Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"The Red Orcs of Zinnober", Chapter 24 of the Xanthus River Campaign

This week, the party undergoes a change in membership, then they take on the Red Orcs that have plundered the village of Flinch.

Change is in the Air
Before we begin, I must announce a change in roster. Ser Valerius, Absolom, and Brown Tom have decided to end their association with the party citing philosophical differences. Ser Valerius felt he could not fulfill the duties or live by the standards required of him by the temple of Justica if he continued to adventure with a band of mercenary ruffians and roustabouts. His squire, Brown Tom, obviously followed suit, as did Absolom. They regretfully informed Princess Murti of Kalmath that their responsibilities to Justica would prevent them from escorting her across the mountain pass.

Luckily, Princess Murti had recruited the services of two new adventurers, who agreed to join Knott, Babu, Jilani, Thaddeus, Gwen, and Biscuit on their mission.

In addition, Babu hired a mercenary to replace Clench, who died in the spiked pit trap the week before. Babu made it known, "I have only so much memory, and I have to allocate that to my spells. Therefore, whatever your name is, as long as I pay you, you will be known as 'Clench II'".

Maori, otherworldly fighter/magic user

Maori, an Otherworldly* fighter/magic user. As a child of the Otherworld, Maori has alien features. In addition to a slight build, Maori has charcoal-grey skin, amber hair, and glassy black orbs for eyes.

Bombus, hillfolk thief
Bombus, a Hillfolk** thief. Bombus recently arrived in Swallow where he became a thief to survive. He has so far avoided the notice of Black Tom and the Path of Fear and Thunder.

*Otherworlders - The Elves of Agartha. They hail from the "Otherworld", a dimension of thought, magic, and energy. In their native world, they exist as formless beings of pure energy. They must take physical form in order to enter our world. That form often takes on random characteristics alien to humankind. Imagine the elves of Hellboy II.

**Hillfolk - The Halflings of Agartha. They are primitive pygmies with rough features and wild shaggy hair on their heads, arms, and feet. They live in small isolated arboreal villages in the deep forests of the foothills. Think of the Nelwyn from Willow but more primitive. Many Hillfolk seek their fortunes in the cities, where they are considered scruffy, uncouth, smelly, and backwards.

Our party now consists of:
Player Characters
  • Thaddeus, Stider of Swallow (Level 3 Human Ranger)
  • Jalani, Curate of Amun-Tor (Level 4 Human Cleric)
  • Biscuit, Footpad/Minor Trickster (Level 2 Gnome Thief/Illusionist)
  • Maori, Warrior/Evoker (Level 2 Elf Fighter/Magic User)
  • Bombus, Cutpurse (Level 3 Halfling Thief)
  • Babu the Conjurer (Level 3 Human Magic User)
  • Knott the Axeman (Level 3 Human Fighter)
  • Clench II (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
Other NPCs
  • Princess Murti of Kalmath (Human active NPC, 1-4 hit points, combat ability -1)
Lost Dog
After the defeat of the evil priests of Adhinatta at the Ruins of Leggach, most of the party spent the week poring over tomes of ancient lore in the library of Justica trying to identify the various artifacts they acquired. Thaddeus, however, travelled into the forest to find Wardog, who was missing. Wardog was quickly located and returned to Valerius. Gwen, Brown Tom, and Thaddeus then spent the week training under their respective mentors. 

Returning to the boarding house, the temporary headquarters of the party, Thaddeus informed the others of the departure of Valerius, Absolom, and Brown Tom from the party. It was then that Princess Murti introduced the two new adventurers, Maori and Bombus.

The new party supplied themselves for a journey up river to escort Princess Murti through the Defile of Castragon and ultimately to the city of Horek at the edge of the western wastes. Ahead of them, they knew that Red Orcs from Mount Zinnober had recently attacked the village of Flinch, an eight-hour hike up-river from Swallow. The town's fate was unknown since no one was willing to go near the village to investigate.

The day was cool and grey, the air filled with mist, when the party set out on their journey. The clouds were low and hung to the steep mountainous slopes on either side of the river. The dark shadows of sky-whales swam lazily in the misty clouds overhead, unseen by aerial predators such as griffins or sky-sharks. The old trade road, great stone slabs laid down by the Agarthan empire a millenium before, was overgrown with weeds and covered in wet mud. 

A few miles out from Flinch, Thaddeus led the party off the road up into the hills, following a hunting trail imperceptible to others. The party climbed a ridge until the trees dwindled to stunted saplings. At this altitude, above the trees of the forest, they could look down onto the village from above.

They could see the village, home to no more than 400 inhabitants normally. It seemed abandoned with a few wisps of smoke but nothing resembling the cooking fires of inhabitation. Overlooking the village from another ridge beyond a stream loomed the ruins of an ancient manor, long decrepit. Leaving Princess Murti behind with Biscuit to find shelter and build a camp, the rest of the party descended through the trees towards the village.

The party reached the treeline at the edge of the small cleared fields surrounding the village. The fields were separated by low fieldstone walls. From here they could clearly see the gate in the ancient stone wall surrounding the village. The gate was smashed and the village beyond lay in ruins. The decayed bodies of dozens of men lay rotting all along and around the village wall. Some were impaled, some were hanging from ropes, others were dismembered, their limbs and torsos hanging from chains and hooks like a gruesome butcher's market.

Red Orcs
Small groups of Red Orcs were still carrying plunder away from the village. A few orcs fought over possession of arm-fulls of everyday items. They seemed to be taking it up a muddy path to the manor at the top of the hill. One of the red orcs was moving a female human slave with a lasso at the end of a pole. At this sight, the party took action!

Archers opened fire on the red orcs. The red orcs dropped their plunder and charged the party at the treeline. Within two minutes, the red orcs were in melee with the party. After a fierce battle, the red orcs were defeated.

The prisoner was thankful to her saviors. When asked, she said the red orcs invaded two weeks ago. They came from nowhere, pouring out of the manor on the hill! The men of the village put up a valiant fight but those who weren't slain by the invaders were executed, their remains put on display. She informed the party that the women and children were taken to the manor to be used as slaves and breeding stock. She managed to escape but was recently recaptured. She described the manor as best she could, telling the party that there are several breaches in the compound wall.

The party then advanced into the village where they encountered another twelve red orcs. Judicious use of magic from Babu put six of the humanoids to sleep while the rest were dispatched in man-to-man combat.

After executing the sleeping orcs, the party discussed their options. The sky was darkening and night was coming. If they attacked now, they may face more orcs than if they waited for the morning. They decided to attack now.

By the time they reached the manor on the hill, the sky was completely dark and it was raining. The area around the manor had been cleared of trees for a hundred feet in all directions, leaving a forest of stumps. They snuck across the clearing to one of the breaches in the wall undetected. While climbing over the stone debris of the breach, several members of the party caused loose heavy stones to fall, making a loud racket. The orcs loiting at the entrance of the manor house heard the commotion. Two ran inside while two others ran to the stables.

The Manor Ruins
The party quickly made their way to the entrance of the ruined manor house, now nothing more than crumbling walls and collapsed ceilings. They just made it inside the entrance when a pack of eight dire wolves as large as lions descended upon them. One bore down on Clench II, biting his shoulder and dragging him away to eat. The rest crowded the entrance where the party set their defense. A magic spell from Babu put two dire wolves to sleep while Thaddeus, Maori, and Knott killed the remainder with support from ranged attackers. 

Before the wolves attacked, the party heard the slamming of a large wooden door, like plywood slapping a stone floor. After the battle, they explored the house searching for such a door. Finding none, they explored the rest of the house. In one room, Bombus found a closed box with no lock. Unable to open the box, Knott smashed it open. Within they found some gold coins and a gem.

When Maori searched a hall, he found a secret door hidden under rubble in a previously explored room. The party girded themselves and descended the stairs into the ancient cellar.

Welcome Committee
At the bottom of the stairs, they encountered a welcome committee of ten kobolds held on leashes by six red orcs taking cover behind a makeshift barricade of debris. The orcs called out, in orcish, "Kill the intruders and you will be set free!" At that, Babu cast another spell, sending all six orcs into magical slumber. The kobolds, impressed, laid down their arms. The party let them go free.

The party then faced two parallel corridors. They took the left passage. They soon found a niche containing an ancient rusty suit of armor on display. Convinced of the cursed nature of the armor, the fatalistic Maori donned the suit without hesitation. To his surprise, the rust on the armor sluffed off, revealing a suit of remarkable antiquity and craftsmanship. Thaddeus signed and shook his head in disbelief at the elf's luck.

Red Orc Ambush
Exploring a corridor to the west, the party encountered a group of four red orc crossbowmen. The party engaged in ranged combat and charged the crossbowmen. The red orcs fell back, taking cover behind an intersection at the end of the hallway. The party advanced cautiously through the ranged attacks, taking time to carefully check every door in the hallway along the way. To the left they found a bedchamber and a kitchen, to the right they found a hall filled with female human slaves. 

Once they were close enough to the intersection and the crossbowmen, the ambush was launched. Two groups of red orc warriors charged from around both corners while a third group charged from the rear of the party. The party was surrounded and facing over twenty red orcs!

Ambushed by Red Orcs!
A long and bloody battle ensued. Two orcs that had been invisibly trailing the party launched surprise attacks. It was then that Jilani discovered that the Bracers of Defense she was wearing were, in fact, cursed Bracers of Defenselessness! The party quickly assumed that all the treasures taken from the trapped niche in the Temple of Adhinatta (the chain mail armor, which was sold in Swallow before it was ever donned, and the Wand of Summoning carried by Babu) were likewise cursed and forbade their use! Jilani was quickly moved to the center of the formation and Maori took up her defense from the rear. 
Another view of the ambush
Eventually, the red orcs were reduced to two sub-commanders, both viscious and cunning opponents. Over time, even these deadly opponents fell to Knott and Thaddeus.


After Thoughts
Scott felt that a paladin was not a good fit for the kind of party in which he wanted to play. He was finding it difficult roleplaying a Lawful Good paladin with a gang of mercenary adventurers and he was finding it increasingly difficult to justify to himself his character being with this party. Instead of asking others to change to fit his character's restrictions, he decided to retire Valerius and play a less morally committed character.

Jeff followed suit. Partially because Absolom and Valerius were joined at the hip, but also partially because, I think, Jeff loves making and playing new characters. We kind of make fun of his character ADHD.

Likewise we felt that Valerius' squire, Brown Tom, would go where Valerius went.

This retirement fit in well with other events within the campaign, actually. Valerius had been engaged to wed the daughter of a wealthy merchant from Swallow. Her dowry would fund the construction of a modest villa outside of Wince. So off they go.

As for the adventure at hand, I am running one of the adventures included in the book Dark Folk, a Role-Aids supplement from Mayfair Games. It's was a nice short adventure focusing on Orcs, perfect for a side quest en-route to Horek.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Identifying Magical Items in AD&D

Identifying any legendary item, magical or not, while in the field requires either the Identification spell or a bard's Legend Lore or Item Knowledge.
Identifying any legendary item back in town just takes longer.
Identifying In the Field
Identify Spell
The Identification spell must be cast within a number of hours of finding an item equal to the caster's level. So a 4th level wizard can identify anything found in the last 4 hours. To cast the spell, the wizard drops a 100 gp pearl into a goblet of wine mixed with an owl feather, drinks the wine, then swallows a gold fish. Casting the spell gives the wizard a 15% + 5%/level of learning one property of the item. You can make a number tries equal to your level. So a fourth level wizard has four chances, each at 35%. After casting the spell, the wizard loses 8 temporary CON, regaining 1 CON per hour. If their CON drops below 3, they fall unconscious for 24 hours.
Bard's Legend Lore of Item Knowledge
Bards have a percentage chance at each level of immediately identifying a legendary item. They get one chance per item.

Identifying Back in Town (New Rules)
Consulting a Sage
Player characters may visit a local sage knowledgeable in history and legends to see if they can shed any light into the mysterious object. There is perhaps one such sage for every 1000 townsperson, more if there is a large temple, wizard's guild, or university in town. There are five sages in Swallow, and twenty in Thither. Each sage will have 2-4 specialties as per page 31 -32 in the DMG.
Appropriate specialties include: History, Legends and Lore, or Theology and Myth depending on the specific item in question.
The specialty must be in an applicable category for the creator of the item: humankind, demi-humans, humanoids and giants.
  • Any Sage with the appropriate specialty has a percentage chance equal to 60+1d20 (61-80%) of identifying an item per day of research, for which they will charge 300 gp/day.
  • If they fail after one day, they will give up after 2d6 days.
If the sage lacks the appropriate specialty but is an expert in other specialties in the same category or major field: 
  • The chance to identify drops to 25+1d10% (26-35%) per day of research, for which they will charge 600 gp/day.
  • They will give up after 3d10 days.

If the sage lacks the appropriate specialty or major field, but is familiar with an appropriate minor field: 
  • The chance drops to 10+1d10% (11-20%) per day of research, for which they will charge 1100 gp/day.
  • They will give up after 5d8 days.
Conducting Your Own Research
Any character class with access to a well-stocked library containing tomes on history, legends, genealogy, etc. can spend time researching those tomes in an attempt to identify the properties and provenance of legendary items.
Only wizards, clerics, paladins, nobles, and sages may perform such research. Druids and Rangers are too outdoorsy to spend time poring over dusty books in a library. Fighters, thieves assassins, and other common riff-raff are not allowed in unless disguised, and even then lack the proper education and discipline to perform the research. Illusionists, as everyone knows, are nothing more than charlatans impersonating wizards and would never be allowed access to a proper magical library.
Any character conducting one day (minimum 8 hours) of research has a percentage chance equal to their INT + (Level x 5 for Clerics, Wizards; Level x 2 for Paladins and Nobles) of identifying an item, its properties, and its history.

Thus, a fourth level magic user with an INT of 13 will have a 33% of identifying an item each day.
Most DMs simply change the Identify spell, removing the time requirement and the CON cost. I'm keeping it as-written but providing a non-magical alternative. And even there, many DM's simply allow PCs to automatically know the identify and history of a relic. However, use of down-time is an important factor in my campaign. Players have to choose how they spend their days as time is a limited resource, and they have to prioritize their daily activities. Plus, since I use weekly random events, the more time they spend in town increases their chance of an unwanted city event occurring.
The sage rules above are technically rules-as-written, I've just re-written them to make them easier to understand. It's also an interpretation to allow them to identify magical items.

Edit to Add: The increased cost of sages hired to answer questions outside of their field of expertise is explained on page 33 of the DMG. There, it suggests that the sage must purchase new books, travel to other libraries, and otherwise go out of his/her way to locate the information, thus the increased cost to cover travel and other expenses.

Alternatively: As written, the percentages listed above are for the total time spent researching. My version is much more forgiving, giving them the same percentage chance each day. If you wish to hew more tightly to the original AD&D rules, then roll the number of days first and divide the percentage chance by the result.

For example, a sage who is expert in ancient legends has a 76% chance of identifying the object in 2d6 days. The 2d6 result is 8. Divide 76 by 8 for 9.5% per day for 8 days.
First day: 77, fail.
Second say: 94, fail
Third day: 7. Success!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

"The Sacred Fane of Adhinatta", Chapter 23 of the Xanthus River Campaign

This week, the party defeats the diabolical high priests of the Temple of Adhinatta, are decimated by a mysterious mummy, and disrupt a murderous plot!

Our party this week consists of:
Player Characters
  • Ser Valerius, Defender of Justica (Level 4 Human Paladin)
  • Absolom, Curate of Justica (Level 4 Human Cleric)
  • Jalani, Curate of Amun-Tor (Level 4 Human Cleric)
  • Biscuit, Footpad/Minor Trickster (Level 2 Gnome Thief/Illusionist)
  • Thaddeus, Stider of Swallow (Level 2 Human Ranger)
  • Babu the Conjurer (Level 3 Human Magic User)
  • Knott the Axeman (Level 3 Human Fighter)
  • Brown Tom the Warrior (Level 2 Human Fighter, Squire of Valerius)
  • Clench (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Squat (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Push (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • "War Dog" (Valerius' War Dog)
When we left our party, they had just defeated the warrior defenders of the sacred fane of Adhinatta. After taking stock of their surroundings and lowering the twenty acolytes suspended from the ceiling by hooks, the party continued to wend left, exploring side passages and chambers of the priests and acolytes, finding nothing but rooms filled with empty beds and books of profane writings, which were burned and destroyed.

The Sanctum of the High Priest
Eventually, they took a far passage that led to the holy shrine of the high priest himself. Within they found a large round room supported by four pillars, each carved with arcane runes and adorned with carved faces in twisted agony. A plinth supported a gruesome sacrificial altar adorned with manacles and spiked chains and stained with fresh blood. Meat hooks dangled from spiked chains attached to the ceiling, gibbets of human flesh hung in tatters. 
The Sacred Fane of Adhinatta

The altar stood before a great raised pillar surmounted by a massive stone throne. On the throne sat a naked woman with violet skin and curving rams horns. Great leathery wings stretched from her lavender shoulders. In one hand she bore a curved blade with a hilt and pommel made of a child's spine and skull. In the other hand she held a coiled black scourge. The pillar was flanked by two mechanical torture devices.
The Altar and the Throne

The high priest glared defiantly from behind the altar, his lips stained by the juice of Leggach which rendered men impervious to ordinary weapons. Two attendants waited at his side. As the party entered, he ordered them to attack. They bared their daggers and rushed forth to battle!

The two attendants blocked the entrance to the sanctum, bottling the party in the corridor. The attendants rendered Valerius incoherent with pain with the utterance of a profane word. The rest of the party unleashed a hail of missiles against the high priest and his infernal mistress, none of which seemed to have any effect.

Knott was able to cut down one of the attendants and soon made it into the room, bearing down on the high priest. Jilani lent a hand by paralyzing the high priest with her own holy mystery. War Dog was soon tearing at the flesh of the other attendant. 

The Amaranthine Devil
The amaranthine devil stood up and flashed her malevolent gaze at the party. Her evil aura caused half the party to lose the will to fight and they fled in terror. Those that remained continued to do battle. The devil flew down to engage the party, entangling Babu, Jilani, Absolom, and Valerius in her magical scourge. After Knott cut down the immobilized high priest, he turned his attention to the horned she-warrior. Knott was able to land a lucky blow which cleaved the she-devil from shoulder to pelvis. She burst into violaceous magical flame, leaving nothing but burning cinders.
Knott cleaves the Violacean Devil

At the end of the battle, Clench, Squat, Push, Brown Tom, and Biscuit were lost somewhere in the dungeon, having fled in panic from the otherworldly horror. Unbeknownst to the rest of the party, all but Biscuit had run blindly into the spiked pit trap. Clench, Squat, and Push had fallen to their doom. 

The Serpent's Kiss
The party took stock and explored the sanctum of the high priest. They burned the massive texts of Adhinatta. In the high priest's chambers they found an alchemical laboratory and two books on a work table. One book was ancient, the holy writings of the monks of Leggach who once dwelled in this place. Within the book were formulae written in arcane script. The other book was a journal, written in Kalmathi, kept by the high priest. Babu, a Kalmathi himself, read the journal. It detailed the trials and tribulations of the cult as they were persecuted and forced to flee their homeland. They made their way across the Great Wall in search of the ancient Citadel of Leggach, an ancient prison and monastery, home to monks that worshiped Adhinatta and inflicted vile tortures on their prisoners.

Also within the book was a listing of those that accompanied the high priest on this pilgrimage: 
Two attendants, three holy warriors, three priests, a monk, three holy assassins, twenty crossbowmen, thirty men-at-arms, and thirty acolytes.

They also took the high priest's dagger, a wickedly curved blade with the name "Serpent's Kiss" engraved in Kalmathi on the blade. In the high priest's chamber was a chest filled with coins, the accumulated wealth of the acolytes and converts.

After fully exploring the sanctum of the high priest, the party sought out and recovered their lost members. They climbed the stairs the surface but found the entrance capped by a heavy stone lid. They traversed the natural cavern and descended the ladder to the hallway outside the temple, where they found their comrades, both living and dead.

Reunited, but exhausted from their battles, their way up blocked and concerned about unknown dangers that might await them in the caves below, the party decided to retire to the chambers of the holy warriors and rest. There they barricaded themselves behind three locked doors and set a watch. Nothing was able to disturb their sleep.

After a rest, the party rose and prepared fresh. Prayers of healing were offered for the wounded. Refreshed, the party returned to the dead-end stairway. With fresh eyes to examine the passage, the party soon found a secret door that led to a hidden passageway with two bronze doors carved in bas relief. The passageway was covered in dust and had been obviously unused for many centuries.

Opening the door on the left, they met an ancient skeletal mummy sitting in a lotus position atop a wide pillar of stone. Before they could act, the mummy began to move, lifting a withered hand to point at the party. The mummy's mouth opened and issued a sound that no human mind could conceive, and suddenly Thaddeus, Brown Tom, Biscuit, War Dog, Absolom, and Knott winked out of existence. They were disintegrated!

Valerius immediately rushed in and laid waste to the hideous creature. Afterwards, the party searched the empty room. They were able to move the pillar, revealing a hidden cache. Within the cache was a shield bearing the symbol of Adhinatta in relief, a blank book, and a tincture in a phial. 

The remaining party, now decimated, decided to ignore the other door and retreat upstairs. There they met Absolom and Knott! The two had not been disintegrated! Instead, they were teleported to an empty stairway. They knew not where the others had been sent. 

Assassins Among Us!
The party made its way back down to their boat in order to leave the ancient catacombs. On the way, they came across two dozen acolytes loitering in the storage room near the underground river entrance! The acolytes were distraught! They thanked the party for saving them and were ready to renounce Adhinatta. They asked for the party's help in escaping. Unfortunately, they were trapped, the exit was barred by a portcullis. 

Babu did some quick math and noticed there were four more acolytes than before. He also noted that there were still three holy assassins and a monk as yet unaccounted. Valerius prayed for Justica to show him guidance. Valerius was able to detect the presence of evil and soon identified twelve among them that meant to do him harm. Sensing their charade had come to an end, the twelve evil acolytes unsheathed their blades. one among them threw off his cloak revealing the bald head, bare chest, and spiked gloves of a monk of Adhinatta. The neutral acolytes moved away, fearing battle. 

Thinking quickly, Babu cast a magical sleep spell into the mass of evil cultists. Several of them fell immediately to sleep. Two of them did not, revealing them to be sterner opponents. Babu followed up with another spell, encasing the monk and the two tougher opponents in sticky webbing. The rest of the party dealt with the remaining cultists. Soon, only the third assassin remained, and he too was eventually dispatched. The monk and two remaining assassins were soon executed by a hail of arrows.

Sweep and Clear
Afterwards, the party led the remaining acolytes out of the catacombs, skipping the barred route and instead re-tracing their steps the way they came in. They made it to the cave with the underwater river only to find their boat set upon by three large spiders. Babu promptly put them to sleep with another spell and the party boarded their boat in safety.

The boat was able to ferry all twelve remaining acolytes across the river to Swallow. Ensuring the acolytes were secure, the party re-crossed the river to join the city guard. The battle on the surface was long over. The guards were working to remove the stone slab that capped the entrance to the catacombs.

The party also reunited with Thaddeus and Jilani, who had been teleported into the forest outside the catacombs and had helped the city guard in their efforts.

Eventually, the slab was removed and Thaddeus led the city guard on a sweep-and-clear of the catacombs.

Later, Thaddeus led Jilani, Knott, and Biscuit back down to the remaining brass door. Biscuit was able to open the lock on the door and the party cautiously entered. Within was an ossuary supported by two columns. Each column was carved to resemble a bound human writhing in agony. The walls were lined by shelves piled high with loose human bones.

As Biscuit and Thaddeus entered the room, the bones came to life, reaching out from the walls, grasping and clawing. Biscuit was grabbed by the throat and knocked unconscious. At the same moment, the statues came to life, moving to attack Thaddeus.

Knott came running in as Thaddeus grabbed Biscuit and withdrew from the room. Knott covered the retreat as they exited the unhallowed crypt and resealed the door.

The party then left the catacombs.

The next ten days were spent consulting sages and ancient tomes of history and lore, seeking insight into the origins and abilities of the various magical relics they had recovered.


Next week: the party heads up-river to Flinch, which had recently come under siege by the Red Orcs. From there, they must pass over the Great Wall through the Defile of Castagon, which is beset by ogres and hill giants, in order to escort Princess Murti to the city of Horek on the edge of the Great Waste.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Zero-Level Funnels for AD&D

One of the fun things about Dungeon Crawl Classics is the idea of the funnel for zero-level characters. The premise is that you create four to eight zero-level characters almost completely at random and run them through a tough meat-grinder of a dungeon. Whoever survives becomes your player character.

One can easily apply the same premise to AD&D. The AD&D module N4 Treasure Hunt from 1986 is essentially a funnel! Within this module, you create a zero-level character, get washed up on a remote island, and over the course of the adventure you answer the call of a character class.

I present here a generic recapitulation of the rules presented in that module which can be used to simulate DCC style funnels in AD&D.

Creating a Zero-Level Character

The player rolls 3d6 for each of your abilities, in order. The Dungeon Master may allow alternative methods at his or her discretion.

The player chooses one of the races in the Player's Handbook, or another race at the Dungeon Master's discretion. Modify abilities accordingly.
  • Human (no modifiers)
  • Dwarf (Constitution +1, Charisma -1)
  • Elf (Dexterity +1, Constitution -1)
  • Gnome (no modifiers)
  • Half-Elf (no modifiers)
  • Half-Orc (Strength +1, Constitution +1, Charisma -2)
  • Halfling (Strength -1, Dexterity +1)
All zero-level characters are neutral. The player will choose an alignment when the character reaches first level.

Hit Points
Zero-level characters have 1d6 hit points. These hit points will be re-rolled when the character reaches first level.

Optional Hit Point Method (One I Made Up)
Alternatively, each zero-level character may belong to one of three "proto-classes". These proto-classes determine your starting hit points and will restrict the player's choice of class at first level.

  • Sedentary: You lead a comfortable sedentary life. Perhaps you are a scribe, merchant, librarian, acolyte, high-born noble, or other such member of the upper class. You start with 1d4 hit points. At first level, you can choose any class for which you qualify.
  • Active: You live an active life. Perhaps you are a carpenter or artisan, a servant, a sailor, or perhaps you were a ne'er-do-well or street tough. You start with 1d4+1 hit points. At first level, you may choose any class save Magic User.
  • Laborer: You live a life the requires much physical activity. Perhaps you were a worker, a town guard, a ditch-digger, a farmer, or low-ranking soldier. You start with 1d4+2 hit points. At first level, you may choose any fighter class.
All zero-level characters speak the common tongue and the tongue of their race.

The player rolls on the following table to determine your career to this point. The Dungeon Master may substitute alternative tables at his or her discretion.

Dice Score Result
11-14Fisher (netting)
15-20 Forester
24-27Hunter/fisher (hook and line)
28-32Husbandman (animal husbandry)
35-37Leather worker/tanner
45-46Navigator (fresh or salt water)
47-49Sailor (fresh or salt)
50-51Shipwright (boats or ships)

Weapon Proficiencies
All zero-level characters are proficient in a single weapon. Choose one of the following: dagger, dart, quarterstaff. Characters suffer -5 penalty when using any other weapon.

A zero-level character can learn one additional weapon during play after using that weapon in two combats. However, learning an additional weapon prevents the character from becoming a magic user.

A zero-level character begins play with a staff, club, hand-axe, or dagger (choose one), and 2d3x10 gold pieces to purchase equipment.

Experience Points
Zero-level characters begin play with -500 experience points.

First Level
Once a zero-level character earns 500 XP, putting them at zero total XP, they advance to first level. At this point, the player selects a class for which the character's abilities qualify and rolls new hit points. The new hit points override the original zero-level hit points.

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Return to the Temple of Pain and Suffering" Chapter 22 of the Xanthus River Campaign

This week the entire gang takes up arms to assault the Temple of Adhinatta. While the town guard occupy the main entrance, the party sneaks in through the secret back door. They make their way to the temple chambers and confront the guardians of penitent suffering!

Our party this week consists of:
Player Characters
  • Ser Valerius, Defender of Justica (Level 4 Human Paladin)
  • Absolom, Curate of Justica (Level 4 Human Cleric)
  • Jalani, Curate of Amun-Tor (Level 4 Human Cleric)
  • Gwen, Archer of the Otherworld (Level 3 Elf Fighter)
  • Biscuit, Footpad/Minor Trickster (Level 2 Gnome Thief/Illusionist)
  • Thaddeus, Stider of Swallow (Level 2 Human Ranger)
  • Babu the Conjurer (Level 3 Human Magic User)
  • Knott the Axeman (Level 3 Human Fighter)
  • Brown Tom the Warrior (Level 2 Human Fighter, Squire of Valerius)
  • Clench (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Squat (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • Push (Human Mercenary Heavy Infantryman)
  • "War Dog" (Valerius' War Dog)
When we last left our party, Thaddeus and Babu had successfully infiltrated the ruins of Leggach, the new home of the pilgrims of Adhinatta, god of penitence and absolution from Kalmath west of the Great Wall mountains. They had rescued Blue Tom, son of Black Tom, leader of the Path of Fear and Thunder criminal syndicate, and led a revolt of the converts that had become enslaved by the priests. During their escape, Thaddeus had been felled by crossbows and had to be carried back by Babu.

The sun rose as Babu reunited with Brown Tom in the forest and together they carried Blue Tom and Thaddeus, both infirm, back to the boarding house that had been rented by the party for the month. Babu woke everyone and asked them to gather in the common room. So gathered, Babu informed the party of the events of the previous night as well as the activities of the priests of Adhinatta. Together, the party formulated their course of action. 

First, they took Blue Tom and Thaddeus to the temple of Justicia. The visibly annoyed Zhamach denied any healing beyond the most basic care for Blue Tom and Thaddeus but did agree to give them sanctuary within the temple. 

The party left the temple of Justicia and proceeded to the barracks of the city guard. There they met Yano, captain of the guard. The captain listened to their story and showed genuine concern. He had been distrustful of the priests of Adhinatta since they arrived a little over a month ago and had been looking for any reason to take action against them. Thus far, they had broken no laws and had made several influential friends among the patrician class. Now he had cause to move against them. He sent a messenger to the archon to obtain formal approval for action. 

Meanwhile, Thaddeus asked an acolyte of Justicia to carry him over to the temple of Thumina, goddess of the moon. The acolyte did so and Thaddeus soon had an audience with the priestesses of that order. Thumina was also the goddess of healing and rest and as luck would have it, the high priestess of Thumina happened to be in town, visiting from Thither. Thaddeus made a significant sacrifice to the goddess and was, in turn, rewarded with a miracle, he was completely healed of his recent injuries!  Reinvigorated, he rushed to the citadel to rejoin the rest of the party.

With an official written warrant from the archon, the party, backed by twenty men of the city guard, moved against the priests of Adhinatta!

The city guard were to serve as a diversion, surrounding the ruins of Leggach and occupying any defenders on the surface. The party, meanwhile, would search for the secret entrance to the dungeons beneath the ruins via the river. The party boarded a large river boat and scoured the shore. Thaddeus the ranger soon found the entrance concealed by some rocks and low-hanging branches. The tunnel appeared to be a natural cave but was large enough to admit their boat if they crouched low.

Commando Raid!
They cautiously made their way into the flooded cave. When the cave branched, they took a left. After snaking through the watery passage for several hundred feet, they emerged into a large natural cavern with several passages as exits. The far half of the cave rose out of the water. In the far corner they spied a door in a man-made entrance. They disembarked and climbed the sloping cave floor to the entrance, 

The party explored the corridor, a series of ascending stairs. They were stopped by a heavy door, swollen shut from centuries of disuse. They forced it open, knowing that this was not the supply route that Thaddeus was looking for but confident the way would lead into the dungeon anyway. 

The room was an ancient prison with a deep shaft at its center and a shaft in the ceiling which had become plugged with debris. They explored a side door and discovered a series of prison cells filled with the skeletons of those left to die. They entered and explored the room. An unseen force slammed the door shut behind them and pulled a lever opening all the cells. The skeletons rose and advanced on the party. Absolom, however, easily turned the skeletons back with a display of his holy symbol. Valerius forced the door open and the party retreated. An anguished spectral scream echoed futilely through the ancient passages. 

The party took a different exit and found two long-abandoned rooms, both with deep pits. Within one room was a pit with the skeleton of a winged humanoid chained to the floor. The pit in the other room was empty. 

Taking another exit, they followed a winding passage that opened onto a platform overlooking a storage room, a room known to Thaddeus from his brief recconnaisance beneath the quarry. The party began climbing the ladder in the wide shaft that led to the quarry.

On the way up, they noticed a deep room cut into the shaft like a wide nook. At the end of the nook was the statue of a torso wearing fine chain mail. Two bracers lay crossed before the armor and a wand was placed on a silk pillow. Confident that the items were an obvious trap, they sent Biscuit the thief to investigate. Biscuit made it look easy as he identified the drop-away floor, purposefully and safely triggering it, and disabling the trap so that it would not reset. The floor, however, was stuck open leaving a ten-foot gap all around the armor. Biscuit easily climbed the wall and recovered the heirlooms. No time was wasted identifying the items, they were placed in the bag of holding for later.

They party continued up, through the now empty quarry, through the slave barracks, and up the ladder to the secret room. Valerius led the way, his war-dog suspended by a harness on his back. 

At the top the ladder, Valerius found that the room was no secret. A temple acolyte, armed with nothing but a dagger, was guarding the ladder and sounded the alarm. Valerius rushed up and disengaged his war-dog's harness. Valerius charged into battle followed by the rest of the party. The small force of acolytes and priests guarding the door were quickly cut down by Valerius but not before one of the priests opened the great carven doors to the temple to shout his warning. 

The Temple Guardians
The large temple within was a chamber of horrors. Dozens of worshippers hung naked and suspended by hooked chains, their flesh flayed from their bodies, their blood collected in chalices placed under them. Their moans of pain and suffering creating a droning hymn to their evil god. Each of them showed signs of repeated torture and healing. 

The party was met by seventeen zombies, the reanimated bodies of the acolytes and guards who were killed the night before. The zombies, in turn, were led by two mighty warriors, one clad in resplendent splint-mail armor and carrying an axe. The other was naked save for two bracers, a helmet, and a spear. Each of the warriros was, in turn, supported by a temple priest.
Knott, Jilani, and Babu on the left flank; Valerius, Gwen and Absolom on the right flank

Absolom and Jilani easily turned back the zombies, leaving only the warriors. Babu's sleep spell was wasted against the naked warrior as they both charged to attack. Jilani was able to paralyze the naked warrior with a holy prayer while Babu immobilized the armored warrior with a magical web spell. The party focused on killing the naked warrior before the paralysis wore off and soon discovered that mundane weapons had no effect on them! Magical weapons were brought to bear and the warrior was soon killed. They then eliminated the two priests. Finally, they released the armored warrior from the webbing and ganged up on him with magical weapons. Even outnumbered so, the warrior was a fierce combatant, but eventually died before their onslaught.
Valerius, Gwen, and Absolom
After the battle, Valerius turned to the zombies, destroying each one in turn until they were all eliminated.


Next week, the party explores the rest of the temple area, hunting the high priestess in order to put an end to the evil of Adhinatta!

After Thoughts

Instead of playing out the final battle with the zombies, Trevor (Thaddeus' player) and Scott (Valerius' player) did the math, comparing damage per round and determinning how many rounds it would take for Valerius, alone, to reach the forgone conclusion of destroying all the zombies, and how much damage he should expect to take as a result. Instead of playing it out, I just had Valerius take that much damage (19 pointns).

By the way, here's how Thaddeus got around the week of down-time after having been reduced to zero hit points.

Trevor's plan was to pay for a priest to cast Heal, a fifth level spell that restores 5d4 hit points and eliminates the one week downtown from a near-death experience. Unfortunately, Heal requires a tenth level caster and I told Trevor there were no tenth level clerics in Swallow. However, I am a benevolent overlod and said he could have a 1-in-6 change there'd be a visiting high priestess from Thither. Die roll. 1 of course. Of course, she's only visiting so she won't be there in the future. They'll have to go to Thither for that spell.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"The Temple of Pain and Suffering" Chapter 21 of the Xanthus River Campaign

This week, Thaddeus and Babu delve into the Ruins of the Monastery of Leggach to take on the cult of Adhinatta, the god of pain and suffering, in order to rescue Blue Tom, son of the local crime lord.

Our party this week:
  • Thaddeus, Strider (Level 2 Human Ranger) 
  • Babu, Conjurer (Level 3 Human Magic User)
Thaddeus, spent the previous week learning what he could about the disappearance of Blue Tom, the son of Black Tom, infamous leader of the Path of Fear and Thunder criminal gang in Swallow.

The Cult of Adhinatta
He learned that Blue Tom had joined the cult of Adhinatta, the god of pain and suffering from the wastelands northwest of the Great Wall Mountains.

Thaddeus consulted with Princess Murti and Babu, both natives of the "Exotic Lands Beyond the Wastes", regarding the cult. The princess described the cult as secretive and decadent. They profess a philosophy that sins are absolved through penitent suffering. Through pain, self-mutilation, and flagellation, one will be forgiven for all sins, and for the sins of all mankind.

They recruit devotees through a kind of magic that is not magic: a charm built on pretty words. Publically, they appeal to the poor and hopeless with promises of absolution of sins. Privately, and secretly, they appeal to the wealthy and the nobility with promises of forbidden decadence and pleasures of the flesh.

She knows not why they travelled to Swallow or why they purchased the ruins atop the bald knob of Leggach.

Thaddeus knew, however, that since the arrival in Swallow of the eighty or so pilgrims about two months ago, the cult had secured over two hundred recruits. All who joined were taken within the rubble walls of the ruins atop the bald knob. Only a handful have been seen since.

The monastery ruins that they purchased once belonged to the Monks of Leggach. Little is known of this ancient order other than they ceased to exist when the Empire of Agartha fell over a thousand years ago. Their monastery, like most of the architecture in and around Swallow and the upper Xanthus river valley, was designed and constructed the squat race known as the Daro (dwarves).

In the past month, it was clear that construction was happening atop the bald knob. The cult was rebuilding the monastery with the labor of the new recruits.

Brown Tom
Late one night, well past midnight, Thaddeus and Babu spied Brown Tom sneaking away from the boarding house. They followed her down to the draw-bridge, which she bribed a guard to lower so she might cross. They followed her across and caught up to her in the woods.

She was planning to sneak into the ruined monastery and rescue her brother. Thaddeus and Babu stopped her and told her to wait here in the woods. They would reconnoiter the monastery and find her brother. Thaddeus knew Blue Tom and would recognize him on sight. They asked Brown Tom for a token, something that would show Blue Tom that they came at his sister's behest. She gave them a small object that would serve the purpose.

They pair told Brown Tom they would return with her brother if they could, or come back and summon the rest of the party for further action. If they did not return to this spot by dawn, Brown Tom was to return to town and consult the rest of the party. Brown Tom agreed to the plan.

Babu then cast invisibility on himself and on Thaddeus. Each then held onto the end of a long thread so they could would not be separated. The pair then crawled over the partially-reconstructed ruined wall and entered the monastery grounds.

The Ruins of Leggach
Within were some small living structures for a handful of guards and a stable for the draft animals. About twenty guards patrolled the grounds or stood watch in the newly re-built flanking towers or stood watch atop scaffolding inside the shell of the ruined keep tower.
The Ruins of Leggach

 They entered the ruins of the monastery itself. The ruins primarily consisted of foundation walls and lacked a roof or upper floors. The pair trod cautiously, noting the neat piles of stones and construction scaffolding, and also that many of the stones were freshly quarried. They reached the center of the tower without incident and found a large shaft descending into the old bald knob. From cranes built of stout timbers hung chains attached to winches and large buckets. Iron ladder rungs were hammered
into the sides of the shaft. Thaddeus and Babu descended into the darkness.

The pair found a ledge that led into a cavern while the shaft continued to descend. There they found a wooden boardwalk path leading through a cave. Unable to discern the depth of the cave in the darkness, and unwilling to light a torch, they returned to the shaft and continued down the ladder.

They eventually found bottom of the shaft. Confident that they were unobserved and in a relatively confined space, they lit torches. Though still invisible, the torches would be seen by others, so they explored slowly and carefully. The platform turned into winding stairs that descended into the earth.

They were in a multi-level subterranean complex, constructed for human habitation by the Daro in a lost age. They explored softly and gently, preferring a quiet reconnaissance. They noted the utilitarian wooden door to their right, the ornate brass doors with bas relief depicting scenes of pain and torture leading to exaltation and salvation.

They explored a corridor that led to a mysterious pit filled with spikes, over which hung two dangling chains. Unwilling to swing by the chains, they chose another passage. It led to ascending stairs that ended in a collapsed ceiling.

Down another passage they found a ladder that ascended into a shaft. At the top of the shaft was an unworked cave with a wooden boardwalk path. They followed the boardwalk path to a stone platform. Cranes lifted stones from a deep shaft. They climbed down a ladder into the shaft and found another platform.

The Quarry
This platform overlooked a deep crevice, a cleft in the earth forty to fifty feet across, over a hundred feet wide, and several hundred feet deep. Chains hung from pulleys attached to the roof of the crevice. Winches at the bottom of the crevice raised and lowered massive buckets filled with stone. Stone ledges were caved into the wall at several levels. Wooden scaffolding and ladders clung to the walls of the crevice. Far below, dozens of people were quarrying rock and loading it into the buckets. Masked overseers cracked whips and scourges at any laborer who paused in their work. Each of the laborers wore ankle chains that inhibited their movement and were chained together. They were enslaved!

The pair clung to a length of chain and descended to one of the lower ledges where they disembarked and explored another passage, which they soon discovered to be the other end of the spiked pit. Voices approached and they clung cautiously to the wall and placed their torch in a nearby wall sconce. Guards came forth carrying some kind of gang-plank. The gang-plank was attached via hooks to the dangling chains, allowing the guards to safely cross the spiked pit.

The guards looked over the precipice to examine above and below. Finding nothing, they retreated the direction they came, taking the gang-plank with them, to the chagrin of Thaddeus who realized too late they could have used it to cross the pit while the guards were looking the other way.

Soon afterwards, Thaddeus and Babu spied a small group of robed initiates carrying candles exiting through a secret door just past the pit trap and cross to the passage with the ladder. Curious.

The pair returned to the quarry and descended the network of ladders and scaffolding to the lower ledge. They paused and looked to see if any of the workers was Blue Tom. None were.

Slave Quarters
The quarry itself reached further into the bowels of the earth, its true extent unknown. At the lower ledge, they took a passage that led to a large room filled with over a hundred slaves, all sleeping in a common room bound to each other by chains and manacles. A raised platform was set aside for the overseers, all of whom seemed to be sleeping or dozing at the moment. A small lantern provided dim illumination.

They gingerly crept through the sleeping throng checking for Blue Tom. Not finding him, they explored a passage that led down some twisting stairs. Once out of view, they cautiously lit another torch  and descended, only to find a dead end. The pair spent forty minutes trying to find a secret door but to no avail. They doused their torch and returned to the sleeping room.

Thaddeus carefully removed the keys from the belt of the drowsy overseer and one of the unlit lanterns and opened the locked door at the rear of the overseers' platform. Once beyond the door, they found themselves in complete darkness. Confident they were alone, they lit the lantern. They were in a small room with a ladder leading up and another door. Behind the door was a room filled with over a dozen sleeping cultists, none of whom appeared to be slaves or bound against their will.

At the rear of the room was a small natural passage. The pair explored the passage which led to a false wall. Moving the wall aside, they found themselves inside a barred prison cell. Beyond the bars was a shaft filled with five levels of dark but occupied prison cells.

They retreated the way they came and climbed the ladder. The ladder led to a secret room with a false door through which they saw the initiates exit earlier. Outside they heard guards, speaking the incomprehensible language from beyond the wastes.

Luckily, Babu is of those people and knew what they were saying.

"We have searched all levels and found no intruders, sir."

"The mistress has sensed them. They are here! Search again! Find them!"

"As you command!"

The guards then split up once more.

Babu waited for the guards to leave and told Thaddeus what he heard. They doused the lantern and carefully exited through the secret door. Every torch in every sconce was now lit. They crept invisibly past the brass doors, and used their stolen keys to open the utilitarian door.

The Chamber of Penitent Excruciation
Within they found a chamber filled with instruments of pain and torture. A fat priest wearing nothing but a leather apron was busy mutilating a bound subject, cutting them, removing strips of skin, inserting long needles into muscles, etc.

A winch was connected to a platform suspended by a chain through a pulley in the ceiling. The platform could descend into a large shaft in the floor. The shaft contained the five levels of prison cells observed earlier. The torturer was absorbed by his work and failed to notice the door open and close as the invisible intruders continued into another room.

One of the half-dozen guards in the next room, however, did notice the door open and close. He immediately called out, "The door! The intruders, they must be invisible! Search every corner! Prod with your weapons!"

The pair quickly moved through into an adjoining room and managed to avoid detection. They were in the guard barracks, which were now empty as every guard had been awakened for the search. In the next room, they found several warriors, some sleeping, one awake at a desk, studying a scroll. They retreated to the abandoned guard room to quietly discuss their options.

After a quick conference, they executed their plan.

The Soft Probe Goes Hard
They waited for the guards, satisfied that no invisible intruders were in the torture chamber, to leave. They then rushed in and killed the torturer, cancelling their invisibility. After hurling his corpse down the shaft, Babu manned the winch while Thaddeus descended the shaft on the platform. Thaddeus found Blue Tom huddling the back of one of the cells.

Blue Tom had been mutilated nearly beyond recognition. His lips had been cut away, his face and body scarred, and his right hand had been removed. Blue Tom recognized Thaddeus and begged for help. He said he had made a horrible mistake, that the wealthy initiates were rewarded and made acolytes while the poor ones were enslaved and forced to work in the quarry. The slaves that resisted were punished, imprisoned here and tortured for the pleasure of the priests and the wealthy acolytes.

Thaddeus called Babu to climb down the chain and the trio escaped through the secret door in one of the cells. They snuck into the room of the acolytes and killed every one of them in their sleep. They then crossed over to the platform of the overseers. The drowsing overseer was now fully awake. He was killed before he could rouse the other overseers, all of whom soon joined him in death.

Freeing the Slaves
Thaddeus then ran into the quarry room in order to get the attention of the overseers. Having done so, he led them back to the corridor and to the slave room. Thaddeus slew each in turn as they rounded the corner and Babu felled the remainder with arrows as they ran down the corridor.

The commotion of battle woke the slaves and Thaddeus and Babu began unlocking their manacles, distributing the multiple sets of keys they now possessed among the slaves. They slaves, now armed with mining implements, were beginning to become unruly. Thaddeus called for one among their number to act as leader and spokesperson. He asked the spokesperson to organize the slaves and prepare for an escape. While that was being done, Thaddeus quickly returned to the crevice and climbed a ladder down to a lower level, where he found a store-room and stairs leading into the darkness and heard the lapping of water. He promptly returned to the slave room.

The Great Escape
The slaves were now somewhat organized. Thaddeus told the spokesperson to lead the slaves up the ladder, across the corridor, and up the other ladder to the cave, then follow the boardwalk path to the final ladder and up to the surface. Thaddeus and Babu would lead the way and hold off the guards. With that, everyone started up the ladder in a huge line.

At the top of the ladder, Thaddeus and Babu encountered a half-dozen guards led by the officer they saw reading before, now fully clad in armor and carrying an ornately carved spear. Thaddeus and Babu held off the guards while the slaves filed across the hall and up the second ladder.

Babu cast a spell that put the guards to sleep while Thaddeus took on the officer who was unaffected. After a fierce battle, the officer was slain and Thaddeus took the spear. Thaddeus and Babu then hurried up the stairs to the third ladder and slew some more guards. They then climbed to the surface ahead of the escaping slaves. Babu fired his crossbow at the crossbowmen on the scaffolding while Thaddeus engaged guards on the ground.

During the ensuing melee, Thaddeus was felled by a lucky shot. Babu cast a spell to put the remaining guards to sleep then rushed to Thaddeus' aid. Babu had one of the escaping slaves take Blue Tom while Babu threw Thaddeus over his shoulder. The mass of people scurried over the debris of the half-reconstructed wall and fled down the hill to the safety of the trees. Many of the escaping slaves were cut down by guards or were slain by archers on the towers, but the mass of them successfully escaped.


After Thoughts
I originally cancelled this week's game for lack of quorum. I had the quest up river to fight the Red Orcs in Flinch. However, Trevor and Lucinda talked me into running a side-quest for just them: they wanted to rescue Blue Tom! So at the last minute, I turned to the Ultimate Dungeon Delve at Wizardawn to create a random dungeon for the secret temple of the Cult of Adhinatta. The very first one I created is pictured above. I loved it. It was perfect. I created a few more just to see if I could get something better, but I didn't so I stuck with the first.

Temple Side-View (spoilers redacted)

I ignored the randomly generated dungeon denizens and filled the above with my own list. Here's my original notes.

(note - at the request of one my players, I have removed all spoilers)

1.       Ladder descends down shaft. Tunnel leads to caves.
2.       Caves with stirges (I changed this to being empty when I realized the slaves needed a safe way to carry the rock out of the quarry.
3.       Room with shaft. 
4.       Stairs to room with collapsed floor. Save vs. Paralysis or fall through floor. (again, I changed this so that the slaves had a route to the surface). SPOILERS REDACTED
5-10. Prison cells lined along vertical shaft, accessible only by elevator mechanism.
5.      Penitents
6.      Penitents
7.      Blue Tom
8.      Decadent penitents who can leave any time they wish through secret door
14.    Platforms suspended by chains over deep chasm. Used in ancient days for quarry.
20.    Stairs and ladder lead down to river access

Temple of Pain and Suffering with spoilers redacted

 During the dungeon, as they were mapping, Lucinda noted "this dungeon seems very two-dimensional, like an ant-colony". I blushed because, event though I tried to give the dungeon a Z-dimension on each level, they were right. The dungeon was pretty vertical.

I made some changes on the fly to accommodate their actions and some better ideas I had. For example, I realized during the game that the slaves had no way to move their stone up to the surface, so I changed the stirge cave to an empty cave and changed the collapsed floor room to a platform for lifting the stone out of the quarry. Suddenly, the dungeon made much more logical sense. There are still huge areas unexplored or undiscovered. There's an entire lower level they haven't been to yet, and the entire priest's quarters. I'm glad they didn't go in there because I didn't have any higher level NPCs statted out. I also just realized that I put the torturer in the same room as the winch. Oops. I totally forgot there was a separate torture chamber in SPOILER REDACTED.

Another nifty thing I did this week was the use of random encounters to ratchet up the tension. I keep close track of time, not only for torch life but also for random encounters. Every turns (10 minutes), I would make a d6 roll. On a 1, they would encounter a guard or a slave or something wilder in the untraveled parts of the dungeon. Every time they got the guards, I would ratchet it up. Now they guards were suspicious. Their mysterious mistress sensed the presence of intruders. Now I would have guards show up on a 2-in-6 every ten minutes. The second or third time they showed up, the guards actually witnessed the door opening, confirming that some invisible intruder was present. Now I was rolling 3-in-6 and the guards were actively searching for invisible intruders.

My goal was to maintain the soft probe as long as possible. So many of our soft probes go hard almost immediately that it has become a joke. This time, I let the player characters explore as much of the dungeon as they could, but eventually they were going to be seen. I just did my best to postpone that as feasibly as possible to preserve that fun. Plus, I wanted to play up the search. It worked out fantastically.

When the players finally cancelled their invisibility, it was because they CHOSE to, not because I took it away from them (although one can argue they HAD to to continue, but it was still their choice). It was a good feeling all around.

The plan of the players is to return to town and tell the magistrate and the archon what was happening in the ruins of Leggach, raise a small army, and storm the place. Of course, the remaining cultists, most of whom are high level clerics and fighters (and others) will have retreated into the dungeon and sealed the entrance. They have an agenda that is as yet undiscovered and they will not be stopped! If only there were some secret entrance from the river or something.

Unfortunately, we aren't gaming next Friday for Independence Day, so I'll have to wait a few weeks to see what the players do.

Anyway, this impromptu dungeon turned out to be a LOT of fun given I came up with it in like 30 minutes on the day of the game.