Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Caves of Chaos Level 2: Lair of the Kruthiks

The Second Level of the Caves of Chaos:
The Lair of the Kruthiks
Note: The original version of this module used the Aspis (which first appeared in the first Aerie of the Slave Lords module and could easily be substituted back in if you are retroing this dungeon for 1st or 2nd edition); otherwise, for purposes of 4E the kruthik in the Monster Manual, modified a bit to add some Body Horror into the mix, worked quite nicely.


The most famous inhabitants of the Second Level are the metamorphic Kruthiks, great insectoid beings of hulking, ominous stature that seem to have walked from the pages of either a Lovecraft tale or Kafka's Metamorphosis,or both. The Kruthiks are, in fact, harvesting absorbed beings of other species who have been changed by the fluidic emissions of the Kruthik Queen into mindless kruthik slaves, as this queen is unable to lay eggs normally. Thus, all kruthik in this region seem to bear some vague resemblance to other beings that have been horribly changed… 1. This guard room, occupied by four level 1 orcs and 2 second level orcs is used to keep the dreaded Kruthiks from encroaching upon orcish territory. The orcs will warn anyone who enters away, but will also strongly question people who shouldn't be here in the first place. There is a large bell-chime of copper in this room, to be rung should the Kruthiks break through the door. Furniture, a bunk, table, chairs and small chest with 73 gp, are all in here as well.2. Prayer gathering room. Every day at noon and night the kruthiks within the caves will gather here, entering one at a time, and give a silent prayer of devotion to the statue of Kathack, chaos god of insects. At all times there is a single kruthik priest within the room overseeing prayers and the protection of the statue (which, by the-way, is made of pure gold, worth 1000 G.P.). The priest is a fourth level follower of Kathack. In the shadows above lurks a guardian giant spider.
The chamber itself is strewn with ornate webs, oddly inscribed paper made from the muccous skin extract of the kruthiks, and given forth as prayer, along with oddly burning incense that will cause a euphoria in those who breath it for a turn or more if they fail a Fortitude Save DC 18. This euphoria will slow all reactions, lower attacks by 1, and make all Dex or Reflex checks at -4. It has no effect on insectoids other than a peaceable sense of godliness. The walls of this chamber are inscribed with the tale of the mysterious kruthiks, about their underworld trek from the barren lands of old, and their persecution at the hands of the mysterious "Nonmen". Scholars will find this hard to decrypt, but fascinating. Locked in the tales is a clue, that the place of emergence from this world spanning cavern can be found in the fourth peak of the Chaos Mountains.
3. The sacred place of growth for the kruthiks.
Whenever a kruthik out-grows his old skin, he proceeds to this place to exit his old skin. The skin is then taken and burned before the statue of Kathack in room 2 as a sacrifice. This room is caked with mucous extract, and will likely have between one and eight kruthiks in the process of the change, which can take up to two weeks. Overseeing this will be one to three first level acolytes, and two warriors to guard the process.
Kruthiks skin will serve as a powerful healing salve for up to forty eight hours after it has been shed; placing it on a wound for several hours will heal ld8 points of damage. It can be used, when dried and powdered, in healing potions.
4. The queen's breeding chambers.
In here is the huge pulpy body of the kruthik queen (Hive Lord). She is guarded at all times by 4 kruthik warriors. The queen herself is caught up in a lotus-induced stupor and will have to struggle to emerge from her strange dreams to defend herself or interact with others. She is about forty feet long, and composed primarily of the gestation sack in which the eggs incubate. The horrifying reality of her transmogrifying powers can be seen here, as dozens of mutated victims fill the chamber. Her eggs are really the encased bodies of animals and humanoids, captured by the warriors and gatherers, then brought here to be transformed by her strange extracts. The product of the queen can be used in potions of polymorphication, and anyone exposed to the pure substance is attacked for +12 vs. Fortitude once a day for three days in a row will gradually cocoon and change into an kruthik within 1d6 weeks. Only potent healing, curse removal, or polymorphing spells (at GM's discretion) will reverse the change.


5, 7, 8. Recreational Areas. Each of these rooms serve as a rest and relaxation room for the Kruthiks. There are always 1d6 kruthiks in each room resting or engaging in their strange mental games which involve abstract philosophical discussions. These discussions almost invariably deal with concepts which are intentionally diverted from any relation to reality; the constant devotion to such interests by the gatherers and workers acts as a placebo to their minds, insuring their obedience.6. The Sanatorium. Here, kruthiks that have a sudden memory recall of their previous life, or which go through the change and are overwhelmed by the gestalt memory of the race, are placed here until the priesthood can cure their minds. At least a dozen are incarcerated here, and four guards and a priest are always watching them.9. Storage room. In here can be found various things that the kruthiks enjoy eating such as elf, tree bark, human, orc, and troll (they are omnivores). Two kruthiks stand guard at all times
against raiders. The kruthiks also grow prolific quantities of underground moss, lichen, mushrooms, and other such foods for a normal staple diet. Such products are located in the large exterior chambers. The side prison chambers contain victims who have not been killed yet for food, or brought to the incubation chambers for the change. These prisoner-victims include:
Rastlus Mandavarin (Half-elf knight 4, Good)
Banagan Grimmergore (Blyskanyu orc thief 4 unaligned, sentenced to death)
Mangerius the Sly (Human thief 4 evil, outlaw)
Persidia Lenederon (human Aristocrat, good, daughter of a wealthy galonian merchant, captured by Mangerius for ransom three weeks ago)
Two large wolves
Six kobolds
A wounded, crippled griphon
A dying Elk

The animals and kobolds are kept in the largest chambers; the kobolds have all been chained together and chained to the wall to prevent any escape. If you need to replace a fallen PC with a newly generated character, or want to utilize one of the existing NPCs to flesh out the party, this is a good point to do it.
10. The Forgotten Priest Chamber. In this room can be found four black, blood-stained robes and daggers. Old and barely visible foot prints can be seen on the ground if a DC 18 perception check is made. The robes bear runic markings indicating a connection to the cult of Dalroth (god of Chaos), but are quite old and tattered, now. The eerie absence of recent intrusion into this room would suggest caution.
Anyone lingering for more than three rounds will draw the attention of an invisible stalker, which will strike at random until the party leaves.
11. A small underground spring surfaces here. This is where the kruthiks get their water. Other creatures do not mess with this area of the spring, however, as strange old magic emanating from deeper within the mountain have corrupted it. Drinking from the water will require a +6 vs. Will attack, which with a hit will result in one of the following effects, lasting 2d10 minutes: 1- gaseous form (gain insubstantial)
2 - loss of memory (unable to use Int based skills)
3 - cause light wounds (lose 1D4 healing surges)
4 – feeblemind (reduce INT and WIS to 3)
5 – stoneskin (resist 10 all)
6 – blindness.12. The central larvae pit room. The 10 foot deep pit encompassing the room is filled with a stenchous slime and gory mix which always has 3d6 larvae swimming in it. The larvae of the kruthiks have a 6 week metamorphosis period and during this time protect themselves from predators with their vicious bite. The bite is poisonous (Fortitude Save DC 16 Str loss 1d6; Secondary damage: 1d2 permanent Str loss). There are always 2 kruthiks caring for the larvae in here. Each larvae still retains a vague characteristic reflecting their original species before the change.
13. Waste Hole. This hole slowly gets smaller until it is only 1x1 foot when it reaches the surface. The hole is used by the local denizens as a waste disposal unit. Riddling the hole are smaller passages through which carrion crawlers move about. They take care of anything that doesn't make it all the way through the chute. They have within their horde of strange junk a Shortsword +2, Flametongue, lost when the body of a great warrior was stuffed down here to be devoured, by assassins who did not know of the sword's special nature. The sword is called Kragmondar, and also radiates heat in the presence of a person who intends harm within 60 feet of it's wielder. It obviously was ignored at the wrong time ....14. Bark Chamber. In here is a special storage room containing a rare tree bark which is fed to the larvae to make them grow stronger when they hatch to full form. Astute characters will realize that the bark scraped off of Skywood trees along the mountain slopes has been going here, which of course means the Kruthiks have a secret passage out. In fact, that
secret passage is located behind a veil of webs in one corner of this room; the guardian of this exit is another monstrous spider servant of theKruthiks. Detecting the exit takes a Search check at DC 18, and if everyone fails a DC 16 Spot check then the spider ambushes the nearest PC, catching him flat-footed.
15. Tool room.
Here is where the kruthiks take their victims and divide them up into the necessary parts. The intestines make good gathering sacks, the bones make handy tools, the meat is good for eating, and the scalps make fine decoration (just look at the walls of the room. Its lined with scalps, and not just humans). There are always 2 kruthiks in here working on things that the gatherers bring back from their journeys.
Careful observation of the work of the artificers will reveal among the grizzly remains an enchanted bag of holding, but no good character would use this bag, sewn from the flesh of demi humans and enchanted by the magic of Kathack.
16. Room of many spikes.
Walking through this room, the players will see a long row of spikes from door to door in a pit in the hall. Along each side of the pit is a short and crossable ledge (from door to door). If anyone fails to make an Will Save or Int check at DC 22 (this must be declared), then no one will notice the illusion about this trap. Anyone taking the ledge will find it to be an illusion covering a row of spikes along the "pit", while stepping in the spiked pit will reveal it to be an illusion covering solid ground! Damage to the unfortunate is 2d6 and their movement rate cut in half until fully healed.17. The Master Armory. All doors to this room are wizard locked (DC 28 to open) so that none may enter the room save the inhabitant. Inside virtually every weapon and set of armor is available in pairs. The only catch is the guy sitting in the chair surrounded by smithing tools who made the weapons. Here dwells Marthalux the Demon (cambion hellsword) and he doesn't take kindly to borrowers of his weapons'. If he is reduced to 15 HP or less, then he will disappear in a puff of dust to warn Sillatun Thinbone of the invaders. Marthalux has the unique ability to teleport with uncanny skill at will within 200 feet. During combat, he will use this ability to its maximum. When he teleports, all characters must make a Spot check at DC 18 to avoid losing track of his new location. Failure means that they get a -5 to hit that round, and Marthalux gets combat advantage. Marthalux is not a true demon; he is a cambion, half demon spawn created from the ancient merger of a Balor Prince and a human woman.18. The weapons shop buyers room. All who enter This room will see a small bony man who appears to have no contents other than an old skin and skeleton sitting behind a counter. In front of him is an ancient tome depicting and pricing every weapon available (all costs are double normal). The skeletal man will introduce himself as Sillatun Thinbone, a wizard of high stature and merchant of the weapons shop. If the characters buy any weapon, then Sillatun will clap his hands and out of nowhere the cambion Marthalux from room 17 will appear with the weapon bought. The gold will be taken by Sillatun and put in a small black pouch. Sillatun himself is a nineteenth level, neutral evil mage.
Sillatun runs the store of weapons and Marthalux makes them. Together they've made quite a profit selling weapons to the local denizens. Both are feared by the Kruthiks and are so left alone. The bag at Sillatun's side is a portable hole gifted to him from the Kruthik priesthood. It is currently used by Sillatun for holding gold (967 G.P. and 1652 S.P. total). Sillatun has no weapons or armor.
Sillatun's story is a strange one. A few centuries ago, he was a Conjurer practicing chaos magic in the service of the legendary Xauraun Vestillios. When Xauraun's first manifestation at the millenia's end failed in his conquest and he was destroyed by the heroes of Hyrkania, he and many other servants of the dark lord were left with no direction. His dark alchemical and technomantic practices were left without direction. For a while, Sillatun worked with the Cabal of Macabeth, but when that collapsed and he lost contact, Sillatun turned in desperation to supplying goods to the local forces of the Chaos mountains. Now, quietly, he has been building up his power and information base, discreetly gaining power in the underworld of Mitra's Forest and the Chaos Mountains, even as far south as Bargan and the Bear Caverns, while acting under the guise of an innocent weapon's dealer. Most recently, he has been recontacted by the new, much more powerful incarnation of Lord Vestillios as the new Demiurge of Chaos, and been consripted, reluctantly, in to supplying magical arms an armor for the elite Praetorian Guard of the City of Trog in the east.
The back chambers of this dealership are his laboratory (A), bed chamber (B), study (C), and dining chamber/kitchen (D). Serving him are four permanently created invisible servants, each one equivalent to a medium sized stone golem with permanent invisibility cast on it.

19. This secret chamber was devised as a means of getting around the pit in front easily. It is located on a perception or secret doors check.20. This pit is easily seen and if goes from wall to wall. Shimmying along the sides requires a DC 16 Climb check. The pit is 10 feet deep and damage from falling in is 1d6. However, the walls are smooth and unblemished sandstone; climbing out without gear is next to impossible (DC 24). Within thirty minutes of falling in, if a PC hasn't escaped, 2d6 Blyskanyu orcs will appear in a patrol, then pull the PC up and take him captive or kill him if resistance is offered.21. Here lies the spirit box of Thelos. Thelos is a famous and evil spirit who lures living beings into his lair so as to devour their souls. He can take on a misty shape of a long fanged horror. All of those who are within areas 10, 19, 20, or 21 are subject to a +8 vs. Will attack; failure Will drives them to impulsively go into room 21 where Thelos awaits. Any who do and are attacked and drained to death by this Spectre find that Thelos has devoured their soul. Thelos does no physical damage. Those who have their soul eaten are doomed to wither away in a matter of hours unless a local necromancer can be found to combat Thelos for the soul. If Thelos is defeated by a necromancer, then the character regains his soul, levels and is restored to perfect health in 1d6 days. At the same time the dust within the room will take shape and formulate into his past victims (2d6 of them at GMs discretion), who will also revive (however, they revivie minus 1 level per year they were dead, to a minimum of 1st level. They also must make Int checks at DC 15 +2 per year dead; failure means total memory loss of their former life, and they return to life as fighters, commoners, or rogues). When fighting Thelos, if the robes are used from Level 2, Room 10 then Thelos will act as if Rebuked by that character. The daggers found there also always do damage to him. These are the remains of ancient implements left by several Dalrothian sorcerers who worshipped Thelos and gave him sacrifices while wearing the robes for protection. The robes and knives are normal in all other cases.

Copyright 2011 by Nicholas Bergquist, all rights reserved

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