Monday, January 9, 2023

Lost Galmagia, Week 1: Under the Customs House

 This is the easiest entry to the undercity, it has also suffered most from the elements. The central conceits are twofold: Goblin religion calls for insects to eat their dead; when they crept into the undercity they brought Fire Beetles. Second is Fire Beetles act like Will-o-the-Wisps: they won’t engage their foes are hindered, so they use their ability to scuttle over mud and stagnant water and their light to lure creatures into bogs or quicksand and then attack en masse.

The levels physical layout has some half levels: it’s a 10’ drop in the drainage tunnel between 1.1 and 1.2, then 5 feet up to 1.4, and another 5 feet up to 1.3 (which puts it back level with 1.1). It’s a 5’ stair from 1.1 to 1.7 as well. Rooms 1.2 and 1.4 have the same ceiling height as 1 and 3

Room 1.2: the Drought Docks

Beyond the blocked grate is a yard wide ditch that protected the ballroom from flooding by draining to the lower docks. This room has 20’ ceilings and unless the PCs are there during the summer drought this room is 10’ deep in water. All the furniture is stone and bolted to the floor. There are visible anti-Undead wards to the canal. The area around the stairs down from 4 has a pile of mud, and the door is 10’ high so it’s just barely submerged.

Room 1.3: Drought Docks Scriveners

Water flows into this room from 1.1, heading towards 1.4, carrying dirt & debris to cover the floor to an inch or so on which the 4 Fire Beetles in the room leave nigh-invisible tracks. There are 8 stone tables here, six of which are two-sided desk with a honeycomb of cubby holes underneath. Searching each desk takes a turn, with a 1 in 6 chance of finding 1) a scroll of Protection from Undead; 2) a scroll of Protection from Evil; or 3) the instructions to locate crated artwork from Old Empire masters worth 4000 GP… just its one level lower. (must make map)

Room 1.4: The Goblin Graveyard

This mosaiced room contains 4 Fire Beetles (still ignoring the PCs), and is full to 5’ deep with thick mud with skeletal arms, legs and heads bearing worked silver armbands, greaves and torques. It would take a turn for the party to collect everything but once the PCs have been in for 2 rounds, will start to suck them down (save vs. Petrification to move each round, -3 on AC and attacks; halflings and dwarves may drown). That’s when the Fire Beetles attack. And all the surviving Fire Beetles from other areas converge and attack (add 4 per round until 12 total in fight). One round after the fight starts the Fire Beetles extinguish their glows… have the PCs come to rely on them for light? There’s a just-visible arch of a passage to the east that PC can escape through; the door to the west is closed but mosaiced to look like the wall.

Room 1.5: Service Passage

This is a long corridor for moving goods from the drought docks to various storerooms around the city. On the west wall is a secret door that was once just locked, with a lever mechanism in the wall, but the lever has been snapped off leaving a set of circles visible that can be manipulated to open the door (+1 on chance to find). Wandering monsters are twice as common here, as the goblins pass through there to drop off bodies in 1.4 (and fire beetles follow them).

Room 1.6: Wrecked Storage

This room contains remnants of crates, with scraps of bills of lading and other paperwork, all smashed and picked clean. The arched passage to the west has clerical runes for “worship” & “enter”. Those who don’t kneel & pray before crossing Save vs Spells or be Cursed (1/2 Prime Requisite). There are magical anti-water wards on the door to room 1.6 that prevent a flood from spreading. 

Room 1.7: Ramp Room

Stairs down from 1.1 (the top step etched with water wards) lead 5' down to this room. There’s a ramp dominating the center of this room that once led to the old docks, now covered with a rock slab. There are 12 Fire Beetles in the room that scatter when the PCs approach them. The door to room 1.8 is very hard to open, requiring a 7+ to force. If opened, water rushes into the room, filling it to 5' depth. but no higher due to the various water wards. 

Room 1.8:  the Cracked Canal

In this room the canal has cracked enough for 6 Skeletons (Drowned Ones) to enter, and they will rush the PCs the moment the door opens. Each has 2d6 GP in their bedraggled pouches. There are wide stairs down to level 2 in the southwest corner, underwater, where wards prevent the water from flowing – 1d4 damage fall if you step there and drop to level 2. 


  1. That map—old school—reminds me of Holmes’s sample dungeon.

    1. Thanks! I'm planning to run this in a tweaked B/X so it's exactly the vibe I'm going for.

  2. I like the interplay between the goblins' religion and the fire beetles. It makes things more than just disjoint "another monster in room" stocking.

  3. I'm being deliberately mean here - this is billed as the main entrance, and the bulk of the treasure is immediately somewhere sacred to the goblins and defended by the fire beetles (who are also sacred to the goblins) - with the deliberate intent of poisoning relations with the goblins early on. The PCs might not even know why the Goblins are attacking them out of the gate as they carry the goblin's grave goods with their ways lit by the 'lanterns of the afterlife' hacked from the psychopomps bodies. Unlike the other factions in the dungeon the Goblins are ostensibly neutral, but the PCs may unwittingly buy themselves a big deficit at the start.