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City of the Ogre King, part 1: The Akropolis of Kotesh (Secrets of Koskatep, Level 2 B)by Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 3
The text below was the original description of this level in issue 1 of Threshold Magazine (Mirror of Eternal Night article). Read on to discover more on this level of Koskatep!
Kulfan, an ogre king, established his throne hall on this level five centuries ago. No one remembers how his once powerful kingdom came to an end; the ogres say it was a human attack, but it could have been a war between ogres and giants, or the wrath of a dragon. This level is indeed partially burned and much of what was once contained within was destroyed or pillaged long ago. The walls and the rooms were built by giants and ogres with surprisingly good craftsmanship, and there may still be undiscovered rooms or tombs that contain the treasures of the ogres kingdom. This level is empty except for some random dungeon critters such as oozes, giant insects, and worms.
The secret: Kulfan occupied the ruins in the name of Nyx but was destroyed by powerful clerics of Ixion, that were soon destroyed themselves by an ancient evil sent by Thanatos. Nothing is left of their bones and items, but the worn out diary of the main cleric of Ixion is still hidden in a crack of the throne room.
After the Darkers take control, some female ogres and female giants with children, wives of the ones above, live here and are slowly cleaning and rebuilding the place. They will obviously be hostile if intruders have killed their husbands and either way they will immediately try to warn the Darkers in the levels below.
Relevant history (expanded from issue 1 of Threshold)
603 BC: The ogre king Kulfan conquers Koskatep in the name of Nyx, defeating the gnolls that inhabited the city before, and ogres rule over the area for centuries. Human priests of the Lady of the Night live in the city along with them. At this time the west of Traladara was more a gnoll country than a human one. The ogres, come recently from the area of the modern Five Shires and beyond, ally with local giants, in the area for millennia, and with them break the power of the gnolls. They were aided also by local humans of Tal ancestry (descendants of Taymora), followers of Nyx. The three races live peacefully in the area for centuries, under Kulfan and his descendants, ogres and giants kings. They had to fight frequent wars against the gnolls and sometimes against orcs, who constantly arrived from the west.
517 BC War between orcs and gnolls in the west. The two people lose their strength in a pointless territorial war and ogres and giants gain from their weakness.
496 BC Achelos Chardastes Halarov, heir of king Halav, escapes from civil war and establishes the first seed of his dominion in western Traladara. Relationships with ogres and giants are good at first for the common struggle against gnolls and orcs.
190 BC After fifty years of wars the gnolls are defeated by ogres and humans, and pushed into the mountains. Ogres and Giants of Kotesh dominate the Cruth area, including orc tribes, but soon enmity with the local humans grows.
100 AC The Duchy of Achelos, grown in power and men, begins a full attack against the ogres and giants of Kotesh to conquer the city. The war will last five years.
95 AC: The Darkers almost complete the ritual to use the Starlake and bring forth the Eternal Night, but are stopped at the last moment by an army of priests of Ixion, from all over the Known World, who drive out the ogres and occupy Koskatep for years. Soldiers of the Duchy of Achelos join the attack and establish good relations with the temple of Ixion that is consecrated in the akropolis of Kotesh.
201 AC: The citadel of Kotesh, now occupied by priests of Ixion and Achelos soldiers, is under constant attack not so much from ogres and giants but rather from gnolls and orcs, whose presence in the west is growing again.
227 AC: The priests of Ixion have repelled several attempts by ogres, giants and followers of Nyx trying to reclaim the ruins, but are destroyed at last by a very powerful and ancient vampire sent by Thanatos, The Last One. Some of them escape to the lowest level and become defenders of the inner temple. In the following centuries ogres, giants, followers of Nyx, and even adventurers sent by Ixion try to reclaim Koskatep, but The Last One destroys them all.
Leading down from Level 1 of Koskatep (published in issue 2 of Threshold magazine - the first layer encountered), coming down from room 11 or 44, is LEVEL 2 B, the Acropolis of the former ogre city of Kotesh:
Level 2B was the castle built by the Ogre King Kulfan in 603 BC and occupied by all of his descendants until 95 AC.
The level was later inhabited by several members of the Church of Ixion from 95 AC, when they conquered the Ogre city, to 227 AC, when they were exterminated by the powerful vampire The Last One. It has two passages to the level above and one to the level below. Doors from room to room are depicted as closed portals as most of them are stuck and may be difficult to open. There are also other small passages where walls have been partially tunnelled by various critters through the ages, but these are mostly collapsed and difficult to pass for humans.
1 - The Former Terrace, now underground: This big area is cluttered with debris that often obstructs the view and creates a veritable maze. In the past it had statues and reliefs done by ogres and giants that were later destroyed and replaced by similar decorations done by priests and followers of Ixion. Now most of them are ruined too, but lying around there are still bronze statues of the Immortal, his chosen or famous personalities of the church, and reliefs depicting the sun or great victories of the church on the walls. All these things have a huge archeological and monetary value for the church of Ixion and rich collectors in general, but are quite hard to move. In this area and throughout all this level random critters can be encountered, roll 1d20 on the Random Critters Table. There is also a 1% chance on 1d100 in each room that a Wandering Party can be encountered, see Table 2.
1 - After the Darkers take control they will begin to clean the terrace from debris, objects, remains, and decorations of the church of Ixion, replacing them with their statues and reliefs praising Nyx. Among the statues there will be also a guardian Obsidian golem that will attack any intruder not saying “Night eternal” upon entering the terrace. The chance of encounters with random critters and wandering parties should be much diminished at this time. The skeletons will be used against them by The Last One, but they will destroy them all.
1 - The terrace was completely buried by a landslide after The Last One and his minion killed the followers of Ixion in 227 AC, but later was partially cleared by the gnolls, humans and ogres that occupied the first level in the following centuries, even if most of them managed to occupy this level permanently only for brief times. The PCs however could find, with extensive searching, weapons or items lost here by gnolls, human troops of Achelos, orcs, ogres, giants, human followers of Nyx, traladaran rebels, thyatians priests of Ixion, as well as their remains. 1d100 skeletons could be reanimated here by a necromancer.
2 - The Former Throne room or Ixion’s Temple. This large room is partially occupied by collapsed blocks from the original ceiling. It is therefore difficult to navigate, and the current ceiling is much lower than the original one at several points. The northwestern corner is better preserved, and was partially cleared out by humanoids in the past -- traces of campfires are evident in the corner.
Near the entrance to area 4, there are a few unstable blocks of stone forming an archway. Clumsy and/or large passersby may trigger a collapse (on a failed Dex roll, +4 bonus for medium sized creatures, smaller creatures have no chance of triggering the collapse). Random Critters Table apply.
2 - After the Darkers this room will be slowly cleared to eventually be transformed into a temple dedicated to Nyx. 2d10+2 female ogres and 2d4 hill giant females, with 1d10 children of either race will be there at any time during the day, but they'll sleep in room 3 during the night. If the PC's aren't allied with the Darkers they will be hostile but will fight only to protect the children and will try to flee to room 3 and the level below almost immediately.
2 - The first extensive destruction of the room was caused by The Last One invasion in 227 AC, then it was aggravated by successive battles and landslides. Not much remains therefore of the many statues, wall paintings and reliefs praising Ixion that the priests made in the 132 years in which the temple was consecrated to the sun god. Nothing at all remains of the many centuries before in which this was the throne room of Kulfan and other ogre kings. Yet, if a cleric of Ixion enters the temple, he'll see what’s left of these decorative elements glow, as a hope that the temple could be rebuilt. During the time of the ogres, in the right side of the huge room where once stood the magnificent throne of Kulfan, there is a secret compartment in the floor. It contains the diary of Kulfan and his magical banner, an item that would be really prized by ogres. The same compartment also has the diary of Fedor, high priest of Ixion (see room 3B below), the one who hid these items.
3 - The Store room. This room was once used to store excess furniture and other items used to decorate the throne room on various occasions. It was sacked during the fall of the ogre city, and nothing of value remains here. A portion of the floor has collapsed, giving access to the lower level of the ogre king's fortress. The original access stairs are likely buried and nowadays lost.
Descending to the next level is somewhat hazardous, since the lower room has an ogre-sized height. Climbing or mountaineering equipment (rope and pitons) make the descent easy. Without equipment, characters without the Climbing thief skill need to pass a Dex check, lest they fall down and suffer 1d6 HP of damage.
3 - After the Darkers arrive this room is used by female ogres and hill giants, see above. The Last One will not use Fedor in the first Darkers invasion but will keep him for after. If the Darkers discover him before, they'll offer him the opportunity to join them, but he'll refuse instead and choose true death.
3 - Used as storage room by the priests of Ixion too, the room hasn't much left but some old copper trinkets, centuries old, that could have a value for antiquarians. Fedor, high priest of Ixion (mummy C12), was buried here under the floor of the upper left corner by The Last One, that occasionally visits in person just to mock him. Fedor is bounded to him but wishes for freedom above anything: if a cleric turns him there is a 40% chance that he'll be able to break The Last One's control, a 70% chance if he's a cleric of Ixion.
4 - The Warehouse. This room was used as a dormitory by the priests of Ixion of centuries ago and old broken beds can still be seen among the piles of rubble. Is connected to room 2 and 3 via almost crumbled doors. Usually it is occupied by random critters. Some minimal personal item of the priests can be found, such as coins, vials, shoes and boots, belts, clothes, pictures, small mirrors and figurines.
4 - The Darkers will destroy the ghouls and soon the female ogres and hill giants will begin to use the room as a bathroom, equipping it with water, soap and brushes. Eventually the passage to the Hill Giant tomb (room 44, Level 1, in issue 2 of Threshold magazine) will be closed.
4 - At the time of the Ogre Kings this was the dressing room, but nothing is left of paraments and wardrobes now. Just a few years ago The Last One hid, here under the rubble, the corpses of some Darokinian adventurers that he'll reanimate as ghouls if necessary.
RUMORS ON THIS AND NEARBY LEVELS
Before the arrival of the Darkers, the ogres, hill giants and orcs of Level 1 do know roughly the layout of Level 2B and 2A, which will be detailed in Threshold Issue #4. They know the two sublevels below are inhabited by several critters (see Table 1) and, sometimes, dangerous undead that can be encountered. They also suspect that a great, powerful, and evil being lives below. They know little of levels 3-5, except that they would be inhabited by malevolent dead gnolls. An ancient legend of the Cruth area also tell that a powerful artifact that “could change the world” is buried deep in the lowest levels, but guarded by extremely powerful monsters.
After the arrival of the Darkers, they will effectively conquer all the levels from 1 to 8 (even if some not completely, see issue 1 of Threshold magazine) and will begin to draw maps of them. Darkers roaming a level could then have a map of it, but the more complete ones will be in the hands of Lord Keiros in level 5 or other high ranking Darkers in level 7. The Darkers will not be aware of The Last One still hiding in level 10, nor of the inhabitants and layout of the levels from 10 to 13.
THE BATTLES IN THIS LEVEL
During the first invasion of Koskatep by the Darkers, they’ll have the forces detailed in issue 2 of Threshold magazine, page 120. The Last One will fight back here with 1d100 skeletons and 4 corpses of Darokian adventurers reanimated as ghouls (rooms 1 and 4). The Darkers will destroy them all.
When he decides to strike back he’ll send Fedor (room 3) and 2 more ghouls (room 4) against the ogre and giant females and children. If the PC’s intervene before however, Fedor could already have been freed from The Last One’s control.
Table 1: Random Critters
Giant Beetle, Fire
Giant Spiders, Crab
Table 2: Wandering Parties
Notes (These people could be hostiles or not, depending on the PC’s allegiance and attitude)
A group of adventurers (one or two less than the PC’s) who were killed years ago by The Last One and raised as vampires. They could be now committed followers of Thanatos or rather desperately trying to escape their bound.
A scouting party of Ogres (two less than PC’s) and one Hill Giant of the Cruth tribes, exploring the level in the hope of clearing and rebuilding it.
A scouting party of Upper Kotesh Orcs (same number as PC’s, see area 15, Level 1) exploring and foraging around the level.
A scouting party of Darkers (same number as PC’s), with at least one wizard and one cleric, exploring this level in preparation of their coming invasion.
Random adventurers, (same number as PC’s), could be aligned with Karameikos’ government or with the church of Ixion, or even both, or Traladaran rebels, or just random people searching for treasures.
2 See Gaz 8, The Five Shires.
3 This monster is not actually wandering. Rolling it means that a patch of Yellow Mold has recently grown in this particular spot.