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Night Below Part 2by David Keyser from Threshold Magazine issue 8
Adapting the Night Below for Mystara Part 2
by David Keyser
After publication of the first article on the Night Below adventure box set in Threshold Magazine #6, a couple of additional ideas came to me for further expansion of the aboleth city, Great Shaboath in Book III. The tower at location 18, Embassy of the Baatezu, invites the idea that the aboleth may entertain other powerful factions or nations within their city. While more embassies from creatures of other planes or dimensions are obvious choices, for this article I decided to pick two factions from Mystara lore that never received much attention in official products, while discussing the potential of a third faction. The article wraps up with errata for the first Night Below article in issue #6.
With the Alphatian archmage Barimoor residing in his domain in the Underdark of Ylaruam to the south, having contact with the aboleth and maintaining an embassy is an obvious choice. However, the aboleth Tower of Domination is a direct threat to Barimoor and the aboleth have no particular reason to share power with Barimoor or any other human for that matter.
Furthermore any representatives of Barimoor would be just as likely to be an adventuring party representative of the Known World as anything else. Thus, while I will not fully detail a Barimoor embassy in this article, if you would like to have one then an excellent group of candidates is already provided by the adventure, The Raveners in location 15.1 In this case Repdal is a Ylari mage and one of Barimoor’s senior apprentices working for the aboleth and representing Barimoor’s interests in Great Shaboath. Barimoor would presumably have some magic shielding his domain from the coming aboleth domination so that he would not be compelled to interfere when the aboleth activate their towers. On the other hand, if you want Barimoor as an additional faction opposing the aboleth then the Raveners could become a wildcard that will turn on the aboleth at any moment.
The Glaurant Embassy
Deep glaurants2 were introduced in Gaz 8 The Five Shires, where it was noted that there are rumors of deep glaurant cities and civilization far underground. This idea was never developed further in official materials and only lightly expanded upon in fan material. The idea for this embassy is that the glaurant civilization does indeed exist and is very powerful albeit distant and unconcerned with affairs on the surface of the Known World. The glaurant rulers maintain cordial relations with the aboleth and a small but steady stream of trade flows between the two civilizations. The glaurant ambassador that resides in this embassy is a high-ranking noble in his homeland and a heretofore never seen subspecies of glaurant known as a dark glaurant. The dark glaurant has no compelling reason to join the defense of the city unless his tower is attacked directly, in which case he will defend it to the best of his ability along with his guardians. Should the PCs retreat the dark glaurant will then cooperate with the aboleth in defense of the city, willing to station its forces as a garrison where needed or serve as a mobile strike force. Note that because of the dark glaurant’s mental connection with his deep glaurant minions, he will not divide his forces but keep everyone close at hand. For a map simply re-use the embassy of the baatezu (location 18) minus the semi-circular section (locations f and g) and place the embassy in the open area to the left of the main gate, away from the wall.
a-c) Entrance Complex
As with the baatezu embassy, the central area (location a) is an entrance hallway decorated with marble and wall hangings while the two side chambers serve as guardrooms and barracks. Unlike the baatezu embassy, the glaurants are not accepting visitors. Both the front entrance and the door to location d) have sophisticated locks (-30% penalty to pick locks). Two deep glaurants occupy each guard chamber, and they will attempt to sound the alarm while closing to melee as soon as they detect intruders. Note that there are no beds in the side chambers, but there is an array of long metal bars in the shape of a U attached to the ceiling in each room. Deep glaurants normally rest upside down with their feet grasping these bars in a similar way that bats do. It is possible for the PCs to catch a pair of deep glaurants resting but ONLY if there is no current alarm raised inside the city, meaning that there has been no public attack inside Shaboath in the past 24 hours.
Deep Glaurants: AC 4; MV 9, Sw 9, Glide 12 (E); HD 7; hp 42; THACO 13; #AT 2; Dmg 1d8+1/1d6+1; SA Coordinated attacks(see below); SD Darkness; SZ L(8’ tall); ML champion(15); Int Average (10); AL CE; XP 2250; Additional Possessions: One bastard sword, one short sword. Coordinated attacks: Deep glaurants in their normal society and under supervision of their betters fight as pair bonded teammates. This includes making flanking attacks and having only one of the pair activate their darkness effect in any given round. This means each pair of glaurants gains a +2 bonus to all hit rolls(THACO 11) in melee as long as both are fighting and the dark glaurant is alive. All deep glaurants in the embassy prefer to fight with weapons, resorting to claws only if disarmed. Deep glaurants in this embassy also benefit from their mental connection with the dark glaurant by having a raised intelligence score. Should the dark glaurant be slain the deep glaurants will have their intelligence fall to Low(5-7) and any that survive will likely become dominated slaves of the aboleth.
d) Audience Chamber
This room is where the dark glaurant entertains illithid and aboleth guests and negotiates terms of trade. There is a pool large enough to accommodate an aboleth in the lower half of the room closer to the entrance where the PCs come through. The water is laced with a powerful narcotic that is pleasing to the aboleth, anyone drinking or even touching the water with bare skin must save versus Poison at -2 or suffer a temporary loss of d6 Wisdom for the next two hours. There is no staircase, where the staircase would be is merely an open area with no ceiling. The quarters of the dark glaurant above must be accessed by flight, levitation or climbing.
e) Storage Chamber
This room contains goods which are being shipped in between Shaboath and the distant glaurant civilization. Much of it is a variety of food delicacies destined for glaurant consumption, many of which are sapient aquatic species. Also here is a collection of gemstone, jewelry and magic items and components which the dark glaurant has not yet sold. Consult the U entry in the DMG Treasure Table, but all listed treasures are present (ignore the percentage chance) and add four more potions here, roll randomly for type.
h) Dark Glaurant’s Private Chamber
This chamber is enchanted to dim any light source so that it becomes nothing more than candlelight. Spells like continual light and color spray cannot cause any adverse effect to targets, while spells like prismatic sphere and prismatic wall retain their normal effects except the ability to blind opponents. This magical effect can be dispelled treating the original caster as a 20th level wizard.
The dark glaurant resides here with two deep glaurant pair-bonded bodyguards that have most of the same statistics as the deep glaurant guards on the lower floor. One bodyguard (AC0, hp 64, XP 3250) wears a pair of the fabled Torcs of Dengar3 as wrist bands, which grants him an additional +1 to hit and damage rolls, and improved AC and Constitution. The second deep glaurant(hp 50, XP 3250) possesses a dagger of blackflame4. This grants it +2 to hit and damage with only that weapon(Dmg 1d8+1/1d4+3). In addition the dagger has a 4d6 flame one shot burst that the glaurant will discharge into a target on a successful hit. Any flame attack targeting this deep glaurant after it has used the dagger’s burst attack will be partially dissipated as the dagger absorbs half the damage while the deep glaurant suffers the other half. In such a case the dagger will then have a new one shot burst (equal in strength to the fire damage absorbed) on the following round.
Dark Glaurant: AC 2; MV 9, Sw 9, Glide 12 (E); HD 9; hp 68; THACO 11; #AT 1; Dmg 5d6; SA Hurl Blackflame SD Darkness, Dimension Door; SZ L(8’ tall); ML champion(15); Int Exceptional (16); AL CE; XP 5000;
A dark glaurant has learned how to absorb blackflame within its body and utilize it as a weapon with which it can strike a target in melee or blast a target at range each round5, similar to the mechanics of a warlock6 in 3.5 D&D. The dark glaurant makes an attack roll each round on a single target up to 60 feet away, ignoring armor but not shields, bracers of defense or the magic bonus granted to AC from magic armor. On a successful hit the target takes 5d6 hp of damage with no save. As an alternative the dark glaurant may unleash blackflame in a 5’ radius around itself, rolling to hit against each target in range and doing 2d6 hp of damage with no save. In addition to the darkness effect of deep glaurants, the dark glaurant may use this darkness effect to cast dimension door, allowing it to reappear in any location that has at least some shadows once every three rounds. It may not attack on a round it uses its dimension door power.
Once the dark glaurant becomes aware that intruders have entered the audience chamber he will summon an allied shadow fiend7 from another plane which will arrive in two rounds. Note that the statistics below assume the shadow fiend enjoys the full benefits of the darkness of the dark glaurant’s personal chamber, see the monster entry for details on how brighter lights weaken a shadow fiend. The exact relationship between glaurants and shadow fiends remains to be explored, but the races have a few things in common.
Shadow Fiend: AC 1; MV 12; HD 7+3; hp 44; THACO 11; #AT 1; Dmg 1d6/1d6/1d8; SA Leap attack; SD Only takes half damage from all attacks; SZ M(6’ tall); ML champion(15); Int Very (11); AL CE; XP 2000;
A shadow fiend has a 90% chance of achieving surprise in darkness conditions, and can use this surprise to leap up to 30’ and strike with all four claw attacks(at 1d6 dmg each). It can also, once per day, darkness 15’ radius or subject all targets within 30’ to a fear effect.
The dark glaurant’s chamber contains the bar perch for sleeping, a collection of aboleth tablets the dark glaurant is currently translating, the tortured remains of a merman the dark glaurant only recently finished with, and a chest containing the dark glaurant’s personal collection of 397 Glantrian platinum crowns, 280 of which are still enchanted and glow with a silvery light.8 The dark glaurant has become fascinated with these coins and studies them, seeking to unlock the magic potential contained within them.
The Ethengarian Spirit Embassy
Although Ethengar does not share a border with Soderfjord, Ethengar’s Land of Black Sand is not so distant from Soderfjord. Many evil spirits dwell there and while they are largely unknown in the Northern Reaches, it is easy to surmise a few here and there would wander into other lands.
In this case a band of four evil spirits, in the course of their wanderings, came upon the aboleth city and managed to demonstrate their utility in a similar manner as the Raveners. The aboleth granted this band a pool-tower(select one randomly or add another pool-tower(area 11)) for residence, and eventually paired them up with four nuckalavees. The evil spirits enjoy riding about the city with their nuckalavee that willing serves as a mount.
The PCs are likely to find one or two members of this band counter-attacking any strike force within the city, or attacking the PCs in any refuge they establish elsewhere near the Sunless Sea. Be cautious in having all four battle the PCs at once in combination with the nuckalavees, as such an encounter is very likely to be deadly. Evil spirits will prefer to fight dismounted and melee next to their nuckalavee.
Evil Spirits9: AC 2; MV 18, Fly 24; HD 9; hp 56; THACO 11; #AT 2; Dmg 1d10 each; SA See below; SD Shapechange any form, Ethereal; SZ M(5-6’ tall); ML fanatic(18); Int Average (10); AL CE; XP 4000;
Spirits can turn ethereal at will, at which point they cannot be detected except by spells like detect spirits, detect phase, true seeing and similar effects. They cannot attack or be attacked by physical or magical means unless the assailant is also ethereal or has an attack that extends into the ethereal plane(like a basilisk’s gaze).
Note that the names of the four spirits below are named after the four horsemen of the apocalypse from our own real world history. If the DM likes this theme, then there are a couple of ways to integrate this idea with Mystara history. The first is to introduce a legend of the Four Horsemen of Entropy which is a common myth among the peoples and nations of the Known World. The second would be that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are a legend that migrated to Mystara from Laterre when inhabitants of Old Averoigne including the d’Ambreville clan came to Mystara.10 In either case, the PCs should hear or read about the legend long before they ever reach the aboleth city.
And if the DM prefers to drop this theme, he or she can disregard the names of the spirits and substitute in new names if it becomes necessary.
Death takes on the appearance of a wraith. It has the abilities of a 9th level cleric. Spells: Cause Light Wounds(x2) Curse, Darkness(x2), Cause Moderate Wounds11(x4), Animate Dead(x2), Bestow Curse, Poison, Protection from Good 10’ radius, Slay Living.
Famine takes on the appearance of a lich. It has the abilities of a 9th level wizard. Spells: Magic Missile(x2), Ray of Fatigue12, Shield, Mirror Image, Spectral Hand, Web, Fireball, Hold Person, Vampiric Touch, Ice Storm, Monster Summoning II, Cone of Cold.
Pestilence takes on the appearance of a beautiful Ethengarian woman with withered blackened hands, and any successful hit forces the target to make a saving throw versus spells or suffer the effects of cause disease, specifically the debilitating effect in the PHB spell description. Further infections of disease have no additional effects. Unlike her fellows, Famine can physically attack while ethereal, if successful she cannot cause damage but can still cause disease.
War takes on the appearance of a massive Ethengarian man. He is the nominal leader and more physically powerful than the other spirits.
War: AC 0; MV 18, Fly 24; HD 12; hp 75; THACO 8; #AT 3; Dmg 1d12 each; SD Shapechange any form, Ethereal; SZ M(7’ tall); ML fanatic(18); Int Average (10); AL CE; XP 4000;
Nuckalavee13: AC 4; MV 12, Sw 36; HD 11; hp 62; THACO 9; #AT 2; Dmg 3d8 each; SA Death aura, fear, breath weapon; SD Regeneration, immunities; Magic Resistance: 20%; SZ H(7’ tall at shoulder); ML champion(15); Int Average (10); AL CE; XP 11000.
The tower of the spirits and nuckalavees is sparsely and macabrely decorated. There is a massive urn as tall as a man’s shoulder made of delicate porcelain and painted with spirals and geometric patterns that contains 3522 gp. There is also a jewel-encrusted statue of a Darokinian soldier wielding his rapier that is worth about 4000 gp.
Errata and Modifications for Night Below article in Issue #6
Caverns of the Shadow Dragon: p99-100
The Glantri Kingdom of Magic box set has a quick and dirty conversion of a night dragon into 2E AD&D stats. There it is suggested to treat a night dragon as a red dragon but that its breath weapon does equivalent damage as a red dragon but the effect is heat-draining darkness.14 If you wish to try this heat-draining darkness Fandruzsch would have a cone of darkness that does cold/heat-drain of 14d10+7 damage, but it is recommended that he not have the shadow dragon’s level draining breath weapon attack as well.
The Kopru Expeditionary Force: p111
Change the text “1st level divination spell like rung’s Gess,” to “1st level divination spell like Hornung’s Guess,”
1 See Threshold Magazine #6, p106-107
2 See Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix, p 25
3 See Dungeon Master Survival Kit, magic item card
4 See GAZ8, The Five Shires
5 The idea of a glaurant hurling Blackflame was first created by John Walter Biles, http://pandius.com/dglrnt4e.html
6 See the 3.5 D&D Complete Arcane book, p 5-10
7 See Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix, p 86
8 See Glantri : Kingdom of Magic, Grimoire, p 19
9 See GAZ12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar, p 41-42
10 See X2 Castle Amber or GAZ3 Principalities of Glantri
11 The spell Cure/Cause Moderate Wounds comes from the 2nd Edition Spells & Magic book
12 The spell Ray of Fatigue comes from the 2nd Edition Spells & Magic book
13 See Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix, p 85
14 See Glantri : Kingdom of Magic, Grimoire, p 48-49