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"Mystaraizing" the Savage Tide: City of Broken Idols

by David Keyser

Dungeon Magazine #145 City of Broken Idols, Seventh adventure of the Savage Tide AP

Obligatory header...

In case you are interested in my conversion work and are otherwise unaware of it, you can find both CRichardDavies and my Mystara conversion notes in Threshold Magazine #4. All of my efforts for converting Savage Tide's first eight adventures, as well as Dungeon Magazine #114's Isle of Dread adventure, went into that article and issue.

But I continue to play through the campaign, and I am opening up this thread to share some new Mystara conversion notes for this adventure, along with some fixes.

First order of business is the central plateau itself. In the Savage Tide AP, the central plateau on the Isle of Dread has no large extinct caldera that dominates the very center of the plateau in a 5-7 mile radius. The terrain is largely flat grasslands and forests. The original X1 The Isle of Dread (along with the version released for the 5E playtest) has the central lake and village of Mantru within the extinct volcano itself, requiring PCs to climb or fly to cold, snowy peaks before descending and finding the village of Mantru.

As detailed on page 23 of X1, ďThe cliffs surrounding the central volcanic lake form a high, imposing wall of upthrust rock. Often shrouded in low clouds, the tops appear jagged and in some places snow-covered.Ē X1 suggests it takes 12 hours of climbing to reach the top of the cliffs.

A good view of how this caldera dominates the central plateau can be found on this map.

If you decide to add this geological feature back to the central plateau, I recommend leaving an open pathway via narrow valley on the northern side of the caldera. This narrow valley formed long ago when an earthquake caused a crack in the extinct volcano, and was long used by both animal herds and villagers from Mantru to venture from the central volcanic lake to the rest of the plateau and back again until recent times. Now this narrow valley is watched and guarded by skinwalkers, who use a trail that leads through the valley to the northern edge of the central plateau where they have a hidden path leading down to the rest of the Isle of Dread.

The hidden camp of the lizardmen awaiting Noltusí return lies just outside the cliffs along the southeast curve of the caldera, and Noltus and his band climbed the cliff walls to descend into the valley before he was captured.

Should the PCs ascend the caldera, you may roll for random encounter using the Cliffs entry on the encounter table found on page 59. If the PCs enter through the caldera through the narrow north valley, the skinwalkers will spot them. There are 2d6 skinwalkers watching this approach and at least one will go back to alert the complex while the rest stalk the PCs, attacking at an opportune moment if they have at least parity in numbers with the PC party. If not, they wait until the PCs encounter more skinwalkers before they attack.

Errata for the Noltus Returns encounter:

On page 64 of the issue, "Onailati teleports back to Taboo Island to report his failure to Khala if both the julajimus and the acolyte are slain, or if he's reduced to less than 30 hit points. If Onailati reports to Khala...the aspect prepares the island for the PCs...this adventure assume that this occurs"

Just one problem...Onailati can't actually teleport. As a maurezhi demon, he doesn't have that spell-like ability, and he carries no magic with that ability.

You could give him a one-off magic item to allow this teleport, or you can bend the rules and allow an advanced maurezhi demon to pick up the ability to teleport as an SLA, since 3.5 D&D doesn't handle the advancement of certain abilities very well, as advanced monsters can't usually add new SLAs nor can they increase spell resistance.

It is unlikely Onailati can make a run for it and escape, but you might have a skinwalker escape or simply allow the PCs to catch a break and have a better chance of surprising the inhabitants of Taboo Island and Taboo Temple when the PCs launch their initial raid on the place.

In the Taboo Temple, the adventure has some confusion over elevation levels between different areas of each dungeon level, and elevation levels between different dungeon levels. Location 8 on dungeon Level 1 is declared to be twenty feet above location 33 on dungeon Level 2. At the same time, location 10 on dungeon Level 1 is also declared to be twenty feet above location 31 on dungeon Level 2. The problem is that locations 31 and 33 are at the same elevation on dungeon Level 2, but locations 8 and 10 are not! There is a staircase between areas 8 and 10 leading down, which means area 10 is on a lower elevation.

The problem originated with X1 The Isle of Dread, which didnít specify the elevation levels between dungeon levels except to state that the drop from location 8 to location 33 in the Savage Tide Taboo Temple(corresponding to locations 34 and 40 in X1) was 1d6hp of falling damage, thus implying a ten foot drop. But it had the same error, as the staircase on dungeon Level 1 is present, while the two locations on dungeon Level 2 are at the same elevation. In fact, the error is even worse in X1, as the staircase itself would be enough to go from dungeon Level 1 to dungeon Level 2 if there is only a ten foot elevation difference between those two levels.

So to fix this, here are my recommended elevation levels for each location of the dungeon, where a 0 ft elevation level corresponds to the water level of the surrounding lake.

65 foot elevation level : Locations 4-7, as well as the hiding place in the wall behind the carved face above the eastern passage at location 3.

50 foot elevation level : Locations 3 and 8, as well as the highest shelf on the eastern edge of location 2. This means the drop from location 8 to location 33 is 46 feet.

30 foot elevation level : Locations 9 through 24. This means the drop from location 10 to location 31 is about 34 feet.

10 foot elevation level : Locations 26 and 27 and the raised platform in the passage of Location 34. These are the highest elevation points for Dungeon Level 2.

4 foot elevation level : Locations 33 and 37 as well as the passage north of location 33 which gradually slopes down to a level of -2 foot elevation at the north end by the door, which is why the rat holes in the passage donít flood these areas.

-2 foot elevation level : Locations 28 and 34.

-4 foot elevation level : Location 29, 31, 32, 35, 36, 38, 39 and the passage section south of the platform near Location 34.

-8 foot elevation level : Location 30.

The well opening on Dungeon Level 2 at location 36 drops 65 feet to a pool of boiling water, which connects to dungeon Level 3 by a fifteen foot long U shape tunnel that extends down, across and up. This pool on Level 3 is on a terrace, and we can assume that terrace is roughly five feet high. So the base elevation for the lowest level of stable ground in location 40 of Level 3 would be about -69 feet or approximately 70 feet below the lake level.

So why isnít all of Dungeon Level 3 flooded? It should be, since there is a route from the lake to Locations 28 and 29 on Level 2 which then connects to Location 43 on Level 3. The kopru presumably use magic to prevent Level 3 from being completely flooded. If the PCs take the underwater route from Location 29 to Location 43 they find the equivalent of an airlock halfway down the tunnel. A stone door with a enchanted metal knob radiating transmutation magic blocks their path. Touching the knob activates a control water spell lowering the water in the immediate vicinity, allowing the PCs to pull open the door to find a small chamber mostly filled with air and a second door with an identical enchanted metal knob. Touching the knob on the second door closes the first door(which has a matching metal knob on this side) and activates another control water spell that fills the airlock with water, whereupon the second door opens revealing the flooded passage continuing downward.

Should the PCs explore Location 44ís passageway leading to other kopru fortresses, they find another such airlock. While the PCs could try to flood dungeon Level 3, this is only a minor inconvenience for Khala and the kopru.

What about the original X1 adventure?

You can use the numbers above as a guideline for establishing elevation levels for the original X1 The Isle of Dread, keeping in mind the following-
1) The X1 dungeon is smaller as the Savage Tide AP greatly expanded the areas that are closed off by collapsed tunnels in X1.
a. Which means the 34 foot drop in Savage Tide can be as little as a 10 foot drop in X1(falling from location 36 to location 38).
b. And means the 46 foot drop in Savage Tide can be as little as a 20-30 foot drop in X1(falling from location 34 to location 40).
2) Dungeon Level 2 in X1 is flooded to a different depth level(5 feet instead of 4 feet), which is fine as lake elevation levels fluctuate.
3) Location 40 in X1, corresponding to Location 33 in Savage Tide, should be at a slightly lower elevation as there is a secret door connecting it to the flooded passage south of it and water pours into the room if the secret door is opened. The rat holes in X1 can simply be higher up along the walls.
4) Location 39 in X1, corresponding to Location 30 in Savage Tide, has an elevation fifteen feet below most of dungeon Level 2 in X1, rather than an elevation four feet below most of dungeon Level 2 as it is in Savage Tide.

Moving on the specific room locales...

Errata for Location 3 Main Chamber.

On p68 The two secret doors on the balconies are of stone

Based on the elevation levels I mapped out in the previous post, this is incorrect. The secret door leading to Location 6 is, indeed, up at the balcony level. However, the secret door leading to Location 8 is not at the balcony level but is at base ground level with respect to Location 3. So it is in the wall underneath the balcony. This error was what led me to closely study the first two dungeon levels and come up with my elevation numbers. This error is not in X1, it leaves the second secret door unspecified as to whether or not it is on the balcony.

On p69 Once four skinwalkers are slain, the survivors howl in rage - this din is enough to call the Chieftain, his ape animal companion and the second acolyte into the battle.

Skinwalkers share an empathic communal consciousness while they are within sixty feet of each other as a supernatural ability(see p84). So making any noise at all is absolutely unnecessary. From the very first round of combat, the chieftain and acolyte can begin prepping for the battle just in case by casting spells, and know exactly how many of their fellows have fallen as the battle progresses.

Continuing to focus on Location 3, here is a Mystara update...

The chief of the skinwalkers has the abilities of a 9th level ranger in addition to the standard skinwalker abilities. This includes having an animal companion, a standard Monster Manual ape with the name Eztli, according to the adventure text. For Mystara, Eztli is a white ape, a classic monster from Moldvay/Mentzer D&D. Although they didnít appear in the original X1, BECMI D&D did associate white apes as pets for Neanderthals in Dragon Magazine #118 (p62).

From the Rules Cyclopedia - White apes are a species of ape that lost their color due to many years of living in caves. While not truly intelligent they know the tactic of throwing stones at enemies and normally keep some handy throwing stones in their lairs.

White apes normally live among the Neanderthals who inhabit caves southeast of the central plateau on the Isle of Dread. Chief Achcauhtli stole Eztli shortly after the white ape was weaned and raised him. Use the standard Ape statistics for Eztli, and add the following ranged attack for the ape with a thirty foot range increment.

ranged thrown stone attack +5 (1d6+5)

I have also prepared below a more powerful advanced white ape stat block for Eztli. To make this version of Eztli, I advanced Chief Achcauhtl one more level in ranger, making him a 10th level ranger with 18 HD. In addition to this extra level adding one to the chiefís BAB, Fort save, Ref save and wild empathy check, as well as giving him six additional skill points, the chief gains two selections of favored enemy bonus, a 2nd level ranger spell, and an additional feat.

For the favored enemy bonus, I recommend increasing the bonus against humans to +6, as well as adding humanoid(reptilian) +2, to reflect the arrival of hated Ixion-worshiping lizardmen that journeyed to the central plateau along with Noltus Innersol. For the new spell, either bearís endurance or catís grace would be sufficient and will also benefit Etzli. For the feat, have Chief Achcauhtl take the Natural Bond feat from Complete Adventurer. This makes his effective druid level 8 instead of 5, which allows Etzli to advance as an animal companion, gaining the benefit of +2 bonus HD and natural armor, as well as a +1 bonus to Strength and Dexterity along with the Evasion ability and another feat. The following stat block for Etzli reflects these changes .

White Ape Animal Companion
Large animal
Hit Dice 6d8+15 (44 hp)
Initiative: +3
Speed: 30 ft, climb 30 ft
Armor Class: 17 (-1 size, +3 Dex, +5 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 14)
BAB +4, Grp +14
At: Claws +9 melee (1d8+6)
Full attack: 2 claws +9 melee (1d8+6) and bite +4 melee (1d6+3)
1 ranged thrown stone +7 (1d6+6)
Space/Reach 10 ft, 10 ft
Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +3
Str 22, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 7
Climb +16, Listen +6, Spot +6
Feats: Alertness, Toughness, Improved Natural Attack
Special Abilities: Evasion, Link, Share spells

In the original X1 adventure, the hostile tribe occupying the first level of Taboo Temple has a witchdoctor as one of its leaders. While the skinwalker tribe in the Savage Tide AP have acolytes of the skin which lead the tribe in worshipping Demogorgon, they have a sorcerer class as their base build. I elected to add a classic witchdoctor using the cleric class along with one level of the Thrall of Demogorgon prestige class to model the priest who conducts the ritual mentioned in the adventure that creates a skinwalker. You may substitute this witchdoctor for one of the two skinwalker acolytes of the skin encountered in the main battle at Location 3, or make him an additional combatant if your group has the power and resources to handle it.

The witchdoctor will be with the chieftain and will cast Shield of Faith and Freedom of Movement on the chieftain and Protection from Good on himself as soon as they are mentally aware of attackers. The witchdoctor will cast Divine Favor on himself if possible just before emerging onto the balcony, and will cast Sticks to Snakes once he moves on to the balcony. This spell will animate two spears on the ground floor, turning into Large viper snakes. Optionally, these snakes have a thirty foot range spitting attack which can cause blindness if the target is hit and fails a saving throw. Use the normal poison DC for the save.

Use the baseline skinwalker statistics found on p84 of the adventure, substituting the following numbers as appropriateÖ

Skinwalker Witchdoctor of Demogorgon CR 14
Male skinwalker cleric 7/thrall of Demogorgon 1
AC 19, touch 13, flat-footed 15
Hp 155 (16d8 + 80)
Fort +18, Ref +11, Will + 17
BAB +14; Grp +17
Melee mwk macuahuitl +18/+13/+8 (1d8+3/17-20 plus poison) and
2 claws +16 (1d6+2 plus poison) and
Bite +16 (1d8+2 plus poison)
Wis 18
Additional feats: Thrall to Demon Demogorgon(+1 luck bonus to any roll once per day), Willing Deformity(+2 profane bonus Intimidate checks factored into), Improved Critical(macuahuitl)
Updated Skills: Concentration +18, Intimidate +8, Knowledge(arcana) +2, Knowledge(religion) +6, Knowledge(the planes) +4, Listen +17, Spot +17, Survival +15
Corruption Domain Ė Ignore harness attacking an object once per day
Demonic Domain - +1 profane bonus on attack and damage rolls for unarmed strikes and natural weapons
Hypnosis: Once per day, may make a gaze attack with an effect of the hypnotism spell, range 30 ft. (DC 13)
Scaly flesh +1 (+1 natural armor bonus)
Spells (CL 8th):
0: (6) Guidance, Inflict Minor Wounds(x3), Resistance, Virtue
1: (5+1) Bane, Bless, Divine Favor, Protection from Good, Shield of Faith + Doom (DC 15)
2: (4+1) Death Knell, Hold Person, Inflict Moderate Wounds, Silence + Blindness (DC 16)
3: (4+1) Dispel Magic x2, Inflict Serious Wounds, Sticks to Snakes + Contagion (DC 17)
4: (3+1) Freedom of Movement, Poison, Spell Immunity + Morality Undone (DC 18)

Notes: The scaly flesh natural armor bonus, the Willing Deformity and Improved Critical bonuses, and the Demonic Domain bonus are already factored into the statistics above. For the Willing Deformity feat, the witchdoctor has bisected or attempted to bisect some part of his body in honor of Demogorgon, as a default it can be his face leaving a horrible scar down the center and a bisected nose. The Sticks to Snakes spell was updated to 3.5 D&D in Dragon Magazine #317, the spell lasts one round per caster level.

Location 8 Priestís Chamber

This is where one of the skinwalker acolytes observes the main chamber on the narrow platform and can cast spells through the eyeholes. This area is Location 34 in the original X1 adventure and as a Mystara conversion you can add back in the original hazard/trap found on that platform.

Quoting p25 of X1 The Isle of Dread

Anyone standing on the platform may view the main chamber by looking through the two small eye holes. Between the two eye holes is a large wooden piston and handle. If anyone gives it a strong hard pull, this piston sprays a 20-foot diameter cloud of inflammable dust through the nose of the face and into the main chamber. The dust cloud causes any open flames in the main chamber to explode, causing 4d6 points of damage to any character in the area. A successful saving throw versus dragonís breath reduces damage by half. There is a 50% chance that any explosion in the main chamber causes a similar explosion on the platform where the piston is, resulting in 2d6 points of damage to anyone there.

This alchemical weapon is still accessible and known to the skinwalker acolytes. The acolyte stationed here prefers to use his spells in targeting opponents in the main chamber, as his fellow skinwalkers are not resistant to fire. However, in certain circumstances the acolyte may deliberately trigger the spray with a move action. As long as some open flame exists anywhere in location 3, this will cause an explosion inflicting 4d6 hp of damage to everyone in location 3, including the balconies. A DC 15 Reflex save halves the damage. If the explosion extends through the eye holes (50% chance), it is a DC 20 Reflex save to half the damage for anyone standing on the platform. Note the skinwalker acolyte himself is resistant to fire and is very unlikely to be harmed.

Should this weapon/trap remain un-triggered when the PCs explore location 8, here are the statistics for the purposes of a rogue(or anyone else with the Trapfinding ability) determining what the piston does(Search DC) and figuring out how to disable/disarm it.

Piston Ė Flammable Dust
CR 0; mechanical; manual trigger; no reset; Search DC 15; Disable Device DC 15.

Errata for Chief Achcauhtli's stat block on p68

His bashing light wooden shield should have a base damage of d6, not d8, so he does 1d6+3 damage with each strike with that shield.

With the multiattack feat his natural weapons, the two claws and the bite, are hitting at a -2 penalty, I don't believe they are affected by his two weapon fighting style since these natural attacks are the lion/rakasta skin part of the chieftain skinwalker rather than the human part of him. Thus with a BAB of +17 and a Strength bonus of +5, his attacks with natural weapons should be 17+5-2 = +20, not the +19 which is listed. If you advance him one level as I did, those natural weapon attacks will be +21 of course.

Location 13 Vault of the Sun and Moon

This room is covered in Threshold #4, but I have a couple of more comments about it.

First, bas-reliefs on the walls depict a native hero of the Thanaclan empire fighting wingless dragons. These are linnorms, which appear later in the adventure path when the PCs visit the outer planes. Since linnorms are not part of Mystara lore, you can change the images to winged dragons easily enough. If you do want to foreshadow the linnorms, then you can keep the description as is, and linnorms briefly invaded the Isle of Dread in the distant past.

Second, whatever you do, don't show the players the illustration/image representing the room found on page 72 of the magazine. That image shows the solution for the puzzle/combination lock the players have to solve to recover the artifact.

That image is helpful for the DM to visualize the room, but terrible to print out and hand to the players.