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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Skrad - a dungeon

The scanner saved a PDF. I converted two copies of the file in Preview, one a JPEG, one a PNG. Posting the PNG, since the JPEG went gray and the PNG did not. Source of some of the gray background mystery, I guess. Will save PNGs from now on.

The loopy bits to the stippling were a fun experiment to do but I don't think I'll go with that particular embellishment next time.

Since Skrad is an exercise map, I'm scraping off some rust in dungeon stocking as well... I'm doing this more from the perspective of what the map calls to mind than a plotted adventure. As I was drawing it, about the only thing I had in mind was to place some kobolds or something else that is small in the narrow passages section at the top, a secondary bit of construction. 

Any notes on armament and armor for most creatures here should be replaced by whatever your figures have if you have miniature figures to use in playing this.

1 The entrance is a stone archway into a cliff face. A row of stone blocks raises the sill several inches. Inside the archway the floor slopes away downward. The diagonal lines are wires from the floor up to a niche above the capstone, where they will pull down a box of many small round stones if triggered.  Careful search or a find traps success will spot the fine wires before they are triggered. Easy Dex check to avoid stepping on some, falling, and rolling down the slope if they are triggered. If a character does fall, they are likely to lose one item in hand or on their person (2/3 chance), take 1 HP, and be surprised by the hobgoblin sentries in 2 when they fetch up. The hall here down to 2 is approximately 8' wide.

2 The base of the slope, a couple of  hobgoblin guards lounge in the fresh breeze that blows in from the outside. If they feel threatened and have time, they'll fall back into the cover of the barricade in 3 or all the way back across the pit bridge in 4, hollering and throwing their missiles. Both are in leather armor. One (7 HP)  is armed with a javelin, a sword and a shield, and the other (5 HP) a two handed club and a rock for throwing. 20 SP each. Each wears 3-5 barbaric talismanic nodoz fetishes of bundled bone and feathers. The fetishes (collectively fore each set, not individually) are good enough to enhance one save vs magic once, for a +2, and give a normal save vs magic against a sleep spell, and then they are consumed, bones crumbling and feathers shredding and drifting away in bits. If split up, each fetish will provide a +1 or +0 to the save instead.

3 The niche in the wall has marks on the floor indicating it once held an octagonal pedestal. Across the hall is a partial barricade of wooden boxes filled with rocks and earth. One has 20 coppers and a the top half of a crude and broken statuette buried in the dirt, the statuette glows faintly green in the darkness, enough to be spotted in the dark within LOS but not enough to provide a useful light source to see anything over a few inches away. In games with a Luck stat, take a -1 to Luck rolls while carrying it. In games without a Luck stat but with saving throws take a -1 to whichever save is listed first on your character sheet or master table. It is not a "sticky" cursed item. It can be discarded at will.

4 A deep pit spanned by a makeshift bridge of rough boards. Dex check or the equivalent to cross quickly, auto success if going slowly and carefully and not under attack. They can be removed from either side, pulled back with care or just kicked down into the pit. The pit is about 25 feet deep. The bottom of the pit has a secret door on the south side into room 9 about 4 feet up from its floor. The narrow opening in the north wall west of the pit  is 2 feet above floor level and goes directly to a short stairway of stairs about 4' wide with 5' of head clearance and steps so narrow they are practically ladder rungs for normal human feet.

There is a bas relief of a flaming demonic head and an inscription of warning in an ancient tongue on the south wall over the stairs, foreshadowing room 7.

5 As mentioned in 4, 4' wide by 5' high halls link a series of small rooms. Human sized PCs will have to stoop and not have much space for weapon play and should get appropriate penalties. The ceiling in the rooms is higher, about 6-7 feet. The stonework is noticeably different from the larger halls, with smaller stones set into the walls. A dwarf's stonekenning check or some similar dungeoneering skill will recognize kobold wrought stonework.

  • a - 2 kobolds, 1 is cooking over crude brazier stove in NW corner if not alerted. If alerted, they'll spread 2 flasks worth of oil behind the door and he'll be ready to fling the brazier of hot coals into it. There's a couple days supply of perishables and a couple weeks of nonperishable foodstuffs.
  • b - Gark the "guard dog", a demented and twisted kobold, will bark and growl and foam at the mouth at intruders. He was maimed and maddened in a horrible magical lab accident, on all fours, and is chained to a rusty iron ring in the floor,  so not much of a direct threat unless you walk right into his reach.  (fecal mess,  food scraps, bones)
  • c - 6 kobolds (basic book stats). Szipp Yip, Krrek's henchman and littermate will talk for them if it comes up. If alerted, and they probably will be due to  Gark in (b), they can use a net prepared to drop over intruders that enter the room. The corners of the net are attached to stones rest in niches up on the walls over the west side of the room. This is manually operated by a tug on a rope to dislodge the weights and release, so there is no disarm possible from outside, but really cautious entry gives a chance to spot a corner of the net resting in the niche on the other side once the door is open. The trigger rope is hooked to a bracket on a wall when they aren't standing alert and takes a few seconds to loose and ready.  If prepared the kobolds will wait in the safe east end and be ready to trigger the net. It'll be a Dex save or similar to dodge back through the door or rush past the net before it finishes falling.  They don't have much, copper and silver trinkets and coins to a total value of 150 CP and 24 SP. 
  • d - Kobold leader Krrek Yip is tall and burly for a kobold. 1 full HD, 7 HP, dagger and whip. The door is trapped, as he doesn't really trust the other kobolds. Its a simple 1D6 damage deadfall of stones from a hollow in the ceiling behind the door unless his brass key is used to open it. Lockpicking will unlock the door on the first success, but usually trigger the trap. A crit or second roll to disarm traps must be made to safely open it by lockpicking. He proudly wears four gold pieces pierced and strung on a on a leather necklace. In his pouch is a packet of mushrooms, and the skull of a mole.
  • e - hallucinogenic mushrooms grow here - Krrek's private stash and trade goods. There are some hanging from threads and drying, and four hide packets of dried mushrooms on a flat stone ready for use or trade at the north end of the room.

6   Three hobgoblins (4, 4, 6 HP, leather, 2 daggers, handaxe for sidearms). If unalerted they are eating and gambling. A table and stools at the south side. Three baskets of dry foodstuffs along the north wall. 240 CP and 30 SP are in stacks on the table, some in front of the players, some in a pile in the center. The game seems to involve small bones and stones scratched with runes.
Spears and shields lean against the wall. The big one has fetishes like the ones in location 2. The other two have lower quality fetishes of no magical effect. If alerted, one will bang on the door to 7 to alert their shaman and they'll take up the spears and shields and move to ambush positions in the NW corner (one) and SW corner (two).

7  Gazgur, hobgoblin necroshaman, festooned in mystic fetishes, is in the midst of a long series of rituals seeking to bind the spirit of the demon Alakiterosh, Black Goat of Fire,
whose skull is entombed in the living rock north of this room.

Gazgur is 4th level, 4D6 HD. Most of his spells are tied up in rituals towards binding the demon's ghost, but he can cast a level 2 blinding curse (save vs magic) that lasts until the save is made, checking once an hour. He is the maker of the fetishes worn by the other hobgoblins, and has a nodoz set (save vs magic on Sleep and +2 to magic saves) like the others, and more that he keeps to himself, one set that will turn the first  melee blow or missile that strikes him, and another that gives him a +2 save vs poison, once. He will have a variety of shamanic paraphrenalia and fetish components, worth maybe 5 GP to a merchant, but 100-200 GP to a mage or sage with an interest in shamanic magic. He has 5 GP in a pocket, and wears rings worth 10 GP, 10 GP, 40 GP, 120 GP, and 300 GP. He uses a silver shod staff and a silver dagger engraved with necromantic sigils that is +1 underground or at night.

Unalerted, he will be conversing with Alakiterosh, and spend his first round compelling the ghost to defend him. Alerted, he will be lurking at the back of the room, and Alakiterosh will be the first thing the PCs see.

Alakiterosh should be pyrotechnic! Metal!! AWESOME!!!  Lots of flame effects, swooping, horrific scream, and histrionic declarations of doom and woe. Invoke a fear check if you can't induce fear/caution in players by the narration. Holiness or having been Blessed armors against its fear effect, +4.

Given the partial success of Gazgur's ritual to date, Alakiterosh's manifestation is incomplete. It cannot chase beyond room 6. It has 4 HD and 16 HP, AC4, fly 12", only affected by magic, silver, holy water or weapons wielded by lawful Clerics, Paladins, or characters under a Bless or similar holy enhancement. It can strike with a 30' linear gout of flame that does 1D6+1 and sets the target afire unless a save vs magic is successful for an ongoing 1D4 per round until ordinary fire can be extinguished, up to 4 rounds. This costs it 1D3 HP, so it cannot use it too much. It has a burning melee touch attach, with the same damage but no HP expended. It will flow and swoop around and attack any character it chooses for its attack, will not be pinned in melee. Fire will boost it, water or wine will harm it (typically 1D3) temporarily. It can regenerate damage by normal weapons wielded by the holy or ordinary water at 1D6 per full turn, even after defeat. Should Gazgur complete his rituals in a couple weeks time, he will level up and Alakiterosh will be bound to serve but become much larger, able to leave, upgrade to 8 HD, AC 2, lose vulnerability to normal weapons and water completely, and do 2D6 with its gout of flame (range 60') and melee attack. Alakiterosh will also subtly start preying on his mind and working to free itself. If it does so, it can be a terrible threat until the statuette mentioned below

A secret niche where the south wall meets the curved wall holds a magic statuette of an fire demon bound in chains. Gazgur has not discovered it. It is a key component to binding the ghost to this place and this plane. If  destroyed, Alakiterosh can go wild for several rounds, increasing in power by a HD per round, until it reaches 8 HD, and will then open a portal back to its home Plane and pass through it after three more rounds of rampage. Any within 20' at that point save vs petrifaction/paralysis or get sucked along through the portal. If carried away, Alakiterosh will be able to manifest within 100 feet of the statuette at midnight.

8 Crated supplies.  A table with three skulls on it. They are dwarf skulls if examined with a sufficient forensic anatomy related skill or a really good perception (raw INT?) roll. The skulls chatter and roll around if disturbed in a minor bit of animating magic. They don't talk, or attack, or anything particularly interesting but might have a bit of value as magic knicknacks to the right buyer. A necromancer, given some research and rituals, might get much more powerful results from them. They are a backburner project of Gazgur's, neglected since he has become absorbed in controlling Alakiterosh.

9 secret room. Secret doors in from the pit N (see 4) and room 8. A chest here with a poison needle trap in the lock contains a potion of healing, a scroll of Cure Disease, and 200 GP.

10 Four hobgoblins, all have the nodoz fetishes. 30 GP.  Stairs go down to the second level. They have a barrel of oil (not depicted on the map yet) and a burning oil lamp at the head of the stairs, ready to make a fiery defense against the horrors below.

11 The cave in is still unstable and digging at it has a chance to cause more of this disused chamber to cave in. Detect Magic will pick up a source of magic in the rubble though, a Ring that grants the power to speak to cats, though cats being cats, they will often be dismissive after initial curiosity. The ring has a feline motif to the cut stone and markings in an ancient language indicating it was crafted in honor of the Cat Goddess, Bast if appropriate to the campaign mythos. A second power, less likely to be discovered, is that it makes the wearer fascinating, even alluring, to weretigers and Rakshasas. It will take three turns of digging to recover the ring. After one, there should be creaking and some shifting, some dust or gravel falling. After two, serious cracking and a dislodged stone has a 1/3 chance of hitting a digger for 1D6. After three, the clumsiest, lowest Dex digger rolls 1D20 vs Dex: over Dex triggers a major cave-in. Each point over Dex caves in two feet of the chamber back from the cave in. Anybody that would be caught rolls a Dex check to cinematically escape as the ceiling collapses behind them. Anybody caught in the cave-in takes 2D6 and is buried under rubble. Success and the ring is found.

Possible Hooks
How to use Skrad? Krrek Yip's magic mushrooms are a likely hook, as is Gazgur's plot to enslave Alakiterosh reaching either a PC mage, pulling him or her here when it is a disturbance to spell meditation nearby, or a more powerful or cleric further away dispatches the PCs to investigate the disquieting emanations in the magical ether. Or the PCs come across the legend of Alakiterosh's entombment in the wake of Gazgur having found the same clue. It can just be a drop-in "What's that gateway in the cliff face?" sandbox location as well.

What is below?
I don't know yet. Haven't started a map or settled on any thematic ideas. But the oil barrel trap in 10
suggests Gazgur's hobgoblins fear it.