1 – Entrance

Littered with broken stones and with a cool wind that flows up the shaft above the only path to follow is one laid out in old cart tracks.

After a couple of minutes of descent, the characters will arrive at the bottom of the mine in open a small chamber. There is nothing of any substance in this room. The is a strange buzzing in the air though and something on the edge of hearing, perhaps the sound of whispering voices.

Fairy sleep

4 pixies wait down here ready to send people back up. They are each prepared to cast sleep on the characters and cast it almost simultaneously. This will cover all the parties hitpoints and only those immune to sleep will be awake. An invisible pixie will then activate the lift’s mechanism sending the players back up to the top. If everyone fell asleep the players awaken to find themselves halfway up the mine shaft and travelling up. The pixies are doing this in part to play a prank and also to discourage outsiders. A DC14 Perception check reveals ‘high pitched laughter’. Though it’s not identifiable as Pixies If some of the players can’t be affected by sleep then the pixies will still try to knock out those they can and then will retreat to set up their next ‘prank’.

2 – Terminal

Tracks shoot out into the black, centre of a spider web of steel that all meets at a single large turntable, warped with time.

The terminal room has a destroyed cart and two gnoll corpses in it. Eight different exits lead off from it. One of which is a natural break in the rock that looks like the entrance to a large cave. Another has a large stone door carved with dwarven runes and embossed with the crest of the Song-Jewel family.

Developments

The players can investigate the two gnoll corpses, both appear to have been badly mauled by animals. A DC16 investigation check finds that one was apparently crushed as if wrapped in a body breaking grip and the other appears to have been gored and trampled by something with long horns and hooves. A survival check DC16 reveals that from the tracks and markings it looks very much like a snake and a deer killed these gnolls.

Investigating the door reveals that it requires a key to open it. The door is covered in runes that states
‘Behind these doors slumber those who could not return to their families, choosing instead to spend their years supplying the great effort. We who tamed the tunnels below will complete our rest and those who try and take what we earned will fall foul of the very forces we bound to our will, only those who wish to return us to the sky at the proper time are welcome in these halls.”

The lock

Before the door is one end of a key, with a small glowing song jewel set in it and a set of rusted and mangled thieves tools. A DC 20 investigation check reveals that built into the mechanism of the lock is some form of guillotine, that seems to be connected to the key. Allowing the player to realise that whatever opens this door will be destroyed, pick or key. In addition, if a player tries to pick the lock and fails by more than it will trigger the guillotine. The key in room 5 is magical and can trigger the shield spell that allows it to repel this guillotine and unlock the door. The players can also attempt to disable this device with a DC15 check with thieves tools failing by 5 or more will damage the tools.  The lock itself is magical, rearranging it’s mechanisms constantly, as such the pick DC is 25 with thieves tools, reduced to 20 for one minute if a character uses the ‘knock’ spell on the door.

3 – Fissure

A vast fissure in the rock carves out a chaotic cathedral of stone. The cave is dotted with failed attempts to tame it.

This natural break in the stone has sharp jagged walls that reach up high above the broken rock floor. The cave breaks off into multiple paths out of it, all appear to be natural. There’s a chasm in the floor that has the remains of a rope bridge dangling from both sides. In this room are Knights of Shroom, pixies that live here and do not take kindly to the players poking around. The chasm is actually an illusion, in reality, it’s only a fall of 10 feet. This has been created by the Faerie Dragon Fausus as per the spell hallucinatory terrain.

Paths

The paths around this room have a range of secrets.

a. The collapsing tunnel: This tunnel is rigged to collapse, at one end is a small chest beneath a rock, if the rock is moved it triggers the trap. It can be spotted by a DC15 perception check. Any players in the tunnel will take 3d6 bludgeoning damage, being knocked prone and trapped beneath a pile of rubble. A DC16 reflex save halves the damage and allows them to avoid being trapped or knocked prone.

b. The secret passage: This small hole allows the players to avoid crossing the illusory void, it’s hidden high up, requiring players to roll a DC16 perception check and requires a climb check DC15 to reach it.

c. The raptor tunnel: This tunnel is where the fae like to lure people into only to surprise them with an attack by a bizarre beast such as  Velicoraptor. They will often mimic a dwarf swearing or asking for help to try and drag people in. A DC18 check will allow players to know that the voice is an illusion.

4 – Fairy territory

This whole area is fairy territory as long as players are in this area and moving towards the Fairy Hall they will be assailed with magic. The seven Knights of Shroom protect this place. These noble souls are led by their King Briarbeard, who rides a faerie dragon into battle. They fight mainly to have a good time, conducting battle through trickery and cunning. The faeries never getting close and hiding high above in the crags and cliffs of the fissure to conceal their nature.

They will use the spells that they have to stop the players progressing. They use druidcraft to snuff out flames when it’s most amusing to them and in particular, they will use it the spell polymorph. turning rats and bugs into CR1/4 creatures. Personally, I like using dinosaurs and elks, just for the ridiculous nature of it. It’s also fun to use another spell (fly) to make flying octopuses.

In addition, they like to use confusion spells when players are near the chasm, ideally when crossing it. The pixies are starved for fun and see these attacks as entertaining pranks. So while they won’t shy away from hurting the players they won’t pursue killing them if they are running away or already unconscious.

The faerie dragon Fausus will hold it spells unless it is directly attacked or the players reach the barricade, wherein a last-ditch attempt to move them away it will become engaged in the fight.

After an encounter or something particularly hilarious happens the pixies will be unable to contain themselves and will break out into laughter allowing all the players will hear the high pitched giggling.

Should the players at any point try and reach out to their attackers offering a compromise or trying to sue for peace the pixies may engage with them in conversation, if they’ve already had sufficient fun at the player’s expense. The pixies down here are a little starved for entertainment and will offer an exchange. Demanding one ‘fun’ secret from each player to stop attacking them, though they can’t promise anything about minor pranks. This is a good chance to get some character backstory out of the players. The pixies though don’t take kindly to liars.

Roleplaying King Briarbeard

Motivation: Briarbeard is a king of fairies and as such is responsible for entertaining his subjects as well as protecting them. Pixies see both as equally important so Briarbeard is constantly balancing these dual needs.

Personality: He’s a young king and very cocky as he’s been easily repelling the gnolls who have recently been entering his realm. He demands the respect his position commands.

Past: He rose to kingship for finding Gorrick and recruiting him as a cook. He personally values good food above all else.

King Briarbeard is a smart pixie behind all the bluster and laughter. He knows that something is going on up on the surface and wants information about it from the players. The scabbard is something he knows well, it lies in the summer chapel,  Talan’s burial place. Being no fool Briarbeard knows that if anyone was to let slip that the chapel was here then he and his pixies would likely be forced out by pilgrims coming to visit it. He will not let the players see the chapel without obtaining a promise that they keep it and its contents a secret.

  • (WV) He is concerned that they are with the gnolls and confidently states that his knights have been repelling them.
  • (WV) One of the former kings made an agreement with the dwarves that they wouldn’t mine in his realm in exchange for a favour though Briarbeard doesn’t say what.
  • (P-DC18) Briarbeard admits that his ancestors had the sword of Talan and traded it to the dwarfs to ensure peace between the two groups.
  • (ASR) He remembers some stories from when the old dwarves got into fights and some of them tried to ignore the promises they’ve made.
  • (P-DC15) He admits that he might have seen one of the dwarves who came down here a year ago. Apparently, one dwarf stole the others stuff and left him to die. The Pixies didn’t hurt either of them though.
  • (P-DC18) He admits he knows where Gorrick is but insists he’s still safe.
  • (ASR) The scabbard is something the king is willing to talk about but only if they come to his castle. He will require a promise from all the players that they will keep secret everything they see in his realm.

5 – Brothers rest

Hidden here are the remains of a functional camp, tools and equipment lie in tidy packs next to plates of long rotted food.

This cave stands apart from the larger canyon. The appears to be the remains of a long-abandoned camp here, the sleeping rolls and packs picked apart by rats and other vermin. Looking about it’s easy for the characters to see that what remains is almost definitely dwarf sized. An investigation check DC12 finds that the packs still have sewn into them in places purple and green thread, the sign of the Song Jewel family. Completing that check or just going through the packs thoroughly finds little that the rats haven’t got it, there are some pots and pans plus a sturdy pocket watch that has long wound down (worth 30gp if evaluated). In the larger backpack is a key that opens the door to room 13. It has a slight aura of Abjuration Magic and is a mgic item in it’s own right.

6 – Barricade

In this narrow tunnel, broken stones are piled in a rough wall, the heavily armoured corpses of two dwarfs are collapsed behind it.

At the end of the fissure lies a barricade of stone, piled high in the mouth of the tunnel that climbs steeply to another exit. From this new cave wafts the scent of wildflowers and a faint golden glow that is almost like sunlight.

Developments

The two dwarves are ancient, their armour rusted and rotten. Upon closer inspection they seem to have been posed in a state of rest, sitting staring out into the vast fissure from which the characters have entered. Investigation/Perception DC14: Both sets of armour have the Song Jewel emblem removed and replaced with a rough carved emblem.

The last defence, the players will encounter Fausas the faerie dragon who will have polymorphed himself into a Bronze Dragon Wyrmling. In an apparent show of force, he’ll ask the players why they’re here. If the players are honest and have proven themselves to be good in nature Fausus may just dissolve into a bout of laughter unable to maintain the charade. Offering them the same deal of trading secrets for entry to the faerie realm. If they anger him or attack he will defend himself, unlike the pixies he has no trouble in killing the players.

Roleplaying Fausus

Motivation: As an old fae dragon Fausus wants nothing more than to stir up enough trouble to have some fun, he is very attached to his pixie friends though and will become violently enraged should anyone hurt his friends.

Personality: Acting more like a pampered house cat than anything else, Fausus takes the time to enjoy himself and let others do the work for him. When he does decided to get involved he prefers to be the center of attention.

Past: He is a dragon old enough to remember the time when dwarves mined the depths. Though young then he distinctly remembers the Song Jewel line and that they made a pact to leave the fairies alone.

He knows the same things King Briarbeard knows.

He is also old enough to know that the pixies cursed some dwarves who tried to raid the chapel during a time of troubles for the mine over a hundred years ago. They cursed them to protect the very bodies of those they’d tried to kill and even bound the lead traitor who’d started it all in chains. Binding his memories and intelligence so he would suffer in the dark knowing he had not only betrayed his deal with the fae but also turned on his friends.

7 – Fairy Hall

This unreal cave pulses with organic light emanating from a glowing sea of golden mushrooms which crowd the walls.

The fairy hall is a place outside of the world as the players enter they feel their ears pop and the temperature change to more suit a balmy summers afternoon. The place smells of wildflowers and buzzes with insect life. In the centre of the space is The Summer Chapel. Spending even five minutes time here will give players the benefit of a short rest.

8 – The summer chapel

In the middle of a verdant green space that appears lit by dappled sunlight is a simple church of human proportion and design.

The small chapel has perhaps enough room for a congregation of twenty humans and is built for human proportions. It seems both ancient in its construction being little better than piled stone with a thatch roof but the wood and stone still seem fresh as if it was constructed mere weeks ago. The space now hosts hundreds of pixies who have built small homes into the walls, decorating the stone from tip to top with tiny nests. In the middle of the room is a cauldron so big a man could easily bathe in it. A hearty fire keeps the pot bubbling and it is tended by a dwarf whose beard is threaded with flowers and who wears soft green robes. He is surrounded on all sides by spices and ingredients. Behind the cook sits a large sarcophagus, beautifully carved into the likeness of a man that all recognize, Talan.

Developments

Currently stirring the pot is a dwarf who matches the description of Selka’s brother. With copper hair and a warm face that makes him look at the peak of health, he’s very happy to see the players and will happily talk with them. If the players inspect the tomb they will see it is indeed Talan’s last resting place. A religion check DC15 will allow the players to recall that some heroes claim to have visited Talan’s last resting place coming to a hall much like this when they have got lost in the half-world (the Fae wilds). This has been dismissed by most priests as nonsense but now it makes sense.

An investigation of the ingredients around Gorrick reveals that they seem sourced from all around the known world there’s woven spice bags from the Silver Sea, china pots from the Chain Empire, and even Fluted glass from the Flying Palaces. A DC10 investigation tells the players this collection would be the envy of any trader in the world and incredibly it all seems fresh, implying the pixies have some way of obtaining all these ingredients.

Role playing Gorrick Song Jewel

Motivation: Gorrick is the older brother of Selka and wants to do his best for the family but he lacks the ambition and drive of his siblings and so just tries to do what they tell him.

Personality: Gorrick is good-natured and trusting of others, preferring to talk his problems out. He prefers to be busy with his hands rather than get involved in intrigue.

Past: Gorrick was sent with a guard named Hass to reclaim the mine, he shared too much about the wealth and Hass decided to abandon him to go obtain the wealth for himself.

Gorrick is very happy to see the players, he is however very confused when they try and explain he’s been here for over a year, insisting it’s been a few days at most. He is currently very happy being a cook and will not leave.

  • (WV) He’s would like to know how his sister is doing.
  • (ASR) To get through the door you need a key. Gorrick is pretty sure it’s still in his pack that he left out in the caves, he didn’t think that Hass got it and didn’t tell him about it.
  • (ASR) He and Hass had a tough time in the tunnels though it was mostly pranking by the pixies. It forced them away from the door and as they rested to recoup before handling the tomb that’s when Hass abandoned them.
  • (WV) He warns the players that the is meant to be a lethal trial in the tomb, Brimsnir said it was deadly and a key was needed to diffuse it, Hass stole this.
  • (ASR) It’s not the magical key but one with a glowing song jewel on the tip. (It’s the broken one found outside the door in room 2)
  • (P-DC15) He’s not going to leave because he’s finally doing something that makes him happy.
  • (ASR) if the players ask about Brimsnir.
    • Brimsnir and those loyal to him were nearly killed by traitors, the was a dwarven civil war going on at the time and some in the mine wanted to start funding the other side. The ensuing battles left almost everyone dead and Brimsnir was unable to risk returning home and exposing the mine had become weak.
    • Brimsnir always put his children first but as the family came from poverty and was built up by finding this seam of song jewels he could never return home or he risked losing the prestige and wealth to others who might steal the mine. Gorrick knows that his father wanted nothing more than to come home and be with his family.
    • Brimisnir had an agreement with the fae, he kept the secret of the chapel and promised to not disturb them with his mining. Gorrick heard that when the traitors rose up they went to raid the fae, knowing the value of the chapel. Fausus has muttered something about the fae cursing these liars for breaking their promise.

If the players ask for help he’ll mention the key and also explain that he knows that Hass went in and never came out, apparently the fairies say that the place is full of monsters. They’ve lost some fairies who’ve managed to slip in and those who’ve come back say the place is full of broken song jewels. He’ll also offer them some food, the cauldron itself is intensely magical and as such provides food is imbued with magic, curing poisons and disease but not curing curses.

9 – Tomb entrance

A simple stone room which holds in its centre a bust of a regal looking dwarf, the room is otherwise bare apart from a handful of song jewels built into the walls and floor. 

This room appears empty and almost completely untouched. The plinth that supports the bust in the middle of the room, the face and builds similar to others in the Song Jewel family. When they enter it triggers a magic mouth spell. A dwarven voice, old and raspy rings fills the room, speaking in dwarven it says;

“I am Brimsnir Song Jewel, Administrator and owner of these mines. If you are, as I hope, my family come to send my ashes into the heavens you must be prepared. Gorrick, Selka, when I left you all those years ago I knew that you would do great things and become great people but this place will still test you. I could not leave it unattended, when I passed the war was still fresh and it turned those who I had called friend against me. I hope you have better luck finding friends than I did, surround yourself with those who would honour the dead and put my soul to the stars so I may finally look upon my loved ones.

In common it then follows up with;

“To those tomb raiders and other scum, know this place holds no welcome for you.”

10 – Hall of songs

Vast slabs of stone and high ceilings dwarf all who enter. A circular pool decorated with runes and glittering with Song Jewels sits in the centre of the room. 

This long room is dominated by towering pillars dotted with glowing crystals. In the centre of the room is a pool that is lined with intact song jewels, each of which glowing very faintly, the light gently diffusing and causing the water to glow. The walls are decorated with carved friezes of dwarfs in noble pursuits. In the opposite wall is a large door, made of stone it is carved in the shape of scowling dwarf, his beard dusted with more song jewels. Two keyholes are cut into the stone that makes up his beard. The dour visage seems to grimace at the those in the room, his eyes following them around in some form of optical illusion.

Developments

The ‘pool’ is a Gelatinous Tube the cylindrical cousin of the classic monster. Players can get some clue that the ‘pool’ is not what it seems by rolling a DC18 perception check, seeing that it looks like something has swept up the dust around the pool edge.  The monster is making use of its ability to remain unseen though I have tweaked it to appear like water for the sake of the stones, in all other ways it is a gelatinous cube and fights as such. It’s patient enough to wait till players get close to the pool, preferring to strike by sliding up and out of its hole to engulf any players who are looking over the edge into the depths of the pool.

11 –  Crystal gates

A small chamber with jagged glowing crystals embedded all over reverberates with the screeches of broken song stones.

This series of rooms are all decorated with song stones that hiss light and static. The sound is almost overwhelming, heard in the very bones of the body, like a being next to a thunderous waterfall. Up ahead is a thin room at the back of which sits an imposing door bound in steel.

The entrance to this room has its own door of similar construction, planks of wood stacked against each other across the grain, making them practically impossible to knock down in these small confines.

The sound puzzle

Above the open door are dwarven runes which spell out the nature of the test.

“True dwarves will know the answers to these questions three, step alone into these chambers and answer these questions three. What is freedom? What is honour? What is kinship? Only those who know the answers to each question will be able to put us to rest.”

Through this door can be found four pedestals two on each side of the gates. Each has a steel cover over it that stops access to what appears to be a song jewel beneath. One of the middle pedestals holds the message ‘Close the door and begin the challenge.’

If more than one well equipped medium sized creature enters the room the noise gets so loud as to cause damage to the players, who take D6 thunder damage every round they are in the room. A DC16 investigation check reveals the floor has a pressure plate built into it, though it seems impossible to disable.

Quick note on game design intention versus player creativity/ paranoia.

This section is intended to have each character come through the three questions independently and unable to confer with each other, however, creative players may be able to think their way around the puzzle. The intention is to have each of the players enter and then submit their answer to each question in turn.

From around the table perspective, it works well to give the question to everyone, banning discussion between them but then providing a countdown 3,2,1 shoot! On shoot have everyone hold up their answer either in fingers or posting on chat. Not only does this stop conferring but it makes for good fun when people look at the other’s answers.

3 Questions 3 Punishments

Each room when the door is closed asks a question and then reveals three song stones, one on each plinth, that holds an audio recording offering three potential answers to that question. These song stones when touched project a sound clip into the player’s ears. The is a fourth plinth that has switches to make the selection. No matter what the answers the players give they progress, but as they get more wrong they gain minor curses.

1 wrong answer leaves them with an aversion to bright light, they are at disadvantage while in an area that is brighter than dim light, including the light spell and torches. This persists until they reach room XX or are cured with lesser restoration.

2 wrong answers leave them deaf, though they can still hear the song stones as that is magical rather than auditory. This persists until they reach room 13 or are cured with lesser restoration.

3 wrong answers leave them mute and unable to speak. This persists until they reach room 13 or are cured with remove curse or lesser restoration.

What is freedom? The options are…

The sound of a bird singing

The sound of miners cutting through rock

The sound of burning fire (Correct Answer)

What is Honour? The options are…

Sounds of battle

A mournful song, those who speak dwarven will know it’s a song for a departed friend. (Correct answer) (This is the same song as contained in the whistle found in the floor above)

The sound of someone grooming an animal, sounds like the same noises the badgers upstairs made.

What is Kinship? The options are…

The sound of drinking in a bar.

The sound of a man speaking, followed by a woman speaking followed by lots of cheering. (It’s a wedding ceremony for those who speak dwarven)

The sound of a child crying and being soothed by a song. (Correct answer)

12 – Traitors Chamber

Three galleries lined with sarcophagi lead to a single central podium dominated by a black stone coffin wrapped in chains.

A corridor appears its walls dominated by featureless slate sarcophagi, these resting places are hewn from the very walls as if the black stone is water that has been pushed back to reveal these coffins.

In the centre of the space is a large dome that is dominated by a stepped platform made from the same dark stone as the walls. It holds up a single large sarcophagus. Two other corridors lead off from this central chamber, both are dead ends and both populated by the same caskets.

Developments

Shockingly the players when looking in can discern something is not right with this room, A DC 15 investigation check reveals that there are catches on all the caskets, which would activate if they are opened, the exact nature of the effect is unknown.

The caskets themselves can be examined showing that some are decorated while others are plain, a religion check DC12 (dwarves get advantage) would reveal that dwarves are nearly always buried in decorated caskets to be buried in a plain casket is considered something done only to traitors. Of the 24 smaller caskets 15 are unadorned with any writing or content. The central casket in the centre is also almost completely undecorated, apart from on the top, where two words mark it as, ‘The Traitor’. The central casket’s only other detail is that it’s mounted on some rails, implying it could be moved or shifted. Using detect magic on them reveals that the is some necromantic magic lingering on the some of the sarcophagi.

Touching the central casket awakens the magic. The magics also are activated if the players open the smaller caskets.

Boss fight – The Traitor and his flock

The mist

A great crack sounds, the caskets are thrust open and the halls around the centre room fill with a horrible choking mist (the centre dome remains clear). In each avenue, five dwarven skeletons rise from their graves.  The choking mist obscures the skeletons and characters who end their turn in it must pass a constitution saving throw DC12 or they start to cough and splutter, losing their bonus action due to the wheezing until they leave the mist.

The minions

As the skeletons are just waking up I like to give players a surprise round to reflect that these monsters have just risen from a hundred-year slumber, this helps them make better tactical decisions and also gives them time to get out of the mist. The minions flood out and try and attack the players mindlessly, they are skeletons but each only has 1hp, making them very easy to kill. It should be kept in mind that they work best as a swarm and try and surround the players. Each of the access points into the main room is only five foot wide, these should be natural choke points for the players to try and control, either through muscle or blocking them with cunning.

The Traitor

The Traitor is a mummy who will try his best to kill the players, eyes filled with hate and with the noose he was hung with still hanging from his neck he will strike at those he sees as the biggest threat. He takes at least the first round of combat to assess the situation though, and won’t appear straight away. He can appear out of any of the caskets of his minions as all are connected by a network carved beneath this room. This is the route that allows access to room XX.

Combat tweaks and guide

So the trap beforehand is meant to make this fight harder, adding complexity to the battle that makes it a bit tougher to think through. The use of a large number of monsters with very low hp also engages the players to think tactically, these skeletons should be easy to take down and but make for a tough situation if the players allow themselves to be surrounded.

Some tweaks if the combat feels to hard is to have some of the skeletons never animate, the fifteen skeletons is just the base if you feel that this is too tough then reduce that number, this is helped by the mist which obscures the players view of the coffins. It’s also worth counting those choke points in mind with the skeletons, they are mostly mindless and can slow each other down by all trying to pile through together which can buy unprepared players some time.

I recommend checking in with the guide on ‘The Monsters Know’ which has good insight on how to best run a mummy encounter. From a numbers point of view, the mummy is a real threat of killing players with a powerful strike and an even worse curse, he can rapidly take players out of the battle, hitting hard enough to knock a third level wizard out in a single blow.   His mummy curse can also cause a slow death of a character, as it’s a curse, not a disease it’s unlikely the players will have anything that can stop its progression on them. King BriarBeard can offer some help for a price but it’s worth noting that if a player with very low hp gets this curse they will need to get healing straight away or take the fairies up on their offer.

On the other hand, if you want to make this battle more punishing you can potentially up the number of skeletons and improve the AC of the Mummy. I  personally feel that this is a pretty challenging fight and don’t recommend adding threats other than to balance out an increased party size.

 

13 – Treasure Room

This octagonal chamber has a chest resting against each wall, in the middle the tomb’s occupant lies resplendent in jewelled armour.

Just stepping into this chamber feels lighter and more pleasant than the last chamber, the walls are carved with runes that stretch from floor to ceiling. The ceiling is decorated with Song Jewels which have been marked out to imitate the heavens.

On a low stone table in full armour lies Bregraf Song-Jewel. Even in death, he is an imposing sized dwarf, his armour studded with more song jewels. A pickaxe is clutched in one hand and on the other is a large shield.

In the seven chests are items whose purpose ranges from the clear (gold) to obscure tools and also items of a personal nature including one full of children’s toys and another filled with letters to and from home. No chest is locked. A full break down of items in this room is below.

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