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OK, filling in more background on the first dungeon my players will be entering. I'm shamelessly stealing names from baby name Web sites (which are a real boon, IMO), but I wanted to know if the information I've gotten so far suggests any ideas to anyone. Help of any sort would be greatly appreciated.
I've also ordered the AD&D Diablo II supplement "The Awakening" from Amazon.com. I dig the atmosphere of the original game, especially the stuff with the Fallen One humanoids, and I'm probably going to lift freely from that supplement for colour and ideas.
This dungeon, of course, is in the middle of the Radlebb Forest, within walking distance of the hamlet of Midwood.
Fort Boldizsarovic: Background Informationby Beau Yarbrough
Nicodemus dies in his sleep on the morning of the PCs' Shearing. His funeral is held that afternoon, and immediately after the boys are Sheared, a wounded adventurer (Viola Miroslava, CG thief 2) staggers into the Shady Dragon Inn, looking for the Wizard of Midwood.
She has stolen the magical sword Reaver from the half-orc brigand Janek Kramoris, who in turn had stolen it during the fall of Fort Doom some years ago. Janek was using Reaver to gather a band of humanoids and conquer the Barony of Halag for his own. Pursued by his wolf-riding goblin scouts, Viola staggered into Fort Boldizsarovic during the day (when the goblins weren't active) and hid the sword there, then attempted to cover her tracks and fled. She passed out not far away, and when she came to, the goblins had indeed found that she'd been inside the fort. They spotted her, but unfortunately realised the sword was within the dungeons below.
Near death, Viola finds Midwood. Her father years before had been aided by Nicodemus, and she thought for sure he could help her ...
Alas, unbeknownst to her, Viola has been hit with a poisoned arrow, and passes out soon after arriving and, unless someone thinks to check for poison, she dies without waking again.
Things are more complicated than they appear at first, though: The goblins are not, in fact, working for Janek. They're agents of the Black Eagle himself, working through intermediaries. They have indeed found the sword, but couldn't help poking around inside Fort Boldizsarovic during the day, and have freed the Wyrd sealed there many years ago ...
Of course, Janek is after the sword, too. Not wanting to alert his followers to the fact that Reaver has been stolen from him, he's taken a small band of orcs and tracked Viola, and later the goblins, to the fort. They will arrive shortly after the players have recaptured the sword and dealt with the wyrd, although not necessarily in that order.
The goblins ride worgs, are lead by a goblin fighter/thief (killed by the wyrd and Reaver taken from him) and use hand axes, slings and spears.
Janek is a half-orc fighter. His orcs uses short bows, flails and swords.
And, of course, overcoming the wyrd will be an adventure in itself, especially since the only magic item within an hour's run is Reaver itself, which the wyrd has now recaptured.
The fort has a long, ugly history, going back to Thyatis' initial invasion of Traladara. At that time, the Fort Boldizsarovic was the keep of a Traladaran noble, Tesar Boldizsarovic, who opposed the invasion.
When Thyatian troops killed him, his daughter Anya, deranged with grief, sought out the aid of her Callarii elf adviser, Rastaban. That was a big mistake: Rastaban was actually a shadow elf agent sent to Traladara to destabilise the clans of elves in the region. He prompted Anya Boldizsarovic to turn her back on the weak Immortals of the Church of Traldara and turn to a Chaotic Immortal, Jammudaru, whom had been stymied by her family time and again in their battles against the humanoids and whose might was well-known by them. Anya desecrated the fort's chapel and defaced the statues of the Immortals therein. Jammudaru promised to aid Anya by sending a powerful being capable of avenging her father and slaughtering the Thyatians who had killed him, but first he needed proof of her sincerity. Anya willingly sacrificed her lifelong friend, the elf maiden Alcyone on the debased altar within her home.
Jammudaru kept his word, after a fashion: Alcyone rose that night, transformed into a killing machine, a wyrd, and slaughtered all of those within the castle. She was finally driven back inside the fort and killed by Callarii elves and the fortress was abandoned. Stories began to circulate that Alcyone could be seen standing in the mighty doorway of the castle at night, weeping.
Rastaban's part in the proceedings was never uncovered and when a group of adventurers were casting about for a way to defeat the newly appointed Black Eagle Baron in 978, he whispered the right words into the right ears. An elvish champion was chosen by the young adventurers to be made into their "champion" by the ritual. Her name was Miaplacidus, and she was the Callarii lover of a Thyatian adventurer named Nicodemus Majoh. Rastaban had Nicodemus waylaid by Traladaran partisans as Miaplacidus was sacrificed, becoming the host for the wyrd spirit.
Once again, the wyrd tore through all those present. Only Nicodemus was able to survive her onslaught, but he lost his nerve finally, and was unable to kill the being that now occupied his beloved's corpse. He sealed her in a room deep within the dungeon, and settled nearby, researching for a way to release her from the curse and making sure she never got free.
Rastaban has battled Nicodemus several times over the years, neither admitting to what the root of their enmity is, and the elf has succeeded in keeping Nicodemus isolated from the elvish community, who believe him to be a dangerous hothead who got his companions slaughtered by something they called up but could not control.
There are several graves inside the courtyard of the fort where Nicodemus buried his companions.
The fort's dungeon:
1) Locked room with a hanged man (skeleton, by this point) with a nearby confession explaining the original decision to summon the wyrd to drive out the Thyatians.
2) Desecrated chapel with defaced statues (heads removed and replaced with ogre skulls) and blood-stained altar.
3) Nicodemus' seal over a now-open door leading to the wyrd and the sword.
The door was also sealed with Nicodemus' Locking, but the goblins were able to force the door open.
4) Rastaban's quiver full of silver-tipped arrows is still in the dungeon from his last visit to the fort, when he came to survey the dungeon and see if there was a way he could release the wyrd without it posing a danger to himself. (There wasn't.)
5) Anya's wand of magic missiles is in her quarters.
6) The wyrd has retreated into the ruined temple, where she has Reaver displayed prominently in the arms of the defaced statue of Halav. She's currently enjoying watching goblins spot the sword and be lured in to where she can destroy them at her leisure.