I was in the mood to run a “good old-fashioned dungeon crawl”. After a little searching, I found some really nice catacomb maps by The Forge Studios at RPGNow. You’ll need to get a copy of the first map in the collection to run this adventure. It’s included in the free preview if you are too cheap to buy it though.
Introduction: A Mysterious Map
The adventure assumes the characters have recovered Rolf Pebblebonnet‘s map during A Missing Mouse and are interested in seeing where it leads. There is a twist. Another group of adventurers, led by Vulthig the fox, is planning to loot the same dungeon. This is Hauser Nodberry’s doing. He planned to sell the original map to some of his less savory acquaintances, and pawn off a copy on poor Rolf. Unfortunately for him, Haashaat the snake ate him before he could see the con through. When Nodberry doesn’t return to Stormhollow, the goons he planned to sell the map to broke into his house and stole it. Now they are heading for the same dungeon as the characters! Note: If the characters gave Rolf his map at the end of A Missing Mouse, Vulthig and his gang have simply stolen it from him. Ignore the bits about the map being faked and change the dialog in ‘Another Map?’ as appropriate.
When the characters examine the map closely ask for Lore rolls. If any succeed, they discover someone has attempted to make it look old, and it is probably a copy or a fake. The map depicts a portion of the Skalleren Woods. There is an “X” on the map and next to it is written “Droog’s Tomb”. If the players want to dig up information on Droog, remind them that the abbey has a good-sized library that will grant a +1 bonus to Lore rolls. If succeed in the roll, they discover the following:
Over a hundred years ago, long before Stonewell Abbey was built, a weasel warlord named Droog terrorized the Alder Vale. He ruled from his castle within the Skalleren Woods. His domain encompassed much of those dark woods as well as the fields and town of Rumblewood. He enslaved the Kind, forcing them to mine gold and silver to fill his coffers. Droog was slain in battle, while leading an expedition deep into the Murkenhills. His followers returned his body to his castle, burying it in a series of secret chambers that lie below the forest floor. Without the charismatic Droog to lead it, his kingdom (thankfully) fell apart. His castle was eventually besieged and destroyed, but nobody ever found his tomb.
While the characters are doing their research in the library, Rolf Pebblebonnet comes rushing in.
“Teddy, Teddy, come quick!” Rolf pants. “I just come up from the Mayfly Tavern and I seen a bunch a nasty lookin’ fellas who’s got that map what Sister Carmelina said the snake ate. Come on, come on. You go down there and knock ’em on their heads while I nick the map. We’ll be filthy rich once we find the treasure!”
Rolf makes himself enough of a nuisance, hopping back and forth while pulling on his ears pleading with the characters, that one of the monks asks the group to leave.
Unless the characters adamantly refuse to go with him, Rolf drags them down to the Mayfly Tavern. They can hear shouting and raucous laughter emanating from within. Suddenly, a pewter tankard comes crashing through one of the windows.
“Haw, haw, haw. Quite the arm ye got there Mugwen!”
When you peer through the door, you can see the tavern is in shambles. Tables and chairs are overturned. Ale and food are spilled all over the floor. Most of the locals have fled, save a small group pressed uncomfortably against the bar by a pair of burly hedgehogs. Farmer Wilkins stands next to the broken window, a loaf of bread balanced precariously on his head. A rat (Mugwen you presume) is taking careful aim with a pewter tankard; his intention is to knock the loaf off poor Wilkin’s head. The rest of the crew, a dastardly looking bunch of rats, shrews and mice tease Mugwen about his last throw.
“Blast!” The rat says dropping his tankard to the floor and pulling a wicked throwing knife from a bandolier across his chest. “I’m better with me knives anyhow.”
Depending on what the characters do, this could immediately escalate into a brawl. If they call on Mugwen to stop he’ll turn and look at them blankly.
“Just havin’ a bit o’ fun is all…” He mutters, sheathing his blade.
From a far corner, a hooded rouge rises to his feet. He wears quilted armor and carries a longsword. When he turns, you can see the face of a fox sneering at you. “Yes, my lads are just letting off a little steam. You are very rude to interrupt. Milton, Stilton, I don’t think we’ve seen a good pounding in some time. Show these fools that it doesn’t pay to trifle with Vulthig and his band.”
The two hedgehogs heft warhammers and advance. The rest of the rouges form a circle, jeering and taunting. The fox stands back, arms crossed, a cruel smirk on his face.
If the characters make a Notice roll, they will see Rolf sneaking toward the fox, intent on stealing the treasure map.
Vulthig the fox is testing the character’s mettle. He will not get involved in the melee and keeps the rest of his thugs restrained as well. He’ll let the fight rage for two rounds (or only one, if one of the hedgehogs goes down quickly) and then call his men to retreat. By this time he has caught poor Rolf trying to liberate his copy of the map and hurls the Raccoon into the midst of the party. They need to make Reflex saves to avoid getting tangled up with Rolf. If they pursue Vulthig and his goons, the fox will send a number of rats equal to twice the party’s size to slow them down.
Milton & Stilton: HD 2, HP 11, 11, Dex 9, Defense 4, quills AP 2, war hammer 1D6+1 damage
Vulthig’s goons: HD 1, HP 6, 6, 5, 4, 4, 2, 2, 2, Dex 10, Defense 2, no armor, short sword or club 1D6-1 damage
You soon learn that Vulthig and his crew were seen heading west, out of town, presumably towards the Alder River Bridge. You also discover that Dimble the lizard was with them and he didn’t look too happy about it.
“I seen one o’ them rats swattin’ him wi’ a stick to get him movin’!”
Chase or Race?
This part of the adventure is a little more open-ended. The characters need to decide if they are going to pursue Vulthig and his crew (the chase), or try to beat him to the dungeon (the race). Either way, the fox details a few members of his band to slow the party down. Vulthig has a bat in his employ, so he can keep tabs on the characters from the air. This gives him an advantage since he usually knows where the characters are at.
Vulthig is travelling overland and takes six days to reach the dungeon. Three are spent getting to the Skalleren Woods and three looking for the dungeon. He has a half day head start over the characters. It will take the characters the same amount of time to get to the dungeon following the overland route. The follow are suggestions for tactics Vulthig will use to slow the characters down and ideas the characters can use to move more quickly. Pick a couple that will work well for your group; you do not need to use all of them (for example “Netted” doesn’t work very well if the party hired Jenna to take them downstream).
- Ambush: Have the players attempt Notice rolls to see a pair of Rats camouflaged in the brush. They are armed with short bows and will spend two rounds taking pot shots at the characters before fleeing. They reappear a few hours later and do the same thing. Unless the characters can take them both out in the initial exchange, they lose a half a day due to moving with caution. If they throw caution to the wind, they automatically fail any future Notice rolls.
- Boat: The characters can hire Jenna to take them downriver. This means they are giving up on chasing Vulthig and just trying to beat him to the dungeon. This shaves a day off their travel time.
- Guide: When the characters enter the Skalleren Woods the will encounter Jonas the Charcoal Burner. Jonas is a crotchety, annoying squirrel know-it-all that makes a living making charcoal and selling it in Rumblewood. If the characters can put up with him, he can lead them to the dungeon and shave a day off their travel time.
- Hustle: The party can attempt a forced march to catch up. Each successful forced march shaves a quarter day off the travel time. The characters must make Fortitude saves to successfully keep up this pace. Failure means they only do a normal day’s march and lose 1D3 hit points from fatigue.
- Netted: The fox has some of his men build a trap for the characters. If they fail Notice rolls, they will spring a trap that captures them in a net suspended far above the forest floor. One character needs to make a Reflex save to cut through the net safely so they can climb out. Failure indicates the party tumbles to the ground taking 1D6 damage. Falling into this trap costs the characters half a day.
- Spy: Have the players make Notice rolls to realize that a bat has been trailing them. It occasionally strays within bowshot, but will flee if the characters open fire on him. The creature will periodically appear during their travels unless they manage to bring it down with a hit. If they capture and interrogate it, they will discover it is working for Vulthig.
- Thief: Late in the night, a shrew sneaks into the camp and attempts to make off with the character’s food. They need to make a Notice roll to discover the thief who will flee if possible. If they don’t prevent it, the shrew will make off with about half of the characters food.
Sooner or later the characters and Vulthig are going to run into each other and a fight will break out. Here are their statistics:
Vulthig: Warrior/Rouge, Level 3, HD , HP , Dex 15, Defense 6 (DEX + Shield), Quilted Armor AP 1, long sword 1D6
Milton & Stilton: HD 2, HP 11, 11, Dex 9, Defense 4, quills AP 2, war hammer 1D6+1 damage
Vulthig’s goons: HD 1, HP 6, 6, 5, 4, 4, 2, 2, 2, Dex 10, Defense 2, no armor, short sword or club 1D6-1 damage
The forest has reclaimed much of the exterior of Droog’s tomb. It looks like little more than a mound covered in moss and ferns. Other creatures have found the tomb and are using the outer chambers for their lair. The characters can see that a portion of the detritus has been scraped away and vault door has been opened. If they make a Notice roll, they can hear a angry buzzing coming from within. If the characters search around the area they may find the “spider entrance” in room 9. On a successful Notice roll.
Room 1: Slick stairs lead down into the darkness. As the characters reach the bottom, they hear an angry buzzing noise coming from the room. Turning the corner, they can see a number of wicker cages suspended from the ceiling. Giant hornets are held within the cages. If the characters make a Notice roll, they will spy a scaly head peering at them from the partially open door to the east. Suddenly, the cages crash to the ground and the angry insects swarm at the party.
Giant Hornets: HD 1, HP 4, 3, 3, 2, Dex 12, Defense 3, no armor, sting 1D3 + poison
Rooms 2, 3 & 4: A band of basilisk lizards have made their lair in these rooms. The creatures have confined themselves to these entry chambers after one of their number was captured by the giant spiders living in room 7. The lizards are well aware that the party has entered the dungeon and wait to ambush any survivors that come into their rooms. There is one creature in each room. Their compatriots will join the fight, attempting to flank the party, once the characters have chosen a room to explore. They have little of value, a few beads and coins worth 15 sp in total.
Basilisk Lizards: HD 2, HP 9, 7, 6, Dex 10, Defense 2, scales AP 1, spear 1D6 damage
Area 5: The tunnel floor has collapsed, leaving a gap more than 20 paws in width. The basilisk lizards fashioned a precarious-looking bridge and laid it across the gap during their initial foray into the dungeon. If a character makes a Lore roll (+1 bonus for moles), he thinks the bridge is sturdy enough to support the weight of one creature at a time. Crossing the bridge requires a Reflex save. Failure indicates the character falls 20 paws into a dank and smelly pit, suffering 2D6 damage.
Area 6: A stone statue of a weasel warrior stands in this alcove. ‘Droog the Mighty’ is carved into the arch above the statue. A long sword with a jeweled hilt is clutched in it’s stony claw. It looks like it is worth 30 gp. The pedestal of the statue is etched with the inscription: ‘Crush Your Enemies’. If a character attempts to remove the sword from the statue’s grip, he will trigger a trap. The statue will fall forward and crush (didn’t see that coming, did you?) him for 1D6 damage unless he succeeds in Reflex save.
Room 7: As they approach this room, the party can see the thick cobwebs extending into the hall. Two giant spiders lair in this room. There is no treasure to be found here, unless the characters are interested in the partially devoured corpse of a basilisk lizard who strayed too far…
Giant Spiders: HD 1, HP 5, 3, Dex 11, Defense 3, no armor, bite 1D2 + poison
Area 8: This hallway has six alcoves containing the sarcophagi of cruel, weasel warriors. If the characters disturb any of them, all will open and disgorge their skeletal occupants. The creatures have 120 sp of jewelry between them.
Skeletons: HD 1, HP 5, 4, 4, 3, 2, 2, Dex 9, Defense 3, no armor, swords 1D6 damage
Room 9: The western wall and a portion of the ceiling of this room have collapsed, leaving a small passage back up to the forest floor. A few nasty bugs have made their way down through this opening (spiders in room 7 and centipedes in room 11). This room still has remnants of decorative tapestries on the walls and furniture scattered about, but the elements have destroyed anything of value.
Room 10: This room appears to have been some type of storage area in the past. The characters can see shelves lined with jars and vials, as well as crates and boxes on the floor. A virulent, purple fungus grows over much of them room. It requires a Reflex save to avoid disturbing the fungus while searching. If failed, one of the fungi releases a cloud of spores at the character. If he fails a Fortitude save, he will take 1D3 damage from inhaling the spores. The characters will find two healing potions in this room, each of which cures 1D6+1 damage.
Room 11: This room once served as an armory. Racks of ancient equipment lie rusting in the gloom. If the characters enter the room, the will disturb a nest of six giant centipedes. Most of the equipment stored in this room is beyond salvage, but a search turns up a fine short sword named Grayfang. This weapon is wickedly sharp (+1 damage) and allows its wielder to cast the spell Detect Evil twice a day.
Centipedes: HD 1, HP 2, 2, 1, 1, Dex 10, Defense 2, no armor, bite 1 hp + poison
Area 12: A dozen statues of Rat archers stand in niches in the walls of this long hallway. The rats are all posed as if just about to release an arrow form their bows. A pressure plate lies in the floor about midway down the line of statues. A Notice role at a -1 penalty is needed to spot it. If triggered, the four nearest statues fire arrows at the party. Treat the statues as HD 1 creatures whose arrows do 1D6 damage.
Room 13: This was once Droog’s treasure chamber. Bats have taken up residence in the high-vaulted room (entering the complex through room 9). They will flee if their leader is slain or they have suffered half their number in casualties. The bats have spent much of his treasure over the years, but a great deal still remains. The room is hung with tapestries that the bats have befouled. There are statues and pottery that the creatures have taken joy in destroying over the years as well.
The smell from this room threatens to overwhelm your senses even before you enter. The floor is covered in tiny bones, insect carapaces and guano. Amidst the foulness, you see chests and coffers promising riches. Looking up, you spy at least a dozen bats clinging to the high vaulted ceiling. They squeal angrily as your torchlight plays across them. A large shadow crawls eerily across the ceiling. When it reaches the light, it resolves itself into the largest bat you have ever seen. It hisses at you angrily, revealing a mouth filled with yellowed fangs.
“Ground dwellers! These dark vaults and their treasures are ours now. Your kind is not welcome. Be gone from this place!”
The following portable/unspoiled treasure can be found:
- Chest 1: Contains a lot of mixed coinage: 1200 cp, 900 sp, 60 gp.
- Chest 2: Contains the crumbling remnants of fine capes and other clothing. Little of Droog’s “court garments” are salvageable after all this time. There is a spyglass (20 gp) and a fine gold pocket watch (15 gp) also in the chest.
- Coffer 1: Contains a pearl neckless (50 gp), an amber bracelet (30 gp) and a pair of silver rings (10 gp each).
- Coffer 2: Contains 3 small vials. The first is a potion labelled “Strength of the Bear” which adds 2 to STR for 10 minutes. The second is a greater healing potion that cures 1D6+6 HP. The last is a potion of water breathing that lasts for an hour.
- Scale Armor: A suit of heavy scale armor large enough for a badger to wear.
- Helm of the Delver: This is a finely crafted steel helmet. An image of a torch is inlaid in gold on the front. It allows the wearer to cast the Light spell three times per day.
Bat Leader: HD 2, HP 8, Dex 15, Defense 5, no armor, bite 1D6 damage
Bats: HD 1, HP 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, Dex 10, Defense 3, no armor, bite 1D3 damage
Rooms 14 & 15: An iron grate blocks the passage into these rooms. It is locked securely and the key was thrown away ages ago. The characters can see a couple of crates inside the first room, but the second room is shrouded in darkness. If there is a Rouge in the party, he can attempt to pick the lock, otherwise a Strength Feat is needed to force the door open. As soon as the door is forced open, three ghoul rats rush out to attack the characters. The crates are full of wine bottles packed in straw. Many of the bottles have spoiled over the years, but there are a few equisitly aged vintages that could bring 100 gp to the right buyer.
Ghouls Rats: HD 2, HP 10, 10, Dex 10, Defense 3, no armor, bite 1D3 damage + paralysis
Room 16: The center of the room is dominated by an eight-paw tall statue of Droog. It appears to be beckoning to the viewer. There is a thick, silver chain around its neck (worth 200 sp). From the doorway, the characters can see the desiccated corpse of a bat lying near the foot of the statue. The words ‘Step Forward to Your Doom’ are inscribed on the threshold to the chamber.
This is a riddle. If the characters backward into the room, they will not set off the trap. If they step forward into the room, a thick stone door crashes down behind them. Shortly afterwards an evil voice emanates from the statue.
“You’re trapped with me forever and I don’t give a whisker if you ever get out alive. Ha, ha, ha!”
This is also a riddle. If the characters examine the statue’s whiskers, they will notice that one of them is made of iron. Next to the door is a small hole. It is just the right size to insert an iron whisker. When they do, the door slowly retracts back into the ceiling.
Room 17: From the doorway, the characters can see another statue of Droog. Rubies (30 gp each) glitter in place of eyes. His sword is held in his hand pointing at the viewer. Inscribed on the threshold of the door are the words: ‘Enter if you Seek Death’.
There is no riddle to this chamber. If the characters enter the room, the statue of Droog animates and attacks. It is programmed to pursue intruders throughout the dungeon, so fleeing the room is of no avail.
Animated Statue: HD 2, HP 22, Dex 8, Defense 2, stone AP 2 (half damage from non crushing weapons), sword 1D6+2 damage
Room 18: This room is dominated by a large well. The characters can see water glistening at the bottom of it some 30-40 paws below. A thick, iron grate set into the stonework covers the top, preventing someone from falling in. It would take a significant effort to remove the bars. Strange carvings encircle the sides of the well. A wizard who makes a Lore roll will recognize them as magical writing, but be unable to decipher their meaning. If Detect Magic is cast, the runes will emanate magic. A water elemental is bound into the well. It is instructed to slay any creatures that disturb Droog’s tomb in room 19.
Room 19: The walls of this chamber are hung with the tattered remnants of rich brocade. Marble statues of armored weasel warriors stand in each corner of the room. A large, iron brazier stands near the west wall of the tomb. It is filled with charcoal and can be set alight if the characters wish. The center of the room is dominated by a large, stone slab. A bas relief of battle scenes runs around the edge. Carved into the center of the slab are the words: ‘Herein lies Droog the Slayer. Lord of the Skalleren and Master of Rumblewood. Think not of defiling his tomb or you will drown in a sea of blood.’
It requires a Strength Feat to move the stone slab covering the crypt. I narrow flight of stairs leads down into a 10 by 20 paw room. The skeletal remains of Droog lie on a raised dais. They are dressed in rotted finery. A gem-studded gold circlet (120 gp) is perched on his skull and a sword is clutched in his boney hands (Skullcracker: long sword that does +1 damage). Suddenly you hear the sound of rushing water. Turning, it looks like a sea of blood is pouring down the stairs!
The characters are facing the water elemental that was bound in room 18. A minor illusion was cast on the creature to make it appear to be formed of blood instead of water. It quickly forms itself into a roughly humanoid shape and attacks.
Water Elemental: HD 2, HP 21, Dex 10, Defense 3, no armor, slam 1D6 damage (plus other special abilities)
Unless Vulthig and his band are still on the loose, the trip back to Stonewell Abbey will be relatively uneventful. The characters will have a fair amount of treasure from Droog’s horde. How do they plan to use it? Remind them that the abbey wall is still being repaired and the abbot could surely use funds for construction.
Award each character 75 XP for completing the adventure. If the characters shared their treasure with Rolf, grant a bonus of 5 XP. If they give at least half of their haul to a worthy cause, give them each 20 more XP.