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Warriors of the Eternal Sun part 1by Kyle Knight with contributions by Chris Seabrook and Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 23
Tabletop Conversion of the Dungeons & Dragons game for the Sega Genesis
I’ve always hoped someone would make this game into a table-top module; but, it never happened. For me, it all started when I got my hands on the Big Black boxset and Frank Mentzer’s Red box. Shortly thereafter, I found this game, Mystara and Thunder Rift. Hopefully this conversion will do the original game the justice it deserves.
This article is based largely on the game content itself, and employs material collected by Chris Seabrook in his Warriors of the Eternal Sun Walkthrough. The author thanks Chris for his permission to reuse that material.
“Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun” is a video game developed in 1992 by Westwood Studios under license from TSR for the Sega Genesis console. It presents a single-player computer-based RPG adventure set in the Hollow World environment, using the classic Dungeons & Dragons rules from BECMI and the Rules Cyclopedia. This article attempts to provide a conversion of the CRPG to a tabletop adventure module.
CRPG introduction, reported from Chris Seabrook’s walkthrough
The Goblin Wars lasted 13 moons. Duke Hector Barrik is forced to retreat to his castle.
“The goblins mass for their final assault. Our ways will pass from this earth by nightfall. Let the bards praise our courage!” bellows the Duke.
Standing atop the castle walls, you stare wearily down at the howling goblin hordes below. Smoke from a thousand goblin torches burns your lungs. The goblins scream at you, waving the heads of your fallen comrades on the ends of spears. Weeks of fighting saw hundreds of men and goblins die in battle throughout the duke’s castle, and soon the castle itself will fall.
Moments before the goblins launch their attack the earth begins to tremble. With blood-curdling shrieks, the goblins launch one last assault on the castle. Goblins swarm over the walls, slaughtering the weakened defenders.
You raise your sword for a final blow, but then ...FLASH! ... a brilliant flare of light blinds you. Deafening thunder drowns out the screams of goblins and men alike. Suddenly the sky rips open and the masses of men and goblin are sucked into the void. There’s a wrenching feeling and you’re falling, certain that you’ll die on the cobbled streets below. Then it suddenly stops.
When Duke Barrick and his men regain consciousness they find themselves in a strange new world. The castle is now in a strange land, the castle has been transported to a high-walled valley with impossibly high cliffs, illuminated by a red sun. The goblins are gone, but you and your remaining comrades are miraculously alive!
You open your eyes and gasp as you look around. The Duke, his men, your characters, and the entire valley find themselves in a strange, red-hued world in which the horizon slopes upward in all directions, eventually vanishing into a crimson haze at the limits of sight.
The horizon appears as the bottom of a basin; it’s as if the castle is at the bottom of a huge bowl whose extent can only be guessed at.
Illuminating the landscape is the Eternal Sun – a fiery red orb that stands stationary in the exact center of the sky. The red sun flares, circled by floating continents.
You have been spared certain death at the hands of the goblins, but what fate awaits you here? You may not have long to wait for the answer, because the monsters that inhabit this land continually assault the castle. The high-walled valley is infested with vast numbers of monsters.
Attacks upon the castle walls are thrown back at great cost in lives. It seems only a matter of time before the castle’s defenders are overwhelmed. Duke Barrik believes that the only chance of survival lies in finding allies.
A group of adventurers is now being assembled. They must explore the deepest recesses of the valley, searching for answers to the mysteries that haunt the duke’s sleep. If these heroes fail, your people are doomed! Though all attacks have failed thus far, the monsters are gaining strength.
You must assemble a party of heroes and set out on an epic journey. The survival of your people depends on how quickly you solve the mysteries of this valley!
When transposed to tabletop gaming, Warriors of the Eternal Sun can become a mini-campaign, or even a full scale campaign. The original game brings the PCs from first level to a maximum of level 14. However, this may be difficult to accomplish in a tabletop campaign, even though the game provides a large number of dungeons and side quests.
Indeed, the original game generates rather strong encounters for a party of 4 first level characters -- you may easily encounter a group of 5 boars in the starting area, which are too strong for a first level party. As a result, it is recommended to start the adventure with early Expert level adventurers and/or with more than 4 PCs. After all, the PCs are supposed to be veterans of the Goblin Wars. If you plan to play the adventure with a group of starting PCs, you may want to provide some initial adventure opportunities where the PCs can prove their worth without facing the threats outside the walls of Castle Barrik -- for example, you might add a more extensive dungeon under one of the crypts in the cemetery area. (Just be mindful of the Schattenalfen Dungeon that will be discovered in the cemetery AFTER the town is destroyed that leads south and might pass under the tower crypts due to the dungeons size.)
Following the tragic epilogue of the Goblin Wars, Duke Hector Barrik, his retainers and followers, and their entire castle are transported by the Immortal Ka the Preserver to a secluded valley in the Hollow World. Trapped in this Hidden Valley, they begin to explore the area -- their primary concern is obviously to survive in this new world, populated with hostile beings. Beastmen have been sighted, and at least one has been captured and is being held in the castle dungeon.
Duke Hector and his chief advisor, the sage Marmillian, select the PCs to explore the area looking for potential allies. While the PCs explore the valley, another, sinister, force is at work: a Burrower, an Exalted servant of Thanatos, trapped in the Hollow World, whose maddening influence slowly drives the inhabitants of the castle insane.
Marmillian tries to make sense of their situation by studying artifacts that the PCs will bring to him. After finding Beastman artifacts patterned along the model of the Azcan culture, he will hypothesize that the castle has been transported to some "lost world" area, where the Beastmen have preserved fragments of the ancient Azcan culture. However, after finding recently-made Azcan artifacts, he will start believing that the castle has been transported back by thousands of years to the time of the Azcans. Only late in the campaign he will realise the nature of the Hollow World, a preservation area for ancient cultures.
As the PCs visit more distant regions, such as the Malpheggi Swamp and the Azcan lands, the mental condition of Duke Barrik and most of his people degrade, until they finally go entirely mad and abandon the castle. Only the sage Marmillian, thanks to his own mind-protecting incenses, is able to partially withstand the madness and help the PCs to their final task. While none of the PCs could take on the Burrower on their own, their adventures and Marmillian’s research have unearthed an ancient scroll with which the PCs will be able to summon Ka the Preserver and save their compatriots -- and possibly many other inhabitants of the Hollow World.
Story Experience Awards
Story Awards by Achievement
XP per PC
Per Secret Area Found
100 XP per PC (per level)(# to be determined)
Per Caravan Trade Route Opened(4 max)
Each PC should receive 1,000 XP for reporting the Beastman Caves. 2,000 XP for reporting the Azcan Caves. 4,000 XP for reporting the Oltec Tradeway Caves (the one with the Red Dragon at the entrance) and 10,000 XP IF the party discovers and reports the Elven Caves (Caverns of the Ancients).
Per Major Story Advancement
1,000 XP per PC (per level)
Major story advancement are obtained for: finding and opening the Gateway Passage to the Malpheggi Swamps; locating the artifacts needed to open the way to the Azcan Jungle; obtaining the Rings of Fire Protection needed to enter the Fire Lands; using the Medallion to open the way to the Shattenalfen city; and finally for summoning Ka.
Duke Barrik’s Castle
The adventure starts at Duke Hector Barrik’s castle, not long after the caste itself has been transported to the Hollow World from its original location. The original location is never stated, although it could easily be in Karameikos (in this case the “Duke” is likely only a Knight) or more likely Darokin (in this case the Duke is a border magistrate that holds the hereditary title of Duke since the days of the Kingdom of Darokin). There is also a possibility that the castle originated in Thunder Rift, since a Wizard Barrik and his tower are present in Quest for the Silver Sword, who could be related to the Barrik family of Duke Hector and his father. Once more, Thunder Rift itself could be one of the Borderlands of Darokin, although other, more distant locations have been proposed.
The castle itself is rather small, and is currently overcrowded since villagers living in the area have taken refuge there during the Goblin Wars.
[Map: Duke Barrik’s Castle]
The castle walls are overall 390 ft long (along the southern wall; the eastern wall is 310 ft long, and the others are in proportion), made of large granite blocks (10 ft deep), and are 30 ft tall. A massive gate opens roughly in the middle of the northern wall. It is protected by two portcullis made of sturdy iron bars, raised and lowered by winches inside the towers that flank the gate -- the left tower controls the outer portcullis, while the right one controls the inner portcullis, providing an additional degree of protection from any invaders, and allowing the guards to trap and question troublesome intruders. The gate is tall 20 ft, and sufficiently large for three or four people to walk through at the same time.
Nine towers protect the corners of the outer wall. Each tower is three stories tall, with a central pillar around which winds a set of stairs leading to the trapdoor on the roof. These trapdoors can be locked from outside, so the watchers are safe in case of attack, and can concentrate on sniping at enemies.
The north-eastern tower has a secret compartment known only to the Captain of the Guard, Silvik, who stores his old sword (a magical +1 weapon) there. The north-western tower (along the Inn’s walls) has stairs that also go down into the Inn Cellar. The tower overlooking the graveyard has stairs leading down to the crypts (see area 12 of the Castle Dungeons).
The four towers that protect the Duke’s Hall have the following special content. The north-eastern tower has stairs leading down into the dungeon area. Marmillian’s tower (the north-western one) is crammed full of Marmillian’s books, scrolls and artifacts; so nobody is quite sure of the layout. Guards reach the top for duty using two Rings of Flying that are passed to the relief Sergeant at the end of each shift or by a wooden ladder on the outside of the tower (stone stairs are in the process of being built.). The south-western tower has always been a “bolthole” sleeping area for the sitting Duke when he needed to make a quick privy trip or catch a few moments rest. Since the start of the Goblin War, Duke Barrik has moved his quarters into the tower to free up more space in the castle for his people.
Inside the castle walls, there are a number of buildings, both residential and commercial. The castle used to house only the Duke, his few guards, the resident mage and priest, and a few shopkeepers. The walls of these buildings are made of the same granite as the outer wall, as they were built with the castle itself. While the inner walls are not as deep as the outer one, they are still remarkably thick, and would resist light siege weapons.
The residential buildings are generally two stories tall, covered in slightly angled tiles. They were originally the homes of the NPCs that work in the castle, though now they are crowded with refugees as well.
The Inn is the largest structure, containing two bar areas, a common sleeping room, and a dining room. The interior wall between bars is a sliding partition that allows for getting supplies through to the actual bar. Bilion, a former thief and successful merchant, runs the inn with the help of a barkeep, a cook, and a waiter. All three are former thieves who were chasen out of the Thieves’ Guild by Jacmar (see page XX), whom they still resent.
The Church is 30 ft high granite structure with a slightly angled granite roof. It doubles as a staging area in times of war. Wounded are brought there to be tended, and soldiers come to get meals and take quick naps during reliefs. The Church is dedicated to the cult of Ka the Preserver, a Lawful Immortal. The worship is led by the High Priestess, Amelya, who is helped by four acolytes (2nd level Clerics).
The four acolytes and Amelya can heal the PCs. They never charge for this service, although they may be out of spells at any given time (they only have 9 Cure Light Wounds spells per day in total, and Amelya also has some higher level spells). Like other inhabitants of the castle, these priests are not exempt from the Burrower’s madness. While at the beginning they are friendly and helpful, typically getting right to the point:
“I see some of your party have been injured. I will heal them for you.”
Or just being polite:
“There are no sick or hurt among you; but, my blessing I leave with you.”
Once some time has passed, they will get increasingly erratic. For example, after the PCs return from the Malpheggi swamp, one of the priests might say:
“Look what the cat dragged in! Let’s see...uh, I think this will work.”
Later in the adventure, the corruption will make them completely crazy, although generally still friendly:
“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, drink a potion before you go.”
Barrik’s Hall is similar in construction to the temple, except for the four towers that surround it. Much like the Church, it has been used as a staging area to support the war effort. The Duke and his advisor, Marmillian, are generally found here.
The Cemetery is a recent addition due to the war, and it is notable for its unique headstones. In honor of Duke Hector’s father, the late Duke, who had a sense of humor to rival both Halflings and Fey, all headstones have a quirky epitaph. Regrettably, the late Duke’s body is not interred within the cemetery or the crypts, as he was eaten by the goblins. Before the war, the cemetery used to be the exercise grounds for the castles horses. Unfortunately, no horses, or any other livestock, have survived the war.
The tombstones read as follows:
#1: He boasted of his might; but, death was his plight.
#2: His wandering eyes soon caused his demise.
#3: Many ladies he cherished and now he has perished.
#4: He quenched his thirst; but, the water was cursed.
#5: This dwarf was much feared, ‘til he tripped on his beard.
#6: Here lies Dwight, a knight he did smite.
#7: Eric was given to roam; all that's left is this stone.
#8: They came, they saw, they died.
#9: Here lies Louise, a thief should not sneeze.
#10: Here lies poor Mel, he cast the wrong spell.
#11: A thief who did fink, has become quite extinct.
#12: He’s dead, Jim.
#13: Here lies Todd, he angered a god.
#14: This spot is reserved for:
#15: This spot is reserved for:
Oddly, and certainly unsettlingly, Tombstones 14 and 15, corresponding to two open graves, sport the names of two of the Player Characters. This is inexplicable, as no one remembers ever carving those tombstones, or having commissioned them.
The Castle Dungeons
This section describes all the underground locales accessible from the castle. Entrances are located in the towers, as well as in the Magic Shop and the Church.
[Map: castle dungeons]
From the north-eastern tower of the Duke’s Hall, a set of stairs leads to the castle dungeons. This area is composed of several cells, as well as an interrogation room. All doors are solid oak while the floors, walls and ceiling are all made of granite.
Room 1: This cell is currently empty.
Room 2: This cell holds a Beastman Warrior, captured by Duke Barrik’s men.
Room 3: This cell is the lair of a Giant Rat.
Room 4: This cell is currently empty.
Room 5: The interrogation room is Slyke’s domain. There is a secret compartment in the middle of the left wall of the chamber that holds Slyke’s Gauntlets of Ogre Power.
Room 6: This area, accessed from the south-western tower of the Duke’s Hall, has long been used as a place for the ruler to catch a quick nap. Due to the war, Duke Barrik has taken to living here full time. A storage closet that holds an old staff is located along the corridor that leads to the bedchamber. The Duke’s bedchamber is a spartan quarter, with little more than a cot, a nightstand and a washbasin. A sturdy oak door leads to a tiny privy.
Room 7: This area, accessed through the south-eastern tower of the Duke’s Hall, is empty.
Room 8: The Magic Shop’s Laboratory show lots of acid stains and scorch marks. There is a Sleep Scroll laying on the floor to the right as you enter the room. A Wand of Lightning (25 charges) is hidden in a secret closet along the corridor.
Room 9: The Inn’s Cellar is a rather larger room, but due to the war it is now almost bare. There is a secret room in one corner that used to hold the Inn’s more expensive offers. Currently, it only holds an Axe +1 that Bilion was planning to sell.
Room 10: The north-eastern castle tower has a short underground passage that is used for storage purposes. A concealed compartment along the corridor hides Silvik’s old sword, a +1 magical weapon.
Room 11: The Temple’s Cellar holds 2 Potions of Healing to the left of the entrance and a secret door in the far right upper corner of the room holding a Staff of Healing. New healing potions can always be gathered from the Healer at say 100 gp each after the first 2 are used. Rationale: it’s all they are able to make between PCs’ visits to the castle. Prices can increase as the castle descends into madness.
Room 12: This tower basement use to be the guards meeting and storage room. It was converted to a crypt after the war took its toll on the population. Three doors lead to tiny crypts clustered around the stairs.
The first to the right of the entrance is the crypt of the Wizard Casolari, who was slain in the first week of the war by an errant goblin arrow. The PCs can still feel the eyes of the Wizard Casolari who still haunts his resting place.
Opposite to the entrance is the crypt reserved for the Fiefdom of Lindstrom. There is a brass plaque on the door that reads: “The Fiefdom of Lindstrom holds this crypt for future use”. Among the current Duke’s strongest supporters, the entire Fiefdom fell in the first goblin assault on the dukedom and no bodies were able to be recovered for interment.
To the left of the entrance, the crypt door sports a gold plaque that reads: “King Offord”. Strangely enough, there never was a “King” Offord. The man interred within this crypt was a crippled insane Halfling who rode into battle on a small wagon drawn by 10 giant rats slinging stones to buy time for the Duke and Silvik to retreat into the castle. As they retreated, Duke Hector grabbed Offord by his collar and carried him into the castle even as Offord continued to sling stones at the goblins… Regrettably Offord died of a heart attack as they passed beneath the castle gate. Duke Hector ordered him buried as “King Offord”.
Two more crypts have been dug along the wall in front of the Lindstrom crypt.
The left door has a plaque reading: “The noble family of Sperry Glen resides in this crypt.” A noble family in decline -- all nine, the last of the line -- were slain trying to reach the safety of the castle. An Elven force led by Palens recovered their bodies for burial, sealing a debt Palens’s clan had owed the Sperry Glens for over a century.
The door on the right has a plaque reading: “The noble Knight, Kenny Wing, honors this crypt.” Sir Kenny Wing perished near the wars end when he selflessly shielded the Wizard Valimas from goblin arrows as the mage methodically tossed Fireballs amongst the goblin horde. Sir Wing fell as Valimas cast his final Fireball with no less than 40 arrows in him. Witnesses say Wing was chugging Healing Potions like a madman; but, had sworn no harm would befall Valimas so long as he had breath in his body.
Room 13: A secret door leads into the beginnings of further expansion. The remains of a nameless warrior lie within still wearing his magical Chain Mail +1.
Duke Barrik and his followers
Duke Hector Barrik
Lawful Fighter 14
AC: 8 (1 w/ Plate Mail +1 & Dex)
Str: 17; Int: 11; Wis: 15; Dex: 13; Con: 15; Cha: 14
Hector Barrik is a 28 years old warrior, who has only been Duke since the goblin ambush that started the war. His father, the late Duke Barrik, was killed by the goblins in that incident. Hector has black hair and brown eyes. He stands 5’ 11” and weighs 230 lbs. The old Duke was only 57 at the time of his death, but Hector had been trained and educated by his father’s advisors, the court mage Marmillian and Silvik, the Captain of the Guard.
Special Gear: Plate Mail +1 enchanted with a permanent Protection from Normal Missiles; a 2-handed Sword +2, which has the power to cast Cureall twice per day, limited to the sword’s holder.
Lawful Magic-User: 14
AC: 9 (2/4 w/ Shield Spell)
Str: 12, Int: 18; Wis: 18; Dex: 12; Con: 17; Cha: 14
Marmillian is the castle's resident sage, as well as the principal advisor to Duke Barrik. A powerful Magic User, Marmillian is knowledgeable on artifacts, languages and ancient cultures. During the course of the adventure, he directs the characters to recover artifacts useful to study and identify the cultures encountered in and beyond the valley.
Initially, he suggests that the PCs visit the towers to examine the Beastman prisoner and search for useful equipment left behind during the siege. As an advisor and sage, Marmillian’s spells are oriented towards information gathering rather than combat. For example, he might have the following spells in his spellbooks: Analyze, Detect Magic, Light, Read Languages, Read Magic; Continual Light, Detect Evil, Detect Invisibility, ESP; Clairvoyance; Charm Monster; Contact Other Plane.
Marmillian has only 1 magical Item of note, which was created for him by his mentor decades ago: the Ring of the Sage. This ring allows Marmillian to understand and speak any language he hears within 50 feet of him, and enables him to read any written language. Since it was created specifically for Marmillian, it will only function for him. Furthermore, it is cursed so that it cannot be removed from his finger while he lives. Should Marmillian die, the ring will lose all of its magic and become a simple ring worth 5 sp.
Lawful Fighter: 14
AC: 8 (-1 w/ Chain Mail +3, Shield +1 & Dex)
Str: 18; Int: 13; Wis: 9; Dex: 13; Con: 18; Cha: 13
Lawful Cleric of Ka: 14
AC: 6 (1 w/ Chain Mail, Shield & Dex)
Str: 15; Int: 13; Wis: 17; Dex: 18; Con: 15; Cha: 14
Long in the past, Amelya had a secret crush on Silvik, and she still likes the old warrior. She is now worried about his state of mind, and may ask the PCs to watch him, and report his behaviour to her.
Neutral Magic-User: 14
AC: 7 (2/4 w/ Shield Spell)
Str: 15; Int: 18; Wis: 16; Dex: 16; Con: 15; Cha: 11
Neutral (Lawful tendencies after arriving in the Hollow World) Thief: 14
AC: 7 (3 w/ Leather Armor +2 & Dex)
Str: 18; Int: 13; Wis: 11; Dex: 16; Con: 15; Cha: 17
Jacmar is a master Thief and ex-smuggler who was actually in the castle’s dungeons awaiting trial at the start of the war. Given the chance to clear all charges against him, if he fought in the war, Jacmar jumped at the opportunity. Putting his thieving skills to use against the goblin forces, he employed hit and run tactics to harass them while also using his stealth to sneak in close and assassinate clear leaders. With 40 confirmed kills, Duke Barrik gave him a clean slate and suggested he teaches other thieves his tactics.
Special Gear: Leather Armor +2, Free Action (as Ring of Free Action.) In melee Jacmar uses a Sword +1 and a Dagger. He also carries a crossbow for ranged combat.
While Jacmar is putting his best effort into redeeming himself, the pressure of the maddening magic that grips the castle is wearing him down. He is scared and feels uncertain about his place in this society. He wants to prove himself, but if he does not receive the respect and reassurance he needs, he might collapse and betray the castle to the Azcans.
Lawful Dwarf: 12
AC: 8 (2 w/ Dwarven Plate Mail & Dex)
Str: 18; Int: 10; Wis: 12; Dex: 15; Con: 13; Cha: 12
Among dwarves Gristling is an oddity, with no aptitude for mining or any other “normal” dwarven craft; Gristling was actually a farmer before the war. During the early stages of the war however, he distinguished himself when he single-handedly held off a goblin assault that saw him pitted against 3 score goblins. When reinforcements arrived, they found Gristling dragging himself through the carnage, cussing out the goblins for not having a single drop of decent ale amongst them. When the dwarven leaders decided to retreat into their stronghold near the war’s end, Gristling and some other 40 dwarves could not stand by their leaders’ decisions and left the dwarven holdings to continue aiding Duke Barrik’s forces. By the time the castle was transported to the Hollow World, only Gristling and 22 other dwarves survived.
Special Gear: Battle Axe +2/+3 vs Orcs; Dwarven Plate Mail & a normal Crossbow.
Lawful Elf: 10
AC: 6 (0 w/ Elven Chain Mail +2 & Dex)
Str: 18; Int: 14; Wis: 15; Dex: 18; Con: 14; Cha: 10
Near the end of the war, as the majority of Elves retreated into the forest depths, Palens was given command of a force of 50 Elves to continue fighting alongside Barrik’s forces. By the time the castle was transported to its new location, only Palens and 20 other Elves survived. After watching the goblins eat humans and elves, Palens is now sickened by the thought and sight of eating meat, and has become a vegetarian. He cannot even eat with anyone eating meat. Upon learning about the Schattenalfen Elves, Palens and the other surface elves were completely shocked that they live underground. As a result, they are in a state of complete denial and steadfastly refuse to accept them as elvenkind.
Neutral Halfling(Hin): 8
AC: 7 (4 w/ Leather Armor, Shield & Dex)
Str: 13; Int: 13; Wis: 15; Dex: 17; Con: 13; Cha: 14
During the Goblin War, while most Hin chose to hide in defendable burrows, Argone led a group of Halfling misfits to fight alongside Duke Barrik’s forces. Of the original group only Argone and 20 others survived the war. Although only a Halfling War-Chief during the war, after the castle was transported to its new location the surviving Halflings chose to keep Argone as their leader.
Special Gear: Sling +2, allows 2 attacks per round; normal Leather Armor; a normal Shield & a normal Short Sword.
Neutral Thief: 14
AC: 6 (4 w/ Leather Armor & Dex)
Str: 17; Int: 15; Wis: 14; Dex: 18; Con: 13; Cha: 11
At 45, Slyke is a retired thief who discovered he was better at getting people to talk, than disarming traps. Coupling his instinctive ability to detect deception with his special ring he quickly became the Duke’s master Interrogator, although he prefers to be called “The Great Unburdener”. The only magical item he carries at all times is his Ring of Languages, which allows the wearer to understand and speak any language spoken within 10’. He will tell the party to search the main “questioning” chamber in the dungeon to find his old Gauntlets of Ogre Power. In combat, Slyke wears leather armor and fights with daggers, using a two-weapon style.
Lawful Thief: 14
AC: 7 (5 w/ Leather Armor & Dex)
Str: 10; Int: 10: Wis: 13; Dex: 16; Con: 16; Cha: 18
At 63 years old, Bilion was an accomplished thief. He retired to become a merchant after a missed blade trap almost cost him both legs. Since his retirement, he has worked his way up the ranks in the Merchants Guild to become Guildmaster. Fair and honest, his appraisal skills are second to none for non-magical items. He is the owner and operator of the Inn, which serves also as the Merchant Guild Hall, since the original building was lost to the war.
He always carries 2 special items: a Dagger +1, Stone Touch (save vs spell or be turned to stone) and a Ring of Analyze, which allows the wearer to correctly identify/appraise any item with a 95% accuracy (usable 6x per day). Bilion will use the ring to identify any magical items brought to him. He will tell the party to search the Inn’s cellar for a magical Hand Axe +1 that he intended to sell. If forced into combat, Bilion wears leather armor and fights with a mace, reserving his dagger for particularly tough enemies.
There are currently 202 people crowding in the castle, in addition to the 11 NPCs described above. Of these, 140 are human refugees and inhabitants of the Duke’s Castle and fief. The remaining are allied demihumans who came to support the Duke’s forces during the Goblin Wars, and were stranded in the castle during the final siege.
30 Human Guards: 10 1st level Fighters, 5 2nd level Fighters, 5 3rd level Fighters, 5 4th Level Fighters and 5 5th Level Fighters.
4 Clerics: 2nd level with 1 Cure Light Wounds spell each.
4 Shopkeepers: 3 of them, the shopkeepers of the Weapon and Armor Shops and the Caravan Master are 2nd level Fighters. The Magic Shopkeeper is a 5th level Magic-user, a former apprentice of Valimas, who runs the shop in exchange for further training.
2 Inn tenders: 3rd level Thieves who work for Bilion after getting kicked out of the Thieves Guild by Jacmar for scamming the castle guards before the war.
100 normal people: 0th level (Normal Man); although due to the war, roughly 25 of them are close to becoming 1st level Fighters. The remaining 75 are too old to fight or too young (50 of them are kids 10 & under). All are refugees from the area near the castle.
20 Dwarves: 5 1st level Dwarves, 5 2nd level Dwarves, 5 3rd level Dwarves and 5 4th level Dwarves. These dwarves, and the other demihuman present, came to help Duke Barrik in the war, even though their folk did not want to get involved.
There are also 2 more Dwarven workers: 5th level. They were crippled during the early stages of the war and now spend their time crafting what weapons and armor they can.
20 Elves: 10 1st level Elves, 5 2nd level Elves & 5 3rd level Elves.
20 Halflings(Hin): 5 1st level Halflings, 5 2nd level Halflings, 5 3rd level Halflings, 3 4th level Halflings and 2 5th level Halflings.
All of the human guards, clerics, shopkeepers, Inntenders and both dwarven workers sleep in their shops or on their posts, since lodgings are scarce with all the refugees.
The refugees and the demihumans sleep wherever they can find room -- residential areas, the Duke’s Hall, or the inn.
After the party has explored the starting island, teams will be dispatched from the castle to search for usable materials. Dwarves will search for mining sites, and elves will search for good sources of wood. Halflings will spend their time as farmers.
Most of these people are equipped with leather armor, a shield, and a short sword and light crossbow, although the dwarves have maces and axes rather than short swords, and the elves have bows rather than crossbows.
NPC interactions should follow the descent into madness of the population. Initially, the population is helpful and hopes the PCs will help them find allies in this new world. However, as the Burrower’s madness takes its toll, they become greedy, paranoid, or plainly incoherent.
Pick from or roll on the rumors table to generate appropriate conversation, taking into account the stage of the campaign the PCs have reached.
The PCs themselves were likely part of one of the groups -- in particular demihuman PCs are sent by their leaders to support the exploration party, while human PCs may be related to or friends with some of the castle folk or the refugees.
Initial rumors and conversation
After discovery of the Beastman Caves
After discovery of the Malpheggi Swamp
After discovery of the Azcan Temple
The Duke is a kind and patient man.
I heard there's a passage beyond the flames. Have you looked there?
I’m sooo confused.
Why is it we wash up and scrub down?
Praise the maker that we have been spared.
There is a cavern in the northeast corner of the valley.
Did you find the cavern to the north?
Is anybody out there?
Beware the swamps.
If you follow the river east, you will find the entrance to the Elven Realms.
We should have sent a blind man for aid!
This is all your fault!
I’ve heard a rumor there's a monster in the city’s dungeon.
I bet you feel pretty proud of yourselves. Ha!
More enemies! We need friends not enemies!
I’m going swimming.
The war has weakened us.
Someone told me that you found a great treasure.
The bottles are drunk; but, the snacks have not been fed yet.
Stay away from me! I know you just want to hurt me!
The beastmen have a camp to the northwest.
I’ve heard there is a secret passage behind one of the waterfalls.
They’re going to take me away, oh my!
Take it away. Let me hear ya say...
There are dinosaurs in the swamps.
Things aren’t much better now.
I'm not paranoid, they’re just out to get me!
I’m shrinking...Help me, help me!
We all wish you well in your journeys.
Where were you during the last beastman attack?
How dare you return without aid!
The Duke should banish you for all the trouble you’ve caused!
Equip yourselves well before venturing forth.
I think my neighbor has gone mad.
It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.
Get out of town, you lousy bums!
Good luck on your journeys!
The Cathedral once had an extensive cellar.
Have you always been tall or have I shrunk?
Jack is back!
Speed to the adventurers.
Haven’t you found an ally yet?
Are you sure you haven’t seen my cat?
Yahoooo! Ha ha ha ha he he ho ho ho!
The beastmen bear ancient markings.
Have you seen my cat?
I’ve taken a vow of deafness; don’t talk to me.
Here is my handle and here is my spout.
The beastmen come from the north.
The Lizardmen hate everyone.
I’m a little teapot short and stout....
Why is anybody listening to me? Can't they see I'm mute?
Some spells don't work in this new land. (HWCS Player’s Guide pg. 3-5)
Hornswoop me bungo pony.
Happy New Year!
Shops and Merchants
The Armor, Caravan, Magic and Weapon Shops are all quite similar in structure -- simple stores built in the same sturdy construction as the other buildings. The three shopkeepers are employees of the Duke, and all three are veterans of his guard (2nd level Fighters).
Due to the recent war, stocks are low with few materials left in reserve to craft more weapons and armor. As time passes and the party explores more areas, the shops will be able to replenish their stock. The appearance of new goods and services should be spaced months apart to account for finding and gathering new raw materials.
In the computer game, this effect is achieved by triggering new stock to appear after a specific locale is explored, but in a tabletop game, the DM can choose to adapt the restocking to the time frame of the adventure. Due to the Burrower’s presence, the shopkeepers, like all other NPCs, will become morose, greedy and finally crazed.
Initially, shopkeepers will be polite, but will have only a few items to sell. For example, they may say, as they do in the game:
“Welcome! I’m sorry; but, due to the recent war, my stock is low. How may I help you today?” - starting greeting.
However, after the PCs have explored the Malpheggi swamp, they will have acquired new stock, including magic items, either found by the exploratory teams or manufactured by the resident high-level wizards and clerics (Marmillian, Valimas and Amalya). They will become less polite and less friendly, though:
“You again? Whatever you want, it’s gonna cost ya! Don’t waste my time just looking either.”
This should raise some suspicions -- after all, their business is likely recovering, yet they don’t seem so keen on keeping customers happy.
After the PCs have visited the Azcan Temple, the effects of the Burrower’s corruption will be fully evident, with shopkeepers being quite hostile:
“I don’t have time to waste on you. If you don’t want to buy anything, get out! And stay out!”
[Armor Shop List]
Cost after Bridge, before Withered Vine
Cost after Malpheggi Swamp
Cost after Azcan Temple
Chain Mail +1
Plate Mail +1
Chain Mail +2
Plate Mail +2
Chain Mail +3
Plate Mail +3
Ring of Protection +1
Ring of Regeneration
Axes and swords sold at the weapon shop are generally hand axes and short swords, although the DM may modify this or let occasional variants appear (e.g., if the castle came from Darokin, rapiers may be appropriate).
[Weapon Shop List]
Cost after Bridge before Withered Vine
Cost after Malpheggi Swamp
Cost after Azcan Temple
War Hammer +1
War Hammer +2
War Hammer +3
Gauntlets of Ogre Power
Sword +1/+3 vs. Regenerating
[Magic Shop List]
Cost after Bridge before Withered Vine
Cost after Malpheggi Swamp
Cost after Azcan Temple
Magic Missile Scroll
Protection from Normal Missiles Scroll
Ice Storm Scroll
Stone to Flesh Scroll
Flesh to Stone Scroll
Anti-Magic Shell Scroll
Death Spell Scroll
Wand of Fireballs
Wand of Cold
Wand of Fear
“I’m sorry; but, due to our relocation, I don’t have any caravans planned. Please come back later.”
When the PCs (or the NPC explorers) locate some interesting region where trade can be done, the caravan master will start organising journeys, and may let the PCs participate. For example, if the PCs have discovered the Beastman Caves:
“I hear you found some caves. So? Do you want a caravan or don’t you?”
Later, he will be affected by the Burrower’s madness like all others:
“I am the caravan man. Show me the way; but, you still have to pay!”
The caravans are costly, but are a good way to avoid wandering monsters -- there is safety in numbers, after all.
[Caravan Shop List]
Dragon Cave (Oltec Tradeway)
[Map of the Hidden Valley]
Exploring the Hidden Valley, Part 1: the Island
The adventure starts when the PCs are summoned to the Duke’s quarters. The Duke needs to find allies and resources in the Hollow World -- although he is not aware of the true nature of the Hollow World, he understands that they are not in their original world, and that their survival is far from certain, not last because of the presence of the Beastmen, who certainly are a scary reminder of the Goblin Wars.
“The Immortals have given us a second chance. We are in a strange new world. There is a new enemy here. Our people need allies to survive; but, the guards must defend our castle, so you have been chosen to explore our new surroundings. Serve me well and bring me allies, and I will reward you!”
The Duke has many pressing needs to attend, so he will direct the PCs to consult with his advisor, Marmillian, for further instruction and help.
Marmillian shares the Duke’s preoccupations, but also has additional concerns. As a sage, he wishes to study the new world and its inhabitants. As such, he instructs the PCs to bring back any artifact that could share some light on their current location:
“It is good to see our wise Duke has assigned this important task to such brave adventurers! Please bring me any artifacts you find so that I may study them & learn more about this strange new world. I will pay you well for anything that can help me in my studies. Hopefully what I learn will benefit you as well.”
Marmillian will be thankful to the PCs for any artifacts they bring back. He can offer up to a total of 1,600 GP for these items.
“Thank you for bringing me some artifacts from the beastman caves! I will need time to study these. Please search for more while I learn what I can about our crazed foes.”
Exploring the Hidden Valley is a dangerous proposition. Initially, the PCs are likely confined to the island, since the river is deep and impetuous, forcing any who would pass it by swimming to a Swimming check -- if the check is failed, the swimmer is likely to drown unless help comes. If it the check succeeds by 4 or less points, the swimmer barely manages to return to the river banks, likely 1d4*100 yards downriver. If the check succeeds by 5 or more points, the swimmer successfully crosses the river.
Another area is initially inaccessible: the Fire Lands to the west, where lava flows freely from a nearby volcano. This area is so hot that, one hex into it, PCs lose 1 HP to cross that hex, and 1 HP per day if resting. The amount doubles per each hex into the area, so to reach, e.g., the Halls of the Dead (hex 0405) from the nearest point in the Hidden Valley (hex 0411) each PC would suffer 127 HP of damage. Only by wearing Rings of Fire Resistance or using high level spells such as Survival the area can be crossed safely.
Following the meeting with Duke Hector and Marmillian, the PCs may wish to visit the shops and talk with the people. The DM can use the information provided in the NPC section above to arrange such conversations.
The following random encounters tables can be used while the PCs explore the valley, following the standard encounter rules found in the Rules Cyclopedia.
Note that Beastman treasure should consist of very few, if any, coins. The vast majority of it should consist of primitive artifacts: ie. bone necklaces, carved pipes, small totems. Any gems, jewels or precious metals will be in raw, unprocessed form. A chart is provided in the monster listing to guide the DM, providing a range of equivalent GP value for the treasure carried by the various types of beastmen.
Table: Starting Island wandering monster list]
[Table: Starting Island Swamp wandering monster list]
The Beastman Camp
The Catacombs of Doom
[Map: Catacombs of Doom]
The portion of the dungeon between the waterfall entrance and the stairs is a simple dig with wooden supports helping keep the stability of the tunnels, whereas the part upstairs is much more refined, with granite slabs and ceiling, not unlike the castle dungeons.
This odd conformation is due to the origin of the dungeon. When Ka transported the Castle to the Hollow World, a fragment of a catacomb in the area was transported too -- it became the eastern side of the Catacombs of Doom. It was originally a funerary complex built to house some notables among the fallen of a previous war, but a group of Trolls allied to the goblins had been plundering it. They too were transported to the Hollow World.
Dwarves and PCs with the Engineering or equivalent skills will notice that the architecture of the eastern portion is not unlike that of their hometown. Marmillian will be interested in a description of the area (award 40 XP to each PC if Marmillian is informed of the Catacombs).
Room 2. 4 Giant Toads are hiding in the room. They have been fleeing from the Flying Vipers in room 1. They will not attack unless provoked.
Room 3. A Gelatinous Cube was trapped in this secret room -- most likely as part of a trap protecting the complex. On a successful search of this room, the party will find a hidden compartment in the northeast corner of the floor holding a rotten pouch with 5 uncut diamonds valued at 500 gp each. However if the diamonds are cut and polished they’ll have a value of 5,000 gp each.
Room 4. 6 Tiger Beetles are munching on the corpse of a giant toad. They will stop if disturbed, and attack the intruders.
Room 5. A carrion crawler hides in this room, waiting for an incautious tiger beetle to stray from area 4.
Room 6. 2 Owlbears nest in this room, and have accumulated a large amount of refuse in the corners. If the party spends more than an hour searching the refuse in this room they’ll find a ring of old skeleton keys (5 in all) that give Thieves, and any character with the General Skill: Escape Artist (which mimics Open Locks), a +25% bonus to Open Locks or a flat 25% bonus to Open Locks for any other character. Each key is made of Eisenmond ore so they do not radiate magic.
Room 7. This area is empty.
Room 8. This room is decorated with 4 grotesque statues, one mounted on a pillar in each corner. The statues are actually gargoyles, and will animate to attack the PCs. They also attacked the Trolls, who, since the Gargoyle are inedible and too difficult to damage, simply give this room and area 14 a wide berth. After the gargoyles are defeated, the party will find a small chest in a cubbyhole inset into the pillar beneath one of the gargoyles. Inside the chest are 9 Potions of Restoration that restore 1 level lost to Energy Drain per potion.
Room 9. The door to this area is barred from the outside. This tomb has not yet been plundered. Six sarcofagi lie in a line, each cover sculpted in the image of a sleeping human warrior. Unfortunately, possibly due to the Troll’s desecration, all of the mummified bodies have arisen as Zombies. One of the Zombies is wearing a Helm of Protection +1.
Room 10. This tomb has been fully plundered, and is now occupied by 3 Trolls. The Trolls in this complex can be reasoned with only before the PCs reach the Beastman Caves. After that time, they will be too crazed for negotiate. Even when sane, Trolls are not the most brilliant minds, so negotiations will not go far unless the PCs start from a position of strength -- e.g., by bringing a lot of fire with them. The Trolls in the catacombs were part of the goblin invasion, and had wandered into the complex when it was transposed to the Hollow World.
Room 11. The door to this area is barred from the outside. This tomb has not yet been plundered. Five sarcofagi lie around the walls, each cover sculpted in the image of a chainmail wearing elf warrior. An evil spirit possesses the mummified remains of one of the elves, who has arisen as a Wyrd. The remaining four bodies have been animated as Zombies by the Wyrd. Each sarcofagi holds a Dragonscale Chestplate - acts as a Shield +1 and takes only 1/2 or 1/4 damage from a dragon’s breath weapon. Each is a different color and protections against the breath weapon of that color of dragon. The colors are as follows: (1) White; (2) Green; (3) Red; (4) Blue; and (5) Black.
Room 12. This tomb has been fully plundered, and is now occupied by 3 Trolls. See area 10 for more information on these Trolls.
Room 13. 6 Giant Scorpions have entered the cave complex recently. One of the Trolls has closed them in this room, barring it from outside, in order to eat them at a later time.
Room 14. This room is identical to room 8, including the 4 gargoyles. Secured to the ceiling of this room, is an iron-banded wooden chest that is both locked and trapped with a Sleep Gas. Stored in the chest are: a Shadow Suit: +25% to Thieves Hide in Shadows (or Halflings and any character with the Hide in Shadows General Skill) or flat 25% for non-Thieves (think ninja garb), a pair of Climbing Claws: a special type of Toratsume that gives Thieves a +10% to Climb Walls (or anyone with the Climbing or Mountaineering General Skills) or non-Thieves a flat 10% and 3 Firegoad Wands. This last item is usable by any class and does 1d6 fire damage on a successful hit roll.
Special thanks to Sega, TSR & Westwood Studios for making such a great game.
Special thanks to Mr. Douglas Lanford for his permission to use that vast majority of the maps & for all his hard work as part of the team that made & tested this wonderful game.
Special thanks to Chris Seabrook for his permission to use his castle map & opening Prologue from his walkthrough.
Appendix: Monster List
This appendix reports the references for all the monsters appearing in the computer game, as well as
(RC = Rules Cyclopedia. CC = Creature Catalog. HWCS = Hollow World Campaign Setting.)
Appendix: Rumored Magic Items
Rumored Magical Items
[Table: Rumored Magic Items]
Sword +1, Energy Drain
Ring of Spell Turning
Boots of Speed
Potion of Giant Strength
Protection from Elementals
Wand of Magic Detection
Sword +1/+3 vs Enchanted
Ring of Water Walking
Drums of Panic
Potion of Heroism
Protection from Magic
Wand of Negation
Sword +1/+2 vs Spell-Users
Ring of Weakness
Girdle of Giant Strength
Potion of Invulnerability
Protection from Undead
Wand of Secret Door Detection
Sword +1, Flames
Horn of Blasting
Potion of Speed
Wand of Trap Detection
Sword +1/+3 vs Dragons
Staff of Striking
Rumored Spell Scrolls
[Table: Rumored Spell Scrolls]
Sticks to Snakes*
Wall of Fire
Wall of Stone
Wall of Iron