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The Lost Dwarven Mineby Ville Lähde
In this thread I offer my homebrew module "The Lost Dwarven Mine" in a series of installments. I will try to find enough time during the next few days/weeks so everything will arrive without significant gaps in between.
Some background first: I wrote the module specifically for the purposes of our ongoing campaign that uses the Red and Blue Boxed Sets, moving to Rules Cyclopedia as the characters progress, but using quite a rudimentary form of rules (no weapon mastery, skill proficiencies, pretty much no house rules). The purpose of the campaign is simply to run a series of classic Basic adventures that I either never had the chance to DM back in the 80's, or ones I have been wanting to rerun for ages. The Basic phase of the campaign consisted of Keep on the Borderlands, Palace of the Silver Princess, Rahasia, Horror on the Hill and Journey to the Rock. It was a bloody run, with at least 26 PC casualties due to our strict "by the book policy": using Red Box rules as written, many 1st level characters are simply not that viable. But we took it all, in a spirit of experimentation.
Slowly, a core group of adventurers managed to survive long enough to gather experience, and after Journey to the Rock we had a group of PCs mostly on levels 3 to 4, with a 5th level cleric (one of the few PCs that had survived from Keep of the Borderlands, but not an original one). X2, Chateau d'Amberville, had been our goal from the start, but I thought that the PCs were not powerful enough to have a chance. So I needed a transitional module. The usual choice would have been B10 Night's Dark Terror, but unfortunately the group had played it a few years back. It would also have most likely given the PCs a tad too much experience for X2 in sight.
So that's "why," what about "where"? "The Lost Dwarven Mine" is not placed anywhere specific in Mystara. Our campaign started without much thought as to where everything is happening. The PCs liberated an old eastward trading route from the forces of chaos that had cut their realm from its eastern trading partners ages ago (Keep on the Borderlands). After that they explored the trading route, rescuing Haven from the clutches of Arik and Rahasia's clan from Rahib and the witch sisters (Palace of the Silver Princess, Rahasia). Finally they reached the end of the old trading route: Guido's Keep and village. Guido was a warlike knight-missionary from their own realm who had originally cleared the trading route, so the fortress was ruled by his descendant. As the chaos descended on these lands, Guido's Keep was cut off from the west and remained a poor settlement at the borderlands of the nearby desert realms. The PCs cleared the Hills and in the end became dragon-slayers (Horror on the Hill), which attracted the attention of Jenlar Temlin's employer (Journey to the Rock). Returning from that quest, the PCs were contacted by the dwarves.
In the end I decided that these events take place west of Hule, in the Savage Coast around 500 AC, as part of an early Thyatian colonization and exploration drive westward. But this module can easily be placed anywhere with relatively unknown lands available. Wendar and the Northern Wildlands would be an excellent option perhaps.
NOTE: As the main villains of the story are servants of Arik, running Palace of the Silver Princess before this will work nicely. But Arik can also easily be exchanged by your favourite villain.
Chapter 1: History or what really happened
[Note: "The Lost Dwarven Mine" is based on the PCs having to rely on partial and conflicting information about the history of the whole situation and the actual motivations of the parties invoved. During the adventure, they will quite probably never piece everything together, as nobody in the Vale knows everything told here and has biased and distorted memories of that which is remembered. It is also possible that some sides to the old conflict will not be involved. A lot depends on luck, the activities of the PCs and the reactions of the residents of the Vale. This is a combination of a somewhat open-ended social scenario and a classic goal-oriented dungeon exploration.]
The Vale Embracing was for ages a sanctum for elves, halflings, centaurs and mysterious forest people of these distant and dangerous lands. Literally embraced by a horseshoe ring of the mountains to the north, this widely forested vale is connected to the huge Northern Woods. To the south of the woods spreads a huge swamp, which during the years of chaos has earned the name Murder Swamp. Although always inhabited by the strong lizardmen, during the prosperous years of the Vale, travel through the swamp was relatively safe along the River Silvery, and it had a less violent name, now lost to history.
At some point in history, a clan of dwarves arrived to the Vale, lured there by the potentially of rich ore deposits of the northern mountains, perhaps even gold. The current elven king of the Vale gave them permission to form a colony in the northeastern part of the Vale, away from the main areas of the elves, the centaurs and the halflings. The industrious dwarves build their fortress-city Arnum there and started to mine riches and craft items for sale. River Silvery became for a while a vibrant trade route to the southern lands. The other people of the Vale slowly got involved, trading pipeweed, herbs, elven craft, furs and gemstones. To facilitate trade, the village of Rivermeet was constructed where the four tributaries of River Silvery meet before flowing southward. This alliance was blessed by Shargugh, the ancient guardian of the forests of the Vale.
The first decades of the alliance were marked by peace and friendship, and any simmering conflicts were mediated by the Oracle, an elven sage living in his mystical tower near the southern border of the Vale. However, over the years grudges began to build up. Most of all, the dwarven need of wood for their forges began to decimate the tree cover of the Vale. It angered Shargugh, who even appealed for help to the Tree Guardians of the greater Northern Woods, but they were non-committal. The elves did not want to endanger their lucrative trade and thus did not object that strenuously to the increased logging. Shargugh withdrew his blessing and remained in his much diminished island of forest. From here on, the first shadows fell over the Vale. The troglodytes of the mountains became bolder, and lycantropes started prowling the lands. Still the elves, the dwarves, the centaurs and the halflings remained strong enough to keep the threats at bay.
It all fell apart during the last dwarven king Tars and the current elven king Lemuel. A great collaboration of the two people was finally finished: a beautiful necklace that combined the most radiant gems of the elves and the finest gold and craftsmanship of the dwarves. The Necklace of United Peoples was supposed to adorn the neck of each leader in turn, exchanging hands during the solstice festival at Rivermeet. However, Tars became greedy and reluctant, and in the end he decided to keep the necklace to himself. Relations deteriorated quickly. Rivermeet was no longer the hub of friendship and trade rather than a constested ground, as the elves and the dwarves bickered over the control of the trade route. Emotions ran high, and it would only be a matter of time before war broke out. This time, the Oracle could not mediate the crisis, and his warnings about prophesied dangers fell to deaf ears.
To strengthen his hand, King Tars invited a mysterious stranger from the southern lands to help his people. The black mage Meandos, however, was the worst possible ally. A servant of Arik, the vile Eye, Meandos was a student of the secrets of dwarves and believed he could use their powers to bring Arik forth. He had his eye on their Forge of Power, especially. With his charisma and esoteric powers he beguiled the king, and most of the dwarven clan fell under his sway, with the exception of the young prince Tarkas and his closest followers. Tarkas was "an elven spirit" (an affront to most dwarves), and he had befriended Shargugh and promised that when he would ascend to the throne, the forests of the Vale would be replanted. As his father fell under the shadow, Tarkas knew that he had to act before Meandos urger Tars to wage war on the rest of the Vale.
Tarkas asked for and received the help from the paladin Thenos of the southern lands. Thenos had been fighting the forces of chaos all his life. Tarkas and Thenos began a rebellion, recruiting those in the clan who had become suspicious of Meandos's machinations. In the battle, Tarkas killed his father on the throne, but Meandos managed to control Thenos magically and turn him against the dwarves. In desperation, Tarkas feld Arnum with those of his followers he could gather and locked the gates of the city behind him. He had the Keys of the King and the Prince both: as the gates were closed, those inside could never get out. To save the Vale, Tarkas had sacrificed the rest of his people. Enraged, Meandos called forth a shooting star of Arik that struck the side of the mountain, releasing winged horrors. The star did not break the gates of the city, however, which had been Meandos's intention.
The dwarves fled Arnum wounded, without proper supplies and now without friends. Their erstwhile allies would not help them, and they had to flee south beyond the swamps. During this trek, werewolves captured Tarkas, and the keys of Arnum were lost in their lair.
Meandos was trapped inside the mountain, believed to be killed. However, tapping the Forge of Power and using vile blood magics, he managed to open a small portal to Arik – in the body of the tortured Forgekeeper! Arik could not enter the world, but it could channel some power to Maendos and Thenos (now fully under Arik's sway), keeping them alive. But as Maendos was trapped Arnum, he could do nothing but wait and become slowly even more insane he had been. The rest of the dwarves were killed, even those that had stood with Meandos and king Tars to the bitter end.
But the winged horrors scourged the Vale. They attacked and killed the Oracle, and the halfing clan was destroyed, the remains scattered to eke out living in hidden holes in the Northern Woods. The troglodytes began to raid the elven forest, the lycantropes developed a taste for centaur flesh, and humanoids invaded Rivermeet. The horrors lurk in the outer ruins of Arnum, keeping the people of the Vale scared and unable to take the fight to their multiple enemies.
This was a century ago. The elves and the centaurs have managed to stay alive, but their life is wretched. King Lemuel once sent his daughter Laurana to look for the Tree Guardian of the Northern Wood and to ask for help, but she never returned.
For those who live in the southern lands, this small tragedy was obscured by the many incursions of chaos of those years, and nothing much is known and remembered about the events. Nobody remembers the trade boats that once sailed River Silvery, and the lizardman-infested swamps gained their present name, the Murder Swamp. Nobody travels there, with the exception of fur trappers or bog iron miners, but none of them venture deep, and even so many are lost.
The remaining dwarves who lost their city, their leaders and their property, became a sorry buch of beggars, itinerant labourers and tinkers, migrating constantly in search of work and the next meal. The memories of the past tragedy have become warped by bitterness and old grudges. What they think they remember is a betrayal of the elves who did not help them against the chaos. The only thing they have left of the old country is an outdated map and faded dreams of riches. What they need is a group of champions who can conquer their old lands and swipe aside those would object, goblin, orc and elf alike.
Chapter 2: Employment for treasure-hunters
The poor dwarves are searching for capable adventurers and will contact the PCs after their previous adventure, suitably impressed. They want the adventurers to travel north to their old homeland and to reconquer the lost city of Arnum. They can keep all the valuables, as long as "the Necklace of Dwarves" is returned and the PCs will sent word to the clan as Arnum is free (they will be given two carrier pidgeons for this).
Depending on the tone of the PC group, the dwarves will press either "the heroes" or "there is money to be made" angle. If there are elves in the group, they will try to hide their attitudes but will not succeed very well.
What the dwarves know:
- They know the location of the Vale in the north, where the four small rivers meet to form River Silvery. They know the approximate travel time there by foot, 1–2 weeks.
- They know that elves and halflings "and some other people" used to live there, but have no idea what has happened since then.
What the dwarves think they know or claim they know:
"Before the years of chaos, our people lived in the Vale Embracing, at the northern mountains. Our ancestral city Arnum was prosperous, and all the people of the Vale benefited from our generosity and craftsmanship. Even elves, always an unpredictable bunch, were for generations our friendly neighbours. But as chaos fell upon them, the elves withdrew to their forests, betraying the old friendship. They are not to be trusted. In our fight against the chaos, we had help from human knights, whose sacrifices will not be forgotten. But the battle against "the Thousands of Eyes" was in vain. Our people fled, losing our leaders to the enemy."
The Dwarven Map of the Vale and the northern lands (for distances, see Chapters 3 and 4):
Map of the Vale, for DM use (1 mile hexes, but adjust adding to your liking):
Chapter 3: The Murder Swamps
The only sensible route through the swamps is to follow River Silvery. That way the travel distance is about 36 miles. Using horses is not practical in this terrain: it will not help the PCs move any quicker but would require extra provisions and make finding camp sites even more problematic. So most likely the PCs will travel on foot, either lightly or probably heavily encumbered (Rules Cyclopedia, p. 88). However, moving by the riverside is somewhat easier than plodding through the swamp, so even a heavily encumbered party can make the trip in 6 days, if nothing serious happens.
NOTE: Using a boat would be hard work, as they would have to move against the strong current.
There are two set encounters during the trek through the swamps, and a host of potential wandering encounters.
Set encounter 1: The Fur Trapper Brothers (2nd travel day)
The PCs spot a log cabin built on an "island" of dry ground in the swamp, close to the river. Smoke is rising from the chimney. The walls and the roof are covered with creeping vegetation, but there are signs of life here: fishing gear is drying, furs and pelts are stretched in frames, the fish smoker is smoking, and there is even a bog iron furnace and a moonshine distillery.
Three brothers, Caspar, Jesper and Jonathan, welcome the visitors to their cabin. They are very friendly, offering food and drink to them and asking about the goings on in the southern lands. If asked how come they live this deep in the swamp, they say that they only visit the civilised lands once a year for provisions, having inherited the cabin from their parents. (If the PCs have gathered enough background information about the Murder Swamp, this story should not seem very credible. If pressed, the brothers' story can fall apart.)
Indeed they are no mere fur trappers but three Dopplegangers who have preyed on foolhardy hunters, trappers and bog iron miners for decades. Long-lived creatures, they remember the good old times, when they could feast on elves, dwarves and halflings who travelled the river. Subsisting on the meagre flow of human flesh and during lean times forced to settle for lizardman or to make dangerous forays to the Northern Woods, they are extatic about this bonanza. They will try to lure the PCs into a sense of security and attack them during the night. NOTE: This can be a very dangerous encounter, if the PCs swallow the story hook, line and sinker.
If the PCs survive the encounter and search the cabin, they will find a trapdoor to a cellar full of human, elven, dwarven, lizardman and halfling bones. The treasure of the dopplegangers is in a chest:
An elven brooch (500gp), a dwarven wristband studded with jewels (1000gp), an elven tiara (2000 gp) and a Scroll case with a cleric scroll of Bless, Remove Curse & Striking.
Set encounter 2: The Shadow (latter part of the voyage)
The PCs are ambushed by shadows, one for each PC (with the normal 1-5/d6 chance of surprise).
If they search the area after the fight, they will see that the trees, the moss and the other vegetation in this area has grown warped, forming dozens of images of a staring eye.
Wandering encounters at the swamp:
- Roll 2/day, encounter at 1-3/d6
- Roll 1/night, encounter at 1-3/d12 (NOTE: This follows the Rules Cyclopedia. You can make night encounters more likely, but this will make the swamp chapter much more deadly)
First Roll for category (1d6):
4-5 Villain (Lizard Men)
1 Boar, Normal (1d3)
2 Draco Lizard (1d3)
3-4 Giant Centipede (1d8)
5-6 Crocodile, Normal (1d8)
7 Crocodile, Large (1d3)
8-9 Tuatara Lizard (1d3)
10 Giant Racer Snake (1d8)
11 Swamp Termite (1d4)
12 Giant Toad (1d4)
- 3d6 Lizard Men with speard and maces, 1/10 speaks Common
- Basic attitude is hostile: the PCs are prey, unless the lizardmen are outnumbered
1 Giant Poisonous Frog (Creature Catalogue) (1d6)
2 Whipweed (Creature Catalogue) (1d3)
3 Stranglevine (2d6 characters) (Creature Catalogue)
4 Hydra, 6 heads (NOTE: Only one in the swamps!)
5 Giant Leech (1d2)
6 Ghoul (2d8)
Chapter 4: The Tree Guardian
Travel through the Northern Woods will take 3-4 days for a party on foot, depending on the level of encumbrance (about 24 miles). As in the swamps, getting lost is hard, since they are following the River Silvery.
There are 2 set encounters in the Northern Woods plus some potential wandering encounters.
Set Encounter 1: The Tree Guardian
The ancient treant shaman Urwald guards these woods, and he has been keeping the northern encroaching chaos at bay for the past century. Mostly he is successful, but the winged horrors of Arnum have sometimes forayed here too. Also the forest is routinely infiltrated by villains from the swamp and the mountains: troglodytes, lizardmen and hobgoblins. Urwald cannot be eveywhere.
However, Urwald knows what happens in his forest, so he will be able to track the PCs in the end. He will try to surprise them and judge them by their initial reactions. He dislikes humans, and dwarves even more, but will not attack without provocation. He hates lizardmen and will attack and kill all he sees – they have been preying on his "children" for ages. (So if the PCs have Charmed lizardmen, this can be a big problem.)
Urwald knows that the people of the Vale quarreled and broke their friendship all those years ago, before the darkness fell. He does not know who started it all, but he knows that dwarves used to cut down a lot of trees to burn in their furnaces. He believes that the elves are still surviving, but he has not heard much of them in nearly a century – he will not venture beyond his woods. He remembers that as the chaos arrived, "a star fell" and the earth trembled. He remembers that the Elven Oracle tried to warn the people of the Vale, in vain. Humans were involved in the events somehow.
Urwald: AC 2, HD 8, THACO 12, Hit Points 45, Att: 2x 2d6 & Animate 4 trees, Save F8, ML 8
1) Cure Light Wounds x2, Detect Magic, Protection from evil
2) Speak with Animals, Hold Person x2, Bless
3) Cure Blindness, Cure Disease, Remove Curse
4) Neutralize Poison, Cure Serious Wounds
5) Dispel Evil
Urwald can be a valuable ally for the PCs, or a dangerous and most likely fatal enemy. If the PCs reveal that they intend to open up Arnum, and what's more, that they are employed by dwarves, befriending Urwald may be impossible. Still, a true conflict would require something more drastic.
Set Encounter 2: The Defiled Elves
The PCs arrive at a clearing where the vegetation is sickly, the sounds of the forest seem muted and the air is suddenly chilly. They are attacked by two wyrds (Creature Catalogue) that emerge from the soil itself (surprise 1-4/d6). If the PCs search this area, they can find the skeletal remains of a group of elves. They have been dismembered and their remains gathered in the form of a large eye (the wyrds emerged from the pupil). Their equiment has been destroyed by the elements, except for a leather armour +1, a long bow +1 and an oilskin pouch with 5 gems (200gp each).
[NOTE: These were the property of King Lemuel's daughter Laurana, who was lost during her mission to search for Urwald. The winged horrors caught up with them. This can create problems or offer a good introduction if or when the PCs meet the elves.]
Wandering encounters in the Northern Woods:
- Roll 1/day (encounter occurs on 1-2/d6)
- Roll 1/night (encounter occures on 1-2/d12)
Roll for category (1d6):
3 Forest people
1-2 Wolf, Normal (2d6)
3-4 Boar, Normal (1d3)
5-8 Horse, Normal (2d10)
9 Bear, Black (1d3-1)
10 Bear, Grizzly (1d3-1)
Forest people (1d4):
1 Halfling (2d8)
2 Elf (3d6)
3 Centaur (2d6)
4 Pixie (2d4)
NOTE: These are residents of the Northern Woods, not of the Vale. The elves and the centaurs know the general situation of their relatives in the Vale. All of them fear the "Wings of Terror"
1 Lizard Man 3d6
2 Troglodyte 3d6
3 Hobgoblin 3d6
1-2 Dire Wolf
3-4 Huge Wood Spider (Creature Catalogue) (4d4)
5-6 Stirge (1d10)
Chapter 5: The General Features of the Vale Embracing and the Structure of the Adventures There
On foot, crossing the vale from south to north takes 3-5 days (circa 36 miles), from east to west 3-4 days (circa 30 miles), depending on the terrain and the ability to cross rivers. The Vale is surrounded by mountains, and the elevation rises stadily from the center towards them. Four small rivers run down from the eastern centaur hills, northeast from Arnum and through Shargugh's forest, northwest from the troglodyte caves (this river is fed also by the northern river from the werewolf hills), and west from the elven forest. At Rivermeet they combine into River Silvery that flows serenely southward, feeding the halfling lake on its way (the lake drains into underground currents).
There are no trails left in the vale, so most of the terrain is considered "clear".
Wandering monsters in the Vale:
- Roll 2/day, encounter occurs on 1-3/d6
- Roll 1/night, encounter occurs on 1-3/d12
1 Elves from the western forest (1d6)
2 Centaurs from the eastern hills (1d6)
- NOTE: Both elves and centaurs rarely venture outside their area, so any met are on some special foraging mission etc.
3-4 Hobgoblins from the mountains (1d10) (or from Rivermeet, if the PCs have met and fled the forces there)
5-6 Troglodytes from the NW caves (1d10)
7-8 The Winged Horrors, Gargoyles (1d3) NOTE: Deduct from the count in Arnum if destroyed!
9 Rock Baboons (2d6)
10 Tiger Beetles 82d4)
11 Robber Flies (2d4)
12 Manticore (1) NOTE: Only one in the Vale!
13 Mountain Lion (1)
14 Griffon (1) NOTE: Occurs only once
15 Wolf, Normal (2d6)
16 Wolf, Dire (1d4)
17 Stirge (2d6)
18 Centipede, Giant (2d6)
19 Horse, Normal (3d6)
20 Boar, Normal (1d4)
The Structure of the Adventures:
- Most likely the PCs will visit the ruined tower of the Elven Oracle and will learn a bit about the past events, but nothing exact. As said earlier, the information gained by the PCs will be either partial, biased, misremembered or twisted in some other way. All will include a kernel of truth.
- In order to move more freely in the Vale, clearing Rivermeet is vital. The humanoid forces there are tough, but a seasoned party can take them on. A weaker party will need to gain allies (elves or centaurs).
- Until they find out about the fate of the dwarven prince, Arnum is closed to them (they need the keys). All residents of the Vale know that the outer ruins of Arnum are dangerous, as the Wings lurk there. If the PCs approach carelessly, they can be slaughtered.
- Shargugh is the only one who knows about the prince and his fate. Getting that piece of information is vital but not necessary, as the PCs can end up looking for the lycantropes in other ways too – especially by meeting the centaurs and trying to enlist their help or just through exploration of the Vale. Shargugh does not know were the werewolves live, so the PCs will have to learn that information elsewhere (namely, the elves or the centaurs).
- Most likely the PCs are starting to run out of provisions at some point, especially as they should leave something for the return trip too. The elves and centaurs can offer sanctuary and provisions (and the chance to gain experience levels), if the meeting is friendly.
- Wandering encounters with members or the various social groups provide extra possibilities for the PCs to learn about the relations between the people of the Vale.
- The troglodytes are first of all a red herring but most of all a threat. If angered, they will follow the PCs wherever they go.
- Angering the elves can be fatal immediately. Also, if King Lemuel learns that the PCs are trying to open Arnum, he will send his scouts to follow them (with Invisibility spells), so that Lemuel can take advantage of the situation if Arnum is conquered, but before the dwarves arrive to reclaim their home.
- Indeed, the adventure will not end if or when the PCs conquer Arnum, defeat the Arikians and find the Necklace. They will still have to send work to the dwarves and occupy Arnum until they arrive! NOTE: Losing the carrier pidgeons would be a big problem, so do not forget them!
Chapter 6: The Ruined Tower of the Oracle
As can be seen in the DM map of the Vale, the Oracle's ruined tower sits atop a large and steep hill a couple of miles west of River Silvery, soon after the Northern Woods end. In clear weather, the hill and the tower can be seen far away, so most likely it will attract the attention of the PCs. Also, if their meeting with Urwald was friendly, they may have heard about the Oracle. When the tower was intact, it resembled a huge tree with a thick and lush crown. Farther away it might even have been mistaken for an ancient elven tree, but closer one could see that it is constructed from stone. In its current state, the tower cannot be mistaken for a tree, for the top of the "crown" has collapsed inward, revealing the inner structure (the Oracle's observatory was there).
A map is not provided, but the structure of the tower is so simple that it is not necessary.
- The tower can be entered at the top of the hill, via a doorway at the base of the tower. (Or via the collapsed observatory at the top, but that would be dangerous: see below.)
- Originally the "trunk" of the tree consisted only of a staircase spiralling upward. However, debris has partly blocked access to the staircase, requiring PCs to either clear it or climb very carefully. However, a Carrion Crawler is living among the debris and will attack anyone who disturbs it (surprise on 1-3/d6)
Carrion Crawler: AC7, THACO 16, Hit Points 20, ML 9
- The staircase is in a bad shape, and there is a real danger of collapse, if the PCs do not take appropriate precautions (such as fixing ropes to help take the load off etc.)
- The "crown" of the tower consists of two levels. The lower has three rooms, the upper was the observatory that was destroyed during the attack of the winged horrors.
- The staircase ends up in the middle room of the lower level, the meeting hall of the oracle. There is a door on the east and west walls, and a staircase used to lead up to the observatory, but it has collapsed, leaving a jagged hole in the ceiling. All furniture and decorations in the meeting hall have been ruined by the elements. There are pieces of a shattered gargoyle on the floor.
--> The Oracle has become a Greater Wyrd, as he was cursed by the power of Arik upon death. He stays normally in the ruined observatory on the upper level of the "crown" of the tree. So if anyone flies, climbs or levitates in through the collapsed roof, the intruder will be attacked by the Wyrd. The Wyrd will also fly down to the Meeting Hall through the jagged hole to attack any intruders there . This is a very dangerous encounter to PCs at this stage. NOTE: Remember the initial fear effect of the Greater Wyrd! (all who see it save vs. spells or get -3 to Hit & Dmg rolls)
The Oracle, a Greater Wyrd: AC 0, THACO 12, Hit Points 45, Fly 240', ML 12, Turned as Phantoms
Attack 2 spheres, 1d10 each + save vs. paralysis (2d4 turns) (elves immune to paralysis but get 1d10+5 dmg)
--> NOTE: The Oracle carries the Amulet of the Oracle (Read Magic, Read Languages & Detect Magic, all 1/day)
- The eastern door leads to the Oracle's bedroom and kitchen. There is a permanent ambience of death and despair in the air. Everything here is ruined by the elements.
- The western door leads to the study, which has been protected much better from the elements, but nearly all papers and parchments have been destroyed. However, the diary of the Oracle is partially legible (see below). There is also a hidden compartment in the wall – it can be found if the PCs search the room thoroughly and one of them rolls 1/d6 (or 1-2/d6 for elves). In the compartment they find a Spell Scroll (Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic) and the Book of Languages (one month of study, reader gains on extra language to which previous contact must have had).
The diary of the Oracle:
...missaries arrived to ask for my help in mediating their qua...
...the right of...nal inhabitants, since they allowed the establishment of the colon...
...have created the right to the soil and the stone by their labours.
The stars foretell an approachi...
The L...ncounted Eyes...eturns...
...hey will not listen to me, embroiled in their quarrels and grudges...
...cruited an outsider to take part in the conflict...
Who is he? Where did...
...as the years of chaos return.
They would not relinquish...too late, as the king...
...the prince asked for help...
...knight from the southern lands...
...s fought the Lord of Eyes before...
...fell from the firmament...shook down to their very foundations...
...wings, wings in the night...
..nce has disappeared...Rivermeet is go...
...They are coming.
Chapter 7: Woe to the Halflings
The ruined village of the halflings by the lake is essentially an empty encounter, meant only to provide atmosphere. The village was destroyed a hundred years ago by the winged horrors, and only the dilapitated halfling earthenwork homes remain. The halfling holes are empty and silent, all possessions either taken by looters or destroyed. Deep gouge marks of long claws can be seen on many surfaces.
Chapter 8: Rivermeet
The map of Rivermeet:
Most of Rivermeet has been ruined, and only the five stone bridges, the Statue and the sturdy dwarven-constructed Trading House are pretty much in original condition. All the rest are later constructions by the hobgoblin invaders, although the Smithy and the Food Stores have original foundations.
- The Statue is in good condition. It sits on a huge boulder in the midst of the currents, so the hobgoblins have not bothered to vandalize it. It depicts five figures: a centaur gazing east, a dwarf gazing northeast, an elf gazing west, a halfling gazing south, and Shargugh lurking in the center, peeking up michievously. (See the depiction of Shargugh in the Creature Catalogue)
- There are 30 hobgoblins living in Rivermeet at all times, with a changing number roaming the Vale. Thus if the PCs attack and retreat, the hobgoblins can replenish their losses, even increase their number and send patrols after the PCs. The more the PCs delay or fail in their efforts, the stronger the hobgoblins will get. Their current number reflects a fairly quiet situation in the Vale. The typical placement of troops is:
- 2 archers in both watchtowers
- 2 guards at the Food Stores
- 4 fishing at the Fishing Huts
- 2 working at the Smithy
- 6 on patrol nearby (3 to the north, 3 to the south in the ruined part of the town)
- 14 sleeping and resting in the barracks
- The leader of the hobgoblins is an unusually intelligent troll. It has no other strategic goals than to lay around in the Trading House and demanding food to be sent in. But in the case of alarm, it will immediately rush to battle, as it is bored. It lives among trash, excrement and bones, but among all that 3000 dwarven gp and an elven jewelled belt (1000gp) can be found.
Troll: AC4, THACO 13, Hit Points: 35, ML 10/8
- Some of the Food in the Food Stores is edible by the PCs, and with Purify Food and Water they can get more provisions out of there. But a lot of it is of so suspicious origin that most PCs would not touch it. The Fishing Huts however contain some pretty good smoke-fried fish.
- The hobgoblins may have some pocket change, but no substantial treasure.
Chapter 9: The Elven Forest
The Elven Forest takes up a sizable chunk of the Vale (over 120 of the 1 mile hexes). The forest forms an enormous hill that raises to meet the western face of the mountains. The exact size of the elven population is unkown, but is in the low hundreds, perhaps only 200. Even though only a small portion of these are capable hunters, fighters or have battle-oriented spells, the elves are still clearly the most potent force in the Vale. However, after the falling star and the arrival of the winged horrors, the elves have mostly kept to themselves. Laureline's failed expedition to meet Urwald was the last time King Lemuel tried to take an active stance. Since then, mourning his lost daughter and harbouring his grudges against dwarves, he has resigned himself to protect the borders of his realm, and nothing more. Scouts sometimes slip out to take stock of the general situation or to forage for key supplies, but even that is rare. (If the PCs meet elves in the Vale, there is a chance that they are following the orders of Maglor, and not Lemuel. The border guard has some initiative.)
Lemuel is level 7, his main border guard Maglor is level 4, and they have a handful of level 3 warriors. If later on in the adventure Lemuel decides to try and take control of Arnum, he can muster 20 warriors of levels 1-2 in addition.
NOTE: The key elements in any meeting with the elves are:
1) Have they found Laureline's remains? And if they have, are they visible? If the elves see them, they will immediately demand their return. Agreeing to this will win the friendship of elves, declining wil cause them to become bitter enemies. If this happens within the elven forest, refusal to comply will result in either a deadly battle or capture and eviction of the PCs.
2) Are there elves in the party? Conversely, are there dwarves in the party? Halflings can also win some sympathy.
3) Did the PCs befriend Urwald? A credible reference to this will help a lot.
4) Have the PCs cleared Rivermeet? Offering proof of this would carry a lot of weight.
If the PCs manage to forge good relations with the elves, they have a safe haven to rest and a source of supplies. If Laureline's items were returned and some PCs are in need of spell learning, Lemuel can even personally teach them. The elves have a small stock of healing herbs (1d3 Hit Points gained during sleep even during active days, not requiring the full days's rest).
NOTE: If Lemuel learns that the PCs plan to liberate Arnum, he will try to have them followed by his scouts. If the PCs enter Arnum, Lemuel will try to block their exit and demand the Necklace. He will even order the carrier pidgeons shot, if the elves witness the PCs sending word to the dwarves. Lemuel believes the Necklace is his now, indemnity for dwarven treason.
There is also the chance that the PCs have befriended Lemuel and are open about their intentions. In that case it is possible to enlist the help of elves in clearing the outer ruins of Arnum (they will not enter the mountain, however), but Lemuel will state that he intends to contest the dwarves' claim on the necklace and demand reparations. So to recruit the help of the elves, the PCs will in effect have to break their contract with the dwarves, earning their emnity. It is much easier to get them to help in Rivermeet, or perhaps against the troglodytes, if the PCs go that way.
What the elves know & think they know:
- The elves let the dwarves to settle in the Vale out of the goodness of their hearts and were rewarded by dwarven obstinacy and greed.
- The dwarves made an alliance with chaos, because they feared the elves.
- The elves cannot travel freely because of the Wings of Horror. The troglodytes to the north, the hobgoblins and the southern lizardmen can run amok because of this.
- The werewolves are the enemies of the eastern centaurs. The werewolves live somewhere up north.
Chapter 10: The Centaur Hills
A horde of centaurs, some dozens, live in the eastern hills. They have no settled abode and are thus harder to locate than the elves. However, the PCs will inevitably run into them if they keep on searching the hills for a couple of days. The centaurs are jumpy and nervous. They can hold their own very well against other enemies, but many have been killed by the marauding Wings, and the lycantropes are their worst enemies. Many a foal has been taken in the night, as the centaurs lack silver or magic weapons. Their only defense is to gallop away.
The PCs can find a safe haven, a source of supplies and even willing allies, if they promise to help the centaurs against the werewolves. Opening up the dialogue can be a bit hard due to the nervousness of the centaurs, though. It will take time and patience. But if the PCs succeed, they can get help in clearing Rivermeet and/or the outer ruins of Arnum (centaurs will not enter the mountain, either).
What the centaurs know & think they know:
- The dwarves and the elves never really trusted each other, but Rivermeet was built to help trade and communication.
- The dwarven king Tars invited the Black Mage into his court.
- The Wings of Horror arrived from the black skies, with the falling star. The soothsayers of the centaurs predicted the arrival of "the Falling Eye".
- The elves hid in their woods and did not help even the halflings or the centaurs.
- The dwarven prince Tarkas fled the city but was captured, perhaps by troglodytes or by werewolves.
- The centaurs know the entrance to the caves of the troglodytes, and that the werewolves live in the northern hills. They do not know where exactly, but perhaps "Old Sharkey" knows (Shargugh): "If you go to see him, bring good food and drink, otherwise it is all pranks, jokes, theft and farts."
Chapter 11: Shargugh's Forest
The forest where Shargugh or "Old Sharkey" lives is a mere remnant of the old woods that covered most of the Vale and connected with the Northern Woods. This place is ancient, with an ominous feel especially for dwarves but also for humans. Elves and halflings feel less of the tension. Back in the old days, Shargugh traveled far and met Urwald often. But for well over a century it has been holed up in his small forest, bored out of its mind. Anyone who travels on land through the forest will be severely pranked by Shargugh.
Since Shargugh is excellent at hiding and stalking (see Creature Catalogue), it will be hard for the PCs to notice as it tries to pick their pockets. Shargugh will try to steal two valuable items and then taunt the PCs, plant-teleporting in and out of sight (but always leaving at least one use for emergencies). It giggles, sings dirty songs and talks all kinds of nonsense. Only offering food and drink will open up a venue of communication. If the PCs get adversarial, Shargugh will lose all interest in talking to them. This encounter is really easy to mess up, then. A good sense of humor and counter-silliness works best for the PCs. Shargugh might even return the property of good sports. Haughty and boring people deserve all they get.
It is possible to get vital information out of him, but that requires patience and putting up with the accompanying balderdash.
What Shargugh knows:
- Things started to go badly when the dwarves kept cutting down ancient trees, and the elves would not stop them. Even the elven king had a mind of gold and gemstones.
- Old King Tars was a greedy bastard.
- Prince Tarkas had a mind for the forest and the soil, but in the end the wolves took him "under the red hill". Shargugh does not know where it is: he was told by birds who are bad at giving directions.
- Nobody helped the halflings, and the dark wings ripped them to shreds.
- The dark wings pass his forest often dut do not dare to enter. They fly around Arnum a lot.
- Beware of the old manticore that flies from the mountains to hunt.
Chapter 12: Troglodyte Caves
There is nothing essential to be found in the troglodyte caves regarding the mission to reconquer Arnum. The troglodytes are thus a red herring of sorts, but of course also a threat to the PCs and others in the Vale. This is a strong community of 100 fighting-age troglodytes plus non-combatants, so they can afford sending several patrols after the PCs, if they are threatened severely. Attacking the caves would be a dangerous and a bloody affair, as the inhabitants will most likely be alerted and can easily ambush PCs over and over again due to their chameleon abilities. There is, however, a quite bit of treasure for morally unscrupulous PCs.
The caves are dimly illuminated by fluorescent moss. The air smells terrible due to the presence of troglodytes, but there is a light breeze from the opening towards the underground lake. One of the tributaries of River Silvery begins in the caves.
Diplomacy will be very hard, and the only beneficial result possible is that the troglodytes will not kill you. Alliance is not possible, nor do they remember anything useful about the old events. Troglodytes do not care about the affairs of others, they just care to eat them.
Map of the Troglodyte Caves:
- 10 troglodytes will always be on guard duty outside the caves, hidden behind boulders (surprise 1-4/d6)
- The entrance to the caves is narrow and is "guarded" by two Shriekers.
(1) Fishing Cave: 10 troglodytes tend to their aquaculture pens in the small pond
(2) Mushroom Farm: 10 troglodytes tend to their mushroom plots
(3) A Warm Lake: the water is pure but tastes very metallic
(4) Beetle Farm: 10 troglodytes herd their edible beetles
(5) Stalagmite & Stalactite cave: Usually 60 troglodytes are present here, unless patrols have been sent out to chase enemies. The caves are extensively decorated with paintings and gemstones set in the walls (100 gems, 50gp each).
Chapter 13: Werewolf Cave
The three werewolves Aison, Kel & Mizra have lived in the northern hills for ages: they arrived here during the early years of Rivermeet, as trade with the southern lands was booming. In those years, their life was precarious, but after the fall of the Vale they have lived happily on the horses and the centaurs of the Vale, being careful not to antagonize the other inhabitants too much. They control a pack of 10 normal wolves that guards their hill: one of the northernmost ones, clearly tinted with red soil. There is no need for a map, since they live in one single cave. Aison, Kel and Mizra remain mostly in their lycantropic form, rarely finding the need to take human form.
Their cave is funished simply but comfortably with straw and other bedding that they change regularly. In a rock shelf they have stored the items they took from prince Tarkas and other victims:
- 500 pp, 1000 gp in leather pouches
- plate +1, shield +1, war hammer +2 (dwarven size)
- 2 Keys of Arnum (obsidian, covered with runes, magical)
- A battered scroll case:
1) Scroll of Equipment: grappling hook, rope, tinderbox, torch, 10' pole, iron spike
2) Prince Tarkas's final diary: only the right half of it is legible, since moisture has destroyed the rest.
...due to my father's greed.
..ng ever more tense and the envoy
...the message of friendship in the statue no
...rst is that he has brought outsiders to
...lly enthralled by the mysterious guest
...dness, as the elves outnumber us
...He comes from the southern lands, where
...against the forces of chaos, Thenos
...dangers that a conflict of our peoples
...not believe that I can change his mind
...st take action.
...same dream about thousands of eyes
...Thenos knows the name of that abomination
...the revenge of chaos was terrible
...death on wings
...Thenos was trapped inside
...rest of the people fled and I closed
...maybe Shargugh can help.
Chapter 14: The Outer Ruins of Arnum
While most of Arnum lay inside the mountain, those activities that would produce the most smoke and waste materials were kept outside the gates, surrounded by a wall. Mainly this meant the Foundry and the smithy that did "the heavy lifting". Stores for trading goods, stables and boathouses were also placed there, and the perimeter was guarded from a tower with ballistas and other war machines.
When the falling star (or "the Broken Egg") fell from the sky, it smashed a section of the wall, toppled the tower, the smithy and the boathouses and opened a deep fissure in the ground – soon it would be filled with water and formed a deep pool. The falling star was a hollow sphere of black metal that survived the crash but broke open, releasing a horde of gargoyles. More intelligent than their human-made versions, Arik's "Winged Horrors" began to terrorize the Vale. After a century, only 10 gargoyles remain, but they are still a terrible threat to unwary adventurers. Clearing Outer Arnum will require skill and planning, or else the PCs may fall under the Wings themselves.
NOTE: Any gargoyles killed as wandering monsters will be deducted from this number!
The placement of the gargoyles changes constantly, byt a few of them will always lurk on top of the walls, and one or two will be flying over the ruins. So unless the PCS approach by night, they are sure to spot them (and vice versa, unless the PCs take special precautions).
Map of Outer Arnum:
- "The Broken Egg" can be reached fairly easily, although climbing can result in tricky landslides, but nothing deadly. The Egg is strange: pitch black, it feels slick to the touch. The outside is smooth, but the inside is covered by thousands of scratch marks that form patterns resembling hundreds of eyes.
- The Stores are intact, strong stone buildings, but their doors have been smashed and their contents robbed. (The gargoyles let the humanoids do it, unharmed.)
- The Stables are badly damaged, but if the PCs want to rest, this is a possible place for it.
- The Foundry is a building made mostly of stone and fire bricks, with strong oak doors. Outside, it looks almost unharmed, but inside it is as if all machinery had been transported away. It was not, it was consumed: 2 Rust Monsters live here. They are extremely hungry and will attack immediately. The place is filled with icky residue and rust, but three gems (1000gp each) can be found if a thorough search is made.
- The Gates: They are made of black obsidian-like substance that is unbeliavably hard. Gold inlay and gems adorn it, but they cannot be removed. Gargoyles have merely managed to scratch the surface, barely perceptibly. Dwarven ruins are inlaid on the gates:
"This is the city of Arnum,
built by our people to last through the ages.
We mixed our labour with the earth,
which is the only foundation of right and all that is proper."
The Gates can be opened with one key: the Prince took his father's key after killing him to prevent anyone leaving the city.
Chapter 15: The Curse of Arnum
The city of Arnum has been closed to the world for a century. It is mostly quiet, dusty and dark, but some marks of movement can be seen on the floors. Nothing that recent, though, only weak tracks in the dust. Meandos and Thanos almost never leave the Hall of the Forge. Apart from them, absolutely nothing lives here (if you can call that life).
Arnum is divided into the western and the eastern section: the eastern is the lower one, as the machines there were powered by the flowing water.
Map of Western Arnum:
Map of Eastern Arnum:
(1) The Entrance Hall
Mummified and skeletal remains of slaughtered dwarves mark the final moments of Arnum. Many of the bodies and the walls are badly scorched (NOTE: Only if you give Meandos the Staff of Power! see below). A hastily made dwarven inscription on the wall, partly destroyed, reads:
"The king is dead. The prince and the stranger...it
...ther. The traitors to our people fled, may they be
...ven arrows, that would be...
The King's confid...d against us.
The Keeper of the Forge...
...even the murderer crawls at his feet.
The talons are scratching the gate...
...our final stand."
(2) The Hall of the Spring
The corners of this hall are elevated and can be reached only through the staircases in the corridors south and north. There are four ballistas in the balconies. These defences of Arnum were of no use against the internal enemy. There is a powerful natural spring in the middle of the floor, and the flow of water is directed towards a pipe that runs eastward.
NOTE: 10 Shadows lurk here and try to ambush intruders (1-5/d6)!
(3) Food Stores
All normal food here is petrified, but there are hundreds of metal tins of preserved food, still edible after all these years.
(4) Clothing Stores
Everythins has been ruined.
Nothing useful can be found, all metal items are rusty.
Everything is rusty, except a magical Crossbow +1.
A necklace worth 500gp can be found.
A well-stoppered bottle of excellent dwarven brandy can be found.
(9) Throne Room / Dining and Meeting Hall
Water flows through the room, disappearing down a pipe just before the throne dais. There are four strong supporting colums, and tables to host 70-80 comfortably, more in a pinch. Everything is in disarray, though: a great battle took place here long ago.
- The mummified king Tars sits on the throne, with a battleaxe embedded in his chest. He wears an iron crown. And horrifyingly, a third eye seems to have once stared from his forehead!
- Silverware is scattered around the hall, worth 2000gp (taking up 2000cn space).
Nothing useful or valuable can be found.
(11) Crafts Hall
It takes some time, but 2000gps worth of dwarven craftworks can be found here.
(12) The Water Wheels (and toilet)
This space can be reached via staircases from (10) and (11). Water rushes in from holes in the wall, directed skilfully onto a trough that directs the water past three waterwheels. They have however rusted and cannot be moved without substantial repair work. Metal rods direct the water power south and north through the wall.
In the eastern part of the hall, there is a 6-seater toilet with constant flushing.
(13) These two halls hold smithing machinery that was once powered by the waterwheels.
(14) There are two separate mines in Arnum. If the DM wishes, these can be detailed further.
(15) The Hall of the Forge of Power
This is where Meandos and Thenos are, almost always. The Forge is in the center of the room. It is surrounded by magical symbols and graphs drawn by Meandos and all kinds of wires and strange contraptions he has attached to it, trying in vain to twist it to Arik's will.
On the north wall there is a horrible sight: the body of the Keeper has been nailed to the wall, and he is still "alive", and utterly, completerly, irreparably insane. Arik's "flesh portal" is in his chest, bleeding and oozing chaotic flesh, and his skin is covered with maliciously staring eyes. A table is set before him, and it is blindingly obvious that Meandos and Thenos have been consuming "Arik's flesh" all these years.
Also: both Meandos and Thenos have a third eye in their foreheads! "Arik's Eye" gives both of them special powers.
If surprised, Meandos will be engrossed with the Forge. Thenos stands in attention, in a mockery of his old knightly stature. Four Dwarven Ghouls sit in the corners. If Meandos and Thanos are forewarned, the encounter is easily fatal to the PCs.
Meandos, magic-user lvl 7 (Arik's Eye: protection +1, +2 Hit points, both included below)
DX +1, CON +1
AC: 3 Hit Points: 30
1) Shield, Protection from Evil, Sleep
2) Web, Invisibility
3) Hold Person, Fly
4) Charm Person
- Displacer Cloak
- Ring of Protection +2
- Holy Book of Arik
- Book: Legends of Dwarves (a Glantrian work)
- STAFF OF POWER, 15 charges (NOTE: This will make the encounter very deadly, and a very labile one in any case. Remove this item, if you want to give the PCs a better chance of surviving. It will be hard without it also.)
Thenos, fighter level 7 (Arik's Eye: Permanent subservience to Arik, infravision and see invisibility)
ST+2 DX+1 CON +1
AC: -3 Hit Points: 49 THACO 12 DMG sword 1d8+3
- Plate +2 of Absorption
- Shield +2
- Sword +1
4x Dwarven Ghoul (turned as wights)
AC:3 (plate mail) Hit Points: 18 THACO: 17 Save: D4
Att: 2 claws, 1 bite (1d4 & paralysis each)
(16) Clan Archives & Sitting Room
There are many shelves full of runic stone tablets that hold the history of the colony. The dwarves were pretty honest with themselves, so here the PCs can learn that the elves gave the dwarves permission to settle in the Vale, and that the excessive logging was the origin of souring relations with Shargugh, but not the elves. But finding this will take time.
(17) The Keeper's Quarters
Thanos has lived here and has kept the place in good order. Despite Arik's Eye, something of the original personality remains.
Extremely good stoneworking tools (+2 to skill) can be found here.
(18) The King's Quarters
Meandos has lived here, and the place is utterly filthy and smelly. 2000gps worth of valuables are mixed with the trash. On the southern wall there is a black "obsidian" door that can be opened with the key to Arnum.
(19) The Guardian
An obsidian golem (AC:3 Hit Points: 45, THACO: 14, Att: Fist 2d4) guards the clan's treasure.
The southern door is again opened with the key to Arnum
(20) Treasure Room
- A small case, locked with a combination lock and trapped with a poison needle, holds THE NECKLACE and a scroll:
"In the spirit of the frienship started at Rivermeet, the people of Tars and Lemuel strengthen their bonds with this common endeavour. The most beautiful gems of the people of the forest will be married to the gold and the patient skill of the people of the mountain. The Necklace of the United Peoples mark the everlasting peace and friendship of the Vale."
- 2x Potion of Antidote (All Poisons) - clearly marked with labels
- Helm of Alignment Changing
- Bag of Holding
- 5000 gp
- 1000 pp
- 10 x 1000 gp gems
- A chalice studded with gems 5000 gp
- A jewellwd belt 10 000 gp