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Ranesh, a City of Four People (Koskatep level 3)by Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 5
Ranesh, a city of four people
by Francesco Defferrari (Sturm)
The Mountain of Bones is a city of ogres in the dark Cruth hills now, and has been for many centuries, but in the past it was one of the unholy keeps from whence the Beastmen came upon the land of Traladara, to kill and destroy. The many treasures they pillaged from the ancient, rich and powerful Traladaran cities were stored there, the stories say, but no greedy adventurer has ever returned alive from Koskatep.
From “Compiled Traladaran Folk Tales”, by Master Teldon, Specularum, 995 AC.
Secrets of Koskatep, Level 3
This level can be reached only by going down from room 19 of Level 2 A (the lower ruins of the Ogre city of Kotesh, published in Issue 4 of Threshold magazine). PC’s will find themselves in Level 3, Ranesh, a gnoll city that also was the dwarven city of Karrast, the red orcs city of Rak and the hutaakan city of Ranekek.
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!
Level THREE, GNOLLS WERE HERE
This level was a powerful gnoll city during the time of their invasion of Traladara and the following centuries (900 - 600 BC). The many treasures gnolls amassed in centuries of war and pillaging have been taken long ago by ogres and giants and now only some stone statues resembling gnolls remain.
This level is inhabited by several dangerous ghosts.
The secret: This level was really a hutaakan city before the gnolls arrived, hence the statues. The ghosts are hutaakan priests and gnoll shamans that The Last One below awakened as guardians. There is still a sub-level with the ghost of a powerful hutaakan priest guarding his still-intact tomb and willing to help any group aligned with Ixion, the Traldar immortals, or Pflarr.
After the Darkers take control, groups of 3-5 wizards and priests of the Sons of Night can occasionally be found here, checking on the ogres and giants above.
Relevant history (expanded from issue 1 of Threshold)1
1412 BC: After the time of the Nosferatu Kings has ended with the traldar crusades against the undead, Hutaakans took the site (then called Ieronyx) from the powerful nosferatu Lord Keiros, exterminating his followers, and renaming the city Ranekek (Light over the Darkness). Hutaakans and Traldar settle the city, which over four centuries establishes peaceful relations with nearby giants and fairies. Trade relations are established with the newly-arrived Hin of the modern Shires, as well as the Nithian empire.
1257 BC: Wogar’s Tribe of the Red Orcs conquer and enslave the people of the Atruaghin Clans, as well as several cities in the area of modern Darokin. Their raids also endanger Hin and Hutaakan lands, and some Orcs occupy the Western Cruth mountains and hills.
1147 BC Alik Rokov of Corescon, a nosferatu follower of Nyx, leads a rebellion against the hutaakans and lay siege to Pflarkhepet (Achelos) and Ranenek, but is eventually defeated.
1095 BC Hutaakans and Traldars establish peaceful relations with the men of Minroth who have colonised the southern islands.
1021 BC: The Red Orcs sack and conquer Ranekek, renaming it Rak. Several Hutaakan priests survive by hiding in the lower levels. They eventually become additional guardians of the hidden temple of Ixion (Level 13).
1018 BC: An attempt by the hutaakans to reconquer Ranekek from the orcs fails.
1000 BC: Gnolls’ invasion, Pflarkhepet is sacked and hutaakans and humans enslaved. The Red Orcs of Rak ally with the gnolls and maintain rulership of the city.
954 BC: Despite the successful campaign of the Traldars against the gnolls, the west is still in their hands and orcs still rule the city of Rak. In these years a large dwarven expedition reaches the Cruth Mountains. After several battles a dwarven army defeats the red orcs and conquers Koskatep-Rak, renaming it Karrast. The dwarves are soon in constant warfare with the gnolls that rule over the region.
950 BC: A tribe of Orcs escaped from the Shires, the GreySlayers, live in western Traladara, raiding settlements despite efforts to defeat them by humans and dwarves.
933 BC: Vandar humans come from the west, entering soon in conflict with gnolls and dwarves.
912 BC: The dwarves are finally defeated by the gnolls, who build their own city of Ranesh over the ruins. Shamans of Ranivorus and Thanatos begin to study the Starlake2.
841 BC: Followers of Nyx, aided by ogres and giants, attack Koskatep but are unable to conquer it from the gnolls. Yet they succeed in killing the most powerful shamans of Thanatos and burning their notes.
820 BC: An alliance of GreySlayers Orcs and Bloodhands Gnolls attack Dimi and Luln, the king of Traladara Sergej Halarov lead an expedition to defeat them, but is only partially successful.
810 BC: Traladaran adventures fight orcs in the Shires but are exterminated. Continual warfare in the west against orcs and in the north against gnolls.
805 BC: Irena Halarov, niece of Sergei, is queen of Traladara. She promotes war against orcs and gnolls, who still rule over many wilderness lands.
801 BC: Orcs conquer the Shires once more.
800 BC: Traladara establish relations with Alfheim elves and Nithian colonists in Darokin. Callarii elves arrive in Traladara and help against the gnolls.
760 BC: Battle of Vatresh, Ivan Ivanov defeats the gnolls, Bloodhands tribe is nearly destroyed.
758 BC: Ivan Ivanov is elected king of Traladara. He leads several campaigns against the orcs in the west to try to aid the halflings. The gnoll city of Vashak (Achelos) is burned to the ground. Despite Ivan’s victories, Ranesh stays in the hand of gnolls.
744 BC: Hin rise up against their orcish overlords; the Time of Heroes begins.
700 BC: Thanatos, Immortal of the Sphere of Entropy, helped by the Immortal Ranivorus, corrupts the Pharaoh of the Nithians. The Pharaoh turns the Nithian empire toward worship of Entropy.
695 BC: With the secret intent of taking Ranesh, The Nithian pharaoh (now corrupted by Thanatos) sends an expedition to conquer Traladara. Traladarans unite and win.
609 BC: The Restoration of the hin nation; good relations with Traladara. Hin and Traladaran attacks against Cruth gnolls and orcs increase, undermining their control of the area.
603 BC: The ogre king Kulfan conquers Koskatep in the name of Nyx and ogres rule over the area for centuries. Human priests of the Lady of the Night live in the city along with them.
Random Critters table and Wandering Parties table of level 2B (in issue 3 of Threshold magazine) still apply here. On a roll of 1 on 1d6, roll 1d20 on the Random Critters Table. There is also a 1% chance on 1d100 in each room that a Wandering Party will be encountered.
The Followers of The Last One encounter table of level 1 (in issue 2 of Threshold magazine, page 122), can also still be used here if the DM wishes so.
The initial layout of this city was created by the towers of the Temple of Pflarr (now Level 4, below) that the hutaakans built after the destruction and burial of Ieronyx (Level 5). Over the four centuries of hutaakan occupation the temple became a subterranean level of a larger city, that later was occupied and modified by orcs, dwarves and gnolls. Ranekek-Rak-Karrast-Ranesh, i.e. this fourth level of Koskatep, is therefore composed of four very different cities overlapping each other.
The surviving parts of Ranekek, light over darkness in hutaakan, are depicted in yellow in the map. The huge temple area, dedicated to Ixion was in rooms 7, 8, 9 and 10 (the much larger Pflarr temple is below on level 4). Room 1 and 2 were the beautiful gates of the city and rooms 14-16 were a great compound used as military fort, priest and wizards academy, library and warehouse, but its internal divisions are long gone, replaced by gnolls. Room 18 was a temple of Kagyar, area 20 was a public bath and room 25 a small shrine to Valerias. The other buildings of the city, often in wood, are long gone.
The parts added by orcs, i.e. the city of Rak, are depicted in brown. Of that only area 21 still survives, the former command center and quarters of the orc king, later re-used by gnolls as a burial ground.
The parts added by the dwarves of the city of Karrast are in red. The dwarven city was mainly developed in the lower Level 4, the former hutaakan main temple (be sure to watch for further details in Threshold 6!). Room 12 was a crypt that the gnolls sacked and later used as larder. The intact tomb of the hutaakan priest is hidden under it. Room 5 was a fortress that gnolls re-used with the same purpose.
The parts added by the gnolls of the city of Ranesh are in orange. They added several external and internal walls, the latter used to delimit common rooms according to function and ranks (i.e. rooms for females, children, warriors, shamans and so on).
In grey is solid stone, very difficult to dig. In white are the “open” areas. Open should be considered a relative term as much of the terrain is rugged, full of debris. The ceiling, at the level of the former hutaakan city walls (3 meters), is frequently supported by crude columns (not depicted in the map) that ogres and giants raised when they decided to build over the gnoll city. The area is completely dark if PCs do not bring light. If they do bring light, of course, it makes the party quite visible.
[Image: Map of Ranesh]
1 - The Gates.
Former entrance of the city, once it was sculpted and decorated with hutaakan statues that orcs damaged and gnolls modified to look more like them. Carrion crawlers and giant centipedes have dug all around the gates. Several nests and 1d5+1 of either can be encountered here.
After the Darkers come, this area will be cleared of critters, but it will take some time before allthe nests can be located and the cache in the north eastern tower will not be immediately found.
1 - There is a secret cache of precious hutaakan and dwarven statues hidden in the basement of the north eastern tower, buried here by gnolls before they were defeated by the ogres and giants in 603 BC, and never found since. One of the statues, a hutaakan silver figurine, is magical and can cast a detect evil spell once a day and a find the path spell once a month. Each power requires an activation word in hutaakan however.
2 - The Internal Gates.
These gates were massive in hutaakan times but were taken by the orcs nevertheless, then by dwarves and by gnolls, finally by ogres and giants. Partially destroyed and crumbled now, it’s possible to see parts of the gnolls’ repairs, made from the bones of fallen dwarves.
After the Darkers arrive, the skeletons will be removed and it will not be possible to animate them anymore.
2 - The Last One will animate 1d20 dwarven skeletons here if necessary
3 - The First Court.
In hutaakan times this area was a great street of clay with shops, but orcs removed them all when they took the city, leaving an open court (with wooden palisades now long decayed) for better use of archers in case enemies could enter from the main gate. That however did not prevent dwarves from defeating the orcs, gnolls from defeating dwarves, and ogres from defeating gnolls. As at least four major battles were fought in this area, occasionally a massive Vision (HD12 or more) of all the armies that fought here appears.
3 - Many non magical weapons and object of the gnolls of 603 BC, the last that were defeated and killed here, can still be found among the dust. The court is so big that two groups of critters (from the random table in issue 3 of Threshold magazine, page 208) can always be encountered here.
After the Darkers take control not much changes at first, as critters will continue to wander here and it could take years before the area is inhabited again by someone.
4 - The Soldiers Court.
This area, enclosed by still standing dwarven and gnollish walls, was a residential area in hutaakan times but the houses were razed partially by orcs and completely by dwarves and gnolls. It normally has at least two groups of critters like the previous area.
After the Darkers arrive the area will remain pretty much the same for quite some time, even if eventually they plan to train their soldiers here.
4 - A great gnoll warrior named V’ughrax was slain here by giants, his magical armor and lance (of gnoll weight and size) are still half buried here, quite damaged. The Last One will raise him as a powerful undead when he’ll decide to strike back at the Darkers (after their first conquest of the ruins).
5 - The Dwarven Tower.
This building was raised by dwarves, then the ogres and giants burned it with the gnoll defenders still inside. The interior is full of burned, brittle wood with some bits of melted weapons, armors and skeletons. The Ghost (HD14) of a gnoll shaman was reanimated here by The Last One to guard the area, and he’ll throw him at the Darkers or at any previous intruder.
After the Darkers arrive they will succeed in talking to Feyogh, turning him into Nyx’s service. Eventually they will give him a new body and some apprentices, and he’ll set up his new home and workshop here in the former dwarven tower. ,
5 - The gnoll shaman name is Feyogh, and he is very tired of his condition. He’s willing to defy The Last One and renounce his former faith to have a new life or at least oblivion.
6 - The Temple Court.
This area is full of rubble and has at least one group of critters. There is also the Spectre (HD7) of a gnoll warrior who has gladly joined the Last One’s side to have the chance to kill again. His name is Mough, but he only says it so that his victims will know who killed them.
After the Darkers take the city the court will probably stay empty for quite some time. Eventually they will clean it to turn the former temple into a temple of Nyx.
6 - In the southwest corner of the square some dwarf buried several 10d10 gold coins before the city fell to gnolls. The coins are very valuable but have a curse upon them: anyone trying to sell them to anyone who isn’t a dwarf will have some misfortune, a small one if only few coins are sold, a major one if many coins are sold.
7 - The former Temple of Ixion.
Here The Last One left the ghost of a reanimated gnoll shaman (HD14) named Jevuugh, once a priest of Ranivorus in this same temple. All the decoration of the temple of Ixion were already destroyed by orcs when the gnolls arrived, dwarves used it as a temple of Kagyar. The ogres destroyed most of the trophies dedicated to Ranivorus that were hung to the walls, but Jevuugh redecorated with his trophies, mostly dead people, during the centuries. He has also recently animated as zombie servants a party of 5 orcs from upper Kotesh (level 1) that disturbed him.
After the Darkers take control they will destroy Jevuugh and his minions, but they will not find his treasure and will not immediately repair the temple.
7 - Jevuugh has still his well hidden treasure cache, even if most of the items are now useless to him, including potions of cure serious wounds, levitation, strength and clairaudience, a ring of seeing, three clerical scrolls and even a flying carpet.
8 - The former Hall of the Sun
Once an area attached to the temple of Ixion, this building was used as deposit or stronghold by orcs, dwarves and gnolls, and indeed several gnoll skeletons still lay where they were killed by ogres and giants. The Last One will animate 3d20+5 skeletons here to fight the Darkers invasion, but will not do so for single intruders. Only walls and columns remain of the original building, most of its once beautiful carvings and decorations were scraped off long ago by orcs and gnolls.
After the Darkers take control they will clean the hall from skeletons and what other objects are here, and eventually they will repair the building to be the sacristy of the near temple as it once was, but it’ll take years for this to happen.
8 - The gnoll skeletons still have their possessions, mostly pieces of armors, weapons, coins, little mirrors, copper figurines, pins, bracelets, bands and other small decorative objects that could be of great value for historians and sages.
9 - The late priests’ residence
Once the residence of priests both in hutaakan and dwarven times, this building has been damaged in the last battle between gnolls and ogres in 603 BC. Now three wraiths dwell here, former low level gnoll shamans that the Last One animated just for fun. They will attack anyone entering the building.
After the Darkers arrive, they will destroy the wraiths and discover Adrian. They’ll realize what he is and they’ll help and comfort him, to the point that he’ll join them and will begin to live between this level (with the guards in area 13) and level 5 (with Lord Keiros).
9 - Adrian, a young Traladaran thief (T4), is hidden in one of the rooms, terrified by the wraiths and the place in general. He’ll be happy to join any living being walking around. He’ll say he comes from Rugalov and he entered this dungeon with his friends, now all dead. If the PCs talk to him a bit, they might notice that there is something strange in Adrian. In fact he was part of the group whose skeletons are now in area 19. The Last One captured him and then left him here for 400 years3. Adrian isn’t aware of the passing of time, but if he sees the skeletons of his former companion his eyes will go blank and he’ll attack the PCs. If they do not kill him, Adrian could realize what happened to him and will be able to give a rough description of The Last One’s appearance and powers (see Level 7).
10 - The North Court
Several Shrieker mushrooms grow here and their noise could alert Jevuugh in area 7 and draw the wraiths of area 9, in addition to any other wandering monster. The court is full of litter and debris among which some ancient objects could be find.
After the Darkers arrive they will eliminate the Shriekers and the court will be empty.
10 - Among the rubble of this court there is also a precious ring of life protection, once belonging of a dwarven priest.
11 - The South Court.
As another big battle was fought here, several gnoll skeletons lie around and The Last One can animate 1d100+10 of them when the Darkers arrive. A strange eerie mist also hangs in this area, and a soft sob can be heard sometime.
After the Darkers takeover, the gnoll remains will be removed. The Darkers will speak to Enialee and will persuade her to join them. She’ll be sent to the Dark Fairies level again, but her loyalty will remain with the Darkers, and she’ll spy on her former friends for them.
11 - Enialee, a banshee, also dwells in this area. A powerful sidhe sorceress in life, she was cursed with undeath for a great crime, and was even cast off by the Dark Fairies of Level 6 and given to The Last One, that in the meantime has placed her in this area. Enialee doesn’t really want to fight for him and can be persuaded to join a party that will give her some hope. She’s still afraid of true death but also sick of her present “life”.
12 - The dwarven crypt.
This crypt was rebuilt by dwarves over a previous hutaakan tomb complex. It contained 16 sealed tombs of dwarven warriors, that were partially opened and pillaged by the gnolls in 912 BC. After 603 BC, ogres and giants built their city (levels 2A and 2B) over Ranesh and didn’t disturb the tombs. The Last One has animated 1d10 gnolls as zombies (or mummies, depending on the PC’s level) here. Periodically Hasiq (see the box) destroys them and The Last One bring them back. Now 11 tombs are opened but they still contain the gnolls’ grave goods, mostly rusty weapons, decayed cloth and leather and some ornaments made of copper or semiprecious stones. There is also a gnoll dagger +1 hidden among the rubbish. Four dwarven tombs miraculously survived gnoll pillaging, being walled up and well hidden. They still contain fine dwarven weapons and armors, and even an axe +1 and boots of speed (dwarven, and they need a lost dwarven word for activation). If the dwarven tombs are discovered, it’s possible that one of the dwarves will rise from the dead to defend his goods (he could be anything from a simple zombie to a spectre or more, depending on PC’s levels and the DM). The remaining tomb, small and well hidden, is a hutaakan one that the dwarves strangely didn’t open. It contains mostly decayed clothing, a few ancient coins and a diary, written in hutaakan. It seems that the priest that compiled it aided the dwarves in capturing the city from the orcs, and that’s the reason why he was buried here and left undisturbed. As that happened after the gnoll invasion, the diary could contain clues leading to the Lost Valley of the Hutaaka.
After the Darkers take control, they will eliminate the undead gnolls and discover the dwarven tombs. It could take some time however before they discover the hutaakan priest tomb above the sub-level with Hasiq’s tomb. In the meantime Hasiq will begin to plot against them and search for any possible ally to hinder their plans.
12 - From the southwest tomb of the complex there is a forgotten and hidden hatch that leads to a small sublevel, made of a spiral corridor that lead to the intact tomb of Hasiq (Ghost, HD14). He was a powerful hutaakan priest of Pflarr and former leader of the city, killed by an assassin in 1.022 BC just a year before the city fell to red orcs. Unable to rest, Hasiq returned from death to continue his duty: he tried to fight orcs, gnolls and ogres whenever he could, and he aided Ixion’s priests when they recaptured the city. Several times he was almost destroyed, the last two times by the Last One, but somehow he always managed to avoid final destruction. Hasiq’s grave goods include several magical objects like an amulet of protection from evil, one of remove fear, a potion of cure serious wounds, a rod with continual light and speak with dead. Items that Hasiq would give only to PC’s aligned to Ixion, Pflarr or other immortals willing to fight against Hel, Nyx and Thanatos. The spiral corridor to Hasiq’s tomb is filled with traps, but he can deactivate them.
13 - The statue.
This is a statue of Ranivorus of surprisingly good craftsmanship, that the gnolls made at the time when they ruled the city. It seems that the statue was partially destroyed, probably by ogres, but someone repaired it. The Last One indeed has animated the statue as a stone golem to attack intruders.
After the Darkers take control they will remove the debris, destroy the statue, the wraiths and post an ogre, a priest of Nyx and two warriors on guard duty here, slowly rebuilding the former hutaakan vestibule.
13 - The partially ruined hutaakan palace beyond the statue was once the vestibule of the Pflarr temple below (Level 4), later became an orc city and then a dwarven city. A monumental staircase once reached the temple, but the gnolls buried it when they conquered the city, fearing the dwarven dead below. The Last One closed the passage again recently, but it’s possible to get down if some debris is moved out of the way (a 2-hour job, at least). Anyone doing this, however, will be attacked by 1d6 wraiths, former gnoll warriors that The Last One hid here.
14 - Gnoll Room.
The Last One has created a troll ghoul (HD7) here. It has the abilities of a troll and a ghoul. It was once an ally of the gnolls when the city was in their hands, but is not an intelligent undead now. It will attack anyone entering this area, once an hutaakan palace long ago destroyed and reused by orcs, dwarves and gnolls.
After the Darkers arrive they will destroy the troll ghoul but will proceed to renovate and re-occupy this area for a long time.
14 - Buried in a corner of the room there are some gems and jewelry, among them also a ring of protection +1 and a ring of thruthfullness.
15 - Gnoll rooms.
These were the main rooms were the gnolls lived at the time when the city was in their hands. Objects and decorations from those times still litter the gigantic rooms, some more than 30 meters by 75 meters. In hutaakan times this area had streets and houses but only traces of the foundations remain now. There are old blood stains and bones in several places, residues of ancient battles. Just for fun, The Last One gave superior intelligence to some Rockfangs and Ropers, and now they are organizing themselves and have one of their nests in this area, with a whole series of tunnels leading to other levels that could prove quite dangerous to invade.
The Last One also placed an Undead Chimera in this area. The monster does not attack the rockfangs and ropers but will attack any other person roaming the area.
After the Darkers arrival, the Chimera will be destroyed, while they’ll try to find a sort of arrangement with the rockfangs and the ropers, which they consider interesting creatures.
15 - The walls and grounds of this area are pocketed with many hidden caches, left by the inhabitants over the centuries' reconstructions. Among the coins, heirlooms, and precious (though nonmagical) weapons, here PC’s could also find a bag of holding, muzzle of training, and a lamp of long burning.
16 - Hall of the gnoll king.
This room was used by the gnolls as the main hall of their king. The gnoll leader and his guards were indeed slain here by the invading ogres and giants in 603 AC, and the Last One obviously reanimated them when he took the ruins in 227 AC. Even if only dust and bones remained of them, he not only brought them back from death but turned them into vampires. So now the gnoll king Vudish (HD 10) and his 4 guards (HD8) dwell patiently here and in the next room, happy for the moment to kill the occasional adventurers that come in this area. The guards sleep in coffins here by day, heavy stone slabs protecting them from light and two bronze golems (former hutaakan statues, treat them as obsidian golems with HD6) created by The Last One to protect them and the king when they sleep. Even by night the king is often alone in area 17.
The gnolls occasionally cooperate with rockfangs and ropers of area 15 to slay adventurers, but they do not like Haishin’t (area 20) and avoid him entirely, unless forced to fight along him by The Last One’s will. They are loyal to the Last One and believe he’ll lead them to more glory and revenge against the enemies that killed them.
After the Darkers take control, the gnoll guards will be destroyed, while Vudish could manage to escape, see area 17. The bronze golems will be reused by them with the same purpose, to attack intruders that enter the room and do not know an appropriate passing word.
16 - The 4 gnoll guards have magical weapons and armors (+1) and several more trinkets, coins and jewels they stole mostly from around the city or from unfortunate adventurers in the last centuries. The DM could decide randomly what other treasures they might have.
17 - Gnoll king room.
This was the throne room of the gnoll king. The elaborate seat and palanquin, decorated with skins and bones of enemies, humans and not, is still in the south west corner. Vudish, the gnoll king, often dwells here by night, while by day he’s usually inside his coffin, once the sarcophagus of an hutaakan priest that he has redecorated his own way, and that sits on the southeast corner of the great room. Vudish keeps pets, giant rats and bats that he’ll throw against opponents to have time to fight or, if cornered, to flee. It will be only a momentary retreat however, as Vudish will pursue and try to slay anyone who dared to violate his private room.
After the Darkers arrive they will try to destroy Vudish but, at the DM’s discretion, he could be able to escape in level 10 to join the Last One.
17 - Under Vudish’s coffin there is a secret cache with money, jewelry and magical objects, at least a wand of illusion, a potion of invulnerability and any other object the DM deems appropriate.
18 - Former temple of Kagyar
Though the gnolls conquered the city from dwarves in 912 AC and almost destroyed this temple, they were never able to reuse it for their purposes, as the temple was infested. Indeed, a powerful Ghost (HD14) dwells here, unable to leave. It’s Daim, the dwarf cleric that fell trying to protect the temple from the gnolls. Vudish (area 17) and Hashin’t (area 20) would never admit it, but they are in fact quite scared of Daim, as the Last One commanded them to destroy him but they failed. The Last One thought he would have to do the job himself, but then he found a better way. He’s tormenting Daim from afar with vision of his failure, and is convincing him that the Starlake has been used already by Thanatos’ followers, and now the domain of the Lord of Death is spreading from Karameikos to Rockhome, and all the dwarves will be exterminated. Daim tries to fight back, but he is still bound to his temple and cannot fight The Last One effectively, unless someone helps him.
After the Darkers take control they will be able to bring Daim to their side. His faith in Kagyar has in fact been shaken too much by centuries of undeath, and he will embrace Nyx, unless the PC’s can find him before the Darkers and bring him to their side.
18 - Daim has a secret cache of potions, scrolls and magical objects once belongings of the temple, that he managed to hide from his enemies. He would give them to allies who are willing to assist him against The Last One.
19 - Former baths.
The ruined stair from room 19 in level 2A (in Threshold magazine issue 4) descend to the northeast corner of this room, a former hutaakan bath area of which almost nothing is left.
The corpses of five adventurers lie in the southeastern corner, slain by The Last One personally almost 4 centuries ago. Not much is left of them but as they came from the once Kingdom of Achelos, their possessions, weapons and coins have great historical value. The Last One will animate them as skeletons (but with HD3) when the Darkers attack.
After the Darkers arrival the five skeletons will be destroyed and removed, the area cleared a bit to prepare it for future uses,
19 - Haishin’t (of room 20, below) is often in this area too but he’ll retreat toward the pool as soon as he spots someone, to better use the aid of his water termites, sending the ghouls to attack first.
20 - The Pool.
Here lives Haishin’t, a Nuckalavee, with his hideous court of 2d10 ghouls and a colony of giant water termites. No one knows for certain the history of nuckalavees, but the most common story says they’re a tribe of undead centaurs, cursed for having committed some terrible crime. Haishin’t isn’t really willing to talk about his past, but could be forced too. He’ll send the ghouls and the termites to fight, and if the fight goes badly he will sink into the muddy pool and through the nixies ways he will go to level 6 and then report to The Last One.
After the Darkers arrival, Haishin’t will be destroyed or will escape to level 10 to join the Last One’s troops, as the DM prefers. His ghouls will be destroyed, while the termites will probably find refuge in the nixies ways. Eventually the Darkers will purify the waters, but it will take years before the pool will be used again as a bath.
20 - At the bottom of the pool there is a submerged passage eventually leading to the nixies ways and therefore up to the well in upper Kotesh (Level 1, area 7, in issue 2 of Threshold magazine) and down to level 6, the Dark Fairies level. Obviously it is very dangerous to try to use these passages.
21 - The former orc king rooms
The orc vampire Tumog and his five human vampire thralls (former Darkers) lurk here, as happy to slay passing adventurers as Hashin't and Vudish. The orc and gnoll vampires and the nucklavee cannot suffer one another, as everyone of them thinks he should be the only master of this level, so clever PC’s could even succeed in turning one against the others.
This area was once the center of the orc king’s power, but later the dwarves used it as storage and the gnolls as burial ground, so not much is left of orc times, the orcish objects were later brought much later by Tumog, who also found several gnoll tombs and pillaged them for coins, weapons and armors.
After the Darkers take control they will kill Tumog (or at least they will try to) and eventually they’ll also dig the area searching for any useful or historical objects, but it could take months or even years before they have the time to do it. The Darkers will obviously try to turn their former comrades (Tumog’s thralls) against him, and will probably succeed.
21 - Digging the area would result in several more findings of ancient orc and gnoll tombs, but it would take several days to do this.
22 - Gnoll room, former bath area
Once part of the hutaakan bath, this area was used as living quarters by orcs and gnolls. Now Haishin’t, his ghouls and his termites often wander here (from areas 19 and 20), therefore critters are rarely found here (half the chance) and the whole room is clearer than many others.
After the Darkers take control they will clean the area but it will take time before they will be able to rebuild and use again the whole former bath area.
22 - The south east corner has a pile of weapons and objects amassed here by Haishin’t for future uses, mostly old gnoll weapons and armors, some coins and other objects.
23 - Gnoll room, former bath area
The same as area 22 above.
After the Darkers take control the remains will be removed. If the adventurers were Darkers however they will be reanimated as Uncorporeals (see Mirror of Eternal Night in Threshold issue 1, page 146) and will dwell here unless given a mission or new bodies.
23 - Beside a pile of weapons and object in the north west corner, as room 22, the remains of five adventurers are also piled here. The DM could decide that they have interesting objects or maybe clues about their mission, as they could be Darkers, followers of Ixion, Hel or any other immortal who discovered Koskatep and send someone to investigate it.
24 - Former market place
This was a huge square in hutaakan, orcish, dwarven and gnollish times, always used as marketplace. Remains of stalls and merchandises centuries old still litter the floor, and the area has a double chance to attract critters.
After the Darkers arrive they will eliminate the Black Pudding and slowly clear the litter, in the hope of being able to use the marketplace again somewhere in the future.
24 - A big black pudding is thriving among the debris, engulfing anything and anyone who wanders by. Inside it several interesting objects could be found. The Last One can also animate 2d20 skeletons here and will do so when the Darkers attack.
25 - Former shrine of Valerias
Once a shrine to Valerias, this place was smeared and damaged by orcs, ignored by dwarves and avoided by gnolls, as they found it disquieting. Therefore the original statues and frescoes dedicated to the goddess of love are still partly visible here, even if damaged.
Under the former altar there is a tombstone, once dedicated to a priest of Valerias. It can be opened with some efforts, to reveal a tall, apparently human-like female, with greenish skin and strange clothes.
After the Darkers arrive, they will found Biree’s tomb and will speak to her. She will be able to resist The Last One’s commands, but she’ll not immediately join the Darkers either. Depending on who will be able to influence here, Biree could become a powerful ally of the party she’ll choose, a priest of Benekander4 or anything else the DM will decide.
25 - The occupant of the tomb isn’t the original priest of Valerias, as The Last One destroyed her long ago. It’s Biree-67F, a cyborg5 that the Last One somehow found and decided to use for its purposes. The Last One indeed succeeded in changing the cyborg program, but made an error in leaving it in this shrine, where Valerias’ power hasn’t been broken. The immortal was able to slowly influence the cyborg through the centuries and now, should the Last One awaken or someone discover her, Biree could effectively decide not to obey him, even if she could need some guidance and persuasion from the PC’s.
THE BATTLE IN THIS LEVEL
When the Darkers will first attack, the Last One will send against them skeletons from areas 2, 8, 11, 19 and 24, the wraiths in area 9, the zombies in area 12, the golem and the wraiths in area 13, the troll ghoul of area 14, the undead chimera of area 15, and eventually also Mough (area 6), Jevugh and his zombies (area 7), the gnoll king and his minions (area 16 and 17), Haishin’t and his minions (area 20), Tumog and his vampires (area 21). The latter three in particular will be very unwilling to risk their lives and will survive the battle, as will V’ugrax (area 4), because The Last One will not employ him the first battle, but will put him in command of the others, much to their displeasure, when he’ll decide to strike back at the Darkers.
In the first battle The Last One will also try to employ Feyogh (area 5), Adrian (area 9), Enialee (area 11), the rockfangs and ropers (area 15), but they all will resist and defy him and will join the Darkers almost immediately. The same goes for Tumog’s human vampire thralls (area 21).
Daim (area 18) and Biree-67F (area 25) could instead be persuaded later by the Darkers, but they could also join another party or the PC’s. Hasiq (area 12) will never join The Last One or the Darkers, nor other parties unless aligned with Pflarr, Ixion or another immortal determined to fight entropy.
1 Several details of this history come from my History of Traladara (http://pandius.com/tralhist.html). Other histories of the region may differ, as the one presented in issue 1 of Threshold magazine (History of Karameikos by Simone Neri, page 37), but this timeline could easily fit into them too.
2 As explained in issue 1 of Threshold magazine (Mirror of Eternal Night, page 144), Koskatep is the center of a millennia old struggle between Nyx, Ixion, Thanatos and Hel.
3 Adrian is technically undead, similar to an Undecayed (a zombie that retains memory, intelligence and almost a normal aspect, see Mirror of Eternal Night in Threshold issue 1, page 146), that The Last One killed, animated and mind controlled.