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Karrast, Dwarven Gold (Koskatep Level 4)by Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 6
Karrast, Dwarven Gold
by Francesco Defferrari (Sturm)
An offshoot of Loktal’s Glittering Realm, according to ancient chronicles, the exact location of the city of Karrast is now lost to historians and adventurers, even though many have searched for it during the centuries. The dwarves took it from orcs and lost it to gnolls, and it seems they held it for only a few decades, yet the fame of Karrast was great at the time, a haven of civilization in a land of humanoids and monsters.
From “Lost and fallen dwarven cities”, by Thoric Redhand Buhrodar, son of Dorto, Rockhome, 998 AC.
Secrets of Koskatep, Level 4
This level can be reached only by going down from room 13 of Level 3 (Ranesh, a city of four people, published in Issue 5 of Threshold magazine). The PCs will find themselves in Level 4, Karrast, a dwarven city that was previously the red orc city of Rak and the great temple of Pflarr of the hutaakan city of Ranekek.
The text below reports 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 FOUR, DWARVEN GOLD
Dwarves occupied the place for a short time around 950 BC, taking it from the orcs but quickly losing it to the gnolls. Their gold and crafts were also taken long ago, leaving behind only some good stonemasonry here and there. This level was also part of the hutaakan settlement before, in particular the temple of Pflarr, of which very small traces are left. It is inhabited by a strong and dangerous undead dwarf.
The secret: A well hidden stash of dwarven gold (and hutaakan gold) lies under the floor of the largest hall in this level. Buried with it there is the dwarf ruler of the time, who will awaken from death as a powerful mummy to defend his treasure.
After the Darkers destroy the undead dwarf, they will create five guardian golems out of old dwarven statues. These will attack anyone who does not know the passing words.
Relevant history (expanded from issue 1 of Threshold)1
1412 BC: After the time of the Nosferatu Kings 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 Faerdinel2, as well as the Nithian empire.
1257 BC: Wogar’s 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: Gnoll invasion, Pflarkhepet is sacked and hutaakans and humans are 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 grey orcs escaped from the Shires, the Greyslayers, settle 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: After the defeat of Loktal Ironshield in the Shires, the dwarves of Karrast, left isolated, are soon overwhelmed by the gnolls, who build their own city of Ranesh over the ruins. Shamans of Ranivorus and Thanatos begin to study the Starlake3.
The Random Critters table of level 2B (in issue 3 of Threshold magazine) and the Wandering Parties table may apply here if the DM wishes so. In this case there is a 1% chance on 1d100 in each room that a Wandering Party will be encountered, and probably the debris blocking the staircase coming down from level 3 above will already have been partially cleared.
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. One such follower could try to join the PCs to explore this level. In this case it’s likely that Gilas’ spectres will attack the party right away (See Room 1 below).
The initial layout of this level was the great Temple of Pflarr 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 the larger city of Ranekek, that later was occupied and modified by orcs and dwarves, and later by gnolls too (Ranesh, or Level 3, in issue 5 of Threshold magazine). Ranekek-Rak-Karrast, i.e. this fifth level of Koskatep, was therefore inhabited by three very different people (hutaakan, orcs and dwarves, as the gnolls buried it fearing the presence of dwarven undead, who are still present in the level).
The surviving parts of The Great Temple of Pflarr are depicted in yellow in the map. The huge temple area still has many of its original wall decorations, both paintings and bas reliefs, but statues, wooden and cloth objects have been mostly destroyed or have decayed. Originally an open air temple, the structure became a subterranean level already in hutaakan times, when what is now Level 3 (in Issue 5 of Threshold magazine) was built over it. Level 5 below was used as storage and treasury in hutaakan times.
The parts added by orcs, i.e. the city of Rak, are depicted in brown. In the 67 years in which they held the city, they closed all the windows of the temple, built some new walls and erected five round houses in the front courtyard, to be used as dwellings, later partially destroyed by the dwarves. Orcs used the level above (Level 3) only as burial grounds, while the Orc king, his chiefs, shamans and most of his forces inhabited Level 5 (in Issue 7 of Threshold magazine). Level 4 here housed only the dwellings of females, children and low-ranking orcs.
The parts added by the dwarves of the city of Karrast are in red. They had the city for just 52 years, so they didn’t have the time to renovate much the level, even though massive walls were added in the main courtyard. The dwarven city was mostly developed here in Level 4, while Level 5 below was mostly sealed and Level 3, above, was mainly used by dwarven soldiers and military installation.
When the gnolls conquered the city in 912 BC, they slaughtered all the dwarves and sacked this level, but they did not inhabit it as an undead dwarf was rumored to dwell here, and sometimes those who had to go to the levels below (up to the Starlake in Level 7) disappeared mysteriously. This level is still even more silent and eerie than the above ones, Indeed Gilas (see Room 28) and her spectres control this level since almost two thousand years, fighting at the beginning against the gnolls, then against ogres, Darkers and minions of The Last One. The only people she left undisturbed in the past were the priest of Ixion that reached this area, but she didn’t trust them much either, so was never formally allied with them. In the last century The Last One has multiply his efforts to destroy her, endlessly sending minions from above and below, but so far Gilas has resisted.
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 area is completely dark if PCs do not bring light. If they do bring light, of course, it makes the party quite visible.
Map of Karrast, Level 4
1 - The Staircase and the Dwarven hallway.
Former entrance to the temple, this staircase comes down from area 13 of Level 3 (in issue 5 of Threshold magazine) and in hutaakan times led to a big open court of 125x90 meters (400x300 ft), where later the orcs built several circular houses and that the dwarves divided in six houses and a hallway. The hallway is now 75 meters (250 ft) long and 9 meters (30 ft) wide. For some times gnoll still used it and keep it clear, but eventually they closed the level for fear of the dwarven undead. Two spectres (HD7) dwell here, posted by Gilas (see Room 28). As all the other spectres in this level, they will ask The Question: “Whom do you serve?”. They can tell if someone lies4, and they will attack the party if there are followers of The Last One and clerics of Thanatos among them. They will not immediately attack followers of Nyx or other immortals, or unaligned adventurers (with whom Gilas is willing to parley, waiting for them in area 19). The spectres however will not tell PCs about Gilas or where to meet her, unless they’re dwarves or clerics of Kagyar.
In life, the spectres, Tivan and Shialia, were followers of Ixion, killed by The Last One in 227 AC, reanimated by him and freed from his grasp by Gilas later. They could narrate their story to PCs aligned with Ixion or sympathetic immortals5.
Six doors opens in the hallway, leading to areas 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. They have been long ago partially smashed or burned by gnolls, but most of them still stand, as they were sturdy and reinforced double wooden dwarven doors. The great double doors at the end of the hallway were long ago destroyed by invading gnolls. Pieces still lay around.
1 - There is a pit trap with spikes in the hallway between the first and the second set of doors. It wasn’t enough to stop gnolls, but Gilas decided to reactivate it to stop intruders. The spectres could warn PCs of the traps if the encounter with them hasn’t been hostile.
The Darkers will try to parley with the spectres. They will probably refuse to join them and could even attack them, as former followers of Ixion, but Gilas eventually will probably find an agreement with them, at least temporary (see also Room 28).
2 - First Dwarven house
This area of 55x33 meters (180x100 ft) was once part of the big open court, then it was used as housing by orcs and dwarves. The walls of a circular orcish house still survive inside, while the several wooden houses that dwarves had built inside have decayed and crumbled. Three spectres (HD7) dwell here, once Darkers who came with Lord Vudar around 818 AC6. They are under Gilas’ control, but could resist her and break free if the PCs are aligned with Nyx. Also, they will not attack if Gilas has already decided to let the PCs pass in Room 1.
2 - In the south right corner of this area there is a shaft where a variety of orcs item were stored by dwarves after their conquest of the city. The items include pottery, weapons, headdresses, capes, pipes and many other things that remind of Atruaghin artisanship.
After the Darkers arrive the spectres will immediately side with them.
3 - Second Dwarven house, former Shrine
This area still contains a shrine that in hutaakan times was dedicated to several minor Immortals. The orcs didn't destroy it and the dwarves repaired it, but now the shrine is quite damaged by the passing of time. Three spectres dwell here, one was a priest in life but he has forgotten of which immortal. He looks human, and a priest of Ssu-ma will be able to remind him that he was his patron too. The second spectre is Khainet, an hutaakan female, once a wizard who died defending the city from the red orcs. The third is Marcus, once a Thyatian scout killed by Traladaran rebels in 910 AC.
3 - The possessions of the three spectres are still in this area, where all three were killed in different times. All three have unresolved matters and could reveal the locations of their objects to PCs willing to aid them. Nuf, the priest of Ssu-ma, wants his journal brought to the church. The journal will also allow him to remember his name and story, but he lost it below in Level 5. (The DM could decide that Nuf was an avatar of Ssu-ma, thus increasing the importance of the journal for the church). Khainet wants to know about the survival of her people, so she could be satisfied if PCs tell her about the Valley of Hutaaka. Marcus wants to know if his daughter’s descendants are still alive. There are indeed several still living in Luln.
After the Darkers arrive, they will try to persuade the spectres to join them. Marcus could accept but the other two probably won't.
4 - Third Dwarven house
This area was another part of the great front court of the hutaakan temple, that orcs and dwarves divided for housing. Remains of ancient houses still lay around. A powerful ghost (HD11) dwells here, lone survivor of a previous attack by minions of The Last One. Cydruk in life was an half orc priest of Thanatos who died fighting Ixion's followers. He is now determined to triumph over his enemies and is searching for a way to sneak up on Gilas when she's alone to destroy her. One such way could be to follow the PCs to her.
4 - The Last One may eventually send more minions to aid Cydruk, or he could join the others that recently arrived in area 17.
After the Darkers arrive they will destroy or chase Cydruk away, but he could be able to escape to the lower levels to join The Last One again.
5 - Fourth Dwarven house
This area is similar to area 4. A lone spectre dwells here, formerly under Gilas’ control but long since freed from her grasp. Kuv, in life an experienced thief and a retainer of the priests of Ixion that took Koskatep in 95 AC7, was really a spy for the church of Thanatos. Gilas awake him from death long ago to fight minions of The Last One, but Kuv betrayed and tried to destroy her, swore allegiance to The Last One but escaped his control too. Kuv is a shady character that could try to convince PCs that he was a follower of a faith they could sympathize with, then betray them when it’s most convenient for him.
5 - The Last One may eventually try to contact Kuv again to use him somehow. He finds Kuv amusing, and that’s the reason why he hasn’t destroyed him yet.
After the Darkers arrive Kuv will obviously side with them immediately, only to wait for the best occasion to betray them to The Last One, if that can suit him.
6 - Fifth Dwarven house, Orcish house
This area of 55x24 meters (180x80 ft) was once part of the great main courtyard in front of the temple, before the orcs built their circular house here and the dwarves raised great walls to build their houses. The dwarves had once subdivided the area further with wooden walls, but those are now decayed or destroyed. One great orcish circular house still survives inside this area. Some common objects still lay around, including some fine pottery jars. Surprisingly, most of them are of red orc craftsmanship, somehow similar to modern atruaghin clans, and not dwarven.
The south wall of the orc room isn’t completely closed, as once the temple facade was partially opened with great hutaakan shaped support columns. The orcs heavily damaged them, while the dwarves partially tried to restore them and resculpted one of them in the shape of a dwarf, as it was too heavily damaged to be repaired. Madur, in life a dwarven sculptor, is the lone spectre “living” here. He is only partially aware of being dead and keeps trying to repair the damaged columns. Gilas gave up trying to order him around long ago.
6 - A fine red orcish jar decorated with stylized birds has retained some magical property, as it bestow a protection spell on anyone filling it with water and washing himself with this water. However the jar is quite heavy and cumbersome to carry around.
After the Darkers arrive they will promise Madur a new body, so that he could continue his work. Madur will be happy to join them if they give him this chance.
7 - Sixth Dwarven house, Orcish house
This area is very similar to area 6. Four spectres dwell here, often bickering loudly among themselves. In life, two of them, Mivos and Anya, were priests of Ixion who explored the ruins in 899 AC and were killed by minions of The Last One. The other two, Tawyn and Midu, were Darkers of Lord Vudar killed here in 817 AC. Indeed Midu killed Tawyn because he discovered the latter was a spy of the Church of Thanatos. In Life, Mivos and Anya were bickering former lovers. The result is that the four hate each other, often fighting among themselves and ignoring visitors in the area. They haven’t destroyed each other yet because ultimately they all fear the final death.
7 - The possessions of the four still are in this area, including two magic weapons and some old potions (high chance of poisoning) and scrolls. There are also some orcish and dwarvish trinkets (semi-precious stones, silver and such - nothing particularly valuable).
After the Darkers arrive they’ll try to recruit the four spectres, and they would likely succeed as soon as they promise the four to free them from the presence of the others. Tawyn could however eventually betray the Darkers and try to contact The Last One.
8 - Orc corridor
This area was once part of the first great column hall of the hutaakan temple. The orcs divided it in two halves and created this corridor between them.
8 - The dwarves kept the orcish corridor intact and placed a dart trap in it. The trap was destroyed by the gnolls but rebuilt by Gilas against corporeal followers of The Last One and other intruders, and it's still active. The spectres in previous rooms could warn PCs about it, if Gilas decided to parley with them.
After the Darkers arrive, the trap will be disarmed, but they could always reactivate it if expecting intruders.
9 - Western major Column hall
This was once a huge columned hall contiguous with areas 8 and 10, now reduced to a 37x40 meters (120x130 ft) hall divided by great and decorated columns, that still have hutaakan bas reliefs. A window on the left wall has long been closed by orcs and their right wall is still standing. The north side of the room is partially opened to area 6, except for the great and now ruined hutaakan-shaped support columns, once the front of the temple. The area was used as housing by the orcs and as a burial place by dwarves. Metallic noises can be often heard here (see Room 15).
Three spectres (HD7) always dwell here. Dwaic was a dwarven priest in life, a close friend of Gilas. He was and somehow still is in love with her, and would give everything to be loved back, but Gilas is too focused on her fight to acknowledge that. Noril, in life a young acolyte, died prematurely from a malady and she is now eager to fight The Last One and his minions. Korlum was a warrior. He is sad and tired of the unlife but will continue to serve because he considers that his duty, as he failed in life when was defeated by gnoll warriors.
9 - The dwarves used the area as burial place for their distinguished priests, so now almost every massive column has one hidden tomb. The occupants could be dead or undead at the DM’s discretion.
After the Darkers arrive, they will try to recruit the spectres and any remaining undead dwarf. It’s unlikely however that any of them will accept to join their ranks.
10 - Eastern major Column hall
This was once a huge columned hall contiguous with areas 8 and 9, now reduced to a 37x40 meters (120x130 ft) hall divided by great and decorated columns, that still have hutaakan bas reliefs. The two great windows on the right wall has long been closed by orcs and their left wall is still standing. The north side of the room is partially opened to area 7, except for the great and now ruined hutaakan-shaped support columns, once the front of the temple. The area was used by orcs as housing, like area 9.
A group of adventurers is camping in this area, trying to decide if they should run back up after a couple of nasty encounters in Level 5 below. (So far they haven’t been attacked by the spectres of this level). They were five minrothaddans: 2 water elves, Elren (male, fighter, deceased) and Elera (female, thief); a wood elf, Yipki (male, cleric, deceased); a human, Matan (male, cleric); and a halfling, Copper (male, thief), Two of them (Yipki and Matan) are clerics of Ruaidhri Hawkbane, and lead the others this far hunting a powerful devil swine. Their prey is now among the dark fairies on Level 6 and, as only three of them are left now, they are thinking they’ll be unable to complete their mission. Obviously, they’ll be glad to help the PC’s in exchange for assistance in tracking their prey. If the PC’s have a werecreature or a cleric of Zirchev among them, they could quickly become hostile. If asked which way they came from, they’ll try to avoid the question. In fact, they came from the nixies’ ways8, arriving in Level 6 directly, having bargained their way with the nixies; but they were tricked, ambushed by the dark fairies, and had to escape to Level 5, where Elren and Yipki were killed by the undead orcs. They know of the passage going down from Room 21, but not of the one in Room 31.
10 - A secret tomb under the bottom right column houses the tomb of Wyrlum Lokar, founder of Karrast, general of Loktal, who was killed in 915 BC fighting the orcs. He was lavishly buried with hutaakan and dwarven gold, enchanted armor, shield and weapons and several precious objects. If his tomb is discovered, Wyrlum will rise from the dead as a powerful mummy (with 8HD) and attack those daring to plunder his resting place. The dwarves used the area as burial place for their distinguished warriors, so now almost every massive column has one hidden tomb. The occupants could be dead or undead at the DM’s discretion.
The Darkers do not like much followers of Ruaidhri, but they’ll let them leave peacefully if they promise not to return. When and if they discover Wyrlum’s tomb, they’ll try to bring him to their side. Wyrlum could accept their offer, depending on the DM’s decision or the PCs actions.
11 - Upper east corridor
This was part of the courtyard surrounding the temple when it was first built, then became a walkway for priests and pilgrims, walls decorated with stories of the church of Pflarr. Almost nothing is left now of the ancient bas reliefs, as orcs mostly used the areas as storage and dwarves as workshops. Ancient benches and dwarven instruments still lay here, but most of the wooden benches are crumbling. The area seems empty, but a faint music can be heard here (see Room 12).
11 - This area has no spectres because Hrovgh, an half mad gnoll ghost (HD14) occasionally appears here (30% chance each time). Hrovgh cannot be talked to as he is only partially aware of being undead, and he just mutters to himself.
After the Darkers arrive they will destroy Hrovgh and eventually they’ll clear the area of the debris lying around.
12 - Central eastern hall
As Room 11 above, this was part of the courtyard surrounding the temple when it was first built. Almost nothing is left now of the ancient hutaakan bas relieves, as orcs mostly used the areas as storage and dwarves as workshops. Ancient benches and dwarven instruments still lay here, but most of the wooden benches are crumbling. A strong music can be heard here, and soon the violinist will appear (spectre, HD7). The violinist will play for a while, then he’ll ask the same question as the other spectres, and will attack if not satisfied.
In life Farur, the violinist, wasn’t a dwarf of Karrast, but a dwarf who lived in the Kingdom of Achelos, many years later, and was killed by orcs in 425 AC. He could relate his story to interested PCs.
12 - The violin that Farur seems to play is an illusionary one, but the real violin is still hidden in the room, with a protection from evil 10’ radius when played. Farur would give away the location to PCs only if they are very sympathetic to him, i.e. they ask him his story, offer to help him, prove to know music and like his playing.
After the Darkers arrive they’ll try to persuade Farur to join them. The violinist could accept, as he would love to have some company.
13 - The Well
This serie of rooms contained the well and the cleansing room of the temple in hutaakan times. The well is still here and was used as such also by orcs and dwarves. Orcs made four rooms where once there were once three rooms only and an open area connected to room 14. Dwarves later sculpted six columns in shape of dwarves, in a style quite different from modern dwarven art. Five columns, two here and three in area 14, still stand. The sixth column crumbled long ago.
13 - A secret compartment in the ancient cleansing room, very hard to find, contains a small copper rod shaped as a stylized hutaakan. The rod has the power of purifying water and curing poison upon contact once a week.
After the Darkers arrive they will make the five columns into guardian stone golems, that will attack anyone entering the area without saying “Great Nyx be praised and the Great Night might come”.
14 - Former minor Column hall
This area was once a greater hall, but the orcs divided it from area 13 with crude walls that still stand. Three dwarven columns as in area 13 stand here.
Metallic noises can be often heard here (see Room 15).
14 - A lone spectre sometimes appears here (only 5% chance), her name is Falis and in life she was a dwarven child who died with her parents during the gnoll attack. She’s still searching for them. If the PCs carry her around other spectres will not attack them and Gilas will be pleased with them. If Falis is reunited with her father, Korlum of area 9, or with her mother, Nais of area 23, all three will hug, smile and disappear.
After the Darkers arrive the three columns will be turned in guardian golems (see area 13). If the Darkers discover Falis and her story they’ll try to reunite the child with her family, proposing to all three to continue unlife with new bodies as undecayed.
15 - Former Laboratory and Treasury, Forge
This rooms were the laboratory and the minor treasury of the hutaakan temple, then orcs and dwarves turned the area in a workshop and a forge. Now the chimney above the hearth is long closed by earth and debris, yet there are two dwarves busy working here… or apparently busy. The noise they make can be easily heard also in rooms 9, 14, 18, 19. The two dwarves, Farod and Baled, are spectres, and the former blacksmiths of ancient Karrast. Gilas raised them, but they aren’t fully aware of being dead. They will speak to PCs and attack them or not depending on their answers, i.e. they will attack if they consider the PCs intruders, but will leave them alone if they give a good explanation for being here.
15 - Hidden beneath the forge are four dwarven magical items: armor, shield, helm, and hammer. The two dwarves were forging these for the king.. They will reveal the location of such items only to a dwarf they could consider worthy of it. If a dwarven PC is in the party, they will in fact ask about his or her past deeds.
The Darkers will try to persuade Farod and Baled to join them. The two blacksmiths however will endlessly argue among themselves, unable to reach a decision, and eventually the Darkers will leave them alone.
16 - Upper west corridor
This area is very similar to area 11. An ogre spectre (HD12) dwells here. Guras In life was a general of the ogre king Kulfan around 600 BC, but he betrayed the king and escaped here to avoid punishment. He was later killed by Darkers but remained undead and restless in this area. Eventually he helped the Church of Ixion after 95 AC and, even after their defeat, continued to fight the minions of The Last One and so joined the cause of Gilas. In life Guras betrayed Kulfan for simple thirst of power, but the centuries have made him wiser and he is now a sincere sympathizer of Ixion, willing to fight against any minion of the darkness, be it a follower of Nyx, Hel, Thanatos or any other dark immortal.
16 - The full armor, mace and shield of Guras still lay in a hidden spot in this area. The ogre would give them only to an ogre PC without sympathies for the Darkers.
After the Darkers arrive they’ll try to recruit Guras too, but he’ll adamantly refuse and probably will be destroyed fighting them.
17 - Central eastern hall
This area is similar to Room 11. Normally 2 spectres left by Gilas dwell here, but a party of minions of The Last One has just slain them to invade this level. The party may include any number of wraiths (HD5), spectres (HD7), phantoms (HD10) and ghosts (HD14) depending on the PCs levels. In life they all were followers of Thanatos or other dark immortals like Leptar or Orcus, who entered Koskatep in the last eight centuries, since The Last One dominates the ruins.
17 - The undead will try to avoid other spectres to find Gilas and slay her. Gilas will fight them herself with the aid of all the spectres she can summon. If defeated, The Last One party will regroup here for another attempt, or to return to their master if they feel the odds are insurmountable.
If the Darkers encounter such minion they’ll try to persuade them to join their cause, or they will destroy them all. Some of the undead could join them, especially if they have been Darkers or followers of Nyx in life.
18 - Offertory room or Dwarven armory
This was an offertory room in hutaakan times, then became a warehouse for the orcs and an armory for the dwarves. Three spectres dwell here, Hyvis, Kum and Tyris: mother, father and daughter, all gnomes. Hyvis was a sort of librarian In Karrast and her husband and daughter helped her. She was forced to leave the library (see area 29) long ago by The Dark Thing, and she’s still worried about the books. She has tried to help Gilas defeat The Thing many times, barely escaping with her unlife. Hyvis, Kum and Tyris still love each other and do not want to die simply because they are afraid death will part them.
Metallic noises can be often heard here (see Room 15).
18 - Rusty pieces of dwarven armory still lay around in this area. At the DM’s discretion some pieces could still be intact, either because they are magical or because they are made of very durable material, such as adamantite.
After the Darkers arrive they’ll offer to give the gnomish family bodies and access to the library again. Even if the three gnomes could not ask more than that, they’ll still refuse, as they are still loyal followers of Kagyar and do not want to join Nyx’s cause. The Darkers will be impressed by their bravery and will just confine them in this area for the time being, instead of destroying them. Hyvis and her family will appreciate the courtesy and will refuse to fight directly the Darkers, but they could help sympathetic PCs in other ways.
19 - Offertory rooms or Dwarven guard posts
This area was once the hall in front of Pflarr’s sanctuary. Orcs didn’t used the area much, while dwarves built two guard posts to the left and the right. If the PC’s haven’t been immediately hostile to Gilas’ spectres and if they haven’t a strong allegiance with The Last One, she will be here waiting for them. (See Room 28 for more details about Gilas). She will question PC’s and, as she wears a ring of truth, she should be able to know if they lie. The exact reaction of Gilas should be determined by each DM, but she’ll probably be hostile to anyone wishing to use the Starlake in Level 7 (about which she learnt a great deal during the centuries) or, worse, wishing to reach The Dream of Fire in Level 13 (about which she knows almost nothing, but she understand could be very dangerous in the wrong hands). Followers of Nyx however could persuade her, promising her a new life, as she is now quite detached from Kagyar. Dwarves however could more easily persuade her to aid in restoring the ancient Karrast, resurrecting the dwarven city of old, as that would finally give her eternal rest. She could also be willing to make a temporary alliance with anyone willing to fight The Last One (of whom she doesn’t know much, except that he is a powerful and evil vampire who has occupied the ruins for many centuries, so far slaying everyone who tried to destroy him).
Beside the possible presence of Gilas, two spectres (HD8) also dwell here, former dwarven guards killed in the fall of Karrast. Metallic noises can be often heard here (see Room 15).
19 - Hidden in a secret compartment in the easternmost room of this area there is a surviving copy of the Book of Ranekek, a very rare and precious book chronicling the history of the city from 1412 to 912 BC. Originally an hutaakan book, it was continued by humans and dwarves after 1021 BC. At the DM’s discretion, the book could also contain maps of levels 3, 4 and 5.
After the Darkers arrive, they’ll speak with Gilas here and will probably be able to persuade her (see also Room 28 and The Battle in this level section), unless the PC’s get to her before and are able to win her allegiance.
20 - Purification room
This was a holy room for the hutaakans but is now empty and it’s hard to say for what purpose orcs and dwarves used it, if they did. In orcish times the area was the dwelling of the king’s wives and that’s the reason why two spectres sometimes appear here (20% chance). Vraa and Ishan were two female orcs, killed here with their children by invading dwarves. During the centuries they have destroyed several dwarven spectres. They are not minions of the Last One, even if Gilas thinks so and has failed so far in cornering and destroying them, they just want revenge for the death of their children.
20 - A small, forgotten wooden doll lost in a crack of the floor is the true “hiding place” of Vraa and Ishan. If the doll is burned, the two female spectres will be forever destroyed.
After the Darkers arrive they’ll try to recruit the two female orcs, but they will refuse to join if the Darkers spare the unlife of Gilas and of the other dwarves, whom they still hate.
21 - Eastern passage
This hallway lead to a stair leading below, to Level 5, where once was the storage area of the temple (and later the orcish city), abandoned by the dwarves when they took Koskatep. The area is now usually full of debris, mostly rock and wood, pushed endlessly here by Gilas to hinder intruders from below. There is always a 25% chance that minions of The Last One with a physical body (mummies, vampires and such) will be trying to arrive here from below. Gilas usually leave seven spectres here to warn her of such attempts. They are usually former adventurers who were killed in different times by The Last One or his minions.
21 - The orcs breached the eastern wall to enter the temple when they conquered the hutaakan city, then repaired it, and the reparation is still clearly visible. Inside it, several hutaakan magical objects (rods, wand, figurines, amulets and other things) were hidden by the orcs because they considered them dangerous or cursed. A dwarf PC or a PC who has expertise in building and constructions could realize things were hidden in the wall, at the DM’s discretion.
After the Darkers arrive they’ll try to recruit the spectres. They could join them or not depending on their backgrounds. All of them were in life unaligned adventurers, so they could choose or not to join the cause of Nyx.
22 - Temple of Pflarr, Orcish throne room, Shrine to Kagyar
As this area was sacked and partially burned by gnolls, it seems only debris is left inside, except for some fine dwarven bas reliefs that survived on some walls. This was the original internal shrine to Pflarr, but not much is left of the original hutaakan bas reliefs, nor of the orcish redecoration that took their place. Instead it preserves a dwarven work in progress, as it seems the dwarves were resculpting the walls.
22 - Dorum, a powerful ghost (HD14) and former priest of Kagyar, dwells here. Dorum doesn’t have unresolved matters like the others, he was raised here by Kagyar, several years after his death in this very room, to help Gilas. She doesn’t know that and thinks he is a restless soul just like the others. Dorum doesn’t appear normally unless followers of Thanatos, Nyx, Hel or other entropic immortals are about to overwhelm the level.
After the Darkers arrive, if they’ll be able to strike a deal with Gilas, Dorum will fight them anyway. If Gilas sees that she’ll realize that the dwarf priest was an envoy of Kagyar and will regain faith in her former patron, and she’ll decide to hinder the Darkers’ plans in any way she can. She will however wait for an appropriate time to do so.
23 - Chapels of the heroes and Orcish shrines
This was a chapel dedicated to hutaakan heroes in ancient times, and the rooms were used with similar purpose by orcs and dwarves, rededicated to exalted orcish leaders and later to famous dwarven heroes. Many dwarvish votive offerings still lay around, mostly carved stones or small metal charms. At the time they had almost no value, but now dwarven historians would pay some cash to have them. A spectre dwells here. In life her name was Nais and she had the task to tend to the chapels. She was killed by gnolls before she had the chance to find her daughter and her husband (see area 9 and 14), and that’s the reason why she cannot rest. She asks about her daughter obsessively and attacks anyone not answering her.
23 - Under one of the stone plate in the floor of one room it was hidden a magical orcish weapons, a nasty long sword +2, once belonging to a long forgotten orc leader. The sword will slowly charm his or her bearer to befriend orcs, to the point that he, or she, will try to join an orc tribe somewhere, preferably a red orc one.
After the Darkers arrive they’ll try to reason with Nais, but may be forced to destroy her if they haven’t find her daughter in area 9 before.
24 - Statue of Loktar
This statue of the famous dwarvish king that founded the short-lived Glittering Realm between the modern Five Shires and here was placed here by dwarves. The niche once housed orcish weapons and, before, an unknown and lost hutaakan statue. The statue is still in surprisingly good condition, despite the passage of time.
24 - No one, not even Gilas and The Last One, know this, but the statue is magical and can be animated to fight. Unfortunately the priest that enchanted it was slain by gnolls before he was able to animate the statue, and now only an obscure, small and almost deleted inscription in dwarvish at the base (saying “cobalt word and touch”) could give a clue how to animate it. The statue in fact must be touched by a dwarf with cobalt, saying the word of the mineral in dwarvish at the same time. The statue will not fight against dwarves.
After the Darkers arrive they will not immediately discover the secret of the statue, but eventually will. They could then choose to dispel its magic to avoid it being used against them.
25 - Chapel and Dwarven war room
This was a special chapel of the temple in hutaakan times, where the high priests remains were stored and where was possible to speak with them through “Speak with the Dead”. The orcs destroyed such remains and the room’s decoration to turn it into the private chambers of their king. Dwarves removed everything once again to turn this into a war room, with maps and tactical books. Some of these things still remain here, along with Bofor, a former general of Karrast and now a spectre (HD 11) that Gilas called into undeath to aid her in the fight against the minions of The Last One. Bofor is highly intelligent and has proven to be invaluable in the fight. He’ll be warm and affable with approaching PCs but will fight them to the death if they are enemies of Gilas.
25 - Bofor is immaterial now but his magical armor, hammer and shield are hidden in a secret compartment of this room. Only a dwarven PC able to impress Bofor with his or her valor could receive a clue on the location of such treasure.
After the Darkers arrive, Bofor, highly practical, will support Gilas’ decision to temporarily ally with the followers of Nyx against The Last One. Later he will advise her to get rid of the Darkers too, as he would very much prefer some immortal of the light to rule over Koskatep.
26 - Chapel of the Other Immortals
This area was dedicated to Ixion, Valerias and other immortals considered allied to Pflarr. It seems orcs didn’t damage the walls too much and some hutaakan bas reliefs still survive. The dwarves apparently didn’t change the use of the room, as there are several pottery vases and other small objects that were probably meant as offering to the immortals. Many have been smashed, but some survived. The dwarves also placed some statues here, probably representing immortals or heroes, but it’s impossible to tell now as they have been smashed, probably by the gnolls when they took Karrast. Two spectres (HD10) dwell here, Savos and Mira, two young adventurers and lovers killed here in 407 AC. Savos and Mira are really afraid to fight, as each fear that the other could be killed, and so he, or she, will be left alone.
26 - Among the offering there is a cup representing a dwarven girl. The cup was an object consecrated to Valerias and survived the gnolls’ destruction. It still has magical properties and a faint magical aura. Anyone putting water in it and drinking from the cup will heal all his/her wounds. The cup will no longer work if removed from this room.
After the Darkers arrive Savos and Mira would be happy to join them to have a new life together.
27 - Lower eastern hall
This area contain remains of dwarven workshops, exactly like the rest of the former external courtyard of the temple (areas 11-12-16-17 and 30). The three spectres here are Ratim, a Traladaran rebel killed by Thyatians in 912 AC, Lucius, a Thyatian adventurer killed by minions of The Last One in 931 AC and Jukul, an ogre explorer killed by adventurers in 978 AC. Despite their different background the three get along quite well together and cooperate against trespassers.
27 - The possessions of the three spectres when they were alive are still hidden in the area, along with many dwarven coins and semi-precious stones, but the spectres will not reveal the location of such items.
After the Darkers arrive they will persuade the three spectres to join them.
28 - Secret treasury
This room is only 2 meters (6 ft) wide but 70 meters (230 ft) long. It isn’t connected physically to any other part of the temple, but it’s accessible through a magical gate that opens to anyone who wears the Jackal medallion, a magical object enchanted to this purpose by the priests of Pflarr. The current owner of the medallion and therefore the one who inhabits this room, is Gilas daughter of Kuris, once a cleric of Kagyar in Karrast. When the city fell to orcs she had just found the medallion in a secret hutaakan stash and was studying it. A gnoll blade mortally wounded her and somehow the shock brought her to the secret treasury, where she died, but not finally. Whether an effect of the medallion, her own sadness and rage, or a magical effect of the hundreds of magical objects stashed in the treasury, she returned from death and began punishing her enemies. The gnolls were eventually forced to close this level almost completely, and only strong and numerous parties occasionally dared to venture here to reach the Starlake in level 7. No one can enter this room unless Gilas takes him/her. If anyone kill Gilas and/or steal the medallion, they could be able to enter the room. At the DM’s discretion, the room could still contain the magical treasure of the hutaakan temple, so a great number of magical objects, weapons, scrolls and potions. Certain objects, as the potions, could however be long decayed by now.
28 - Gilas could be considered as powerful as a Spirit (HD20), is corporeal as a revenant, doesn’t look decayed but just pale, and can summon spectres (but doesn’t want to do that much often). She is incredibly fast and surprises her victims 50% of the time, as a revenant. The Last One has tried to destroy her several time, but she always escaped him. His minions do not last much in this level, due to her presence, a fact he considered extremely annoying. He keeps trying to destroy her however, and he’ll eventually win. The most precious object Gilas has is a cup shaped like a female dwarf, that she enchanted herself centuries ago. The cup works as a crystal ball (if you look inside it after filling it with water) and as a scarab of protection (1d6 charges left) so Gilas always has it with her.
After the Darkers arrive, Gilas will obviously confront them and they’ll try to persuade her to join them. Even if she fought them in the past, she has been detached from her patron for so long now that she could accept their offer, unless PC’s meet her before and persuade her otherwise. A dwarven PC’s would probably succeed in persuading her to aid the party and could renovate her faith in Kagyar.
29 - Bottom corridor or dwarven library
This was just a corridor in hutaakan times, then a storage area for food during orcish times, then a library in dwarven times. The librarian and her family (see area 18) stayed here even after death, but they were eventually driven away a few centuries ago by The Dark Thing (HD20). No one, not even Gilas, knows what the Thing is, except that it has the powers of a spectre and a ghost and is certainly a minion of The Last One. Gilas was able to contain it in this area but, despite several attempts, never succeeded in destroying it. She could use the PCs help to fight The Thing.
29 - The Thing is a undead that The Last One created merging several remains of almost destroyed spectres and ghosts. It hasn’t a true personality but rather a collection of disconnected memories, and a lot of pain and hate. Gilas has contained it in this room by placing two Protection from Evil 10’ radius at the two doors of the area. In the room most of the books, some dating back to hutaakan times, are still intact and would be a priceless treasures for sages, wizards and clerics of the world.
After the Darkers arrive they’ll eventually be able to destroy The Thing and will use again the library as such, slowly restoring old shelves and volumes.
30 - Lower western hall
This area too contained dwarven workshops of which remains still lay around, pottery in particular is abundant here. Five spectres dwell here. Three of them - Konur, Balis and Dorum - were dwarves artisans at the times of Karrast, and they do not know why they are still here in the ruins of their old city. Another one, Vidav, was a follower of Thanatos in life. He was killed by Achelos’ soldiers in 856 AC, but was already a deserter and he’s afraid of death, as he fears the dark god will reclaim his soul. The last one, Kazimir, was a priest of Ixion killed by minions of The Last One while exploring this level in 898 AC. Kazimir is more or less their leader and tries to give faith and courage to the others, who would however prefer not to fight anyone.
30 - The magical mace of Kazimir and a ring of protection +1 he wore in life are still hidden in the area. Also several fine dwarven pottery pieces of great value have survived among the rubble.
After the Darkers arrive the five spectres will be divided by their proposal, as Kazimir will not submit to them but Vidav will be eager to join them, and the other three could be persuaded.
31 - Western passage
This hallway of 3x55 meters (10x180 ft) seems devoid of any practical purpose. That’s because it hides a trapdoor leading to level 5. Seven spectres (HD7) dwell here, posted by Gilas (Room 28) to guard this entrance from intruders coming from Level 5 below. They’ll attack intruders coming from above too, however, unless Gilas has decided otherwise.
The spectres were adventurers in life, who died here, all killed by minions of The Last One at various times from 227 AC to recent times. If Gilas will not send them to attack the PCs, they could warn them about their killers.
31 - A hidden hatch in the southernmost part of this passage leads below to level 5. The hatch was hidden because in hutaakan times it led to the temple’s treasury. The orcs however reached the treasury below directly from level 5, and pillaged it. The dwarves discovered this passage but didn’t used it much. The hatch was then left undisturbed until 934 AC, when a group of Thyatian priests of Ixion reached Koskatep and tried to take it from the Last One, but were eventually defeated9. If the hatch is opened the skeleton of a priest, still with clothes and armor, will be discovered. The priest could have magical weapons and armor, at DM’s discretion. He also had in one hand a curious prayer book. Written by a priest of Ixion’s church, the book contains, among several prayers to the sun, many legends and information about Koskatep, the hutaakans, Traladaran history and Pflarr. The book seems to be the source that drew the Thyatian priests here.
After the Darkers arrive, they could succeed in persuading the spectres to join them, even if Gilas doesn’t or if she has only a temporary truce with the Darkers. They will also soon find the hatch and the priest’s book. That would warn them that more priests in the Church of Ixion could learn of Koskatep and eventually come in force.
THE BATTLE IN THIS LEVEL
The DM could decide that there will be no battle in this level, as Gilas, even if she fought the Darkers several times in the past, is now very tired of constant fighting with the minions of The Last One. For this reason she’ll probably not attack the Darkers when they will first come down from Level 3, and will wait for them in area 19. Depending on how the meeting goes, she could join them against The Last One or simply let them pass. If the PC’s have met Gilas before the Darkers arrival, and convinced her not to turn to Nyx, she will probably still aid the Darkers secretly against the undead orcs of Level 5, but then she’ll wait for more allies and a good occasion to fight them too.
Gilas has called many spectres; however each of them will react differently to the situation: some will fight the Darkers anyway even if Gilas will let them pass or allies with them. Those are Tivan and Shialia (area 1), Nais (area 23), Dorum (area 22) and Kazimir (area 30).
Others will fight the Darkers too because they are minions of The Last One (area 4, 11, 17 and 29). Some could survive the first battle to escape below and return later.
Some (the minrothaddan and Wyrlum Lokar in area 10, the female orcs in area 20) are particular cases as explained in their area.
Some will obey Gilas at first when she’ll decide to let the Darkers pass but will be happy join them and will refuse to fight them later when Gilas turns on them. Those are the two Darkers in area 2, Marcus in area 3, Madur in area 6, Midu in area 7, Savos and Mira in area 26, the three in area 27, Vidar in area 30.
Some will obey Gilas, even if they disagree with the temporary alliance with the Darkers. Those are the priest of Ssu-ma and Khainet (area 3), Kuv (area 5, but he could later betray Gilas), Mivos and Anya and Tawyn (area 7, but the latter could later betray Gilas too), the dwarves in area 9, Guras (area 16), the gnomes in area 18, the dwarves in area 19, Bofor in area 25, the dwarves in area 30.
Some will obey Gilas but could later join the Darkers, at the DM’s discretion, as Farur in area 12 and the adventurers in area 21 and 31.
Lastly there are particular cases that will not join any side, as the blacksmiths in area 15.
If for any reason Gilas has not found the time to turn on the Darkers yet when the presumed dead Last One fights back from Level 10 (see issue #1 of Threshold magazine for details about this future occurrence), she will aid the Darkers against Him, as she considers the ancient vampire the biggest threat.
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 Modern Five Shires, see Gaz 08 The Five Shires by Ed Greenwood.
3 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.
4 They could have a specific power or just be very intuitive, at the DM discretion, and therefore the PCs could be able to fool them (and Gilas) with a successful Bluff check or similar.
5 See Akropolis of Kotesh in issue #3 of Threshold magazine
6 See Upper Ruins of Kotesh in issue #2 of Threshold magazine
7 See Akropolis of Kotesh in issue #3 of Threshold magazine
8 See Level 1, Room 7, in issue #2 of Threshold magazine, page 105.
9 See Level 1, The Upper Ruins of Kotesh in issue 2 of Threshold magazine.