posted Feb 16, 2019, 7:20 PM by Stephen Pliska-Matyshak   [ updated Jul 8, 2019, 4:35 PM ]

Pentatina 7, 2556

After experiencing the transition through time and space yet again, each of our heroes finds themselves awakening alone in a comfortable bed in unfamiliar quarters, except that Tktk immediately recognizes the construction as being within the Cavern of Ink. Each rises and collects their things from the footlocker and cabinet beside their beds, though it is only possessions they once had as children and not the powerful equipment they had when crashing with the dragon. They exit into a wide hallway lined with evenly spaced identical doors. No doors are open other than the four opened by our heroes. They approach each other and realize they are younger and less careworn and scared, as though before the cataclysm that brought them together.

Shortly, a kindly middle-aged woman enters the hallway, apparently pleased to see the enthusiasm of her already awake charges. She rings a large hand bell and stirring occurs behind the other closed doors. They begin opening as other teenagers emerge from their rooms. She encourages everyone to get dressed and moving; that breakfast will be ready soon. She also informs her students--as she refers to them--that it will be an exciting day as today will be a visit to the tower of the court wizard, Gruulamesh. Once the students have prepared for the day, she leads them through a large double doors at the end of the hallway into a dining hall; a huge breakfast waiting.

During breakfast, the matron instructs her students that they must remain quiet and aware of their surroundings as they make the walk to the Archmage's tower, implying it may be dangerous. Once breakfast is taken, the group lines up at the opposite side of the dining hall from where they entered and exit through a set of double doors at this end. It leads to a passage that progressively gets rougher until it turns into a natural tunnel within the mountain. It is not long after this that a giant's arm reaches out from a side passage and grabs the matron and quickly draws her screaming into the darkness. She drops her lantern in the process. Moments later, swarms of rats emerge from the side passage and begin harassing the students.

Screaming students scatter, running both forward towards what they hope to be the Archmage's tower and backward towards the dining hall. After driving the rats off, it appears no one is returning with help. In the deepening silence, the faint screams of the matron can be heard echoing far inside the tunnel. Following the side passage, it is dark and smelly, but it leads to where the rats once nested. There are piles of offal and rotting straw strewn throughout this cave. 19 copper pieces can be found here by making a DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check or a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. Another tunnel leads to the left out of this cave.

Following this tunnel leads to a widened cave-like area with a three-way split in the tunnel. By this time, there are no screams that can be heard from the matron, but a DC 25 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check near the right tunnel will reveal evidence of a giant footprint leading into this tunnel (one check should be rolled at each tunnel if the heroes attempt to try to find a clue). While searching or deciding which way to go, the piercer and the darkmantle that call this area home will drop onto the unsuspecting heroes unless they detect the piercer's movement trying to get into position to drop on one of them. The piercer has ingested 7 gold pieces over time and they can be found in its gullet if searched.

Going down the left tunnel will lead to a small cave where a lonely translucent figure hovers over a decaying skeleton in tattered, rusting armor. This is a specter and it will attack the heroes if disturbed. There are 24 copper pieces under the skeleton's right hip bone among the remains of a leather pouch.

Going down the center tunnel leads to a trapped passage that ends at the base of the Archmage's tower, though the stout iron door at the end is sealed with an arcane lock spell.

Hidden Pit

This pit has a cover constructed from material identical to the floor around it.

A successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check discerns an absence of foot traffic over the section of the floor that forms the pit’s cover. A successful DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check is necessary to confirm that the trapped section of the floor is actually the cover of a pit.

When a creature steps on the cover, it swings open like a trapdoor, causing the intruder to spill into the pit below. The pit is 10 feet deep and those who fall take 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage from the fall.

Once the pit trap is detected, an iron spike or similar object can be wedged between the pit’s cover and the surrounding floor in such a way as to prevent the cover from opening, thereby making it safe to cross. The cover can also be magically held shut using the arcane lock spell or similar magic.

Poison Darts

When a creature steps on a hidden pressure plate, poison-tipped darts shoot from spring-loaded or pressurized tubes cleverly embedded in the surrounding walls. An area might include multiple pressure plates, each one rigged to its own set of darts.

The tiny holes in the walls are obscured by dust and cobwebs, or cleverly hidden amid bas-reliefs, murals, or frescoes that adorn the walls. The DC to spot them is 12. With a successful DC 12 Intelligence (Investigation) check, a character can deduce the presence of the pressure plate from variations in the mortar and stone used to create it, compared to the surrounding floor. Wedging an iron spike or another object under the pressure plate prevents the trap from activating. Stuffing the holes with cloth or wax prevents the darts contained within from launching.

The trap activates when more than 20 pounds of weight is placed on the pressure plate, releasing four darts. Each dart makes a ranged attack with a +4 bonus against a random target within 10 feet of the pressure plate (vision is irrelevant to this attack roll). (If there are no targets in the area, the darts don’t hit anything.) A target that is hit takes 2 (1d4) piercing damage and must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw, taking 5 (1d10) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

"Flying" Scimitar

This trap uses a trip wire to release a whirling scimitar suspended from the ceiling.

The tripwire is 3 inches off the ground and stretches across the passage. The scimitar is hidden by cobwebs. The DC to spot the trip wire and net is 10. A successful DC 15 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools breaks the trip wire harmlessly. A character without thieves’ tools can attempt this check with disadvantage using any edged weapon or edged tool. On a failed check, the trap triggers.

When the trap is triggered, the scimitar is released, whirling and flying around on its chain in a 10-foot-square area. Those in the area are subject to an attack with a +4 bonus. Each target hit by the scimitar takes 3 (1d6) slashing damage. It harmlessly hangs at the end of its chain after a round of attacks.

Down the right tunnel, the heroes will find a half-ogre guarding the now unconscious matron. He will not give up his prisoner without considerable persuasion...probably a fight, but maybe not. The half-ogre has 10 gold pieces in a bowl under a pile of skins and pelts he uses as a bed.