Temple District (2.1 - 2.9)

Exploration of the area round the temple will provide the characters with some answers but will raise more questions.

2.1 - Corridors

Automatic
Two things stand out in this well-made corridor. Firstly, a rough, sharply descending passage, noticeably cruder than anything else in this area of the dungeon, branches off the corridor. Secondly, the words "The Chest Doesn't Contain Gold" are carved into the fine stonework of the corridor's floor.
Easy
There is a breeze coming from the descending passage. — The carving in the floor looks of high quality.
Moderate
The stone work of the rough passageway is workmanlike and solid. It does not look recent. — The carving looks old and worn but it is written in modern letter forms and language.
Hard
The carving is an extremely well disguised illusion which appears in the native language of the viewer, though always saying the same thing.

The illusory carving is produced by the Chest [4.6].

Exits:

  • Towards the stairs leading out of the dungeon [1.4].
  • Into a series of well-made corridors and rooms [2.2].
  • Descend down a long, roughly-made passageway [3.1].

2.2 - Empty Room

Automatic
In a series of well made rooms and corridors devoid of anything of interest, one empty room stands out. The ceiling has large cracks through which mud has seeped down and covered the floor. Footprints can be clearly seen in the dirt.
Easy
There has been a lot of traffic through this room.
Moderate
Imprints of human boots, a barefooted human and a large number of goblins are visible in the mud.
Hard
The goblin prints only go in one direction (towards [2.1]), while the human prints go in both directions.

Exits:

  • Following the corridors and rooms in the rough direction of the entrance [2.1].
  • Move further into the dungeon through more corridors and rooms [2.3].

2.3 - Wall

Automatic
The walls of a wide, well-constructed passageway are covered in graffiti in a variety of languages.
Easy
The most frequent language is Goblin dialect but Human and Entropian (frog-people) are also common. Most of the graffiti is simple - "Bok-Mak-Mak was here", or puerile - "Kan-Nak-Kak has a small wang".
Moderate
A couple of bits of graffiti in Goblin seem to have specific advice: "Don't shut the doors" and "Leave the sword and bones alone."
Hard
There are layers upon layers of graffiti and some of the letter forms look outdated. The oldest seems to be in Gnomish, scraped into the wall but half obliterated by latter messages. It says "The bone cave is cursed."

Exits:

  • Along a large corridor the air is fresher and cooler [2.4].
  • Into an area of empty corridors and rooms [2.2].

2.4 - Chasm

The corridor is interrupted by a chasm.

Automatic
A wide chasm with a river at the bottom intersects the corridor. The chasm is 30' deep, 15' wide and clearly was here before the corridor was built. Presumably a bridge must have spanned this gap at some point.
Easy
The chasm walls are rough and there are a series of handholds on each side. The river is slow-moving and about 2' deep.
Moderate
The handholds are well worn, suggesting a lot of use.
Hard
Movement and a brief glimpse of a pair of large bulbous eyes can be seen.

The Movement Resistance for the chasm walls is 4 per 5' of ascent or descent. The river at the bottom is easy to cross (MR 2 per 5'). Leaping the chasm has a resistance of twelve (MR 4 per 5').

Entropians

Anyone climbing down to cross the river will see an entropian – intelligent, man-sized frog-like creatures – watching them carefully from the tunnel. Entropians are very wary of all land-based peoples whose cultures are generally hostile to these strange-looking non-humanoid creatures.

The way for a land-based creature to earn an entropian's trust is to sit in the water, ideally with no light sources, and wait. The entropians with their perfect vision even in pitch black and easy movement in water recognise that the visitors are putting themselves in their webbed hands. This sign of trust reassures the entropians who respond by inviting the strangers to climb out of the river, build a fire and share a meal of fish with them.

Once trust is established, the frog-men are friendly, chatty and can provide a reasonable amount of information. However, entropian culture is very different from surface dwellers' and time in particular has little meaning. To entropians, all of time can be split into 'now' (the present time), 'just now' (anything from a few minutes ago to 24 hours), 'recently' (in the last week), 'the past' (anything in living memory) and 'history' (everything else). Sometimes the concepts can be joined, so 'recently just now' indicates two or three days. Game Leaders should have fun by making the players think like entropians.

Automatic
'Recently' much has happened. A group of humans went towards the temple, a large group of goblins went away from the temple and the same group of humans came back.
Easy
The goblins were hurt and scared, running away from something which worried the entropians. The two species have generally been on good terms as the goblins live in their temple and the entropians in the river. Now there is a bad smell from the direction of the goblins' home.
Moderate
One of the men was familiar, having crossed the river several times in 'the past', and the men were carrying a long box.
Hard
While he was at the Waterfall [4.5], one of the entropians saw the same group of humans approach the forever people. (The forever people is the entropian name for the cells [4.4] as they have no concept of prisons or even lockable doors. All they notice is the people in them never change).

If the characters are hostile, the entropians will defend their tunnels and spawning grounds from intruders. They will form a wall of frog-men blocking the tunnel and some of the entropians will leap over the heads of the characters and threaten them from behind. There will be three 1d6+4 mooks (Entropian Pondkin) per party member plus one Entropian Warrior per three characters. Game Leaders should make this a very tough fight, giving the players a chance to fall back and reconsider their plan.

Exits:

  • Towards a graffiti-covered corridor [2.3].
  • Into a much larger and grander corridor [2.5].
  • Down the river to [4.5] (if the entropians consent).

2.5 - Burial Chamber

Automatic
A small corridor links with a much larger and grander corridor. At the near end of this grand corridor there is a chamber with two burial niches carved into the wall. Each contains the remains of a body and something gold is grasped in the hands of the upper body. A broken pillar stands at the junction of the large and small corridors.
Easy
The body in the upper niche is wrapped in bandages and clasps a gold, two-handed sword. The body and bandages look new, or at least not old and dirty. — In the bottom niche, there are just bones which look disturbed and scattered. — There is magic coming from the top niche.
Moderate
Magic comes from both niches but the bottom is much harder to spot. The magic for the top niche covers the entire body whereas in the bottom niche it emanates from two separate places at its back. — At the back of the bottom niche are a wooden cup and the tattered remains of a book.
Hard
Everything in the top niche is a powerful illusion.
The Niches

The body and sword in the top niche appear real when touched but fade to nothing the moment they are removed. The bottom niche contains the Knight of the Cup, one of the three knights who defeated High Priestess Korvak. The upper niche, and the whole burial arrangement, is a test of worthiness devised by the Knight. The book contains important clues to the history of the temple, Korvak and the devil while the cup is a useful tool for the adventurers.

If the characters show due respect to the dead, for example laying out the the bones and objects in the lower niche, a ghostly form appears. It politely bows and without saying anything slowly points to the cup. It mimes taking the cup, drinking from it, patting its stomach and then placing it back. The apparition then fades. The party may now use the cup.

The cup is a simple, unadorned wooden chalice with a chipped rim. Filling it with any liquid and drinking from the cup allows the character to make a recovery action to treat wounds, diseases and similar maladies.

The book is old and tattered. Most of the pages have been torn out and what little is left is unreadable. However, if anyone treats the book with reverence and care, either as an object belonging to the dead or simply out of a love for books, the book takes on a ghostly shimmer. Now it is readable and can be studied. This takes at least a scene and Game Leaders should reward characters taking more time with more information.

Automatic
The writing is in an archaic form of the human tongue, approximately 1000 years old, and tells the story of three knights who defeated High Priestess Korvak.
Easy
Korvak's power came from a devil and she used that power to build a mighty temple.
Moderate
Korvak was not killed and instead they imprisoned her for all eternity deep underground.
Hard
The temple had a magic circle for summoning devils but the knights were unable to destroy it.

If the cup, book or the bones from the lower niche are removed, the 'dead body' from the upper niche will rise and attack whoever is responsible. The illusion is a 1d6+6 mook (Relentless Illusion) which will ceaslessly pursue the defilers of the grave until they are dead, the items are returned or proper respect is given to the dead. The illusion does physical damage with its attack even if the victim knows it is an illusion. It can be destroyed by violence or by dispelling it with magic. However the illusion simply reforms at the niche and starts its pursuit again.

Pillar

In a scene with dead bodies and gold swords, the broken pillar is easily overlooked by the players. This is a mistake because it poses a very real threat in the form of an Adult Mimic.

Automatic
A broken pillar, about 4' high. The remains of the pillar cannot be seen.
Easy
From the style and positioning, the pillar looks out of place. It has possibly been moved from a different location.
Moderate
It is very slightly clammy to the touch.
Hard
The pillar moves very slightly, like it is alive.

Mimics are cunning and will attempt to attack characters who are on their own, at the back of a group or busy with another task (e.g. reading a book). If the fight goes badly it will flee and use its disguise ability to hide.

Game Leader Notes

This location is about looking closely and acting with restraint. Players who think through the situation and respect the dead should be rewarded. Use long, flowing language to describe how the sword gleams in the torchlight and the intricate carving on the hilt of the sword. In contrast, the pillar and the lower niche (the real danger and treasure) should be given short, drab descriptions.

The Relentless Illusion is a real threat to the party if they are greedy. On its own against the characters it is fairly easy to destroy but it keeps returning. At some point it will attack the characters when they are asleep or when badly hurt by another foe. Game Leaders should give the characters a chance to rectify their mistake and only stupid or greedy character should suffer.

Exits:

  • Towards the fresher air and the sound of water [2.4].
  • Follow the large corridor [2.6].

2.6 - Grand Corridor

Automatic
A massive corridor cut through the bedrock. The 50' tall, 30' wide passage stretches for almost a mile to a row of columns flanking the entrance to a cavern. The wall facing the cavern entrance was once painted with vast murals but they have mostly peeled off or been defaced.
Easy
What is left of the murals shows vast crowds of many different races kneeling before a red-headed high priestess and a pyramid.
Moderate
A smell of death and decay wafts from the cavern.
Hard
There are trails of blood on the floor which are only a few days old.

Exits:

  • Along the great corridor, away from the cavern [2.4].
  • Into the cavern [2.7].
  • Into the smaller passages and rooms which run off the large corridor [1.9].

2.7 - Temple Plaza

Automatic
A short passage from the Grand Corridor leads into this massive natural cavern which stinks of death. Visible in the centre of the cavern, lit by some form of magic, is a pyramid in a walled compound. On its top sits a horrific statue. A stepped plaza leads up to the compound. Scattered over the plaza are goblin bodies and the steps are stained with blood.
Easy
Around the cavern are the signs of a well-established settlement and amidst the debris of day-to-day life more goblin bodies can be seen.
Moderate
The goblins have been killed by claws and teeth, and in some cases ripped apart.
Hard
Bootprints, probably human, are visible in the blood and heading towards the Great Corridor.

Before the characters have time to do more than take in the scene, some of the bodies will rise up and shuffle towards the characters. This horde of zombies arrives in three waves, one wave per round, and all zombies are mooks (Zombie, Shambling). The first two waves have two 1d6+0 mooks per character, and the third wave has three 1d6+0 mooks per character.

The zombie goblins are a parting gift from the demon Strata. The goblins had been living happily around the cavern for hundreds of years, letting anyone who was willing to pay into the temple. They rarely went in themselves, having enough sense to realise that any dealings with a devil are likely to go badly. Having gained its freedom, the devil walked out of the temple and slaughtered every goblin it could find out of spite. Their reanimation as zombies was similarly motivated.

Survivor

Once all the commotion of the fight has died down, one of the characters will hear movement in the cavern. On closer inspection they notice a large, upside down cooking pot slowly moving across the cavern floor. Under the pot is a female goblin child who survived the original massacre and then hid under the pot to avoid the zombies. She is called Xav-Kak and is malnourished and dehydrated but otherwise unharmed. Xav-Kak is about the equivalent of a five-year-old human and can tell the characters very little about what happened. Her only response to questions is to say "Monster, horns."

Exits:

  • Into the temple compound [2.8].
  • Out of the cavern into the Great Corridor [2.6].

2.8 - Temple Compound

Automatic
The temple pyramid is about 50' in each direction and around 80' tall, made of four 15' high steps. The final 20' of the temple consists of a large statue of a winged devil with red, glowing eyes. The pyramid is surrounded by 20' of empty space and a 30' high wall from which light emanates. There is no way into the pyramid visible from the compound's entrance.
Easy
There is strong sense of evil and magic in the area.
Moderate
The glowing eyes in the statues are most likely fire rubies and worth a lot of money due their suitability for magic relating to fire.
Hard
The head of the statue appears to move as if watching the characters.

Entering the temple compound triggers the guardian statue on the pyramid which shoots bolts of fire at anyone not on their knees. As long as a character is on their knees, they can slowly move around the compound without being attacked. The goblins knew this and they sold this knowledge and access to the temple to anyone interested, including the Baron De'Souf.

Each shot from the statue is a 2d6+2 attack and the statue can fire two shots a round. These are opportunity actions - the statue has no turn in the initiative sequence and it will fire at the first person to move or act in a round. It has a clear line of fire on anyone in the compound and suffers no penalties for range. Characters attempting to run must cover a total distance of 100' (20 squares). The compound walls are 30' high on the outside with an MR of 5 per 5'. The floor inside the compound is raised and the walls are only 10' high from this side. Anyone climbing the walls is a target the moment they are visible.

Exits:

  • Into the temple [2.9].
  • Return to the temple plaza [2.7].

2.9 - Inner Temple

Automatic
The temple pyramid is hollow and its interior is one large room. A large circle of arcane marks engraved into the floor is broken in one place where the stone slabs have been shattered. There is an open coffin, clothing and equipment is scattered around the room and in the far corner someone is huddled and moaning.
Easy
Among the scattered equipment are some chains and a small bundle of blood-soaked cloth. The air reeks of devilish magics and the dark staining on the floor suggests a lot of blood has been spilt in the room.
Moderate
The huddled figure in the corner is humanoid but misshapen. — From a blood-soaked bundle on the floor, a small foot sticks out.
Hard
There is a tingle in the air suggesting a powerful discharge of arcane power has occurred in the area.

The Bundle:

Automatic
The bundle is clearly the remains of a baby wrapped in blood-soaked swaddling clothes.
Easy
The baby human was recently born and, judging by how the body is bloated, it has been dead a few days.
Moderate
The baby had its throat cut.
Hard
Hidden by the blood, a small coat of arms belonging to the De'Souf family can be found on the swaddling clothes.

Coffin:

Automatic
The coffin is empty.
Easy
It looks well-made and the lid has been carefully placed to one side.
Moderate
A plaque on the lid reads Baroness Erica De'Souf.
Hard
There is no grave dirt in the coffin or any other obvious sign it was used by a vampire, mummy or other form of undead.

Arcane Circle:

Automatic
The broken circle was once a powerful magic circle made of hundreds of intricately-carved arcane and runic symbols.
Easy
From the prominence and frequency of certain symbols it is clear the circle was some kind of powerful warding or binding magic. Something like this would make certain types of summoning easy and safe. The circle is now broken which would take powerful magic in its own right.
Moderate
It is a Circle of Betrayal, an arcane circle consecrated by a heinous act of betrayal. They are used in summoning and warding rituals but only apply to the creature whose name is inscribed in the circle. The circle would have been impervious to mere physical attempts to break it; only an act of betrayal similar to its consecration would work.
Hard
Near the broken part of the circle the beginning of a name can be read. In demonic runes it says 'Strata …'

The creature huddling in the corner will not react until the characters draw near.

The huddled figure slowly turns and stands. It must be human, or at least it started life as a human, because all the parts of a human body are clearly visible. However they have been reassembled into a hideous parody of the human form. Its legs are built out of rib bones stripped of their flesh, legs replace arms, arms replace ears and hair is replaced by strips of muscle. A swollen, distended stomach stuffed to overflowing with organs, breasts and spare flesh gives the figure the appearance of being heavily pregnant. Only the face, that of a middle-aged woman, appears to be in the right place but from the mouth a long strip of intestine darts out like a snake's tongue.

The terrible creature is High Priestess Korvak after being disassembled and then re-animated by Strata. The mindless creature will always attack the nearest living character. When Korvak is killed the body collapses into its constituent parts.

Korvak:

Automatic
The face appears to be of a striking woman with red hair.
Easy
On one hand there is a ring inscribed with faint runes.
Moderate
Fragments of tattoos on the body are distinctive of devil and demon worshipping cults from a thousand years ago.
Hard
The runes on the ring are in demonic script and spell Korvak.
Game Leader's Notes

The situation in the temple and in the plaza outside is likely to confuse the characters. There are a lot of clues and without more information from elsewhere in the adventure they will not be able to understand everything. What they should grasp is that baby De'Souf has been murdered, that there is some demonic magic at work and that there is no sign of the Baron. This should spur on the characters to explore deeper into the dungeon.

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open/oneshots/demon_strata/level1.txt · Last modified: 2014/03/11 12:39 by darth_tigger
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