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Adventure Hook: Seeds of Deception

by Rodger Burns

These magical items are created by the priesthood of Bozdogan, in the theocracy of Great Hule, and jealously guarded by the faithful. The method of their manufacture is unclear, and may involve the use of a magical artifact or holy relic of some kind - wizards of neighboring lands have had little success in recreating these items. Fortunately, they are rare, and not easy to employ.

A Seed of Deception, when first created, appears to be a large but badly flawed mass of semi-precious crystalline gemstone, dark in hue and about the size of a doubled fist. The only immediate clue to its true nature is its odd lack of weight - despite its size, it weighs only two or three pounds and can easily be lifted, carried and set in place as needed. Its magic only works once, but is potent - if set on solid bedrock and activated (by a cleric of any faith, though typically only loyal servants of Hodasus are taught the rites) it will gradually tunnel out an entire small dungeon complex, of 7-12 chambers (a process which takes 1d4+1 weeks to complete). This dungeon will always feature at least three magical tricks and traps based around illusion, misdirection, fakery and similar guile. Some sample traps are as follows:

- A small chamber with an altar to Bozdogan at its center, guarded by undead, a golem or a similar monster group. Any intruder who enters will see a dark aura flash around their body momentarily, and must roll a save vs. spells; if the save fails, one magic item owned by the character will be treated as cursed (forcing its way into the character's hand and making it impossible to use any other weapon/item, imposing penalties to actions rather than bestowing bonuses, etc.) while its owner remains in the room, Remove curse and similar spells are of no use, but simply exiting the chamber ends the effect.
- A false door, with a complex illusion bound into it - a character who grasps the handle and attempts to open the door must save vs. spells or believe that the door has actually opened and a small but well-stocked treasure chamber lies beyond. The character will be effectively paralyzed in place until he either 'leaves the treasure room' voluntarily, or until he is pulled away from the door by force. If the latter action is taken, the victim of the illusion takes 2d6 damage from the sudden psychic shock.
- A small room with the illusion of a deep, spike-filled pit, crossable only by an (equally illusory) rickety rope bridge. Characters who attempt to 'cross the bridge' will trigger a pressure-plate attached to a ceiling-mounted scythe blade; characters who skirt the edges of the room will be safe.
- A corridor that ends in a blind loop. Once any intruders turn the first corner, an illusion of blank wall closes across the loop's entrance, trapping the intruders inside until they can identify the nature of the trick. (In some dungeons, this may be combined with a spell effect that distorts the intruders' sense of distance or direction, to make it more difficult to find the exit.)
- A room with a pit trap and a (false) door on the far side. Avoiding the pit and attempting to open the door triggers a spear trap and alarm. The actual exit from the room is a secret door concealed in the bottom of the pit.
- A small room with no obvious exits and one or more large, well-used and prominently positioned levers. Pulling on any of the levers causes a loud grinding noise, as if of a wall or other large mass of stone shifting, to echo from a distant part of the dungeon complex. Aside from this effect, the levers do nothing.

Dungeons created by Seeds of Deception are reasonably common in the hinterlands of Hule, and rarer but still fairly commonplace in neighboring lands that Hule has invaded in the past. The Master's invasion of the Known World in 1,005 AC likely featured several of these dungeon complexes being established in the hills of western Darokin and eastern Sind, to serve as spy hideouts, army command posts, and lairs for clerics accompanying the armies of the Desert Nomads.