Cave w/ Dripping Water
RISE OF THE DROW 1 of 3
by Stephen Yeardley & Jonathan Nelson
Table of Contents
- RISE OF THE DROW 1 of 3
- Adventure Hook
- Village of Rybalka
- Request from Below
- History of Krelgar Keep
- Krelgar Keep Ruins
- Map of Krelgar Keep Ruins
- Cellar Level 1: Food Storage
- Cellar Level 2: Guard Barracks
- R7. Dungeon Level 1: Holding Cells
- R8. Dungeon Level 2: Torture Chamber
- R9. Entrance to the Underworld
- Base of Slope R9b. Drow Welcoming Party
- The Long Road
- Dwarf Caravan Under Attack
- Player Maps
- New Trap
- New Special Ability
- New Feat
- New Items
- New Magical Item
- New Spell
- New Monsters
- New Class
- A13 Experience Awards
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The footlockers in this room contain the drows' supplies that Yul doesn't have use for.
*These footlockers are locked and discretely trapped as detailed below:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 wears two valuable items which help him control his zombies:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
One of the skeletons is carrying a cylindrical polished metal case with the following glyph:
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.
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:
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 Dioxide (can kill)
Sulfur Dioxide (can kill)
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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...
Arrival at the gates of Embla
End A13, continue with A14: Scourge of Embla
Ochre Jelly Dust Trap
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
A small cube of animal blubber and magnesium.
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.
N Gargantuan animal
Init +2; Senses darkvision 80 ft., scent, tremorsense 200 ft., Perception +24
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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)
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)
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
Feats: Improved Initiative
Challenge Rating: 5
Alignment: Always neutral evil
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.
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.
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|
|1st||+1||+2||+2||+0||Special Companion (1st), Great Vigor(+2)|
|2nd||+2||+3||+3||+0||Improved training, Great Strength(+2)|
|3rd||+3||+3||+3||+1||Thickened Hide(+2), Improved Natural Attack|
|4th||+4||+4||+4||+1||Great Vigor(+6), Bonus Feat: Snatch|
|5th||+5||+4||+4||+1||Great Strength(+6), Special Companion(2nd)|
|6th||+6||+5||+5||+2||Bonus Feat, Powerful Charge|
|7th||+7||+5||+5||+2||Thickened Hide(+4), Improved Critical|
|8th||+8||+6||+6||+2||Great Vigor(+10), Fast Movement+20ft|
|9th||+9||+6||+6||+3||Great Strength(+10), Special Companion(3rd)|
|10th||+10||+7||+7||+3||Bonus 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).
|R2||Combat||Drow raider zombies (4 or 8 )||5 or 7|
|R4||Combat||Drow raider zombies (4 or 0)||5 or 0|
|R5b||Trap||Ochre jelly dust||3|
|R5e||Combat||Troll skeletons (4)||0 or 7|
|R6a||Trap||Fusillade of darts||5|
|R6c||Trap||Fireball or iceflame||5|
|Trap||Poison needle (3 separate needles)||2 each|
|R7||Trap||Chill touch door (3 separate doors)||3 each|
|R8||Combat||Yul the Mohrg||10|
|Vikmordere barbarian zombies|
|Polar minotaur zombie|
|R9 slope||Combat||Underworld Giant Skeleton||7|
|The Long Road||Combat||Sor||8|
|Combat||Driders||7 to 11|
|Combat||Drow cleric 9||14|
|Drow fighter/wizards 3/4 (2)|
|Drow knights 6 (4)|
|Drow rogues 5 (2)|
|Drow warriors 5 (8)|
|Skeleton troops (8)|
|Embla's gates||Combat||Darkmantles (8)||7|