A drink ye say? Why sure. What sailor won't talk over a drink? Siddown laddie, and I'll speak with ye until the rum runs low...
Crossbones Island is the fabled treasure trove of the fearsome pirate Gustaf, a small island far to the southwest of Iocappa Port. From coast to coast, it's one gigantic jungle, lad, filled with monsters and creatures of myth. Risin' out of the middle of the Island is a large mountain. Can't miss it for the world. In that remote, desolate patch of sea be Crossbones Island.
Crossbones Island is a medium-large island out in the middle of the sea. Obviously the coordinates are unknown to all but the rarest of sailors, but that doesn't prevent people from spreading around their speculations as fact. Assuming one actually gets the right coordinates to the island (or perhaps they're caught in a storm and randomly happen upon it), the entire island is a jungle, with the exception of the mountain in the middle.
Within the jungle, there is a large ecosystem, with any number of creatures, both familiar and unfamiliar to most adventurers. This ecosystem includes:
If ye can get yerself to that desolate place, and past all the creatures that might take offense at yer trespassin' on their territory, ye'll still have to make your way to the mountain. The very ground itself will suck you up, leaving naught a trace. Saw three good men die that way before we figured out how to pull them out without getting pulled in ourselves. Poor lads. That's a death e'en Brownbeard hisself wouldn't use on a traitor. Then ye'll get to the mountain, and the trouble is just starting...
The forest on the island, being surrounded by an entire sea, is at points littered with bog-ish areas. The old sailor and his crew-mates encountered a patch of quicksand, and had to learn the hard way that if you get caught, you need to not struggle, and let your buddies pull you out from firm ground, preferably with a branch or rope of some sort.
The quicksand areas are scattered everywhere in a ring around the mountain, with only one or two safe paths that can be taken through the hazardous terrain.
So there we were, covered in dirt and grime and all sorts of muck from our trek through that demon forest. When we finally got to the mountain, it was almost too easy to get to the fabled cave where Gustaf left his treasure. But when we gots there, there wasn't nothin' there but an engravin' on the wall! Well, none of us could figer it out, so we had to go back with nothin'. Someone else must've stolen the treasure and left that nonsense scrawled on the wall to send everyone else on a wild goose chase. That be all I know laddie. Good luck in yer expedition, though I'm warnin' ye now, it's a worthless voyage.
If or when a party of adventurers has made their way past the many and diverse dangers of the island forest, they will find themselves close to the mountain that juts up from the center of the isle. If they happen to search around the base, they will quickly find a single cave-opening, with tool marks all along the walls as evidence of human-creation. The inside is completely empty, devoid of anything except for a few lines of a riddle still etched onto the wall of the cave.
"It runs smoother than most any rhyme, and loves to fall but cannot climb."
The answer is water, and thus the players need to splash water onto the wall. Any seaman worth his salt would have recognized the value of having fresh water around, and thus would have plenty to spare for the wall. Once they do, wherever the water touches will dissolve the wall, which was made of dried, compacted sand. Due to the dimness in the cave, it isn't obvious from plain sight that the back wall is made of compacted sand, but it is.
At any rate, once they have broken through the wall with various amounts of water and hard work, their next challenge begins in a room that quickly widens from the narrow hallway they were in before.
Once past the wall of sand, there remains just one challenge that the players must overcome. Themselves.
Where before all traps and challenges were mundane, Gustaf saved the magical defense as his last resort. The sand wall covers a line of magical glyphs that concentrate and contain magical energies within the area of the cave past the line. Once a PC steps across the line, there is no going back. The air itself becomes a solid wall to their flesh, impassible.
At the same time as they become trapped (whether one at a time, or all at once), shadowy versions of the characters form from the shadows of the room, animated by the magic contained and focused by the glyphs of the room. In order to survive and walk through the glyph-line again, the characters must defeat their counterparts, who will most definitely work together.
These 'shadow puppets' are more durable than the PCs are, but do not have the same abilities or powers. They are the same in appearance and size only. However, that size doesn't matter in the least, for they're all the same strength (above average strong). It should be a rough fight for the toughest of the PC party, and without teamwork the 'puppets' will divide and conquer.
Having gotten past the last of the treasure's protection, there are a few different options available, depending on what treasure you might wish to impose upon your characters.
The first, and easiest, to handle is to have the treasure be a huge stinkin' pile of gold, jewels, and other riches. This is probably what they've been expecting.
The second, is that there is a few nick-knacks here and there, the place having been cleaned out before by other adventurers (or perhaps by Gustaf himself, who would've left the traps active as he left, to keep the legend of his treasure alive and protected.
The third, and potentially most interesting, is that there is nothing there, but there is a map of some kind leading to another treasure trove of Gustaf's, perhaps the true one that no-one has ever heard of or found.
In association with Johnn Four, and all the fine folks subscribed to his Roleplaying Tips Weekly mailing list at, we bring you our first collaborative Quest.
Room One: Entrance and Guardian - There needs to be a reason why your dungeon hasn’t been plundered or why your adventurers are the ones for the job.
Room Two: Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge - A trial that cannot be solved by steel alone.
Room Three: Trick or Setback - Build tension through tricks and setbacks and give them a double-dose of gameplay such as more combat or another roleplaying challenge.
Room Four: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict - The final combat or conflict of the dungeon.
Room Five: Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist - The dungeon is complete but what is it about this dungeon that made it different or memorable. What kind of mystery have they discovered, what kind of reward have they won, and what kind of information have they recovered?
Submissions to the quest will each earn an extra 15XP can be inputted on the site as normal or can be emailed to Johnn at roleplayingtips.com.
Prizes for this quest include a D&D Icons Gargantuan Black dragon from Legend Games, MyInfo Personal Reference Software licenses from Milenix Software, DCC #46 Book of Treasure Maps – DCC #$7 Tears of the Genie - #50 Vault of the Iron Overlord from Goodman Games, and 1 on 1 Adventures #5 Vale of the Sepulcher - #6 Shroud of Olindor - #7 Eyes of the Dragon - #8 Blood Brothers - Advanced Adventures #3 Curse of the Witch Head from Expeditious Retreat Press. Winners for these prizes will be chose randomly so every submission has an equal chance of winning. Also, all the quest submissions will be combined and edited with what the folks at Roleplaying Tips come up with and they all will be offered back to the community.
------------ Strolen's Citadel Quest, Five Room Dungeon was an awesome collaborative success. The total amount of quest submissions between Johnn's Roleplaying Tips and the Citadel was a whopping 87 Five Room Dungeons! The winners of this set were chosen randomly so congratulations to all. But here are those that won a gift from the sponsors: Gillian Wiseman Tyler Turner Nik Palmer Daniel Burrage Uri Lifshitz Clayton Blanchard Jean-Christophe Pelletier Jason Kemp Pirate Queen Wulfhere Valadaar Thewizard63. Congratulations to Everybody!!!
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? Responses (6)
Ahar! I likes this one here!
Yo ho ho and a bottle of fun.
A solid adventure in search of (Arrr, Matey!) pirates' gold. I like the basic premises and the wall of sand is a puzzle I haven't seen before.
The magical dopplegangers were an unexpected twist; if I were running this one, I'd give the PCs some sort of a hint about what to expect. Perhaps Gustav was known for an ally with potent magical powers (Betrayed in the end, alas! That's what comes of consorting with cutthroats!) or was reputed to have looted an ancient hoard of magic.
Unfortunately, at the very end I ran out of interesting things to throw at the PCs. I had hoped that at least the saving magical defenses for last would be more realistic. If someone comes up with something more fitting, toss it my way.
As for the wall of sand trick, I found it sprang to my mind quite suddenly. Makes sense, and it's quite realistic. Damp sand retains it's shape, even after it dries out. Thus, a few feet of sand would work quite well for a wall, especially in low lighting. Glad you liked it.
Fine pirate treasure, and I also like the sand-wall trick.
This is a great plot and a fun adventure, but not exactly in the dungeon vein.