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Shadows of Kundrak (Koskatep Level 6)by Francesco Defferrari and Robert J. Nuttman, Jr. from Threshold Magazine issue 8
Shadows of Kundrak
Secrets of Koskatep, Level 6
by Francesco Defferrari (Sturm) and Robert Nuttman (RobJN)
The High Priestess herself destroyed Kosmoteiros, the most sacred city of the Lady of the Night, because Orcus the Evil, Champion of the Black One, had lay siege to it and the walls were about to collapse. The most sacred Starlake had not to fall in the sacrilegious hands of the unworthy, because they would have brought eternal despair to the many worlds. Therefore the High Priestess called forth the Blackest Cloud, and everything was cleansed.
But the Shadows stayed.
From “The Legend of Darkness”, sacred text of the Church of Nyx, compiled at unknown date.
Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The twin suns sink behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Dark Fairies song, as transcribed by a Traladaran adventurer, later beheaded for appalling crimes.
I entered Kundrak with fifty brave brothers and sisters, the best the Lady had blessed with value and bravery in my age. Only I survived, and now I reign over Ieronyx, the new city I founded on the memory of the sacred Kosmoteiros. The Dark Nymphs I banished, but I do not delude myself in thinking they are forever defeated. They just stepped somewhere else to escape us. And my brothers and sisters? I still hear their call in the night. Sometimes I wake with a terror I’ve never known before, fearing they are entrapped somewhere else, in a terrible place from which I don’t know how to free them.
From the chronicles of Lord Keiros, about 1580 BC.
And the Sun King fell in love with the Summer Queen2, Highest lady of the Forest people, and gave her the name Elienor, which meant “My True Light”. And the Queen bore him a radiant and beautiful child and the King loved her so much he gave her the name Ashira, which meant “Queen of the Heavens”. And the worlds were blessed by their love, and scars repaired, enmity forgotten. But one day Ashira looked at the people of the worlds and took pity on them. She asked her father to spare them but the Sun King, as much as he loved his daughter, could not grant her request. Ashira then searched for an answer and discovered the secret of her father. She created The Dream of Fire and for that she was imprisoned in a secret place in the darkness of the earth.
Lost writing of the Church of Ashira3, heretical sect, Azcan empire, approximately 3300 BC.
Koskatep, Level 6
This level can be reached going down from area 7 of Level 5 (Ieronyx, published in Issue 7 of Threshold magazine). The PCs will find themselves in Level 6, Kundrak, a city founded and still inhabited by dark fairies of the Unseelie court.
The text below repeats 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 SIX, FAIRY AND DARK
After the destruction of Taymora, and before Lord Keiros came here, the ruins were inhabited for a short time by some dark fairies aligned with no one. Keiros was able to banish them at the time, but the ancient evil that occupies the ruins awakened them again. They are basically powerful ghosts of several fairy folk, malevolent and mischievous, that will try to hurt anyone passing by in the most creative and funny (to them) possible way.
The secrets: There is a shortcut to avoid this level entirely both in the seventh and in the fifth levels, but it’s hidden by secret doors very difficult to spot.
The Darkers were not really able to defeat the fairies but appeased them, granting them again a corporeal form and the rule of this level. Now the place seems like a twisted, dark forest where dozens of dark fairies live, from sidhe to satyrs to pookas. The dark fairies are really just biding their time to avenge themselves on Lord Keiros, who banished them so long ago. They are willing to ally with anyone who will promise them revenge.
Relevant history (expanded from issue 1 of Threshold)4
1777 BC: To prevent Kosmoteiros from falling into the hands of Thanatos, the priests of Nyx destroy the city with a terrible earthquake. Thousands die and the place is abandoned for many years as seismic activity increases in the area.
1664 BC: After the destruction of Taymora, fairies of the Unseelie court, ancient inhabitants of Krystallac exiled long ago, build their city of Kudrak over the ruins of Kosmoteiros and try to use the Starlake, but do not know of the hidden temple of Ixion below.
1597 BC: Lord Keiros, a Tal nosferatu and follower of Nyx, conquers Koskatep from the dark fairies. Keiros rebuild the city as Ieronyx (sacred to Nyx). Vampiric followers of Thanatos attack several times but are defeated. Former Kundrak is used as storage and laboratories, but from time to time someone disappears in its strange halls.
1412 BC: After the time of the Nosferatu Kings ended with the Traldar crusades against the undead, hutaakans took the city from 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. The hutaakans build over Ieronyx, using the original city of Lord Keiros as storage and treasury, and are unable to locate his hiding place. Kundrak is sealed as the hutaakans perceive some evil oozing from it.
1021 BC: The red orcs sack and conquer Ranekek, renaming it Rak. The orcs make the former storage and treasury of the temple of Pflarr their main city. Below, the dark fairies begin to reappear in Kundrak, trying to exploit the red orcs’ superstitions for their purposes.
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 sent by Loktal Ironshield of the Glittering Realm reaches the Cruth Mountains under the guide of general Wyrlum Lokar. 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. Level 5 is sealed by the dwarves who are unable to completely eradicate the undead orcs that infest it, and so are the levels below it.
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 Starlake5, and establish pacts with the dark fairies of Kundrak.
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.
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. Dark Fairies are again driven away from Kundrak, but they linger in the dark and so the ogres and the followers of Nyx use only some areas of level 6.
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. The priests try to cleanse all the level up to the seventh, so the Dark Fairies must abandon Kundrak completely and are only able to occasionally torment the humans with nightmares.
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.
The Last One discovers the existence of the Dark Fairies in Level 6 and calls them back, forging an alliance with them.
445 - 788 AC: Adventurers from Achelos, ogres and giants or agents of Nyx and Thanatos sometimes reach Level 6, only to be slain, their souls captured by the Dark Fairies.
818 AC: Lord Vudar’s expedition6 eventually reaches Level 6 but is decimated by the Dark Fairies.
856 - 934 AC: Groups of adventurers, humanoids and later Traladaran rebels and Thyatian explorers manage to reach Level 6, but are slain as the others before them.
944 AC: Thyatian priests of Ixion reach Level 6, but are repelled by the Dark Fairies and minions of The Last One. Shortly after they are all slain by orcs on Level 1.
955 AC - present days: Other adventurers, ogres and followers of Nyx manage to reach Level 6 but are slain or repelled to the levels above.
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 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. One such follower could try to join the PCs to explore this level. Any Follower of the Last One will likely be allied with the Dark Fairies of this level, and will lead the PCs into a trap or will try to capture and bring them in the presence of The Last One himself (in Level 7). After the Darkers take control (see issue 1) any Follower of The Last One will obviously keep a much lower profile and maybe even aid the party against the Darkers to use them or lead them to their deaths.
The layout of this level is strange and completely different from anything that humanoid creatures would build. There are rooms without doors, strange shaped halls, massive walls that apparently serve no purpose, refined constructions alongside unfinished ones and so on. The city of the Dark Fairies reflects indeed their chaotic and unpredictable nature, and nothing built in it seems to make any sense.
A strange mist lingers everywhere in the halls and the place is always gloomy and creepy. More often anyway people walking in Kundrak do not see, hear, smell or feel what’s really around, but rather the multiple and unpleasant illusions that the Dark Fairies left there. Each room or area has therefore different possible appearances that the explorer could perceive, depending on different factors as described in each room.
This level can be entered from area 7 of Level 5 through stairs in area 8 of this level. In area 14 another staircase goes down to Level 7, where The Last One dwells.
Spells that provide magical transportation, such as teleport, passwall, dimensional door, magic door, travel, gate and spells such as clairvoyance and find the path do not work on this level, the above and Level 7 below due to powerful wards placed by The Last One and others before him. The DM could decide to apply the same rule to the levels above, at least from Level 2 and below, particularly if the PCs are of high level.
Beside that, in this particular level casting such spells could also be extremely dangerous, opening portals to the Nightmare dimension and/or the Unseelie Court.
Depicted in grey on the map is solid stone which is very difficult to dig. In white are the open areas. The azure stream is the arrival point of the nixies’ ways that run inside Koskatep from Level 1 to this one, touching Level 3 too, as described in the past issues of Threshold magazine. “Open areas” should be considered a relative term as much of the terrain is rugged and full of debris. The area could be partially illuminated by eerie fairy lights or completely dark as described in each area, if PCs do not bring light. If they do bring light, of course, it makes the party quite visible.
The Dark Fairies
The exact number and power of the faeries in this level will not be specified and will be left to each DM’s choice, to be adjusted depending on PCs level, but several “special” faerie and other characters will be described.
Most of the faeries, shrouded in mist and darkness as they usually are, could pass for incorporeal undead most of the time, and some of them are. But the majority are not, they are just partially detached from this world.
After the arrival of the Darkers in force, the Dark Fairies will have to submit to them and release all the souls they have imprisoned during the centuries. The fairies however will only feign loyalty to the Darkers, waiting for the right time to destroy them and most of all, the returned Lord Keiros who stole their city long ago.
Several areas described below have illusory appearances. Even if the PCs think they are in another world, they are still in Koskatep and can reach the exit of a room simply walking through it, even if they cannot see it. The above rule does not apply if they step into another place via the Faery Rings (described in the sidebar). In this latter case they are truly somewhere else, and can return to Koskatep only via teleport (with the applicable restriction the spell has in the lower levels, see above) or with the willing aid of the local fairies, if they can obtain it.
Map of Kundrak, Level 6
1 - Plaza of the Wail
This irregular triangular area of about 100x100 meters could appear as (each time PCs enter it):
1-2 on 1d6: The lavish foyer of a theatre full of elegant people of all the known fairy races and several more unknown ones. The fairies will simply ignore the PCs or, if directly addressed, they will politely reply that the performance is about to begin, indicating a great, dark threshold. If the PCs step through it, they will appear in the middle of a battle between sollux and fairies in a place that looks like an ancient, strange forest. PCs leaning to a chaotic alignment will experience a strong urge to aid the fairies (save at -1), those leaning to a lawful or neutral one will feel the urge to aid the sollux. Defeated PCs will only be unconscious but not dead. If the sollux win, one of them will say to PCs: “Protect the temple from defiling, or all will be lost!”. If the fairies win, one of them will say “Free Ashira, change the world!”. After that, PCs will awaken in an empty, triangular area. Far away and dim, they can hear a wail of despair.
If they do not step into the theatre's threshold above, they can return to area 2 or 4 whence they came, and the fairies will not bother them.
3-4 on 1d6: At the centre of this area there is what appears to be a small pyramid with several diminutive people (1 foot tall) around dressed in strange7 clothes. They will not be hostile and if spoken to, they will explain they maintain a shrine to Ashira, compassionate daughter of the queen, whom the Sun Lord betrayed and buried. If the PCs blandish them with gifts, they could be persuaded to narrate the whole story.
5-6 on 1d6: In a mist shrouded and dark area, Diram, a priest of Nyx from 500 BC, when the ogres ruled on Koskatep, wanders about mumbling about Ashira. Some creatures that looks like flying imps occasionally torment him and occasionally a wail of despair can be heard. As many others in this level, he is an imprisoned soul. If he leaves the area, his nature of ghost will become apparent to him too and if he leaves the level he will disappear as smoke, to reappear in this area again later. The DM could allow the party a way to free his soul, maybe somehow paying the local dark fairies or destroying them
1 - There is a treasure of red orc offerings in this room, gifts they gave to the Tepictoton in the seven decades in which they inhabited the level above, including gold and jewels. The treasure is hidden in invisible cabinets, and anyway the fairies will not tolerate a theft of their treasures.
The Darkers could learn about Ashira and the ultimate secret of Koskatep from this area, unless the dark fairies chose not to share this information with them. They will eventually demand the release of Diram’s soul, and the dark fairies will have to let him go free. Diram will then go to Level 7 with the other Darkers, as an Uncorporeal8. The third option of the area therefore will no longer occur.
2 - The Dark Grove
This area appears as one of the below scenes (each time PCs enter it):
1-2 on 1d6: An haphazard orchard, gone wild and overgrown in the centuries. Some of the trees still bear fruit, though there is little to no light. The dim light has a violet shade but its source is impossible to find. Ghosts of strange creatures appear between the vegetation, but it seem impossible to see them clearly. They do not attack. If the PCs camp here or spend here more than 3 hours, there is a 5% chance every three hours that one of them will disappear, teleported to the Ethereal plane.
3-4 on 1d6: The same setting as above, but a party of three wounded dwarven warriors will appear among the trees. They speak an archaic dwarvish and their clothes are strange too. They indeed come straight from 954 BC, soldiers of Wyrlum Lokar in the conquest of the orc city of Rak9. They think it’s still Dengar Year 446 and they do not trust non-dwarves much, but could agree to parley if the PCs are not too aggressive. The truth is dark fairies killed them and have imprisoned their souls, yet they seem and feel very solid in this room. If they go elsewhere, their nature of ghosts will become apparent to them too and if they leave the level they will disappear as smoke, to reappear in this area again later. The Dm could allow the party a way to free their souls, maybe paying the local dark fairies or destroying them.
5-6 on 1d6: A very beautiful garden brightly lit by an invisible sun. A host of wood imps inhabits the area, with complex and beautiful houses inside the trees. They will demand “gifts” or start ambushing PCs from the trees until they leave the area. They will be most difficult to fight as they can become invisible to mortals as all fairies and also step into the Ethereal plane at will.
2 - There are apples and pears in the grove, which have random effects if eaten:
I - Heals 2d6 hit points, but those are lost once PCs leave the level10.
II - Allow the PCs to see in the dark (as the Infravision spell), but when they leave the level they become blinded, or extremely sensitive to light (-1 to hit), unless cured.
III - PCs see the place as it was in its prime, lighted, colorful and full of fairies of different races, as a sort of ghostly, ethereal image. If PCs try to talk to the “ghosts”, there is a 50% chance (one time only) that they’ll be teleported to the Ethereal plane where the ghosts really are. If the PCs cannot leave the plane on their own, the “ghosts” will demand a payment to help them, as blood, or a magical object.
The possession of the wood imps are well hidden, and invisible, inside the trees.
After the Darkers came, the imps will be present here along with other types of fairies. The area will mostly appear as a beautiful garden lit by a bright, if invisible, sun. The portal to the Ethereal plane will be still here, however, as the fruits will have the same effects. The Darkers will demand release of the three warriors, even if they do not want to join them, as they will consider the imprisoning of souls by the Dark Fairies contrary to the faith of Nyx.
3 - Ice Palace
This area could appear as (each time entered):
1-2 on 1d6: A small ice cave without exits, where Juvran, a half orc priest of Thanatos killed here by the Followers of Nyx in 841 BC, is frozen solid on the ground, covered by ice. If PCs go near him to examine the body, he opens his eyes. Anyone seeing this will have to make a saving throw with a -2 or be teleported into an internal room with no exit, where freezing temperature will kill the character in a hour. A lot of skeletons litter the ground of the internal room, and there is a door to another room littered with diamonds. The body of Juvran will close his eyes again and cannot apparently be damaged by any physical or magical mean. The only way to free the trapped PC is to exit and re-enter the room until Juvran reappears, then place a mirror in front of his eyes. He will then disappear and the trapped character will reappear.
3-4 on 1d6: An empty and cold room without doors.
5-6 on 1d6: In the midst of falling snow, a group of grinning satyrs with black skin play a weird tune on their pipes. Each PCs hearing them has to make a saving throw at -1 or be hit by the effect of a confusion spell. If attacked, the satyrs will pass the walls to the treasure rooms beyond.
3 - There are at least three secret rooms full of gems, treasures and fairy items in this area, but it is impossible to enter them without fairy magic or the help of a fairy. Passwall or similar spells will not work and it’s very unlikely a fairy will accept to guide PCs to the treasure rooms, even if threatened. The other rooms are normally used by the fairies as dancing hall, meeting and dinner rooms. They are therefore full of fairy furniture and objects invisible to mortals. PCs can easily bump into them and make noises if they are not careful.
If the Darkers encounter Juvran they will probably try to destroy him somehow, a feat that probably could be accomplished only by a wish or by a unique spell. If one of them has been trapped, however, they will demand his return immediately.
4 - Tundra Court
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-2 on 1d6: A tundra in a snowstorm, where the PCs will be surrounded by sidhe warriors mounted on mammouths. Escape or fight could be the most wise course of actions here, but clever PCs could be able to parley with them if they have information or magic to trade.
3-4 on 1d6: A tundra where a group of adventurers from the kingdom of Achelos roam. They believe the current year is 613 AC. If they follow the PCs they can exit the area, but will become ghosts. If they leave the level, they will dissolve in smoke and reappear later in this area as the others before.
5-6 on 1d6: An area of massive walls carved with scenes of northern and cold lands. Whisperings and sounds similar to cold wind can be heard from time to time.
4 - As the area is normally a fairy abode, strange fairy furniture, art and items occupy the rooms, mostly along the walls, but are invisible to mortals. These include anything, from paintings to cabinets to beds, of precious fairy craftsmanship and often with strange magical effects embedded. Each item would be crazy precious in the mortal world but probably dangerous somehow. Also, the dark fairies will not tolerate theft of their items. In all the appearances, there is Faery Ring in this area, which appears 50% of the times. It’s a circle of toadstools that can be easily entered and will bring PCs to Annwn, the otherworld realm of the Dark Fey11. They will emerge in a freezing tundra with a white, magnificent castle upon a hill not far away. That is the abode of the White King, a powerful sidhe lord. His sidhe warrior will escort the PCs to the castle, and anyway the Faery Ring will be no longer visible and they will have to bargain with the King to go back. He will pretend one of the PC defeat him and his three black dogs in a duel. If the PC lose, he will remain here but the others will be permitted to return. If he wins, he will be permitted to return too, and the King will give the PCs a white gem, but he will not explain what its purpose is.
One of the adventurers was a follower of Nyx, and will petition the Darkers to join them, a request they will grant, offering also the same to his former companions and the others lost soul of this level. The fairies will not be happy about this but will have to yield, plotting their revenge for a later time.
5 - Forest Court
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-2 on 1d6: An area of massive walls carved with trees in various shapes. Sounds similar to those of a forest can be heard from time to time.
3-4 on 1d6: Adram, a male priest of Ixion and Ikra, a female priest of Nyx who killed each other in 95 AC, appear 50% of the times fighting in a forest, 50% of the times chasing each other and giggling as lovers. As the other, they will become ghosts if they leave the area and dissolve if they leave the level.
5-6 on 1d6: Beautiful sidhe of both sexes appear merrily dancing inside a bright forest. They will invite PCs to dance and drink with them. If the PCs accept and drink something, they will become servants of the sidhe in Annwn.
5 - As above there are invisible objects and furniture along the walls. Both the contenitor and the content of each piece are crazy precious in the mortal world, but the fairies will not tolerate theft. In all the appearances there is a visible Faery Ring here, appearing as a circle of toadstools. If entered, it brings 33% of the times to a dark fairies dominion in Blackheart, Alphatia or in the Tunguska forest of Zuyevo12, as the DM prefers, 33% of the times it leads to a forest in Annwn, 33% of the times to the Ethereal plane. In all cases, PCs will encounter sidhe who will hunt them. If they are caught they will became servants, but if they escape the hunt they will receive a green gem, whose purpose will not be explained.
The Darkers will pretend that Ikra will be freed. They will offer freedom and a new life to Adram too and he could accept as now he has indeed developed a sort of love for his former enemy.
6 - Hills Court
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-2 on 1d6: An area of hills, bogs and streams inhabited by drakes and bog imps, who will torment and attack the PCs until they escape or are captured. Their main purpose is to entrap and bring them to Annwn as slaves.
3-4 on 1d6: An empty area of massive walls, carved with images of hills, and littered with various objects from different epochs, once the belongings of past adventurers. All weapons and armors will be damaged, rusty and useless. The sound of someone crying could be heard in the distance.
5-6 on 1d6: Myrna, a powerful wizard (W11) and one of the fifty brave companions of Lord Keiros who conquered Kundrak from the Dark Fairies in 1597 BC, appears here, wounded and tired, roaming the hills. If the PCs help her, she will still become a ghost leaving the area and dissolve leaving the level.
6 - Beside the usual fairy art and items along the walls, there is another Faery Ring here, visible in all appearances, made as a circle of toadstools. Entering it, PCs will be brought 50% of the times to a dark fairies dominion in Skothar or in the Yazak steppes of Brun, as the DM prefers, or to a hilly land in Annwn. They will encounter a Black Dragon with a court of drakes and imps, who will demand they fight him. If they are defeated they will be kept as slave but if victorious they will receive a black gem, whose purpose will not be explained.
Once the Darkers arrive Lord Keiros will recognize Myrna and demand her release. He will inquire too about his other companions, but the fairies will tell, lying, that they do not have them. Lord Keiros will begin an extensive magical research and eventually he will be able to prove the Dark Fairies wrong. If that happens before The Last One strikes back (see The Battle in this level below), Lord Keiros will strike the Dark Fairies with all his magical might to free the souls of his former companions.
7 - Mountains Court
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-2 on 1d6: An empty area with massive walls carved with mountains, littered by the broken, almost crumbled remains of people from ages past and their equipments. There is also a room to the west apparently empty. In truth, fairies live here, mostly invisible, sometimes appearing as terrifying ghosts.
3-4 on 1d6: A wooden mountain inhabited by hsiao and other bird-like fairies, who will interrogate the PCs about the history of Koskatep. If the PCs answer incorrectly more than three times, they will attack, trying to capture them.
5-6 on 1d6: Roaming a dark mountain during the night, terrified and cold, Adrian Merinio and Silvia Venius were two young acolytes in the service of a powerful Thyatian priest of Ixion, among the group who reached this level in 944 AC. They will gladly accept any human help but, as the others before, they are not aware of being dead and will become ghosts once they leave the area.
7 - There are invisible fairy items along the walls and a visible Faery Ring here made by a circle of toadstools. If entered, 33% of the times brings to Krystallac, in Level 9 of Koskatep13, 33% of the times to the Endworld line of Brun and 33% of the times brings to a mountain forest in Annwn. PCs will encounter an ancient hsiao who will demand a “treasure of knowledge”, i.e. a secret or a precious information. If PCs cannot provide that, they will be attacked by many bird-like fairies to be enslaved. If they can, they will receive a brown gem whose purpose will not be explained.
The Darkers will demand freedom for the souls of Adrian and Silvia, and offer them a new life. The two acolytes however will not betray their faith and will refuse.
8 - Prairie Court
This area contains the stairs that come down from Level 5, area 7. A numbers of undead orcs from the level above could have escaped here if defeated above, particularly Juvur of area 5, Hikros of area 6, Tharb of area 7, Bruk of area 8, Dugoth and Vorokh of area 10, king Hyvrok himself from area 11 of Level 5, and the 1d10+2 undead orcs guards who watched the staircase above. Tharb and king Hyvrok, if repelled here, will probably go almost immediately to area 14, to descend in Level 7 and warn The Last One about the invasion. The others will stay in the area. The Dark Fairies will temporarily tolerate their presence, but if they stay more than a day, they will enslave their souls too.
The area appears as (each time entered):
1-2 on 1d6: A prairie gently moved by the wind where sprites with moth wings roam. They have tiny bow and arrows which can have a confusion, fear or sleep effect at will. They will attack the PCs to enslave them.
3-4 on 1d6: An empty area littered with dust that, at a closer examination, will be clearly made of ancient bones. Unsettling, faint laughters could be heard from time to time. The room on the west has 1d10+2 fairies guards of various races: they will appear initially as scaring ghosts, then as solid creatures to attack the intruders.
5-6 on 1d6: Adru, first lieutenant of Lord Vudar appears here fighting invisible enemies and calling for his lord and companions. Here was indeed the last stand of Lord Vudar’s expedition in 818 AC and several of his companions can appear here randomly too.
8 - There are invisible faery items around the rooms and a visible Faery Ring that leads 40% of the times to any time in the past of the Koskatep, and 50% of the times to a great prairie in Annwn. Here PCs will encounter a sidhe lady surrounded by many sprites. She will demand a beautiful poem or will enslave the PCs. If she likes the poem, she will give a yellow gem, whose purpose she will not explain.
The Darkers will slay all remaining undead orcs who will not accept to join them, and will demand the release of Adru and all his imprisoned companions. They will also put a magical alarm above to prevent future invasion of Level 5 by the Dark Fairies.
9 - Water Court
This border of the great cave that now contains Kundrak has a pool, arrival point of the nixies ways that come all the way down from Level 1, area 7, touching also Level 3 in area 20. The Nuckalavee Haishin’t could also be here with his giant water termites if he escaped from Level 3, or he could have gone already to Level 7 to report to The Last One. The group of Minrothaddan adventurers of Level 4, area 10 made a pact with the nixies and arrived here directly from Level 1, but was betrayed and attacked14.
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-5 on 1d6: A quiet dark pool that runs near the wall of the cave and then disappears under the rocks. Strange forms can be glimpsed swimming beneath the surface. If the PCs enter the water or stay near the surface for some time, they will eventually see several small beautiful women with light blue green skin. The nixies may try to charm the PCs, but will avoid combat and will flee in the ways to the upper levels if threatened.
6 on 1d6: the area is filled with waters over the chest of a normal human (more than 1.5 meters) and inhabited not only by the nixies but also by a number of water breathing slaves, humans, dwarves, ogres, orcs and others, that the nixies have collected. This place is not really in Koskatep anymore but in Annwn, and the PCs will be allowed to leave only if one of them will submit to a geas that will force him or her to serve the nixies here for a year. If a PC agree, the nixie will also give him an azure gem, but will refuse to explain its purpose.
9 - There is a noteworthy treasure hidden in the ways, loot the nixie took from charmed slaves during the centuries, mostly gems and precious metals, as everything else eventually decayed under the waters or was discarded by the nixies.
The Darkers will eventually try to make a pact with the nixie to have a reliable and alternative system of communication from Level 1 to 3 to 6. But if they will try to betray them, they could decide to destroy their little community.
10 - Jungle Court
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-2 on 1d6: An area with massive walls carved with scenes of predators and jungles. Distant screams and roars can be occasionally heard. Stains of blood litter the ground. The room on the west is apparently empty and without exits (including secret doors), that in truth contains the invisible home of the hag and her court described below.
3-4 on 1d6: A deep dark jungle where a large group of goblin-like creatures will surround them to bring them in the presence of a Hag (20 HD). The hag will ask them for “interesting magic”. If not satisfied, she will keep them as slaves, otherwise she will let them go with a dark green gem. She will also tell that they will have to ask the purpose of the gems (if the PCs have received others in previous areas) in the Fiery Palace (area 14), advising them to reach it using the gem.
Indeed on the western wall of the western room there is a tiny spot in which to place the gem: this action open a passwall to area 2, and that’s the only way to reach areas 1-6 and 11-14.
5-6 on 1d6: A laboratory occupied by several hutaakan priests and wizards, that the hag keeps for magical research and magic item production. The hutaakan know to be dead but are somehow happy of their life of research between here and the ethereal plane, which they can access at will. They will be friendly with PCs but will refuse to leave with them, and ask for help if forced to.
10 - There is a lot of invisible furniture in the hag’s dwelling and in the laboratory, and also a visible Faery Ring, a circle of toadstools like the others. 50% of the times it leads to a keep on the Ethereal plane where another part of the laboratory is located, 50% it leads to the hag’s palace in Annwn. For Annwn, run the encounter as if a 3-4 was rolled on the appearance table for this area.
The Darkers will not necessarily demand the release of the hutaakans, as they seem indeed happy where they are. They will be interested to trade magical knowledge with them and the hag and 1d4 Darkers could therefore be in this area at any time.
11 - Treasure Room
This area is completely closed as it contains the most precious magical treasures of the dark fairies, and no one over the centuries has been able to open it. The only one who can access it is the Lord of Flame (see area 14). Should anyone else manage to enter (a feat that could be accomplished probably only by unique and powerful magic) four magical statues in the shape of red giants (HD10, as Amber Golem) will attack the intruders. If they are defeated, a magical poisonous gas will be released too by a small black figurine (save at -2 or death). The room should contain wildly precious and dangerous artifact, stolen, obtained or created by the dark fairies over many centuries. Not even The Last One is aware of this room.
11 - Each one of the unique objects who are present in the room should be enough to start an adventure or even a campaign by itself. For their own, probably malevolent, purposes, the dark fairies could even decide to freely donate one to the PCs.
The Darkers will not be aware of this room, nor they will discover it unless they completely conquer and dismantle this level, something that could eventually occur if the judge the dark fairies untrustworthy (which they indeed are)
12 - Meadow
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-3 on 1d6: An open space where a big tent has been raised and three smaller around. Inside the tent lives Jud, a powerful devil swine (Level 9 Devil Swine and Cleric of Thanatos) guilty of several crimes in Minrothad15. Apparently a 40ish years old dark haired man only slightly fat, he is the main agent of a sort of cooperation project between the church of Thanatos and the dark fairies, as he will coordinates werecreatures and evil pookas in stealing precious items and magic around the Known World. Inside the tent there are also Farah and Ellyn (Level 7 werecreatures), who appears as two beautiful woman with blonde and red hair but are actually a weretiger and a werefox, and Yshityr, a female pooka (7 Level) whose favourite shape is as a lizard woman.
The three tents outside are inhabited by 6 werecreatures: 1 werebear (Shod, Level 5 from Darokin), 1 werebat (Ashim, Lvl 4 from Ylaruam), 2 wererats (Titus and Livia, Level 5 and 4 from Thyatis), 1 wereboar (Ivan, Level 4 from Karameikos) and 1 werewolf (Jan, Level 6 from Soderfjord), all are followers of Thanatos and represent like minded groups in their countries.
The area is also more or less permanently inhabited by 20 pookas, which often takes several animal shapes, but are usually invisible to mortals in this appearance.
4-6 on 1d6: A meadow of tall grass and beautiful flowers, brightly lit by an invisible sun, with the same tents and inhabitants as above, but in this appearance the pooka too are always visible. There is also a relevant number of human servants of both sexes, mostly dark haired and not very tall, people who lived their mortal lives when the fairies rules the above ground city between 1664 and 1597 BC. They are absolutely loyal to the pookas.
The south wall of this area hide a massive room that cannot be entered in any way (see area 16)
12 - The pookas have hidden caches of treasures all over the place, but none of these can be found without the use of powerful magic.
Jud and his followers will hide in Annwn after the arrival of the Darkers, trying eventually to reach the hiding place of The Last One in Level 10 to aid him against them. The Darkers will not discover them. They will however notice the human souls and will demand that the pookas let them free, but the humans will refuse to go with them.
13 - Wall of Shapes
This whole southern wall of the cavern that now contains Kundrak initially appear as a normal stone wall, but pretty soon observers will notice that the rock is moving. At first it may seem the movement is apparent, due to the shadows of nearby faery lights. Only after observing for some time is it possible to realize that there are shapes struggling inside the wall. They are indeed trapped souls moving inside the rock, their presence becoming more and more obvious with the passing minutes, until the whole wall seems to move with humans and other humanoids creatures struggling inside. After three minutes every observer must roll a saving throw vs Spells at -1 or run away in utter fear. If the PCs resist and try to touch the wall, they will also feel the movement, and will have to make another save or escape. PCs can end as trapped souls on the wall only if they are killed on this level and an object belonging to them is buried under the wall.
13 - An huge number of physical objects and humanoids remains are buried below the wall, the anchors that keep a number of souls from the last 2700 years imprisoned here. If the PCs burn such items, the corresponding soul shall be free but, as soon as they start to do that, a sidhe lord (Level 13) with a host of goblins, gremlins and imps will attack them.
The Dark Fey will try to hide the secret of the wall from the Darkers and they could succeed for a time, but if the Darkers discover it they will immediately pretend that all the souls are freed.
14 - Fiery Palace
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-2 on 1d6: An empty hall with the walls carved with flames, where occasionally a distant laughter or whisper can be heard, and rustles and gently touches can be felt. After one minute here, PCs will have to save at -2 or run away in fear.
3-4 on 1d6: A host of red orcs and gnolls wraiths (HD5) and spectres (HD7) or even more powerful undead (as many as the DM wishes) who will immediately attack.
5-6 on 1d6: A magnificent palace with walls that look like live flames, with a courts of sidhe, dryads, centaurs, satyrs, sprites, imps, gremlins, hsiao, treant, pookas, drakes, redcaps, leprechauns, actaeons, shargughs and stranger fairies attending The Flame Duke (30 Lvl sidhe lord), ruler of this place. If the PCs have been violent so far they will be attacked by a huge number of fairies, but if they have been respectful the Duke will hear them.
He will explain that his court has an agreement with The Last One, master of Koskatep from the level below, ancient Kosmoteiros. He will advise that the PCs leave now, or risk his wrath. If they do not want to leave, he will tell them they cannot defeat him, unless they find some help in another world. He will point to a shimmering portal in the opposite wall and say they can cross it if they have all the seven gems (see areas 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 above).
The stairs leading down to Kosmoteiros, Level 7 and domain of The Last One are not visible in any appearance. They indeed cannot be found, not even with magic, unless the Flame Duke wishes so or the PCs have captured him and can force him somehow.
14 - The Shimmering portal lead to the Palace of Elienor, once known as The Summer Queen and now the Lady of Winter, High Queen of the Dark Fairies in Annwn. She will appear as a female ice giant, surrounded but a huge court in a huge palace. Back in 1664 BC she was in a long slumber and her people didn’t know of the existence of Level 13 yet, and they could not use the Starlake in Level 7 either before Lord Keiros attacked and defeated them. Only much later, just a thousand years ago, Elienor discovered this vital information from a sidhe lord of Krystallac (Level 9). Thrilled to have finally discovered where her former lover, the Immortal Ixion, had hid their daughter Ashira, she tried to conquer Koskatep, but failed several times as the place was occupied by a powerful force of Ixion’s priests. In 227 AC she made a pact with an ancient vampire, The Last One, aiding him with powerful magic to conquer the ruins. The last eight centuries however have been quite frustrating for her, as The Last One has told her too many times that he failed to reach Level 13, protected as it is by powerful wards and, probably, immortal level magic. The Last One maintains he now has a plan to use the power of the Starlake in Level 7, once is at its fullest in 1031 AC, to open a path to Level 13. Yet she does not trust him (and for good reason) and therefore she wants to make a pact with the PCs, giving to them magic powerful enough to defeat The Last One if they agree to leave the levels from 9 and below to her after his destruction. If they agree, she will turn the seven gems into a medallion of spell turning with seven charges, that will turn back to the attacker any magic sent against the bearer of the medallion and an area of 3 meters around him or her, doubling the strength of the spell (i.e. doubling the potential damage or causing two saving throw instead of one and so on). If they refuse, she will send them back to area 14 of Koskatep anyway, and The Flame Duke will attack them with his host, but the stairs to Level 7 will now be visible, and the fairies will let the PCs escape below. While it could not be immediately obvious to the PCs, Elienor thinks that if they are killed by The Last One, nothing changes, and if they kill The Last One, she will benefit from his demise.
The Darkers will indeed defeat The Last One avoiding this level completely, as explained in the previous issue of Threshold, so they will not need the help of Elienor, because they will use an artifact of Nyx instead. Her existence will be kept a secret by the dark fairies, as she will devise another plan to gain control of the Starlake by 1031 AC, in order to break into Level 13 and awake her daughter.
15 - The Rings
This area appears as (each time entered):
1-3 on 1d6: Two empty rooms with rings outlined on the floor. Faint cries can be heard and after one minute anyone musta save at -1 or run away in fear.
4-6 on 1d6: Two laboratories where Kali and Mara, sidhe sorceresses (Lvl 10), live and work in service of the Hag of area 10. They appear as beautiful young sidhe and are the sisters of Enialee, the banshee now on Level 3, area 11. Their sister fell in love with a human centuries ago, and betrayed the dark fairies for him. For that she was killed and cursed with undeath, then buried below these very rooms. He, a companion of Lord Keiros named Adros, was killed during the conquest of Kundrak in 1597 BC. After 1021 BC, when the Dark Fairies began to return in Kundrak, Kali and Mara freed Enialee from her tomb to use her as a servant, but when the followers of Nyx returned after 603 BC, Enialee began to plot with them against her sisters and the hag. Discovered, she was buried again for centuries until the hag decided to donate her to The Last One after 227 AC. He decided to use her as a guardian in Level 3. Kali and Mara will hardly relate this story however, unless the PCs have learned it from Enialee herself.
15 - Not even Enialee and the Hag know that, but Kali and Mara have the soul of Andros imprisoned in a jar in their laboratory. If the PCs have met Enialee and made a pact with her, or talked to her, they could caught a glimpse of Andros’ soul and hear his voice calling the name of his former beloved. Kali and Mara also have a lot of magical treasures, but they will not part with any of it unless PCs are so good to befriend or seduce them.
As noted in Level 3, 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 the fairies for them. She will tell her sisters she only wants to return with her people. They will not believe her but will temporarily accept her presence until the Darkers are defeated. Quite probably however Enialee will learn of Andros before that, will relate the information to Lord Keiros, and the Darkers will bring hell upon the Hag and the two sisters.
16 - Prison
This massive room of about 20x140 meters is a prison that can be entered only by teleport with a black medallion with a rotating disk that is in possession of The Flame Duke (area 14) even if sometimes he leaves it to the Hag (area 10). In the prison are kept, usually temporarily, interesting creatures (including adventurers) that the Duke or the Hag want to study with calm, or fairies who have somehow displeased him. PCs could probably get hold of the medallion only if the Hag or the Duke are defeated or if they are able to steal it. Anyone who rotates the disk in the medallion clockwise once, and everyone else who touches him or her, will appear inside the prison. The same could be done to exit. At the moment the prison contains Duwum, a satyr who was irrespectful to the Duke, Ydra, a nixie who tried to warn the minrothaddan adventurers displeasing the Hag (see area 9) and two groups of adventurers. One is made of ogres and Darkers who were exploring the ruins (Romi, human female C6 of Nyx, Guram, male ogre F7, Ayrka, female ogre Wicca 5, Flavius, male human T5) the other of Karameikan adventurers16 (Ronald, male human F5, Anya, female human C4, Titus, male human W5, Saem, female halfling T6). The Duke has not decided yet how to use them. Ydra would like to leave Koskatep, while Duwum will act very friendly but will betray the PCs if convenient.
16 - Only from inside this prison, it is possible, by rotating the medallion counterclockwise, to reach also the other prison south of area 12, area 16b. Kum is kept here, a creature (HD 30) resembling the largest of ogres with skin like obsidian. Created by the magic of the Duke and the Hag after decades of research and experimentation, Kum is intelligent and invested with the following magical powers: invisibility (at will), flying, giant’s strength. He is free willed, but can be controlled using a vial of his blood, which the Duke keeps always on his person. The Duke send sometimes fairies to keep him company, but Kum would wish very much to be free. The only prisoner who knows of Kum is Duwum, who once was sent to bring food to him. Other, less successful, creations of the Duke and the Hag have been donated to The Last One in level 7 below.
When the Darkers defeat The Last One, the Duke will spontaneously free their companions, but not the Karameikans. The Darkers, learning of them from the other former prisoners, will demand their release too, even if they will imprison them again in the level below, as they will fear them to be spies for the Karameikos government (as they could be).
THE BATTLE ON THIS LEVEL
When the Darkers attack, they will avoid this level entirely, as explained in issue #7 of Threshold, and once The Last One is defeated, the Duke and the other fairies will find quite convenient to accept a cohabitation with them. The true purpose of the Dark Fairies, who will be almost immediately aware that The Last One is not dead, will be to wait for the events in the hope that the Darkers and The Last One will weaken each other enough to allow them to conquer the ruins. After the initial defeat of The Last One, the Dark Fairies will also be able to explore Level 9 for the first time in centuries, where they could be able to contact some of the fairies of the Seelie Court who exiled them from the ancient city long ago. A compromise with them may be difficult, but possible to defeat a common enemy.
3 See “Mirror of Eternal Night” in issue #1 of Threshold magazine to know more about Ashira.
4 Several details of this history come from my History of Traladara (http://pandius.com/tralhist.html). Other histories may differ, as the one presented in issue 1 of Threshold magazine did (History of Karameikos by Simone Neri, page 37), but this timeline could easily fit into them too.
5 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.
6 See Level 1 on issue #2 of Threshold magazine.
8 The Uncorporeal are special Nyx ghosts who can possess the bodies of any living people or dead bodies
(an unwilling victim will obviously be allowed a saving throw), as explained in issue #1 of Threshold magazine, in “Mirror of Eternal Night” article.
9 See Threshold magazine issue #6 for the dwarven city of Karrast, level 4 above.
10 Therefore a PC’s hit points could go below 0 upon leaving the level.
11 Mentioned in PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, not necessarily as an external plane, but rather as a place in the world, it seems. It could be however an outer plane, a demiplane, a part of the Nightmare dimension, as the DM prefers.
13 In the present or in the past, as the DM prefers. Krystallac was a city of Grondheim, a Fey nation in 2300 BC, about which more informations can be found here: http://pandius.com/Mystara2300BC_SettingOverview.pdf and here: http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=8922
14 See past issues of Threshold magazine #2 for the nixies, #5 for Haishin’t and #6 and #7 for the minrothaddan adventurers.
15 He is the prey that the Minrothaddan adventurers encountered on Level 4, area 10 are chasing, see issue #6 of Threshold magazine.
16 These adventurers could be in the service of Lord Korrigan and therefore have very different goals with respect to the Darkers.