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Fort Boldizsarovic: Dungeon - 11th hour help

by Beau Yarbrough

OK, my group just got to their first dungeon, but we had to leave off before they could get beyond the courtyard. I figure this is a good opportunity to do some last minute tweaks before next week's session. I don't have the map scanned in, but I was hoping someone out there would glance over what I've got so far and see if it works or doesn't for them.
The players are a group of four first level characters, no magic items other than a ring of feather fall, so I'm not inclined to throw anything too huge at them ... just yet.

4. Fort Boldizsarovic

Southwest of Midwood, a few hours away by foot through the forest, is the abandoned - and some say haunted - Fort Boldizsarovic, former base of Traladaran partisans who fought the Thyatian invaders in 900. The ghost of a beautiful elf supposedly haunts the ruins.

At the time of the invasion of Traladara, a road connected to the fort from the Westron Road. Since then, though, it's been let go to seed. While a path remains, one has to know to look for it to find and follow it.

The closer one gets to the fort, the less game is around. No one has any habitations near it. Not for long, anyway. The only reason anyone comes near it now is for the patches of moon flowers that grow within a mile of it.

On Yarthmont 27, 1013, Nicodemus dies in his sleep on the morning of the PCs' Shearing:

"At first, Greywand thinks he's dreaming of being caught in a snowstorm. He can hear what sounds like a howling, and the battering of the wind against the cottage, and there's a constant rain of light fluffy snowflakes on his face.

"After a moment, though, he realises that he's awake. The moaning and buffeting is Aristophanes, hooting and slamming around the walls of the cabin, trying to get out. The "snowflakes" are a steady stream of feathers, which the panicked owl is shedding at an alarming rate.

"Along the wall at Greywand's feet is Nicodemus' cot. The old man is laying very still, his head tilted back, blanket drawn up tight under his chin and over his beard, his skin waxy and a few feathers rimming his open mouth. He's not moving."

His funeral is held that afternoon, and immediately after the boys are Sheared, a wounded adventurer named Viola Miroslava 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 was planning on conquering 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.

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 in 900. 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.

Jammadaru 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, Rastaban 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.

The fort is a mix of stone and wood, although the wooden stakes set in the ditch ringing the outer wall are mostly rotted away now, or are covered in moss and lichen. The fort is 90 feet on a side, with 25 foot high stone walls - now extremely vine- and moss-covered - and a rotting double gate facing east. The fort sits in a small clearing that is now peppered with underbrush and saplings and the occasional medium-sized pine tree.

The east gate has rotted away to the point that it doesn't even close. Instead, there's rusted metal strips bending outwards from the gate, with a few remaining chunks of wood attached to them, showing where the doors used to be.

1. The courtyard has less undergrowth than outside, but there's animal burrows against the walls, a few saplings here and there, and a cluster of simple graves to the southwest of the entrance. The middle of the courtyard is dominated by a 30 foot square stone building, with arrow slits all around and a doorway open to the east. It's too dark to see what's inside. There are stone watchtowers (platforms, really) in each corner of the courtyard. Four worgs lay around in the dust, sleeping. (The other four are hunting in the nearby forest.) (AC 6, MV 18", HD 3+3, HP 15, 14, 13, 12, 2d4 damage)
2. Each of the watch towers are 20 foot high stone platforms originally supported with stout beams and have wooden ladders leading up to them. The wooden walkways that once connected them together have long since rotted and fallen away. There is a one in six chance that any of the ladders will break each time it's climbed by someone of human weight and a one in four chance that a platform will collapse if normal human weight it put on it.
3. The interior of the small keep is a bare room with a dirty stone floor and a cobweb-draped interior. There's the remains of an old wasp nest hanging inside one arrow slits, and lots of footprints leading to a stairway in the northeast corner, which descends eastward into he earth. The room smells like urine and sweat. There's a filthy wool blanket in one corner. A goblin "sentry," armed with a sling and a hand axe, is sleeping wrapped up in it.
4. Thirty feet below the stronghold on the surface, the staircase empties out into a small square room, with 10 foot long walls along the northwest, northeast, southeast and southwest walls. The staircase enters through the west corner, and every other corner has a passageway leading off from it. Torches, burnt almost all the way out, dimly smoulder in a bracket on each wall. Three goblins sit in the centre of the room, cross-legged, playing with a greasy deck of cards.
5. This room once served as the barracks for Fort Boldizsarovic. Now the rows of cots and trunks are dusty and mostly rotted away. Several human corpses, some showing signs of having been burned at some point, litter the room. Three goblins are ransacking the barracks, hoping to find some treasure.
6. Two enormous tables fill this room, with a bench on either side. Metal tureens, rusted and filled with disgusting mould and fungus, sit on each table, lending the room a putrid stench. There's a door to the south that stands ajar, as well as two doors to the north.
7. The kitchen is indescribable. Rusted cooking instruments are overturned and the enormous fireplace in the centre of the room has several pots laying in the old, old ashes. Decades worth of fungus has grown in the largest kettle. There are rat footprints through the dust, leading to an open door in the east. Goblin footprints lead to the doors in the south, east and north.
8. This room is piled high with crates and barrels, most of which have seen much better days: They've been chewed through, smashed open and, in some cases, nicely peppered with rat droppings. You see the leg of a long-dead Traladaran partisan sticking out from behind the crates in one corner of the room. The body was apparently burned to death. Five rat skeletons lurk inside one crate, and will attack any who enter the room.
9. A stone well fills this room, with a large metal ring set into its rim. There is no bucket. Goblin footprints fill the room, which smells like urine as well.
10. The guard room has heavy metal-banded doors in both the east and west walls. Inside are a number of long-dead corpses in rotting and scorched chain mail, clutching pitted and useless short swords.
11. Eight jail cells line this room, four each on the north and south walls. All of the cells are open, except for the second from the last on the south side. A skeleton lays inside, sprawled on his stomach, hands towards the door. He rises up and attacks anyone who forces the long-since rusted lock.
12. Similar to the room at the base of the stairwell, this four-walled room has doors on the north and west, corridors to the east and south, and angled walls connecting each. A single torch, in a bracket in the northeast wall, gutters. The door in the north wall bears Nicodemus' seal, and stands slightly ajar. If the wyrd within hears any speech other than a goblinoid tongue, she calls out sweetly "Nicodemus, is that you, my love?"
13. This room is recognisable to anyone familiar with the Church of Traladara as having some sort of ceremonial or administrative purpose. The walls are decorated with simply done scenes from the Song of Halav, and there are tables and chairs piled with books and rotten fabric. A perfectly serviceable knurdel lays in one corner. Three dead goblins, horribly burned and very stinky because of it, lay in the middle of the room, still clutching brass candlesticks they had been stealing.
14. This room once was the quarters of two lesser clerics. The room has been thoroughly ransacked by the goblins.
15. This room was once the quarters of the high priest of the fort. His dead body is still on the bed, Anya's dagger still sticking up through his rib cage. Anyone who touches his body will cause him to rise up and attack them with the dagger.
16. This guard room has heavy metal-banded doors in both the east and west walls. The room smells of burned flesh, but there's no bodies here.
17. Formerly Tesar's quarters, this room has a martial theme, with a painting of Halav confronting the King of the Beastmen hanging askew on the west wall. Dust covers much of the room. The furniture here has been disturbed long ago, with chairs overturned and the now-rotting sheets pulled off the bed. An armour and weapon stand in the southwest corner of the room holds decaying plate mail, a spear head atop a rotted shaft, and a pitted and useless two-handed sword.
18. A secret door leads to a small treasure chamber. There is a chest filled with coins (300 gold pieces total value); a suit of very Thyatian scale mail, along with a small shield, helmet and short sword, all bronze-plated and delicately engraved.
19. Anya's library has a variety of tomes, all in Traladaran. There are books on history, religion, economics and geography. Her spell book (1 in 20 chance to find, unless spending an unusual amount of time searching the shelves, as the binding of the book makes it look like one the volumes of the history books) is also in here, including the spells 1) Alarm, Burning Hands, Cantrip, Detect Magic, Message, Read Magic, Shield, 2) Darkness 15' Radius, Shatter. Rastaban missed the spell book last time he was here, several years ago. He forgot a quiver full of silver-tipped arrows on one chair, which is pushed under the table. (He brought them in case the wyrd had escaped when he was seeing if there was some safe way he could set it free to roam the woods.)
20. Anya's laboratory has a variety of dried-up liquids in glass and stoneware containers, some unrecognisable leaves and animal parts in other containers, and little else besides her stained and dog-eared journal-cum-recipe book (no potions, but several nasty poisons). Her journal recounts the decision to turn her back on the Church of Traladara when seeking SOMETHING that could defeat the Thyatians.
21. Anya's quarters. They're in total disarray, with her chests over-turned and her cabinets a burned mess. In one corner of the room, beneath some ruined clothes, is her wand of magic missiles (61 charges). The command word ("Zirdaz") is in her journal, on the inside back cover.
22. Desecrated temple, with defaced statues of Petra, Halav and Zirchev. Each of their heads has been knocked off, and replaced with an ogre's skull. Reaver lays at Halav's feet, as does the burning body of the goblin leader (his pack has a flask of poisonous oil he uses to poison his arrows). The wyrd is hiding behind the statue of Petra, waiting.

Chaotic Good female human thief 2

At 16 years old, Viola Miroslava is a professional adventurer, Sheared just a year ago and having left her native town of Kelvin immediately to wander Karameikos. She's just begun to fill out her coltish frame; Viola is tall, with light eyes and long dark hair she wears in a braid down the middle of her back, appearing more of a girl still than an adult woman and wears practical leather armour and clothing, all stained dark to better let her hide in shadows. She's nimble (Dexterity 15) and has developed the thieving skills to let her boundless curiosity have free reign.

Viola normally thrives on novelty and seeing what's over the next hill, but the events of the past few weeks in the wilds of the Barony of Halag have begun to change her into a dedicated foe of oppression, although she's not yet comfortable with her "foolish" new motivations. While she was raised to be polite, Viola is also a teenager and is headstrong and hates to be told that she's wrong or is incapable of doing something, even when she's aware of it herself.

Now that she's left Kelvin, which she knows like the back of her hand, she's a bit at sea, although her facility with languages has served her well. Viola has a bad habit of not respecting others' property, picking things up "just to get a look at it."

Viola speaks Thyatian, Traladaran, Orcish, Goblin.

At the time of this adventure, Viola has lost both her short bow and short sword, and her leather armour is badly damaged. She'll purchase new equipment with the 50 gold piece gem hidden in her boot if she lives.

Hit Points: 9 (2) Armour Class: 7 (9)

Goblin leader carries a short bow with arrows he dips into a poison gel. 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.

Chaotic Evil female undead elf

The wyrd has haunted the fort, on and off, for about a century. She appears as a tear-streaked, beautiful, sickly and pale, elf maiden wearing a colourless gown and hooded cape.

Although she doesn't use the skills, she has all the talents Alcoyne and Miaplacidus possessed in life, and can play the lute and sing beautifully. She will feign a desire to be freed from her curse, or to inquire after her "beloved" Nicodemus, but truthfully, all she cares about is killing, especially the Callarii elves.

If her current body is slain, her disembodied spirit will remain unless an exorcism spell is performed. If an elf dies near where her spirit is bound, she will possess the body on the second sundown. Her intelligence is the average of her own, plus those of each of her hosts, with her own zero intelligence score counted twice. (Thus, her current intelligence score is 0 + 0 + 16 + 18 = 10)

Arrogant about her inability to be hurt by non-magical weapons the wyrd will begin by being sweet and pretending to be either Alcoyne or Miaplacidus, but will quickly move to tormenting living beings before finally killing them. The wyrd has access to the memories of both Alcoyne and Miaplacidus, and will claim to be either one of them, if it looks as though it might be helpful or even simply amusing. The wyrd has a tendency to sing to herself in Elvish when she's alone.

The wyrd speaks Elvish (Callarii accent), Ogrish, Thyatian, Orcish, Goblin

Hit Points: 18 Armour Class: 4

Chaotic Evil male half-orc (formerly human) fighter 3

Janek Kramoris is a brigand leader from the Barony of Halag and a former mercenary in the employ of the Black Eagle. Halfway done with the process of becoming an orc due to wielding Reaver, he's a short, broad-shouldered half-orc with thinning brown hair, beady brown eyes and a perpetual mouth-breather who is rarely seen without his (somewhat shabby) chain mail armour.

An unexceptional warrior, Janek's great personal magnetism (Charisma 17) and facility with languages (Intelligence 14), together with the use of the sword Reaver have enabled him to begin gathering an impressive band of orcish and goblin bandits in the wilds of the Barony of Halag. Janek knows he isn't dedicated enough to gain a life of luxury through legitimate means, and turned to banditry as an easy way of using his might to make money. But he soon discovered making others do his dirty work (read: "leading a group of bandits") was even better. Now that he's lost Reaver, though, he's rightly worried that many of the orcs and goblins under his command will begin looking at him as just another human, and his wealth and health both rely on getting it back.

His typical means of dealing with others is by getting closer to them than they find comfortable and growling threateningly everything he says, most of which sounds like threats. If confronted by a clearly superior figure, though, he is polite and even obsequious as he plots a means to kill anyone who stands in his way of becoming rich (which is almost everyone).

He knows a great deal about the state of affairs amongst the Black Eagle's old flunkies and has even seen Bargle recently, although he knows he'd be killed horribly if that information got into the wrong hands and Bargle ever found out about it. Janek is unused to his new face, and has a tendency to run his hand through his rapidly thinning hair and to mumble around his nascent tusks.

Janek speaks Thyatian, Orcish, Goblin and Traladaran

Equipment: Flail, short bow, chain mail

Hit Points: 17 Armour Class: 5

The orcs use short bows, flails and swords.

Long Sword +1, +2 versus humans, +3 versus halflings and gnomes, +4 versus elves and dwarves

Rarely seen, but well-known from various conflicting reports out of the Broken Lands in the past century, Reaver has been associated with humanoids and travellers since it first appeared in the records of the Darokin Diplomatic Corps.

Reaver is an ordinary long sword of good construction. No scholar of such things has gotten the opportunity to examine the blade, and who created the sword, when and why all remain unknown. The blade is engraved with flames licking up from the hilt. The scabbard is decorated with stylised images of burning buildings and corpses, all in low relief. An extremely powerful and evil magical sword, Bargle the Infamous is alternately credited financing the recovery of Reaver from Oenkmar in 1010, although there are some reports that it had been lost in the Sea of Dread off the shore of the Five Shires a year before.

Any non-demihuman bearer of this blade gains an immediate +1 to charisma in the eyes of humanoids. If they are evil or a humanoid themselves, they gain and additional +1 to charisma, cumulative. When unsheathed, the sword grants its bearer infravision at 200' range. If the bearer is evil, it also produces a protection from good 10' radius effect.

In the hands of an evil humanoid, and used against humans, halflings, gnomes, elves or dwarves, Reaver acts as a vorpal blade, cutting off the victim's head on a natural 20 "to hit."

When wielded by someone else, Reaver takes steps to change that; when the player whose character is using the blade rolls a 1 when attempting to hit in combat, they must make a save against spells or take one step towards becoming an evil humanoid.

Elves become half-elves (one of the few ways they can appear on Mystara, incidentally); half-elves become humans; humans become half-orcs and half-orcs become orcs. Gnomes and halflings become kobolds and dwarves become goblins. Half-ogres become ogres. Half-ogres and half-orcs are "humanoid" for the purposes of being able to use Reaver's beheading ability. These changes take place over the course of a week, whenever the character sleeps, and their sleep will be filled with dreams of conquering the Known World and of phantom memories of lives lead amongst the humanoids. Characters gain all the benefits of their new race and in addition, immediately gain the ability to use the "race" language of their new race. (If there is one: Turning into a half-elf or a human does not effect the languages spoken by the character.) However, they lose a randomly determined demihuman language when that happens. Once they've lost all demihuman languages, other random languages (including humanoid languages previously gained through these changes) may be replaced with the new racial tongue.

After that process is eventually finished (and each step can only be undone by a remove curse, polymorph other or limited wish or wish spell), the alignment begins to change, with the good alignments becoming neutral, and neutral becoming evil.

One week after this process is complete, it can only be undone with a wish spell.