Friday, September 18, 2009

My Lost City Obsession: Descent to Death Part 1

So here's my version of the lowest levels of the pyramid of the Lost City - okay, it's not tiers - it doesn't resemble Moldvay's design at all - at BEST it was "inspired by" Moldvay - but it's what I want to happen, and it's my campaign, so...

Some of the encounters are rather unfinished (especially the Necropolis area). Note that some of these encounters are really deadly - but most of them can be avoided by simply doing the obvious - donning the mask and robe of a pilgrim and there is a nearly direct descent from Tier 6 to Zargon's lair... The "Minions of Zargon" are retooled from something I found on Pandius. Maps in the following posts...


KEY TO TIER 6

Tier 6 was dug out of the bedrock to provide quarters for the slave workers when the pyramid was built. After the upper tiers were completed, this level was to be converted to a temple level dedicated to the celebration of the dead. The conversion never really took place, and the level remained largely abandoned, only passed through by those taking the Descent to the Underworld, until the priests of Zargon took over using this level as a staging area for the sacrifices to Zargon.

58A. TUNNEL TO UNDERGROUND CITY

This connection was discovered when the foundations for the temple/tomb pyramid were first laid. The cavern was used as a refuge during a siege once and the fresh water in the cavern was a constant assurance to the people of Cynidicea of the blessing of the gods. As soon as the Cynidiceans began working on the Descent to Death, they dressed this tunnel and made the connection to the Underground Cavern more readily accessible.

58B. ABANDONED STORAGE ROOM

This room was once used to store tools and supplies for workers. The tool racks and crates have been piled in the SE corner.

The center of the room has been swept clean and on it is painted a large pentagram in red. If anyone steps on or in the pentagram, 3 Minions of Zargon will be summoned and attack immediately.

MINION OF ZARGON (ZHOCHAL): AC 4; MOVE: 60/210; HD: 3*; hp3-24; #ATT: 2 weapons or 4 tentacles or 1 swoop; DAM: by weapon or 1d4+1 per tentacle or special; AL: NE

The southern door is locked (the priests and guards have keys for all the locked doors on this level).

59A. ABANDONED GUARD BARRACKS

This room is 20 degrees colder than the surrounding areas. It contains piles of ruined furniture covered in Brown Mold (see MM) which begins sucking the body heat of the person who opens the door. If the party can dispatch the brown mold and searches the room will find 56gp and a tiny ruby (worth 5gp, but detects as magic – if the ruby experiences a significant impact, it explodes for 3d6 hp damage).

59B. ABANDONED GUARD BARRACKS

This room shows signs of recent activity – a fire has been burned in a small pit in the SE corner and the south end of the room has been cleared of rubble.

The Zargonite guards sometimes sleep here. If the party searches the “campsite” they will turn up 2 cp. A search of the rubble in the rest of the room will turn up nothing.

60 ABANDONED OVERSEER’S ROOM

This room has been completely cleared of all rubble and items of interest. Chained to the wall are three huge brown and yellow dogs.

The dogs are Blink Dogs. They chains that bind them are magical (Chains of Binding – see new Magic Items) which prevent their ability to teleport. The Zargonites captured these dogs when they were pups and have some limited control over them. The dogs, intelligent though they may be, have been “brainwashed” if you will into believing that any non-Zargonite is an enemy. Anyone bearing the Mark of Zargon has a 50% chance of being able to control the dogs. Priests of Zargon have an 80% chance. If the dogs are released from their chains they will attack any non-Zargonite. If the battle goes poorly for them, they will blink out of the room and flee to the Temple of Zargon in the Lost City (warning the Zargonites that something is amiss in the Lower Levels).

BLINK DOG: AC 5; MV 120’; HD 4; hp 4-32; THAC0 15; #AT 1; D 1-6; SA from rear 75% time; SD Darkvision 60’, Teleporting; SZ M; Int Avg; AL N; XP 170+5/hp. (MM)

One of the priests (the normal handler of the dogs who has 99% control over them) has hidden a stash of treasure here behind a loose stone in the southern wall (detect as secret door): 2000 sp and a gem worth 500 gp.

61. MAIN STORAGE ROOM

The stairs here lead up to room 48 on Tier 5.

This room is crowded with boxes and crates, filled with ancient building supplies. Almost everything usable has long since been taken from this room, though there are scraps and rotten wooden handles enough to make the greedy search long and hard. A thorough search (meaning at least 5 turns) will turn up 3 viable flasks of oil and a stonemason’s hammer. (Remember to check for random encounters during the search).

62A ABANDONED SLAVE QUARTERS

This room is empty.

62B ABANDONED SLAVE QUARTERS

This room has 14 very lifelike statues of variously robed, armored and costumed human beings in poses of terror. They seem to be placed here randomly (a few might even be lying on their sides, toppled over or simply laid down – some might even be broken from a fall). These are victims of the Medusae in room 69.

63 ABANDONED GUARD CAPTAIN’S ROOM

The door to this room is locked and Wizard Locked (6th level). Inside, the room is a complete wreck. Nearly all of the furniture is splintered and scattered about the room, the walls have been covered in bizarre writings, and the room is noticeably colder than the outer hallway. Only a small chest in the SW corner seems to have escaped the disaster that befell the rest of this room. Two nearly incorporeal figures stare at the party when the door opens. After one round of inaction, they attack.

The ritual practices of the Zargonites are very costly in human (and other) life, and the result is that a number of undead creatures haunt the ruins and the Underground City. Often the undead are simply dispatched, but if they can be put to some use, the Zargonites are willing to use them. The two wraiths in this room were forced into this room by a priest’s Turning ability. The door was then locked and wizard locked and left as a trap for potential invaders. The small chest had been hidden in a secret compartment in a dresser. The wraiths recognized it as valuable and left it alone.

WRAITH: AC 4; MV 120’/240’; HD 5+3; hp 8-43; THAC0 15; #AT 1; D 1-6; SA Energy Drain; SD +1 wpn or silver to-hit, Immune to Sleep/Charm/Hold/Cold; SZ M; Int Very; AL LE; XP 575+6/hp (MM)

Trap: Treasure chest with poison dart trap. Fires as a 6 HD monster, for 1d4 + poison (failed save causes permanent blindness – save causes temporary blindness – 1-2 days – the poison begins taking effect in the first round and take 3-24 rounds to take full effect).

Treasure: 300 gp, 50 pp, 8 pieces of jewelry worth 9600 gp total.

64. ABANDONED KITCHEN

This room was obviously a food preparation area once. The Zargonites generally avoid this part of the lower tiers (64,65,68), simply using the western rooms when they need to use this level at all and using the stairs to take their victims on the Descent of the Dead below. This room is dirty and filled with cobwebs (which help to mask the real threat). Rat droppings litter the floor.

Above the fire pit, a small chimney vents to what was the surface when the pyramid was built, but now ends buried under 30’ of sand. In that chimney, however, lairs a nest of large spiders that feeds on the rat population in this area. There are 10 large spiders that will swarm out of the chimney if disturbed (if the chimney is not investigated, there is only a 25% chance that the spiders will attack). Note that the poison of this variety of Large Spider is not typically fatal to humans and demi-humans unless they have fewer than 5 hp (as the poison does an additional 5 hp damage – save for half).

A thorough search of the room will turn up some usable cooking utensils and many rat skeletons.

65. ABANODNED MESSHALL

This room has a number of crumbling benches and tables, none of which are usable for much of anything (the wood is all terribly dry-rotted possibly burnable).

66. OLD TOOL STOREROOM

A ladder leads down (about 150’) through a hole in the floor to room 100, Descent of Death Upper Levels below.

This room contains some casks of oil, some bits of ancient machinery, and supplies that the Zargonites use to keep the Descent of Death areas working as best they can. Also posted here are two guards – Minions of Zargon.

MINION OF ZARGON (ZHOCHAL): AC 4; MOVE: 60/210; HD: 3*; hp3-24; #ATT: 2 weapons or 4 tentacles or 1 swoop; DAM: by weapon or 1d4+1 per tentacle or special; AL: NE

67A GUARD POST

Two Zargonite Priests and 4 Zargonite guards guard the prisoner in 69. The area has a table, 9 chairs, 8 pallets and some food and water. If the battle goes poorly with the Zargonites, they will surrender – and try to convince the PCs that they are guarding a great treasure (though none of them have a key for the room which is locked and Wizard Locked) hoping that they will be turned to stone by the Medusae and they can run away to get help.

GUARDS 1st level fighters. AC 5 (chain); hp 5 each; #AT 1 ; D 1d8 (sword) or 1d6 (arrow); ML 10; AL N(E)

MINOR PRIEST OF ZARGON: AC 9 (robes); Move 60; HD: C1; hp 4,5; #ATT: mace or spell; DAM:1-6 or spell; AL: CE


Spells: one has memorized Create Water, the other has Memorized Cause Light Wounds.

67B GUARD POST

68. ABANDONED FOOD STORAGE ROOM

Apart from the remains of crates, and casks and boxes, this room is empty.

69. ABANDONED SLAVE BARRACKS

2 MEDUSAE: AC 6; MV 90’; HD 6; hp 6-48; THAC0 13; #AT 1; D 1-4; SA Petrifying Gaze, Poison; SZ M; Int Very; AL LE; XP 725+6/hp. (MM)

The Zargonites captured these two Medusae and are trying to charm them and turn them loose onto the Serpent Men and the dragon that has prevented them from returning to the now upper mythical levels of the pyramid and the desert beyond. They have been wildly unsuccessful so far – their failures are the statues in room 62B.

Unknown to the Cynidiceans or the Medusae, a loose stone in the floor (detect as secret door) pulls up revealing a very small tunnel (about 2’ in diameter) infested with Giant Centipedes (32 of them). At the end of the tunnel (it was intended to be an escape tunnel, dug by some slaves kept in here an eon ago, but he only got 60’ before the whole room of slaves was offered to Zargon) is a skeleton in tattered leather armor (a long ago thief who fell prey to the centipedes while trying to escape via this dead end tunnel). The skeleton has a shredded leather bag containing: 11 gems worth 1100 gp total, rope of climbing, potion of heroism, potion of animal control, magic-user/elf scroll (phantasmal force), ring of weakness.

Giant Centipedes: AC 9; MV 120’; HD ¼; hp 2; THAC0 20; #AT 1; D -; SA Poison; SZ S; Int Non; AL N; XP 30+1/hp (MM)

70A SACRED GROUND

Outside the door leading to the Priestly rooms of the Cynidicean Pantheon are three indentations in the wall – a star, a lightning bolt and a sickle. If any of the special holy symbols are used, the door will unlock. Otherwise, the door is un-openable because if it attempted to be forced, a huge stone slab falls down from the ceiling (doing 5-50 points of damage – DEX check for half damage – to anyone in the 10’x10’ corridor outside the door – completely blocking the entire passage with a 30 ton stone). Use of any of the holy symbols will grant access to this door, though each of the following chambers likewise requires the proper holy symbol.

70. Abandoned Cleric's Quarters (Gorm)

This room is empty. Door trap is lightning bolt as from 10 level Mage.

71. Abandoned Cleric's Quarters (Usamigaras)

Door trap is a symbol (in the shape of a star) of Pain…

Monster: 1 caecilia worm (AC 6; HD 6*; hp 27; MV 20'; #AT 1; D 1-8; Save F3; ML 9; AL N). An unadjusted "to hit" roll of 19 or 20 means the caecilia has swallowed its prey whole. The victim takes 1-8 points of damage a round until it or the caecilia is dead. The caecilia burrowed into this room, but the tunnel has collapsed behind it.

72. Abandoned Cleric's Quarters (Madura)

Door trap is four giant sickles that swing out of the ceiling for 1-10 hp damage each.

Monster: 2 minotaurs (AC 6; HD 6; hp 27 each; MV 40'; #AT 2; D 1-6/1-6; Save F6; ML 12; AL C). Once in combat, these bullheaded men will pursue as long as their prey is in sight.

Treasure: 4 gems worth a total of 1700 gp.

THE DESCENT OF DEATH

The lower levels of the pyramid were designed to be a processional for the dead and dying to lead them to the land of the dead. Each room (except the “machine” rooms) is designed to replicate the journey of the dead (in Cynidicean mythology). Twice a year, Cynidicean faithful would make the Descent of Death a pilgrimage of worship. Once the Great Storm drove the people underground and the “Days of Dreaming” began, the Descent of Death was largely forgotten…until Zargon influenced the Zargonites to rekindle the Descent in order to supply sacrifices to Zargon (which strengthens him – though, ironically, it also strengthens the shields of his prison – see 99 below and the Lost City).

73. THE DEAD ARE WELCOMED

The walls of this room are painted to depict the various stages in preparing a body for burial. The wall to the East of the stairs is lined with hooks which contain black hooded robes. The wall to the West of the stairs is lined with shelves filled with masks supposed to depict a dead face. There are 24 robes and 17 masks.

74 MOURNING THE DEAD

This hallway is painted with scenes of Cynidiceans in mourning. Three Banshees haunt this hallway. Masked travelers (wearing ANY kind of mask) hear low moaning and crying from the banshees, who will not bother the travelers. If anyone comes through unmasked, the banshees will attack all who enter with the unmasked person.

GROANING SPIRIT (Banshee): AC 0, MV 150’; HD 7; hp 7-56; THAC0 13; #AT 1; D 1-8; SA Wail; SD +1 wpn to-hit; SZ M; Int Exc; AL CE; XP 2,450+10/hp. (MM)

75. HONORING THE DEAD

This room has been set up to mimic King Alexander and Queen Zenobia’s funerals. Two huge, elaborately-carved stone sarcophagi rest on a 5’ high dais. The walls of the room are painted to depict the view of the city from the temple entrance of the Pyramid (area 50, Tier 5) with mourners stretching off to the horizon in every direction.

In the normal processional, the pilgrim would kneel before the sarcophagi and pray to the dead who have gone on before them for guidance and direction in their own journey toward death. Nothing untoward will happen to the party if they do not kneel (and nothing good will happen if they DO kneel – though worshipers of good gods, particularly clerics and paladins, might find their gods displeased).

Inside the sarcophagi are two mummies who will attack if the stone lids are removed.

MUMMY: AC 3; MV 60’; HD 6+3; hp 9-51; THAC0 13; #AT 1; D 1-12; SA Fear, Cause Disease; SD +1 wpn to-hit; Immune to sleep/charm/hold; SZ M; Int Low; AL LE; XP 1,150+8/hp. (MM)

The “king” mummy is wearing a golden crown (worth 3000 gp) and inside its sarcophagus is a golden scepter (worth 2000 gp). The “queen” mummy is wearing a golden necklace (worth 2500 gp) and a golden crown (worth 800 gp).

76 THE PROCESSION OF THE DEAD

The walls of this room are painted with scenes of a parade for the dead. Faceless mourners in black line the “streets” (the buildings in the background are very abstract) and wooden mannequins (similarly faceless) create a winding path through the cave.

The floor over the river (marked with a dashed line) is illusory. Masked characters who enter the room find themselves gliding across the chamber, including the illusory floor, carried by one of the 13 unseen servants bound to this room. Unmasked characters will likewise find themselves gliding across the floor, but when they come to the illusory floor, the unseen servants will drop the characters into the river (area 85) 100 feet below.

The PCs can push the mannequins aside and walk on the safe part of the floor easily. Anything disturbed in the room by the PCs will be set back aright by the unseen servants once the party leaves the room. The unseen servants will not attack and meld into the stone walls if attacked.

77 PLACING THE DEAD

This area is stacked to the ceiling with various types of coffins, caskets, and sarcophagi.

A narrow opening in the stacks of the coffins and the like reveals a deeper room (area 78).

78 THE GRAVESITE

The room contains an entire sublevel – Entering the room they see laid out before them a scale model of the Great Necropolis of Cynidicea (how it WOULD look if completed before the fall of the city.

If the party does/doesn’t do something, they get sucked into the Necropolis which is filled with undead. The way out is a staff that the lichking of the city has (it’s a demi-plane – kind of Ravenlofty) – can even use the pyramid again, though only the upper levels – OR a simplified version of the levels, only the “Dead” parts. IDEAS: Beyond the Glittering Veil DUNGEON Issue 31 (demiplane of shadow)

So, it’s maybe on the demiplane of shadow – and it’s a shadow of the actual necropolis (since the whole thing was never built – and the plane of shadow actually distorts what it “mirrors”.

THE DEMIPLANE OF SHADOW – NECROPOLIS

This area of the Demiplane of Shadow was created by ancient Cynidicean necromancers to trap unworthy souls who would dare to profane the descent of death. The PCs find themselves between the paws of the giant sphinx at 78A.

79. THE JOURNEY OF DEATH

The walls of this room are painted to depict various scenes of natural death.

Chained to the walls of this room are two Reddish-Brown huge dogs with glowing red eyes. Between them is a large pile of copper pieces.

The hellhounds sit and grin when they see the party, but remain watchful (normal initiative if the party attacks—no hellhound attack if the party is surprised). They are waiting for the party to throw some coins on the pile and go down, just like everyone else does. It is important that the dogs see the party and sit before the party has a chance to react—this is a signal that something weird is going on. If the party doesn't catch on quick (the DM should help them with suggestive growls and whines) the dogs will start to get nervous, then suspicious, then will start stalking the party—growling softly, hackles raised. If no one catches on, and the party stays in the room or tries to go down, the hellhounds will attack. Their true nature will become obvious as soon as they breathe.

Since the Priests of Zargon often take prisoners down to room 99, the hellhounds are guarding the way down for the Priests. The hounds will let anyone who throws a copper piece on the pile go down the ladder without a fight. The special magic items are buried and hidden from sight (though the party will see the glow if a detect magic is cast on the pile). The pile of treasure contains 9000 cp, sword +1, +3 vs Dragons, and a wand of trap detection with 12 charges.

Huge Hellhound: AC 4; MV 120'; HD 7; hp 7-56; THAC0 13; #AT 1; D 1-10; SA Fire Breath Wpn; SD Surprised only 1 in 6; SZ M; Int Low; AL LE; XP 250+8/hp. (MM)

80 CHOOSING THE GRAVESITE

The northern 20x30 foot part of this room is lined with cut white limestone. There are six holes in the floor, each with a staircase descending into the darkness. The northern wall is covered in a (partially damaged) mosaic depicting a beautiful warrior woman (Madarua) standing over a dozen people dressed in black shrouds. Her right hand is raised up with a sword, and her left hand is on the head of one of the shrouded people. Carved in the floor (in ancient Cynidicean, of course) is the following:

The seat of honor at the hand of justice,

The hope of paradise for the descent of the dead.

Five of the staircases end in traps, only the correct one (the NE) will lead the traveler on the proper path for the Descent of the Dead. Cynidiceans will know that the “seat of honor” is at the left hand of the host (which is also the hand of justice). If the PCs look at the holes in the floor (the “graves”) they will see that Madarua’s left hand seems to be indicating the NE one.

Each of the holes in the floor have permanent darkness cast on them (at 12th level). A careful search of the rim of each hole in the floor will reveal that the SE one seems to have some sooty residue at the top (just a little – residue of the trap being set off by an incautious thief decades ago). Otherwise, the floor, walls and ceiling are spotless.

The staircases are all identical – they descend spirally for 4 turns, down 35’. At the bottom is a corridor,3’ wide. At the bottom of the five trapped corridors are pressure plates that turn the spiral staircases into slides that will not reset until the second part of the trap is sprung. The dead end corridors travel 20’ at the end of which is another pressure plate which sets off an 8d6 fireball that engulfs the corridor and the staircase almost to the top. Once the fireball is set off, the entire trap is reset (each corridor has 10 of these fireball traps, then that part of the trap becomes inert – the SE trap has been sprung once).

The NE staircase descends into permanent darkness as well (4 turns, down 35’) to a 3’ wide corridor that angles Northwest and becomes a 10’ wide corridor leading to Room 81.

81 FACE THE SUNRISE

This room is entirely black (though not magically dark) except for the Eastern wall – which is painted as a sky – perhaps very pale blue with some wispy clouds. One turn after the first person crosses the threshold of this room from either the north or the south a magical sun will rise on the eastern wall, fill the room with the effect of sunlight for 1 turn as the sun crosses to the ceiling and the light slowly fades. Anyone who is in the room for the entirety of the “sunrise” will receive the effects of a bless spell (non-cumulative). The “sun” will rise regardless of whether or not anyone is in the room. The trigger is crossing the threshold.

82 BRIDGE OVER THE ABYSS

A narrow bridge soars over a 100’ ravine. The roof of the ravine is about 30’ overhead. The bridge is a 2’ wide stone arch span. Characters have to make a dexterity check to cross. Those who fail fall (10d6 damage) and have a Dex check (at -4) to try to grab onto the bridge as they fall.

83 THE RAVINE

This chasm was artfully cut out of bedrock when the Descent was constructed. The bottom of the ravine is swept clean by a pair of roving Gelatinous Cubes. The cubes simply move back and forth across the bottom at irregular patterns. They will only be encountered together 20% of the time.

GELATINOUS CUBE: AC 8, MV 60’; HD 4; hp 4-32; THAC0 15; #AT 1; D 2-8; SA Paralysis, Surprise on 1-3; SD Immune to cold/electricity/fear/hold/paralyzation/polymorph, sleep; SZ L; Int Non; AL N; XP 150+4/hp. (MM)

84 CROSS THAT RIVER

An underground river flows through here (see below). In Cynidicean mythology, the dead pass the River of Cleansing (walk through the river) and once on the other side, they are in the land of the dead. This river is fairly shallow, but runs very fast here. Add strength and dexterity – this is the percentage chance the PC has of resisting the current – check each round.

85 RIVER TO THE UNDERGROUND CITY

This river is generally 15-30’ deep (except at 84 above) and runs fairly quickly (Add strength and dexterity – this is the percentage chance the PC has of resisting the current – check each round). It is very cold. Generally the ceiling is 1-5 feet above the surface of the river. On the western edge of the map, the water drops 150’ over a fault line in a very dangerous waterfall.

86 PAY THE BOATMAN

A cloaked skeletal figure stands on a barge here on the north shore of the river. This is Safanas, the ferryman. In Cynidicean mythology, the ferryman transports the cleansed souls across the River of Dreams to the Shore of Paradise. Safanas holds out his hand for each PC, waiting for payment. If they ask, he does not speak. He will not move unless he is paid. The payment for crossing the river is one copper piece (no more or less). The ferryman will throw anything else into the river (Dex check at -6 to grab the item before the current carries it away). If the party tries to cross without paying Safanas, he will not move to stop them (though see below). If attacked, Safanas will defend himself (this representation of the quasi-deity is a bound Eye of Fear and Flame).

Safanas (Eye of Fear and Flame): AC 2; MV 90'; HD 12; hp 12-94; THAC0 9; #AT -; D -; SA Fireball (12HD), Fear; SD Spell reflection; SZ M; Int High; AL CE; XP 2,850+16/hp. (FF)

Cynidicean mythology also has stories of those who have tried to enter paradise by their own means, circumventing the gods ordained process. In one story, those who tried to swim the River of Dreams were grabbed by swooping demons. For the Descent of the Dead, the creators of this pilgrimage bound 2 gargoyles to this area. Any beings in the water here will be attacked by them, though the current is likely to sweep them down river before the gargoyles can attack more than once (Add strength and dexterity – this is the percentage chance the PC has of resisting the current – check each round).

GARGOYLE: AC 5, MV 90'/150’; MC: C; HD 4+4; hp 8-36; THAC0 15; #AT 4; D 1-3/1-3/1-6/1-4; SD +1 wpn to-hit; SZ M; Int Low; AL CE; XP 165+5/hp. (MM)

87 THE BRIDGE OF TRUTH

In Cynidicean mythology, the soul has a single chance to turn back and recross the Bridge over the Abyss back to the realm of the living. Those few who do are cursed to an eternity of suffering as ghosts and shades. Carved into the floor at the northern edge of the bridge is the following (In old Cynidicean):

Backward is forward to avoid going back

To the land of the living in torment and shame

To finish in death what life could not

Any creature that walks normally across this 2’ wide bridge will be teleported to the northern end of the bridge at 82 with no indication of what happened. Any creature who walks BACKWARDS across the bridge, will manage to cross just fine. Any creature that crosses the chasm by any other means (flying, etc) will cross without difficulty (unless they set foot on the bridge, even accidently, facing forward).

88 CAVERN OF THE POOL

The corridor opens into a large cavern. The ceiling rises into the darkness, 50’ overhead. The 70+ foot wide cavern glows red. This upper area ends at a cliff 100’ tall. Below, is a burning pool of fire (see 89). On racks on the Northern wall of the cavern are wooden frames with feathers attached to them.

The challenge here is getting down the cliff. The room has a permanent feather fall cast upon it. Any living being that falls will fall as a vastly slow rate. The wooden frames with feathers are “wings of the spirits” that the Cynidiceans on pilgrimage use to push themselves over the pool of fire as they fall. PCs who fall not using the wings are 80% likely to fall into the pool of fire (see below).

89 POOL OF FIRE

Looking down over the cliff face, the party can see a long, white robed figure kneeling at the edge of the pool of fire.

Anyone falling into the pool of fire will take 10d6+10 hp damage per round until they are extracted from the flames. The flames radiate no heat, though anything that falls into them burns as if falling into a raging inferno (this may cause players to conclude that this is an illusion, but it is very real, though magical, fire). The woman kneeling in a white robe at the edge of the pool, however, is an illusion. She will not respond or react to anything the PCs say or do. There are clearly worn spots on the ground next to the fire, on either side of the woman, where pilgrims have kneeled beside the pool on their journey.

90 DESCENT INTO LIGHT

The long staircase here disappears into bright light. It is so bright that it will blind anyone walking through it for 1-10 rounds after exiting the light (which is confined to the staircase itself). The steps drop 30’. PCs who walk down the steps carefully will have no difficulty navigating (either with their eyes closed, or blinded by the light). PCs running up or down these stairs have to make a DEX check at -2 or fall for 1-6 hp damage if running up the steps or 3d6 hp damage (and a tumble to the bottom) if running down the steps.

KEY TO THE LOWEST TIER

91 WELCOMING THE SPIRITS

This chamber opens into the river (see 85 if anyone enters the river itself). The West Wall of the river chamber is an illusion of a much wider river with green fields beyond and a blue sky above. Two rounds after the first person enters this chamber, a programmed illusion begins of the Ferryman Safanas ferrying a dozen Cynidicean souls to the shore of the river. When the ferry touches land, the souls step off the ferry and begin walking through the northern corridor where they dissipate. These illusions repeat every time someone enters the room.

92 THE FIRST JUDGMENT

This room is lined with white marble. To the East of the Northern exit is a huge stone table behind which are seated three robed figures – Madarua (left) Gorm (center) and Usamigaras (right). Three illusory souls stand before the table. As soon as the first person enters, Gorm speaks (in Old Cynidicean):

To the illusory souls:

“You have been found unworthy to enter into paradise. You are cursed for eternity to the darkness of the void.” At which time the illusory souls scream as if in pain, turn black, and melt into the floor.

Gorm addresses the party (still in Old Cynidicean):

“The judgment will be passed. Take stock of your life and your death and be judged fairly.”

The PCs can say whatever they want to say, the judges will listen. If they say absolutely nothing, they can pass freely. If they speak the truth they can pass freely. If they lie, they will be attacked.

The three judges are not, of course, the Cynidicean gods themselves, but polymorphed and bound semi demons (Gorm is a marquis cambion, Usamigaras is a cambion baron) and a polymorphed and bound Succubus (Madarua). While the PCs are talking, the Succubus will use ESP to read the speakers’ thoughts. The binding of the demons is such that they are permitted to kill anyone who lies to them. They will seek to get the party to lie to them about something, since they follow only the letter of the binding, of course. Cynidiceans who came here on pilgrimage or as sacrifices are typically so awed by the presence of their “gods” that they babble the truth about everything they’ve ever done and the Zargonites have learned to only speak the truth to these creatures or be silent.

USAMIGARAS Cambion Baron: AC 2; MV 150’; HD 9-12; hp variable; THAC0 12-9; #AT 2; D by wpn; SA 1-4 of (Fear, Detect Magic, Levitate, Polymorph Self) (1/day); SD Darkvision 60’, +1 wpn to-hit; MR 25-40%; SZ M; Int Very-High; AL CE; XP 4,400+15/hp. (MM2)

GORM Cambion Marquis: AC 2; MV 150’; HD 14-16; hp variable; THAC0 8-7; #AT 2; D by wpn; SA 2-4 of (Fear, Detect Magic, Levitate, Polymorph Self) (1/day); SD Darkvision 60’, +1 wpn to-hit; MR 25-40%; SZ L; Int High-Gen; AL CE; XP 6,500+20/hp. (MM2)

MADARUA Succubus: AC 0; MV 120’/180’; MC: C; HD 6; hp 6-48; THAC0 13; #AT 2; D 1-3/1-3; SA energy drain; SD +1 wpn to-hit, Darkvision 60’; MR 70%; SZ M; Int Exc; AL CE; XP 2,100+6/hp. (MM)

93 ON GOLDEN LIGHT

This giant flooded cavern is pitch dark. Light sources function at one-quarter effectiveness. One turn after the first person enters the cavern a tiny dot of light appears at the far side of the cavern. Over the next 10 rounds the point of light grows into a winged ship formed of light and put ashore in the V shaped indentation in the shoreline. The ship is solid and piloted by a pale, emaciated man. The pilot is a vampire, who will allow anyone on board the ship. Those who are masked can make the journey unmolested. The unmasked will be attacked by the vampire en route.

After 10 rounds beautiful music begins to play softly in the cavern, echoing off the walls and the water. The ship will pull away from the shore and travel at the rate of 10’ per round across the cavern to area 95. Nothing the characters do can stop the ship or alter its course. It is completely immune to any magic or physical attack. Two feet below the surface in the Western wall of the cavern is a hole in the wall that leads to the underground river (area 85). To the East the water flows through several small crevices and rejoins the underground river before flowing into the Underground City.

The current flows very slowly from west to east in this cavern. The water is only 4’ deep the entire length of the cavern. Characters can walk through the water at one-quarter their movement rate.

Once the ship makes its circuit, the effect resets.

94 WATERY GRAVE

If any living thing is in the water at the halfway point of this chamber, animated skeletons swarm up to kill them and add to their ranks. There are 40 skeletons here.

Skeletons: AC 7; MV 120’; HD 1; hp 1-8; THAC0 19; #AT 1; D 1-6; SD Immune to sleep/charm/cold/sleep, ½ edged wpns; SZ M; Int Non; AL CE; XP20+1/hp. (MM)

95 THE FINAL JUDGMENT

As the boat comes to rest (in the V shaped notch in the shoreline), the party will see a figure dressed in judges robes wearing a Madarua mask seated on a chimera.

“Madarua” is a Skeleton Warrior who will restrain the chimera for any masked beings who travel through this chamber. Unmasked beings will be attacked on sight.

SKELETON WARRIOR: AC 2; MV 60’; HD 9+2 to 9+12; hp variable; THAC0 12; #AT 1; D by wpn; SA +3 to-hit with wpn; SD Immune to Sleep/Charm/Hold; SZ M; Int Exc; AL NE; XP 2,550+14/hp (10th-12th lvl), 3,700+16/hp (13th-15th lvl) (FF)

CHIMERA: AC 6/5/2; MV 90’/180’; MC: E; HD 9; hp 9-81; THAC0 12; #AT 6; D 1-3/1-3/1-4/1-4/2-8/3-12; SA Breath Wpn; SD Darkvision 60’; SZ L; Int Semi; AL CE; XP 1,000+ 12/hp. (MM)

96 LEAP OF FAITH

A huge circular pit of fire dominates the southern alcove of this chamber. Standing next to the flames is a woman in a white robe.

As the PCs approach, the woman will hold up her right hand as a signal for them to stop. If they stop, she will speak to them (in Old Cynidicean):

“You have been judged and found worthy to enter paradise. Step through the cleansing fire and find yourself in the presence of the gods. One step of faith and eternity is yours.”

The fire in the 30’ diameter pit is illusory. It radiates intense heat, but if anyone enters the flames, they will take no damage. Jumping into the pit teleports the PCs to 96a, a twin 30’ flaming pit.

If the party doesn’t stop when the white robed figure gestures for them to halt, the flames in the pit roar up and become real. Stepping into the pit will still teleport PCs to 96a, but they will take 5d8 hp damage.

97 CHOOSE THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE

Stepping out of the firepit (96a), the PCs will face a large, irregular cave. The walls and ceiling are painted in scenes of paradise – thousands of translucent souls worshipping the Cynidicean gods in a lush garden world. Two archways exit the room, to the West and to the South.

The secret door is detectable on normal chances, though it is locked. The Zargonites use the secret door to exit the Descent once they have brought the sacrifices down to Zargon.

If the PCs look carefully, they will notice that the Western archway seems to interrupt the cyclorama of paradise, compared to the Southern archway. To the West, several “souls” are cut in half by the irregularly cut archway. The Southern arch, however, the stylized vegetation surrounds the cut stone work of the archway.

The Southern archway leads to the Descent’s exit (98). The western archway leads to the lair Zargon (99) – the corridor is solid for 10’ but the remainder is illusory, dropping to a very steep slide (a 60 degree slope – dropping the victim 30’ into Zargon’s lair).

98 ASCENSION

This chamber is bare except for three small daises along the South wall. Behind each dais is a mosaic of the three gods of the Cynidicean pantheon (facing South, Madarua to the left, Gorm in the center, Usamigaras to the right).

If any worshipper of the gods steps on one of the daises, he/she will be teleported to 73 where pilgrims would hang up their cloaks and replace the masks and leave the Descent of the Dead. Nothing happens when non-worshipers step onto the dais.

99 . LAIR OF ZARGON

Sliding into a large, slime-covered chamber, you find that the floor is littered with bones. Suddenly, you hear a rustling noise from the north wall. There, a huge humanoid figure rises from the slime, standing 15' tall. Its head is that of a giant lizard. A black, 2'-long horn curves upward above its single red eye, and sharp teeth fill its mouth. Instead of arms, the creature has six tentacles, three on each side of its body. These end in razor-sharp talons. Instead of legs, the creature slithers toward you on six more powerful tentacles.

This creature is Zargon (AC 0; HD 12*; hp 80; MV 30'; #AT 7; D 6 x l-8/3d8; Save F12; ML 12; AL C). It will try to attack and slay any party members it can catch, striking with its claws and biting. The party can climb back up the slide with difficulty (if Zargon lets them).

Although Zargon is ancient, it is no god. It is a cunning creature that discovered its "godhood" makes it easier to get victims. Zargon was worshipped by primitive peoples in early times, but retreated underground when the primitives were wiped out by the ancestors of the Cynidiceans. Zargon remained in a strange hibernation for many years. By chance, the Cynidiceans built the pyramid on the spot where Zargon's original shrine stood, and the later digging of the Cynidicean slaves awakened the creature.

Zargon can regenerate its body as long as its great horn is not destroyed. Regeneration from the bare horn may take a number of years, but otherwise Zargon is likely to be at full strength whenever the party encounters it. Zargon's horn can only be destroyed by being cast into a volcanic fire (like the Eye of Zargon in the underground city, area Q). Zargon will not regenerate during an encounter (it regrows too slowly for that).

In the slime of Zargon's lair is the treasure it has gathered. This includes: 58,000 sp, 9000 pp, chain mail +2, a shield +2, a spear +2, a cursed scroll (turns the reader into a miniature of Zargon, 3' tall, without the power of regeneration: AC 9; hp as character; #AT 7; D 6 x 1-2/1-6), a wand of illusion with 7 charges, and elven cloak and boots, tripartite symbol of the Cynidicean pantheon, a small brass key (for the treasure chest in Room 43).

100 MACHINE ROOM

This room is filled with bizarre, alien machinery. If the PCs want to, they can stop the machinery – damaging it (50 hp) sufficiently that it seizes up. If they do so, the “sunrise” at 81, the Golden Winged Boat at 93 and the teleporters at 98 will all cease to function.

101 ACCESS TO THE RAVINE

This portal is a magical force field that can be temporarily disabled with the command word “Gersalous” (which is an ancient word for “pass through”). The Zargonites discovered the command word and occasionally sweep the ravine floor to gather any remains the Gelatinous Cubes don’t digest.

102 LONG DESCENT INTO DARKNESS

This room contains a ladder that drops over 100’ through solid rock to a room of the same dimensions directly below. Two Minions of Zargon guard the upper room and two Minions of Zargon guard the lower room. Any not marked with the Mark of Zargon will be attacked, regardless of how they’re masked.

The Eastern Secret door (2’x2’) leads to the firepit in area 96 and the Southern exit leads to a steep staircase and a secret door in room 97.

MINION OF ZARGON (ZHOCHAL): AC 4; MOVE: 60/210; HD: 3*; hp3-24; #ATT: 2 weapons or 4 tentacles or 1 swoop; DAM: by weapon or 1d4+1 per tentacle or special; AL: NE

3 comments:

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

Wow. That is a serious post, there.

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