Long ago, during the reign of Emperor Haius the Magnificently Obese, the name Agellar was spoken throughout the land. Some spoke of him reverently, others as if he were a sick joke played upon them by the emperor. But all agreed that he was one of their ruler's favorites. And perhaps even more so, they spoke of the Coat of Diamonds, an impenetrable suit of armour granted him as a gift from the emperor.
When he died, he was buried in a small tomb in the Plains of Aganderis, where he could watch over his wandering kin for eternity.
Room 1: Entrance or Guardian
The main portion of the tomb is a shrine built to honor Agellar. A small monument sits at the far end of a wide hall, depicting a rearing horse with a richly-clad rider. On the monument's bottom is a small inscription:
"To he who carried our army to more victories than any other, I, Emperor Haius III, offer a salute. Rest peacefully, my old friend."
The inscription is in the language of said long-dead empire, but it is not unreasonable that a PC may know it.
Long troughs of water line both of the hall's edges, and an observent character notices that water cycles through them, apparently refilling from some sort of natural spring.
Although the floor is quite dusty, a small, ever-present breeze wafts the dust slowly out the open exterior door.
The only obvious exits are the open door leaving the tomb, and a small door on the right hand wall, which leads to Room 2. However, the head of the horse on the monument twists slightly, opening a secret passage deeper into the tomb (Room 3).
Note that, as the door is always open, any sorts of wild animals could be used as guardians in this room. Perhaps hyenas or lions would work.
Room 2: Role-playing or Puzzle
The Caretaker's Office
The small door from the shrine leads into this medium-sized office, which is considerably more dusty than the larger room, and which benefits from no breeze.
Although the room holds quite a bit of furniture - enough for two or three people to live comfortably - it's all old and rotting. Everything which would interest adventurers is gone from the room, including all valuables. Indeed, the PC's would be unlikely to benefit from entering this room but for a small twist of fate.
When a PC looks out through the door into the Shrine, he sees that what he previously thought was a breeze is, in fact, a ghost, sweeping the dust slowly out the door.
Once a PC has seen the ghost, he will not become unable to see it unless he deliberately stops looking at the spectre. Other PCs, however, will be unable to see the entity at all until they see it through the door from the office.
The spectre is the ghost of a man known in life as Markian. One of Markian's ancestors swore an oath to the emperor that he and all his descendents would maintain the tomb of Agellar. For centuries, they did so, until one third-born son - Markian - left the tomb, to seek a life outside. This would have been acceptable, for his brothers could have maintained the gravesite, were it not for a band of tomb-robbers.
The plunderers murdered the two caretakers, and their wives and children, for refusing to reveal the entrance into the tomb. Markian never learned of the slaughter, nor did he have any children, and so when he died, his spirit was trapped in the material world by his ancestor's oath, and would be forever, for he had no offspring to pass the duty onto.
Once Markian is seen, he can be easily conversed with, and he is quite willing to do so, for he has had little human contact over the centuries. Indeed, he has grown tired of his duties, and seeks to end them, caring little for the sanctity of the grave.
He will tell the PCs how to open the secret door into Room Three in exchange for their help sweeping. He wants the entire room clean, and only for this is he willing to reveal his knowledge. If the PCs are particularly helpful - say, they summon something to help him clean forevermore - he may even tell them how to bypass the traps ahead.
Room 3: The Trap or Setback
The Hall of Death
The secret door opens to a long, narrow, and dark staircase leading down. At the bottom lies a hallway, with a T-intersection. The stairs end at one of the two top-pieces, and a large iron door adorned with carvings and images of runes for curses and plagues and other such unpleasantry sits at the end of the other. Down the intersecting hallway is a lever, which, if pulled, opens the iron door.
Unfortunately, the hallway leading to the lever is full of traps - tripwires, pressure plates, etc. Unless the PCs are careful, they'll probably meet a messy end, or at least take a lot of damage. Indeed, the way is sufficiently dangerous that even the trip back isn't riskfree, as there are more dangers than one could hope to set off on one trip.
Fortunately, there exists a way to disarm the traps all in one go. One of the stones on the wall beside the trapped hall can be pushed in slightly. This sets the mechanisms ajar, and the traps won't go off when the PCs descend the hall. The traps can be reset by pushing in a stone on the opposite side of the trapped hall. This realigns the mechanisms, arming the traps and pulling the other stone solwly back to its original position. Note that it doesn't matter which one is pushed first - each stone can set and disarm the traps.
Room 4: The Climactic Encounter
Once the lever has been pulled, and the door opened, Markian turns on the PCs. With the one obstacle he feared now removed (he worried that there might be a curse on the door), he believes that it is time to put into action a plan he devised long ago. Markian thinks that, should he destroy the corpse of Agellar, he will be free of his ancestor's oath. Uncertain whether the PCs would be willing to overlook tomb-desecration, he intends that they never find out.
Once the PCs pull the lever, Markian reactivates the traps, hoping to confront them in a flurry of dart volleys and fire traps. Markian needs to become semi-corporeal to push the stone, and will thus be visible to the PCs. After activating the traps, he rushes down the hall to attack them, hoping to force them to move hastily. As Markian is not fully corporeal, he cannot set off the traps, although some of them can probably affect him.
Because of the Oath, Markian cannot actually be killed, and will eventually rematerialize in the Shrine, assuming the PCs don't decide to destroy Agellar's corpse.
Room 5: The Revelation and Reward
A Cruel Surprise
When the adventurers pass through the once-sealed door, they find themselves in the burial chamber. The room contains a fair number of coins, and perhaps some jewels and jewelry. More noticeably, an enormous sarcopagus sits in the room's center, and the PCs will likely be disappointed upon opening it.
The first thing they will likely realize is that Agellar is a horse. True to legend, he has been buried in his armour - a diamond studded suit of leather barding. Although certainly worth a large sum, and just as protective as is claimed, this is probably not what the PCs were looking for when they decided to sack the tomb.
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 (9)-9
Updated: Well, when I first submitted this into In Work, I didn't nominate it as a Quest entry, but it obviously is intended to be one. Is there a way that I can make it so?
I think this is quite good - nicely done! I like the twist.
Nice! I admit that I have been surprised - and had to laugh. Everything seems to fit in this dungeon. Great work!
I like the names, especially "Emperor Haius the Magnificently Obese". The plot is suitably "twisty" with several interesting surprises.
There were a few details that I found hard to credit, though: If "This is the tomb of an ancient knight, later made politician", who "fought in countless battles", I would expect the fact that he was a horse to be remembered, unless the tomb was truly ancient and forgotten.
Additionally, the ghost is sweeping the dusty shrine, moving the dust, so why is the shrine so dusty? A recent windstorm? The wrath of the dust gods? The ghost just came back from a trip to Florida?
Lastly, giant spiders are recommended foes for the shrine, but I would expect the ghost to interfere with any webs they build, so maybe something else would be more appropriate.
Updated: You're right; spiders don't make sense, so I've changed it to other plain-dwellers who might seek shelter.
The large amount of dust is partially because the ghost is one of those resentful types, who tries to get away with as little work as possible, and partially because I envisage animals frequently walking in and out of the shrine - perhaps to drink from the troughs - and they would track dust behind them.
As for poor Emperor Haius, I typed 'the Magnificent' at first, but my fingers refused to stop there.
I could have SWORN I voted on this earlier today!
Anyhow: I like it. Nothing much to say really, except that I love the twists. Also it reminds me somewhat of Caligula, that old Roman dog. Feels nice to say something that would have cost me my head 2000 years ago :)
Being quite fond of horses, I found the twist at the end of this quest to be the best part. The rest of the submission is good solid tomb-raiding.
+.5 for the horsey armor.
a diamond-studded suit of leather barding? wow, depending on size and cut of said studs, it could be worth a freakin fortune/small kingdom/kiss the economy goodbye!!
I'm guessing they are chips and flakes, for the sparkle and visual effect?
As to the dungeon, I like it! Nice twists and turns as others have said . Good work!