This adventure is copyright 2002 by Sean K Reynolds. Permission is granted
to copy it (but not reprint or repost) as long as proper credit to the
author is given. This adventure contains no open gaming content.
This is the short adventure for 8th-level characters which I ran at Winter Fantasy 2002. Like many scenarios limited to just 4 hours, it has to be pretty linear in order for the PCs to reach their objective. If you run this as part of an ongoing campaign, you probably ought to spice up the adventure with some more choices (particularly some of the branching corridors in the adventure site itself).
This adventure is "lightly" set in Greyhawk - it uses GH deity names and is set in a particular GH desert. However, there's no reason you can't set it anywhere else - just change the location and the names of the deities and you're all set.
Finally, I don't claim this adventure is great, or even good. It was put together in a short period of time for some people to have fun playing it as a one-shot scenario with pregenerated characters at a convention. But hey, it's free, so why are you complaining? :)
The party is traveling in the Bright Desert on another quest (looking for an old ruin from the buried empire of Sulm, a Flan civilization that fell under a terrible curse centuries ago. After battling some of the local nomads and some scout troops from Rary the Traitor's "Bright Empire," the adventurers camp for the night. Just before dawn, the sleeping people have a dream, and the awake ones experience a vision.
(At Winter Fantasy, I had all but one of the characters experience the
first vision and had one of the neutral PCs experience the second one.
If your group is all-good, they probably should all experience the first
vision, but if there are any neutral or evil PCs, it would be interesting
to have one of them experience the second vision.)
|First Vision (Heironeous)
You dream of a man in bright armor.
He holds a battle axe in one hand. He is bloodied.
You realize that he is a being of incredible power -- a god, Heironeous himself -- benign and suffused with divine energy. He is a figure both beautiful and terrible.
"Once again my brother and I have fought in the heavens above Oerth. I have disarmed him of Pain's Memory, his flail. It is falling to the land near you.
"Find it. Secure it from agents of Hextor. Bring it to my temple in the city of Greyhawk, or destroy it if you can.
"Serve me in this and you shall be rewarded for it."
You wake, and see a bright light to the east like a falling star, burning its way toward a point somewhere along the horizon.
|Second Vision (Hextor)
You dream of a man in blazing armor.
He holds a longsword axe in his right hand. His left hand is bloody.
You realize that he is a being of incredible power -- a god, Hextor himself -- malevolent and suffused with divine energy. He is a figure both terrible and awe-inspiring.
"Once again my brother and I have fought in the heavens above Oerth. He has disarmed me of Pain's Memory, my flail. It is falling to the land near you.
"Find it. Secure it from agents of Heironeous. Bring it to me in my temple in the city of Kalstrand, and be sure that it is undamaged.
"Serve me in this and you shall be rewarded for it."
You wake, and see a bright light to the east like a falling star, burning its way toward a point somewhere along the horizon.
To Catch a Falling Star
Shortly after everyone wakes from the dream/vision, there is the sound of a distant boom, much like thunder, and the light from the falling star vanishes. Assuming they decide to pursue this objective, the heroes will need to make Intuit Direction or Wilderness Lore checks (DC 10) to maintain a course in the general direction of the falling star. The target is approximately ten to fifteen miles to the east.
Thugs in the Desert (EL 6)
At some point during the day (for convenience, about halfway to the destination) the heroes are ambushed by some young tlincallis (scorpion-centaurs) looking for some excitement. They are waiting underground, and when they sense the approach of the adventurers they use their bolthole magic to reach the surface (during the surprise round). The heroes must make Spot checks (opposed by the tlincallis' Hide checks) to Spot them as they rise to the surface, otherwise the heroes are unable to react in the surprise round and must wait until the regular round (even if they can act in the surprise round, the heroes can't act until after the tlincallis do because there is nothing to spot until the monsters have appeared). They appear about 30 feet from the heroes, hurling javelins and closing with their first normal action.
If half of the tlincallis are killed, the other two consider (based on the existing odds) using their bolthole magic to escape. If three are killed, the fourth tries to escape even if he's the only one left.
The tlincallis have no treasure except their weapons.
Young Tlincallis (4): Medium-Size monstrous humanoids;
CR 2; HD 3d8+3; hp 16; Init +1 (Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 17 (touch 12, flat-footed
15); Atk +4 melee (1d6+2, halfspear), -1 melee (1d4+1 plus poison, stinger);
or +4 ranged (1d6+2, javelin); SA poison stinger (DC 15, 1d4 Str/1d4 Str);
SQ tremorsense 60 ft., bolthole magic; Face/Reach 5 ft. x 5 ft./5 ft.;
AL NE; SV Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 10, Wis
10, Cha 9.
Skills and Feats: Climb +6, Hide +7, Listen +3, Move Silently +6, Spot +3; Alertness.
Bolthole Magic (Sp): Can move up to 10 feet vertically through solid earth or stone, suffering 1d3 points of damage per 5 feet traveled in this manner.
Note: These creatures are weaker than the actual tlincallis presented in Monster Manual: Creatures of Faerûn. They're actually based on bugbears, without armor and with a stinger attack.
If the heroes have stayed on a generally eastward course, they eventually see a plume of smoke to the east. The plume marks the location of the flail's fall, which occurred at a small oasis and permanent settlement by some of the local nomads. Like a meteor strike, the fall of Pain's Memory created a crater and blasted the area near the impact with heat and concussive force.
The Ruined Settlement
The settlement consisted of a few adobe homes and canvas tents surrounding a small oasis. As the heroes approach the site, they can see that the adobe homes have been blasted by heat and some have partially or mostly collapsed. The tents have been blown over, shredded, burned, or all of the above. Around the site are about thirty human and horse bodies, all badly burned, and on some of the homes are the white silhouettes of humans standing nearby when the blast occurred (in other words, the side of the home is scorched except in a human-shaped space where a body blocked the blast before being destroyed). Closer to the crater is a similar reverse-silhouette of a human, one of half a human body, and one of a horse. Steam and/or smoke rises from the center of a 30-foot diameter crater in the middle of the settlement.
Although the nomads didn't know it, the oasis is formed by an old holy site to Beory, Flan goddess of the earth, which contains a spell that forced water to the surface. The entrance to the site collapsed long ago and was filled with earth, resulting in a simple pool on the surface, but the impact of Hextor's falling flail blasted a new entry into the site (although part of it has already collapsed due to the trauma of the concussion).
Here are the maps of the ruin, in JPG format:
Letter format (taller, for easier printing): Map 1, Map 2, Map 3
Landscape format (wider, for easier browsing): Map 1, Map 2, Map 3
1. The Crater
The crater is approximately forty feet wide and slopes downward at about a sixty degree angle toward a ten-foot-diameter hole at the bottom. Smoke rises slowly from the hole but isn't enough to provide concealment or cause discomfort.
The surface of the crater is fused and blasted as if by heat, although loose rock has peeled free of the crater and fallen in from above, making it treacherous footing. To reach the bottom safely requires a Climb check (DC 0), which means that most characters can make it down safely in a couple of rounds (the slope is just over 20 feet long). Characters can also use accelerated climbing (as described in the Climb skill).
Failing the Climb check by more than 5 means the character slides down the incline and must attempt a Reflex saving throw (DC 15) to catch the edge of the hole, otherwise he falls into area 2: Rubble Chamber and suffers 1d6 points of falling damage (no chance to Jump or Tumble to reduce this damage).
The lip of the whole is unstable and is likely to collapse if weight is placed on it suddenly or for an extended amount of time. A character that uses accelerated climbing to reach the edge or who succeeds at catching himself on the lip after a fall must make a Balance check (DC 10) or cause the lip to collapse in a 5-foot-square area, dropping them into the room below (and dealing 1d6 points of falling damage). Characters standing at the edge of the lip for two or more rounds must make Balance checks (DC 5) or suffer the same fate. Regardless of the cause of the roll, extremely heavy characters should get a penalty to this check.
Noise and activity in the crater and around its edge will draw the attention of the hell hounds in area 2, who are likely to use their breath weapons on any characters standing on the lip (and then retreat into the darker parts of the room to avoid retaliation).
2. Rubble Chamber (EL 6)
Originally this chamber had a low domed ceiling and was accessed by a short set of stairs that led to the surface. When the dome collapsed the area filled with rubble, sand, and other debris from the Bright Desert until it seemed to be nothing more than an oasis. The flail's fall blasted this chamber open, but parts have collapsed again (the flail actually pierced the floor of this chamber and reached a lower level, but that entry has also collapsed and the new inhabitants of the site have to rely on the tunnels used by the original residents of this site).
Three hell hounds (called with lesser planar ally spells by the cleric in area 7. Priest Chambers) guard this chamber, their keen senses allowing them to detect intruders early. They use their breath weapons whenever possible, and try to surround enemies that drop singly into this room from above. Once combat begins in earnest, they hounds bark loudly to warn the other creatures in the dungeon. If two hounds are killed, the third flees, continuing to bark an alarm.
Hell hounds (3): See the Monster Manual.
3. Crypt Room
This room has a large symbol of Beory carved into the floor (a full-bosomed round woman of indeterminate features). The ten small alcoves in this room are bricked off. In each alcove is a single brick with a short message carved in it, bearing a name and a date in the old Flan calendar. These alcoves contain the remains of Beoran clerics that served at this holy site. They are not undead, and were sealed away in this place long ago, and remain undisturbed by the servants of Hextor that moved into this area.
4. Offerings Chamber (EL 7)
An everburning torch illuminates this oblong
octagonal room. In the center of the room is a shallow (6" deep) pool of
water. Small old coins (mostly copper and silver) have been thrown into
the water, as well as small carved stone objects and a few fancy stones
(worth no more than 1 gp each). Three fiendish dire apes (called with lesser
planar ally spells by the cleric in area 7. Priest Chambers)
guard this area. Each has a large spiked leather collar around its neck.
The apes make a lot of noise when they attack (probably alerting the guards
in area 5. Guardroom) and take advantage of their reach. The apes
are so frenzied in combat that they probably won't retreat.
In a short-term scenario, the tunnel to the north should be set up as an obvious wrong direction to travel (no tracks in the dust, air particularly stale, and so on). In an ongoing campaign, the tunnel might lead to a tlincallis lair or even to the Underdark.
Fiendish Dire Apes (3): Large magical beasts;
CR 4; HD 5d8+10; hp 32; Init +2 (Dex); Spd 30 ft., climb 15 ft.; AC 15
(touch 11, flat-footed 13); Atk +8 melee (1d6+6, 2 claws), +3 melee (1d8+3,
bite); SA rend 2d6+12 (if both claws hit), smite good 1/day (+5 damage);
SQ scent, cold and fire resistance 10, DR 5/+1, SR 10; Face/Reach 5 ft.
x 5 ft./10 ft.; AL NE; SV Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +5; Str 22, Dex 15, Con
14, Int 3, Wis 12, Cha 7.
Skills and Feats: Climb +14, Move Silently +9, Spot +9.
5. Guardroom (EL 8)
This was once a guardroom for the holy site, inhabited by local tribal warriors dedicated to protecting the site and priests from despoilers. Four simple mats mark where the guards used to sleep. An everburning torch provides light in this room. Now four half-dragon (blue) ogre worshippers of Hextor act as the personal guards of the cleric in area 7. Priest Chambers. If alerted by the hell hounds or fighting by the fiendish dire apes, the half-ogres drink their potions and advance to join the fight. As the dire apes are a fairly easy encounter for an 8th-level party, it's quite possible that the ogres arrive after all of the dire apes have been slain.
The ogres all wear breastplate armor adorned with blue markings and a large symbol of Hextor on the chest. Each has a pair of blue-scaled wings, although the tunnels are too confining to allow them to fly in here. The wings are the initial giveaway that these might be half-dragons, but as they open their helmet faceplates to use breath weapons they reveal scaly blue faces, which might clue in the characters that these are draconic beings (important for characters such as rangers that have dragons as a favored enemy).
The first action of ogres #1 and #4 use their potion-granted attacks on opponents, and the others use their breath weapons if they can line up at least two opponents. The ogres make use of reach and aren't afraid to hit each other with their breath weapons since they are immune to electricity.
The noise of fighting in this area probably alerts the last guardians in area 7. Priest Chambers.
Half-blue dragon ogres (4): Large dragons;
CR 4; HD 4d10+12; hp 34; Init -1 (Dex); Spd 20 ft., fly 20 ft. (average);
AC 22 (touch 8, flat-footed 22); Atk +12 melee (2d6+13, huge heavy flail);
or +1 ranged (1d8, large javelin); SA lightning breath (80 ft. line, 6d8,
DC 18, once per day); SQ darkvision, low-light vision, immunities (sleep,
paralysis, electricity); Face/Reach 5 ft. x 5 ft./10 ft.; AL LE; SV Fort
+7, Ref +0, Will +1; Str 29, Dex 8, Con 17, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 9.
Skills and Feats: Climb +7, Listen +2, Spot +2; Weapon Focus (heavy flail).
#1: potion of acid breath (as potion of fire breath)
#2: potion of haste (he remains with the rest of the group even though he can travel faster than them with the help of his potion)
#3: potion of protection from fire
#4: potion of cold breath (as potion of fire breath)
Gear: large breastplate armor, huge heavy flail, 2 large javelins.
In a time-limited session, this fork in the tunnel shows signs of activity to the south (tracks in the dust, light from further down) but none to the west. In an ongoing campaign, this probably connects to the same (or same kind of) area accessed by the north tunnel in area 4. Offerings Chamber.
7. Priest Chambers (EL 10)
This large room was once the sleeping and praying area for the resident clerics of Beory. Their sleeping pallets still remain here, covered in dust. A carving of Beory's symbol on the south wall and four everburning torches are the only other decorations.
Now the place is the temporary residence of Keltar, a cleric of Hextor. He is an impressive figure in red-tinted full plate and large shield, each bearing the symbol of Hextor on the front. He also carries Hextor's fallen weapon, which looks like this:
Keltar's normal role in the church is to be searching for magic items
that might be useful to his church and worshippers of Heironeous that can
be easily isolated and murdered (he keeps his emblems covered when traveling
in lands where his flail brings more trouble than it is worth). He was in
the area (with his half-dragon bodyguards) when he received the vision
from his god and got here as soon as possible, using several lesser
planar ally scrolls to fill this area with guardians, allowing him
to keep the place secure until a larger force from the church of Hextor
is able to arrive.
Keltar used his last lesser planar ally scrolls to call three salamanders to aid him here. If alerted to intruders, two salamanders hide by the tunnel entrance to this room (each drinking their potion as they hear enemies approach), while Keltar waits in the northern part of the chamber to avoid area attack spells. The third salamander hides in the secret area (marked 7A) until combat has begun, drinking its potion and rushing out to attack targets that are trying to flank its friends.
Keltar has taken Pain's Memory from where it lay in area 8. Steaming Spring and wields it as a weapon, having already cast endure elements (fire) upon himself (marked with an underline in the spell list). If given time to prepare, Keltar casts sanctuary, divine favor, divine power, and spiritual weapon (casting this last spell does not negate the sanctuary until he actually uses it to attack, so he waits until he is attacked--and hopefully foils the attack with sanctuary--before using the spiritual weapon against an opponent). He is likely to use hold person on a fighter or rogue, then wades into combat with Pain's Memory.
Because the weapon is still glowing hot, it deals targets an additional 1d6 points of fire damage every round (as if it were a flaming weapon), although it deals 5 points of damage to the wielder every round (which is why Keltar needs endure elements to hold it). He's not above using cure spells to heal himself or his salamander allies. The weapon will continue to radiate heat in this manner for an entire day, after which point it cools enough that it only deals 1 point of fire damage with every hit and deals only 1 point of damage per round to its wielder. After another day, the weapon loses all of its extra heat.
The salamanders try to constrict weak-looking targets (ones that can't easily break free of a grapple) or use their spears if no such targets are available.
Salamanders (3): See the Monster Manual.
#1: potion of invisibility, potion of cure serious wounds
#2: potion of haste
#3: potion of protection from electricity
Keltar: Male human Clr8; CR 9; Medium-size
humanoid (Human); HD 8d8+16; hp 52; Init +4; Spd AC 25 (touch 11, flat-footed
25); Atk +13/ +8 melee (1d8+6, +3 [flaming] unholy wounding light flail);
or +6 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); SA rebuke undead 4/day; AL LE;
SV Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +9; Str 16, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha
Skills and Feats: Concentration +13, Diplomacy +6, Heal +8, Knowledge (religion) +9, Spellcraft +3; Combat Casting, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Martial Weapon Proficiency (light flail) (bonus feat from the War domain), Weapon Focus (light flail)(bonus feat from the War domain).
Rebuke Undead (Su): The cleric can make undead cower by channeling negative energy.
Cleric Spells Prepared: (6/6/5/5/3; base DC=13 + spell level): 0--cure minor wounds(2), detect magic, detect poison, light, mending; 1st--bane, cure light wounds, divine favor, endure elements, inflict light wounds*, sanctuary; 2nd--cure moderate wounds (2), hold person, lesser restoration, spiritual weapon*; 3rd--contagion*, cure serious wounds, invisibility purge, prayer, searing light; 4th--cure critical wounds, divine power*, freedom of movement.
*Domain spell. Deity: Hextor. Domains: Destruction (smite 1/day), War (Martial Weapon Proficiency and Weapon Focus with deity's favored weapon).
Gear: Pain's Memory, +2 full plate, +2 large metal shield, +1 ring of protection, wand of silence (10 charges), potion of invisibility, everburning torch, 380 gp.
7A. Secret Chamber
This small alcove is covered by an illusory wall spell. The priests kept their greatest treasure here and would use this area as a hiding place should invaders penetrate this deep into the site. Their greatest treasure is a nugget of gold the size of a human fist and roughly shaped like a depiction of Beory herself (it is unworked gold and was discovered in this form). The nugget weighs five pounds and is worth 250 gp just for its material, although the church of Beory would offer up to 500 gp for it. The icon rests in a small niche on the east wall of the alcove.
8. Steaming Spring
The floor of this rough-shaped natural chamber is covered in dust and loose rocks, presumably fallen from the walls and ceiling. In the center of the room is a ten-foot-diameter circular depression that still glows red with heat (dealing 1d6 fire damage to a creature that touches it). The depression is clouded in steam, which fills much of the room, for the magic that once created a spring of fresh water at this place still survives in a weak form, pulling a small amount of water upward to contact the red-hot stone, vaporizing it instantly (once the stone cools, water will trickle into this area normally and begin filling the chamber, since the magic that raised it all the way to the surface is no longer functioning and the way to the surface is blocked by stone anyway).
Long ago, clerics of Beory prayed in this area and collected water for holy rituals, for the spring originated here and rose upward in a column of water through a hole in the ceiling to area 2. Rubble Chamber. With the collapse of the upper chambers and the damage from the falling Hextoran weapon, this site will need to be blessed and repaired by the church of Beory before it can be used for its original functions again.
The full powers and description of Pain's Memory are here. Its market price is about 72,000 gp, which means that in theory it could be sold for half that on the open market (about 36,000 gp). However, if taken to the church of Heironeous or Hextor as described in the vision the characters experienced, the selling price is 70,000 gp worth of items or services (Heironeous' church is more likely to offer scrolls, potions, credit toward raise dead spells or other similar costs, while the church of Hextor in Kalstrand is more likely to offer weapons, armor, or even property owned by the church in the United Kingdom of Ahlissa, as well as political favors or knightly titles in that land).