Having run out of places to explore, Joran had a swing of wine and stepped through the circle of anti-magic runes.
15. The Despoiled Garden
The magic that allowed this once fine garden to thrive far from the sun is failing, and now the plants are sickly and dying. There’s a door to the south, a corridor to the east, and what look like blocked stairs to the west. In addition to the doomed flora, large piles of rubble dot the area. Trying his best to stay hidden, Joran attempts to cross to the southern door.
Hidden, but not silent (roll of 6 on his skill check).
There’s the crack of a breaking branch as Joran missteps.
Does the Spore fiend wait in ambush?
From the centre of the room, movement.
Creeping forwards far faster than any mushroom has a right to is a large purple and yellow mushroom – about the size of a large dog. Even more disturbingly a trio of toothed tentacles wave beneath its cap, as if scenting the air.
The Spore Fiend creeps forwards whilst Joran turns one of his flasks of oil into a makeshift molotov. Whilst he could outpace it, he doesn’t want to risk it following.
Joran lights and throws the oil flask at the Spore Fiend, but it’s not really designed for throwing and goes wild. He stands and runs to a different area in the room to put more distance between them.
The mushroom shuffles forwards, tracking its prey.
The rest of the garden is too damp to ignite; whilst the oil splashes around and burns, the fire can’t spread.
As the Spore Fiend shuffles forwards, Joran fires his crossbow at it, and hits, leaving the bolt deeply embedded into the cap of the mushroom. He then moves back up the corridor to stay clear of any attacks.
1 HD damage to the spore fiend
Does the Spore fiend follow?
Does it try to hide and ambush?
It’s soon clear that the spore fiend isn’t going to follow, but with no other known routes to explore, Joran has no choice but to brave the garden again. He cautiously enters the garden, and manages to spot the Spore Fiend just before it emits a large cloud of spores. Joran holds his breath and dashes over to the southern side of the room and into the corridor beyond.
There’s a door on the Eastern wall of the corridor.
16. Guard Room
Joran stops and listens at the door, but hears nothing. Hesitantly he pushes it open, revealing a plain room which contains four red clay statues of soldiers, and hanging on the far wall, an iron key beneath an engraved sign. Try as he might, Joran can’t make sense of the writing, but it’s fair to assume it’s a warning.
He takes deep breath and tries to attune his senses to the arcane; as suspected, the statues are magical.
Moving on for now, he continues to follow the corridor south.
17. The Great Abyss
The floor of this room has collapsed, seemingly into unending darkness. On the other side of the room a small portion of floor remains next to a door which bears an ominous looking iron lock. It doesn’t look impossible to jump the gap from this side, but the other side offers no opportunity for a run up with the door shut.
A pebble is dropped down the hole; there is no sound of it hitting the bottom.
There’s obviously something behind that door – it’s the first actually locked door he’s seen in the entire complex, but for now Joran has to brave the garden and its fungoid inhabitant again.
He waits just outside the arch leading into the garden, planning his route across the room to the corridor in the eastern wall and trying to spot the spore fiend which is not where he last saw it.
Just as he’s about to move, Joran notices shadows moving in the light cast by his lantern – the spore fiend is waiting in ambush by the doorway.
Not wanting to waste another flask of oil, he runs for it, suffering a glancing hit in the process.
The eastern corridor has doors to the north, south, and at the far end.
20. The Room of Submission (South)
To the south is a locked heavy stone door. Engraved on the door in an ancient script is the message “Kneel before your master and be admitted”
Joran doesn’t like the idea of kneeling before anyone, but does want to know what’s behind the door, and figured that he can always run away when it tries to kill him. He kneels and the stone door silently opens.
21. A perfect facsimile
A middle-aged man with a neatly trimmed beard, clad in flowing golden robes and a black skull cap sits serenely upon a throne. As Joran enters the room he speaks, “You who dare intrude upon my palace, know that your line is cursed to the seventh generation, all that your endeavours have wrought shall be as dust, and that all you treasure shall be unmade.”
Skill roll: Detect magic – 6; Joran has no idea if he’s actually been cursed or not, but a second skill roll revealed that the figure matches the description of Nizar-Thun from legend, though it clearly can’t be the man himself. He decides to play it safe and humour the automation for now.
He kneels again and says, “Forgive my trespass, I intended solely to pay tribute to your glory.”
“Then swear to serve me loyally for the rest of your days and I shall be merciful.”
“That I cannot agree to.” Joran stands again and dashes out of the room, bracing for a magical attack. To his surprise, there is none, and the door silently swings shut.
Joran adds “Find a curse-breaker” to his mental to-do list and moves on.
Back in the corridor he takes the northern door.
19. The Room of secrets
The walls of this room are covered in arcane graffiti; some engraved into the walls, some painted on with eldritch inks. There’s also a rough corridor leading north – this leads to the other side of the pile of rocks in Room 13.
Joran takes the time to study the graffiti, using up the majority of his oil, and discovers arcane lore amongst the mad scribblings – the spells are Soul Burn, Cause light wounds, Oppression, and Sleep.
1d4 random spells found in the writings, and I decided that they were going to be mostly black magic.
As far as Joran is concerned, this is the jackpot, but there is still a door to the East to investigate, and then he needs to work out how to get the key guarded by the stone statues.
22. The Pit and the Prisoner
This large room is bare apart from a pit at the far end, from which a voice can be heard chanting “I am Nizar-Thun. I am Nizar-Thun” over and over again. In the pit is an old man clad in tattered finery. He rocks back and forth repeating his mantra. He’s clearly both mad and preserved by magic; deciding no good can come of this, Joran quietly leaves the room.
It’s up to the GM whether the old man is Nizar-Thun or not, and the magic that’s keeping him alive fades if he leaves the pit.
Back to 16 – The Guard Room
The return to the guard room is mostly uneventful – the spore fiend attacked again, but did no damage.
Joran’s going to try and use his grappling hook and rope to get the key. A test for luck is successful – the key clatters to the floor, and he’s able to drag it over without waking the guardians.
The guardians wake and attack if a character gets within 5′ of them, but not if the key is touched. With an AC of 17, any fight against them would take a long time and could easily result in a character death. Along with the Slithers that are supposed to be in room 12, this is one of the most dangerous combat encounters in the dungeon.
17. The great abyss
The leap to the ledge with the closed door is easy enough, and the door opens easily with the iron key. Inside is a wooden chest carved with a skull.
The chest is checked for traps both mundane and magical but seems clear. Gingerly Joran opens the chest revealing a pile of coins and a small, stoppered vial containing a dark liquid.
The dungeon is fairly simple, and to be truthful, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It does allow for a fairly good work out of the system, and provides a couple of opportunities for both role-playing and creative thinking.
There’s 950 gp of treasure in the dungeon, some of which has to be worked for rather than simply stumbled across.
As written there’s ~832 points of monster XP in the dungeon , another 100-2oo from defeating the traps, 200 for surviving and looting the dungeon, and let’s say another 200 in individual awards for problem solving, with 2 characters each getting a 100xp Idea reward.
As you don’t get XP for treasure in C&T, a four member party that defeated all the monsters, found one trap, and had two good ideas could get up to 283-383 XP each, which feels a bit mean, given that even the Barbarian and Thief require 1500 XP to progress to second level. It feels as if either the Monster XP needs to be increased, or the split needs to be less – perhaps divided by half the members of the party, or the Mission XP shouldn’t be split.
Dividing the XP by 2 rather than 4 gives a reward range of 566-666, whereas not splitting the Mission XP starts the reward range at 433.
Jaron’s Experience totals
Monsters – 330
Traps – 0
Every single trap was discovered by accident.
Mission completion – 200
This total is divided by 4 to represent the 3 other assumed members of the party, resulting in 82 XP
We’ll give another 200 undivided to represent the use of burning oil against the zombies and skeletons, and using the grappling hook to get the key, meaning Joran gets a total of 282 XP. Only another 2,218 XP to go for level 2.