Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Caverns of Chaos: Conclusion!

This is the final installment of the Caves of Chaos, a trip down memory lane for me, and a fun but messy module with conversion to 4E. 
The Fourth Level of The Caves of Chaos:
The Lair of the Necromancer
 Note: I know this level was inspired directly by a section of the original Caves of Chaos which contained an old necromancer or mage who dwelled in the caves, a lone human outcast amidst a vast region of monstrous dens. I loved the concept, and morphed it over time into what follows. A significant portion of the adventurers' time was spent dealing with (and even working for) the necromancer in last year's game.
   Also, I know R.A. Salvatore has a novel out named "Gauntligore." I don't know if there's a connection, subconsciously, or it was coincidence. It just sounded cool. It was not his original name, though (I don't think he had one, back in the 80's) so I am sure there was some influence unintentionally. You could always just stick with Ronaldo....

The Necromancer's name is forgotten in time, but some think he is, or at least was called Ronaldo Gauntligore. He has been a known resident of the Caverns for seven centuries now, was allied with Xauraun Vestillios when he returned nearly 370 years ago, and has long been established as a subtle and dangerous political motivator in the Chaos Mountains. The Wolfgut tribe received protection from him in exchange for the provision of services and goods. Three other tribes of the mountains have claimed allegiance to this dark specter, and countless ancient graveyards, mausoleums, and burial sites have been touched by his dark magics. The Great Old Road of the southlands of Mitra's Forest, haunted forever by the Headless Horseman, is said in at least one myth to have been cursed into his current state by the Necromancer for daring to oppose him. Others claim that the demons which overwhelmed Dethosid were sent by the Necromancer and not Orcus or Degalthor.
The Necromancer is a twelfth level wizard. He is not yet a lich, although much of his current study revolves around this eventuality, as the effectiveness of life-extending potions wanes over time. He has extended his life through these potions of longevity, and one of the four teleportation portals in his lair leads to Hotepsala, the Jaguar Lands, and its legendary Spring of Youth. He is rumored to have been an original member of the near-mythical Wizards' Council of Twelve, one of the nameless ones that avoided assassination. If this is true, then that means that other council members may have escaped death as well.
Ronaldo Gauntligore                                        Level 12 Wizard
Medium human wizard
Initiative +8      Senses Perception +17
HP 86; Bloodied 43             AP 1
AC 23; Fortitude 23, Reflex 23, Will 24
Resist Necrotic 10               Speed 6
Necrotic Claw (standard; at-will; arcane melee)
+13 vs AC; 2d8 + 5 necrotic damage and 5 necrotic ongoing (save ends)
Necrotic Burst  (standard; at-will; arcane ranged)
Ranged 10; +16 vs Ref; 3d6 + 10 damage and 5 necrotic ongoing (save ends)
Ethereal Form (standard; Encounter; Recharge 5,6)
Trigger: Gauntligore is attacked; Effect: immediately becomes incorporeal; Sustain Minor
Bone Guard (standard; encounter; Aura)
Close Burst 1; Effect: gains an aura; all creature in aura during his turn take 10 necrotic damage and slide 1 away from the necromancer; Necromancer gains Resist 10 against ranged attacks; Sustain minor.
Death Syphon (Daily; Standard) arcane, necrotic
Range close burst 5; +16 vs Fort; 2d8 + 6 necrotic damage and each target is weakened and gains vulnerable 5 necrotic (save ends both); Secondary Effect: any target that is bloodied by this attack begins rolling for death checks as if he were at 0 HP; this continues until three successes are made or three failures are made; with three failures the target immediately drops to 0 HP and dies.
Alignment: evil   
Languages: Middle Tongue, Deep Speech
Skills: Arcana +16, Diplomacy +14
Str 10 (+6) Dex 15 (+8) Wis 12 (+7)
Con 14 (+8) Int 21 (+11) Cha 16 (+9)
Equipment: Cloak of Etherealness; Ring of Disguise (+30 Disguise attempt); Potion of Full Heal; Gem of Truesight, Potions of Longevity (3 on person at all times; extend life of drinker 1d10x10 years.)
All of the Necromancer's items are enchanted with a ward that triggers an explosive glyph when touched by one other than himself (+10 vs. Fort;  3D8+6 damage from (D6): 1-2: flames, 3-4: lightning, 5-6 necrotic).
Familiar: a homunculus named Jezarath
1. Entry Chamber. Barred by a magically locked door (DC 28 thievery to unlock, DC 32 athletics to break down), only those who have cause to enter or the interest of the Necromancer may enter. To defeat the spell preventing all entry requires the Knock ritual.
On the other side of the door is a small lobby, comfortable and carefully disguised with an illusion to look like a pleasant manor house comfort room. The butler of this room who will greet and serve any welcome guests is Halikak, a Spinagon bound into the service of the Necromancer. Halikak will handle intruders with his bag of bones, which will generate 2d10 skeletons when cast upon the ground.

2. Hall of Learning.
This great hall holds a fantastic mural depicting the siege of the City of Kovanis, lost to the sands of the Hyrkanian Desert two millenia ago. The mural does, for the scrutinizing eye, hold the key to the location of this fabled city in one scene. A competent scholar can locate a Slithotendan mountain peak, align it with a great white rock jutting by itself from the sands, and the Solar Equinox in the sky. This legendary city was said to be the heart of the Empire of the Fertile Lands, and any explorer worth his weight in salt would heartily seek it out.
Also upon the wall are depictions of a tall, gaunt man who is born, raised a noble, and crowned a young elevasos (king) of Hyrkania. One vast mural depicts nothing but a startlingly life-like scene of scribes working away in a scriptorium.
All of these images are startlingly realistic. Anyone touching them will find that they can pass through and in to the images. The following results occur (roll 1d6):
3. The Private Quarters. Here can be found the bed chamber (a), study (b), bathing chamber/sauna (c), and exhibit room (d) of the Necromancer. He is likely to be here at any given time, usually quite relaxed. His study, while looking tempting to any PC, is really a place of relaxation; a studious eye will notice many current books have been copied and placed here, including Atlases of the Eternal Order. The books (about 50 in all), while worth money, are nothing especially significant, except for seventeen old codices in a magically sealed, fire trapped case (DC 18 to detect, DC 26 to disarm). These are all scribed in Auldspeak, and are the last volumes of the sacred Library of Kovanis. To the right people this books would be worth 50-100 gp apiece. There are twenty volumes .... the three sets on necromancy, Evokation, and chronomancy are all missing.
Anyone who finds 2d6 weeks time to read some of these books can gain a permanent +2 circumstance bonus to their History skill and may learn to speak and read the Auldspeak.

4. The First Pentagram.
Within this locked chamber is a pentagram leading to a hidden chamber in the Palace of Hotepsala, in the Jaguar Lands of Eastern Amech. Standing in the pentagram and offering a small amount of one's own blood (or another's) with candles lit will teleport the PC there. On the other side is another pentagram, to allow for a return.

5. The
 Second Pentagram. This teleports the PCs to a back alley in the Capitol City of Hyrkan'ien, but it is one way... The return pentagram is inscribed on the basement floor of the Blue Balrog Tavern a quarter mile away.

6. The Third Pentagram.
This pentagram leads to a secret Cabal chamber in the evil city of Hyrendan that has long since been forgotten by the secret society in question. It has a secret exit that leads out to the Silver Dagger Bar and Inn. Anyone emerging who is noticed by the barkeep and bouncers will be quietly waylaid and beaten until they state their nature and purpose. The pentagram is two ways, but the return trip requires a secret code word "Asphix", which is inscribed in small letters on a stone in the starting chamber (perception check DC 15 to locate).

7. The Fourth Pentagram.
This pentagram opens onto a private room within the mansion of Lady Phallikoskis .... yes, the Necromancer does, indeed, have a connection to the Black Company. This pentagram is two ways, but the return trip requires a true sacrifice of a life. Lady Phallikoskis is a necromancer vampire who dwells in the great Capitol City of Octzel, but this passage could open to any convenient den of evil in another part of the world....

8. The Morgue.
Within this terrible mausoleum of experimentation are numerous corpses. The chamber is kept magically at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and PCs locked in here for a long time without protection will suffer from the effects of cold (1d6 damage per hour). There are at least a dozen corpses which have been taken apart, sewn back together in various creative shapes, and animated. All are horrifying animated zombies (9) and ghouls (3). Presiding over this monstrous assembly is a man known only as Doctor Gallimaris, who is himself a Hagarant Undead (Greater Mummy, former human, Cleric 12, CE). He is armed with a Wand of Lightning +3 (as per the wizard spell, daily), which will invigorate himself or any zombie he hits with it, healing damage done to any zombies with points of damage rolled instead of injuring them.

9. The Master Laboratory.
Within this dreadful chamber is the real source of the Necromancer's interests and learning. The Cauldron of Hideous Temporality, an ancient artifact with a Helix of Magic locked into it, is set in the center of the chamber on a pedestal. An open cage is within, and no one presently inhabits it. The lab is overseen at all times by Felgor, a twisted Flesh Golem who loyally and eternally serves the Necromancer. Felgor has one limitation, he is completely blind. He does know the layout of the lab intimately, however.
The Cauldron of Hideous Temporality is a magical artifact which can be used by any spell caster who attempts a Arcana check at DC 26. The Cauldron performs any combination of the following effects three times per day on a successful scry check: one ritual of 20th level or less, one wizard spell power of level 20 or less (daily or encounter) that is imbued for a one-use effect in the cauldron activator, or one curse if the Arcana check is failed or the caster rolls a natural 1 on the check.
Every time a spell effect is called upon, it's default point of radiance for any ritual spell is the cauldron. Likewise, each time it is used, the user must sacrifice 2 healing surges to gain the imparted benefit (but the penalty can be avoided by sacrificing an additional living being on top of the one needed to start the bubling brew, for those evil wizards out there). The cauldron weighs about 200 lbs, and must be filled with bubbling fluid, intermixed with the body parts of a fresh, intelligent sacrifice to work (Int 10 or better required!). Any good being using this is looking at an alignment change.
Art by Webcomicfan  This is the library the PCs want to find. In here are the three missing tomes of the Kovanis Collection. Each set of tomes contains the complete spells to the Evokation, Necromancy, and Chronomancy schools (2d6 books in each collection). The Chronomancy book requires the Cauldron to complete all spells, however. (You can substitute another school for Chronomancy; I prefer the Chronomancy schools outlined in AEG's Magic resource, or the old 2nd edition resource; for 4th edition games this book could contain any number of rituals or powers so described that affect time).
Guarding this chamber is a mimic pair. The couch in this room, and the end table next to it, are both mimics which have more cunning and intelligence than normal. They will not allow any books to leave this chamber without a fight.

10. Library.

11. Abandoned Room.
This room is unused. The floor holds a fantastic stucco of the Nobleman's head from the Hall of Learning; a secret door in the eye opens into the tunnel leading down into the old Mausoleum of the Orcs (Level 1, Room 3) in the First Floor. This hidden trap door can be pried open with a dagger, but is not otherwise latched. A magical alarm will go off silently to alert the Necromancer when it has been opened.

12. The Hall of Evil.
This hall seems to go on for hundred of feet. Every twenty feet is a suit of fully encased suit armor, which does not budge save to shrug off anyone that pushes them around or defend themselves from attack (they are animate, but act only on special orders of a mysterious nature. Treat them as Iron Golems). The hall never ends ... mist at the end gets gradually thicker until nothing can be seen. PCs who dare to pursue further will eventually need to make a Perception check at DC 16, and failing that a Acrobatics test at DC 14, or they will step off a ledge into a very deep natural cavern that stretches all the way down into the lower caverns. The drop is fatal, although a tough monk might survive. Success on the spot check means they detect the ledge in time. If the PC fails the acrobatics test by less than 5, then he falls, but grabs on to a ledge 2d10 feet below, taking only 1d6 damage from the shock of having his arm wrenched. Without aid, he will have to make a DC 20 athletics check to get back up top.
Any character spending more than five minutes in the mist is affected by it (+10 vs. Will). Failure means that he will develop an evil disposition while in the mists. This will provoke him into one spontaneous evil act later on...(to be determined by the DM).

13. The Black Room. This is the private chamber of Halikak, painted in the blood of many enemies. A small pentagram allowing him a connection to Hell is located within, and a cage with four frightened kobolds and one orcish child is located in here (for unnameable acts).

14. Chamber of the Gibbering Mouther.
This old chamber was once a place of ancient worship for Dalroth. Now, lurking in the shadows of this shattered shrine is a gibbering mouther, seeking to destroy any who dare enter. It will seek to avoid detecting before rushing forth in a cacaphony of wails to attack. Anyone who inspects the shrine itself will find the altar at the center is movable, and contains a small hollow, filled with a lighter-than-air green gas, which is in fact the trapped gaseous form of a very weak but hungry vampire who will disperse his form for a time and then follow the party, awaiting a moment to strike and seek sustenance. This vampire is a forgotten priest named Klyth Nadar, who was cursed for his ineptitude to guard the hidden cache of the shrine. He starts with ninimum hit points until he feeds. (Klyth Nadar, Vampire, Human, Cleric multiclass Level 6, CE.)
The hollow cache contains three rubies worth 500 gp apiece, and a Chaos Mace of Disruption +3; any good or lawful being holding the weapon is attacked (+12 vs. Fortitude) or suffers the loss of all healing surges. The holder of the mace may then prepare one chaos-aligned invoker spell of level 9 or less once per day (encounter or daily, but treated as a daily regardless) that is cast as a minor action.

Copyright 2011 by Nicholas Bergquist, all rights reserved

1-2 Passing into the scene overlooking Kovanis will place the PC either into a pleasant day, in which the city is at its height of splendor, or into a terrible battle, as the hordes of chaos descend upon its walls in terrifying fury. Either way, the result is completely real to the PC; this is not an image, but a warping of the strange time-control magics harnessed by the Necromancer through his Cauldron of Hideous Temporality.

3-4 Passing into any of the scenes with the young noble will transpose the PC into a period four centuries past. The PC will receive a warning from the young man, that his fate is sealed and he would beg the PC to kill him before he becomes the minion of evil. Just before this can happen, however, a searing, painful voice will shout "No!" and the PC will be expunged from the wall. A Endurance check DC 18 must be made to avoid catatonia for 1d6 hours.

5-6 Entering the scriptorium scene will reveal a legendary scriptorium of Nistur, lord of Knowledge. The scribes there will offer to impart a ritual spell upon a scroll to the PC, in exchange for a gift of singular beauty. The Spell will be no more than three levels over the wizard's spell casting capacity. The character returns to reality in one hour.

Every chamber of the Fourth Level is Scried by the Necromancer, and he gets a Perception Check at DC 12 (or the Stealth value of the PCs) whenever they enter a new room) to become aware of them through his special otherworldly connection to his personal domain.

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