A short adventure by Michael McCarthy, for a party of four 6th level adventurers. In Pathfinder, this adventure assumes the party is using the medium experience track.
Table of Contents
- Adventure Background
- Adventure Hooks
- Adventure Synopsis
- Chapter 1: The Interrogation
- Chapter 2: The Chase
- Chapter 3: The Escape
- E. Abandoned Tomb (CR7)
- F. Iwiscaspeir’s Cavern. (CR 7)
- G. Ancient Meteorite
- H. Xibrell
- I. Chikfari Nest (CR 7)
- J. Surface Passage
- K. Abandoned Locations
- Concluding the Adventure
- Experience Rewards
- New Monster
- Player Maps
It is impossible for anyone but a duergar to truly understand a duergar. Their actions, their motives, and even their most base desires all stem from the madness that drives them. The Xibrell duergar are little different, save for their particular madness stemming from a curse instead of from their own minds.
Xibrell, a small duergar settlement near the surface, specializes in collecting surface things. Sometimes they seek animals, or slaves, other times coin or art, and as their obsessions dictate, occasionally worthless trash or pestilent disease. They collect from the surface, and bring it down to one of the many hidden vaults deep beneath the surface of the world.
Several months ago, a new dwarf arrived in Xibrell by the name of Grabgur Leadfoot. He murdered and stole for the duergar until he was accepted into their community, and presented them with a plan – they would empty the Iroth family vault of its wealth, gold and jewels accumulated by generations of powerful bankers.
Grabgur wasn't just looking for some easy coin, though; he was looking for revenge against the Iroths. For years, he served them loyally as a guard, before being fired from his position without reason - or so he claims. Deluded by years at the bottom of a bottle, he thinks nothing of his insult and attack of the young Edwin Iroth that day, placing the blame solely on the family he had worked with for nearly a decade.
But, at least then, Xibrell had no interest in merely gold and jewels. Their madness dictated that they needed to gather supplies; which meant charcoal, and blooming flowers. In response to his plan, they tortured Grabgur, severing his hand and letting him loose in the dark tunnels beneath Silverlight Hollow, the very city whose vault he had hoped to rob. Crippled and ashamed, Grabgur was forced to crawl back up to the surface and try once again to make his life amid normal society.
But, as the wind blew against the taking of wealth, so too would it change. Now, the duergar of Xibrell crave nothing more than rare jewels, and thanks to Grabgur they have just the plan burning in the back of their minds.
The PCs are likely to be mercenaries or professional detectives hired by the Iroth family to track down and recover the stolen treasure.
The PCs could be related to the Iroth family, either directly or indirectly. In interest of retaining their family’s power and influence, the group endeavors to recover the stolen goods.
The PCs could be in Silverlight Hollow when the attack on the Iroth vault occurs, and seek to make right what the duergar’s madness has upset.
The adventure begins shortly after the Xibrell duergar have broken into the Iroth vault. Amid the devastation of their home caused by careless explosives, the family discovered that one of the treasures of their vault, the priceless Saatman Emerald, was stolen - alongside every other gemstone in their vault.
As a ray of hope however, not all of the duergar had escaped the explosion, and the family has managed to save one from the brink of death to interrogate him.
This job falls to the PCs, who are far more likely to have the capacity to interrogate a prisoner than the stewards of the Iroth household. He will reveal, in his roundabout, duergar way, that the plan to rob the vault was conceived by dwarf by the name of a Grabgur Leadfoot – a familiar name here in the city - a town drunk.
Grabgur is almost as useless as the duergar, having ‘defected’ from their mad group nearly a month before; he has been drunk since in an attempt to forget it. The PCs must sober him up to get any semblance of help from the dwarf, at which point he will reveal the presence of a number of tunnels beneath the city, and a route which the duergar would have been likely to take – down towards one of their impenetrable vaults.
Descending into the tunnels is the easy part, for upon picking up pursuit the group finds the duergar have not travelled far. Instead, they have rigged the tunnels to explode and collapse behind them, which they begin to do the moment the PCs catch up with the duergar group.
Weaving through a network of collapsing catacombs, the PCs eventually catch the duergar and relieve them of their stolen goods. But now, trapped far underground the group must find another route back to the surface.
The group will eventually find one of several exits amid defending themselves from the dangerous occupants of the tunnels, and be able to return to the surface, and the city, with Iroth’s treasure.
Chapter 1: The Interrogation
The adventure begins as the PCs arrive at the now flattened Iroth estate, having been invited or by their right as adventurers to arrive at the scene of an incident.
A. The Wrecked Mansion
Arriving at the Iroth estate reveals truth in much of what you had heard. While acres of the expansive grounds remain in pristine condition, the western wing of the mansion itself has collapsed two stories into the ground. Dozens of people, from servants to doctors to the Iroth family themselves gather around the faintly smoking wreckage.
The smell of fire hangs in the air, tinted with sulfur, keeping a pall on the people here, even as the voices of the Iroth family can be heard shouting directions amid the chaos.
Fortunately for the Iroth family, the vault itself was in the western wing of the mansion while the eastern wing is where the family and servants quarter.
That luck only extends so far, and there were still nearly a dozen casualties within the serving staff. As they were freed from the rubble, the vault began to come free as well, and it became clear this wasn’t any accident. Some sort of chamber had been carved directly beneath the vault, and the supports for the rest of the wing had been blown out with some explosive device.
The family has only recently had the opportunity to examine the contents of their vault; revealing that yes, the family had been robbed in the attack. Every gemstone within the vault has been taken, from tiny gemstones pried free of jewelry to the priceless relic, the Saatman Emerald. A statuette of a draconic sphinx carved by a long-dead civilization, the priceless piece is one of Matthew Iroth’s personal additions to the family’s legacy, and he feels equally responsible to recover it – he wants the thieves found and executed for the attack.
Matthew Iroth doesn’t know any of the specifics of why the vault was breached, but the family did recover from the wreckage a half-dead duergar, from the nearby and regularly aggressive Duergar village of Xibrell.
Matthew will call the group over as they draw near the mansion, and after a brief introduction, he will explain to the PCs what he wants.
“Thank you again, truly. I have mastered many skills in my long life, but recovering stolen property is not one of them” Matthew pauses for a moment to brush off a smudge from his sleeve, “The best news is that nobody was killed. Not even the Duergar – one of the rotten grey things from that underground city of theirs. We – or rather you – can figure out what was going on and why they robbed me in the first place.”
The master of the house pulls you all closer and drops his voice, "Then, kill the buggers, every one you find. They cause too much trouble. I’ll make sure you’re compensated."
Continuing aloud like nothing was amiss, he added, "And most of all, the Saatman Emerald – I bought it from a dragon for a small fortune. Above anything else, make sure you recover it."
The Mad Dwarf
The Duergar that Matthew refers to is a Xibrell native known as Arsonist, inventor and crafter of the thousand hammers, the magical explosive device used by the Duergar to dig beneath the Iroth vault, and soon the device they will use to collapse the tunnels behind them.
Arsonist, like all of the Xibrell Duergar, is chalk-white from his hair to his lips, and even madder than most of his kind, thanks to the cursed well their city is been built upon. Most of his hair has been burned away, and both of his legs are currently broken, leaving him at 1hp, yet his health isn’t yet one of his concerns – he craves nothing more but the gemstones he came here to collect.
Sating Arsonist’s desires aren’t likely to be helpful for the PCs, for he always absolutely craves one thing or another. If given a gemstone of any sort, he will ask to be healed, then fed, then for rum, a hammer, and finally dozens of skulls, and an endless string of still more outlandish desires.
Still, while evil and mad, Arsonist isn’t particularly smart. He will answer any question put to him in his roundabout way, and truthfully, not thinking anything of it. Below is a list of common questions and Arsonist’s answers to them.
Who are you?
“Arsonist is me, and I glitter like a ruby, like a topaz. I break things, I fix them, and I break them again, because it is as fun as a diamond glitters in the light of the fire. Even he doesn’t break things like I do. No, not like I.”
How did you break into the vault?
“A thousand hammer blows opened the way, a thousand hammer blows closes it. A thousand hammer blows rained upon my head as the walls turned to ash… But the gems are empty of hammers.”
Where are you from? Or how do we get to Xibrell?
“Xibrell, Xibrell, Xibrell….” The duergar begins to chant, almost praying, then suddenly stops. “But not him, he wanted us to have gold, he was not us. Xibrell, Xibrell, Xibrell…”
Who is ‘he’?
“He wanted to take away our coal, our food! He wanted gold and jewels, pretty jewels. Grabgur with a foot of lead, not of sapphires, now he has a hand of lead too. We used his hand to strike a thousand hammer blows! Ehehehe” the duergar continues to laugh for some time before his face scrunches up, “His hand and his mind opened the floor and the walls to what we wanted. He is not us, he doesn’t know us. He thinks he is us, but he is not.”
Despite a several-month disappearance after the incident, during which Grabgur attempted to ally with the Xibrell duergar, Grabgur returned to the shack he calls home with a missing hand, and began to drink even more than normal, and still be found there.
B. Grabgur’s Shack
Every surface of this filthy hovel is littered with empty bottles, and the building seems to jingle with every footfall outside. In the center of this mess lays an equally dirty dwarf, his one remaining hand wrapped tight around some half-finished flask.
Grabgur’s shack is small, only ten by fifteen feet in its entirety, and holds no more than a table, a bed, and a pair of sacks that contain Grabgur’s few remaining possessions he has yet to sell for booze.
Grabgur himself is passed out from drink, and has been for several hours by the time the PCs arrive. When woken, he is nauseated and incomprehensible for at least ten minutes, though the PCs can help him recover faster using any sort of means that might be at their disposal.
Once lucid, Grabgur quickly makes it clear that he isn’t going just tell the PCs what he knows for free – even though he might struggle for the words in his barely sober state.
“Sho, now you want my help, huh? Xibrell finally learned how brilf… bri... How smart I am.” Grabgur wipes some spittle out of his beard, instead smearing it across his cheek, “I wahnt… a weeks pay. No a year’s pay, then I’ll tell you.”
Grabgur’s request isn’t very difficult for the PCs to fulfill, partly because he can’t remember clearly how much he had made. If pressed for a specific value, he will invent a wage of 5d6x50gp, and be happy with it if paid.
What he actually made, which can be discovered by asking any member of the Iroth family, was 700gp a year, a sum which they will provide to the PCs upon the insurance that this expense will recover the stolen gems.
Once persuaded to help the group, he will answer the PCs questions to the best of his ability, surprisingly quick to sober up now that his future ability to drink is on the line.
“Thish is how it worked. You see.” Grabgur digs a dirty scrap of paper out from his pocket, revealing a crude map of the city with several lines overtop it, “Theshe are the tunnels that go under the city. Xibrell tunnels. They’re everywhere. Those little buggersh were going to sneak right under the mansion, and use those tunder hammersh to open a hole in the floor of the vault, and then empty it.”
Grabgur uses the stump of his missing hand to adjust the paper, then points to one of the thicker lines. “Thash the main tunnel. It… It comes out just outside Xibrell.” The dwarf ends sarcastically, pushing the scrawled map towards you.
Other Routes to Xibrell
It is entirely possible the PCs will simply set off directly searching for Xibrell without visiting Grabgur. The problem with this approach is that other than the dwarf, nobody in Silverlight Hollow actually knows where it is, and the Iroth family will make it clear that having any direction is better than searching blindly.
Chapter 2: The Chase
While Grabgur’s map isn’t incredibly useful, it does provide enough information for the PCs to eventually find one of over a dozen narrow tunnels around the city, all funneling down to one main tunnel.
The walls of this massive tunnel are smooth and arched, suggesting some sort of natural space despite the rough-cut floor. Far in the distance, you can hear the sound of hammer on stone.
Long ago, most of these tunnels were lava flows, but in the intervening centuries the magma has drained away, leaving the 40-ft. wide, 30-ft. high tunnel empty. While the walls are natural stone, the duergar have taken the time to flatten out the floors of the tunnels, and they are hewn stone instead.
C. Collapsing Tunnels (CR 8)
The sound of hammers leads the PCs down the main tunnel, past a collapsed side-passage – which would have led beneath the Iroth vault – and eventually to the Xibrell duergar, not far away.
For each thousand-hammer the PCs recover, the inevitable collapse of the tunnel will be delayed by one round, up to a maximum of four rounds of delay.
C1. Detonation Site
The gentle curve of the tunnel reveals a group of ashen-skinned dwarves, tossing their pickaxes into a cart pulled by some sort of massive insect.
As they see you, they begin to whoop and holler obscenities, and one of them produces a hammer, or a package that looks like a hammer, and steps between your group and theirs.
The package in the duergar’s hand is actually a thousand-hammer, already armed and prepared to detonate the very next round. Any PC who attempts to close the initial 60 ft. between the two groups is likely to be caught in the blast alongside the duergar himself.
More importantly, this thousand-hammer’s detonation causes a chain reaction of every other hammer hidden along the length of the tunnel, which in turn causes the cavern to begin to cave-in on itself, a process which will not soon resolve itself.
Escaping the collapsing tunnels is a series of skill checks which normally begins one round after the duergar detonates the thousand-hammer, though this can be delayed if the PCs had removed any of the devices from the passage beforehand.
The initial collapse begins 60 feet behind the PCs starting location, and advances towards the group at a rate of 40 ft per round. Characters with a slower movement speed must hustle (double-move) to remain away from the encroaching wall of collapsing rock, while faster PCs might be able to gain on, or even attack the duergar, who begin with a 60 ft. lead on the PCs. If the PCs initiate combat during the chase, the duergar act on initiative 10, and the cave-in progresses on initiative 1.
The duergar themselves are generally safe from the rockslide, immediately clambering into the cart and using the chikfari’s superior movement speed to stay well ahead of the PCs and the cave-in, though never far out of sight.
C2. First Leg
As each explosion detonates further down the passage, huge cracks appear in the walls. It starts with stalactites falling from the ceiling, quickly escalating as the entire passageway behind you begins to collapse in on itself, sending debris and dust – and thousands of tons of rock – in your direction.
The first leg of the challenge is a direct sprint, down the gradually sloping tunnel for 200 ft. As the PCs run, smaller rocks will hurtle down the hillside, striking both the PCs and the duergar every three rounds (rocks +5 [1d4]). While not overly dangerous themselves, being struck by this cavalcade of debris requires a DC12 Reflex save or be unable to hustle the following round.
The duergar, however, are mostly safe from the real threat of this collapse, riding in the cart as they are, as the chikfari receives improved cover from the rockslide’s attacks due to the cart and the duergar behind it. Should the PCs attack the duergar during this time, three of them will retaliate with their crossbows, while one continues to direct the chikfari.
C3. Second Leg
The tunnel cuts suddenly to the side, then upwards. The insect pulling the duergar has no trouble catapulting them up the steep incline, even allowing itself a moment to pause at the apex.
This rocky upward slope requires the PCs to climb or leap their way up before the cave-in reaches them. Fortunately for them, the shift in the direction shields them from any further rubble.
The duergar will pause at the top for up to two rounds to taunt the PCs, pretending to pick the PCs off the wall with their crossbows – though not actually firing upon them unless they are in extremely close pursuit.
C4. Third Leg
With the deafening roar of rocks not far behind, the pathway suddenly drops down into a chasm, at the bottom of which is a shattered bridge.
Only 60 ft beyond the cliff the PCs have scaled, the passageway drops off suddenly. The bridge the duergar had been using has come free from its anchors and fallen into the pit, along with the duergar, who were on it at the time.
The passageway continues on the opposite wall, 25 ft. away, but unless the PCs are able to jump that distance they will first be forced to find a way down to the bottom – area D – 40 ft below.
Fortunately, the chasm’s presence will stop the cave-in from continuing, though only just on the cusp of the entrance to the chasm, leaving only a 5 ft. lip for PCs to stand on safely.
D. Rubble-Strewn Chasm (CR 7)
This huge chasm extends hundreds of feet in either direction, and nearly a hundred feet up as well, before filling with jagged stalactites. Along its bottom is a layer of fresh rubble, including a wrecked cart and bridge. Hundreds of the stolen gemstones litter the floor.
The chasm is approximately 350 ft. long, and ranges from 15 to 20 ft. wide, except at the very ends where it begins to narrow down to only a few feet across. At this point, the base of the chasm is 20 ft. across. The walls are relatively sheer, but equally rough, requiring only a DC 13 Climb check to ascend or descend.
Chapter 3: The Escape
With the immediate threat of cave-in and mad dwarves settled, the PCs will have to come to terms with being trapped underground. There are miles of tunnels to contend with, and all the dangerous things that live within.
Many species of dangerous creatures live within the dark tunnels around Xibrell. Twice a day there is a 50% chance the PCs will randomly encounter one of the many stalking threats.
|1-10||Advanced minotaur* (CR5)||41-75||4 Xibrell Raiders (CR 7)|
|11-30||1d4 Chikfari (CR 6)||76-95||1d3 Cloakers (CR7)|
|31-40||1d4 Duergar wights* (CR6)||96-100||Drider (CR 7)|
- This encounter can only occur once. Ignore if rolled twice.
E. Abandoned Tomb (CR7)
Dusty and long-forgotten, this marble structure seems to have sunk into the earth over the course of centuries. Despite the age, the uneven stones are free of moss and other growth, suggesting the pallor hanging over this place is more than just darkness.
The owner of this tomb, a warrior-priest of a dark god, has long since decayed to dust, and the treasures within his final resting place have been plundered. But, over the centuries, the necromantic energies that suffuse this place have raised one beast or another from the grave, creating an endless cycle of beasts that need to be destroyed, and the treasure of fallen heroes.
The corpses of several duergar now stalk the tunnels around this small tomb, collecting other bodies from the tunnels to eventually rise as things still worse than themselves.
An empty sarcophagus sits in the center of this room, stripped of even its lid. A dark altar sits behind it, glowing faintly while several sinister shapes stalk around it, casting shadows on the long-faded walls.
Hexagonal in shape, the body of the tomb is thirty feet across and ten feet high. In the center is a three foot square block of solid obsidian, glowing faintly (as a candle), and an empty stone sarcophagus set halfway into the floor. Four mutilated bodies lay around the corners of the room, each of which will rise as a zombie in 1d6 days if left within the tomb.
The altar functions as the focus of a desecrate spell, providing a +2 profane bonus on all attacks, damage and saves, and a bonus per HD (included below). The altar has a hardness of 25, and 60 hp.
F. Iwiscaspeir’s Cavern. (CR 7)
For centuries this massive chamber was filled with water, slowly leeching salt and other minerals from the water and forming the massive smoky crystals that now dominate the cavern.
While this massive chamber is nearly 200 ft. across, roughly 50% of the available space is overtaken by the massive salt crystals, presenting either as difficult terrain (45% of the time), or a crystal so large as to make the space impassible (5%). Only a single obvious path leads from the entrance at one end to the waterfall at the other.
F1. Main Cavern
An inch of water covers the floor of this chamber, where huge crystalline prisms rise from the ground, piercing the walls and ceiling in equal measure. Scattered just beneath the surface of the water between these spires are polished coins and small shimmering scales.
In the distance, the faint sound of a waterfall can be heard.
The cave’s owner, the dragonling Iwiscaspeir, might be an evil dragon, but underground he rarely has any worthwhile companions to speak to. He will not attack immediately, waiting for the PCs to make the first move. But should they talk, he will quickly attempt to monopolize them for as long as he can – though he does intend on eating them after a time unless they prove particularly riveting.
Should the PCs improve his attitude to friendly from neutral, and ask him how he arrived here, or for an exit, he will tell the PCs how he discovered this cavern quite by accident, squirming down a narrow tunnel from the surface, eventually emerging from the same hole that now serves as his waterfall.
F2. Waterfall ascent
Despite the steady rain of water, this passageway continues to climb up towards the surface.
This long, mostly vertical shaft rises all the way from Iwiscaspier’s cavern to a river on the surface, but climbing it is no easy feat.
If the PCs ascend to the surface in this manner, they will find themselves emerging from a river bank a short two miles from Silverlight Hollow. Once they have, proceed to concluding the adventure.
G. Ancient Meteorite
Eons in the past, a meteor hit the world, burying itself far underground. PCs passing through this tunnel may spot this unusual stone.
The walls of the tunnels abruptly fall away, and the ceiling opens up hundreds of feet above. Ahead, a city of ramshackle buildings has been built in the center of this huge cavern, filling in the spaces between stalagmites to create the illusion of a single, massive structure.
This conglomeration of buildings is the city of Xibrell, home to the duergar who have been harrying the city of Silverlight Hollow for so long. When the PCs arrive, four of the remaining ten duergar will be away, scavenging and stealing from the surface world. For each day that passes, 1d3 scavenging duergar will return, and a similar 1d3 will leave on their own mission.
Unless the PCs burn down the village, the duergar will remain oblivious to any attack the PCs might have laid on the city, even stepping over bodies in the streets to go about their individual tasks like nothing was wrong. Of course, if they actually see the PCs, they will immediately attack.
The walls of Xibrell’s buildings are poorly constructed of stone and wood (hardness 5, hp 3), and the floor is carved stone.
H1. City Proper
The exterior space of the village, if you could call it that, is divided into sections; spotless, filthy, polished and rough-hewn. Divided by clear lines, no two building faces seem quite alike.
The duergar make a deliberate point of keeping some sections of the city clean, though they still leave others littered with rubble. Rubble-covered areas are considered difficult terrain.
H2. Xibrell Shack
Like every other aspect of life in Xibrell, few portions of the duergar’s living conditions are well maintained; for instance their clothing is well mended, but their rooms are uniformly filthy; or how they sleep in neat beds, while the floor is covered with rancid piles of chewed bones.
None of the shacks contain anything of value.
H3. The heaps (CR 7)
An elaborate set of arches supports a roof and walls made of rough sheets of wood and metal. Between the arches, dozens of very distinct piles lay around the room, and several duergar carefully shift one item or another within and between them.
The piles in this room contain the majority of what the duergar have collected - save for the truly ‘valuable’ pieces stored in vaults far beneath the world.
The collections here are quite varied in their contents, though little of it is useful for the PCs. Each pile is distinct; rocks, surface plants, salted lizards, scraps of cloth and many further things besides, each in a neat pile.
When the PCs enter, the duergar will hide behind the stacks until the PCs enter the room, and remain in hiding so long as the PCs don’t touch anything. If they do, the duergar will immediately leap out and attack.
H4. Xibrell Barracks (CR6)
Crude weapons line the walls in rows. Hundreds, if not thousands of rusty, broken and poorly made weapons fill racks three and four rows deep from the walls.
While most of the weapons here are broken and useless, simply one of the many things the duergar collect uselessly, they are equally obsessive about maintaining those few they do use. At all hours of the day, several duergar remain here, polishing, sharpening and generally maintaining the armory.
H5. The font of madness (CR7)
This gazebo-like structure holds only a grimy fountain, and must predate the rest of the city by years. The stonework is immaculate, and the dirty water of the fountain seems to burble of its own accord, as if it was laughing.
Though the duergar aren’t fully aware of it, their madness doesn’t stem from within themselves but from within the spirit of an insane derro who died in this cavern centuries ago. She drowned in the very spring that feeds the fountain that was to serve as the cornerstone of a magnificent city, and anyone drinking from it – the duergar especially – share in her obsessive madness.
Norah’s ghost lives within the fountain, and should any combat take place within Xibrell, she will emerge and begin to circle the fountain, picking specks of invisible dirt from it until disturbed, before assaulting any creature she sees. To be laid permanently to rest, the PCs must destroy the fountain (hp 20, hardness 8), and sanctify the ground by casting bless and adding a flask of holy water to the pool.
If a PC drinks from the questionable fountain before Norah’s spirit has been permanently destroyed, allow them a DC 14 Will save or they will be struck as with insanity for the next 4 hours, Instead of injuring oneself during the confusion, the target feels the compulsion to collect items. Each failed save doubles the remaining duration.
H6. Deep Descent
While few of the tunnels around Xibrell go anywhere, there is one that leads down, seemingly forever. It was from this tunnel that the duergar that founded Xibrell came from the underworld, and it is through this tunnel that they descend to deliver the treasures they steal.
It is certainly possible the PCs would be interested in descending further into the underground, but such an expedition is outside the scope of this adventure. It would be prudent to suggest your PCs leave this pit alone until they know they are prepared for the dangers.
I. Chikfari Nest (CR 7)
While several patches of this large spherical chamber show the rock beneath, most of the walls have been covered by some sort of white material, like silk or spider thread. Several bulbous shapes hang from the center of the ceiling, and a collection of bones has accumulated at the bottom of the floor.
This cavern is home to the chikfari that the duergar often use as mounts, and occasionally use as food. They are well-used to visitors entering their cave, and will quickly approach the PCs looking for food, but will not attack unless to defend themselves, though this may not immediately be obvious.
The passageway itself opens up about five feet from the bottom of the spherical room, which extends nearly a hundred feet above.
J. Surface Passage
While the duergar may have destroyed their largest tunnel leading to Silverlight Hollow, they have a number of passages leading to areas all over the nearby countryside.
J1. Distant Tunnel (CR 7)
This passage does lead, ultimately to the surface, but contains hundreds of smaller branches along its length before then, many of which serve as occasional lairs for creatures above or below the surface.
The passageway steadily rises, and the air gradually becomes fresher the further you go. Eventually, the light of what must be day is visible as the passage continues to bend, rising towards the surface.
Near the mouth of the tunnel, a group of cloakers have picked the center of a 40 ft. wide section of tunnel as a prime hunting spot. The duergar know of these cloakers and skirt the edges of the area to avoid them, often even leading pursuers through the ambush when they can.
J2. The Rotway
The rotway, the duergar’s original surface tunnel, is the only of the tunnels that lead to the surface that isn’t difficult to locate. However, the creation of other tunnels has instead allowed this dank space to flourish with all sorts of molds and fungi.
The walls of this twisting passage are little more than packed dirt, reinforced by the thousands of mushrooms and creepers growing throughout. The air is heavy with moisture, and every motion seems to release a cloud of spores.
If the PCs ascend to the surface in this manner, they will find themselves emerging into a large, similarly mold-ridden cave concealed in a hillside nearly fifteen miles from the walls of Silverlight Hollow.
K. Abandoned Locations
While most of the tunnels do teem with activity, some places have simply been abandoned.
Two such locations are presented here, but there are likely to be many more bones, empty lairs, or long lost treasures waiting for PCs interested in exploring.
K1. Dusty labyrinth
Not even lichen grows down this path, as it opens into a square cavern carved into the living rock.
Once the home of a Minotaur or some other maze-dwelling creature, these catacombs have been untouched for decades, and are utterly empty but for a single dusty humanoid skeleton at the very center, some prisoner once chained to an iron post.
K2. Dead adventurers
A trio of skulls sits amid a scattering of other bones in this small clearing here. What looks to be the markings of a long-ago campfire discolors the middle of the room.
The skeletons of a small group of clearly unprepared adventurers lay here, with little sign as to what may have killed them long ago.
Concluding the Adventure
Returning overland to Silverlight Hollow is a relatively simple process and a safe one too, considering the dangers that lurked below the surface. Regardless of the distance the PCs might travel, they should find their return to civilization all but idyllic.
The PCs will be greeted upon their return not by Matthew, but by the young Edwin Iroth, who will deliberately take the PCs around the city to see the damage caused by the collapsing tunnels. This tour isn’t entirely to blame the PCs though, but more to see what sort of guilt they might feel, and to justify the extermination of an entire city’s worth of Duergar, which he has been told by his grandfather they were subtly requested to do.
The return of the Saatman Emerald is handled very businesslike, with Edwin granting the PCs a reward of 4,000gp in coin or masterwork items for its return. The news of the destruction of Xibrell, however, is quickly hushed and pulled to the side.
While the family is glad the mad dwarves are gone, they don’t want to develop a reputation for simply eliminating cities that cause problems. Instead of a direct payment, the PCs will subtly be told that it is a pity none of the other gemstones could be recovered from the site of the quake. These 192 other gems the PCs likely collected vary widely in value, and are worth approximately 3,000gp in total.
With the PCs task completed, the Iroth family will hold a small celebration at their safe return, and perhaps plan on working with the group again, in the future.
- 2,400XP for convincing Grabgur to reveal the route to Xibrell.
- 2,400XP for returning to the surface through the waterfall ascent or the rotway.
- 3,200XP for returning to the surface through the distant tunnels.
- 2,400XP for eliminating all of the Xibrell duergar.
- 4,800XP for returning the Saatman emerald.
About the Author
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This enormous insect resembles a grasshopper, but for having the size and hindquarters closer to that of a reptile.
Chikfari CR 4
XP 1,200 each
N Large magical beast
Init +3; Senses Darkvision 60 ft, low-light vision; Perception +2; Spot +2, Listen +2
AC 18, touch 11, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dex, +7 natural, -1 size)
hp 42 (5d10 +15)
Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +3
Spd 50ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee bite +8 (1d8+4 plus poison) or kick +8 (2d8+6 x3)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.; 10 ft. with kick
Special Attacks poison, devastating kick
Str 19, Dex 16, Con 17, Int 6, Wis 14, Cha 11
Base Atk +5; CMB +10 (+12 Bull Rush); CMD 23; Grapple +10
Feats Combat Reflexes, Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack
Skills Acrobatics +8 (+18 when jumping) Climb +18;
Languages Undercommon (can’t speak)
Poison (ex) Bite—injury; save Fort DC 15; frequency 1/round for 6 rounds; effect 1d2 Con damage; cure 1 save. The save DC is Constitution-based and includes a +2 racial bonus.
Devastating Kick (ex) a chikfari’s massive rear legs are incredibly powerful. Not only do a chikfari’s kicks do use one and a half times a chikfari’s Strength modifier on damage, but they also do triple damage on a critical hit. Further, whenever a chikfari hits a target of its size or smaller with a kick attack, it may make a free bull rush attempt to knock the target away, though the chikfari cannot move with the target if it does.
Though chikfari, or ‘kicking insects’, are borderline intelligent creatures in their own right, they remain little more than dangerous beasts simply due to their short lifespan of barely 10 years. As a result, they often build nests near other intelligent subterranean creatures, where they serve as mounts in exchange for food – and often eventually become food themselves well before their natural lifespan, though they fail to recognize the problem with that.
When hatched, an immature chikfari is nearly fully developed. They are smaller than their fully grown counterparts, more closely matching a mule in size compared to a full horse, but have little to develop other than to grow to full size.
A fully grown chikfari stands 4 feet tall at the shoulder, approximately 12 feet long, and weighs between 1,200 and 1,400 pounds.
Other species of similar Chikfari have been identified, deeper underground, typically much more vicious than the more common breeds, though at a glance they can only be identified by coloration. Several of these breeds are known to be able to fly, and some possess more directly threatening abilities, like the Zelfari’s ability to shoot the spines on its legs at opponents.
Table: Chikfari types
|Stelavfari ‘star winged insects’||2||Medium||3|
|Caelfari ‘sunlight insects’||7||Large||9|
|Zelfari ‘tiger insects’||9||Large||12|
|Chiknoxfari ‘kicking hissing insects’||14||Huge||19|