Setting the Scene
Many centuries ago when even the dragons were young, one of the early civilizations was that of Urim. One of the last of the Kings of this Empire, King Nectambo had a deep love for his daughter, Princess Helen and wished she could always stay young, and when he started work on what everybody assumed was a royal tomb for her, nobody at first minded. It was thought by his people that the right ceremonies were important to enter the afterlife, and the tomb provided paid employment, in some cases quite well-paid employment, for it's builders, not just the laborers who did all the heavy work, but the craftsmen and tomb-painters and guards and merchants as well. There were whispers behind the King's back that he was trying to build a tower so he could speak to the Goddess Inanna personally, but for over a decade, nobody minded very much as the pyramid rose slowly into the sky.
Things changed, however, when the economy took a dive, yet the building carried on as before. Merchants began to avoid crossing into the empire, in case a large part of what they had to sell was taken from them without payment to furnish the tomb. The laborers went on strike for more pay and rioted when the King brought in chained slaves to do their jobs by force, and craftsmen fled the country rather then be forced into working without payment. Most people of Urim were a pious lot, and they understood the King's point of view up to a point. But as the taxes grew heavier they grew restless, and the spies of other early city-states took note. But what made the patience of the people and the army snap was when they found out that some young army officers, seemingly sent out on a training course in how to be spies, had been murdered and their bodies ritually prepared so that the King had some fine examples of The Dumuzid to guard his daughter's tomb for all eternity.
It was one thing to execute murderers, traitors and other such serious criminals after a fair trial, or even on the spot to prevent a coup against the monarchy. But the officer corps knew that these men were innocent and were outraged by their killing and by the way their bodies were treated, dried with spices, their hearts cut out and placed in their hands. On top of everything else this was the last straw;they revolted and cut down their King. As for his daughter, they put her along with her father's dead body in a chamber at the top of the pyramid, and sealed her in alive. The pyramid was used as a tomb complex for eight future kings, before the empire went down in war. During that war a spell was cast that was so big that for a century the area around the pyramid was deadly to get within a mile of. Indeed shortly after that war the first laws of war outlawed spells of such dangerous power as it benefited all sides not to cast such spells. Even after the spell lost it's power a century later, few dared enter the area, preserving the pyramid from tomb robbers .It became known as Inanna's Pyramid
Centuries later the daughter of a rich noble of Vallermoore , also named Helen, went missing with a few companions when she entered the pyramid to find out what it contained. The PCs are hired to find her and are promised a tenth of whatever of value lies within the pyramid, as well as a fixed sum of money per person for Helen's safe return. They are also given a book of the runes and words of the long forgotten language of the time in the hope that it may help them in their Quest.
Room One: Entrance and Guardian
The entrance to the pyramid is clear, a hole has been hacked in the slippery white limestone surface and the door located and opened. Urim, nowadays part of the Kingdom of Vallermoore , is not a desert although it has some hot months of the year, and on this level of the pyramid, rain has leaked inside and is ankle deep. The PCs find two dead bodies floating in the water that have only just begun to bloat and stink. A voice comes booming out of the darkness in the dead language of Urim. It is that of a tomb guardian asking for the password. The PCs have sixty seconds to decide what to do next. If they can guess that a password is being asked for or find the words in the book they have been given, and if they answer "Helen" the guardian will let them through without a fight. If they don't know the password or don't understand that a password is being asked for then they will have to fight it.
It is a version of The See-through Assassin although instead of long glass spikes for hands, it carries an Ouzala, a long toothed glass stave, the weapon of the Children of Glass , either brought from them or taken from some battlefield many centuries ago. Whilst the weapon is non magical, it is more then capable of causing gaping and perhaps fatal wounds in the golem's hands. Swords and other edged weapons will side or bounce off causing only slight damage, but maces, warhammers and other heavy objects will smash the glass and do double the damage on a successful hit. Should the golem be defeated it will shatter into a pile of broken glass. The Ouzala will have lost some of it's teeth in the flight but the PCs can still take it with them if they wish. If they investigate the bloated stinking bodies, they wear modern clothes and are clearly members of Helen's expedition party. If the bodies are searched, one has a pickaxe and a small amount of money on him, the other has a sealed leather book that has survived the water, if they open it, it will mention a plaque on a wall and what it is said to say.
Room Two: Puzzle or Roleplaying Challenge
After climbing a spiral staircase they come to a room with a green with age but still readable copper plaque on one wall and letters on the floor. In the middle of the letters lies a body, riddled with sharp bronze darts. If they have the notebook from the bodies they found in the last room, they may translate the plaque, which reads as follows.
This thing all things devours
Birds beasts trees flowers
Rusts iron gnaws steel
Turns hard stones to meal
Slays king ruins town
And beats high mountain down.
What is it? Answer the riddle and you may pass safely.
The answer is "time" but in the dead language of those days, as the PCs would find if they had the book taken from the dead body, "time" was the word "ezra." By walking on the tiles marked E, Z, R,and A, which are not too far apart to hop too, they can cross the tiles and avoid setting off the dart trap. If they don't have the book, they can get it from the dead body in the other room, also they could try jumping to the dead body, then to the other side of the room. Such a thing requires two tests of skill, a fail on either roll will trigger the trap and riddle the person with darts, doing three D6 worth of damage to their life force and possibly killing he or she outright. Or they could act like in a minefield , prodding each tile with a weapon to set off the darts harmlessly in front of them, but progress will be slow that way. Once they enter the doorway on the other side they climb several flights of stairs before coming to a room full of heavy jars.
Room Three: Trick or Setback
The majority of these jars have been moved aside as someone has passed through before them but three have been pushed back to hinder anyone following, and they are big, almost as big as a PC. Provided there are two or more PCs still alive by now they can pull the heavy sealed clay jars aside, otherwise they can shatter them with a weapon. But a recently burned body lies on the ground next to a couple of broken jars, smelling of cooked human flesh and honey. If they look at the floor near the burnt body it is sticky-honey lies there. PCs being PCs, they may decide to break open many of these jars-there are sixty in the room- just to loot. For each jar broken roll a D6.
D1- The jackpot that the PCs were hoping for, as the jar has as many gold bars as one of the PCs can carry with comfort, each one worth a lot of money.
D2-The jar breaks and covers the PC who did it from head to toe in honey.
D3- As the jar breaks a puff of gas comes out and ignites. To a PC not covered in honey the flame lasts for too short a time to do any damage, but if they are covered in honey it will ignite in a possibly fatal fireball. Unless it can be put out quickly, either by smashing another jar and getting a D4, dropping and rolling, or the PCs using their water supply to douse the flames, the PC will burn to death as every minute the fire does three D6 worth of damage to his or her life force.
D4-The jar breaks and covers the PC in water, putting out any fire should the PC be on fire. The water, is not very drinkable but not utterly foul either when given the time is has stood there it should have dried up or turned to sludge.
D5-When the jar breaks it reveals a maddened Urn Beast. It attacks once;should the person attacked be covered in honey it will have the same effect as D3-if not it does one D6 of damage, and if not attacked in return, it will fly off down the corridor. If attacks it fights back in return-it thankfully is too maddened to possess anyone or do anything more then one D6 of damage per successful attack to anyone not covered in honey, but can only be killed by throwing water over it, in which case it will vanish in a puff of steam. A failed weapon attack has a 50/50 change of breaking a jar in which case roll a D6 to see what happens as a result .A D4 will kill the Urn Beast should it be rolled.
D6-When the jar breaks a bound and gagged body is found inside it, all skin and bone, the flesh having withered away over the centuries. It wears a necklace and bangles of gold which the PCs can take as loot. It is not Undead, and died many centuries ago.
After the PCs who survive leave the room and climb more stairs they come to...
Room Four: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict
They enter a room with eight stone coffins but at once they find themselves under attack from two D6 of Dumazids. There are also three dead fresh human bodies on the floor with the chopped body parts of six more Dumazids lying nearby. This Undead tomb guards look like salty, dried out corpses with in one hand, a sharp bronze sword, and in the other, their dried out heart, which they throw at the PCs at the start of the fight. It requires a Skill check to dodge-if it hits a PC it causes a D6 of damage, 1 added point of damage per combat round until the battle is over or the wound has water poured on it to wash the spices out of the wound, and a short time hallucination that there are many more Dumazids. Fire and fire magics do little or no harm, but water thrown on them from canteens of conjured up by magic will do three D6 of damage, as their dry undead flesh corrodes away when water even touches it. When the last of the Dumazids are reduced to torn skin and shattered bones, PCs being PCs, they are likely to open the tombs to take any treasure they find inside.
Tomb 1-contains, a skull, a few old bones and...
The Falchion of Al Gojj
The stout weapon that later was associated with the homicidal Sallvian holy man, Al Gojj ("The Malodorous"), was a bronze blade crafted in the XXII Sallvian Dynasty. Originally wrought by the Eunuch-Priests of the Vulture God, it had been enchanted to strike with extra force at enemies of the Sallvian Pharaoh. Agarn added to this enchantment, making it nearly unbreakable, even able to cut through modern steel armors without damage. More recent wielders have noted that if an enemy can be tricked into saying something negative about one of the Sallvian Pharaohs, the weapon's enchantment will awaken and it will strike with tremendous power. Getting a foe to generally criticize Sallvian personal hygiene or cooking appears to be equally effective and is perhaps less difficult.
Tomb 2-contains, a skeleton wrapped in bandages except for the skull and...
The Agate Pectoral of Vetthes
This handy item appears as a substantial (8 lbs.) golden necklace styled after the ancient Sallvian vulture god, Anut-Kahnut (the older vulture god, not to be confused with the more modern vulture gods that became popular deities after the XXII Dynasty). The massive piece of jewelry was enchanted by Agarn at the request of the notable collector of antiquities, Vetthes the Corpulent. The enchantment placed on this item allows its wearer to be clearly heard by anyone that has clear view of the wearer. A magical phrase in Ancient Sallvian allows the wearer to turn the item's powers on and off. Unfortunately, since nobody alive is able to successfully pronounce this mysterious phrase, the necklace is generally considered to be permanently "on".
Tomb 3-contains, a body with the skin still surviving, stretched tight over the bones and...
The Flaming Banner of Collot
This impressive battle flag appears to be aflame; it gives off a cheerful light and pleasant warmth. If its original enchantment had been completed properly, it would have had the power to project a potent blast of flame dozens of yards. Unfortunately, the protective enchantments constraining the flames were never properly completed, so it instead blasts everyone in a 15 foot radius, including the wielder. Heavily armored warriors with a lot of burn cream stocked up have been known to use it anyway, but few heroes are quite that masochistic.
Tomb 4-contains, a body wrapped from head to toe in linen and...
The Violent Sandals of Golan
These handy items were actually first developed by one of Agarn's most gifted apprentices, the fire mage Golan Rumsath, but were completed by Agarn after Golan's unfortunate mental breakdown. Prior to his paranoia overtaking him, the man had devised a pair of sandals that would enable its wearer to deliver devastating kicks. Unfortunately, Agarn was not able to eliminate the sandals' tendency to kick out at any mages that pass near the wearer. Although he was not able to determine why the footwear displayed such violent tendencies toward mages (especially older, more experienced wizards), he was able to discover that they were actually more damaging when they struck at wizards than others.
Should a PC put this on and one of the PCs is a magic-user, the sandals will automatically kick out at the magic user until taken off, and should a magic-user put them on he or she will end up kicking at himself or herself until they are taken off. Kicks with these on do +10 damage if they make contact.
Tomb 5-contains, a brittle old skeleton in dusty leather armour and a jeweled saber that turns out to be...
The Sword of Fear
This weapon has a Fear Spell cast upon it that is triggered by pressing a jewel in the hilt. The first time the spell is used it has no affect on the weapon’s owner. Subsequent use will cause a boomerang effect on the owner that grows greater each time the spell is cast.The more scared the owner of the sword is, the more he or she will be tempted to cast the spell, causing a circle of fear causing more fear.Although not Cursed as such, the weapon is unintentionally cursed.
Should the jewel be pulled from the sword and crushed underfoot the magic will vanish .Should the jewel be left in the street, the result will be a jewel that casts a Fear Spell on anything or anyone that picks it up, until it is dropped again, in which case the Fear Spell fades away five minutes later.
Tomb 6-contains, a skeleton in the remains of what were fine royal robes, and resting on it's chest is...
The Banhammer is the size of a human warhammer, with a leather-covered handle, and a solid iron hammerhead engraved with runes written in pure gold leaf. It is heavy, but not too heavy to be used by someone who is strong.
When the hammer strikes flesh, bone or armour/clothing (but not other things), as well as whatever damage it may do (and it is a potent weapon) it casts a teleportation spell upon the one who is struck, teleporting he/she/it five hundred feet in a random direction, even if it is a dragon that is struck.(In the cast of it hitting a dragon it would do no damage, but would only teleport it, and five hundred feet is not a great distance for a dragon, which would soon fly or run back and burn or otherwise kill whoever was stupid enough to hit it.)
In a confined area this may well teleport the person into sold rock, killing him or her outright, however in an open area the only damage done will be that caused by the strike of the hammer and the struck one will merely be teleported randomly five hundred feet away. Every time the hammer is used, the magic will affect the wielder, making them feel dizzy and have an urge to throw up. The stronger the wielder, the more likely that they can withstand this effect at first, but sooner or later they will fall victim to it.(In terms of gaming mechanics, when this is used the player should roll the dice and test it against his or her skill score, with +1 or +2 being added to the dice on each throw after the first. A failed roll makes the players character be violently sick and unable to do anything for 1D6 minutes before recovery happens.)
Tomb 7-contains, a well-preserved body with empty eyesockets and a...
Fresh Water Giving Pearl
This item can be created by nature clerics and druids for travelers without a water source. Divine magic creates a freshwater pearl in a river mussel. (The river must be among the most pure and fast flowing.) The pearl contains within its magic sheen up to 4 gallons of fresh clean water.
To release this water a character must contemplate their gratitude to the earth and caress the outside of the pearl with some liquid. As this liquid flows over the pearl it releases twice its volume in water. The pearls may be safely held in the mouth and sucked upon until one has quenched their thirst or it may be transferred to a pot where it will produce water more quickly. After releasing a total of 4 gallons the pearl is dry. A swallowed pearl will not harm a respectful character but a despoiling character must make a save against terrible pain and damage. A swallowed pearl disappears. Soaking the pearl in very pure water and ardent prayer may revive a pearl for repeated use. Holy figures with sanctified fonts to refill in may get years from a single pearl. Laity typically will get no more than 7 uses. Each time a pearl is revived it soaks up as much as 4 gallons of water.
After all this tomb raiding the PCs will almost certainly decide to open Tomb 8. If they do they will get a horrible shock for inside is one of the feared Bandage Beasts which will attack them on sight with a rusty bronze saber and it's own bandages. Fire and fire magics have no effect on it whatsoever. Bludgeoning a Bandage beast will certainly make it collapse into a shapeless pile of material - after all, it only weighs as much as its wrappings - but it will not damage the creature at all, and the Mummy will either reform into a human shape, or continue ‘slithering’ onwards in its raggedy form.
The only way a slashing weapon will injure one of these creatures is if you shred the material into hundreds of miniscule pieces; and even then, you should be sure to watch all of the pieces of the material, to make sure that they all dissolve. If a strip does not dissolve, it means that the ‘echo’ of the creature is still attached, and if ignored, the material will slowly stitch back together. Naturally, once reformed the Bandage Beast will want revenge.
Water will make it collapse into a pile of bandages and crawl away in terror, helpless to resist attack.
If using items from the other tombs against it, the only two things that will do damage are the Banhammer, which will teleport it outside the pyramid entirely, and the water from the Fresh Water Giving Pearl. As it is insane the Fear Spell from the Sword of Fear will only effect the PCs, whilst the Flaming Banner of Collot will hurt all the PCs but leave the Bandage Beast unhurt.
If the PCs do manage to banish or destroy the Bandage Beast, they climb some stairs and hear voices speaking in the dead language of Urim. No doubt gripping their weapons, they enter and encounter...
Room Five: Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist
The PCs find the Helen they are talking to, taking in the dead language of Urim with another Helen...the princess that this pyramid was built for. And she is not some decayed Undead thing, but a human being despite being sealed up here for nearly a thousand years. She explains that it turned out that Helen was locked in a bubble of null-time somehow created by the pyramid itself. As such she did not need to eat, drink, urinate or defecate, and the flaming torches set in the walls did not burn down, so she was spared darkness and insanity. She had thirteen rooms within her burial chamber that she could enter. One contains her funeral bed, another the dead body of her father, unrotted and as fresh as if he had died only an hour of time ago. She was buried with books to read, paper, ink and a quill to write with, various items of clothing and jewelry to wear, and games such as solitaire to play, and kept her sanity by reading and rereading, writing, trying on clothes, praying for her father's soul,playing games and walking from room to room.
The PCs will have the treasure they took from the pyramid as a reward, plus a hefty sum of money for Helen's safe return. As for the other Helen, it is up to the GM if when she leaves the pyramid she collapses into a pile of old bones within seconds, or just ages normally. If the latter, scholars of history will pay a lot of money for the chance to speak to her in her own language.
Fallen Empires, monuments of old, sleeping kings and artifacts from eras long past.
Do you dare write of what crawls out of tombs and shambles out of ruins? What befell the ancient structures that still haunt the world. Are they truly abandoned or just awaiting a hardy soul to test their depths? Is the magic that destroyed the mighty fortress gone or does it seek its next victim. Only time will tell... Enter the Fallen Empires!
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? Responses (13)
A very good scenario. With only a little bit of tweaking it could be used in many campaigns. Thanks.
The vote didn't make it, trying again.
A fun adventure and good use of the five room dungeon format that's flexible enough to plug into most fantasy campaigns.
I did notice a few small issues however, in a few places damage is listed in specific dice (for example 3d6) and some of the images don't really fit with the sub. (A burning American flag and plaque of Pennsylvania?)
Still it's a good adventure and worthwhile read, nicely done Cheka.
(On a side note are all of the images you used open source or used with permission? Strolen's and the author can get in trouble if they use copyrighted pics in stuff like this without contacting the image owner first.)
Duly noted, perhaps tossing up an announcement in the forums somewhere might help clarify this for everyone and keep us from making said mistakes?
I like it.
I couldn't help but hear golem's voice from the old Rankin/Bass animated rendition of the Hobbit speaking the "time" riddle while I read it.
Getting the honey then flame jars in a row would be quite the shock. How diabolical.
My favorite quote: "Getting a foe to generally criticize Sallvian personal hygiene or cooking appears to be equally effective and is perhaps less difficult."
My favorite item is the Violent Sandals of Golan.
Some of the items including the sandals were borrowed from others on this site.
Link to them then! :)
I did, I noted it down in the Contributers section.
Also, the vote.
Ok... I like it. It has been a while since I have read one of your subs Cheka, mainly form me just not being here. And I can see that you have improved wonderfully. The 5 room dungeon is a good choice for this idea and I give kudos for linking multiple subs within. I congratulate you even, something that is not done often enough.
The dice rules kind of turned me off but only slightly and the mass amount of hugely epic items that are up for the taking at the end. Personally I could do without the mass storage of magic at the end but that is personal and nothing to take away form the sub. However, the Sword of Fear is marvelous. Its simple has no huge munchkin effect and has a decent amount of draw back that makes this a "I wish I would have thought of that before." item.
This has to be the most formatted submission I've seen you do Cheka.
Though, you really should link other submissions rather than repeat them verbatim - at least those by other authors.
But all in all, a good submission!
this is ambitious submission with a lot of backstory. I like the formatting, the concept and the world building. Also I enjoy how you pulled in all the other submissions.
However some of the ideas are not fully developed, overly derivative or awkwardly paced and presented.
Room 1: The PCs are given a world puzzle: What is the password. It would helpful to outline the kind of handout or information the PCs are supposed to have. It is an interesting idea that they are given this codex of clues, and I would be a waste if that codex is not developed enough for them to use it.
Room 2: The riddle is an old one and the resolution is easily associated Indian Jones and the Last Crusade. By I like that they get use there books
Room 3: There is really no reason to break open the jars and the threat here is rather passive, which makes the room rather tangental. It also doesn't really tell a story. Which in part makes this a sort of hiccup room, which is nice, but it is just as likely to ignored.
Room 4: The room has a lot of complicated loot, which has the potential to grind the pacing down as the PCs explore the new items and try to figure them out.
Room 5: How did Helen get in there? Did old Helen understand what her father was doing, was she complicit in it? Are the PCs going to learn the back story?
What game system did you write this for? It will help to understand what d6 damage means.