There is a long tradition in fantasy roleplaying of drow equipment being destroyed or rendered useless upon exposure to sunlight. Rise of the Drow: Collector’s Edition hints at this tradition with some equipment found in Tolgorith Tower, but throughout the prologue—which takes place on the surface, albeit mostly under an eclipse— the equipment the drow use is presumed to be of drow make, yet no discussion is given on the usefulness of those items should they find their way into the hands of the player characters. Here, then, is an optional bit of world-building the GM can include regarding drow-crafted arms and armor. These rules are kept intentionally vague to serve for any roleplaying game, as well as to allow the GM flexibility in implementing them. Continue reading Rise of the Drow: Disintegrating Drow Equipment
By far the most asked question we receive about Rise of the Drow: Collector’s Edition is, “Is it supposed to be this tough?”
The short answer is yes, it’s supposed to be a challenge. It’s a challenge for the players to use their resources wisely and to look outside their character sheets for ideas. But it’s also a challenge for the GM to keep the characters constantly in danger, constantly on the verge of defeat but also moving forward.
The first chapter of the prologue is called “The Darkness Arrives” and it is meant to set the tone for the entire campaign. The drow are introduced as a formidable foe, and the frantic pace and overall sense of encroaching darkness throughout the prologue compels the heroes to action and drives the players toward the quest of thwarting the drow. The prologue is not only difficult, but potentially deadly. While some groups embrace the idea of a TPK and enjoy the threat it poses, it’s not for every game table. What follows is a guide to avoid that most gruesome fate. Stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers. Continue reading Rise of the Drow: Surviving the Prologue
An Aventyr Adventure Location for four to six characters of levels 2-3
History of the Grotto
Long ago, when Lake Chonia filled to overflowing with water, followers of the water goddess Vasi flocked to this grotto. Through visions they were told that peace and prosperity would come to their families if they settled here and became guardians of the water. This location, in a cave just above Lake Chonia, has a natural spring which helps feed the lake with a clean source of water. Vasi’s followers moved into the grotto and built a temple dedicated to the goddess of water. Vasi’s faithful still serve her and protect the water and temple to this day.
In recent years, as Lake Chonia began to dry up, Vasi’s Grotto became one of the only reliable sources of water in the area and thus drew the attention of many, including undesirables such as raiders and brigands. The followers of Vasi were forced to close off their supply of fresh water and block the way with a magic gate made of emerald, blessed with powerful protection magic by Vasi’s high priestess, Mother May’al.
The Waterfall of Saints, Mother May’al
The Waterfall of Saints, Mother May’al, is the high priestess of Vasi’s Grotto. When she first came here, she was quite young, only 17 years of age but time has gotten away from her, and now at the ripe old age of 85, she prepares for the ending of her life and the passing of the temple to the next one worthy of Vasi’s blessing.
The Basilisk and the Followers of Vasi
The basilisk of the grotto never attacks the followers and vice versa. Mother May’al has taught the followers of Vasi that tolerance, acceptance, and even forgiveness may bring about friendship, love, or in the case of the basilisk, a symbiotic relationship based on survival. The basilisk provides protection for the followers of Vasi while the followers provide the basilisk with food, shelter, water, and comfort.
Visitors to Vasi’s Grotto
May’al is very kind and even inviting to outsiders who make it into the grotto through the emerald door but is careful not to invite them into the temple proper. Visitors are typically kept outside in Areas 19-23 where they are welcome to make themselves at home. Food is provided and guests are encouraged to be on their way within 1d4+2 days. Anyone attempting to stay longer is permitted to do so for another 1d4 days but after this is escorted out by the clergy.
1. Cave Entrance
Entering the cave after being out in the sweltering heat, the cool and slightly humid air is immediately noticeable. Characters making a successful DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check smell fresh water although they don’t know where it is coming from, a successful DC 16 Wisdom (Survival) check discerns the water source is to the south.
The walls here are covered in ancient etchings and scrawling drawn up by pre-evolutionary Grekians who once dwelled in this cave. Wildlife, hunting, and campfires with monsters running about are frequently depicted in the scenes.
Small and medium animal droppings are scattered here and there, one of the droppings contains a gold signet ring decorated with a white saddle.
2. Markings on the Cave Floor
Some scuffs on the cave floor reveal this cavern has recently been visited by humanoids. Characters making a successful DC 16 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals they were headed to/from area 12.
3. Something Eating in the Darkness
From here, characters spot a large creature in Area 5, it is a harmless herbivore eating vegetation off the cave walls.
4. Four Dark Figures
An old campfire in the center of the room still has four raiders sitting around it. They have been turned to stone by the basilisk from Area 13. For some odd reason, their belongings also turned to stone and cannot be removed.
In the corner of the room is the statue of a woman with her hands outstretched toward the sky. Necklaces, bracelets, and other fine jewelry have been left here both on and below the statue as an offering to some long-forgotten goddess; the items are worth a total of 150 gp. Any evil creature touching the statue or the jewelry takes 2d6 fire damage, making a successful DC 14 Dexterity save causes half damage.
5. Munching Mother
A voracious, harmless large herbivore (AC 12, HP 5) is here, munching away at vegetation growing on the wall. She will stay here for another 1d4 hours, eating the entire time, then leave via the cave entrance to find and feed her three offspring. If attacked or disturbed, she will immediately flee and attempt to hide somewhere either inside or outside the cave depending upon the location of the characters. If killed and dissected/cooked, with a successful DC 16 Wisdom (Perception) check, a character discovers that the stomach of the creature contains a ring of x-ray vision buried amidst all the moss and lichen it has been consuming. This ring’s magic is waning and after 1d100 days ceases to function entirely.
6. Stone Statuary
Eight statues are scattered about this room in various poses of surprise or fright. A small girl, two women, a man with blade in hand, a woman with mace in hand, a kobold, and two raiders seemingly frozen in combat poses. These people were all turned to stone by the basilisk from Area 13. A successful DC 18 Wisdom (Perception) check spots earrings worn by the girl, they can be retrieved and grant the wearer +1 to Animal Handling checks with horses whilst worn. The earrings are tiny silver horses.
7. Nothing to See Hear
8. Goat to Go
A family of 1d6+1 giant goats have made this part of the cave their home and are frequently harvested by Vasi’s followers for the wool to provide clothing and blankets in the temple and the meat to feed the basilisk and keep it tame to Vasi’s faithful.
9. Signs of a Fight
The floor is scuffed up, a broken blade lies in the corner, signs of a violent fight and blood spilled long ago.
10. Svirfneblin Sanctuary
Bekzzink, a svirfneblin from the Underworld, has taken this room on, as his temporary home. The undergnome used experimental magic and a mechanical bodysuit to transport himself from the depths of the earth. The suit was damaged upon arrival here. He rests and prepares for his next steps.
11. Old Discarded Desk
An old wooden desk is jammed into the corner of this room. The wet, fibrous wood, pale as sand, is peppered with bright, vibrant and multi-colored mold. Stone-gray mushrooms with long, hair-like stems, are interspersed with the mold. The wood, mold, and mushrooms are actually medicinal aids a local tribe discovered by accidentally leaving firewood in these caves and returning to see these remedies growing. Now, anytime they find things disposed of, by civilized folk, they drag those items into the cave. Unbeknownst to them, hidden inside the now decaying desk is an ancient Grekian platinum coin worth 10x its value and 25x to a collector. With a successful DC 20 Intelligence (Nature) check the various remedies may be used to create (10) doses of grotto cure which, when consumed, removes any non-magical disease. If all ten doses are consumed at once, this remedy will act as a greater restoration spell, cure all forms of disease, but also make the imbiber confused for 2d4+2 hours as they hallucinate. Note: 10 doses may also be used to transform one of the basilisk’s statues back into a living, breathing person. If this occurs, the person becomes indebted to the party and travels with them, helping however they can for 2d20+20 days (perhaps longer).
12. Two Paths
The southeast path leads to the basilisk’s lair. If the party attempts to sneak down the passage to Area 14, there is a 75% chance the creature automatically sees them. If it doesn’t see them, there’s always the chance that it hears or smells them (Passive Perception 9) and comes running, ready for a fresh meal.
13. Lair of Vasi’s Basilisk
This oversized guard dog is well taken care of by the occupants of Vasi’s Grotto. She will not attack a follower of Vasi and will even go so far as to protect them from invaders. The followers frequently provide the basilisk, whom they’ve nicknamed “Weowi”, with fresh water, food, and comfortable bedding. The priests of Vasi have even begun to clean up Weowi’s cave to make it more livable for the creature. There are numerous statues in this room, fortunate visitors who did not meet their doom through consumption by the beast.
If the adventurers attempt to harm Weowi, the voice of Mother May’al will boom throughout the caves “leave our child alone or face our wrath!”. If the characters flee, the basilisk will not pursue unless further provoked after which it is relentless in its attacks.
Scattered coins, gems, and valuables may be gathered up from the floor of this room and the bedding of the creature but it would take 1d4 hours to do a thorough job. Treasure. 5 pp, 328 gp, 533 ep, 609 sp, 1,092 cp. 5 rubies worth a total of 900 gp. Deck of Many Things (with two cards left). A treasure map of the K’Naghi Savannah with some locations marked and others circled.
14. Vasi’s Emerald Door
A stunningly beautiful door chiseled of pure emerald stands before you, blocking progress down the passage.
The door, when touched, displays glowing Chonian writing.
Always within you, sometimes around you; if I surround you, I can kill you.
The answer to such a riddle is “water” but in this case, only the god’s name “Vasi”, which is an archaic Grekian/Chonian noun meaning “water”, will resolve the riddle and open the magic door. If a character or creature with ill intentions touches the door, instead of displaying the riddle, the individual will be hit with 2d4+4 force damage and thrust back 10’, this will continue 9 times, after which the door is depleted of magic energy and takes 2 hours to recharge.
In addition to the above riddle and trap, the door is further protected as described below.
Note regarding the Chonian riddle: If the characters do not speak Chonian, they are likely able to get help from a Chonian villager somewhere in the realm for a nominal fee.
Opening the Emerald Door
The green door ahead reflects the ambient light at odd angles. It appears to be a single, solid emerald.
The trap is activated when the door is opened.
A successful DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals that the door is actually not a single emerald, but is made from hundreds of smaller emeralds expertly fused together.
Etched writing inside several of the stones can be seen with a successful DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check. The words are in Draconic, and say “Pass this door, and the essence of who you are is diminished”.
A spell or other effect that can sense the presence of magic, such as Detect Magic, reveals several very strong auras of Transmutation.
When the trap activates, each creature within 30′ must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw, or be shrunken (enlarge/reduce spell) for 10 minutes and suffer a -1 penalty to their proficiency bonus for 3 hours.
A successful Dispel Magic (DC 12) destroys the trap and the etched writing but otherwise leaves the door intact.
15. Entrance to the Grotto
When the characters reach this spot, Mother May’al crosses the bridge and speaks to them, welcoming the party to Vasi’s Grotto. So long as the group is peaceful, she welcomes them to the grotto and asks that they partake of the water to quench their thirst. If the group killed the basilisk and/or permanently damaged the door, she will ask them to leave within the day. If they respected the creature and the door, she invites them to stay for 1d4+2 days and assigns them Areas 21, 22, and 23 to stay for the duration. Whilst here, her priests provide healing, food, and water, as well as some texts steeped in religion, others lore or knowledge. The group may stay and rest. The characters are not permitted within the Temple of Vasi though they may approach as far as the bridge but are not allowed to cross the halfway point.
If anyone disobeys Mother May’al, the priests will begin to rise up against the party while she holds a steady hand and says “Leave them be, they come from a dangerous world outside. Let’s give them a second chance to become our friends. New friends, please, will you listen to our kind words as we ask you to follow our rules within this grotto in respect of Vasi, the one who gives you life through water?”
Mother May’al may attempt to convert any characters who seem truly and honestly interested in becoming faithful of Vasi. After the character is converted, they alone will be given entry to the temple
16. Drokal of the Devil
A Chonian soldier named Drokal once fell in love with a devil, the creature visited him in this world often, eventually working nefarious deeds through him. One of those deeds brought him here, where the waters of Vasi cleansed his body and mind. He denounced the devil and her evils, embracing Vasi as his true goddess. The devil came once more to this world to take Drokal’s life in front of Mother May’al before leaving into the depths of the earth in a plume of smoke and fire, down into the realm of the gitwerc. His body was buried here and his devil lover depicted as a grand statue to remind the faithful never to falter.
17. Bridge of the Faithful
This bridge is magically imbued with energy which prevents non-believers from crossing the halfway point. If anyone attempts to do so, they are warned as the cave shakes and waves from the grotto begin to strike at the sides of the bridge. If this is ignored, the entire cave is hit by what seems like an earthquake and water slams into any creatures standing on the bridge for 4d4+4 bludgeoning damage per round. Each square on the bridge requires 30 movement to pass as the waves pummel creatures back.
18. Temple of Vasi
The secrets of the goddess of water lie within this wondrous temple. The temple is on an island surrounded by the grotto’s mineral-rich spring water which, when consumed, allows a creature to fully rest and recoup from hardship of any kind. The outside of the temple is decorated with glowing lights, ever-burning candles, and bright décor woven from underworld mushroom fiber. The temple sounds of flowing water, falling rain, and scintillating dew drops striking glass like the breath of the goddess herself. Only faithful to Vasi are welcomed inside the temple, anyone else is automatically teleported outside the cave and may not enter again for 24 hours.
Inside the temple, there is a vast library filled with ancient Grekian tomes, religious works of ancient and more modern deities, scrolls with lore and spells, and even some treasure maps tucked in here and there. Priests of Vasi have full access to the library and may check out tomes for up to 9 days at a time (or longer if permitted by May’al). One of the books has a scrap of paper that falls out upon opening, upon which is written: Oh, the Chonians. I tire of thee. Take me away to a place of glee. I seek gold and fame to better my name, become a lord, covered in coin, known as Kord, the world’s all mine!
A small area for cooking and eating works well for rotating shifts of praying, meditation, study, devotion as well as caring for both the basilisk and the emerald door.
Sleeping quarters are shared and quite sparse, there is a built-in bath next to every bed and ritual calls for cleansing in a bath upon waking and just before sleep.
Mother May’al may give the party a quest to do if they have a loyal priest of Vasi in the party or if one of the existing party members converts to a follower of Vasi. Quests include taking water to dying Chonians in nearby village ruins, making a new shrine over the Baevonian mountains, or investigating the disappearance of water from Lake Chonia in recent years. Any quests which are completed will garner the characters tomes, spells, and possibly some treasure.
19. Broken Spell, Found Locket
This spot on the island is not affected by the teleportation magic described in Area 18. Although the priests do not want anyone on the island, they will only take light offense at someone hanging out in this area. If one tries to stay here too long, they will notify Mother May’al. A successful DC 14 Wisdom (Perception) check spots a small golden locket under the water next to the shore. A successful DC 12 Strength (Athletics) check retrieves it. The locket has the picture of a Baevonian man and woman within it. If this is returned to Captain Heighbron in the Gate of Bones at Baevonian Pass, he will begin to sob (this is his mother and father) and give the party a dagger +2.
20. Entrance to Guest Chambers
Skirting the edge of the underground spring brings one to this small shore leading into the caves reserved for guests of Vasi. There is a cumulative 10% chance of being surprised by a chuul whilst remaining next to the water. The chuul strikes the closest and/or weakest looking character, attempting to drag the adventurer beneath the water. This creature will not attack followers of Vasi as they feed and commune with this creature frequently. Of course, they forget to tell the party!
21. Guest Chambers: Bat
Simple chambers with six Chonian military-grade sleeping cots. Underneath each is a long metal tub one can fill with warm water to take a bath. A firepit and cauldron are at the center of the room, perfect for heating up water or cooking. Some simple foodstuffs are provided, attracting mice, rats, bats, and other natural cave critters, which may become a nuisance. If anyone digs in this room; they find a piece of blue/black stone carved into a man-bat. When touched, the stone fetish causes one to feel extremely hungry, especially for meat or possibly… blood. The feeling goes away after 1d4+1 rounds and occurs whenever someone touches the fetish.
22. Guest Chambers: Grave
Same as Area 21.
If anyone digs in this room, they find an old tarnished holy symbol of Eureum. If a character touches this, they take 3 necrotic damage at night or 3 radiant damage during the day. Lawful Neutral beings who touch this holy symbol are healed by 3 HP. This occurs once per day for 92 days after which the magic ceases to function.
23. Guest Chambers: War
Same as Area 21.
If anyone digs in this room, they find a badge of the Axiomatic General, which, when worn by any humanoid of alignment LN, grants the ability to roll any Charisma-based skill check with Advantage but only if in the form of delivering orders to troops or combatants.
Author Jonathan G. Nelson Artists Rick Hershey, © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved. Cartographer Justin Andrew Mason Playtesters Moon, Tim, Ryan, Damo
Author Jonathan G. Nelson
Artists Rick Hershey, © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.
Cartographer Justin Andrew Mason
Playtesters Moon, Tim, Ryan, Damo