6: Castle Mordha Overview/Level 1 E
From here I get into the dungeon proper, and must ask players to not read any further.
Castle Mordha is a 10 level dungeon, but some of those levels are a trifle peculiar; in addition the dungeon has an odd layout where level 2 is above level one, level 4 is a jungle valley inside an unexplored chasm in the volcano’s caldera, level 6 is a ‘castle in a bottle’ that can be found on level 5 and level 10 is on the elemental plane of fire. The dungeon has several threads that appear across levels:
· There are two killer bee hives (on levels 2 and 4) tended by the goblin/hobgoblin/bugbear/ogre tribe that inhabits parts of levels 2-5. Technically the goblins raid the one on level 2 to trade with the hobgoblins/bugbears; those larger goblinoids also trade with the gnomes who tend the other in the Volcanic Valley. The honey and its magical curative/growth properties are the key unit of trade in these levels of the dungeon.
· Malcolm the Necromancer is a vampire down on level 9; he has a group of 5 wraiths who act as his agents in the dungeon. Malcolm’s Wraith-kills don’t make new Wraiths but instead make Ghouls. One of the Wraiths is trapped in a shrine pool on level 2, infecting it so anyone who drinks from it suffers level loss, becoming the skeletons or zombies on levels 1 & 2.
· The dungeon is kept warm via hypocausts heated by the lava on level 9 and the gate to the plain of fire that is level 10. The Ba’al worshiping reptilians on levels 8-9 send their kobold underlings through the hypocausts to raid the upper floors. (Malcolm will also use this via his gaseous form.)
· Inside the Volcanic Valley is a tribe of otherworldy gnomes who worship Moira, Malcolm’s long-dead daughter. Moira the Artificer aided the gnomes and left clockwork men to protect them. These gnomes trade killer bee honey for the Hobgoblins ‘protection’ when they go on pilgrimages to their mistress’ work; they repair, reset & move the traps throughout the dungeon. (Their culture is roughly Hindu to make them feel out of place and let me put in innocuous mutli-limbed god statues that will probably freak out the PCs.)
· Level 7 is a mold level. Runoff from the valley’s river meets the heat from the plain of fire to produce an environment lost to molds, spores, fungus and various insects and lizards. Some of these have found their way to other levels of the dungeon. Malcolm lets it exist because it separates the riffraff of the higher levels from his and the reptiles spaces below.
There are also a few mini-threads that define certain levels but aren’t key to the dungeon:
· Level 6 is the aforementioned castle in a bottle – the module X2: Castle Amber – in which Malcolm trapped a merchant family who thwarted his attempts to preserve the power of Castle Mordha; they must play out a maddening sequence of events for eternity, and it’s very easy for the PCs to get pulled in to the Castle, though they have a chance of escape.
· Level 5 also contains a hidden sub-level that is a labyrinth containing a mass of Neanderthals and a Minotaur. These are also old enemies of Malcolm’s; the Neanderthals return to life once a month and any of them who kill the Minotaur become the Minotaur. Their lives are a circle of hiding, hunting and anthropophagic terror that the PCs might be able to break.
· Several levels have other sub-levels that are gates to strange places, be it an elf cemetery island or a storm giant’s undersea castle or a mountaintop aerie of the aaracokra. Unlike the labyrinth sublevel these are relics of Mordha’s glory days and
This level, as an introduction to the dungeon, has a hint of each thread in it – there are some bees floating about (an unattractive steps that lead right into their level 2 hive), the aforementioned corrupted pool from level 2 has an outlet in level 1 that is creating an enervating fog, plus Malcolm’s old laboratory and method for reducing corpses to essential salts are here. Some bandits (the reason for the PCs presence) are trapped in part of the dungeon and are being picked off by kobolds, and there’s a moving tapestry depicting the plane of fire. There’s a gnomish temple to Moira on this level, the source of many a pilgrimage. Part of the level has a mold infestation. Finally there’s a trapped enemy of Malcolm’s here who might be rescued, and will learn to his dismay that he has been bound for decades. In short the PCs will see clues of things to come across the level.
Level 1 East
1) Entry: the PCs presence disturbs 70 bats, confusing up to 7 characters for 3 rounds before fleeing. The room’s center has two 10’ deep (1d6) pit traps. Easy to spot (+2) normally, confusion (-2) may keep them hidden. They require saves vs. Magic Wand to avoid falling if triggered, also at -2 for confusion. The floor is slick with bat guano, but there is a bas relief on the west wall of a geometric design that has had all of its precious stones recently torn out.
2) Lever Room: there two levers on the west wall, one of which unlocks the portcullis in the west corridor, the other raises it (it is currently down). The north wall has a large tapestry of the island viewed from just outside this room (too moldy to be of worth). The south wall has stone rings hanging from. Currently there is a mule chained to a ring and several bales full of trade goods and a broached cask of water. The mule is happily eating and drinking from said supplies; his predations have reduced their value to 150 GP; in total they weigh 3000 cn.
3) Empty Armory: There are wooden brackets on the wall that PCs will recognize spears or pole arms holders, but they are empty. There are signs that someone has been here recently.
4) Portcullis Trap: There is a trigger on the floor at the X that when triggered (1 in 6 rather than usual 2 in 6) drops the heavy steel portcullis between the trigger and room 2. The Portcullis is very thick (and recently repaired!) and is a -1 on rolls to bend or break it and -3 (!) on rolls to lift it due to the locking mechanism under the ground. It is meant to trap the unwary in the east wing.
5) Empty Room: another empty storage room, this one still has a pile of moldering uniforms in the southeast corner.
6) Bandits room: There were once 18 bandits; now 6 of them are in this room, 6 of them are on patrol and the rest are dead. They’re at the end of a horror movie: locked in with berserkers surviving on mule with something (kobolds) picking them off. Keep that in mind when you consider reactions. Their treasure is: 500 SP in a leather bag; trade goods in bales/boxes of 500cn wt each. 4 are worth 500 gp each, 1 worth 100gp, 4 worth 50 gp and 4 worth 10 gp. All told that’s 700 lbs.
Bandits: AC 13, HD 1 HP 5 each, 1 att for 1-6; Morale 4
7) Chandelier room: This room is brightly lit by a 4 pronged chandelier in the center of the ceiling giving off a harsh blue light. It used to be 5 pronged but one is snapped off. There’s a bandit corpse half eaten by rats lying almost under the light. There are eight heavy chairs here, one lying near the dead bandit (bandits used the table for firewood). Any attempt to cut/break prongs off the light does 2d6 damage (save vs. wand to avoid.).
8) Secret Armory: This room contains a secret stash of weapons as yet unfound by the bandits. It holds 10 crossbows, 300 quarrels, 10 swords and 10 shields, for a total of 500 GP value. All are amazingly still in working condition as they were treated with Oil of Preservation, a vial of which can also be found here, sufficient to treat another 20 weapons or shields or 10 suits of armor. The room’s lock is hidden behind a piece of stone and must be picked (the key being long lost), a test at +2. A Strength Test with appropriate tools might also pry the door open.
9) Officer’s Room: This private room once held the officers of any mercenaries who oversaw the mine. The fixtures were more prone to rot, but preserved in a bedside table is a map of the main paths through the mine, though it is not identified as such.
10) Barracks: These two rooms are mirror images of each other, holding five beds/footlockers each. None of the footlockers are locked and the fourth in room a holds a small nest of 5 rats who will simply flee.
11) Privy: the vacation site of this wing, there is nothing here but the leavings of the bandits and berserkers, though the room does have a water faucet that has been providing for them
12) Dining Hall: This room has two long tables with four long benches that have been taken over by the bandit’s mercenary berserkers. There are four in here, and are in even worse shape mentally than the bandits. Each carries 16 silver and 9 copper.
Berserkers: AC leather, AC 12, HD 1+1 HP 7 each, 1 att at +2 for 1-8 dam; Morale *
13) Pantry: this room is a long food and spice storage area; it has been raided by the berserkers, who discovered that most of the food has spoiled. They did find water and wine, which helped. If the PCs dig through the shelves they can find a sealed container of nutmegs (2 lb.) worth 100 gp.
14) Meat Locker: This room holds an array of bones across the floor, the remnants of long rotted meat. The room is colder than you’d expect because the hooks radiate cold; Any attempt to cut/break hooks off the ceiling does 2d6 damage (save v Wand to avoid) on the second try. The hooks cease to radiate cold when removed from the ceiling.
15) Kitchen: This room is the kitchen that once provided food for the soldiers and servants, and as such it contains a lot of rusted and ill kept implements that would have been useful for cooking. Like the pantry it has been pawed through by the berserkers and is in miserable shape. The secret door is a shelf of ‘necessities’ that is bolted to the wall but on a counterweight – it will swing out if a wall sconce next to it is pulled, but since the sconce is the same design as the candelabra in room 7 none of the bandits or berserkers have dared to touch it.
16) Secret Passage: This is wide enough for servants to carry trays of food to the other servants in this level or get in and out without the soldiers knowing where they went. It is not hidden in any direction other than from room 15.