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Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook.

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Published by TheCurator, 2022-05-20 04:45:30

D&D 4e Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook.

MoonliBht reveals the central tower ofthe ancient wizard'sfortress

GHOST TOWER OF Inverness has long been shunned by the locals. The
legends of its tyrannical rise, and of the supernatural
INVERNESS perils that remain after its fall, are still the stuff of
bard song and tavern tales.
The four outer towers of Castle Inverness still stand
above its ruins. They lean at different angles like Tales say that in elder days the great fortress
tombstones guarding neglected graves, jutting from called Inverness gave its lord mastery over all land
the ivy-choked rubble that was once the walls of a that could be surveyed from its high central keep,
mighty fortress. Castle Inverness is one of the three and twice that distance beyond the bounds ofmortal
infamous "ghost towers" of the Nentir Vale, but unlike vision. The walls of this castle were proof against
the other two, it is not merely a focus for the activities every enemy and all things magical or natural. In it
ofundead. dwelled the great wizard Galap-Dreidel at the height
ofhis glory. He had lifted the keep from the bed-
On certain nights, when the fog rises as high as rock to make a kingdom of others' lands for himself.
the old walls' tops, moonlight seems to strike some- When lords and royals came to challenge his claim,
thing in the mist. Clouds take shape, drifting around Galap-Dreidel's spells struck them down long before
a huge yet unseen object between the four towers. they could even see Castle Inverness. Thus were the
Then, suddenly, the luminous cylindrical tower ofthe boundaries of Galap-Dreidel's lands discerned.
central keep stands once again, jutting boldly into the
sky, defying death and time. Most grand and terrible of all Galap-Dreidel's
work was the keep's great inner tower where the wiz-
When clouds skirt across the moon's face, the ard's most prized possession, an eldritch jewel known
Ghost Tower's image wavers. And when the moon is only as the Soul Gem, was said to rest. Legend says
fully obscured, the tower vanishes into shadows and that it was like a great white diamond that glowed
mist. The fog flows freely once more, and the appari- with the brilliance of the sun. In years long past it
tion vanishes until some other bewitched evening. had fallen from the sky and landed in the foothills,
where Galap-Dreidel discovered it. Through magic
Few willingly draw near this accursed place. Even most arcane and knowledge forbidden to mortals

;o;---.___without the appearance of the Ghost Tower, Castle


"You are hereby yranted title to, and ownership of, any and four outer towers yet stand, and dungeons might lie 0::
all treasures (save only the Soul Gem) that you removefrom beneath the rubble. Given the frightening appearance of
Keep Inverness and its yrounds. These 9ains shall be subject the tower, and the penchant for the other ghost towers >z
to the Ducal treasure tariffof 20%." of the Nentir Vale to attract undead, you're unlikely to
face living foes in the ruins. Prepare yourself for bat·
With these words, the adventure begins for players of tling undead, but keep
the 1980 module The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Allen in mind that a great
Hammack. That publication was preceded by a tourna· wizard built the place
ment version that one could purchase only at WinterCon and supposedly set it
VIII in 1979 in a zip bag containing 40 loose-leaf pages. apart from time. If the
But even in its more professionally published form, the ghostly reappearance
adventure's tournament pedigree was on full display. Dis- of the central keep
cussions of scoring the players' efforts riddle the adventure is more than a mere
text, which presents an oftentimes nonsensical dungeon haunting, the traps
full of desperation-inducing challenges. Instead of puzzles and monsters origi·
that players might figure out and solve, many rooms nally placed there
plunged them into life-threatening situations without any by Galap·Dreidel
rhyme or reason. The players succeeded due to luck and might still exist.
sheer determination, or their characters died. Summoned foes
and enthralled
Since then, the Ghost Tower of Inverness has minions of any kind could
appeared from time to time in various products. Most await more victims for sport. No recent stories men·
recently, it was featured in the D&D Encounters™ season tion the Soul Gem, so that dreadful artifact might still
March of the Phantom Bri9ade. In that adventure, the be protecting itself.
party travels with a group of would-be settlers to the
ruined Castle Inverness, only to be attacked by spirits If you seek the Soul Gem, do so on a foggy but moon·
led by the ghost of someone who was killed while lit night when very few clouds are in the sky, just to be
exploring the ruins. on the safe side. Otherwise, you risk becoming unstuck
in time along with the tower, only to emerge months or
Continuing the Story even years later.
What remains in the ruins of Castle Inverness is not
clear from the legend, but even if the keep is gone, the

did he shape the stone to his will. Stories say that A time came when Galap-Dreidelleft his keep and
the light of the gem dragged souls screaming from did not return. When at last it seemed safe to assume
their mortal flesh and trapped them within its many that the wizard was not coming back, a mob ofsuper-
facets. They also claim that whoever controlled the stitious people from the surrounding lands laid siege
gem could call forth the stolen souls and make them to the castle. Without the wizard to protect it, its
do his or her bidding. Galap·Dreidel harnessed this walls fell before the force of their rage, and they even
power and used it against those who opposed his will. threw down the great tower. Despite this victory over
their former master, people feared the ruins-for on
To protect the Soul Gem, Galap-Dreidel raised foggy nights the keep seemed to return. Did the old
up the great central tower and filled his castle with magic and monsters also return, or perhaps the ghost
horrible creatures and traps. Then, using a great ofGalap-Dreidel himself? No one knows for certain,
incantation, he wrested the tower from the fabric of but that's what the bards seem to suggest.
time so that those within would not be affected by the
passage ofyears. Thus his traps never deteriorated, In recent years, the infamy oflnverness has grown,
nor did his guardians age or need food. Some leg- causing storytellers to once more recount the old
ends tell that he even taught the gem to protect itself tales of its rise and fall. Heedless or ignorant of those
from those who would take it from him. Of course, stories, a group of settlers built a village within the
his creatures still had need of amusement, so at times area encompassed by the four towers. This irrever-
Galap-Dreidel would take a prisoner from the sur- ence eventually prompted a ghost to approach the
rounding lands and set the victim free in the tower gates ofthe village, but even the dire warning ofthat
for their sport. spirit could not shake the fools from their convictions.

Within a fortnight thereafter, an army ofphantoms THE LOST CITY
overran the village oflnverness, setting buildings
ablaze with spectral fire and slitting throats with The city lay bejeweled and soft under the sun, wine-
intangible blades. drunk and sated by plentiful fields. Those who might
call themselves its enemy felt no hate for it, only envy
Background: and lust. Its beauty captured even the hearts of some
Inverness Survivor gods, binding them to it so that they would be wor-
shiped by no others. It was called Cynidicea, Jewel of
You were there when the ghost of Salazar Vladistone the Desert, and it is still out there somewhere, buried
demanded single combat with Brother Splintershield, beneath the sands.
the leader of the Inverness settlement. You watched
as Brother Splintershield smugly renounced the Legend has it that Cynidicea's last and greatest
spirit's claim to the place from inside the boundary of king was a wise leader named Alexander. Under his
the cleansing ritual he had performed. You had heard stewardship, the harsh desert became fecund and
some ofthe stories about the ghost towers ofthe pliable. The citizens of Cynidicea played beneath
Nentir Vale, and denying the ghost didn't seem right, the groaning boughs offruitful orchards, luxuriated
with it standing there before you all. Deeply unsettled in seductive pools oflimpid water, danced over the
by the encounter, you left thinking that something black earth ofverdant fields, and slept deeply, know-
bad was going to happen. ing that they were loved by their three patron gods.

You were right. On a cold midwinter night you When King Alexander at last died, his queen,
awoke to screams ofterror, and you didn't have to Zenobia, and the other Cynidiceans turned their
wait long to understand why. Several ghosts of sol- tear-streaked faces skyward and built a great tomb
diers came through your walls and ordered you to to bring their beloved leader closer to the gods. A
leave. They needn't have bothered-the sight alone mighty ziggurat, it reached one hundred feet into
of the terrible apparitions had you scurrying for the the air, and atop it stood statues of the three gods of
exit. Some in your village tried to fight, but to no Cynidicea, each holding up its hands, urging Alexan-
avail. Their pitchforks and swords passed harmlessly der's spirit onward.
through the spirits, while the ghosts' spectral weap-
ons slashed your friends' bodies. Phantom arrows As long as Cynidicea's people looked to the heavens,
flickering with pale flames ignited real fires in the all was well, but in the process of expanding the sacred
buildings. Hot blood steamed on icy ground. tomb, they also delved downward into the darkness
beneath the ziggurat. There they awoke something ter-
You fled with many others, and in the days of rible, a beast ofhunger with an evil mind.
travel that followed, more died from starvation, sick-
ness, exhaustion, and cold. With each new corpse Zargon had come to life.
in a grave dug shallow in frost-hardened ground, Despite the swords and spells ofgreat heroes,
your desire for vengeance grew. You were lucky; you Zargon could not be killed. The grip ofits tentacles
survived the ordeal. But how can you take revenge crushed the resistance of Cynidicea, and it impaled
on the dead? When you got back to civilization, you every member of the royal line upon its horn to
resolved to find out. crown itselfwith their blood. Only one thing could
save the Cynidiceans now: surrender and sacrifice.
Associated Skill: Arcana, Nature, or Religion. The beast vowed that ifthey were supplicant before
Zargon and offered their lives to him, the beast would
Feat: Haunted spare the city and enable it to prosper once more.
Supplicate themselves they did, and Zargon lived
Your encounter with the spectral undead has up to his vile words, but the city did not truly return
haunted you with more than nightmares and terror. to its former glory. The Cynidiceans fell into hedo-
Somehow you seem to have acquired a spirit other nistic behavior, holding wild feasts celebrated with
than your own. You know you're not possessed. The savage glee. Embarrassed by their bestial behavior
ghost inside seems to be more of a passenger, subtly when control oftheir faculties returned, they began
guiding you with feelings, drawing your attention to wear masks during such debauchery so that
to peculiar things, and occasionally warning you of others might not know them. Eventually the masks
danger. It has never spoken, and sometimes it doesn't became the faces others recognized, but by then the
seem to be there at all, but you know you aren't imag- Cynidiceans could not even remember feeling shame.
ining. You are not mad. You're not. Its fields untended, orchards gone wild, pools stag-
nant, and walls unguarded, Cynidicea was ripe to
Prerequisite: 21st level fall. The barbarian horde that came to claim it found
Benefit: When you make a Perception check or an insensate citizens lying in the street. The barbarians
Insight check, you can roll twice and use either result. obliged them with a different kind of oblivion and
razed the city in their search for wealth.

They stole little, because Cynidicea took its riches Your flight to the surface is a poorly remembered >-
to the grave: Most ofits citizens had already moved nightmare. Your head at last cleared when you
beneath the tomb to serve Zargon in the depths. There removed the mask from your pale face and raised f-
the barbarians would not go. They left behind a dead your awestruck eyes to the sun for the first time. You
city, and the unfettered desert buried its bones. wandered in a trackless wasteland for days before I.;
a band ofdesert nomads found you, and they were
The ziggurat is out there somewhere, too great kind. They took you to a distant city and introduced f-
or too terrible for the sands to swallow entirely. No you to a world you could never have imagined.
doubt the Cynidiceans' wealth too remains within its Vl
bowels, though what is left ofthe people or ofZargon Yet in dreams you still see the golden·masked
none can say for certain. priests and the blood-red eye ofthe god that marked 0
you as his own. In your head you hear Zargon's terri-
Background: ble voice, and in your heart you feel the bestial urges ...J
Blessed of Zargon of the Lost City's perpetual carnival. To your knowl- LJJ
edge, no sacrifice has ever escaped Zargon's maw.
You were born to die. You have the sign ofZargon Surely the Cynidiceans will come for you. Surely you f-
upon your brow-a birthmark that represents his must some day return to the Lost City.
horn-and your flesh is his food. You were raised
in the mad, masked society ofthe Lost City, your Zargon has marked you as his own.
life degenerated into a haze ofanimal frenzy and Associated Skill: Dungeoneering or Endurance.
ignorant zealotry. When the time came for you to at
last meet your dark god, you felt fear and doubt for
the first time. That fear gave you strength-strength
enough to disobey and run.


The lost City saw its first and most famous incarnation Continuing the Story
in 1982 as a Basic D&D adventure of the same name If you're going to explore the lost City, you'll need to
by Tom Moldvay. The dungeon in the ziggurat was find it first. Ancient maps roughly place it in the desert
(perhaps south ofsome mountains and east of another
detailed room by room still-extant realm), but unless you like desert wandering,
as in a typical module, you'll need better directions. Perhaps the barbarians
but the underground city who raided the place have passed down knowledge
of the Cynidiceans was of its location. legend says they were known as the
described in broader Heldann, but do they still go by that name? Do they
terms. The intent was even exist now?

to help OMs create When you set out for the ruins, prepare for a long
their own adventure in desert journey as well as the hardships involved in delv-
the depths, with some ing into a dungeon beneath the sands. lots of food and
inspiration. And did it water are of paramount importance, and if you expect
ever! For most people to haul out all the treasure of the city, make sure you
who played The Lost have a way to bring it home. Consider hiring camels and
experienced desert travelers as guides who will wait for
City, the dungeon in your return after you enter the ziggurat.
the ziggurat was only
the appetizer to the Once in the dungeon, be especially wary oftraps. The
feast that was ruined Cynidicea. Cynidiceans haven't been seen in the sun for hundreds of
The city was described in Dra8on 31 5 in "Mystara: The years, so they clearly didn't intend to leave the ziggurat
lost City," and an adventure in Dun8eon 142, "Masque and have probably warded it against raiders. Undead are
of Dreams," took characters to the brink of entering the also likely in such a place. And, if Zargon still exists, no
ziggurat. Zargon and the Cynidiceans received 3rd Edi- stories say how the great beast can be killed.
tion interpretations in the Elder Evils™ supplement.

The desert sands hide the lost tomb ofa cursed pharaoh

PYRAMID OF AMUN-RE a mighty wonder, and, upon the sweat and blood ofmy
people, I did build a theft-prooftomb.
Those who travel the Desert ofDesolation know to
avoid the Ragged Man, a thin apparition that wan- "My people turned against me with bitter hatred. I not
ders the dunes clad only in rags. This creature is only robbed our borderlands but taxed grievously my own
the spirit of Pharaoh Amun-Re. From a distance it people. They rose up in anger, demanding their gold and
does not acknowledge any sight or sound, but when gems, their lives andfreedom.
someone foolishly draws near, the specter suddenly
clutches at that person and moans its message, not "I cursed them, saying, 'By the ruling staff and the Star
releasing the listener until it has finished . Gem ofMo-Pelar, I curse you. Threaten not my life, or by
them and by the holy name ofOsiris, will the stopping of
"I amAmun-Re, son ofTakosh-Re ofthe house ofMo-Pelar. my heart also stop the Spring ofAthis from her life-giving
That which you see is but my shadow, which has walked flow. As the river slows and dies, so shall your land wither
these lands for time uncounted in search ofmighty heroes in the wilderness. This do I swear by Osiris's holy name
ofvalor, to plead their aid. and these implements ofmy power.'

"In my time was I Pharaoh ofthis land now before you. "From the sea ofupraisedfists before me, rose one with
Then, Bakar was a green and beautiful land, blessed by a spear. The shaft spedfrom the darkness, and so too that
the gods ofHeaven Westward with the wondrous spring of night did the Spring ofAthis stop its flow.
Athis, which gave life to our land and nurtured our crops.
Yet robbers did raid the tombs ofmyforefathers and take "In death, my spirit gleefully approached my pyramid.
from them tokens oftheir passage into the lands ofthe dead, But Osiris stopped my spiritfrom entering that tomb, for,
thus keeping themfrom their reward after life. I swore that, said he, 'Your monument to life was to be the benefit you
at all costs, I would notfall prey to their evil deeds. brought to the people under your stewardship, not this
edifice ofstone.As you looked only to your death in life, so
"So it was that I made mighty and terrible war upon shall you look only to your life in death. I am bound to ful -
my neighbors, plundering their lands ofwealthfor my own fill your curse,for you have called it down with power in my
passage. I did enter a contract with a great mage to work name. But I do curse you as well, Amun-Re. You shall not
enter this tomb where the implements are ofyour voyage
to heaven until some mortal soul does despoil this place,

takin9 your staffofrulin9 and the Star Gem ofMo-Pelar from my tomb. So then willyou aainareat wealth, and so
from your theft-prooftomb.' then will you release me. Follow my path to wealth or woe,
to thy destiny or thy doom."
"Even have I talked with the wind in hope ofhelp.
Uncounted seasons have passed, and my kinadom is not After this Amun-Re says nothing else, but he dogs <-
now to be seen in these desert lands. Ofit nothin9 remains the steps ofthose who heard his message, pointing to
savefor my tomb, which stands now as then, untouched by someplace far away through the wasted landscape- '
time, sands, wind, or any livin9 one. Thouah many have a location that was once his home and should be his
tried to plunder my wealth, none has succeeded, and I am resting place. Thus do people know that the Pyramid ::..
forbidden passaae to the afterlife until one succeeds. ofAmun-Re lies hidden somewhere in the sands, and
that his treasures remain untouched.
"My wealth is thine ifthou can but best that which I have
built. Remove both my staffofrulin9 and the Star Gem


The adventure that puts characters on the path to the Continuing the Story
Pyramid of Amun-Re starts with them being accused If you intend to explore the place, Amun-Re will lead
of a crime they did not commit and threatened with you to his tomb, but first you must encounter his spirit,
death unless they seek out the fortress of raiders in the and then you must follow it for days or weeks to reach
desert. But the threat is a little ... quirky. your goal. A magical means of producing food and water
might serve you better than a dozen camels carrying
"And, whereas those persons did attain entry to said your gear.
residence and did short-sheet the wizard's bed and do
all manner of petty pranks and did leave for the wizard In life Amun-Re acted as a god-king, a mortal
a certain maid for an alleged date with said wizard; member of the pantheon that included Osiris. He was
punished by that pantheon, but those gods vanished
"And, whereas said wizard did return to said resi- with the pharaoh's civilization. Perhaps they took new
dence with yet another wench, whereupon both the first names and still act as deities, or perhaps they died; in
either case, they stopped answering the prayers of the
and the second did begin people inhabiting the growing wasteland that became
a loud commotion and the Desert of Desolation. Despite this abandonment,
disturbance the like of some worshipers still hold the ancient sites holy. Known
which has never before only as dervishes by outsiders, these people protect
shaken this stately court ruins throughout the Desert of Desolation. Since
and upset the wizard to Amun-Re still seeks someone to plunder his tomb, the
dervishes must be protecting it. From their point of
no end . . ." view, the law of the gods is absolute-even after death.
Published in 1982, Osiris punished Amun-Re, and he must stay punished.

Pharaoh was the first Within the pyramid, you are unlikely to find many
living foes except those that are immortal or elemental.
Egyptian-themed D&D No doubt it is trapped, likely in ways meant to seal in
adventure. It appeared thieves as well as lock them out. Prepare for undead
on shelves a year after monsters, and also consider magical ways to extract
yourselves if things start looking grim.
Raiders ofthe Lost Ark,
If the pyramid contains a mummy (which seems a
but that timing was good bet) you should be concerned about mummy rot.
coincidental. The adventure had The infection claims the lives of most victims in just a
been written and self-published a few years earlier by few nights and is extremely difficult to resist without
laura and Tracy Hickman for locals in Utah. Soon after, magical help, so the Cure Disease ritual is essential. If
a business partnership went poorly and, driven into you don't have someone who can reliably perform the
bankruptcy, Tracy sent the modules to TSR, Inc., "so ritual from a book, purchase many scrolls. You'll know
that I could buy shoes for my children." But TSR didn't when someone is infected: Healing, even from divine
want just the module-it wanted Tracy as well. magic, h,as less effect than normal.

Pharaoh became the first in the Desert of Desolation
series, which also included Oasis ofthe White Palm and
Lost Tomb ofMartek. The three adventures were collected
in 1987 in the Desert ofDesolation compilation, at which

point the series was placed in the FoRGOTTEN REALMS set-
ting in the desert of Raurin.

WHITE PLUME prowess. One day his long-suffering people rose up
MOUNTAIN to depose him. Keraptis was forced to flee but could
not find refuge in any land, for he had made many
Search yeJar or searchye near, enemies during his time on the throne. At last he fled
You'll find no trace ofthe three into a mountain, never again to emerge.
Unless youfollow instructions clear,
For the weapons abide with me. Many treasure-seekers came in answer to the
posted rewards to meet with the owners, and the
North pastforest, farm, andfurrow contents ofthe riddle have thus been spread far and
You mustao to thefeathered mound wide-even the last six lines and the signature on the
Then down awayfrom the sun you'll burrow- letters, which the owners often sought to hide for fear
Foraet life,Joraet liaht,Joraet sound. offrightening offall those who might take up the
quest. They needn't have bothered with that precau-
To rescue Wave, you must do battle tion. To most people, the "feathered mound" seems to
With the Beast in the Boilina Bubble. be a reference to White Plume Mountain-and that is
Crost cavern vast, where chain-links rattle terrifying enough.
Lies Whelm, past waterspouts double.
White Plume Mountain looms over a maze of
Blackrazor yet remains to be won ogre-haunted moors and marshy valleys crawling
Underneath inverted ziaaurat. with trolls. From its peak spews a greatjet ofwater
That aarnered, think not thatyou're done, that spreads out high in the sky and falls as spray
For now you'llfind you are cauaht. upon the mountain's eastern slopes. Smaller vents
in the mountain hurl lesser columns offog into the
I care not,Jormer owners brave, air, making the peak look "feathered." Rumor has
What heroes you seek to hire. it that Dragotha, the so-called Death Dragon, soars
Thouah miahty,I'll make each one my slave silent and fleshless through these mists on flights
Or send him to thefire. from its nearby lair. And Thingizzard, Witch ofthe
Fens, roams the damp canyons ofthe lowest slopes,
-K her cackle echoing miles from the mountain's base.
To make matters worse, White Plume Mountain has
It happened in one night. Three ofthe mightiest long been reputed to be the home ofdemons and
weapons known to humanity vanished from the other vile spirits.
vaults and strongboxes ofthe people who claimed
ownership ofthem. The owners scoured their homes Fireside tales told in whispers speak ofjust one
for hidden places where the weapons might have entrance into the mountain other than the crater at
been concealed. Neglectful guards and suspicious its peak: the Wizard's Mouth. It is through this cave
servants found their necks on the headman's block that the mountain breathes. A great sucking wind
or in the grip ofnooses. Bounty hunters filled their flows into the darkness, and a few faltering heart-
purses by rounding up known and suspected thieves. beats later, a blast offog moans out. Assuming that
When the three owners discovered their shared Wizard's Mouth was just a fanciful name for the
plight, they took stock oftheir common foes and cave, people have made up all sorts ofstories about
sent assassins to take revenge on those individuals. it, but in fact White Plume Mountain might be the
Still, no trace ofthe weapons- the hammer known very place to which Keraptis fled 1,300 years ago.
as Whelm, the trident called Wave, and the infamous Now, it seems, he yet lives and hides in the mountain
soul-rending sword, Blackrazor-appeared. Only when with the three treasures-or at least, someone wants
the owners relented and offered outlandish rewards people to think so. There's only one way to find out
for the weapons' return did a clue come forth. the truth.

Each former owner received a scroll upon which White Plume Quests
a poetic riddle had been written in a fine hand. It
mentioned all three weapons by name and provided Adventurers can gain far more for braving White
tantalizing hints to the weapons' locations. The con- Plume Mountain than the rewards posted by the
ceited challenge ofthe last six lines appeared over weapon's owners. The following additional quests
the sign ofKeraptis, an infamous wizard thought to might provide compelling reasons for venturing into
have died more than a millennium ago. According to the Wizard's Mouth.
bards' tales, Keraptis ruled a kingdom, becoming ever
more wicked and cruel as he grew in spellcasting Whelm's Savior: Whelm is a mighty warhammer
crafted by dwarves, dedicated to the defeat oftheir
enem ies by a passionate warrior ofMoradin. Surely
it does not belong in the hands ofthose who locked
it away in a vault, much less the wizard who has now

------------~------~~~~~~~~~------~--~~--~~ 2

"White Plume Mountain was written as a sample docu- Continuing the Story ::l

ment to persuade TSR to hire me as a game designer. I Before you run off in pursuit of Wave, Whelm, and 0
just plundered all the dungeons I'd designed over the Blackrazor, it pays to learn something about their

previous four years, took out the best bits, and cobbled former owners. Just who are these individuals who LJ.J
it all together. It worked; TSR hired me, bought the sce- once claimed them, and how did they come by such

nario, and published it as a module without changing legendary items? Which is worth more, the rewards ...J
a word. I'm a little embarrassed to this day by Black- or the weapons? Are the owners likely to pay? If you Cl.

razor, inasmuch as it's such a blatant rip-off of Elric's do not relinquish such ........
Stormbrin9er; Iwould not have put it into the scenario treasures, how long will

if I ever thought it might be published." you have to keep look-

- Lawrence Schick, from an interview with ing over your shoulder

James Maliszewski on and watching the shad-

ows for the glint of an

White Plume Mountain's odd fun house mix of elements assassin's blade?

made it a popular adventure after its publication in Stealth is your best

1979, despite the fact that the characters never face asset as you approach

Keraptis, the nominal villain of the dungeon. Nor do the mountain. Even

they learn why he stole the items from their unnamed the smoke of a cook

and mysterious original owners, or why he lured fire might draw mon-

adventurers to come and get them. The assumption, sters from miles

which has proved largely correct over the years, is that around in the moors,

once characters get their hands on the three weapons or pique the curiosity of Dragotha or

and escape White Plume Mountain, the players don't Thingizzard. Keraptis will know soon enough once you

really care. are inside the mountain, after all-if he does yet live. The

Lawrence Schick's original adventure was revised and wizard (or whoever sent the notes to the owners) has

expanded in 1981, and eighteen years later it received some plan, perhaps one that requires heroic individuals

a sequel in the form of Return to White Plume Mountain. to serve as slaves, so you should prepare by obtaining

In 1005, fans ofthe original could get a version updated ways to guard your mind against domination.

to the 3.5 rules, and since then the elements of White If Keraptis still exists, he might be a lich, a vam-

Plume Mountain have made sporadic appearances. The pire, or some other sentient undead with spellcasting

4th Edition incarnations of Wave and Whelm appeared ability. Arm yourself against such creatures as a pre-

in The Plane Below and Open Grave, respectively, and the caution, but remember that the wizard could also have

Thrall of Blackrazor was a miniature in the Unhallowed™ living minions of any sort.

set of Dun9eons & Dra9ons Miniatures.


stolen it. It belongs with dwarves, and dwarves should the sea. All the works of elf, dwarf, human, and more
reclaim it. are sand castles built on a beach between tides. Soon
the sea will reclaim all, and the empires of the deep
Blackrazor's Promise: Blackrazor is rumored to shall once again reign supreme. Wave might be the
have many powers, but the one that interests you is its key to bringing this apocalypse to pass. It has champi-
supposed ability to destroy souls. Such hunger might oned this cause in the name ofMelora and also in the
sound evil, but is allowing even greater evils to roam name of primordials such as Solkara the Crushing
the world any better? With such a sword, you could Wave. In the hands of the faithful, Wave deals death
slay vampires easily and destroy liches without fuss- or disfigurement to all who refuse to submit. This
ing over a phylactery. You might even use the weapon weapon could do no harm while it was secreted in
against Keraptis himself. Who knows what other its owner's vault, but the one who holds it now taunts
deeds you might accomplish with such a weapon? challengers to come and claim the weapon. Destroy-
You might destroy the supposedly immortal Zargon ing the weapon is the only way to be certain it stays
of the Lost City (page 102) or put an end to the leg- out ofthe hands ofthose who would drown the world.
endary Acererak in the Tomb of Horrors (page 108).

Wave's Tyranny: The trident Wave has one pur-
pose: forcing others to acknowledge the primacy of

TOMB OF HORRORS on stone rollers issuedforth from a hidden door and rolled
over the supine elf, crushina him to a pulp. When the aas
Day 123 cleared and the juaaernaut retreated, we recovered the
Much has happened, and my heart is sorely heavy; we lost body. Sather tried her best, but the damaae was too exten-
Tiefon yesterday. Today, Grunther lost an arm. sive; Aron's life had permanentlyfled from him. Sather was
heartbroken. I think she and Aron were very close, closer
A damnable patch ofsreen slime covered Tiefon head to than the rest ofus ever realized. We composed the remains
foot in but an eyeblink. The dwarf didn't even have a chance as best we could, but Sather sits and stares now, and the
to scream before he was rendered into so much putrescent rest ofus worry about her. We shall rest another day before
plasma. We couldn't even recover his belonainas in the we attempt to persuade her to venture onward.
mess. Never has a companion been lost to me so suddenly
or so completely; we don't even have a bodyfor Sather to Day 127
restore the soul's connection to. How arroaant ofme to think that with but a hop, skip, and
jump I should have delivered into my hands the sinaular
To compound matters, Grunther the biB warrior and material necessary to move on to the lost city andfortress
Falon's friend stuck his arm where he shouldn't have durinB which I seek. I should have done more research, I should
one ofour backtracks. With a horrible scream he pulled it have been more careful, I should not have brouaht my
back, but it was completely aone, cut as ifby a razor. ... friends here to die.

Day 124 - From]ournal ofthe Tomb, by Desatysso
Disaster seems to doa our every step now. It seems that
with every chamber we win throuah by usina our wits as The great mage Desatysso held sway over the moun-
our auide, we pay the price ofanother life. It is Aron to tains, using his wizardry to subjugate the many giants
whom I allude. The archer wasfelled by a stranae aas, and that plodded over their peaks and crawled through
before we could retrieve him, a huae, maaicaljuaaernaut


Gary Gygax designed Tomb of Horrors for the first tory established by that adventure. Now Skull City is
Origins Game Fair in 1975. "There were several very in ruins, and the tomb of Acererak awaits new victims
expert players in my campaign, and this was meant to expose to its horrors, both known and unknown.
as yet another challenge to their skill-and the per-
sistence of their theretofore-invincible characters. Continuing the Story
Specifically, I had in mind foiling Rob Kuntz's PC, What can prepare you for the most deadly dungeon of
Robilar, and Ernie Gygax's PC, Tenser." The adventure them all? A healthy dose of caution. If something looks
quickly became infamous among D&D players for its like a trap, it is-and it probably contains another trap
deadly tricks. It didn't matter how tough or skilled you you didn't anticipate. If you see some mystery and are
were; if you weren't cautious and clever, the dungeon tempted to reach out and grab it, don't.
got its due.
Arm yourselves with magical means of explora-
In 1998, Bruce R. Cordell's Return to the Tomb of tion and interaction that function at a distance so you
Horrors took players back to the legendary dungeon. won't be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Simple
In it, the adventure picks up many years after Acererak powers such as maae hand can be helpful in exploring
is presumed to have been destroyed by adventurers the dungeon, and the Hand of Fate ritual can help you
going through the original Tomb ofHorrors adventure. choose between options-even if they're both bad. Of
Gary Gygax wrote a foreword for the product, lauding course, you shouldn't leave behind mundane means
the new adventure as "demanding" and "thrilling." of safe exploration such as a ten-foot pole or a set of
thieves' tools. You might want to stash several in a baa
Acererak and the Tomb of Horrors have reappeared ofholdina or a handy haversack. Make sure to distribute
many times in the years since. In the 3rd Edition of the useful items such as potions among the party mem-
D&D game, Acererak made a notable appearance as a bers, and bring along multiple sources of healing; if the
vestige that could be contacted by members of a class cleric is suddenly disintegrated while carrying all your
known as binders. Statistics for Acererak in 4th Edition supplies, it won't be long before everyone else ends up
appear in Open Grave. dead. Finally, take common-sense precautions against
undead-a likely sort of foe, considering Skull City and
The ultimate 4th Edition expression of the Tomb of Acererak's reputation. Items that grant you resistance
Horrors is the Tomb ofHorrors book by Ari Marmell and to necrotic damage might well be helpful.
Scott Fitzgerald Gray. This adventure takes its cue from
Return to the Tomb of Horrors, building upon the his-

their caves. When the giants thundered down into Those who followed Desatysso's clues succeeded in
the hills and laid waste to all before their avalanche infiltrating Skull City and entered the Tomb of Hor-
rush, people in the area knew that Desatysso was rors. Although some died, other heroes succeeded in
dead. But some time passed before anyone learned discovering Acererak's plot to put himselfin control
the truth ofhow he died. of all undead. For the third time, Acererak perished.
Affairs in Skull City spun out of control with the rev-
An embittered companion ofDesatysso survived elation ofAcererak's plot and his failure, and the city
the disaster that befell the mage and kept his journal broke apart in violent infighting. The Tomb of Hor-
hidden for many years. When the accursed diary rors once again was an abandoned ruin.
was at last freed from her age-gnarled grip, others
discovered that Desatysso had gone into the Tomb These facts any bard can tell you, but they do not
of Horrors armed with special knowledge ofits old explain why lights once again flicker in the ruins of
master, the lich Acererak. Skull City at night. Nor can they tell why copies of
Desatysso's journal appear on the shelves ofbook-
Who has not heard the legends ofthe Tomb ofHor- sellers without anyone noticing who put them there.
rors, crypt of a hundred heroes? Who does not know the Black-cowled wizards huddle with strangers who
name ofits thrice-dead master, once half-demon and seem to sit in their own shadows, and the name Acer-
half-human, then a lich, then a demilich, and finally erak is heard to pass their lips. Has the thrice-dead
destroyed once and for all on the cusp of achieving mas- wizard again risen from his grave? Will the Tomb of
tery over undeath? Who has not feared Skull City, built Horrors, long thought to have been looted, once again
by necromancers around the Tomb ofHorrors, home lure bold fools with untold treasures? And if so, what
to as many of the dead as the living? These are the tales new devilry has Acererak dreamed up?
everyone hears, but where does the truth lie?
Backgrounds and Feats
Desatysso ventured into the tomb long after the
lich was supposedly vanquished. Although he failed Dragon 371 presents a wealth of material for con-
in his quest, others took up his notes and the clues he necting your character to the Tomb ofHorrors, in an
left behind. By then, Skull City had grown up around article called "Legacy ofAcererak." In it you'll find
the Tomb of Horrors. Constructed by necromancers backgrounds and feats that you can use to flesh out
hungry for scraps ofAcererak's knowledge, the city your character's history and his or her affiliation with
rose in secret. It grew steadily as it attracted first the tomb, Skull City, or the strange cabal ofAcererak
spellcasters, then mercenaries and disreputable mer- worshipers known as the Bleak Academy.
chants, and eventually all manner ofpeople willing
to walk the streets with the undead.

TEMPLE OF That was many years ago. Now, bandits roam the
roads and mercenaries demand money to protect
ELEMENTAL EVIL travelers and villages, but the difference between
them is sometimes just a mask. People once again
Sometimes they thundered in like a storm, their fear their neighbors. And the quiet sounds in the
horses churning roads into slurries ofsword-spilt shadows could be ochre robes rustling.
blood. Sometimes they crept among the people, their
corruption undetected and as contagious as plague. Background: Cult Survivor
When they came to a village seeking wealth or goods,
none could resist, nor hope. When they called a name You were young when the Cult ofthe Elder Elemental
or pointed someone out, people had to choose: Sur- Eye held sway over all the surrounding lands, but not
render, and thereby gain a few more days' breath; or too young to remember. How could you forget? Your
resist, which meant swift death for the lucky and days parents were taken during the last days before the war.
oftorture before execution for the rest.
When the armies ofthe surrounding lands rode
Unknown multitudes met their doom in the through the streets ofyour village, pennants flying
Temple of Elemental Evil. Children went to the fire. as they drove your oppressors before them, you were
Men were drowned. Women were sacrificed to black- swept up in their wake and ready to spill blood. But
est evil. Ifyou were chosen to be a slave, those fates your uncle held you back. He took the dagger from
hung over you for however long you pleased your your hand and bade you stay still. You were not ready
masters, be they the ochre-robed priests or the thugs to fight, and he would not allow you to die so soon
who served them. after you came into his care.

The Cult ofthe Elder Elemental Eye spared no one. Your uncle was a simple man ofthe fields and
Nobles and peasants alike saw their homes burned, market, and he would have stayed as well, but your
families murdered, and friends taken. The only bravery shamed him. Bearing your father's sword and
defense was conversion-but mere words would not your mother's shield, he joined the army to fight the
suffice. To protect yourself, you had to join in the vil- cult. Word ofvictory returned, but your uncle did
lainy by robbing neighbors and enslaving friends. If not. Nor did you ever see your parents again.
you converted and your relatives did not, as a dread-
ful test ofyour faith you had to bring them forward Your aunt raised you and sought to protect you from
for sacrifice. the world. She thought that ifshe could keep you away
from violence and hide from you the truth about the
Such evil could not long be tolerated by the neigh- cult and the temple, you might somehow avoid being
bors ofthe temple, and so armies assembled to fight hurt by such things. But her efforts only inflamed
the cult and destroy its works. Yet the cultists had your desire to know more and to be ready for the next
more than mortal forces: Elemental beings and battle. You often slipped away to stand in the shadow
demonic creatures fought alongside them. ofthe temple, searching through the weeds and rubble
ofthe battlefield for your parents' sword and shield.
Their losses were terrible, but the forces ofgood You wonder ifyour mother and father are still alive,
ultimately triumphed. With magic and might, the slaves locked behind the temple's doors.
armies tore down the walls guarding the Temple of
Elemental Evil and drove back its greatest defender, Now bandits again rove the roads, and the vil-
a demon ofrot and ruin. This creature, unable to be lage elders whisper that the old sense ofterror has
slain, was bound in the dungeons below the temple returned. Ifthe cult is back, the temple is the source-
and sealed in with magic. All the forces involved you're sure ofthat. And this time you're ready to fight.
signed an accord never to open the place again-
despite the wealth ofa nation having been locked Associated Skill: Arcana, Athletics, or Religion.
away with the demon. With the cult vanquished and
its demonic leader imprisoned, the armies ofgood left Background:
to bind their wounds and bury their dead. Former Cult Sympathizer

As the lands around the temple recovered from You have done terrible things, acts that still have you
their enslavement and the war for their freedom, the waking in a cold sweat more than a decade later. You
defeat ofthe temple seemed to invigorate the realm. had killed before and you have killed since, but you
Crops grew more fruitful and animals fatter. Wells remember everything about each person you were
long thought putrid or dry filled with clear water. forced to execute or enslave for the cult: the color of
People did not forget the horrors, but they could frightened eyes, the trails traced by tears on upturned
reflect upon them as something from the past. faces, brave last words, heart-wrenching pleas and
screams, even the sudden warmth ofspit on your face.


In 1979, TSR Inc. published a slim adventure entitled Continuing the Story oJ.J
The Villaae ofHomm/et, which detailed a small farming Stories of the Temple of Elemental Evil that one can
village, its inhabitants, and a nearby moat house popu- hear today describe all sorts of horrors working on ...1
lated by evil creatures. This adventure was originally behalf of the cultists: elementals, undead, demons,
intended as the first part of a larger series culminating oozes, and more. Preparing for any one kind of ~
in the exploration of the newly repopulated Temple foe would thus be fool-
of Elemental Evil. The temple didn't see print for six ish, but you can gain z
long years, until it was presented as part of a 128-page some advantage from
"superadventure" named The Temple ofElemental Evil. this knowledge. One oJ.J
This book included a chapter that updated and revised reason that the forces
The Villaae ofHommlet, gathering the entire story line of good were able to ~
between two covers. defeat the Cult of the ..u
Elder Elemental Eye
Over the years, was that the cultists' ...1
Hommlet and the forces were divided ..1.1
temple have reap- among the four
peared in a novel, basic elements, as L...
a computer game, well as another
and even another faction loyal to the 0
superadventure: demon. This division led to rivalry
and suspicion among the groups, allowing subterfuge
Return to the Temple to set one element against another or against those
of Elemental Evil loyal to the demon. Even if such divisions don't exist
(published in 2001 within the temple today, you might open up old
and set years after wounds and thus inflame your enemies' latent hate
the original). The for one another.
4th Edition of the
D&D game refers Whatever foes you might face, you can at least
to the Temple of prepare for the environments in the dungeons. An
Elemental Evil many times, including two different area devoted to elemental fire will obviously be hot,
adventures that take characters back to Hommlet and so take along precautions such as potions offire resis-
its moat house: one created for the Origins Game Fair tance. Similarly, the likely presence of water in an area
in 2008 and the other as a DM reward for RPGA™ suggests the efficacy of a Water Breathing ritual. The
players. Zuggtmoy, the demonic ultimate villain of ability to fly or a feather fall effect could be useful in
the Temple of Elemental Evil, appears with 4th Edi- an airy dungeon. And the magical ability to dig quickly
tion statistics in the Demonomicon™ supplement, and or meld into stone could be invaluable in a place that
the Cult of the Elder Elemental Eye is discussed in The highlights elemental earth.
Plane Be/ow™ and Heroes ofthe Elemental Chaos™.

You wonder every day ifyou should have been as Yet each time you consider giving in, you find the
courageous as they were-ifyou should have rejected strength to stay alive and stay hidden. You're not
the Cult of the Elder Elemental Eye and died in the really strong, though-you're just afraid. What else
terrible dungeons beneath the temple. Is life worth would you be willing to do to avoid death? If the time
living with so much blood on your hands? Can you again comes when you must choose between what is
even consider your desperate existence a life? When right and what is safe, will you add more faces to the
you encounter anyone new, you search your memory, host that haunts you, or will you accept their judg-
frantically hoping that the face is not one you recog- ment in the afterlife?
nize. At the same time, something inside you burns
to be called out for your crimes. At least then the tor- Associated Skill: Bluff, Insight, or Intimidate.
ment might finally end.

GATES OF year the comet called the Dragon's Tear will again
appear in the sky, its red tail arcing over the moun-
FIRESTORM PEAK taintop, and Firestorm Peak will explode anew with
supernatural flames and send them roaring toward
The Firefestival might be canceled this year, and at the stars. Anticipation and enthusiasm for this event
the worst possible time. This month-long annual cele- began to build more than a decade ago, and this year
bration, held in the village ofLongbridge, has become should have seen the biggest and best Firefestival
famous over the years. During this festival, people ever-but that won't happen.
try to outdo one another with their enthusiasm for
firebrand battles, fireworks, and candle displays. Of People in nearby towns have decided not to go
course, no celebration can be complete without food to Longbridge this year. They believe the village is
and drink, and the Firefestival is when the locals cursed, and the people ofLongbridge grudgingly
break out their fire brandy, smoked ales, and spiciest agree. For some time now, cows' milk has been
foods. Even sweet treats set the mouth aflame, with coming out sour. Chickens, when they lay at all, pro-
candied hot peppers and cinnamon delights prepared duce only soft-shelled eggs filled with blood. Deer
specially for the occasion. All this activity occurs in have turned upon their hunters and gored them
the shadow ofthe famous Firestorm Peak, the moun- to death. Stories tell oflong-docile animals turned
tain that the festival celebrates. fiendish overnight, driving some townsfolk to drown
their pets. Even people have been affected: Tension
Firestorm Peak has two claims to fame. Once has led to short tempers and frequent fights, and
every twenty-seven years, flames burn across its high- manic violence erupts without any obvious cause.
est reaches, called down from the sky by an unknown The gallows in Longbridge had to be expanded to
magic and raging afterward for a month regardless keep up with the number ofconvicted criminals, but
ofthe weather. The mountain also hides some secret the purpling bodies swaying there have served as
behind huge, rune-encrusted doors ofglass as hard little deterrent. Things just seem to be getting worse.
as steel, and nothing can lever them open or break
the mountain around them. They open by themselves As the time ofthe Firefestival draws nearer,
when the fires burn, and close again as the flames die people watch the skies for the first crimson hint of
out twenty-eight days later. the Dragon's Tear. Will it bring weal or woe? Can the
sight offire on the mountain bring back some hope to
Nearly twenty-seven years have passed since the Longbridge, or will the flames be the signal for some
last appearance ofthe firestorm. That means that this new villainy to begin?


The Gates ofFirestorm Peak, by Bruce R. Cordell, hasn't done in that city). Perhaps the Dragon's Tear is an unrec-
been revisited throughout the history of the game as ognized member of the host of weird constellations
have other infamous dungeons. It appeared just once, named in the Revelations
as a 2nd Edition AD&D®adventure. Yet that adven- of Melech (described in
ture had an enormous impact on the D&D game, for it "Wish upon a Star" in
was the birthplace of the Far Realm. Before that time, Dra8on 366), thus link-
D&D had no concept of a plane of alien geometry ing it to the Far Realm.
and maddening entities, but today the Far Realm has
been flrmly established in the cosmology of the game. Warlock magic can
be difficult to defend
Continuing the Story against, but star pact
What dangers lurk within the mountain today none magic tends to deal
can say, but the runes on the gates and their construc- radiant, cold, or psy-
tion hint at eladrin origin. Eladrin do not typically build chic damage. If beings
tunnel complexes, so the location must have been of the Far Realm are
meant to contain a dark secret or imprison something involved, having
foul. The link between the Dragon's Tear comet and the protection against
opening of the gates suggests star pact magic, an idea psychic damage would be prudent.
supported by the fact that the last person known to have Also, since the strange powers of warlocks and Far
entered Firestorm Peak was a warlock called Madreus Realm beings often control the minds oftheir targets or
(known as "the butcher of Havenburg" for dark deeds otherwise affect their victims repeatedly, having ways
to gain extra saving throws could be important.

Ice Iron Background: Longbridge Local I...
The glyph-covered gates ofFirestorm Peak are made You grew up in Longbridge during the last days of
ofnephelium, also known as "ice iron." This unusual the ice iron rush and can remember running back
metal has the properties ofiron when forged, but like and forth across the river, pounding the boards of
gold it does not rust and, amazingly, it is as transpar· the Long Bridge with your tiny feet, rushing to bring
ent as glass. For years people have collected small grains ofthe clear metal to the assayer. One day,
amounts ofice iron from streams around Firestorm in your haste to "quick step across the Quickstep"
Peak, particularly from the Quickstep River that (as your father used to say), you dropped the bag of
flows through Longbridge. Indeed, most ofthe com- hard-won metal and watched it plunge into the river
munities on the river arose from the presence of through a gap in the bridge. No punishment from
prospectors panning for flecks ofthe precious metal your parents could match the terror and guilt you felt
in the shallowest spots. as you saw your family's fortune slip away.

For many years, ice iron made this area rich. The Now the future ofyour family and many others
metal was impossible to obtain by mining- no one in Longbridge is more uncertain than ever. The ice
could see any trace ofit in the surrounding rock-and iron rush is over, and the curse that besets the vil-
panning for it was far more difficult than panning for lage seems like it will never end. You've seen good
gold, since it is nearly invisible in water. These factors people-even close friends you grew up with-become
made ice iron fabulously rare, and it fetched twice desperate, go bad, and finally swing from the gallows.
the value ofgold by weight. Those who purchased it The town was a happier place when the metal was
were typically wealthy lords who used the metal for here. But no amount ofpanning in the river or dig-
small windows in their fortresses. Today the Quick- ging in the hills has turned up even a flake ofice iron
step River has been panned out, and ice iron is almost for as long as the curse has been active.
never found in its bed. If any more ofthe stuffexists, it
might lie beyond the gates ofFirestorm Peak-and in Yet the gates ofFirestorm Peak are made ofthe
fact, the gates themselves are made ofit. So far, though, stuff. Clearly, that fact is significant, but in exactly
the gates have proven impervious to any attempt to what way remains to be determined. You've made
break them or free them from the surrounding rock, a study ofall the legends and history, so you know
and none who have passed beyond when they opened the gates are invulnerable when they're shut. But
during the firestorm have ever returned. what about when they're open? Even if they are still
invulnerable, there could be more ice iron inside the
mountain. You know one sure way to find out.

Associated Skill: Arcana or History.

Dungeoneers' Crowbar: Wielding this metal pry bar gives you a
Tools +2 bonus to Strength checks to break open locked
doors or containers.
Adventurers who plumb the depths need to under-
stand that, unlike an aboveground expedition, a Miner's Helmet: You can attach a lantern, a sunrod,
dungeon delve promises little hope ofreplenishing or or some other light source to the forehead reflector of
resupplying. Subterranean adventurers must rely only this headgear to provide hands-free illumination.
on what they bring with them, which makes plan-
ning-and packing- gear for the trip as important as Iron Manacles: When you put these shackles on
keeping one's weapons in fighting shape. a helpless or otherwise incapacitated creature, that
creature is restrained until it escapes or is freed. The
In addition to the core rulebooks, the Morden- Acrobatics check to escape from these restraints is
kainen's Magnificent Emporium supplement includes an against a hard DC of the creature's level.
extensive collection ofadventuring gear and alchemi-
cal items, which is augmented by the entries here. The Strength check to break the manacles is
against a DC that depends on the quality ofthe man-
ADVENTURING GEAR acles, whether iron (DC 24) or adamantine (DC 31).

A piece of equipment doesn't need to be a magic item Iron Spikes: Hammering one of these blunt, wide
to be useful. The most mundane tool can be a life- metal wedges between a door and its frame requires
saver in the right situation. a standard action and adds 5 to the DC of checks to
open the door. If nothing but a spike is holding a door
ADVENTURING GEAR Price Weight shut, the base DC to open it is 15. Spiking a door is
Item Sib. noisy; each time you drive in a spike, creatures within
Artisan's tools s gp 181b. 20 squares can make a Perception check with a +5
Delver's kit 41b. bonus to hear you.
40gp Sib.
Crowbar 2 gp 2lb. Sack: This sturdy burlap sack holds up to 50
Iron spikes (10) 1 gp 31b. pounds and has a volume oflY2 cubic feet.
Manacles, iron 10 gp 1lb.
Miner's helmet 10 gp Sib. Surveyor's Gear: With this plumb line, measur-
Sacks (2) 1 gp 8lb. ing chain with pins, and slate for recording notes,
Surveyor's gear 15 gp 2lb. you gain a +2 bonus to Perception checks to search
Ten-foot pole 1 gp 1lb. for secret doors or hidden rooms, but using the gear
Drill 10gp 1lb. takes at least 5 minutes.
Flotation bladder 1gp 2lb.
Hacksaw 1 lb. Ten-Foot Pole: Prodding dangerous-looking things
lantern, bull's-eye s gp 1 lb. with a ten-foot pole lets you trigger many traps from
listening cone 1 lb. the safety of 2 squares away.
Mirror 12 gp 3 lb.
Rubbing kit 8 sp 8lb. Drill: This handheld tool comes with six tough
Ruby lenses 10 gp 2lb. metal bits. A drill can bore a hole through wood,
Shovel 5 gp 1lb. stone, and even some metals with enough time and
Tongs 1S gp effort. A typical bit can drill through 6 inches of stone
Vial bandolier 1gp or 2 inches of iron (a process requiring up to 6 hours)
3 gp before it breaks or its cutting power is exhausted.
Ggp Each additional set ofbits costs another 10 gp.

Artisan's Tools: This collection ofsimple hand Flotation Bladder: The risk of drowning in a cold
tools, nails, and a measuring stick is often seen in underground lake leads some adventurers to carry
the home of a city-dwelling crafter, but adventurers these containers ofcured animal hide. A character
would do well to take a set of these tools along. With can blow into a flotation bladder to inflate it and then
them you can perform minor repairs, fashion basic hang onto it to keep his or her head above water. If
wooden or metal objects, or dismantle simple locks. you're using a flotation bladder, failing an Athletics
check to swim by 5 or more leaves you treading water
Delver's Kit: This kit includes a crowbar, ten iron instead ofsinking.
spikes, iron manacles, a miner's helmet, two sacks,
surveyor's gear, and a ten-foot pole. Hacksaw: This thin-bladed saw can cut through
tough material, even metal, although doing so can be
quite slow. Harder materials dull the blade quickly, so
a hacksaw is best used to cut thin or small objects. A
single hacksaw blade can cut through a l-inch-thick
piece of iron (or larger objects of softer materials, at
the DM's discretion) in up to 2 hours, before it breaks
or its cutting power is exhausted. Each additional
blade costs another 5 gp.

Gear is good. If a piece of equipment wasn't impor-
tant for some reason already, you wouldn't bother ~
to bring it along. That said, you can get more out of
your tools by being both creative and systematic in 1z-
your thinking about them.
Innovate: Many kinds of gear are so specialized
that they don't lend themselves to being used in new >
ways, but many others have versatility that's waiting
to be put to use. Need a temporary container for a Cl
small amount of liquid? Close off one end of your lis- <t
tening cone and fill it up. Think about what's included
in the surveyor's gear that comes with a delver's kit,
not just in terms of the bonus to Perception checks
but with an eye toward other uses for those chains
and that piece of slate. Your DM might not give you
a bonus or some other game benefit every time you
try to use a tool in a nonstandard way, but there are
other ways to reward this sort of creativity.

Organize: Being organized is more than a matter
of lugging around as much gear as you can carry. The
more different kinds of gear you have, the more you
need to care about how you store each item on your
person or transport it-in case you need something in
a hurry. One tip: Hang your crowbar from your belt
rather than stowing it in your pack. That way, when
something relieves you of your weapon, you have an
impromptu club close at hand.

La ntern, Bull's-Eye: A bull's-eye lantern is equipped The riBht tools make dun8eoneerin8 quicker and safer
with a lens that enables it to project a beam ofbright
light 2 squares wide out to 10 squares. This way, you
can illuminate long hallways without lighting up the
whole area.

Listening Cone: Put the mouth of this cone of
pressed iron against a flat surface and place your ear
against its flattened tip to amplify the sounds you
might hear beyond. This item grants a +2 bonus to
Perception checks to listen through doors and walls.

Mirror: The finest mirrors are made ofsilvered glass
and are prohibitively costly, so most adventurers favor
these less expensive handheld disks ofpolished metal.
A m irror can let you safely look around corners without
being seen, avoid the direct gaze of a medusa, or reflect
light to signal distant allies (or to lure enemies).

Rubb ing K it: The materials in this scroll case
enable you to transfer an image of ancient runes or
carvings onto a different surface to be deciphered
later. The case contains several thin sheets of parch-
ment and a stick of soft charcoal. After placing a
piece of parchment over the surface to be copied, rub

the charcoal against it while applying gentle pressure. Itern Categories
With a standard action, you can make a rubbing cov-
ering 1 square foot. One kit contains enough material Each alchemical item in this section has a category
for ten such rubbings. that defines how the item is used or its general effect.

Ruby Lenses: These red glass inserts let you reduce Oil: Oils are applied to other objects (typically
a lantern's brightness without limiting the area it weapons), granting those objects temporary proper-
illuminates. The red glow is easier on the eyes, and it ties or powers.
doesn't attract as much attention as the bright light of
an unfiltered flame. The light that passes through a Volatile: An item ofthis category explodes or
ruby lens is dim, but its radius is unchanged. expands when shattered or broken, often dealing
damage by the creation of a specific type of energy,
Shovel: With this sturdy tool you can dig through such as acid, cold, fire, or lightning.
deep, dense, or unappetizing material to locate trea-
sure (or bury your hard-won prizes for security), Poison: A poison is a toxin that hampers or harms
scoop up small objects that might be dangerous or a creature.
unpleasant to handle, or clobber an enemy in a pinch.
Other: Some items create miscellaneous effects
Tongs: These foot-long metal pincers are similar to that don't fall into one of the above categories. These
those used in smithies. With them, you can manipu- have no designation other than "Alchemical Item."
late objects at times when using your hands is too
risky, such as when you're reaching into a scalding ITEM DESCRIPTIONS
brazier, an unknown liquid, or a dark hole.
For convenience, the formula cost of each ofthe
Vial Bandolier: Stitched onto this well-crafted alchemical items in this section is repeated in its sta-
leather shoulder harness are ten padded holsters tistics block. The other gold piece values represent
that can hold doses ofpotions, poisons, and elixirs, the cost of the components (or ingredients) needed to
ensuring easy access while cushioning them against create the substance for a single application.
accidental breakage.
Aboleth Slime
This revolting goo is an alchemical concentration
Dungeoneers have developed many recipes for items ofthe aberrant poisons in aboleths' mucus, which
to assist them in their expeditions. Traded around tav- must be harvested from the foul pools in which the
erns or sold in outfitter's shops, these alchemical items creatures dwell. Splashing aboleth slime over a living
give explorers unique advantages in tricky situations. creature brings it spasms of pain as its form twists
uncontrollably. The process of collecting the dis-
Reading the Table gusting stuff is exceedingly hazardous, making this
formula both hard to find and very expensive.
The alchemical formulas used to create the items in
this section have three common characteristics, all level 1 5+ Uncommon
summarized on the table.
This cloudy sludae racks your enemy's body with pain and un-
Key Skills: You must have training in at least one
ofthe indicated skills to use a particular formula. welcome transformation.

Market Price: What you pay to purchase the for- lvl1 5 1,000 gp lvl 25 25,000 gp
mula (which can also be thought of as the recipe).
lvl 20 5,000 gp lvl 30 125,000 gp
Creation Time: How long it takes to produce one
dose or application ofthe alchemical item. Alchemical Item: Poison Formula Cost: 4,500 gp

Key Skill: Arcana, Dungeoneering, Time: 1 hour

or Nature


Name Key Skills Market Price Creation Time
Aboleth slime Arcana, Dungeoneering, Nature 4,500 gp 1 hour
160 gp 30 minutes
longbreath Healing, Nature 100gp 30 minutes
70gp 30 minutes
Pacification dust Dungeoneering, Nature 700gp 1 hour
70 gp 30 minutes
Phantom ink Arcana, Dungeoneering, Thievery

Stone eater Arcana, Dungeoneering, Thievery

Violet phosphor Arcana, Nature

:Y Attack Power (Polymorph)+ Consumable (Standard of darkvision. Explorers make use of phantom ink to z1/\
leave messages or directions in underground areas
Action) that are frequented by drow or other enemies that c
Attack: Ranged 5/10 (one creature); the item's level + 3 have darkvision. One application is enough for a mes-
sage one to two sentences long.
vs. Fortitude
Hit: The target takes ongoing 10 damage and is weak- level 1 Common

ened (save ends both). The dark.fluid within this small ceramic bottle slows dimly in
Level 25 or 30: Ongoing 15 damage.
Effect: The target gains the aberrant origin until the end
of the encounter.

Longbreath torchlisht.

Druids and other priests ofnature gods capture fresh lvl2 25 gp
air in skins or large bottles and infuse it with heal-
ing vapors. A deep inhalation from this container Alchemical Item: Oil Formula Cost: 70 gp
not only provides air but also invigorates the lungs to
enable them to retain it longer. Key Skill: Arcana, Dungeoneering, Time: 30 min.

or Thievery

Utility Power + Consumable (Standard Action)

Effect: You apply the ink to an area no larger than 5

square feet on a solid object. That area emits dim light

that is visible only in lamplight, torchlight, or some

longbreath level 4+ Common other light shed by an open flame. The light lasts 24


The refreshins air inside this containerfills your lunss far more

fully than its volume would sussest. Stone Eater

lvl 4 40 gp lvl 24 21,000 gp This potent but specialized acid is derived from the
digestive juices of purple worms. The substance
lvl14 800 gp must be harvested minutes after the beast's passage
through an area, before it dries to a useless crust. The
Alchemical Item Formula Cost: 160 gp alchemical mixture dissolves minerals in a matter of
minutes. A typical jar contains enough substance to
Key Skill: Healing or Nature Time: 30 min. consume a Medium-sized stone object.

Utility Power + Consumable (Minor Action)

Effect: You inhale the contents of the container. Until the

start of your next short or extended rest, you gain a +5

item bonus to Endurance checks to avoid suffocation.

Leve/14: +7 item bonus.

Level 24: +10 item bonus.

level 10+ Common

Pacification Dust Pourins the contents of this jar onto stone causes the material to

Svirfneblin harvest spores from nearby myconid colo- besin dissolvins.
nies to create this dust. Like the creatures it comes from,
it momentarily befuddles the senses ofthose it touches. lvl10 200 gp lvl 20 5,000 gp

Alchemical Item: Volatile Formula Cost: 700 gp

Key Skill: Arcana, Dungeoneering, Time: 1 hour

or Thievery

level 5+ Rare Utility Power (Acid) + Consumable (Standard Action)

This powder offunaal spores renders those causht in it slussish. Effect: You apply the stone eater to an unattended,

lvl 5 50 gp lvl 20 5,000 gp non magical stone object or 1 square of a stone wall

lvl1 0 200 gp lvl 25 25,000 gp or floor. After 5 minutes, that object takes 40 acid

lvl15 1,000 gp lvl 30 125,000 gp damage.

Alchemical Item: Poison Formula Cost: 200 gp Level 20: 80 acid damage.

Key Skill: Dungeoneering or Nature Time: 30 min.

~Z. Attack Power (Poison)+ Consumable (Standard Violet Phosphor

Action) Resourceful Underdark explorers extract the lumi-
nous compounds from subterranean fungi to create
Attack: Area burst 1 within 10 (creatures in the burst); this substance. When shaken, the liquid in this glass
vial glows with a long-lasting light.
the item's level + 3 vs. Fortitude

Hit: The target cannot take a standard action until the

end of your next turn.

Aftereffect: The target is slowed until the end of its next

turn. level 1 Common

Level 25 or 30: The duration of both the hit and the after-

effect is instead (save ends). Visorously asitatins this small. transparent vial causes the liq-

uid inside to emit a soft purple slow.

Phantom Ink lvll 20 gp

This paste is made from a variety ofUnderdark Alchemical Item Formula Cost: 70 gp
mushroom known as indigo svirf. When exposed to
torchlight or another source of fire, it glows dimly Key Skill: Arcana or Nature Time: 30 min.
but is not visible to creatures that see only by means
Utility Power+ Consumable (Minor Action)

Effect: You shake the container, and it sheds bright light

in a 5-square radius. The light lasts up to 4 hours.


When DuNGEONS & DRAGONS started, it used "ref- killer traps comes upon a lost child in a dungeon,
eree" (a term originating with the war games that the players might expect ambush or deceit. But ifthe
were the ancestors ofroleplaying games) to refer to child really is a victim ofcircumstance, how will the
what we now call the Dungeon Master_ Today, many adventurers handle it? Can a hardened, pragmatic
roleplaying games use words such as "narrator," crew feel sympathy for an innocent and decide to
"director," or "storyteller" to indicate how the rules escort that individual to safety, even ifthey know that
ofnarrative shape the flow ofthe game as opposed to doing so might put them in danger?
the rules ofa simulated world.
Advice and Tools
So, should you be a heartless referee enforcing the
rules ofa cruel world? Or are you a flexible story- This chapter examines a number ofways to craft an
teller, softening the game's threat to let the heroes' interesting dungeon-both in the construction and in
exploits reach a dramatically satisfying ending? the playing.

Either. Or both. Plenty ofold-school dungeons Involving the Characters: Delving through a
reinforced the cold, hard facts ofan adventurer's life. dungeon's dank tunnels needs to be meaningful and
But the game has always put fun at the table above interesting. Ifa character has a stake in what's hap-
adherence to the rules. Neither kind ofplay is right or pening, his or her player will be more immersed in
wrong, as long as everybody's on the same page. what's going on. This section shows how to connect
the characters' concerns to what's happening under-
Your group might gravitate toward either extreme, ground, in the form of adventure seeds for each ofthe
or fall somewhere in the middle. Have a discussion themes in Chapter 1. It continues with some broad-
regarding what style ofplay everyone favors. It's okay based advice on how to get the characters interacting
to run a no-holds-barred meat grinder ifthat's what with the environment through exploration and
the players expect. The players won't have much fun, puzzle solving.
though, ifyou give them no warning before your
dungeon chews up characters into which they have Creating an Underdark Adventure: The scope
poured significant time and effort. As always, you and variety ofthe Underdark distinguish this under-
should adjust your DMing style to conform to your ground realm from other types ofdungeons. The
players' expectations. advice in this section is about capturing the feel of
traveling in the Underdark, and fitting your plots
Nasty in Your Narrative: The most story-focused and battles to this environment. You can use the "An
games ofdeep roleplaying, full ofsessions when "we Underdark Trek" skill challenge to play out the trials
never rolled the dice once," can still have a touch of the heroes must face as they traverse its caverns.
ruthlessness. Think ofwhen a character you loved in
a movie, a book, or a TV series died abruptly. Done Dungeon Makers: Dwarves and minotaurs don't
right, such a moment can be riveting and meaningful. build their underground lairs the same way. You can
Done wrong, it is an exercise in hair-pulling frustra- add creature flavor to your dungeons based on who
tion. You should always feel free to let the chips fall or what made them. This section explores the fea-
where they may- death can be random and sudden- tures typically found in the dungeons ofvarious races
but avoid arbitrary affronts to the reality ofthe game. and groups, with descriptions ofspecific features you
Falling in lava is unfortunate, but a goblin's arrow can build on when you design your own work.
mysteriously dealing four times its normal damage is
just unfair. Special Rewards: This section describes scrolls
ofpower, which enable characters to wield the magic
Compassion on the Crawl: In like fashion, a ofthe gods with memorable spells such as power word
hard-core dungeon crawl can be reshaped by an kill and wish. It also includes a few special compan-
unexpected injection ofold-fashioned drama. When ions the adventurers might encounter in the dungeon.
a party accustomed to fighting ogres and spotting

Involving the Newcomer Introduce a character, an organiza-
tion, a monster, an ideology, or a plot element that has
When the adventurers take their first steps into the certain aspects in common with one of the adventur-
dungeon , you n eed ways to keep them moving for- ers, but opposes that character's goals in some way. A
ward. This section discusses how to customize your newcomer might serve as a guide, be in a rival group
dungeon to draw both characters and players deeper seeking the same goal as the party, or be revealed as
into the story ofyour adventure. a figure from an adventurer's past that h e or she must
reluctantly solicit to gain crucial in formation.
Tough Choice Put a character in a situation
where following the b ehavior suggested by h is or her
A player's choice oftheme and background says a theme creates tension with that character's moral
great deal about his or her character's goals and moti- code, or puts the par ty in a dangerous situ ation.
vations--;sometimes more so than race or class. A
theme shouts at the DM, "This is what my character IMPROVISING THEME
wants to care about in our adventures!" CONNECTIONS

A good adventure should feature multiple ways It happens to every DM. A question comes up regard-
to engage the players on this leveL For example, an ing something important and you haven't prepared
adventure that starts by calling out a treasure hunter an answer. "If this dwarf became king last month,
to find priceless, forbidden books in an abandoned what happened to the old king?" "Wait, didn't you
Underdark library offers many options to involve say the soil's soft and muddy? Why didn't we find
other ch aracters. An escaped thrall m ight learn that the killer's tracks?"
mind flayers have occupied th e library and are close
to deciphering the books. Ifthe party prevents this If you're put on the spot, you can look to the
event by destroying the books, the Underdark envoy theme or background of the character for answers.
can lead an effort to prevent feuding drow houses The player asking the questions has demonstrated
from going to war over the missing tomes. that he or she cares about the topic, so give that
character a chance to pursue it.
Several examples of incorporating story hooks into
adventures are presented here, using the themes and + A bloodsworn might ask if the old king died or
sample ch aracters from chapter 1. Each ofthe adven-
ture hooks is classified in one or two ofthe following left under suspicious circumstances. Perhaps her
categories, which you can when devising quarry, has some sort of connection to the event.
your own theme and background connections.
+ Ifa deep delver inquires about a lack of tracks, you
Announcement The simplest approach to
might decide that the culprit is a creature that has
incorporating adventure hooks is to plant monsters, earth Blide (such as many earth elemental beings).
locations, or plot devices th at directly speak to one
or more characters, and to be blatant about it. This + On the other hand, if a trapsmith wants to know
method is an easy way to get the adventure moving.
why there were no footprints, you could say that
Foreshadowing Take a plot that is important the killer used a trapped rune with a delay before
its effect triggered, then left before the rain started.
to the adventure as a whole and lin k clues regard-
ing that plot to the backstory ofone of the ch aracters. + An escaped thrall who wants to know what hap-
W hen those clues come up in the adventure, only
that player will know their significance. pened to the old king might gain a weird insight
or experience a vision that suggests he is now a
Misdirection Place red herrings that appear prisoner of illithids.

to tie to a ch aracter's theme, but th at eventually lead + If the treasure hunter asked what happened to
to dead ends or more complicated truths. Even ifth e
players can see through your deception, they m ight the king, you might instead decide that he abdi-
enjoy playing out the consequences ofthis adventure cated to search for a fabled lost dwarven hoard.
hook as though their characters were none the wiser.
+ An Underdark envoy might care to parley with the

new king. Perhaps he wants to learn ofthe former
king's fate, and he suspects a nearby drow city is

+ An Underdark outcast might hope that the change

in rulership will allow him to restore contact with
his former life. Perhaps the new ruler requires him
to pass a test that demonstrates his worthiness.

Bloodsworn A deep delver also likes to demonstrate his or Vl
her skill at survival and navigation underground. ~
Hooking a bloodsworn into an adventure might Add secondary characters who need help traveling
seem easy-all you need to do is include his or her through the tunnels-or escaping them. Talk about 0
hated enemy. But you can't have a 3rd-level party arduous journeys and barely navigable terrain. You 0
face off against a drow outpost or a 12th-level pack of don't need to call for endless skill checks for simple
monsters. Instead, create some hooks that establish journeys. Simply mention how the deep delver assists I
connections to the enemy without requiring the foe the adventurers and their companions as they travel.
to appear. I.IJ
The Mercenary Papers (Announcement): After
Relics and secondary characters encountered defeating the leader ofa group ofmonsters, Karl and ex:
during an adventure might reveal the secret plots of his allies discover notes from a drow merchant house.
an adversary. Alternatively, a bloodsworn hero might These notes describe arrangements to purchase a J
run into other groups that share his or her enmity. large number of grimlock slaves for use as soldiers.
Such groups might eventually become allies-or they z
could be rivals, fighting to see who is more worthy to Deia Smallfeather (Newcomer): Karl encoun-
take on their hated foe . ters Deia, a former Deep Guide. She had suspicions .1.1
that something was amiss in the organization and left
The tough choice technique can be used to great shortly before Karl joined. Living aboveground now, >
effect with a bloodsworn character. Putting one in she is reluctant to return beneath the surface and
a situation in which the party needs help from the explore the caverns again. ')
enemy, or where the consequences of acting against
the enemy could be dire, can push the character's Freedom for One (Tough Choice): The adven- ~
beliefs to the limit. Use this device sparingly, how- turers and a group ofcompanions they are escorting
ever, so that the bloodsworn's player doesn't feel as through the Underdark are captured. A companion ')
though his or her theme is irrelevant. reveals a way that one ofthe party might escape-but
only one. Karl's ability to navigate the Underdark z.
Rook in the Corner (Announcement): In a is the best hope for getting a message out or find-
series oftowns they travel through, the adventurers ing help. Will he keep his promise to never desert ~
see wanted posters showing different names but all his comrades, or will he risk leaving them alone to
bearing the likeness of a drow named Rook. The post- attempt a possible rescue? Vl
ers enumerate no crimes he has committed-being •J
a drow is enough. Eventually, a group of well-armed
guards informs them that Rook was last seen going Escaped Thrall ·I
into a deep cave-one they are forbidden to enter-
that connects to the Underdark. A former master casts a long shadow over an escaped
thrall's life. Make that slaver a major enemy in your
To Topple an Enclave (Tough Choice): Drow game, whether as the mastermind behind an ambi-
outcasts calling themselves the Scorpion Brigade plot tious plot or the lieutenant of an even greater evil.
to destroy their former enclave ofThes-Kesselav. The You can show the scope of the thrall master's scheme
adventurers discover the brigade's base in caves near by having the adventurers come across other thralls
the city, where the drow have stockpiled dozens of not yet lucky enough to win their freedom, or by
maps, attack plans, and magic items. Will Meliera providing maddening visions to the escaped thrall
take this chance to cause havoc and destruction in suggesting the master's involvement in multiple devi-
the city, even at the risk ofbetrayal by these outcasts? ous plots.

Behlo the Vengeance Seeker (Newcomer): Like Incorporate allies and enemies ofthe thrall master
Meliera, the halfling Behlo saw his loved ones die into your campaign. Ifthe escaped thrall was in the
at the hands of the drow. He not only wants all dark sway of a mind flayer, look to aberrant enemies and
elves dead, but longs also to kill any who harbor or potential allies such as githyanki. A vampire slaver
serve them-even as slaves. He remains suspicious of might suggest encounters with vampire hunters allied
elves and eladrin as well, believing that those of the with Pelor or the Raven Queen.
same blood as the drow are not to be trusted.
An escaped thrall's imprisonment leaves both
Deep Delver mental and physical scars. Your job is to set up situ-
ations where the character's pain can resurface.
More so than other characters, the deep delver The foreshadowing and tough choice categories of
thrives when the environment is at its most challeng- adventure hooks bring the escaped thrall's past to
ing. An adventure shaped for a deep delver should the forefront, where it provides a dark subtext to
contain extraordinary cavern complexes, great the character's heroic actions. Use this approach in
chasms, and other terrain that can exist only in the moderation, however, or you risk making the thrall a
Underdark. Vast and unexplored areas of the map liability to the rest of the party.
can hook a character who has this theme.

CHAPTER 3 j Master of the Dun9eo

The Branded Agents (Foreshadowing/New-
comer): Other former thralls ofthe aboleths appear
in cities, where they unconsciously perform the dark
tasks oftheir aberrant masters. When these sleeper
agents are captured or attacked, an abolethic safe-
guard triggers. This causes them to go mad and melt
into puddles of slime, creating a psychic backlash that
only Mord can sense.

The Passage ofPain (Tough Choice): On the
trail of a slaver, the adventurers encounter a locked
stone door that can normally be opened only by
an aboleth or one of its servitors. Mord can open it,
but only by tapping into the repressed horror of his
youth. If he does so, no one can be certain that he will
return from his descent into madness.

The Drowned Temple (Announcement): A
vision wakes Mord in the middle ofthe night-
a dark dream of a temple ofloun collapsing into
a sinkhole. The tentacled bodies of aboleths rise
from the sunken ground, surrounded by a cadre of
child slaves. Father Michelson's bloodied body lies
slumped against an altar. Is this a nightmare? Has
this already happened? Or is Mord being warned of
events not yet come to pass?


A trapsmith can be drawn into an adventure by
promises of danger and problems to solve. Because
such characters spend their lives getting into tense
situations, you need to keep escalating the level of
risk. Each trap should be more dangerous than the
last, each situation more precarious.

Part ofwhat attracts a player to this theme is the
idea of having skills unique to that character. So put
the trapsmith in a position where he or she alone can
overcome the defenses ofthe dungeon. Establishing
a connection between the character and whoever
is responsible for the dungeon's traps can make the
trapsmith's job feel more personal.

This theme will have a bearing on how you design
the mechanical components of your adventures. You
should include a greater number oftraps than usual
in your dungeon, and have enemies sneak up on the
party only to set offthe trapsmith's own devices.

The Unbreakable (Announcement/Tough
Choice): The enormous and complex trap known
as the Unbreakable seals off an open shaft running
straight down through solid granite. Numerous fac-
tions will pay good money to see it disarmed, and
they want to hire Thorry for the task. The Unbreak-
able is several stories deep, with rooms of traps that
can trigger crushing walls, planar imprisonment
wards, and disintegration spells. Few know that an
imprisoned primordial lies beneath the Unbreakable,
and that the trap is designed not to keep intruders
out, but to hold the ancient being within.


Seven-Pointed Star (Foreshadowing): The leave, however-and one carries the true Green Man's
kobold traps that the adventurers have been coming scepter as part of the rite.
across have been simple and easy to disable so far.
One small detail stands out, though: a star with seven Underdark Envoy
points carved somewhere on each device. Thorry
remembers seeing this symbol on the trap that took This theme is all about face-to-face contact. Negotiat- )
his fingers. Could the kobold responsible for that ing with rival factions, talking circles around sentries, ;::;
injury still be alive? and setting enemies against each other are all part
of the envoy's job. Bring secondary characters and ..
Tegan Burrwood (Newcomer): Thorry's strange political situations into the mix when engaging an
take on good fortune puts him at odds with worship- Underdark envoy-particularly characters you know
ers ofAvandra, the god ofluck. Tegan, a devotee of will fall quickly for an envoy's eloquent charm.
the goddess, believes that Thorry is blessed, and she
wants him and his companions to help guide her Be aware, however, that arriving at too many diplo-
expedition. Can Thorry suffer through her exalta- matic resolutions to conflict runs the risk of annoying
tions of his greatness and blessed luck long enough to other party members itching for a fight. The envoy
collect the huge payment she promises? character doesn't need to be fully effective every
time. Even when negotiations break down into battle,
Treasure Hunter enemies might be swayed by the envoy's efforts. An
enemy who can't be turned to the party's side might
Immense hoards and risky situations draw a treasure still give the adventurers good advice or agree to not
hunter like a moth to a flame. The classic dungeon sound the alarm.
crawl appeals to such characters, for whom no adven-
ture is too dangerous as long as a good profit waits at An envoy is particularly vulnerable to the mis-
the end. direction approach, since political maneuvering is
more than it seems even at the best oftimes. Don't be
The announcement approach can easily grab afraid to drop major hints (or simply tell the player)
a treasure hunter's attention, as you describe the what's going on behind the scenes so that the envoy
ancient idol or the opulent chambers waiting to character can cut through the noise. The tough choice
be found in a dungeon. Such a character can read- approach also makes sense for an Underdark envoy,
ily be subjected to a tough choice as well. Anything considering the ways in which diplomacy can lead to
that provides a motivation beyond getting rich is a unexpected complications.
potentially interesting deviation from the norm. As
demonstrated in Ella's story, a treasure hunter can Trapped by Both Sides (Announcement): A
seek a specific item for reasons beyond profit. Also, gnome refugee camp sits on a fey crossing, pinned
take notice when the treasure hunter starts to care between fomorian lands in the Feydark and a svirf-
about allied characters or comes to hate a particular neblin city in the natural world. The svirfneblin are
type of enemy. You can then ensure that protecting suspicious ofthe gnomes and refuse to share their
the allies conflicts with finding treasure, or you can land, leaving them at the fomorians' mercy. The
put the hated enemies in the way of attaining a leg- gnomes need someone to negotiate with the svirfneb-
endary hoard. lin and win the right to escape from the fey crossing
before they are wiped out. To make matters worse, no
The Red King's Crown (Announcement): Ella one knows when the giants have planned their attack.
finds an illuminated manuscript with pictures ofa
noble eladrin of the Feydark known as the Red King. Bjorgand (Newcomer): Khiira met the brusque
The illustrations show him clad in finery, but the fire giant delegate Bjorgand years ago, and he has
crown he wears is clearly the one that belongs to the reappeared in one debate after another ever since.
GreenMan. Khiira does not bat an eye at killing in secret, but
Bjorgand and his allies make their thuggery blatant.
The Unseen Cage (Foreshadowing): The adven- The fire giant negotiates with threats and particularly
turers find a series oflarge caverns in the Underdark enjoys browbeating whomever the sly drow bard rep-
that would make perfect living quarters, but they are resents in her negotiations.
uninhabited. Ella feels a strange sensation that she
experienced before on the Green Man's hili-a feeling Drow Turncoats (Misdirection): Hired killers
that something is imprisoned here. from Khiira's home city track her down. Instead of
assaulting her, they appear to swayed by her words
The Green Man Will Burn (Misdirection): when they meet, seeming less interested in killing
The rituals of the fey are foreign to the people of the her than in discovering how she escaped and found
world. When rumors arise that the Green Man will a new life. These assassins are secretly under orders
be burned on a pyre at the winter solstice, Ella has no from Khiira's mother to falsely pledge themselves to
way of knowing that the burning is merely symbolic, the envoy's service. After they meet her allies and
and that the "Green Man" is an unfortunate captive contacts, they will carry out the order to slaughter
of firbolgs. The firbolgs do not let the adventurers Khiira and anyone who helps her.

Underdark Outcast EXPLORATION

You'll need to get a good read on a player's reasons AND CHOICES
for playing an outcast before you begin incorporat-
ing hooks related to this theme. Though it's likely the When two seemingly identical tunnels lead into the
player wants to see the character's former life .play a unexplored darkness, the adventurers' decision about
part in the campaign, some players prefer their out- which path to take is effectively random. To avoid
cast's backstory to stay in the past. leaving things up to chance at this juncture, you can
present choices that provoke and intrigue your play-
For a player who does want to explore his or her ers by placing careful clues that suggest the dangers
outcast's unfinished business, use the foreshadowing they might face.
and announcement methods to connect that past to
parts of the larger campaign narrative. Bring in sec- One of the simplest ways to make exploration
ondary characters previously known to the outcast, interesting is to add distinguishing characteristics
and have clues leading back to his or her former soci- that differentiate the characters' choices. What if one
ety. Be careful with such plot elements, however, if. tunnel leads downward and smells offetid water,
the character doesn't want to physically return to his while the other goes to the west and hums with echo-
or her lost home. Instead, introduce secondary char- ing, ghostly whispers? The heroes still won't know
acters who are also outcasts, but from other races or which way to go, but the choice they make feels more
civilizations. meaningful if it is based on their reactions to what
might lie ahead.
A newcomer can work well to frame the loss that
an outcast character has endured. Create secondary Repeat a Motif: Find a thematic element to
characters ofa similar upbringing who were not cast emphasize in each section of a dungeon. Spider stat-
out, or other outcasts who have taken a darker path or ues might suggest the presence of drow, while the
suffered in other ways. same statues defaced with reptilian scales could be
seen in a drow area that has been taken over by kuo-
The Ailing King (Announcement): Korag's toas. Skulls with holes in them lying in the shadows
father, ChiefBeltag, lies dying. Enemies ofBarduum ofcaverns, spirals carved into the walls, multiple
have been kept at bay by old treaties that will end idols with gemstone eyes in different colors, or objects
with the chief's death. Their forces are encircling the appearing in groups of a specific number can rein-
entrance to Barduum's tunnels, awaiting the chance force the presence of the builder ofyour dungeon or
to attack. Korag can never be chief, but can he defend the monsters that dwell there.
his kin now as he should have years ago? And will
he be reconciled with his father before the old dwarf Note Environmental Changes: You can create
passes away? the sense that the party's explorations are progress-
ing by mentioning minor differences in temperature,
Krass (Newcomer): Krass is a young goblin humidity, and air pressure. That's only the start,
kicked out ofhis tribe after his snooping brought though. The D&D game offers endless opportuni-
a band of ore soldiers down on them. Though he ties for otherworldly phenomena, such as ice that
failed his people the same way Korag did, the goblin
believes he did nothing wrong, maintaining that the IMPROVISING
others in his tribe should know how to run and hide EXPLORATION
as well as he does. He tells Korag to take pride in
being an outcast-even as he resists the dwarf's efforts You don't need to know in advance what's behind
to win back his gear that the goblin stole. every door or down every passage; instead, plant
clues that you can expand on later. A door that radi-
Not Again (Foreshadowing): The party has been ates heat might lead to the lair of a fiery creature,
assigned to protect a merchant expedition travel- a portal to the Elemental Chaos, or an incubation
ing to a svirfneblin outpost in the Underdark. When chamber. Determine whether your players have
drow ambush the caravan, Korag realizes that the expectations for what lies ahead, then use those
attack is meant as a diversion to keep the adventur- expectations for inspiration. If you can arrange for
ers away from the outpost-the true target ofthe drow such discussions to come at the end of a session, or
raid. Korag is faced with an echo of the situation that hash them out between sessions, you can better use
resulted in his exile. If he supports his comrades your preparation time to flesh out the details in a way
against the ambushers, the svirfneblin will fall. But that your players will appreciate.
saving the deep gnomes would require abandoning
the party. Will Korag be able to choose, and if so,
which group will he forsake?

CHAPTER 3 I Master of the Dun8eon

So1vin8 a puzzle often requires a team effort

mysteriously coats a chamber or passage, walls cov- as the players realize they can't go in that direction
ered with color-changing fungi, insects that swarm yet, their characters have something to look for as
in strange patterns, or terrain that warps and shifts. they continue in another direction.
Planar incursions can also alter the landscape, creat-
ing chambers and caverns that transition between the Leave Things Blank: The baseline motivation
Underdark and the Feydark, the Elemental Chaos, or for any adventurer is a bold curiosity regarding the
the Far Realm. unknown. Ifyou provide the adventurers with a map,
leave large areas ofit blank. Ifthe characters see
Appeal to the Senses: As the adventurers move visions in a scrying pool, mention that certain parts
through the darkness, vision might be their least ofwhat they view are obscured by darkness. Create
useful sense. Think about the sounds that echo locations ofwhich even the creatures ofthe Under-
within a dark cavern, the scents ofrotting flesh or dark do not speak. Those blank spaces might have
burgeoning fungus, or the texture ofa wall where the never been explored, making your adventurers the
energy ofthe Far Realm warps the world. A seasoned pioneers who map them for the first time.
Underdark explorer might even be able to taste a
drop ofblood along the heroes' path to see what kind MYSTERIES
ofinjured creature might be lurking ahead.
Use Obstructions Carefully: Blocking offa
tunnel seems like an easy way to prevent adventur- Some ofthe iconic elements ofa dungeon adventure
ers from passing, while a locked door might make the are the mysterious statue, the complex magical pro-
players only more determined to get through it. You tective ward, and the inscrutable monster posing a
can use obstructions to create intrigue and generate riddle. Often created or placed underground by a
curiosity about what lies beyond. Put a "mere" locked long-forgotten builder, such a challenge provides a
door in front ofinteresting clues, extra treasure, and safeguard against the characters' intrusion even as
other items you intend for the adventurers to find. If it hints at the builder's overall purpose. Puzzles and
you want to seal offan area more securely, make it
obvious what kind ofkey or tool is needed to pass a
door, a magic ward, or a monstrous gatekeeper. Even

mysteries beg to be explored and investigated, just as been built by frost giants. A complex riddle might
do the caverns and chambers they are a part of. be child's play for the intellect of the mind flayer
that placed it as a magical ward, keeping thralls and
A simple mystery can intrigue and entertain intruders out while allowing other illithids to pass.
nearly any group ofplayers. One easy way to spark an
investigation is to plant information that's a little off- Have Consistent Results: The pieces of a puzzle
kilter, prompting the players to think, "What's wrong should follow logic to avoid confusing the players.
with this picture?" If three of four statues face the A rune triggered by the presence of fire should be
same direction, why is the fourth looking off to the activated equally well by a burnin& hands spell, a fire
side? Why are some of the tiles on the floor red and seeds invocation, or a flaming torch. Likewise, identi-
others gold? The answer might be fairly easy to arrive cal puzzles in the same dungeon should all follow
at: Discover that the head of the fourth statue can be the same internal logic. If the rune mentioned above
pivoted, rotate it so that it matches the others, and appeared in another location, the players should be
suddenly a secret door opens. Alternatively, an initial able to expect it to function in the same way that the
investigation might reveal a more complex puzzle, a first one did.
riddle, or a trap.
Put in a Reset Button: This guideline can ben-
Because in-game puzzles work best when you test efit you as well as your players. The more variables a
the players' ingenuity rather than the attributes of puzzle contains, the harder it can be for the players
their characters, be mindful ofhow willing the players to retrace their steps if they make a wrong move. To
are to be tested in this way. Some groups will happily keep a complicated puzzle from slowing things down
spend an entire game session trying to figure out a ifthe characters get off track, you can build in an
single riddle. Others might be better served with a sim- easy way to reset the puzzle back to its starting condi-
pler puzzle that can be solved by trial and error. The tion, using the assumption that whoever created the
following suggestions can help you make puzzles an puzzle would want it to return to its default state for
interesting and dynamic part ofa dungeon adventure. the next creature that tries to solve it.

Begin with the Familiar: Start with forms of This "reset button" might be obvious to the charac-
puzzles and riddles the players are familiar with, ters, so that they can activate it whenever they want,
then twist the structure or the concept to make some- or it could be an automatic feature that returns the
thing new. You might base a puzzle on sudoku or puzzle to its original state if the players find them-
chess, or borrow the design of a trap from a movie, selves stumped (or whenever you decide to trigger it).
a novel, or a comic book. You could start with the
classic riddle of the sphinx, then adapt it so that the Call it Quits: Ifa puzzle or a riddle fails to engage
answer involves a D&D creature. You could create a the players, don't force it. If the players are struggling
rebus (a passage of text in which words are replaced for a solution, drop hints couched as memories from a
with pictures that match the sounds when said character's backstory. Ifthey are truly stumped, pres-
aloud), substituting strange symbols from the game ent an alternative way to move along so you don't bog
world whose meaning the players must deduce. down the game. You can work it so that taking the
easy way leads to tougher consequences. For example,
Drop Clues: When you create a puzzle, think nastier fights, lesser rewards, or unsavory characters
about how the players and their characters will needing to be bargained with might lie at the end ofa
approach it. Some amount of trial and error is to be route that bypasses a puzzle-locked door.
expected, so make up a list of clues that can be found
ifthe heroes search the immediate area, or attempt
skill checks, or recall facts from earlier areas in the
dungeon. Introducing clues in a natural way is easier
to do ifyou have a few in mind early, rather than
having to think them up on the spot.

It Doesn't Work, But ...: Even a wrong answer
or a failed attempt can still contribute to the solution
of a puzzle. When a character tries to pull the blue
gem loose from the wall, he might receive a nasty
shock. But the adventurers now know that the gem is
probably associated with the engraving ofa lightning-
filled storm cloud on the far wall.

Show Why the Puzzle Is There: The nature of
a puzzle should speak to why it has been placed in
the dungeon and why it works the way it does. A door
that opens only if it is dealt cold damage might have




The Underdark isfull offabulous terrain

Creating an A dungeon has walls and boundaries, whereas the
Underdark Underdark extends helter-skelter in all directions. It
Adventure is a world within the world, and it likely covers the
same area as all the realms of the surface. The Under-
A party ofheroes could spend a lifetime in the Under- dark is endless caverns and vast oceans, lost cities
dark and not come close to exhausting its mysteries and great citadels teeming with life. Capturing the
or its dangers_ The Underdark is one of the best unique features of this environment is instrumental
locales in which to set a dungeon adventure_ Its stag- to creating Underdark adventures that offer maxi-
gering size and range of monsters give you a great set mumfun.
of tools to create a challenging and memorable story.
The vastness of the Underdark is one of its most
INTO DARKNESS alluring features, for DMs and players alike. This
untamed wilderness is so large that it can never be
As the name of the game says, underground adven- fully explored. Add to this the bizarre creatures and
tures are an essential part of Du NGEONS & DRAGONS. magic that pervade its depths, .and you can see how
Dungeons are exciting places for adventurers to raid, and why the conventions oftraditional adventuring
loot, and explore. The heroes enter the dungeon, do are left behind on the surface world. The Underdark
their thing, and then usually leave the same way they offers great freedom to you as a DM, enabling you to
came in. The Underdark, however, is much more. create new wonders around every corner so that your
players never know what to expect.
The first point to understand is that the Underdark
is not a mere dungeon- even one of unbelievable size. This freedom comes at a cost, though. The immen-
sity of the Underdark can easily overwhelm even
the most dedicated gaming group. Its passages have
so many branches that choosing the right one by

chance seems impossible. Every false turn threat- THE SETTING'S ROLE
ens to take a party off course and into danger. Tales
tell ofwould-be adventurers who get no farther than When you have an idea of how big you want your
wandering the caves of the Underdark looking for a Underdark to be, consider what part you want it to
way out. Getting a lost group back on track without play in the campaign. What do you and your play-
obvious contrivance can be difficult, and if the play- ers hope to get out of an Underdark adventure? The
ers feel as if the thread of the adventure has gotten answer should be something unique to this realm-a
lost as well, the game loses its excitement and sense of goal or quest beyond anything that can be accom-
wonder. plished by a simple dungeon delve.

Keeping the Underdark under control requires Make sure your game takes the characters to the
direction on your part. Create a game plan for how Underdark for the right reasons, driven by the cam-
you want your players to experience this unearthly paign narrative and with hooks that can appeal to the
realm. Then make that plan clear to them, so that whole party. The Underdark can seriously challenge
they have an idea ofwhat to expect when it comes even the most hardened adventurers, particularly
time to plan their expedition. those whose race or backstory ties them strongly to
the surface world. For elves, eladrin, halflings, and
An Underdark Overview others, the Underdark can be an alien and terrifying
place-and a wonderful opportunity to push those
A vast expanse lies deep under the surface ofthe characters outside their traditional comfort zone.
world. The Underdark's tunnels, caverns, lakes, and
hidden cities make it in some ways the greatest dun- On the other hand, a campaign built around char-
geon of all. Adventure always awaits in the Night acters at home in the Underdark can have a very
Below. The Underdark™ supplement describes these different feel. To skilled delvers or those who have
subterranean realms in much greater detail, but always lived below the surface, the Underdark is a
here's the short version. wilderness waiting for great heroes to conquer it. The
caverns and tunnels of this realm are no less won-
The Shallows: Reaching 2 miles below the drous or dangerous than they are for surface-born
surface, this region provides a meeting ground characters, but the heroes ofthe Underdark have the
between the deep-digging races ofthe surface (such tools to take on those dangers.
as dwarves and goblins) and creatures native to the
underworld realms (including duergar and troglo- KEEPING IT INTERESTING
dytes). The Shallows is a beachhead to the Deeps, a
place where explorers have some measure ofsafety Ask yourself this question before you begin your
and knowledge of their surroundings. Still, the num- Underdark adventure: Do you want to create an
berless caverns and vicious creatures haunting the elaborate spelunking simulation or a scenario that
dark places mean that no one is truly safe. focuses less on realism and more on action? If the
answer is the former, make sure that this kind of sim-
The Deeps: Far more alien and dangerous than ulation is something your players are as interested in
the Shallows, the area known as the Deeps houses as you are. The constant grind of skill checks and pro-
mad aberrations, the cruel cities ofthe drow, and visioning necessary to accurately describe real-world
innumerable dangers that would never be seen in the caving will slow down your game, but can provide a
light. Vast lightless seas and places of chaotic elemen- satisfyingly gritty realism to your adventures.
tal influence exist in the Deeps, and staying there for
too long can warp one's mind. Most OMs find that it is faster-and ultimately more
useful-to provide only the gist of the delve before get-
The Feydark: Since the Feywild is an echo plane ting on with the action. The tone of the Underdark is
of the natural world, it too has an Underdark. The important, as are the trials of underground explora-
grotesque mad giants called fomorians rule the Fey- tion, but don't forget that everyone's fun should come
dark. Gnomes and a few other races have carved first. Develop a feel for what level of realism your
out small homes in its tunnels, but they must always group appreciates, then help craft the narrative of how
beware cyclops patrols. their characters overcome the challenges before them.
These are heroes, after all, and it's more interesting
The Shadowdark: The other echo plane, the for them to triumph over significant adversity than
Shadowfell, is already dark and cold, but its Under- be broken down by endless small challenges.
dark goes a step beyond. Nothing can match the
despair and hopelessness one feels when traveling its
halls. Apart from the cryptic loremasters called incu-
nabula, few residents of the Shadowdark still draw
breath. The undead roam the pitch-black expanse of
the World Tomb.


It doesn't matter how well conceived your Underdark You can introduce sensory prompts from time to LiJ
adventure is ifyou don't invest time in describing the LiJ
look, sound, and feel ofits unique features. Without time to bring the unique environment of the Under-
attention to the physical and visual, an Underdark ~
adventure can too easily become a series of encoun- dark to life. Examples include the following.
ters set in bland, mostly empty caverns. Luckily for u.J
you, the Underdark is one of the most evocative envi- + Pulses of light shine up mysteriously from a chasm
ronments in which to stage an adventure. :I
whose bottom cannot be seen.
Legendary Infamy: When setting the stage for r-
an expedition to the Underdark, introduce that realm + Vermin swarm so thickly that they create an
long before the characters make it a specific desti- -zv
nation. Tavern stories, menacing plots, mysterious impassable wall across a broad cavern.
artifacts, or missing persons can go a long way toward .....
establishing the Underdark's fearsome reputation in + Animals known to be extinct on the surface are <t:
your world. ex:
found below ground, having adapted to a life in
Uncanny Terrain: The geography ofthe Under- v
dark is unparalleled in scope. Near-bottomless the Underdark.
chasms, mile-high vaults, fungal forests, freezing seas,
caverns whose walls are the fossilized bones oflong- + In a broad grotto, crystals bloom in flowerlike
dead primordials-you can use any idea from your
imagination to punctuate the tunnels and caverns shapes.
that wind their way to the bottom of the world. Work
up a list of memorable sites for your players to experi- + A strangely porous rock muffles all sound nearby
ence and interact with during their delve, so that the
journey never has to fall back on a boring series of it, creating hushed echoes.
+ A fiery wind howls out of a twisting tunnel.
Effect on Characters: Life in the Underdark + A sinkhole cave holds the remains of a fortress or
takes its toll on an adventurer. Clothing becomes
crusted with mud and dust. Gear frays at the edges a city that collapsed into the Underdark from the
or is battered by one too many falls. Eyes that have
adjust to the darkness find even the brightness of a surface.
torch painful to bear. Making use of cavern fungus
for sustenance leaves the consumer malnourished + A long-dead explorer has left a cryptic message
over time. Most insidious of all, the stygian gloom and
tomb-like stillness ofthis realm is enough to drive scrawled on a cavern wall.
explorers mad.
+ A strange maze is revealed to be the immense
The physical and emotional stress of exploring the
Underdark can wear away at a character's resolve, fossilized remains of an unknown monster.
making him or her think and do strange things.
Though you shouldn't encumber characters with + Hot, stinging clouds of smoke and vapor boil up
unnecessary penalties, a creative description ofthe
mood and physical demands ofthe Underdark can from a volcanic vent.
inspire creative roleplaying and lend a stark realism
to the atmosphere ofyour game. + An eerie whistling, like a fey song, echoes through

Inhuman Cultures: The Underdark's scattered small channels in the rock.
cities are dangerous points of shadow in an even
more dangerous darkness. Few such settlements + A section of tunnel, covered in strange growths,
resemble the cities of the surface world. Tales of
dwarven strongholds and drow enclaves are familiar is actually the gullet of an enormous dungeon
to many adventurers, but inhuman monsters such as
aboleths and beholders also create settlements and denizen.
societies here.
+ A dark pit seems to contain the night sky, com-
Adventurers will rarely find succor in such cities.
Even the most benign Underdark cultures are dis- plete with familiar constellations.
trustful of strangers. At their worst, the races ofthe
+ Cavern walls of soft chalk display scratches like

those of fingernails reaching from ceiling to floor.

Underdark enslave outsiders as a matter of course.
Think about ways to portray such civilizations as
exotic yet believable. Mind flayer cities still need
resources to thrive, even ifthose resources are
extracted by mindless thralls feeding on the corpses
of the slaves who fell before them.

The Unknown: Never underestimate the attrac-
tion of a good mystery. The Underdark's landscape
gives you ample room in which to place enigmatic
ruins, inexplicable portals, and bizarre encounters.
No surface dweller can ever understand what truly
goes on in a beholder's lair, and neither should you.
Unleash your inner weirdness by giving the players
a taste ofthe Underdark's deepest mysteries, letting
facts develop over time. Let the bare bones ofintrigue
inspire the players to chime in with their own theo-
ries, then build on those theories to create
a satisfying conclusion.

DEVELOPING A PLOT Wondrous valuables lie hidden in the Underdark

Once you've created the foundations ofwhat the Dark Cultures
Underdark is in your campaign and how it should
feel, you need to come up with a reason to go there. The workings ofthe Underdark's many civilizations
Developing a plot for an Underdark adventure is sim· are relevant to adventurers, particularly those hail-
ilar to crafting adventures in other settings, but you ing from the depths. An Underdark adventure can
should keep a few important differences in mind. involve characters in political drama and intrigue
among cultures wholly different from those ofthe
An Underdark adventure will likely take the surface world.
heroes far from their homes or usual stomping
grounds, and it might keep them there for a lengthy + Civil war in a beholder city overflows into sur-
amount of time. Their motivation for delving had
better be a good one. Without the proper setup, the rounding regions when the leader of the eye
players will wonder what was the point of entering tyrants is turned to stone by a medusa empress.
the Underdark in the first place-or will feel as if
they're being dragged along by a cumbersome plot. + Territorial disputes boil over between dwarves

Creating a memorable campaign hook should be and svirfneblin, forcing the adventurers to choose
among your first concerns when designing an Under- a side.
dark adventure. It's not enough that you want the
adventurers to fight the drow-you need to present + A duergar baron wishes to defect from his evil
them with a compelling reason to do so.
city and must be escorted safely to a dwarven
Character Background stronghold.

A character whose background involves the Underdark, Fabled Treasure
even in a tangential way, can create a good opportu-
nity to get a party underground. Adventurers who have As the impetus for dungeon delves since the very
any ofthe character themes presented in this book are beginning ofthe game, fabulous treasure and lost
perfect candidates for an Underdark adventure. By artifacts hold a strong allure for any self-respecting
leveraging elements from a character's backstory, you adventurer. The Underdark has no shortage oftrea-
create a personal stake in the adventure that can make sures lost or hidden in its labyrinthine depths.
it more exciting. Here are some examples.

+ An Underdark native is called back to his or her

homeland after being accused of a crime.

+ Drow agents go to great lengths to pursue a char-

acter who was formerly a prized slave.

+ The child of a famous explorer discovers his or her

parent's journals and learns ofunfinished under-
ground adventures.

Monstrous Plots

The monsters that populate the D&D game offer
plenty of excitement for characters braving the
Underdark, but connecting those monsters to the
heroes can take some work. By looking for opportuni-
ties to bring the peril of the Underdark to the surface
world, you can inspire the adventurers to pursue that
peril and destroy it.

+ An important secondary character is suddenly

revealed as being under the sway of mind flayers
spying on the party.

+ A tribe ofUnderdark goblins is building a scaffold

to ascend a rift that has opened near a village.

+ The child of a ruler has been kidnapped by an abo-

leth and must be rescued.

+ The hoard ofa slain deep dragon spills into an open UNDERDARK COMBAT J1

rift, attracting avaricious individuals of all races. 0::

+ Magnificent crystals rise from the footsteps of a ENCOUNTERS 1-

forgotten primordial that wanders the Deeps. z.

+ The vaults ofErelhei-Cinlu have been raided by a Crafting combat encounters for an Underdark cam-
paign lets you utilize every trick in your DM's toolkit.
draw traitor, who was subsequently captured by Any sort ofterrain feature, hazard, or other challenge
the kuo-toas ofthe Dark Lake. you can imagine can be a feature ofyour individually
crafted Underdark setting. This section takes a closer
Dramatic Circumstances look at some ofthe more distinctive aspects ofthe
environment in the world beneath the world.
Sometimes the campaign can unfold in a way that
brings the characters to the Underdark without warn- The Battlefield
ing. Unexpected events can hurl the heroes into the
depths, challenging their adaptability in new ways. The Underdark is a unique field of combat. On one
hand, these dark realms feature the wide-open spaces
+ Stepping through a portal in a wizard's tower typical ofwilderness encounters. On the other, the
caverns and vaults ofthe Underdark are filled with
takes the party to the Deeps, along the shore of blocking terrain that provides the feel of a confined
the Spire Sea. dungeon brawl. Unlike dungeons, whose walls and
floors usually consist offlat, worked stone, Underdark
+ A fleeing thief takes shelter in a cavern that leads to terrain is rugged and dynamic. Exploiting this con-
trast can go a long way toward making an Underdark
the Underdark, forcing the adventurers to pursue. encounter feel unique. A battlefield's layout becomes
as important as the monsters with which you choose
+ Giant sinkholes open up during an explosive to populate that battlefield.

battle, swallowing up heroes and villains alike. Natural Caverns: Most ofthe passages and cham-
bers ofthe Underdark have been created by natural
UNDERDARK EVOLUTION forces and so follow no overall design. Lack ofsymme-
try is the norm, but you should plan for more than an
My players' first exposure to the Underdark was endless number ofrandomly branching tunnels and
something of an accident. The characters found side rooms. Create unusual angles and shapes for the
themselves in a position to pursue a drow infiltra- chambers ofyour Underdark dungeon. Have wide cor-
tor who had stolen their treasure, then fled deep ridors suddenly narrow down, forcing the adventurers
underground. I assumed the party would steer clear to squeeze through them. Create rough-edged masses
of this plot thread because I had always given the ofblocking terrain to simulate huge conglomerations
Underdark a creepy and dangerous reputation. They ofrock and crystal that must be climbed or bypassed.
surprised me when they decided to risk going below. Encouraging tactical thinking from the players at all
1quickly created a series of encounters and sights for times is a big part ofUnderdark encounter design.
them to experience during a two-week trek. Even·
tually the party found a drow outpost. After barely Terrain: In the real world, caves are extremely
managing to overcome its defenders, they learned challenging to traverse. Even if realism is your goal,
that despite their weeks of delving, they still had however, be wary ofmaking every square ofthe
miles to go. Hard-pressed and short on supplies, Underdark difficult terrain. Such terrain can be more
the characters cut their losses and returned to the common in Underdark encounters than in a typical
surface. I decided to make that return journey an dungeon or wilderness encounter, but keep it within
adventure unto itself. reason. Caves might feature a scattering of stalag-
mites or fallen debris. Certain areas can challenge
These adventures were a lot of fun because they characters by containing mostly difficult terrain, with
allowed me to introduce a setting that lived up to clear squares becoming valuable assets in the fight.
its reputation. The players enjoyed being pushed to
their limits, so much so that finding their way out Tight Squeezes: More so than in other dungeons,
again felt like a victory. The next time the charac- terrain that confines the combatants is prevalent in
ters entered its depths, they did so with experience the Underdark. Characters seeking a protected alcove
and planning on their side. Four months later, they or a more advantageous position might be forced to
emerged as veteran dungeoneers (and a good deal squeeze through a crevice. Low ceilings can force
wealthier). larger combatants to stoop in combat, possibly fight-
ing at a penalty. Try to keep such locations focused to
-Jeff Morgenroth specific areas, however, letting them add variety to
the fight without wholly defining it.

TALKING THE TALK of great magic lost underground at the time of the
Dawn War can all suggest fantastic terrain for use
Want to describe your Underdark locations as some- in your encounters.
thing more t ha n "caves"? Use the terms below.
Bedrock: The solid rock that makes up the walls of Light Sources

a cave. The need for artificial light is a constant challenge for
Chasm: A pit whose dept h cannot be determined. Underdark explorers. In addition to carrying a supply
Cleft: A relatively sma ll openi ng made by the split- of torches or oil if magical light is not readily avail-
able, players must keep track ofwhich characters are
ting of rock. responsible for the light. The group should choose
Dormant Cave: A cave without runni ng or dripping one or two players who will track their light sources'
duration and radius.
Grotto: A cave with numerous stalagmites (floor) and You and the players should be familiar with the
effect ofbright light, dim light, and darkness on combat,
stalactites (ceil ing), typically containi ng a large so that you can keep the action moving when the battle-
amount of water as well. field becomes obscured. Remember that solid objects
Karst: A complex cavern created through the erosion block a light source, and that Underdark creatures will
of stone by running water. take advantage ofthe adventurers' dependence on light
Live Cave: A cave with flowing wate r. by targeting the individuals carrying it.
Pillar: A freestand ing column of bedrock reachi ng
from floor to roof, remai ning after the su rround- Though the threat oftotal darkness should always
ing rock has eroded. be on the adventurers' minds, you can provide ways
Ossuary: A cave fill ed with bones or fossils. to improvise if a primary source oflight is lost. For
Rift: A cave that runs vertica lly, formed by tectonic example, luminescent fungus is common in the
upheaval. Underdark and can provide temporary dim light.
Sea: A giant body of saltwater that fi lls vaults and
covers great distances, usually connected to an SKILL CHALLENGE:
aboveground ocean.
Shaft: A vertical tunnel that sometimes bri ngs air AN UNDERDARK TREK
from the surface.
Speleothem: Any rock formation created by minera l Adventurers who dare the depths need more than
deposits, such as stalagmites and stalactites. weapons , wits, and magic to survive. The Under-
Spring: A natural upwelling of water, often laden dark teems with dangers, and those who brave its
with undrinkable minerals. caverns must make use of every bit of their skill
Tunnel: Any long and relatively narrow passage that and ingenuity. This section provides a sample skill
connects caverns. challenge you can use to mark a party's progress
Vault: A cave of awesome size and height, the ceiling through the Underdark. It is made up of two com-
of which might be a mile or more above the floor. ponents, one using individual checks and one using
group checks.
Elevation: Cave floors almost never occupy a
level plane; they slope up and down in rocky drifts Individual Checks:
or end in sheer barriers and ledge walls. Consider Making Progress
adding shifts in elevation to create a dynamic sense
of positioning in caverns. Ledges, pits, and large rock Surface dwellers can quickly become overwhelmed
formations can also provide ways to vary the height by the scope ofthe Underdark's tunnels. Without the
of different areas of the battlefield, making reach or sun or other landmarks to reckon by, explorers can
ranged weapons particularly useful. Characters who become helplessly lost without a master dungeoneer
have training in Athletics or Acrobatics have a chance to lead the way. This skill challenge simulates a
to shine in such encounters. lengthy trek through the Underdark, the goal of
which is to arrive at a particular location. The skill
Fantastic Terrain: The raw, chaotic force that challenge represents activity during a day or two of
created the Underdark remains prevalent through- travel, and can easily be broken up by combat and
out its depths. Use the presence of fantastic terrain roleplaying encounters.
to dress up your caverns and heighten the narra-
Level: In the Shallows, the level of the skill chal-
-----tive elements of the dungeon. Seismic activity, the lenge is equal to the level of the party. In the Deeps,
tainted presence ofancient monsters, or the legacy the level of the skill challenge is two levels higher
than the level of the party.

Complexity: 3 (requires 8 successes before 3 fail- choose one ofthe following hazards and have the ~
ures). Increase the complexity to 4 or 5 to simulate characters make a group skill check against the given
longer treks, increasing the maximum number of suc- DC. If half the group succeeds, the party earns 1 suc- 0::
cesses for primary skills accordingly. cess in the challenge, which does not count toward
the maximum number of successes allowed for that <t
Primary Skills: Athletics, Dungeoneering, skill. Ifthe group check is failed, it does not count as Cl
Endurance, Perception. a failure in the skill challenge, but the adventurers
suffer the described setback. 0::
Athletics (moderate DC by level, 4 successes maximum):
The character climbs through caverns, leaps over These setbacks usually last until the next Under- 1.1.1
pits, or pushes aside barriers to help the party move dark hazard is encountered. When a combat
through rugged terrain. encounter occurs during the skill challenge, any Czl
ongoing setback applies to all the characters during
Dunaeoneerin& (moderate DC by level, 4 successes that encounter. At your discretion, some setbacks :.l
maximum): The character's savvy and insight enables (such as penalties for fighting in cramped tunnels)
the party to find the best path, avoid hazards, identify can be applied to enemies as well. .......
sources of food and water, and move safely through
the treacherous depths. Cramped Tunnels: The characters must crawl ...J
through a series ofnarrow and claustrophobic tun-
Endurance (moderate DC by level, 2 successes maxi- nels by succeeding on a group Acrobatics check (easy
mum): The character pushes through fatigue, endures DC by level). On a failed check, each character loses a
areas of stale air, and toughs out the psychological healing surge. In addition, until the next hazard, the
effects ofconstant darkness. characters each take a -2 penalty to all skill checks,
due to their disorientation.
Perception (moderate DC by level, 2 successes maxi-
mum): Ever watchful for new passageways, monsters, Eerie Phenomena: The party is unsettled by
or hidden advantages, the character uses his or her patches oftwisting shadows, veins ofmysteriously
sharp eyes to help the party avoid trouble. glowing minerals, or the menacing sound of an
unknown creature in the darkness. The characters
Secondary Skills: Insight, Heal. must succeed on a group Insight check (easy DC by
Insiaht (hard DC by level): By paying close atten- level). On a failed check, each character takes a -2
tion to the condition ofhis or her allies, the character penalty to Perception checks and initiative checks
helps the party overcome an Underdark hazard. A until the next hazard.
successful check against a hard DC, in addition to
counting as a success in the challenge, gives each Rugged Terrain: The characters must clamber
character a +2 bonus to the first skill check made over rubble, maneuver through stalagmites, or other-
during the next Underdark hazard the group encoun- wise negotiate challenging terrain by succeeding on
ters (see below). a group Athletics check (moderate DC by level). On a
Heal (hard DC by level, when a character loses a heal- failed check, each character loses a healing surge. In
in& suraefrom an Underdark hazard): The character addition, until the next hazard, each character takes a
treats the injuries ofone character that resulted from -2 penalty to Athletics checks and Endurance checks
a failed group check to avoid an Underdark hazard. because offatigue.
The character does not lose a healing surge, though
he or she still suffers any other penalties. Foul Air: The characters must succeed on a group
Success: Ifthe characters earn enough suc- Endurance check (hard DC by level) to avoid suc-
cesses before 3 failures, they arrive at their intended cumbing to low oxygen levels or poisonous fumes. On
destination. a failed check, each character loses a healing surge.
Failure: Ifthe characters attain 3 failures, they
become lost in the Underdark. They have a combat Underdark Vermin: A swarm ofcave-dwelling
encounter of a level equal to that of the skill chal- vermin or a patch ofhazardous fungus represents a
lenge. The characters must start the skill challenge potential hazard. The characters must succeed on a
again in an attempt to reach their destination or to group Nature check (easy DC by level). On a failed
return to their starting point. check, until the next hazard, the characters each take
a -2 penalty to all skill checks.
Group Checks:
Overcoming Hazards Utter Silence: The caverns ahead are as still
as death. The characters must succeed on a group
The characters can encounter numerous setbacks Stealth check (moderate DC by level) or attract a
during their trek. Choose a number of skill checks hungry predator. On a failed check, the heroes have
between two and four, with four suitable for an a combat encounter one or two levels lower than the
adventure in the Shallows and two representing the level of the party. The characters are automatically
more challenging Deeps. Each time that number of surprised during this encounter.
skill checks has been attempted in this challenge,

Dungeon Communal Living Spaces: Cultists work, wor-
Makers ship, and take their meals in crowded common
rooms. Such areas are designed to take away the iden-
Every organization or race that braves the Underdark tity ofthe individual, focusing on mass veneration
creates dungeons in a specific style. An adventurer and single-minded obedience.
who knows how to read the works of different dun-
geon makers can quickly identify what kinds of Chosen Ones's Quarters: The only people in
traps-and treasure-might lie ahead. a cult who have private chambers are typically its
leaders. Their rooms are locked and mysterious,
CULTISTS separated from the rest of the supplicants by a veil of
reverence and fanatical guards.
Few worshipers create dungeon complexes by choice,
and those that do are usually vile. Driven under- Chambers of Worship
ground or into the wild, these iconoclasts create their
sites ofworship in the dark places of the world. Veneration ofa higher power is the only reason a cult
dungeon exists. When worshipers create an area in the
Such dungeons are typically dangerous places to dungeon, they do so with that purpose in mind. Images
those not of the cult's faith, which is dedicated to a honoring the god, creature, or philosophy ofthe cult are
forgotten god or otherworldly evil. A cult calls its dun- common, taking the form of elaborate murals, tapes-
geon a safe haven; the world at large sees it as a place tries, or carvings depicting its supposed greatness.
of blasphemy.
Altar: The dominant feature of any cult's dungeon
Living the Faith is the altar, where cultists make foul offerings to their
patron. Great numbers ofcultists are found here at all
Cultists spend their time worshiping, praying, or times, making this the most dangerous place in the dun-
indulging in the dark secrets oftheir faith. As a result, geon. The exact nature ofthe altar depends on the cult,
their living and eating quarters are drab and utilitar- but these chambers always contain unwholesome magic.
ian, showing little concern for comfort.
Meditation Chambers: These smaller rooms are
Barracks: A cult sizable enough to build a dun- quiet and isolated, smelling heavily ofincense and
geon has a large congregation of zealous followers. bedecked with religious icons. Acolytes meditating on
These individuals are housed in cramped barracks their cult's secrets can be found here at all times.
chambers, possessing only their robes and a religious
symbol or some other token offaith. DROW

TEN TRAPPINGS OF A Elegant and refined, drow-built dungeons are an
CULT'S DUNGEON extension ofthat race's legendary decadence. More
than just homes and fortresses, drow dungeons are
1 A mural depicting the cult's future rise to power. crafted to indulge a fetish for pain and an appreciation
2 Sacred animals roaming the halls freely. of dark beauty. Just as elves draw the details oftheir
3 The embalmed body of the cult's founder. civilization from the natural world, drow shape their
4 Defiled holy symbols of other religions. cities and buildings to mimic the natural features of
5 A symbol of the cult worked into mundane the Underdark.

objects. Drow are masters ofsubterranean construction.
6 Reminders of punishment for disobeying the Magic, an enslaved workforce, and boundless creativ-
ity combine to create structures that enthrall and
cult's leaders. terrify outsiders.
7 Distant chanting.
8 Incendiary bins to burn forbidden objects. Decadent Domiciles
9 A statue of the cult's otherworldly patron.
10 Deceptively welcoming entrances to lure new The residences ofthe noble houses ofthe drow shine like
cruel beacons out ofthe shadows oftheir cities. Func-
members. tional as well as beautiful, these great estates exemplify
the dark elves' love ofmagic and depravity, and their
selfdeclared superiority. The spires ofthese edifices are
meant to inspire envy and fear in all who see them.

Fortress Estates: The drow ruling houses pos-
sess tremendous wealth, and their leaders are not shy
about showing it. Their estates are fortresses featur-
ing outer walls, towers, and well-defended chambers.
Drow nobles ostentatiously one-up each other with

new construction that shows off their family's afflu- Within the Web of Lolth
ence. They set towers apart from other buildings,
ensuring that no one can approach those structures' Rising in an unsettling swarm ofbarbed towers, the
entrances without being spotted by guards. The great temples ofLolth dominate the skyline of every
interior of a drow noble's home is lush with opulent drow city. Imperious and threatening, these struc-
excess, much of it plundered from other houses. tures are a constant reminder ofthe authority of
Lolth's priestesses. An eldritch fire glows behind the
Chambers oflndulgence: In the high towers ofa spiderwebs that drape a temple ofLolth like a veil, as
drow estate stand the halls where matrons and noble elaborate statues and carvings leer from the eaves.
scions indulge in decadent excess. Filled with sump-
tuous couches, diaphanous fabrics, freely flowing Webbed Vault: The central area of a temple is a
wine, and depraved entertainment, these rooms over- vast chamber large enough to hold hundreds of wor-
flow with comforts and diversions, giving the entitled shipers. A glass dome overhead sheds a cold and pale
drow nobility a place to carouse their days away. light. The high priestess evangelizes from a mighty
dais at the head of the chamber, while spiders lurk in
Slave Pens: All drow houses boast impressive the dark tangle of webs that choke its upper reaches.
slave pens, kept out of sight in the lower chambers.
Some families turn these spaces into vast mercantile Torture Theatre: Drow take pleasure in the
enterprises, making their fortunes by selling slaves. suffering ofothers, and their dungeons are public
Others create elaborate training yards to prepare displays within Lolth's temple. Here prisoners are
thralls for combat in a city's gladiatorial arena. No creatively restrained and ritually tormented for the
matter what their decorative appearance, slave pens amusement of the populace, who howl with delight as
are dismal places of chains, filth, and death. the priestesses perform their ceremonies.

Frontier Outposts Sacrificial Chamber: Deep within the mystic
inner chambers ofthe temple stands the sacrificial
Surrounding the metropolitan drow settlements are a altar where important victims are offered up to the
variety ofguard posts and garrisons that protect each Spider Queen. The sacrificial chamber is bedecked in
city's borders. Architecturally, these fortresses display grotesque artwork ofgruesome detail and awful mag-
the same artistic grace found in the cities, making nificence that reveals the dark elves' love of cruelty.
them resemble noble villas more than military
strongholds. Those who doubt the strength ofthese Handmaidens' Font: Tucked away in the top-
outposts because oftheir appearance learn the lesson most spire of a temple is a place that only the highest
oftheir lives when the drow rise to defend them. priestesses can enter. In this simple chamber stands
a basin whose bottom reveals a portal to the Demon-
Impregnable Defenses: Drow outposts are built web Pits. Priestesses use the font to commune with
atop chasms, cliffs, and even huge stalagmites, making the yochlols, the handmaidens ofLolth.
them difficult to attack. Most feature only a single
entrance, fiendishly defended by magical wards, DUERGAR
cramped labyrinths, or cultivated slimes. Drow take
pleasure in tormenting invaders before they are slain, The settlements ofthe duergar rival those oftheir
and so they sometimes create false gates and passages dwarf cousins in craft and construction. While a
that lead far into their strongholds. The leaders ofan duergar fortress is every bit as magnificent and long-
attacking force think they have the element ofsur- lasting as any dwarven redoubt, the dwarves build
prise, but in reality they are being drawn into a trap. out ofa sense ofpride and community. In contrast,
duergar architecture and construction reflects only
Hall of Blades: All frontier outposts have an that race's greed and cruelty.
area where male drow practice the arts ofcombat
and killing. These large chambers or courtyards are The dungeons ofthe duergar are bastions of
decorated with images ofconquest that inspire drow their campaign of evil, which imperiously claims
warriors to hate any creatures not oftheir kind. Cruel ownership of all resources and treasure in their sur-
weapons hang from racks along every wall, with duel- roundings. The ancient tunnels and pathways of
ing circles rising in tiers above the ground. duergar mines are places where few subterranean
travelers dare to tread.
Secret Paths: Secret tunnels spin out from a drow
outpost like the lines of a spider's web. Cleverly con- Fortress Cities
cealed, they are sometimes hidden even from the drow
guarding a fortress. Such pathways provide clandes- The fortresses ofthe duergar are impenetrable ram-
tine access for spies or agents on important missions parts. Highly defensible, a duergar citadel might be
for the great houses or the priestesses ofLolth. Corrupt cut into a cliffface or built of stone blocks set into
captains sometimes sell passage through these tunnels, place by long-dead slaves. Behind the walls of a duer-
though they offer no aid against any creatures or wards gar fortress stands a city that reflects the evil of its
that might be guarding them. dark masters.

Dueraarfortresses are as arim and terrible as their builders

Outer Defenses: The walls of a duergar fortress Monolithic Buildings: Duergar buildings are
rise abruptly from the floor of its cavern, usually sur- dour and utilitarian, rising up like stone slabs and
rounded by a moat. This might be a trench littered devoid of ornamentation beyond the occasional runic
with cast-off chunks ofjagged metal, a stream of label at the entrance. Would-be invaders ofa duergar
flaming oil piped from a well discovered by duergar city are stymied by a lack oflandmarks along its end-
miners, or a searing pit of molten lava. lessly similar streets.


By Duke Thangaart of Balecrag The interior of their buildings is where the duergar
Our self-righteous cousins would have you believe invest their greatest skills of craft and design. Not
that their cities are the strongest and most glori- willing to waste time or wealth embellishing public
ous in all the Underdark. Bah! What do they know spaces, the duergar create great vaults whose col-
of strength and glory? Their cities crumble while umns and walls are studded with intricate carvings
ours grow ever greater! This is because they slav- and gems. They proudly display their mined or plun-
ishly honor the clan, while we duergar honor only dered treasures among images of their infernal kings.
the strong.
Workshops: Duergar keep well-equipped work-
Hellfire burns in our veins, giving us the vitality to shops in their lairs, where raw gems and precious
conquer, to thrive, to live! Let the dwarves bow their metals are transformed into more valuable jewelry
heads in their shabby caves. The duergar will make and relics. The slaves who toil for them keep these
thrones of mountains. workshops running day and night.

Foyers: Duergar dungeons open into a circular
antechamber containing passages to other rooms
beyond. Meant to honor their race's connection to the
Nine Hells, the floor of this foyer is set with a great
seal covered in grotesque carvings.

Trophy Room: Duergar nobles practically live in J1
these great halls, which are packed with choice trea- ..J
sures accumulated over generations of greed and evil.
Throne Room: Just as the dwarves cling to the
trappings of the ancients, so do the duergar. Unlike "-<
the dwarves, though, their regal chambers are
designed to intimidate visitors more than to honor $
the race's ancestors.
Infernal Embassy: The duergar's close connec-
tion to the infernal realms sees a steady stream of deposit ofgeodes, dwarf miners slowly turn a mine
fiendish emissaries within their settlements. Duergar into a home. Dwarves don't simply fill any suitably
dungeons contain chambers designed to cater to the large chamber with treasure. They decorate their
needs of a devilish guest. stone walls and pillars with gold, set gemstones into
their tables, and weave mithral into fine tapestries.
Slave Labor Their smiths craft excellent weapons and armor, and
their nobles drink from gem-studded silver goblets.
Duergar are driven by a lust for conquest and owner-
ship. To fuel that ambition, they ceaselessly delve into Mine Shaft: Spreading out around a dwarven
new areas in search ofprecious ore or gems. To be more hall like fracture lines, multiple mine shafts lead ever
precise, their slaves delve. No duergar will lift a finger to deeper into the earth. Dwarven mines are narrow
perform hard labor with a legion ofthralls on hand. and dark, traversed with rails on which carts carry
ore to the distant forges. A mine shaft carries the
Hazardous Tunnels: Duergar care little for constant risk of collapse, either from earthquakes
the safety of their slave miners, coldly factoring in or the movement of burrowing monsters such as
expected deaths from cave-ins, starvation, or mon- purple worms and xorns. Built to follow veins of ore
sters when they plan their excavations. Their tunnels and gems, dwarven mine shafts are not logically laid
spread in a chaotic web wherever the duergar seek out like the rest of a settlement. Outsiders can easily
the wealth ofthe Underdark. become lost in the twisting tunnels.

Forge: Fueled by infernal fires or the burning of Forge: Dwarves create huge workshops for their
prisoners' corpses, duergar forges work an endless smiths, with dozens of stone worktables and anvils
number of slaves to death as they produce the weap - surrounding the forge. Some forges employ magic
ons and tools of their masters' reign. furnaces, while others tap into natural magma pools.

DWARVES Built for Defense

Those who understand dwarves know the pride that After dwarves uncover their precious treasures, they
members ofthat race take in smithing and stone- fight to the death to keep them. Their fortifications are
work. Renowned for their attention to detail and their unparalleled at keeping out intruders while allowing
dedication to quality, dwarves build their fortresses the dwarves to endure even the longest sieges.
and dungeons to last.
Gate: Every dwarven dungeon has an imposing
No other race matches the dwarves' ability to mix front gate, ornately decorated and crafted of stone or
beauty and efficiency. Every room and structure in a metal. Dwarves sometimes conceal these gates with
dwarven dungeon has a purpose, and even the most illusion magic, then reveal them at a time designed
utilitarian chambers show the painstaking care of to impress visitors most effectively. Throughout a
master architects and artists. The dwarven style is dwarven dungeon, smaller gates and portcullises
rigidly geometric, severe, and meant to inspire awe. create deeper lines of defense.
Complexes feature vaulted ceilings in underground
halls, stairways that lead to hundreds of mine tun- Murder Holes: Dwarves seldom shy away
nels, and gigantic forges that continually churn out from a face-to-face fight, but that attitude changes
marvels. These structures serve more than a utilitar- when invaders hit them where they live. Dwarven
ian function. They make the hearts ofthe dwarves
who build and dwell within them swell with pride.

Mines and Metal

Dwarves love wealth in the form of precious metals
and rare stones that hide deep within the earth. Their
underground domains are a combination ofmine
and vault. When they tap into a rich vein of ore or a

dungeons feature secret side passages with narrow Distillery: In dwarven distilleries, veteran brew-
openings that connect to the main corridors. Through masters craft ale, whiskey, and other potent spirits.
these murder holes, dwarves attack their enemies Kegs might yet remain in their racks in an abandoned
with hot oil or crossbow bolts, breaking up their distillery, but be warned-only the truly brave or fool-
attacks and driving them into traps. ish risk drinking dwarven liquor that has aged an
unknown number ofyears.
Choke Points: As much as dwarves appreciate
towering ceilings and wide avenues, they make sure Animal Pens: Unlike many Underdark dwellers,
that all approaches to their inner citadel pass through dwarves have the same taste in food and drink as
choke points at strategic locations. These narrow the races of the surface world. They prefer beef and
defiles force attackers into close confines, where mutton to spider and mushrooms, milk and honey
multiple defenders can shoot and strike at enemies over rusty water and lichens. Some dwarven citadels
approaching down a narrow tunnel. maintain aboveground settlements where food ani-
mals are raised. Underground pens are used to house
Life Goes On overflow livestock that enables the dwarves to main-
tain a food supply while under siege.
While it is occupied, a dwarven city bustles with
activity. Only when abandoned does it come to feel Temple: Even though they pay small tributes to
like a true dungeon. When dwarves flee or retreat many gods, dwarves revere Moradin more than any
from a fortress, they take their belongings but leave other deity. Moradin is the only god certain to have a
their structures intact. Their pride tells them they'll temple in a dwarven community, never far from the
be back to reclaim the glorious home they have lost. central forge. Along with more mundane offerings,
master crafters place their finest works in the god's
Grand Hall: During their frequent communal shrine, which is protected by traps.
meals, dwarves gather at long tables to partake of
copious amounts of food and drink. A stage for per- Throne Room: Dwarves observe a strict political
formances and speeches, a huge kitchen, and racks hierarchy, and the throne room symbolizes the author-
of mugs speak to the raucous gatherings that once ity of their lord. The walls of a throne room are lined
filled an empty grand hall with the din ofcelebrating with images and stories of rulers going back centuries.
As with all their endeavors, humans create dungeons
By Tegget Bronzecrown in pursuit of a larger goal. Ambition drives them
No dwarf should ever build anything like a worthless underground to conquer new territories, get rich, or
kobold's snare or pit. A trap is a work of art, as much discover unknown lore. A human-built dungeon can
so as a suit of armor or a great statue of a dead king. serve as a staging ground for the search for under-
Design your traps as an integral part of the architec- ground riches, the secret prison of a citadel, or a last
ture in your halls. Lay down every passage with your foothold in enemy territory. Humans weren't made to
traps in mind. live underground, however, and they have no formal
tradition ofsubterranean settlements. Thus, each
The possibility that you and your kin will need to human dungeon is unique in design and purpose.
abandon your halls is ever present. But by ensuring
that your home remains defended, you make easier Quick and Dirty
your clan's inevitable return. A real dwarven trap
must resist being destroyed or disabled, and it must Humans use whatever supplies they have at hand
have a reset mechanism. A device sprung once and when they dig their dungeons, reinforce them, and
spent has no worth. Your traps must endure as long build structures within them. Functionality comes
as the dwarf race draws breath. first, and explorers in a human dungeon rarely see
a consistent quality ofwork and materials. Since a
Smash invaders with heavy stone slabs. Drop dungeon made by humans is a means to an end, its
them into deep pits where they can starve like the builders feel no obligation to have it last for all time.
vermin they are. Outsiders lust hungrily for the Such dungeons are typically either full oftoiling
riches of the dwarves, so a trap that triggers when workers or long deserted.
an intruder interferes with the jewels on a pillar or
statue is one that will surely be sprung. Workers' Quarters: Bedrolls line the walls of
these rough-hewn tunnels, filled with workers sleep-
ing off a recent shift even as others use the space as
a thoroughfare. Wooden struts hold up the ceiling,
which sometimes sheds small chunks ofearth and

DISPATCH TO KARL BRASLIN that they had dug through a bulette's hunting ground. 1/')
The creature is far too formidable to be directly
Regarding progress on excavation #3 assaulted, so the miners have learned to hide during 0
Received your message, understand your concerns. the forays that occur every week or so.
Project must move forward. Rewards will make all ...J
this worth it, I assure you. Contested Ground: A line of human soldiers sits
on one side of a cavern as workers file past. On the 0
Following strategies will ensure success in venture. other side, a few drow warriors stand guard. Neither co
side can afford to take troops away from this unof- 0
+ Increasing budget to produce iron struts instead ficial border, but neither can be certain ofvictory if
a battle breaks out. The stalemate has continued for ~
of wood. weeks, and the tension is rising.
• Sending twenty more prospective miners to you.
Sun God's Chamber: A tunnel through solid
Should arrive within three weeks. Will need train- stone takes a sideways turn to route around an uncov-
ing on site. ered artifact-a metal cylinder half excavated from
• Authorizing you to hire new wizard to replace the a rocky wall. It bears the symbol ofPelor, and the
departed Zenteem. crystals growing around it shine with the light of the
sun. The miners who uncovered it could tell that part
Do not forget-four months until deadline, when we of the text on the cylinder was a warning, but their
will default on major loans. Your stake is in jeopardy, efforts to decipher the rest have so far been in vain.
as is mine.
Best of luck moving forward.
Regards, Kobolds prefer to live in natural caverns and tun-
Kaia Elding nels that offer the honeycombs of small passages they
favor-and which they protect with effective traps.
stone. Workers hit by debris simply turn over and fall
back asleep. Kobolds love sites with plenty of twists and turns,
from city sewers to ancient limestone caverns. In
Water Wheel: An underground waterfall is the some cases, they undertake excavations to increase
site of a wooden water wheel. Its rotation powers a the number of passages in their lair, even if only to
nearby rock crusher, while workers fill buckets at the throw offinvaders. A kobold dunge?n demonstrates
falls to carry water to the dig site. that race's cleverness and adaptability through its
twists, turns, and hazards.
Planning Office: The overseer ofthe operation works
out ofan old carriage-wagon that has been wheeled Cramped Passages
deeper into the dungeon as its main shaft is widened. The
coach's interior is plastered with maps and plans. Kobolds grow anxious in open areas, so they make
a point oflairing in cramped chambers. Doing this
Big Ropes: The dungeon makers found a chasm also ensures that only creatures oftheir size can move
in their path. Rather than spend time building a through kobold tunnels at speed, forcing larger pursuers
bridge, they ran a heavy rope across the gap on an to stoop or crawl. Outsiders can become easily confused
incline. Workers burdened with gear slide down the and disoriented in these restrictive passages, making
rope to the work area. Coming back requires climb- them vulnerable to the traps that wait at every turn.
ing up a precarious set ofsteps built into the opposite
cliff face, then sliding down another rope coming Collapsing Ceilings: Kobolds entice would-be
back in the other direction. A third rope system intruders into their lairs by way oflarge, easily navi-
employs pulleys and metal buckets, allowing the gated passageways. These routes lead to dead ends,
transportation ofore and equipment back and forth. however, giving the intruders nowhere to turn when
kobold sentries knock out the struts that hold up the
Expanding the Frontier ceiling. While the kobolds sneak to safety through
concealed side tunnels, the resulting cave-in finishes
Just as they have always pushed out to explore the offthe intruders.
unconquered lands of the surface world, humans con-
stantly seek to expand their territories underground. False Leads: Explorers think they've picked the
Where a subterranean race such as dwarves might right path to the heart of a kobold lair when the traps
stop short ofa draw-inhabited area, humans keep they encounter become more frequent. Savvy kobolds
right on going. know about this assumption, and in a fiendish bit of
reverse psychology, some kobold tribes lay their dead-
Pitted Tunnel: The large cavities in this tunnel liest traps along false paths, leading overly confident
seemed like a blessing at first, since they made dig- invaders away from their lairs.
ging easier. Soon, however, human miners discovered

THE MESSY END OF Vermin Corral: Cave crickets, centipedes,
VANCE THE DASHING spiders, and lizards skitter within these rickety pad-
docks. A corral is typically built around an area rich
Recounted by Here Muleback, loyal henchman with the molds or algae on which the domestic crea-
It had been four hours since my boss, Vance the Dash- tures ofa kobold clan graze.
ing, went down into the kobold warrens. I'd almost
given up hope of his return. Then Ijumped up when KUO-TOAS
I heard footsteps from the mouth of the cave and
saw the familiar brim of his swashbuckler's hat. My The stench ofrotting fish. The reverent chanting to
jaw dropped when I saw the golden glow of what he mad gods. The screams ofsacrificial victims. These
held in his hands. He'd found it-the jeweled Egg of are the signs that a kuo-toa dungeon lies ahead. The
Kurtulmak! underground lairs ofkuo-toas are horrid places filled
with equally horrid creatures, but the rewards they
Yet the look on his face wasn't the gri n I'd offer are great. Kuo-toas hoard their wealth near their
expected. Then I saw the bloodstains on his ripped dark shrines as offerings to the insane beings they
tunic, the darts bristling up and down his back, and worship.
the wire trip-lines dangling from his limbs. Vance
stared right through me, his eyes glassy as the egg Kuo-toas make their lairs in natural caverns that
dropped from his hands. He collapsed face first in the have been eroded by water seeping through the
dirt, dead. From the look of it, he never even had a Underdark. Walking into their dank, twisting caves
chance to draw his sword. is like entering another world where the ocean has
consumed the land and fish rule over all. Rippling
Intersections: Kobolds strategically excavate black pools reflect light from phosphorescent fungi
chambers where certain tunnels connect, creating along the walls, creating the feeling ofbeing trapped
larger intersections. These areas provide enough underwater.
room to create complex traps and to set up full-scale
ambushes when intruders get too close for comfort. Sacred Pools

Home in the Tunnels The amphibious kuo-toas are most comfortable in
water, so they build colonies around the deep, murky
Beyond the twists and turns of a kobold tribe's outer pools that dot the Underdark. They treat their pools
defenses lies the group's home. The larger caverns in as holy places, connected to the deepest underground
this area are packed with kobolds and interlinked by seas where dwell the gods ofthe deep.
the same cramped passages that surround them.
Kuo-toas believe that aboleths have a connection
Living Quarters: The most spacious areas ofany to their deep gods, and some kuo-toa colonies lie
kobold warren are the living quarters that house directly atop aboleth lairs. Any passage leading down-
most of the tribe. Craggy and cluttered natural cav- ward into darkness from a kuo-toa lair is a route that
erns are typically chosen for such areas, providing all explorers should think twice about following.
numerous nooks and crannies in which different
family groups take up occupation. Breeding Pool: Kuo-toas lay their eggs in shal-
low pools ofclear water, a stark contrast to the murky
Shrine: All large kobold clans carve a shrine to sumps found elsewhere in their lairs. Not far away,
Tiamat out ofthe rock oftheir lair. This area is the other pools hold kuo-toa fingerlings, not yet a year
only place in the dungeon where treasure is strewn old and unable to breathe air. Vicious guards protect
openly, since no kobold would dare to steal an offer- these pools and look after the young. The leaders of
ing from its clan's patron deity. the kuo-toas keep separate royal spawning pools near
their quarters.
Hatchery: These secure locations are where the
females of a tribe lay their eggs and where hatch- Offering Pool: The wealth that kuo-toas pillage
lings are raised. Kobolds keep these caverns hot and from other creatures is cast into the depths of this
humid to ensure the health oftheir offspring. diamond-shaped black pool as an offering to the deep
gods. The pool's chamber is usually deserted, though
Food and Supply Cache: These areas are filled ranking kuo-toas sometimes come here to retrieve
with materials captured from the surrounding envi- valuable treasures for their personal quarters.
rons. A cache chamber is cluttered and filthy, with
mold or mushrooms growing in piles ofstolen gear. A Wealth of Slaves

Above their brackish pools, the kuo-toas build the
cells and pens in which dwell slaves drawn from other
races. Kuo-toa lairs bustle with activity, but slaves do
all the real work. Overseers keep watch as slaves catch

Kuo-toas Buard their preciousyounBferociously

fish, clean, dig new tunnels, and craft the kuo-toas' kuo-toa with spears until they slay it, then leave its
signature hunting weapons. Other kuo-toas use their body to rot.
time to worship at their weird altars, or undertake
excursions into the Underdark seeking enemies or Worship and Rule
more slaves.
The deep gods influence every aspect ofkuo-toa soci-
Slave Pens: At the rare times when slaves are
allowed to sleep or eat, they are stuffed into closely ety. When kuo-toas create their dungeons, they lay
guarded, cramped pens built ofthick wooden bars.
Each pen offers little more than a shallow pool of them out based on ancient patterns that they believe
filthy water to drink, a rocky floor to sleep on, and
a reeking pit for waste. Slaves are fed rats, fungus, have been passed down by their gods. They do not
and insects. The kuo-toas save their precious fish for
themselves. craft many adornments, and the statues and wall art

Workshop: Kuo-toas set their slaves to work craft- they do create are displayed near their deepest pools
ing specialized weapons for hunting, along with
trinkets to offer to their gods. Their workshops are and holiest sites.
flat-floored chambers strewn with simple tools.
Meditation Cell: Kuo-toa monitors use these
Purging Chamber: Kuo-toas have a racial ten-
dency to descend into madness. In a futile attempt small, secluded areas to go through the mental exer-
to prevent the insanity from infecting others, an
individual affected by this condition is either exiled cises that stave offtheir racial madness. These areas
or sent to the lair's purging chamber. Sane kuo-toas
will not come near a mad one, so they order their are left dark and unadorned so that meditating moni-
slaves to force those so afflicted through the single
entrance to this small room. Slaves attack the mad tors can turn their focus inward.

Sacrificial Shrine: In a smaller kuo-toa commu-

nity, the shrine is no more than a simple stone slab

caked with dried blood. In the largest and oldest set-

tlements, kuo-toas have created tall, tiered ziggurats

on which their victims are ritually murdered.

Whip Chambers: The whips are the leaders and

religious scholars ofthe kuo-toa race. They maintain

austere chambers in which they keep their spellbooks

and religious artifacts. ----~

MIND FLAYERS Crystal Libr ary: In addition to a collection of
standard books and tomes, a mind flayer library
If anyone knows how to keep a secret, it's an illithid. contains a small chamber in which rainbow-hued
An explorer on the trail ofa mind flayer might enter crystals line the walls. These contain psychic impres-
a dungeon, explore it thoroughly, and find no trace sions implanted by telepathy, which can be unlocked
of any creature within. In fact, the seemingly ancient through concentration. But, since those memories
ruins are a decoy, designed to keep anyone from find· were peeled from creatures as their brains were
ing the otherworldly structures hidden below. eaten, the experience can be unpleasant.

A true mind flayer dungeon is a sprawling mass Alien Experiments
of chambers, planned and built according to inten·
tions that make sense only to creatures of the Far Mind flayers dissect and reassemble sentient creatures
Realm. It takes on a geometrically rigid spiral con- so they can learn how to pervert their minds and bodies.
figuration, from which rise domes, bulbous towers,
and twisting tubes. Laboratory: Several wide tables ofgreen-gray metal
line the center ofthis chamber. Partially vivisected crea-
Living Architecture tures are held there, terror-stricken and wracked with
pain. Tools extend from the ceiling-articulated arms of
Mind flayers craft their structures to display features metal, bone, and muscle that bristle with implements
ofliving tissue. The walls of a mind flayer dungeon ofdissection and torture. Racks lining the walls are
might have eyes, mouths, or even beating hearts. stacked high with organs in jars, writhing worms, and
Illithids favor vertical architecture, with spires and the body parts ofFar Realm monstrosities.
domes looming high above the streets of their cities.
Monster Cages: The creatures that survive the
Slaver's Tower: Bone struts and thick tendons illithids' experiments live in small cages hanging
support this high tower. Inside, prisoners are lashed from the ceiling ofthis large chamber. Normal crea-
to the walls while they await the dark ritual that will tures exposed to portals to the Far Realm, hybrids
make them into thralls. stitched together from mismatched parts, and
deformed humanoids created during failed experi-
Domed Arena: Mind flayers pit thralls against ments can all be found here, living in constant agony.
one another in mortal combat, but not as sport. The stench is overwhelming, and these pitiful crea-
Rather, the illithids treat such contests as experi· tures beg for release-or death-if discovered.
ments, carefully noting the strengths and weaknesses
of the different races. The dome above is made of THE LAIR OF THE
bone struts covered with stretched, translucent skin. MIND EATERS

Rippling Tunnel: This tunnel's pulsating walls Excerpt from t he nove lla by Erin Gale Soulforge
drip with slime, and explorers must move along it as Ever closer to the center of the spiral did I travel,
ifthey were traversing the inside of a living creature.
heart racing and mind mudd led. Never did I see such
Pervasive Psionics grotesqueries as those that fo rmed the very bedrock
of this city.
A mind flayer dungeon thrums with psionic energy.
Sneaking into such a site can be difficult when the Darkened towers heavy with sinew and qu ietly
very walls can sense the thoughts ofintruders. Illi- groaning as if in pain reached up into the blackness
thids imprint specific psychic patterns on their of t he cavern, one I could not see the height of but
thralls, then set up psionic wards to alert them when could sense was of unfathomable scale. l aughter
anyone not imprinted enters certain areas. rang out, and I soon rea lized it was my own.

Elder Brain Pool: In a mind flayer city, a singular I felt t he seams of my mind pulling loose as my
creature known as an elder brain leads the illithids dread twisted in the grip of some fell power, bringing
in their dark plans ofconquest. Formed from the upon me a new e mot ion I could not fathom. Forging
combined minds ofdeceased illithids, an elder brain onward still, I came upon one last door, imperious
dwells in a secure chamber at the center of a city. and inlaid with scenes of death and dominion.
Soaking in a briny pool, it issues orders as it flares
with tangible manifestations ofpsionic power. Ecstasy gripped me when dread should have, as
I realized my path had fo r some time bee n leading
P sion ic Gatehouse: When a creature steps onto me back to whe re I e ntered ... I now stood at the
the spongy floor ofthis wedge-shaped chamber, place of my arrival, and could fina lly escape this hell
the doors seal shut. In Deep Speech, a solemn voice be neath the earth.
declares that the way ofthe mind opens the path
beyond. Only by demonstrating psionic ability or
tricking the sensor can an intruder open the doors.

CHA P TER 3 I Master of the Dun8eon


In the Underdark, the mazes ofminotaurs spread out 0
as webs oftwisting passageways nearly impossible to
escape. Some labyrinths are built by peaceable mino- All adventurers know that wizards are the masterminds
taurs bearing no ill will toward other humanoids. behind some ofthe world's most unforgiving dungeons.
Others are crafted by great brutes that view the lesser Whether designed to house a trove ofarcane lore or
races only as sacrifices for Baphomet, and whose to keep the mundane world and its occupants at a dis-
complex passageways are the stuffoflegend. tance, a wizard's dungeon is a place ofbizarre wonders.

Twists without End Such a dungeon is created in a place ofpower,
whether in a mountainside holding an ancient arcane
A minotaur labyrinth can drive intruders mad as they relic or on the perimeter ofthe abandoned temple of
try to navigate its multitude ofturns and corners- a long-dead god. No matter what its location or how
assuming they don't die ofthirst or starvation first. A dire the rumors ofits magical defenses, a wizard's
labyrinth on the surface might allow crafty adventur- dungeon always attracts ambitious adventurers seek-
ers to climb or fly to safety, but an underground maze ing to claim its treasures.
offers no such option. Explorers here must trust to
their mapmaking skills. An Artist's Masterpiece

Stranded Monsters: Many creatures wander into Wizards are not content to carve their dungeons from
a labyrinth and never emerge again, though not all mundane caverns. They go out oftheir way to create
such creatures perish. Sometimes monsters are able or transform the dungeon environment with magic. A
to find food and a place to lair, turning a labyrinth wizard considers himselfor herselfan artist, so that
into an unlikely home. a dungeon becomes a medium for the individual's
expression ofarcane prowess.
Barriers: Rare is the minotaur labyrinth that con-
sists ofnothing except halls and turns. Most feature Challenges Galore: Nearly every room and cor-
rivers, gorges, clifffaces, and vast chasms that explor- ridor in a wizard's dungeon holds potential danger
ers must negotiate. to vex intruders or to test the worthiness ofwould-be
allies. Flamingjets could suddenly shoot from the
Titanic Construction: The strength and ingenu- walls, or furniture might animate when someone
ity ofminotaurs is demonstrated by the scope oftheir touches it. The true nature of a wizard's dungeon is
mazes. Huge bridges, towering staircases, and high never what it appears.
walls abound to challenge intruders.
Mystic Design: The floor plans ofsome wizards'
Center of the Maze dungeons are designed to reflect or harness arcane
energy. These chambers and passages create mystic
At the heart ofmost sizable labyrinths stands a mino- symbols when properly mapped, offering clues to
taur city. Although not as densely populated as other uncovering a wizard's secrets.
humanoid settlements, a minotaur city is as strong as
the stone from which it is carved. Magical Locomotion: Many wizards create dun-
geons that require fantastic means ofmovement to
Confusing Architecture: The center of a laby- traverse, from vertical shafts with no handholds to
rinth can sometimes be as confusing as the maze that floating platforms that shuttle travelers over hazard-
leads to it. Major roads suddenly become dead ends, ous terrain.
buildings are chopped offin mid-rise, and passages
can give onto pits or secret stairways without reason. Arcane Secrets Abound

Plaza: This area at the center of all the paths ofa Wizards create dungeons as a focus for magical
labyrinth serves as a meeting place where minotaurs research. For some, a dungeon is a testing ground
gather in times ofwar or celebration. Outsiders who for experimenting with new spells and magic items.
end up in the plaza can become quickly confused as Other wizards create dungeons to house the disas-
to which ofits numerous entrances is the one they trous results ofsuch experiments.
just passed through.
Laboratories: Wizards can't resist the opportu-
Shrine to Baphomet: To the regret ofmany visi- nity to study their magic and find new ways to use it.
tors, an altar dedicated to the Horned King stands Their dungeons frequently feature well-stocked labo-
near the heart ofmost minotaur mazes. These bar- ratories where experiments are conducted. Vast piles
baric shrines are caked with the blood ofsacrificial ofscrolls and racks ofalchemical compounds abound
victims and the leavings ofdreadful feasts. in these workshops.

Summoning Chamber: This foreboding room
is present in many an archmage's dungeon and is
always bad news for adventurers. Within, the wizard
communes with otherworldly entities that are able

TWENTY WEIRD THINGS IN The scope ofa yuan-ti dungeon varies depending on
A WIZARD'S DUNGEON its role in the schemes ofthat race. Some are newly built
extensions ofa cult's secret lair within a city. Others
1 Signs or symbols that warn intruders to beware. are many-tunneled complexes built in a time before
1 A ceiling that appears as a starry night sky. recorded history. All evoke a primal dread in intruders.
3 A fountain that flows backward.
4 Animated shadows that move across floors or Places of Refuge

walls. The yuan-ti's plan for domination begins with infil-
5 The stuffed body of a never-before-seen creature. trating the population centers of the world. The
6 Piles of books being sorted by faeries or imps. creatures establish safe houses in abandoned build-
7 A well that draws water from the deep ocean. ings or the homes of mesmerized citizens. From
8 Rats skittering along the ceiling. there, they work tirelessly to subvert the authority of a
9 Candles or torches burning with green flame. settlement, coming and going in secret.
10 Portraits with moving features or backgrounds.
11 Self-building bridges or passages. Benevolent Fronts: A yuan-ti dungeon in the cities
12 Aglobe showing the geography ofanother world. lurks behind the false front of a charitable organization
1 3 A mirror that shows the viewer's aged reflection. or other benevolent group. The yuan-ti take great care
14 jars filled with obscure creatures, living or dead. to ensure that this deception is meticulously detailed,
15 Doors that change location when not observed. throwing off suspicion ofwhat lies beneath.
16 Glowing crystals singing the history of the
Hidden Caches: Cultists operating safe houses
listener. keep supplies on hand for use by yuan-ti spies, includ-
17 The head or other body part of a historical figure. ing magic items, poisons, ritual scrolls, and bribe
18 Flagstones that illuminate when walked on. money. Their hiding places are scmetimes no more
19 A tunnel that seems to extend forever. secretive than a cellar or a space beneath the floor-
10 A chamber where time moves slowly or quickly. boards of a building, with a venomous snake left
among the goods to protect them from thieves.
to cross into the world through magic circles or other
kinds ofdimensional portals. These creatures are Escape Route: Ayuan-ti cult maintains secret
often bound to a wizard's command and thus eager to passages that its members can use to escape if their
attack intruders. true nature is discovered. Such a route might lead
deeper into an adjoining yuan-ti dungeon, or to an
Treasure Vault: The wealth ofwizards is the stuff inconspicuous exit in the city above.
oflegend. Every wizardly dungeon has a treasure vault,
hidden in a warded cache or sealed behind mighty Lair of the Snakes
doors. Protected by passwords, riddles, or cunning
magical seals, a wizard's vault can make those who Yuan-ti dungeons are terrifying places, possessing an
survive entering it rich beyond their wildest dreams. ancient and exotic wonder. Winding passages con-
nect a dungeon's chambers, which are sculpted into
Sanctum: This carefully placed and secure cham- serpentine curves.
ber is where a wizard rests, studies, and ponders the
mysteries ofthe cosmos. Some sanctums rest atop the The yuan-ti are perfectionists in their architecture,
rest of a wizard's dungeon in a secret apex level, while creating magnificent structures with impeccable
others are hidden in the dungeon's uttermost depths. detail. These works are cold and passionless, however,
as befits a reptilian race. Fanged jaws, sinuous bodies,
YUAN-TI and scaled surfaces are a constant motif, rippling
subtly in the shadows to rattle the nerves of intruders.
Filled with shadows, poison, and slithering menace,
the dungeons ofthe yuan-ti are places ofsanctity Cunning Construction: Yuan-ti dungeons have
to their cold-blooded race. Hidden from the eyes of numerous secret passages that crisscross between
the world, nearby yet ever elusive, yuan-ti dungeons chambers. In many cases, these passages also lead to the
shelter the servants ofZehir as they hatch their surface, providing easy ways in and out for yuan-ti spies.
insidious plots and dream of a time when their coils
will encircle the world. Temple to Zehir: All yuan-ti revere Zehir, god
of darkness, and they create grand temples to honor
him. These sites feature stepped pyramids, giant stat-
ues, sacrificial pits, and images of snakes throughout.

Transformation Chamber: The most fearsome
site in any yuan-ti dungeon is the chamber where the
dark curses ofthat race are worked on victims and
thralls. These places reek of sorcery and poison, and
they echo with the screams of the unwitting crea-
tures that enter and are forever changed.

Special Finally surrounded, the party was forced to stop. The
Rewards stalwart paladin Bryce steppedforward to protect his com-
panions, who were exhausted and on the cusp of defeat.
The deepest and most heavily fortified dungeons Lady Dusk knew that if she did not act quickly, she and her
could well contain magical treasures that surpass companions would perish.
anything known in the surface world. This section
presents scrolls ofpower, magic items that provide Whisperina a quick prayer to Sune, Dusk quickly drew
godlike power to those who wield them. forth a sacred scroll that was their only hope for survival.
As she uttered its incantation, a divine liaht flared across
It also contains stories and statistics for a quartet of the battlefield, and the mortal wounds that had ravaaed
dungeon companions-secondary characters that can the party were no more. Revitalized and ready for battle
enhance an adventure story and fill useful roles in a aaain, the adventurers drove off the wolves and raced
party at the same time. throuah the woods to reach Barovia at last. No one spoke,
but Dusk offered silent thanks to Sune for the prayer that
SCROLLS OF POWER had saved them.

A scroll of power is a specially prepared magic item This scroll was created during the Dawn War- a gift
that contains an unusually rare spell, prayer, evoca- granted to mortal warriors fearless enough to stand at
tion, discipline, or hex. Created by gods, exarchs, and the gods' side against the forces of chaos. The power
archwizards, these scrolls are among the mightiest ofMass Heal was dispersed throughout the ravaged
and rarest of all magic items. lands ofthe world and actively hunted by the primm-
dials and their servants. No one knows how many
A scroll of power can be used by any character as ofthese relics survived those chaotic early days, but
a standard action. Once it is used, the magic of the legends tell ofworthy adventurers who receive visions
scroll dissipates and cannot be brought forth again. regarding a scroll's location.

Item Descriptions Tier: Paragon.
Benefit: Each ally within 10 squares of the user
Each scroll ofpower description has three elements. is restored to full hit points and maximum healing
Tier: Like artifacts, scrolls of power are designed surges, and is cured of all diseases currently affecting
him or her. In addition, each ally is immune to fear
for a given tier ofplay. until the end ofthe encounter and gains temporary
Benefit: The effect created by the activation of the hit points equal to his or her bloodied value.
Award: Mass Heal is an excellent reward for a
scroll. party that completes a difficult quest for a deity or a
Award: The sort of adventure or campaign style religious organization. The scroll might be hidden
deep within the crypt ofa long-dead hero, protected
the scroll might benefit. by guardian spirits or constructs. In the game, it
can reverse the outcome ofa climactic encounter or
Mass Heal enable a party low on resources to continue an adven-
ture as if starting fresh.
Lady Dusk, the compassionate leader ofa prominent healers'
auild, spent her life travelina the world. Selfless and coura- Polymorph
aeous, she souaht always to mend the wounds ofthe sufferina.
Bah'Li, battle maae of the hiah elves, had been fiahtina
One day, Lady Dusk received a messaaefrom an old ha!f for weeks. The Tyrantclaw orcs' onslauaht was more dif
elffriend. Trinadel was an adventurous sort,forever lookin3 ficult to quell than he had oriainally anticipated. With his
to unravel ancient lore and uncover rare artifacts. The letter forces depleted and failure becomina a clear possibility,
spoke ofhis stay in the villaae ofBarovia, below the arim Bah'Li returned to his camp on the sandy beaches of the
walls ofCastle Ravenloft. Many in the villaae were ill, he island. There , in secret, he opened an ornate rune -etched
wrote, and Dusk's services miaht help ease their affliction. scroll case-the one his father had bestowed on him prior
He also mentioned the eerie nature ofthe place, and how he to his departure. He was told that the power of the scroll
could not help butfeel that he was bein3 watched. could never be spoken of, and that when he found himself
in a battle from which there was no escape, its use would
The uraency ofthe letter inspired Dusk to make the turn the tide.
journey. Before lana, she and her party entered the stranae
mists that surrounded Barovia. Disoriented and confused, A long-forgotten god was the inspiration for the dark
the aroup quickly lost its way despite the best efforts ofthe mages who developed this fearsome spell- and who
ranaer Rindasu. As the foa thickened, the how!ina ofevil paid the price for twisting the laws of nature with
beasts beaan to rise. The aroup raced on, hopina to escape
the abyssal wolves that shadowed their movement. But with
each wolfslain, two more seeminaly appearedfrom the

their magic. Legends say that this unnamed god For the first wizards, all the world's languages were
would steal the souls ofthe innocent and maliciously insufficient for commanding arcane energy. Lacking
reshape them into creatures ofhorror. the ability and vocabulary to voice the esoteric con-
cepts behind their spellcraft, they created an arcane
Knowing that his acolytes yearned to share this lexicon- a language ofmagic-from which the first
dark magic oftransformation, the god gifted them power words were created.
with a small portion ofhis power. The mages worked
endlessly to craft the incantations that would grant Every wizard spell contains words ofpower, with-
them access to their god's designs. In the end, how- out which its magic would not take effect. Most are
ever, those designs were their undoing, as their harmless on their own, manifesting magic only when
vengeful god's magic transformed them into the crea- shaped by a caster. A few, however, embody enough
tures they sought to shape. potential that merely speaking the words aloud is
enough to draw that magic forth.
Today, precious few Polymorph scrolls of power
exist, and all carry a hint ofthe evil that crafted These most potent arcane effects-Power Word
them. Though Polymorph can be used safely, its ben- Stun, Power Word Blind, and the dreadful Power Word
efit comes at a price. Kill-proved exceedingly dangerous when loosed on
the world. Many archmages took it upon themselves
Tier: Heroic. to purge these words ofpower from the arcane lexi-
Benefit: The scroll's user assumes the form ofan con, destroying spellbooks and revising history. The
elite monster ofhis or her level+ 2 or lower. Until power words were lost, or so they hoped. As it hap-
the end ofthe encounter, the user has the hit points, pened, not every wizard was willing to part with such
defenses, traits, powers, and special abilities ofthe awesome arcane might.
monster, instead ofhis or her own. At the end ofthe
encounter, the user resumes his or her normal form Tier: Paragon.
and takes damage equal to the bloodied value ofthe Benefit: One mortal creature that the user can
monster. see dies. The creature must be ofthe same level as
Award: The copies ofPolymorph that still exist are the user or lower. The user then drops to 0 hit points.
protected by mighty wizards and other guardians. Award: The few copies ofPower Word Kill that
Adventurers might be given this scroll to use as a last were preserved by the ancient wizards have been lost
resort when performing a task ofgrave importance. or hidden for centuries. Adventurers might uncover
one ofthese scrolls in an ancient arcane laboratory,
Power Word Kill buried in a vault deep in the Underdark, or in a for-
gotten library ofsome dead civilization such as the
For six days, Emirikol the Chaotic had battled the storm tiefling empire Bael Turath or the serpent kingdom
titan Volturnus. The reneBade wizard used every spell he ofZannad. Wizards who hold copies ofPower Word
knew, callinB down elementalfury aBainst the monstrous Kill guard them closely, fearing that the scrolls will be
foe. He summoned demons to rend the titan'sflesh and used against them.
blasted its mind with raw arcane power. ThouBh battered
and bloodied, Volturnus yet came on.With the titan's fury Wish
raininB down on him, Emirikol climbed a rocky spur where
the battle would concludeface toface. Volturnus thundered The dyinB Bod sat on the throne ofhis crumblinBfortress,
out a boominB lauBh, thinkinB the wizard would soon be contemplatinB the end ofall that was. His children had
dead. Yet there on the storm-swept rocks, Emirikol shouted bested him, and now the maBie that was his lifeblood was
out the word ofundoinB. Volturnus shrieked. The winds failinB. Time and the world would chanBe as they always
howled. LiBhtninB raked the clouds. Then the titanfell did, but he would no lonBer be a part ofthat.
dead, a threat no more.
With the last ofhis immortal miBht, he beBan the
process ofscribinB a set ofscrolls ofpower as an eternal tes-
tament to his strenBth and will. The scroll ofWish would be
afinal Bift to his lostfollowers-the power ofthe Bods them-
selves bestowed on mortal hands.

While castinB the scrolls down into the world, he knew
that mortals would one dayfind them buried deep in the
tombs and dunBeons ofthe past. He would not live to see
the day that they were discovered. But as his lifefaded, he
was content to know that his prowess would once more
reshape the world.

When the world was young and the Dawn War
raged across all lands, gods and primordials alike
coveted the loyalty and assistance ofthe mortals who













A wish is as areat as its caster can imaaine

would heed their call. Each side did what they could This most potent magic still lingers in the world,
to entice followers to their cause. Some gave gifts of however, trapped in scrolls ofpower whose creation
arms, armor, and artifacts. Others offered access to has been lost to time. Those who have heard the
forbidden lore-the most potent ofwhich was the abil- rumors ofthe Wish scrolls constantly seek out their
ity to reshape the nature oftime and reality. resting places. Agents ofthe gods and the primordials
are likewise keen to discover these lost scrolls, know-
In time, the use ofthe wish spell grew out ofcon- ing that one employed by the wrong hands might
trol. The mortals who had knowledge ofit began to enable the servants ofimprisoned primordials to
dream about challenging the masters ofthe Astral break their masters' chains.
Sea and the Elemental Chaos. During the last days of
the Dawn War, the gods and the primordials fought Tier: Epic.
to erase all knowledge ofit from mortal memory. Benefit: The user ofthis scroll can make one request
ofa powerful entity. Some examples ofvalid wishes
FOR THE DM: BE CAREFUL include: personal improvement (+4 to one ability score
WHAT THEY WISH FOR ofthe user's choice), a single uncommon or rare magic
item, a clue to the secret name ofa primordial, or the
Wish has been the most powerful spell in every last known whereabouts ofan artifact. The user must
version of the DuNGEONS & DRAGONS game. Use perform a service for the entity in recompense. Failure
this scroll with care. Ensure that your players know to complete the service has dire consequences.
that the request of the entity that grants the wish is Award: A Wish scroll might be granted as a
likely to be very challenging to fulfill. Unlike what is reward for performing a service for an exarch, or
suggested in older editions of the game, you should might be uncovered in the tomb ofa legendary hero.
respect the intent of the player who activates the Rumors exist that some demon lords protect copies
scroll, not try to reverse or undo the wish by twisting ofthis scroll, as do the scribes ofthe world's most
the player's wording. prestigious library. No one can confirm these rumors,
however, since revealing that one possesses such a
scroll would likely cause mass hysteria and draw the
attention ofthose who covet it.

DUNGEON Akaana Vir'tlar Level13 Controller
Medium fey hwnilnoid, drow
HP 68; Bloodied 34; Healing Surges 6 Initiative +9
Adventurers can come across intangible rewards AC 26, Fortitude 24, Reflex 27, Will27 Perception +7
during a dungeon delve, such as assistance from
an unusual and unexpected source. The following Speed 6 Darkvision
characters can be used as companions to supple-
ment the heroes' abilities during their underground SlANDAI!O A CI IONS
adventures. Each presents a unique personality, back-
ground, and strengths that can be integrated into an CD Dagger (weapon) + At-Will
adventure's plot. For more information on companion
characters, see Dungeon Master's Guide 2. Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +10 vs. AC

Akaana Vir'tlar Hit: 2d4 + 9 damage.

"Fine, we'll do ityour way . ..for now." +<~ Scare (fear, psychic) At-Will

Entitled and petulant in attitude, this adolescent Attack: Close blast 3 (creatures in the blast);+17 vs. Will
drow heiress doesn't know how alone she truly is. Her
home, the drow city Aoroon, lies entombed in the Hit: 1d8 + 9 psychic damage, and the target cannot make
venomous webs ofthe demon-spider Yorgrix-along
with the shriveled husks ofher formerly influential opportunity attacks against Akaana until the end of her next
family. As a child hostage under the cruel eyes of a
rival house's matriarch in a neighboring city, Akaana turn.
was spared the destruction ofAoroon. She was deter- ~:0 Dark Gathering (psychic, zone)+ Encounter
mined to be reunited with the survivors ofher family,
though, and used her magical talents to escape her Attack: Area burst 1 within 10 (enemies in the burst); +17 vs.
captors. She now slips through the shadows ofthe
Underdark, unaware ofthe danger ahead or the Will
matriarch's assassins in hot pursuit. Hit: 1d1 0 + 9 psychic damage, and the target is dazed until the

Gaining Akaana Akaana is young and shel- end of Akaana's next turn. If the target is in the origin square

tered, and not yet fully corrupted by the ways of her of the burst, the target is also blinded until the end of Akaana's
kind. At the same time, she is firmly indoctrinated
in drow superiority, carrying herselfas ifshe were a next turn.
queen. The source ofher arcane gifts is shrouded in
mystery. She needs direction to fully develop them Effect: The burst creates a zone that lasts until the end of Akaa-
without hurting herselfor others.
na's next turn and is heavily obscured to enemies.
The adventurers might encounter Akaana as she
wanders through the Underdark, or perhaps as she MovE A c 11oNs
sneaks into their camp to steal food. She is quick to
bargain for an alliance, but she refuses to plead for +Spider Climb Encounter
one. Accustomed to male slaves waiting on her in
a sumptuous fashion, Akaana is dismissive toward Effect: Akaana climbs up to her speed.
males in the party. A strong female character, on the
other hand, might find herself becoming a role model MINOR ACTIONS
for this arrogant but vulnerable "princess."
+Cloud of Darkness (zone) Encounter

Effect: Close burst 1. The burst creates a zone that lasts until the

end of Akaana's next turn. The cloud blocks line of sight for all

creatures except Akaana. Any creature other than Akaana is

blinded while entirely within the cloud.

+UmbraI leap (teleportation) Encounter

Requirement: Akaana must be in a square of dim light or


Effect:Akaana teleports up to 10 squares to a square of dim

light or darkness. Akaana need not see her destination, but if

she cannot occupy that square, the teleportation is negated.

lingering Magic + Encounter

Tri99er: An effect caused by one of Akaana's powers would end

on her current turn.

Effect (Free Action):The triggering effect instead ends at the end

of Akaana's next turn.

Skills Arcana +14, Intimidate +14, Stealth +14

Str 8 (+5) Dex 16 (+9) Wis 11 (+7)

Con 10 (+6} lnt 17 (+9) Cha 17 (+9)

Alignment unaligned languages Common, Elven

Equipment robes, dagger, jewelry

Meepo Jl

"Meepo isjust a pawn in biB same oflife." 7

The morose kobold named Meepo has always been 0
something ofan outsider in his tribe. A runt even by
kobold standards, he was assigned to the dangerous 7
task of caring for a white dragon wyrmling hatched
from a stolen egg. Ordinarily, such a job would be ~
a great honor. In Meepo's case, though, the tribe's 0..
leader secretly hoped that the dragon would kill the
wretched kobold. Fortunately for Meepo, he has con- ~
sistently proven quick enough to avoid becoming the
wyrmling's next meal, and he has become enamored 0
ofthe creature despite its efforts to kill him.
Meepo Level 1 Striker
Small natural humanoid (reptile). kobold Characters are most likely to encounter Meepo
after a rival kobold tribe, a pack ofgoblins, or some
HP 26; Bloodied 13; Healing Surges 8 Initiative +4 other group has kidnapped the dragon. Ifthe adven-
AC 16, Fortitude 13, Reflex 16, Will13 Perception +7 turers help Meepo recover his friend, he gladly helps
them. Any character who treats him well could gain
Speed 6 Darkvision Meepo as a long-term ally and companion.


Combat Advantage

Meepo deals 1d6 extra damage against any target granting
combat advantage to him.
Trap Sense

Meepo gains a +1 bonus to all defenses against attacks made by


CD Spear (weapon) +At-Will

Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +7 vs. AC

Hit: 1d8 + 4 damage.
@ Sling (weapon) + At-Will

Attack: Ranged 10/20 (one creature); +7 vs. AC

Hit: 1d6 + 4 damage.

MINOR A c noNs

Shifty Maneuver+ Encounter
Effect: Close burst 1 (Meepo and allies in the burst); the target

can shift 1 square as a free action.


t Opportunistic jab (weapon) + Encounter

Tri99er: An enemy misses Meepo with an attack.

Effect (Immediate Reaction): Meepo uses spear against the trig-

gering enemy, and that creature grants combat advantage to

Meepo for this attack.

Skills Stealth +9, Thievery +9

Str8 Hl Dex 18 (+4) Wis 14(+2)
Cha 10(+0)
Con14(+2) lnt11(+1)

Alignment unaligned languages Common, Draconic

Equipment leather armor, spear, sling, 10 bullets

Gaining Meepo Meepo lacks the cruelty

found in many kobolds; he is a sensitive fellow. Any
injury to his beloved dragon causes him to break
down in fear for the dragon and ofthe punishment he
might face for failure to keep the dragon safe.

C HAPTER 3 I Master of t h e D u n8eo

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