20, 17 hp) and 2 claws (not used if a beast of burden) +15 (2d8+15)
Space 20 ft.; Reach 15 ft.

TACTICS
The Skildpadder has no tactics per say.  Dwarves generally only use them for beasts of burden and long distance transport.  If necessary, skilled beastmasters will turn Skildpadders toward raiders or wandering monsters and order them to attack.  The bite of a Skildpadder rarely ends with favorable results for the enemy.

STATISTICS
Str 33, Dex 6, Con 25, Int 2, Wis 16, Cha 6
Base Atk +9; CMB +24 (+28 grapple); CMD 32 (36 vs. trip)
Feats Endurance, Improved Critical (bite), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Skill Focus (Perception), Toughness, Weapon Focus (bite)
Skills Perception +24

Special Attacks

Grab (Ex)

If a creature with this special attack hits with the indicated attack (usually a claw or bite attack), it deals normal damage and attempts to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. Unless otherwise noted, grab can only be used against targets of a size equal to or smaller than the creature with this ability. If the creature can use grab on creatures of other sizes, it is noted in the creature’s Special Attacks line.

The creature has the option to conduct the grapple normally, or simply to use the part of its body it used in the grab to hold the opponent. If it chooses to do the latter, it takes a –20 penalty on its CMB check to make and maintain thegrapple, but does not gain the grappled condition itself.

A successful hold does not deal any extra damage unless the creature also has the constrict special attack. If the creature does not constrict, each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds automatically deals the damage indicated for the attack that established the hold. Otherwise, it deals constriction damage as well (the amount is given in the creature’s descriptive text).

Creatures with grab receive a +4 bonus on combat maneuver checks made to start and maintain a grapple.

Swallow Whole (Ex)

If a creature with this special attack begins its turn with an opponent grappled in its mouth (see Grab), or obtains a natural 20 on an attack roll, it can attempt a new combat maneuver check (as though attempting to pin the opponent). If it succeeds, it swallows its prey, and the opponent takes bite damage. Unless otherwise noted, the opponent can be up to one size category Smaller than the swallowing creature. Being swallowed causes a creature to take damage each round. The amount and type of damage varies and is given in the creature’s Statistics. A swallowed creature keeps the grappled condition, while the creature that did the swallowing does not. A swallowed creature can try to cut its way free with any light slashing or piercing weapon (the amount of cutting damage required to get free is equal to 1/10 the creature’s total hit points), or it can just try to escape the grapple. The Armor Class of the interior of a creature that swallows whole is normally 10 + 1/2 its natural armor bonus, with no modifiers for size or Dexterity. If a swallowed creature cuts its way out, the swallowing creature cannot use swallow whole again until the damage is healed. If the swallowed creature escapes the grapple, success puts it back in the attacker’s mouth, where it may be bitten or swallowed again.
ECOLOGY
Environment any underground (or any mostly dry with some water sources available)
Organization solitary, mated feral pair, band (2–4) or family (2 plus 3-5 young)
Treasure none

Skildpadders are massive creatures bred by the Dweorg Dwarves of the Underworld as beasts of burden.  They are able to carry four times their own weight upon their back and thus make perfect vessels for carrying ore.  The dwarves build entire storage facilities and even homes upon the backs of these tortoise like creatures.  Some beastmasters are even known to live out their entire life riding atop and steering the great beasts.  Those that do gain a great affinity for animal handling when riding a Skildpadder and can command them to attack when needed.

It is a rule to never walk in front of a Skildpadder unless one wishes to become a quick meal.  Skildpadders are ravenous eaters and can swallow medium or small creatures whole with a natural 20.  Large creatures may lose a limb or their head with the roll of a natural 20.  Although Skildpadders gain the claws of their bulette parent, they are trained not to use them and generally their claws are trimmed back on a regular basis by their dwarven beastmasters.  The dwarves do not wish the Skildpadder to rear up lest they spill their cargo or harm any passengers riding along.

Skildpadder are normally very aggressive when left to go feral, lucky for most the dwarves carefully breed giant tortoises and bulettes to achieve the desired result of a Skildpadder and spend many years training them in the transport of cargo such as mined ore.  Skildpadder love to eat the vermin which live in dwarf villages thus the dwarves have a never ending supply of food available for their favorite beasts of burden.  They are found near large underground lakes and other areas that are mostly dry with a clean source of water.  Skildpadders are very poor swimmers and most will drown if attempting to cross deep water. The average Skildpadder is 60 feet in diameter, but they can grow to a diameter of 100 feet.

 

 

Skeleton – Underworld Giant

Size/Type: Large Undead

Hit Dice: 10d12 (65 hp)

Initiative: +4

Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares, refuse slope only)

Armor Class: 11 (-1 size, +2 natural), touch 9, flat-footed 11

Base Attack/Grapple: +5/+15

Attack: Shovel +10 melee (2d6+9)

Full Attack: Shovel +10 melee (2d6+9)

Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.

Special Attacks: 

Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/bludgeoning, darkvision 60 ft., fused weapon fighting, immunity to cold, undead traits

Saves: Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +7

Abilities: Str 23, Dex 10, Con 0, Int 0, Wis 10, Cha 1

Skills: —

Feats: Improved Initiative

Environment: Underworld

Organization: Any

Challenge Rating: 5

Treasure: None

Alignment: Always neutral evil

Advancement: 

Level Adjustment: 

Skeletons are the animated bones of the dead, mindless automatons that obey the orders of their evil masters.

A skeleton is seldom garbed in anything more than the rotting remnants of any clothing or armor it was wearing when slain. A skeleton does only what it is ordered to do. It can draw no conclusions of its own and takes no initiative. Because of this limitation, its instructions must always be simple. A skeleton attacks until destroyed.

Fused Weapon Fighting (Ex)

An undead creature with this quality fights with a weapon that has replaced its hand. Because it doesn’t have to think about holding on to the weapon or consider the weak point of its wrist, the creature deal damage as if the weapon was being wielded by two hands.

 

 

New Class

 

Titanic Beastmaster

The Titanic Beastmaster is skilled at training huge, gargantuan, or colossal creatures.  The dwarven version of this class is an expert when it comes to the training of Giant Tortoises, Bulettes, and Skildpadders (the offspring of the previous two).

Titanic Beastmasters are very rare, yet highly coveted in the Underworld.

A Titanic Beastmaster has one of the most difficult jobs in the Underworld.  He is expected to tame creatures far larger than standard animal companions.  Years and years of hard work help the trainer shape and mold his beasts into perfect tools.  After all these years it can be difficult for the beastmaster to remain emotionally separated from the beast.  Friendships between beast and humanoid are possible, but in the end the beast is a massive deadly weapon which must see the trainer as his master, not his friend.  In order to obtain absolute dominance over these monstrosities, the beastmaster must keep his emotions buried deep and adhere to a strict routine when controlling the beast.

Prerequisites

Base Attack Bonus: +10

Skills: Handle Animal 15 ranks, Ride 15 ranks.

Feats: Skill Focus (Handle Animal), Great Fortitude, Toughness.

Special: Must retain a large or huge animal companion.

Hit Die: d8
LevelBase
Attack Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special
1st+1+2+2+0Special Companion (1st), Great Vigor(+2)
2nd+2+3+3+0Improved training, Great Strength(+2)
3rd+3+3+3+1Thickened Hide(+2), Improved Natural Attack
4th+4+4+4+1Great Vigor(+6), Bonus Feat: Snatch
5th+5+4+4+1Great Strength(+6), Special Companion(2nd)
6th+6+5+5+2Bonus Feat, Powerful Charge
7th+7+5+5+2Thickened Hide(+4), Improved Critical
8th+8+6+6+2Great Vigor(+10), Fast Movement+20ft
9th+9+6+6+3Great Strength(+10), Special Companion(3rd)
10th+10+7+7+3Bonus Feat, Horrible Natural Attack, Master Trainer
 

Class Skills  (2 + Int modifier per level) Handle Animal (Cha), Jump (Str), Ride (Dex), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str).

Class Features  All the following are class features of the Titanic Beastmaster:

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Titanic Beastmasters gain no new proficiency with any weapon or armor.

War trained (Ex): Your levels in Titanic Beastmaster stack with any class that grants you any form of companion for the purpose of determining its abilities. You must choose one of your companions; this creature will now be considered your special companion for the purposes of this prestige class. You may only have one special companion at 1st level, two at 5th level, and three at 9th. This does not grant your companion the warbeast template, nor does it grant you a new companion; it simply improves an existing one.

Great Vigor (Ex): At 1st level your special companion gains a +2 bonus to Constitution; this improves to +6 at 4th level and +10 at 8th.

Improved Training (Ex): At 2nd level your special companion learns a number of extra tricks equal to your wisdom bonus. In addition you gain a bonus to Ride and Handle Animal checks pertaining to your special companion equal to your trainer level.

Great Strength (Ex): At 2nd level your special companion gains a +2 bonus to Strength. This improves to +6 at 5th level and +10 at 9th.

Thickened Hide (Ex): At 3rd level you and your special companion gain a +2 bonus to natural armor. This increases to +4 at 7th level.

Improved Natural Attack: At 3rd level your special companion gains Improved Natural Attack as a bonus feat. If your companion has this feat for the same attack, it stacks.

Bonus Feat: Both you and your special companion gain a bonus feat at 6th level and again at 10th level. It does not have to be the same feat but both must be drawn from the following list: Ability Focus, Awesome Blow, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical, Improved Natural Attack, Improved Natural Armor, Improved Overrun, Mounted Combat, Mounted archery, Power Attack, Powerful Charge, Toughness, Trample.

Powerful Charge (Ex) At 6th level when your special companion makes a charge, its attack deals extra damage in addition to the normal benefits and hazards of a charge. The attack and amount of damage from the attack is given in the creature's description.  Format: powerful charge (gore, 4d8+24); Location: Special Attacks.

Improved Critical: At 7th level your special companion gets Improved Critical as a bonus feat applicable to only one natural attack.

Horrible Natural Attack (Ex): At 10th level your special companion(s) gain an increase in damage to the same attack they took Improved Natural Weapon for, as if they had taken the feat again for the same attack. They also gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls using that attack.

Master Trainer (Ex): At 10th level you no longer need to make a check to use Handle Animal or Ride on your special companions. Your special companion gains two extra hit dice, a +1 bonus on all saving throws and proficiency with light armor.

 

 

 

A13 Experience Awards

  • 250 XP each for those freeing and talking to the bralani
  • 250 XP each for those finding the Ring of Jumping, Improved
  • 250 XP to the party member uncovering the evidence of drow involvement
  • 250 XP each for those warning Mayor Igor Leonid of Rybalka of the coming drow threat
  • 250 XP each for those saving and gaining any further knowledge from the tortured drow
  • 250 XP each for those working with the araneas
  • 250 XP per dwarf saved from the caravan attack
  • 500 XP total for killing the cleric leading the attack
  • 1000 XP total for capturing the cleric leading the attack
  • 250 XP for each of the deinonychus captured and used
  • 250 XP per drow killed rather than driven off
  • 100 XP each for support roles: Cartographer (map-maker), Treasure Keeper, Adventure Log,Time Keeper/Initiative Tracker
  • 100-300 XP each for role-playing experience (varies depending on if player role-played and/or altered their voice/accent)
  • CR experience – (Combat, Trap Removal, etc.)
  • Any additional awards you feel are appropriate

 

3.5E Encounter Table

As a guide for 3.5E GMs, here is a reference table for encounters throughout the adventure. It includes: the location (Location); the type of encounter (Type) such as combat, puzzle or trap; the main monsters, NPCs or traps that are encountered (Encounter) and the encounter level (EL).

LocationTypeEncounterEL
R1CombatBralani6
R2CombatDrow raider zombies (4 or 8 )5 or 7
R3TrapStrong wine5
R4CombatDrow raider zombies (4 or 0)5 or 0
R5bTrapOchre jelly dust3
R5eCombatTroll skeletons (4)0 or 7
R5fTrapPit trap2
R6aTrapFusillade of darts5
TrapPoison needle2
R6bTrapScythe4
TrapScythe4
R6cTrapFireball or iceflame5
TrapPoison needle (3 separate needles)2 each
R7TrapChill touch door (3 separate doors)3 each
R7aTrapFlame strike6
R8CombatYul the Mohrg10
Vikmordere barbarian zombies
Polar minotaur zombie
Gray render
R9 slopeCombatUnderworld Giant Skeleton7
Spectral Choker
R9bCombatSkeletal champions6
The Long RoadCombatSor8
Drow raiders
CombatDriders7 to 11
Monstrous spiders
CombatDrow cleric 914
Drow fighter/wizards 3/4 (2)
Drow knights 6 (4)
Deinonychus (4)
Drow rogues 5 (2)
Drow warriors 5 (8)
Skeleton troops (8)
Embla's gatesCombatDarkmantles (8)7