Sunday, July 4, 2021

SHATTERED LABYRINTHS MEGAPOST

 I'll put the links to each blogpost here as I make them.

Summary, Overview, and Backstory

Megadungeon Map and Connections

The Hook: Princess Derrida and her Caravan

Some Final Notes on Running the Adventure

The Surface: The Canyons of Pain and Misfortune


Some Final Notes on Running This Adventure

WHAT IS THE PREVAILING MOOD OF THIS ADVENTURE?

I'd say the main thing is the players are exploring a site of overwhelming horror and tragedy that had the worst possible consequences for innumerable people, but they are doing it with the hope that something good might come out of it. So there will be a natural tension that occurs: could ANYTHING good ever possibly come out of this? And the adventure is what answers that question.

HOW SHOULD THE NPCS ACT?

Most of the characters the players will meet in the dungeon will be extremely self-serving and fundamentally incurious. They've been locked in a severely bounded world for a long time, and most of them have ceased to have the ability to form curiosity about other people. Open, kind (or malicious) curiosity should be a rare phenomenon.

Similarly, most of the characters the players meet will not be reasonable. They might over-react or under-react, or be hyper-focused on one thing, or not be able to care about context, and so on. This is how they become a real obstacle to the players: not just as hostile entities (though those exist too), but as incurious, unreasonable people who are basically in the way at exactly the wrong time. Dealing with that challenge should be a big part of the game.

ON CHALLENGE

I found myself tempted to make each level harder than the one before, but I discovered that the great length of the adventure made that unworkable. Instead, your goal should be to help each game session fit into what I think of as the "Zone of Appropriate Challenge." Each gaming group has their own sweet spot of appropriate challenge, and this adventure and each session should be tailored to fit that. If they have particular trouble with traps to the point where they're afraid to walk into rooms, maybe consider making traps more obvious and less lethal. If they're very confident and tactically oriented and can tackle the bosses and combat encounters without thinking, maybe consider making the monsters smarter and more numerous. Check in frequently with your players on how the challenge is feeling, and whether they want it harder or easier, or like the way you're doing it. If they're going through a stressful period in their lives, consider that stressful encounters in the game might feel even more challenging, and maybe dial it down. This way the adventure can continue to feel personal and manageable, even though it's very long.

I found that the game worked best when the basic encounters were very easy, since the density and complexity of the dungeon meant that even on a good day we'd get through maybe 4-5 rooms, 8 max. On the other hand, don't be afraid to let the hardest encounters just be hard. Some things are just meant to be obstacles, and not all monsters or characters are very tractable: that is why they are monsters. If you deploy a trap or boss or monster that's going to be very difficult or scary, consider telling them that you know their characters might not like the situation. This way they can be reassured that you are at least keeping their feelings in mind.

WHAT KINDS OF POWERS WILL PROBABLY NOT WORK WELL WITH THIS ADVENTURE?

Anything that scans or automatically detects traps, treasure, or secret doors. I want my players to interact with the dungeon directly, and if they have a power that does that for them (unless it is in a very limited capacity), it will short-cut a lot of the obstacles. 

Anything that can automatically unlock or open magically locked doors, as parts of the dungeon are gated off with magic keys or boundaries that must be found or negotiated open. 

Anything that can unerringly dispel magical effects: there are a lot of magic traps, sigils, curses, spells, and so on. If your characters have a Dispel Magic effect that can just destroy these effects from a distance or lift them automatically, they'll probably have too easy of a time. Obviously Anti-Magic will be good for this reason, and your basic Dispel Magic spell should have some utility, but I mean a lot of the magic in this dungeon to be kind of sticky and durable: maybe a demon did it, or a very powerful wizard, or a spirit, or maybe it's tenth level magic, and so on, which means the players will have to think laterally instead of just making it go away.

Anything that lets them frequently travel unerringly through walls and doors. The architecture is meant to be a severe challenge, and the solid walls should not be easily passed through. The physicality of the dungeon should feel like a weight--making the walls, floors, and ceiling permeable will ruin that feeling, and trivialize a lot of challenges. Passwall and Dimension Door type spells are probably fine, but if your players can quickly clip through the walls and floors to check what's on the other side, they're gonna be missing a big part of what this adventure is about. I disallowed the spell Etherealness for this reason.

You might want to consider how scrying and oracular spells will function in your game. I used scrying as a way to give my players a chance to look at one-off scenes of off-screen characters which gave hints and useful information, but not the whole secret away. I always assume that my players will use oracular spells like Augury and Legend Lore to discover secrets and back-story, but they never really do. I don't think these spells would ruin anything--just use them to give your players information they might have trouble finding otherwise, but always keep in mind what information is meant to be a strict secret. If a spell might uncover a strict secret, consider coming up with an excuse to maintain the mystery, or give a hint that points to the secret but does not reveal it.

I wrote this adventure with the assumption that my players can easily fly, turn invisible, cure wounds, teleport short distances, breathe underwater if necessary, make difficult climbs without too much trouble, and so on. Third level magic according to Dungeons and Dragons logic. They were also quickly able to form walls, Force Cage opponents, and teleport back to camp if necessary, meaning that otherwise lethal or very threatening encounters could be avoided or mitigated, so many encounters are written with that in mind. Areas which cannot be teleported out of should be communicated clearly to the players, unless they like that kind of surprise. 

ON RANDOM ENCOUNTERS

I went back and forth on random encounters a lot in running this adventure, but here's what I landed on:

Each level and sub-level has its own encounter list. Every ten minutes or so, roll on the encounter list. Every time they take a rest, roll on the encounter list. If they clear a level of most of its threats, to the point where they know confidently what's in most of the rooms and have killed or negated everything else, just stop rolling on the list. They've earned it.

In some levels, such as the Turned Castle and the Temple of Demogorgon, instead of rolling every set amount of time, I rolled every time they entered a room. This is meant to simulate a dense, living environment.

ON NAVIGATING THE DUNGEON

Since this place is really big and holds many secrets, I recommend forcing your players to tell you exactly what path they take through the dungeon every time they enter and exit. I found that they often thought that they understood the dungeon, but would get lost or confused when it came down to the details, and encounters would naturally occur as they fumbled around. They would also remember or find details they had overlooked on the first, second, or third walk through, and this way solve puzzles or find treasure they had missed for a long time.

On the other hand, if they've walked through a million times without much trouble, just let them zoom straight to the point they need to get to. Just try to remember what might have changed since the last time they passed through and let them know if anything's different.

I THINK THAT'S IT!

BEST OF LUCK ON THE CHALLENGES TO COME!

The Hook: Princess Derrida Von Chasm and Her Retinue

 Princess Derrida Von Chasm is one of the seven princesses of the Moriad, a once-thriving kingdom far to the southwest of Orostranthy that, like everything else, has slid into a long decline. It was once a nation held together by the power of the Bright Grail, a holy chalice recovered by their questing knights centuries ago and brought back to the Moriad to be ensconced in a temple at the city's center. I don't know the Moriad well, but I imagine in its best years it was beautiful, courtly, full of high magic and art. But at some point the Grail's power departed: either it became displeased, or it died of old age, or it went elsewhere. Regardless, its light went out, and the kingdom fell under a curse of rain, and the King and Queen separated. The Moriad is now a sinking city, its lower levels lost in a flood, and all who live there know their time is not long.

Princess Derrida is a priestess of Skorne the Androgyne, God/dess of Sex, Secrets, and Vengeance. Skorne gave Derrida a vision of the Skoros Orb, and Derrida has become obsessed with recovering it. After years of research and study, she has decided that the Skoros Orb is the new artifact the Moriad needs to recover. By replacing the Bright Grail, the curse of rain will be lifted, and her parents will get back together again, and her kingdom will heal. She will stop at nothing to find it.

Incidentally, her six sisters have departed the Moriad as well, and are missing. All together, they are the Seven Lost Princesses of the Moriad. Though their whereabouts are not detailed in this adventure. Princess Derrida would be glad to know of their well-being.

I introduced this adventure by having Princess Derrida approach the PCs and offer to hire them for their services. She has heard of their great skill, and hopes they will be able to assist her in recovering the Skoros Orb. She has already hired a number of specialists to travel with her to the Canyons of Pain and Misfortune, but what she really needs are professional adventurers of the players' caliber. She can explain the basic backstory and explain that the Skoros Orb is a lost artifact of great power. The Shattered Labyrinths of Illith Varn are sure to be full of treasure, she explains, and the players are welcome to keep and sell anything they find inside as they search. She only wants the orb. Furthermore, if they do successfully recover the orb, as she is certain they will as she has heavily researched their credentials and already spoken with certain characters familiar with the PCs, she will provide the players appropriate recompense at that time. She will stay vague on this matter, but hint that she has the power to give them great wealth, as she is a literal princess.

If you want to give her a monologue, you can riff off this.

Princess Derrida is solemn and sincere. She really means what she says. She is good-hearted but severe, and by alignment standards might hover somewhere between Lawful Good and Lawful Neutral. Her quest should seem maybe a little naively innocent, but she insists on the great power of the Skoros Orb and its ability to heal her kingdom, and is extremely intelligent and capable. Your players might get the sense that it would be very dangerous in the long run to end up on her bad side.

In appearance, she is a beautiful young woman with a shaved head, painted eyebrows and purple lips, in gold and white robes. She is accompanied at all times by two mute attendants, also women with shaved heads, whose tongues have been cut out, as they have sworn to serve Skorne the Androgyne all their life. She is skilled at fighting with the scimitar, and though she can perform great miracles through the power of Skorne, does not have the equivalent powers of a standard cleric.

PRINCESS DERRIDA VON CHASM

HP 40, AC 12 

2 attacks with a scimitar +8 for 1d8+1 damage, or channel shining Rays of Gold from her outstretched hand for 2d8 damage to demons and undead

Miracles: Heal (when cast, this puts her out for a week), Raise Dead (ritual takes a day of preparation), Excise Poison (Poison comes dribbling out of a person’s skin but inflicts 10d6 damage), Metal Body (skin turns to gold, AC +8 and reflect magic)

When she performs a miracle, she can transform into a beautiful young man or back into her female form, if she so desires.


What She Wants: To Find the Skoros Orb

What She Does Not Want: To Return to the Moriad, To See Her Parents


Her two mute attendants carry a Shrine to Skorne, which rests upon two swords which the attendants bear between them. Skorne is a beautiful androgynous deity with breasts and a phallus, Baphomet style. From one angle Skorne's face is lovely, from another it's fierce. Derrida prays before this shrine every morning and night.

She has hired a large retinue to accompany her. If the players decline or wish to travel separately, she will meet them again at the Canyons of Pain and Misfortune, where they will set up camp next to the ruined cannon.

Here are the people accompanying her:

Twelve Louts, young to middle aged men of low class and varying temperate and ability. They all excel at a different skill and musical instrument, which they carry with them at all times, but none of them are good at singing.  Otherwise, the louts all have the following stats:

THE LOUTS

HP 12, AC 12 

STR +2, CON +1, DEX +2, INT +0, WIS -1, CHA -2

Attack +4 for 1d6 damage (Melee and ranged, regardless of what weapon they use)

Uncanny Dodge: If they successfully save against a damaging effect, they take no damage

Heal to full every time they rest the night

Heal d12 hitpoints during a short rest

+15 to dice rolls when using the appropriate skill

Their names and capabilities:

  • Malcheo, plays the GUITAR, skilled at COOKING
  • Betty, plays the MANDOLIN, skilled at ASTROLOGY
  • Dead Stansl, plays the TRUMPET, skilled at FIGHTING
  • Krute, plays the BONGOS, skilled at ROPE TYING
  • Lorry, plays the HARMONICA, skilled at SNEAKING
  • Stoven. plays the PIPES, skilled at REPAIRING
  • Yote. plays the TAMBOURINE, skilled at VENTRILOQUISM
  • Ed, plays the BASS, skilled at CONTORTIONS
  • Vulpo, plays the SPINNING WHISTLES ON A STRING, skilled at JUMPING
  • Oira, plays the ACCORDION, skilled at LYING
  • Ol' Ree, plays the SAXOPHONE, skilled at STRENGTH
  • Toaden, skilled at CLARINET, skilled at SPORTS
The Louts do most of the dirty work: carrying, transporting, driving horses, digging pits, setting up camp, and so on. They are good natured and don't aspire to much more than their current status. They feel privileged to have been hired by a princess, and they love and guard her fiercely. They have friendships and rivalries among themselves, they play games, they enjoy the adventure for the most part, though they prefer resting and eating to fighting and work. If mistreated, they'll become grumpy and lazy, and the work of the caravan will slow down significantly. In short, they're pretty normal guys who are super excited to be on an adventure.

Next up, we have CLAPTROUS ORNG, a priest of VERNGI, THE HUNGRY MAN. 

Claptrous is a trap for the players. By all appearances he is an extremely friendly, boisterous, and helpful cleric, but in actuality, he is a complete psychopath who is obsessed with resurrecting the Grinning Pharaoh. He trained in a monastery in the Psychodesert across the ocean, and is traveling to the Black Pyramid with the express purpose of bringing the Grinning Pharaoh back to life. He does not know that the Grinning Pharaoh yet lives, sealed inside his pyramid.
 
He is a cunning liar, and will succeed on all lie checks, and will only lie if absolutely necessary. He says that he is a researcher and archaeologist, hoping to discover the secrets of his ancestors and the treasure of the Grinning Pharaoh. He will refuse to submit to a Detect Thoughts, and Princess Derrida will insist that she has thoroughly checked his background and credentials, all of which he faked. If he is forced to submit to a Detect Thoughts, his monastic training has helped him manufacture convincing but tinny surface thoughts. He will not talk much about his background or motivations, deflecting such questions as diplomatically as possible, and if pressed, will talk about his monastic training and answer some questions about his strange god, but will clearly be uncomfortable with it. He will otherwise at all times be helpful and generous with the players, as they are his ticket to the door of the Black Pyramid. Basically, as a DM, you should really try to make this guy a convincing ally, but if your players really really get on his case, go ahead and give it up. 

Ideally, he should survive until the players break into the Black Pyramid. When the players get to level 2, he should begin asking with increasing anxiety if they've found it yet. If they do find its front door, he will insist on accompanying them on the initial incursion inside. If they ignore his requests, he will go in on his own. Ideally, he's one of the first people roasted by the Golden Dragon. 

As soon as his secret is revealed, his personality should shift to a grating, zealous fanatic, and his boisterous friendliness should be obviously in retrospect just a shallow front. How on earth did we ever like this guy...?

In appearance, he's a big middle-aged guy in leathers, attended by a Slime named Corporate. Verngi is "The Hungry Man," "He Who Devours The Bones," God of Vultures, who deals chiefly with eating and the proper disposal of the dead (eating them). Every night at sunset Claptrous does a bizarre ritual where he eats and vomits up some food for his slime to eat. He knows this makes people uncomfortable, so he tries to do it out of sight.

CLAPTROUS ORNG, CLERIC OF VERNGI

HP 60 AC 14


 Whip +8 Reach 10’ 1d8. Crossbow +6 1d8. 


He can cast any cleric spell level 1-3 up to 4 times a day, and can cast level 4 and 5 cleric spells by taking 10 or 20 hitpoints of damage respectively. 


Also knows the following spells, each castable 1/week: 

WITHER: targets 1d6 foes within 30’, causing 2 levels of exhaustion and making it as if they had not eaten for a week, also causes them to lose a quarter of their bodyweight. 

DEVOUR: swallow a L or smaller target whole, provided they have 50 hitpoints or less. Attack roll, then swallows target, they take 6d6 damage immediately, then take 1d20 dmg per round. 

GREAT FEAST: Summons an elaborate feast capable of feeding 20 people, cures a level of exhaustion, provides a full rest, 2d10 temporary hitpoints, allows them to roll advantage on a saving throw made within the next 24 hours. This feast takes an hour to eat.


His Slime, “Corporate” 

HP 20 AC 16 

   Heals 10 HP per hour, if reaches 0 HP, rests as if dead for an hour then splits into 2 slimes with 20 HP, this continues infinitely. Can be slain by water (deals 1d6 damage per round) or electricity. 

It otherwise acts as a familiar with Blindsight, Stealth and Climb +15, and can squeeze through any small crack.


VLAWYN THE KET, and his young son BASHRO

Vlawyn is acting as Derrida's chief bodyguard and defense coordinator. He is a knight from the Merelunds, a foggy, magical kingdom with seven cursed lakes. He is fleeing Lord Hag, his old master. After he discovered evidence of corruption in the courts, Vlawyn's wife was slain in retribution, Vlawyn killed Lord Hag's high guard, and then fled the kingdom with his son. He will not talk freely at all about his background: he is a gruff, hard-hearted man covered in scars, clearly an accomplished warrior, and wearing fine armor forged of hardened bird feathers. He loves his son above all else. He's taking this job for the pay, and to get as far away from the Merelunds as possible.

Bashro is a four-year-old boy. He's basically like any boy his age, except he's already pretty good with a sword. He doesn't like the hard life he's been forced on, but doesn't yet question it. He misses his mother, but already barely remembers her. He wishes he could play more and didn't have to train so much. He's just a kid, but Vlawyn really loves him and is afraid of losing him, and he takes that out on him by forcing him to practice. If Bashro ever gets kidnapped or hurt, Vlawyn will get really, really scary.

                                               VLAWYN THE KET

HP 100 AC 22 

Sword +8 1d10+4 Greatbow +7 1d10+2 

Strength checks +10 

Can perform basically any fancy fighting ability by making a Strength check versus target’s attack roll.

 3 attacks per round. 


BASHRO


5 HP, AC 9, 

1 attack +4, 

can perform Dexterity checks at +8 

Can perform basically any distracting or quick-footed fighting ability by making a Dexterity check versus target’s armor class.

Illya Gruul, a Potionist. A blue-haired woman from Solemn Cry, Orostranthy's decaying capitol city. She carries a faded leather suitcase filled with potion and alchemical materials. Illya was hired to give the caravan an edge against whatever they might find, and she seeks a particular magic mushroom that grows only from the skulls of wizards, which will really just level up her research. She's a really nice person with no evil secrets or tragic backstory.

This mushroom can be found on Level Three, growing out of Illith Varn's severed head.

Illya Gruul

HP 30 AC 11 

Knife +6 1d4 Crossbow +6 1d8.


Given a day, she can prepare any potion that replicates a wizard spell of levels 1 to 3. This has to make sense in the context of a drinkable potion: no potions of Magic Missile, for instance. It costs 200 gp per level of the spell, and she provides NO DISCOUNTS.

She can also brew a random potion for 300gp if they prefer something weird.


In combat, she can grope in her bag and come up with a random potion 3 times a day.

She has also prepared four unique potions which cannot be replaced: TORNADO (creates a tornado for 1d10 rounds when uncorked), ANTILOVE (if a person is in love or simply loves another human, this potion kills it), GIANT STRENGTH (for 1d10 rounds, all strength rolls are a natural 30), and LASER EYES (gets a laser attack every round for 5d6 damage, lasts 1d10 rounds). She will mention these only on really special occasions, and will only part with them for a ridiculous sum of money. Start at 3000 gold.


Finally, we have RATTO THE RAT, a gross guy from Belmric who was brought in for his thief-like capabilities. He has poor hygiene, is really greedy, and terrible in a fight. After the players have been in the dungeon for a while (maybe after they get to Level Three), he can set up a supply chain to bring in standard provisions given a day's notice, and sell treasure for them through his chain of contacts. My players didn't find much use for this guy, but I'll include him anyway.


RATTO THE RAT


HP 25 AC 18 (Dexterity), 

all Dexterity based checks +10, 

Advantage to Lock-pick, Trap-disarming, Sneaking, Climbing, and Listening. 

He has a sword and a shortbow +6 1d6 damage, but always attacks with disadvantage. 

Given an hour he can rig a simple but deadly trap that deals 8d6 damage when triggered.


That's it! Feel free to let your players use these characters as they see fit. A lot of the powers the NPCs bring to bear are flexible, and can be used to fill any gaps the players might have in their arsenal as they face the varied obstacles of the dungeon. The NPCs will happily accompany the PCs into the dungeon, though their stats should make them pretty vulnerable to most traps and monsters. In my game, the surface NPCs have ended up as a nice break from the dungeon, a source of friendly drama, romance, and friendship. My players hired a few more NPCs to pad out the retinue, and recruited a bunch of people from inside the dungeon to join their camp. At the end, their camp was more like a thriving little town, than the hard-scrabble rain-covered survival camp it started as. 

THE SURFACE (THE CANYONS OF PAIN AND MISFORTUNE / MISERY AND DESPAIR)

 Far from civilization, deep within a snowy MOUNTAINS OF THE WITCHLING SHRIKE. The mountains are jagged white, like teeth, and sparse conifer trees grow on the hillsides and in the valleys, and the Witchling Shrike is a bird god who is said to rule these mountains, but who is not relevant to the dungeon, and as such will not be detailed here. The higher snow-capped mountains to the east rise loom over the foothills. The mountains ALEIF, ALGRIMUR, and ASTRIKUR are the closest visible mountains. They are said to be cursed and cruel, spiteful to humans, and warring among each other over the long years.

Movement is at 1/3 speed in the mountains due to the steepness of the terrain and frequency of dangerous drops and cliffs. The path is clear but often narrow and not well maintained. Altitude climbs to about 5000 feet in the western regions of these mountains, but deeper in the mountains rise to over 10,000. 

The area the canyons of Pain and Misfortune are located in are in the western foot-hills of these mountains: it was simple for the armies of Illith Varn to burrow into the canyons. They fled through these mountains as the army of Orostranthy pursued them. Lingering magic and war machines can still be found in the pass.

Far to the east, and not visible unless from a very high altitude or a mountaintop, is a great iron throne sitting upon a distant mountaintop. The is the throne of the Titan IAT, who was slain by the Purple Dragon Terrifex. No one knows this--they might know that it was the throne of a mighty titan, but he was slain.

The canyons wind through the mountains for miles, at the northwestern-most termination is where our adventure focuses.


A steep 300 foot drop. Howling winds. Protruding spikes. Are those people, frozen in the stone? Where is the path down?


The canyon is filled with vividly colored, opaque, swirling fog, which obscures the canyon floor, but leaves the mesas visible. The mesas are between a hundred and two-hundred feet high and thickly forested with conifer trees. On one mesa can be seen a massive iron cannon pointed toward the center of the canyon.


This is the site of the final battle between Orostranthy and the armies of Illith Varn, about a hundred years ago. Most of the fighting took place up here, and a shit ton of people died. Their corpses cover the canyon floor.


THE SEVEN FOGS OF THE SKOROS ORB


They rise at dawn, as if pouring up from the ground. They radiate a magic of unknown origin, and can be affected by psychic magic and enchantments, as if they have a mind. One of the legends of the Skoros Orb were that it could pour forth fog -- this is that fog.


Choose or roll randomly to determine a fog color every day.


1 Silver mist

2 Deep white fog

3 Low red fog

4 Thick purple fog

5 Heavy grey, smoke-like fog

6 A thin mist 

7 Roiling black fog


WHAT IS THE WEATHER TODAY


1 Spitting rain

2 Drippy

3 Overcast and cold

4 Overcast but tolerable

5 Thin, cold rain

6 It's fucking freezing and windy and it's raining

7 Clear and cold

8 Thin, malicious clouds blowing over

9 Wet snow and rain

10 Heavy snow for a day, and then a clear, cold day


REGARDING THE FLYING FORTRESS


On any clear day, one of which should be forced to occur either the day the players arrive or very soon after, they can see up to the Flying Fortress of the Sky Witch. It's about two miles up directly over the center of the canyon. From the ground it just looks like a mote shining in the sun, but if examined with a telescope it is clearly a castle of grey-green-blue metal, shining with a complex iridescence of purples and greys. Six spires can be seen, they glitter.


If the players fly up there to check it out, continue to the section on the Flying Fortress, to be detailed later. For the time being, it is locked tight--a smooth metal exterior with no windows, and a set of stairs leading up to a small gate, which is magically locked. There is a keyhole. General Malagon on Level Two now possesses the key which can open it, and it cannot be opened otherwise, unless you're feeling really generous with sequence breaks and just want to let your players explore. 


THERE ARE NO ENCOUNTERS ON THE SURFACE


It is safe to explore freely, and very quiet, except for a clinking-clanking coming from the center of the canyon, which is Buk-buk rummaging through the wreckage. I recommend keeping the surface completely free of danger or encounters, and never have the threats within the labyrinths come to the surface to attack them there. The labyrinths can be very intense, and it's nice to have a place that is clearly Not The Dungeon. The canyons are a kind of liminal space between the rest of the world and the Dungeon. As soon as they enter the dungeon they are in danger, but if they leave, they are not (except maybe in some edge-cases, and don't let them exploit this concept).


There are some monsters below that might make sense to attack their camp when they are able: the Golden Dragon, the Deadboyz, and the Sky Witch particularly. I did not do this, since I felt it would really shift focus from the dungeon to a kind of surface-defense mission, and would make exploring the dungeon just too stressful. If you really want to punch up the threats from these enemies in a way that would make sense with the fiction, go for it.


KEYED AREAS


A. Narrow, winding stairs switch back and descend to the canyon floor. 


B. The canyon floor is littered with boulders. Ancient and decayed weaponry. Rubble and skeletons. Thorny trees spring from the rubble. There is a malignant hesitancy here, a sense of another presence somewhere out of sight.


C. This mesa has a giant metal cannon on top of it, pointed at the center of the canyon. About six unadorned and empty concrete buildings surround a clear space. They have no doors, and have simple, glass-less windows. They're really just shelters, and maybe one or two of them are kind of ruined. The canyons and bunkers were brought by Orostranthy.


One of the bunkers has stairs leading down, winding down through the mesa, and exiting through a secret door at the base of the mesa. The secret door is difficult to find from the exterior. How convenient!


D. The canyons continue to the south-east and wind through the mountains for miles and miles.


E. The entrance to the Shattered Labyrinths. A steep pit or quarry gouged into the canyon floor, about 100' deep. This pit was quarried out by the kingdom of Uldru, so quarry marks might be apparent.


See next map for details about this area.


A. Steep stairs descend straight down to the floor of the pit.


B. Covered in wreckage, corpses, skeletons, bones, and broken weapons, is a flat stone circle inscribed with sigils. This is a Teleport Circle used by Illith Varn. If a magic-user knows a teleport spell, they can use this circle to transport themselves here unerringly. 


C. The site of the final battle. The whole area is strewn with skeletons, broken weaponry, and scorch-marks. You can't walk without crunching on skulls and bones. Nothing valuable can be found here.


D. MAIN ENTRANCE. Great bronze doors thirty feet high. They are dented inwards, and open a crack, wide enough for a person to fit through. These lead to an empty thirty-by-thirty room, lined with statues of headless men holding their own heads. At the far end is a set of narrow stairs which leads to Level 1, Room 1.


Poking through the wreckage at the base of the doors is a man, Buk-buk. He is a scavenger searching for scraps and relics to sell. He makes a trip back to civilization every three or four months to sell what he finds. He is from a village of no importance deeper in the mountains. 


He knows the basic legends of this place and can tell the most obvious possible information about the surroundings, placing particular emphasis on how everyone who comes here dies, but due to his crafty and unimportant nature, he will not die. 


"Illith Varn fought Orostranthy here!! He died!!"


He's familiar with the canyons but has not found the secret door in the cannon mesa.


 He will absolutely refuse to enter the labyrinths, insisting that it's not safe. "If you go in there, you'll die!" He has no knowledge of what lies inside.


He was here when the Sky Witch arrived about a month ago.


"“Yes!! A woman flew down from the castle!! I hid and watched her. She went through those doors there!! That was weeks ago. She must have died!!”"


E. SIDE ENTRANCE. From a man-sized crevice in the wall issues a discharge of milky slime, which trickles to the floor and forms a bubbling pool. If the slime is touched, it deals 2d10 damage as it eats away your flesh, and if you fall in, that's 4d10 damage every round. It dissolves everything but stone, metal, and glass, though metal and stone will be slowly dissolved over time: first metal, then stone. Its nature should not be easily determined.


The pool is evaporating. Inside the crevice is a narrow shaft, which leads downwards to Level 1, Room 48. The slime is trickling UPWARDS from below before discharging from the crevise. 


F. A secret door, which from the outside looks like natural canyon wall. It leads to narrow, winding stairs and connects to Level 1, Room 30. This should really not be able to be found or opened from the outside. If the players manage to find it somehow, it is magically locked from the other side. From the inside it is a stone door that can be easily opened.




Thursday, July 1, 2021

map overview of the shattered labyrinths

 I "learned" to use Gimp for this. It looks so small ... but I think we've been in here almost three years. 

I don't know how I'm gonna get the level maps, they're trapped on my dead computer, so I might have to stitch them together from Roll20 or mock them up somehow. I'd really like to share a complete room list and level maps with you all though.

Some notes on the paths between levels:

Level one has three entrances: one main entrance with an intro boss (WAR MECHA), one side entrance that's poorly guarded, and then a secret entrance near the level one boss (GENERAL VEXX).

The tower of slime is the easiest way out of level one: just follow the slime river to its source, which is unfortunately a slime waterfall, and then a slime flooded series of rooms, leading to even more bullshit after that. If you do all that, you're rewarded with a path to terrifex's pit.

Level two has two paths in from level one: one easy to find, but which leads to the BIORECOMBINATION LAB (extremely hostile and challenging), and one after the level one boss, which is the easy way down.

There's no path into the flying fortress but the sky witch on level two has the key, so you've got to get it from her to find your way in. Even then you have to find your own way up there. It's a few miles up.

The black pyramid is pretty easy to find if you poke around level two, as the other paths lead through the biorecombination lab and a heavily guarded wizard's headquarters.

Level three has only one path in: through the headquarters of General Malagon. You have to either deal with him or take the long way, through the tower of slime, terrifex's pit, and the Turned Castle. On the other hand, if you do the tower of slime and terrifex's pit, you get a back entrance into the turned castle.

The back entrance is the safest way into the turned castle, as there's a gravity reversal blood pool nearby. If you manage to talk your way past the guards on the front gate, that might work as a path from level three.

The extradimensional levels can only be accessed from level three. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

THE SHATTERED LABYRINTHS OF ILLITH VARN (megadungeon summary, overview, and backstory)

 My players are nearly done with this, so I feel like I can do a lot of unveiling.

This is a 400+ room mega-dungeon with multiple levels and sub-levels, built around a direct goal: retrieve the SKOROS ORB, the mysterious artifact used by the evil wizard ILLITH VARN to wage war upon the KINGDOM OF OROSTRANTHY. It is meant for mid- to high-level play: my players started around level 13 or 14, and are now between levels 20 and 22. Each main level has 60-70 rooms and each sub-level has 30-50 rooms, heavily themed around classic Dungeons and Dragons tropes: traps, treasure, exploration, secrets, vivid NPCs, factions, difficult boss fights, and open-ended puzzles and problems. At the same time, a number of factions are vying simultaneously to retrieve the Skoros Orb, including a rival party, THE DEADBOYZ. This campaign has provided us maybe three or four years of play, and my players are nearing the conclusion.

My campaign also featured a lengthy prelude adventure as the party and their caravan traveled to the dungeon, but I don't think I'll discuss that here, as my main interest is in describing the megadungeon and providing the maps and room list.

WHAT'S THE BACKSTORY?

There is a deep history backstory, but I will start about a hundred years ago. The Kingdom of Orostranthy was having a golden age, ruled by King Gregor and Queen Ursula, who had just after great difficulty borne their first son, Prince Roderick. Think a fairy tale kingdom, enjoying freedom and prosperity, full of knightly orders, kindly political intrigue, and success after success in beating back the monsters on their doorstep. The king's cousin, Illith Varn, a jealous man who felt he had been denied the rights to the throne, sought to secretly assassinate the infant prince, in order to bring himself back into the line of succession. The assassination attempt failed, and King Blood could not bring himself to execute his own cousin, and so exiled him to the Goblin Wastes. 

Illith Varn's jealousy grew, and in his exile increased his already considerable magical talent to incredible levels. He built an army of beastmen and monsters and recruited a number of discontents and former friends to his side. Most crucially, his magic guided him to an ancient complex within a cracked canyon, and in its depths discovered a magic orb, as if it had been waiting for him. He made the complex his headquarters, and from it, waged war on Orostranthy, hoping to overthrow the king and install himself as its wizard ruler. With the power of the Skoros Orb, he was able to carve a path toward the capital. 

His military and magical might were not sufficient against the united power of Orostranthy. His army was scattered and the remnants were driven back into his headquarters. Illith Varn hid himself in the complex's depths as his remaining generals attempted to fight off the armies of Orostranthy, but assassins crept inside and surprised him in his sanctum. They defeated and decapitated him, but in the ensuing chaos the Skoros Orb was lost, and the assassins fled empty handed. The complex was sealed up, and Orostranthy declared victory.

In truth, however, Illith Varn had hatched a contingency plan, in case of his demise. He had carefully studied the orb and determined that its nature was three-part: it held a physical body and two souls, one of which belonged to Hell, and one of which belonged to the Astral Plane. In secret, he discovered a suitable sanctum in the Astral Plane, and made contact with suitable allies in Hell, and prepared a spell tying his life-force to the Skoros Orb: if he were to die, the Skoros Orb would split. Its Hell Soul would be caught by his allies in Hell, and its Astral Soul would be deposited in his secret sanctum, along with his own soul, to prevent him from passing entirely to the afterlife. In this way, he planned to have his remaining generals gather the pieces of the Skoros Orb and use its power to resurrect him, so he could continue his mad plan.

This did not work out either. His remaining generals--VEXX THE ARCHER, MALAGON OF THE CRUELEST EYE, KAVIEL THE STRANGE, and SER SENEDAR THE WHITE-- became dead-locked in their final schemes. The physical body of the Skoros Orb was found by chance by a vampire queen and jealously guarded in her sunken castle, and the souls of the Skoros Orb remained deposited in their extradimensional vaults. The soul of Illith Varn, trapped in the timeless Astral Plane, turned insane, while his headless body and his bodiless head took on an un-life of their own, and became terrors of the deep.

And nearly a hundred years later, restless, the Skoros Orb has revealed itself again. It has appeared in the dreams and magical scrying methods of dozens of entities across the land, and one by one they converge upon the SHATTERED LABYRINTHS OF ILLITH VARN, to descend into its depths, and vye to retrieve the ultimate prize...

WHAT IS THE DEEPER BACKSTORY, AND WHAT IS THIS PLACE EXACTLY?

Millennia ago, a continent spanning empire known only as Uldru arose. They grew to dominance and then fell apart, leaving the continent covered in ruins. What few know but many suspect is that they achieved their power through magical cunning. Emperor Haxus' six-hundred and sixty-six wizards saw in their scrying glasses the possibility of creating an artifact capable of granting the wish of whoever held it, and advised him to construct a great temple to Sefve, the White Goddess of Violence, and use its architecture itself to cast a mighty spell and imprison the malign SKYCANCER within a magic orb, concentrating its horrific power into a single point. Four princesses and four hundred forty-four virgins were sacrificed in the depths of the temple to consecrate the ritual, but soon after, something happened the emperor did not expect: while excavating their temple, they found another temple, deep underground, empty and abandoned, and dedicated to an unknown god.

Through dreams and portents, Demogorgon made himself known to the emperor, and promised greater power, and the pursuit of the Skoros Orb was abandoned, as the ritual governing its creation would take many years to come to fruition. The empty temple to Demogorgon was once again filled with priests and high mass was conducted, and the cult of Demogorgon grew. Worship of the White Goddess of Violence was abandoned in the highest ranks all across Uldru, to be replaced with worship of Demogorgon. With his power, the kingdom of Uldru grew to its greatest heights. 

At some point during this period, Uldru crossed the ocean and waged war upon the pharaohs of the Psychodesert, and bore the Black Pyramid of the Grinning Pharaoh across the seas as a war trophy.

Upon death, every soul of the kingdom of Uldru was consigned to Hell. Long afterward, the Skoros Orb successfully accreted in the depths of Sefve's great temple, but no one was present to gather it. The Temple to Sefve was abandoned until Illith Varn discovered it much, much later.

WHAT IS THE DEEPEST HISTORY OF THIS PLACE?

Demogorgon, one of the great gods of Hell and self-proclaimed ruler of reality (this claim is disputed), decided to join Hell and Reality together in unity, just as his two heads, Hethradiah and Aameul, are joined. He bade his adherents construct him a temple dedicated to his left head, Hethradiah, far from Castle Satan (Hell's center of civilization), and there to make contact with the proto-civilizations stirring in Reality. This was long before the time of Uldru, and long before most relevant geographical and geological formulations occurred. The human proto-civilizations heeded the call of the mysterious beings they saw in their dreams. They constructed a grand temple to a god called Aameul, and build a great archway within the temple, and bathed it in sacrificial blood and magic materials, and their prayers were answered: the way to Hell opened.

Hell then marched through and performed a total genocide on the surrounding land. Demons slaughtered everyone for miles around. Hell and Reality intermingled. The Dead marched under the living sun. A reigning demon lord was crowned to rule Reality, who reported directly to the Archbishop of Hethradiah in Hell, who incidentally was named Gorgrudoch. (For personal reasons, Demogorgon prefers not to be named, and at some point decided to strike his name from the record, instead preferring to be referred to only by the names of his heads) 

This continued for a really long time, but as all things change, so too does the power of Hell. The invasion was eventually beaten back by the surrounding powers, and gate to Hell closed, and the temple to Aameul in Reality burned. But they could not tear it down entirely, and over the years, it became buried by the passage of mountains, to be hidden deep underground like a poison geode. The Archbishop Gorgrudoch in Hell retired, passing his title to the Archbishop Aggreal, formerly of the Council of Satan.

A long time passed. The Kingdom of Visigardia, a human kingdom, found itself saddled with an unusual curse: its bloodthirsty and cruel monarch, developed a taste for blood, as well as a distinct distaste for sunlight, and discovered that he was immortal and invincible, and could share this power with those who drank his blood. They had a good run for a few generations, but eventually the power landed on a particularly brutal father-daughter pair: King Alexander Draculesti Pelioth and Princess Tetranoska Vorgunel Pelioth. They and their family blotted out the sun and turned to mass slaughter. Eventually the king died of plague and the new Queen Tetranoska and her remaining family ate everyone in their kingdom, and when the neighboring powers came with vampire hunters to kill them, sank their castle with magic deep within the earth, and upside down, to be as far from the sun as possible. By coincidence, this was not far from the empty Temple of Aameul.

Some time later, the Purple Archdragon Terrifex came from the West and declared a barren mountain range his territory. He slew the Titan Iat who dwelled there and burrowed deep underground with all the titan's wealth. By coincidence (?), this was near to the Blood Queen's Turned Castle. 

Then all the stuff with Uldru and Demogorgon happened, and all these characters suddenly found themselves wary neighbors.

Maybe about five hundred years ago, in the lofty Mountains of Hunger, a ruthless Witch Queen faced rebellion at the hands of her subjects. Queen Jupiter Volaris, the self proclaimed Sky Witch, was overthrown. After her humiliating defeat, she packed up her fortress and flew it into the sky, never to be seen again, except for an occasional raid upon the surface world. Many years passed. Upon learning that the Skoros Orb had been found again in the Canyons of Pain and Misfortune, she determined to find it for herself and restore herself to power. She entered the Shattered Labyrinths and was quickly caught by General Malagon of the Cruellest Eye, leaving her fortress abandoned in the sky above the canyons. 

These wary factions are now dead-locked in a cold war. Queen Tetranoska possesses the physical body of the Skoros Orb, but does not understand why its power is diminished. The Hell Gate in the Temple of Aameul has reopened, and though the Archbishop Aggreal has sent his dead scouts and assassins to seek the other components of the Skoros Orb, he cannot penetrate the Turned Castle, and his scouts do not return from the Astral Plane. Kaviel the Strange and Ser Senedar scheme to steal the Skoros Orb from Queen Tetranoska, and Kaviel has embedded himself in the Queen's courts, but she is too paranoid and powerful for him to make a successful move. General Malagon of the Cruellest Eye has managed to create a small headquarters for himself, guarded by elementals and an insane biomechanist and trained crane-men, but no longer has interest in Illith Varn or the Skoros Orb or really even life itself, and instead plans to find a means to exit Reality for good. And the Black Pyramid of the Grinning Pharaoh sleeps undisturbed, though none are aware that the pharaoh lives on within, and his Golden Dragon, sealed inside by the armies of Uldru, has been awake inside these long millennia.

That's it for now. Got it? :)

WHAT DO THE PLAYERS KNOW AT THE START?

Pretty much none of the above. Provide them only with the legend of Illith Varn, though no one really knows the powers of the Skoros Orb, except that it is said to be mighty, and to be able to grant wishes. As lay-people, they would probably know that "A mad wizard once made war upon the kingdom, but he failed and was beheaded in his own headquarters. His orb was lost, but it is said to have been found again! Many now seek it." His generals are not common knowledge, though a historian would know their identities. Illith Varn's relation to the king is not common knowledge, as it is distasteful.

The three part nature of the Skoros Orb is another strict secret, only to be begun to be hinted at as the players near coming into possession of whatever piece they happen to pursue first. Each holder of the Skoros Orb knows its power is broken or diminished, but very select few know why. However, if the players complete an optional and very difficult challenge on the first floor, they will be rewarded this knowledge early.

Uldru and their war on the Psychodesert is common knowledge to the educated, but no one knows they worshipped Demogorgon. The name of Demogorgon is strictly secret, and should never be mentioned (I accidentally had a NPC reveal it a little too early, but I think it worked out)--in fact, it's possible the emperor himself did not know who he worshipped. Historians would know of the White Goddess Sefve.

Illith Varn knew about the Skycancer, though in his pride he did not imagine its influence could be corrupting, and was not very curious about its nature or provenance. A keen observer might note that Illith Varn’s wish was granted, though in a corrupted form: Orostranthy’s war with Varn led to its ultimate decline, despite Varn’s death. The Skycancer’s nature is known only to the Emperor Haxus, and even his understanding is incomplete, like what a common person might know about hurricanes. Therefore, this is another strict secret, only to be revealed much later, and at the appropriate time.

The existence of Visigardia is lost to history entirely.

The existence of a Purple Dragon is known to specialists in legend, though his name is not known, and his location is not known. The Titan Iat is maybe known to locals as a legend. The existence of a Golden Dragon is known only to specialized historians, and all records state the Golden Dragon was slain in the war with Uldru. For maximum horror and surprise, the Golden Dragon should only be revealed when the players first gaze upon it, ideally at the moment of its release.

The Psychodesert still exists in common knowledge and the Great Pharaohs as well, though a legendary Grinning Pharaoh is a little bit lost to time. Historians and archaeologists would have heard of him, and I set it up so that the PCs traveled with such a fellow in their caravan.

The existence of Hell is about as widely believed in as it is here in the real world. The existence of demons gives the belief some credit, though in fact, most demons do not originate from Hell, and are instead malicious spirits or monsters or creatures that are called "demons" out of ignorance. All of that about Castle Satan and so on is not known in reality, except to those very unlucky few who have been to Hell and returned alive. Hell's brief reign in reality is a dim memory, a proto-nightmare remembered by some very unlucky few. For the purposes of my game, I made some small references to Hell and established it as another plane of existence, but that's it. Then, to gently encourage my players to overcome their fear and explore this terrifying new plane, I supplied them some exposition before they stepped through the Hellgate. You may decide not to do this, and let them discover for themselves what lies on the other side.

The existence of an Astral Plane is known to wizards, but it is unlike the classic Forgotten Realms Astral Plane in many ways. They might know it as a plane of chaos, a great sea that connects many places together, where little is stable, and many spirits and places of power can be found. The closeness of the Astral Plane may be felt by very keen psychics and savants, though they will likely not be able to explain precisely what it is they feel. As it is a foreign concept with no analog to reality, it might be nice to have an NPC introduce the place directly before they step inside.

The history of the Sky Witch might be known to a historian, though it's mostly treated as legend. It would not be immediately obvious to anyone that the floating castle would be hers, though a historian squinting through a telescope might be reminded of such a legend. Would she really still be alive...?

WHAT ARE THE LEVELS

Here is the level list.

LEVEL ONE

THE TOWER OF SLIME (Sub-Level One)

LEVEL TWO

THE FLYING FORTRESS OF THE SKY WITCH (Sub-Level Two)

THE BLACK PYRAMID OF THE GRINNING PHARAOH (Sub-Level Three)

LEVEL THREE

THE TURNED CASTLE OF THE BLOOD QUEEN (Sub-Level Four)

THE PIT OF TERRIFEX THE PURPLE DRAGON (Sub-Level Five)

THE MANY-PATTERNED HALLS (Sub-Level Six)

 THE TEMPLE OF DEMOGORGON (Sub-Level Seven)

Now I'll describe the main and sub-levels, as well as some of the essential story beats contained within.

THE SURFACE

The Canyons of Pain and Misfortune. They are full of vividly colored fog, which emanates from the broken gates of the labyrinths. The canyon floor is strewn with weaponry and skeletons. A trickle of slime emerges from a crack. Far, far above, a shining fortress is hovering in the sky.

Connections to: Level One. The Flying Fortress of the Sky Witch.

LEVEL ONE

A ruined wizardly headquarters, and the site of a final, brutal battle. Some final soldiers of Illith Varn's armies remain miraculously alive, preserved by the power of the Skoros Orb. The White Chapel to Sefve, where the White Priest Lobis yet sleeps. A river of slime flows through this level.

Bosses:

OROSTRANTHIAN ELF MECHA: A golem built around the flesh of a mutant elf, used by Orostranthy to break down the gates of the labyrinths, and prevent others from entering.

OROSTRANTHIAN WAR GOLEMS: Seven war golems, deployed for the same purpose.

GENERAL VEXX: The first of Illith Varn's four generals, driven to insanity from grief. He wields a bow.

CONNECTIONS TO: Level Two, The Tower of Slime

THE TOWER OF SLIME

Once the quarters of the builders of this ancient complex, now flooded with a river of slime running upwards from its depths. Insectile creatures from another dimension, and bizarre constructs. Poison gas and instant death. 

BOSS:

THE SLAAD TRIUMVIRATE: A trio of slaad who have opened a portal to the PLANE OF SLIME from the stomach of a mutilated and tortured unicorn, which yet lives.

CONNECTION TO: The Pit of Terrifex, The Purple Dragon

LEVEL TWO

Deeper underground. Older parts of Sefve's temple, less disturbed. The Headquarters of Malagon of the Cruellest Eye, a well-guarded base, where the Sky Witch is kept captive. The Biorecombination Lab, an extremely hostile area filled with toxic crystal gas and recombinated mutants. The passage to the Black Pyramid of the Grinning Pharaoh.

BOSS:

GENERAL MALAGON OF THE CRUELLEST EYE. A powerful wizard, who specializes in disintegration.

ILKEN WART, THE BIORECOMBINATOR: An insane guy in a gimp suit with Doc Ock arms, who is also a powerful wizard.

Connections to: The Black Pyramid. Level Three. The Flying Fortress of the Sky Witch.

THE BLACK PYRAMID OF THE GRINNING PHARAOH

At first, a silent tomb. The armies of the Grinning Pharaoh are dead. All paths lead to the treasure chamber of the Golden Dragon. Then, noise and screaming. Noise marines, sonic weaponry, flashing lights, a lethal disco floor. 

BOSSES:

THE GOLDEN DRAGON. A small dragon, all of shining gold, but with the equivalent stats of an ancient dragon, but maybe a little worse. After release, he pursues the PCs throughout the dungeon, setting traps and ambushes, until successfully beaten back, after which he can be challenged within his lair.

THE GRINNING PHARAOH: As my players have declined to challenge the Grinning Pharaoh thus far, I can say no more, except that he sits upon a giant throne which screams and shoots lasers.

THE FLYING FORTRESS OF THE SKY WITCH

A fanciful fairy-tale fortress full of spirits and ensorcelled demons. An enchanted princess and a captured prince. A very annoying jester, Ptim Parie, who disrupts magic cast in his presence. An arrogant green dragon, Corvenon, who is the son of a poison star. Darkened magical gardens, elves who have been doing the same dance for centuries, and an unstoppable Spirit of the West.

BOSS:

None?

LEVEL THREE

Flooded with water, a swamp. Mosquitoes. The site of the summoning ritual which conjured the Skoros Orb, A Demon of Song, formed from the sorrow of one of the sacrifices. Then, a snowy forest. The Headless Body of Illith Varn. The party of Kaviel the Strange, who has not come back. The Temple of Aameul, and the Hellgate. The Golden Tomb of Illith Varn, and Illith Varn's severed head, and peaceful Ser Senedar the White, who holds vigil. The Seat of the Skoros Orb, where it was found, and where it can be recombined.

BOSSES:

THE DEMON OF SONG: A crimson demon whose song enchants all who hear it, surrounded by fey demons. 

THE BODY OF ILLITH VARN: His neck stump spews cursed blood and he shoots lightning and death spells from his outstretched finger-tips.

DEACONS OF AAMEUL: A group of dead priests from Hell, armed with cunning daggers, soul magic, and ambush.

THE HEAD OF ILLITH VARN: A classic Demilich, except he's not a skull, and won't attack on sight. Soul sucking powers, corrosive vision, 9th level spells, and instant death attacks. Chatty, but has a magic mushroom growing out of his head that the players might want.

Connections to: THE TURNED CASTLE, THE MANY PATTERNED HALLS, THE TEMPLE OF DEMOGORGON

THE TURNED CASTLE OF THE BLOOD QUEEN

An upside-down castle sinking into a pool of blood. Inside, an ancient decadent family of vampires might have fun meeting intruders for the first time in centuries. A psychic vampire prince schemes to steal power from the Blood Queen, who hides in a tower filled with anti-magic blood, along with the Skoros Orb. Only her three most trusted family members have the key to get in. A secret path in the basement to Terrifex's pit.

BOSS:

KAVIEL THE STRANGE and THE BLOOD QUEEN, TETRANOSKA: Kaviel may seek to steal the Skoros Orb from the Blood Queen at the very moment the players do, as he understands she is more powerful than he is. Kaviel: a powerful swordsman, wielding powerful elemental magic. Tetranoska: a more powerful swords-woman, who can also command blood, as well as the physical shell of the Skoros Orb.

Connections to: The Pit of Terrifex, The Purple Dragon. Level Three.

THE PIT OF TERRIFEX, THE PURPLE DRAGON

A series of bottomless pits, filled with invisible force webs, in which are suspended the weaponry and regalia of the Titan Iat. Terrifex sleeps in the titan's electric crown, and his skull are nearby. He may talk if you're very nice. Past him, a series of dwarf warrens, of the proto-dwarfs who originally opposed the invasion of Hell. A Holy Avenger spear, but a little less powerful than the classic type.

BOSS: TERRIFEX, THE PURPLE DRAGON: If the players fight him, they're fucked.

Connections to: The Turned Castle of the Blood Queen. The Tower of Slime.

THE MANY-PATTERNED HALLS

Entrance can be found through Illith Varn's Golden Tomb. A shifting, hostile, extradimensional hellscape that traps the players. Incoherent spirits and lost souls. A simple puzzle made complicated by the shifting terrain. At the center, the Soul of Illith Varn, gone insane from eternity trapped inside, and the Astral Soul of the Skoros Orb.

BOSS: ILLITH VARN (SOUL): A classic video-gamey multi-phase boss fight, with adds and a final form and everything, wielding the Astral Soul of the Skoros Orb.

Connection back to: Level Three. Also a back exit to Reality, far away in the Merelunds.

THE TEMPLE OF DEMOGORGON

A multi-floor complex, built into the upper spine of a gigantic hell leviathan. First, a dangerous exploration around the Nave of Hethradiah, where mass is actively conducted by the Archbishop Aggreal. Then, a long puzzle in the lower levels to complete the Pilgrimage of Voyceps Moth and meet the Archbishop Gorgrudoch, who can provide passage to the secret Chapel of Demogorgon, where the Skoros Orb is kept.

BOSSES:

DEACONS OF HETHRADIAH: The mirror image of the Deacons of Aameul, except instead of dead guys, it's horrible fire-throwing demons. They wander the upper section of the cathedral when they're not in mass, posing a pretty severe threat until they're disposed of.

MYSANDER AND DYDAX: The bodyguards of Archbishop Aggreal. Platonically bonded life partners who are also ancient and powerful warrriors. The guard the Occult Screen behind which Aggreal conducts the Red Mass--if defeated, Aggreal retreats to safety.

THE ARCHBISHOP AGGREAL: A two-headed bishop with a lot of magic spells and gaze attacks. Meant to trick the players into thinking they've won.

THE SKOROS ORB BEHOLDER: A spontaneously formed aberration, attracted by the orb's magic, and grown into it, allows Demogorgon to gaze into reality. A lot of weird eye-stalks and anti-magic fields, wielding the Hell Soul of the Skoros Orb as a weapon. A surprise boss after Aggreal is defeated. 

AFTER THE SKOROS ORB IS RECOMBINED:

Well we will just have to find out!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

here's some new spells

 MASSIVE SERPENT BITE: A coiling hydra of serpents bursts from the ground, all in the 10’ area must Dex save DC 18 or 4d10 dmg, then serpents make three bite attacks +12 at 3 targets within 30 feet for an additional 6d10 dmg. 

STEAL SPELL: when cast as a counterspell, success cancels the caster’s spell, and allows you to cast it once.


SLEEP WALL — Cast sleep in a 60’ long, 10’ high, 2” thick wall, any who passes through it must Wisdom save or fall asleep


DEVOUR: swallow a L or smaller target whole, provided they have 100 hitpoints or less. Attack roll, then swallows target, they take 10d10 damage immediately, then take 3d20 dmg per round. 


GREAT CHAOS FIREBALL, a level 7 10’ radius scintillating purple fireball spell that leaves a burning hazard behind for TWO ROUNDS. d6 warp damage and then 3d6 ticking fire damage at the start of every round, and when you go into it. no concentration required,


SOUL ARROW once per day: Make a spell attack roll to deal 6d6 damage.


They can do a dance which causes you to dance too, Wisdom DC 16 or restrained for one round, and 10d6 damage as your body twists and contorts


Vilia can command the spider to cast a spell on everyone in the room: Wisdom DC 18, on failure your speed is slowed to 10. Next round, your speed is slowed to 0. Next round, you’re paralyzed.


PRISMATIC RAY


1 action

Components: V, S, M

300 range

Duration: Instantaneous


1 target within range, Spell attack roll for 1d10 damage (1. fire 2. acid 3. lightning 4. poison 5. cold 6. force damage and target is petrified until the end of their next turn 7. radiant and blinded until the end of their next turn 8. roll twice). Damage increases according to normal cantrip conventions.


9th level spell ALMAGEST

1 action

Components: V, S

Range: Self

Duration: Instantaneous


The power of the stars is summoned to provide balance to the universe.  Everyone within a cube 240’ on a side is affected, but one point on a cube must touch you, and the cube may only extend to your left. Basically, this is everyone to your left. You are not affected. Everyone within the area of the spell must make a Constitution saving throw as blazing stars streak from the heavens and explode. On a failure, they take 2d8+20 radiant damage and 2d8+20 force damage. On success they take half that.


Magic Missiles deal d4+1 randomly 10 times to everyone within 5’, including self


Create portal 6’ wide between two sources in sight, Portal style for 1 minute, but you’re paralysed for duration


Surfaces within 20’ becomes covered in eyes (Permanent)


Lightning Ball (Like fireball, except lightning and radiates outwards from you, passes through metal)


Slime Form (Reduce All Incoming Dmg to 0, Touching Slaad deals 4d10 dmg, lasts 2 rounds


VOMIT POISON SLIME (Level 7): 40’ cone, deals 6d10 dmg (or half), and on failed save, an additional 3d10dmg for next 1d4 rounds, and also poisoned for 1 minute. Leaves poison patch on floor, if go into, take 1d10 poison dmg and poisoned for 1 round.


IMMUNE TO ACID, BUT VULNERABLE TO ALL OTHER DAMAGE, ALSO BODY IS MALLEABLE AND JELLY-LIKE, CAN GO THROUGH NARROW OPENINGS AND CRACKS, Concentration 1 hour (Level 3)


Envenom (Cause a held object to become covered in contact poison, Con save DC 18 or 6d10 poison damage, and the object remains poisoned for 1 minute)


Bite (An invisible creature from another dimension takes a massive bite, Attack +12 for 6d10 damage)


COMBINE TWO ADJACENT FOES (Their hit-points are combined, their AC becomes average of the 2, they have all the powers each one would have, but together they only have 1 combined action)