Dungeon Fantasy: The Colossal Cave Complex

This is the next in a series of DFRPG articles on this blog; A Dungeon for Every Archetype.

The GM section of DFRPG (Exploits, page 80-81) gives us several Archetypes of Dungeons; Prison, Cellar, Cave, Labyrinth, Tomb, Mine, Warren and Sewer.

I’m going to make a fully-detailed dungeon for each of the Archetypes.

Today, we’ll be covering a Cave Dungeon; The Colossal Cave Complex.

BACKSTORY

Up the airy mountain,

Down the rushy glen,

We daren’t go a-hunting

For fear of little men;

Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping all together,

Green jacket, red cap,

And white owl’s feather!

– William Allingham, “The Fairies”, in Poems (London: Chapman & Hall, 1850).

Once upon a time, a hermetic cabal OR a merchant house OR the nation’s government was forced to turn to a strange, dubious and mysterious queen of a faerie court to solve a dire problem facing their existence. They struck a bargain; the Faerie Queen would lend her great and terrifying power to help them survive the ordeal, in exchange for completing a quest centuries later. Now the time has come. Seek out the Faerie Queen in the depths of The Colossal Cave Complex and deliver her a requested package in accordance with the bargain struck long ago. The package is a mysterious artefact of a lost civilization; a crystal skull. The Faerie Queen will want the party to brave her maze and return the crystal skull to its resting place upon a crystal skeleton statue within the maze. Completing the quest upholds their side of the deal. The court of the Faerie Queen and the destined resting place of the crystal skull lies deep in The Colossal Cave Complex, a somewhat distant underground superstructure in the mountains that’s miles long. The crystal skull is given to the party in a small iron box with secure latches, as long as the party keeps it close and stays out of major trouble, it should be safe…(The crystal skull is a cosmic artefact and effectively indestructible but don’t tell the party that unless they make a Hidden Lore (Magical Items) roll. Losing it is the bigger danger.)

RUMOURS AND DETAILS

Archetype: Cave (Super Dungeon)

Character Point Rewards: 4 for completing the quest by returning the crystal skull to the skeleton statue.

Obvious dangers from the outside: “The way is subject to rain. There are frequent rockslides on the mountain, not to mention hazardous drops.”

Obvious monsters: “Vicious animals and insects lurk in the cave.”

Fabled loot: “Too bad it’s too far and too dangerous to set up a mining operation in the cave. I hear it’s rich in metal ores and gems.”

False rumours: “Everyone knows there’s a holy sword lost in the depths.”

“Demons of lust and sloth are claiming the cave complex as their own.”

“Undead dwarves endlessly patrol the darkness, keeping intruders away from their lost city.”

“All the water is acidic down there. Watch out for the boobytraps that dump it on your head!”

True research: “The underground river is faster, but watch out for the Hydra.”

“The Faeries down there can be allied with for information, but be careful about eating their food and drink.”

“The longer way through narrow tunnels can mean more encounters with hostile wildlife. Of course, such animals can be harvested for material gain…”

“The island on the giant chains is an ideal spot for a lurking serial killer. Who’s watching your back?”

“Behave yourself at a party and at court. So decree the Faerie Queen.”

False research: “There’s all sorts of secret passages in the maze. Take a good long look around each room.”

“Those Wildmen down there want every dwarf and halfling they see dead. Something about an ancient blood feud.”

“The Faerie Queen never upholds a deal made in good faith. Be on guard for her trickery and betrayal.”

“Be warned that the crystal skull will explode in a huge burst of magical energy if you return it to the right pedestal.”

GETTING THERE

Travel time: 5 days.
Survival type: Mountain.
Wandering monsters: 9 or less chance.
Weather challenges: Occasional rains, roll 3d at start of journey, rains happen often on a 9 or less, -1 to Survival, Hiking and Tracking rolls.
Terrain challenges: On the fourth day of travel, the party must ascend a mountainside, roll Climbing -3 or suffer a fall of 10 yards for 3d crushing damage. Random encounters on the fourth day or night MIGHT be a rockslide (Per-based Prospecting or Survival (Mountain) to see it coming, everyone must roll DX-based Prospecting or Survival (Mountain) to find cover or suffer 2d crushing damage and get buried until they or a friend wins a ST Quick Contest versus the damage roll to dig out) instead of a monster. On the fifth day, a successful random encounter is not a monster but falling rocks – everyone must roll Dodge +DB to avoid 5d crushing damage.

IN THE DUNGEON

Key dungeon features: Naturalist and Survival (Subterranean) (Pyramid 3/50 page 5) skills can help avoid dangers in the super dungeon. The mapping scale is 1 hex = 0.25 miles, caves not to scale. Major tunnels are four yards wide and 6 yards high. Narrow tunnels are one yard wide and two yards wide (mules and similarly big creatures can’t fit). The river is 8 yards wide, 6 yards deep, currents are Move 2, cave roof is 4 yards above the water. Mana and Sanctity is Normal. Nature Strength is +0 in most of the super dungeon. No doors in most of the dungeon.

Wandering monsters: 9 or less chance, see tables below.

Notes on a Super Dungeon: See Pyramid 3/50 page 22. Super dungeons are mapped with a large-scale hex grid that shows tunnels and major locations, the scale is a quarter mile per hex of map. Major locations could be singular caverns or rooms, or they could be entire normal-scale dungeons. The latter type of area needs its own dungeon map. The regular map should show which of its tunnels or corridors link to the super-dungeon map. Keep track of movement on an hour-by-hour basis, rather than using the daily Hiking rules. A party in a dungeon can travel a number of miles each hour equal to a quarter of their lowest Move – that is, one map hex times the party’s Move (where a hex equals a quarter mile). This travel speed assumes typical dungeon terrain: picking one’s way through bad terrain like caverns or rubble-choked passages, in poor lighting conditions, or via a sense like Infravision. If the party comes to a section of smooth corridor, they can move at twice this speed. In very bad dungeon terrain that requires squeezing through gaps (every narrow tunnel in the dungeon counts) or climbing, or if moving blind, they are reduced to half speed or less. Marching underground is tiring. As movement is being tracked on an hour-by-hour basis, be sure to assess Fatigue as per hiking with the penalties for an hour of march in the dungeon the same as for fighting a battle. Thus, an explorer with light encumbrance will lose 2 FP each hour. Instead of rolling daily against Hiking skill (or HT-5) to increase movement speed, roll individually to affect Fatigue. Critical failure means +2 FP; a Failure adds +1 FP for that hour of march; success means normal FP; a critical success means FP losses are -1 that hour.

Wandering Monster Table 1 (Tunnels, Entrance, Narrow Cave, Basilisk Nest, Manticore Lair, Glow Worm Cave)

Roll 2d.

2: N/2 Swarms of Army Ants, Bats, or Spiders (DF Monsters pages 54-55)

3: N/2 Acid Spiders (DF Monsters page 16)

4: 1 Bugbear (DF Monsters page 17)

5: 1 Troll (DF Monsters pages 57-58)

6: 1 Cave Bear (DF Monsters pages 16-17)

7: Nx2 Rock Mites (DF Monsters page 47)

8: N-2 Crushrooms (DF Monsters page 19)

9: 1 Slorn (DF Monsters pages 94-95) OR N Giant Beetles (Pyramid 3/108 page 12-13)

10: 1d+1 Spore Clouds (DF Monsters pages 52-53)

11: N Wildmen (DF Monsters pages 60-61) OR N Fauns (see stats below)

12: N-1 Earth Elementals (DF Monsters page 25)

Wandering Monster Table 2 (River)

Roll 2d.

2: N Wildmen (DF Monsters pages 60-61) on a raft

3: Nx2 Foul Bats (DF Monsters page 28)

4-5: 2 Swarms of Bats (DF Monsters pages 54-55) flying low

6: N Wildmen (DF Monsters pages 60-61) on a raft

7-8: Aquatic Giant Viper (DF Monsters page 31)

9: N Fauns (see stats below) on a raft

10: 1 Electric Jelly (DF Monsters page 24)

11: 1 Water Elemental (DF Monsters page 26)

12: 1 Hydra (Pyramid 3/108 page 14)

Wandering Monster Table 3 (Warped Cave)

Roll 2d.

2: 1 Sweeping Void (DF Encounters 1 page 16) of 1d+5 square yards

3: N/4 Spheres of Madness (DF Monsters pages 51-52)

4: N/4 Eyes of Death (DF Monsters pages 26-27)

5: 1 Mindwarper (DF Monsters pages 41-42)

6-9: N/2 Void Brutes (DF Monsters page 59)

10-11: N Gru (Pyramid 3/98 page 14-15)

12: N Elastoids (DF Companion 2 pages 26-27)

Wandering Monster Table 4 (The Island on Chains)

Roll 1d.

1: 1 Troll (DF Monsters pages 57-58) OR N Giant Beetles (Pyramid 3/108 page 12-13)

2: N/2 Swarms of Army Ants, Bats, or Spiders (DF Monsters pages 54-55)

3: N/2 Acid Spiders (DF Monsters page 16)

4: 1 Bugbear (DF Monsters page 17)

5: N Fauns (see stats below)

6: Nx2 Foul Bats (DF Monsters page 28)

Wandering Monster Table 5 (The Maze of the Crystal Skull)

Roll 1d.

1: one Stone Shark (Pyramid 3/98 page 18-19)

2: N Phase Serpents (Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic page 17)

3: Nx2 Striges (DF Monsters 2 pages 42-43)

4: N Phase Serpents (Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic page 17)

5: Demon of Old (DF Monsters page 20) OR Flame Servant Demon (Adventure 1: Mirror of the Fire Demon page 46)

6: Flaming Skull (DF Monsters page 27)

Monster Notes: N denotes a number equal to however many 250-point adventurers are effectively in the party, with every +100 points total increasing N by 1 (so a party of two 125-point delvers, one 250-point adventurer and one 350-point delver is N=1+1+2=4).

Enemy(?): Faun

Fun-loving Faery warriors who resemble goats below the navel with a short tail, woolly fur and backwards-facing legs that end in cloven hooves. They have horns and pointy ears on their head, males have goatees.

ST:11HP:11Speed:6.25
DX:13Will:10Move:6
IQ:10Per:14
HT:12FP:12SM:+0
Dodge:9Parry:9DR:0

Long Knife (12): 1d cut or 1d-1 imp, Reach C,1, Parry +0.

Hooves Kick (15): 1d+1 cr, Reach C,1.

Punch (15): 1d-1 cr, Reach C.

Horns (15): 1d+1 cr, Reach C.

Regular Bow (14): 1d imp, Acc 2, Range 165/220, Shots 1(2), Bulk -7.

Traits: Acute Hearing 2; Animal Empathy; Hooves; Bardic Talent 2; Striker (Horns, Crushing); Dependency (Mana, Constantly); Lecherousness (15); Sense of Duty (Nature).

Skills: Knife-12; Brawling-15; Bow-14; Fast-Draw (Arrow)-13; Survival (any)-17; Swimming-13; Tracking-16; Singing-14; Dancing-14; Musical Instrument (any)-14.

Spells: Sense Foes-12; Sense Emotion-12; Truthsayer-12; Mind-Reading-12; Detect Magic-12; Aura-12; Sound-12; Voices-12.

Class: Faerie.

Notes: Leg and foot armour not compatible with human armour. Failure to self-control their Lecherousness means no basic -5 reaction penalty for attractive adventurers trying to negotiate. Carrying a long knife, a regular bow, a musical instrument and a quiver with 12 arrows. Might have the Bardic Abilities Song of the Wild, Song of Sending and Song of Humiliation, INSTEAD of Bardic spells. Generally willing to negotiate, except with those displaying contempt for nature.

Enemy(?): Leprechaun

Very small red haired faeries with rosy cheeks, short tempers and bright eyes. Very strong for their size, but still weak and fragile by man standards. Extremely lucky. Can learn and cast 3 wizardly or druidic spells without regard for prerequisites.

ST:7HP:5Speed:6.75
DX:15Will:12Move:6
IQ:12Per:12
HT:10FP:10SM:-4
Dodge:9Parry:N/ADR:0

Faery Pistol Crossbow (15): 1d-1 imp, Acc 1, Range 105/140, Shots 1(4), Bulk -4, requires two hands to ready but only one to attack.

Traits: Magery 0; Reduced Consumption 3; Ridiculous Luck; Charms 3; Bad Temper (12); Dependency (Mana, Constantly); Sense of Duty (Nature); Danger Sense.

Skills: Stealth-20; Filch-15; Carousing-12; Smuggling-15; Fast-Draw (Arrow)-15; Holdout-15; Gambling-12; Climbing-16; Observation-13; Crossbow-15; Lockpicking-15; Traps-14; Pickpocket-15.

Spells: Missile Shield-12; Mage-Stealth-12; Agonise-12.

Class: Faerie.

Notes: Carrying basic lockpicks, a grapnel, rope, a faery pistol crossbow, and a quiver with 12 bolts. Weapon is custom built for SM -4 beings. Generally willing to negotiate, except with those displaying contempt for nature or those triggering their Bad Temper.

Enemy(?): Nymph

Errant cousins of Dryads, these extremely attractive elf-like faeries are quite perky and excellent entertainers. They have blue skin with hair like cascading water or green skin with leaves for hair or similarly nature-like odd but cute looks.

ST:11HP:11Speed:6.50
DX:12Will:14Move:6
IQ:14Per:14
HT:12FP:12SM:+0
Dodge:9Parry:10FDR:0

Light Rapier (15): 1d imp, Reach 1, Parry +0F.

Short Bow (12): 1d-1 imp, Acc 1, Range 110/165, Shots 1(2), Bulk -6.

Traits: Voice; Transcendent Appearance (Universal); Charisma 5; Dependency (Mana, Constantly); Sense of Duty (Nature).

Skills: Rapier-15; Bow-12; Acting-14; Carousing-17; Current Affairs-14; Detect Lies-14; Diplomacy-20; Fast Talk-20; Musical Composition-16; Musical Instrument (any)-16; Performance-20; Poetry-15; Propaganda-15; Public Speaking-21; Savoir-Faire-16; Singing-20; Dancing-14; Sex Appeal-22; Ventriloquism-14.

Class: Faerie.

Notes: +14 to Reaction Rolls! Can help the party socially or with knowledge skills if they befriend them. If hostile, will help other faeries attack them by using social skills to distract or draw aggression, or use trickery out of combat. Carrying a light rapier, a bow, a musical instrument and a quiver with 12 arrows.

DUNGEON AREAS

A: Cave Entrance

The entrance into The Colossal Cave Complex is a large cave mouth on the side of a mountain, the light from outside only reaches halfway into the 20 by 60 yards area (after the halfway mark, the Darkness penalty increases to -5 and slowly becomes worse as the player-characters continue). At the opposing end of the area, the cave has a major tunnel going deeper into the complex.

The walls of this area are marred with graffiti, seemingly random phrases.

“The magic word is XYZZY”

“They say that a hacker named David once slew a giant with a sling and a rock.”

“So when I die, the first thing I will see in heaven is a score list?”

“A nymph will be very pleased if you call her by her real name: Lorelei.”

“You are destined to be misled by graffiti”

“You may get rich selling letters, but beware of being blackmailed!”

“Just because it says READ ME doesn’t mean you should.”

None of these random phrases mean anything useful, but do not tell the players that.

B: Wildman Village

This 260 by 275 yards cave is home to a small community of 100 Wildmen (DF Monsters page 60-61) and their dire animal pets, led by a spellcasting shaman. The dire animals that the Wildmen keep as guards and hunting companions includes Nx2 Dire Wolves with one Alpha Male (DF Monsters page 21) as a first line of defence.

The village won’t be immediately hostile, but they might regard the party with suspicion and deny them access to their home or help. (Elves, Druids, Faeries and Barbarians will be more likely to be seen as trustworthy. Consider lowering the reaction penalty if the party is mostly such characters.) Their first instinct will be to hide and watch from afar to get the party’s measure before doing anything to them. Making friends with the Wildmen can get the party advice on the dungeon’s hazards or areas, or the shaman may help them with Drudic spells. (The Shaman should at least know all Druidic spells with a Power Investiture 3 or less requirement at level 15. More powerful spells are less likely, roll 9 or less on 3d to have the Shaman know the spell.)

Looting the village won’t get the party much in the way of valuables. At best, they’ll get neolithic weapons, primitive water rafts that the Wildmen use to traverse the river, hundreds of rations, a community’s store tank of water, sleeping furs, firewood, torches and huge stone huts.

This cave is a natural echo chamber, reducing Range penalties for Hearing rolls by 2. Outside of the village, there are no sources of light, natural or man-made, in the area.

A natural pool is located in this cave. The pool serves as a home for blind albino cavefish and crayfish. Spending an hour fishing here (a skill roll is required) gets a delver the equivalent of 1d rations in caught food.

The cave has two ways further into the complex from here; a major tunnel going south-west (which ends at The Narrow Cave area) and the river flowing south-east. Going down the river requires a boat or a raft (the Wildmen may lend the party one of theirs if dealt with peacefully). See Key Dungeon Features above for more on the river, and please note that random encounters on the river have their table.

C: Narrow Cave

This cave is much more rough and claustrophobic than the last areas. It is 55 by 90 yards big and very dimly lit by glowing fungus (-7 Darkness). At certain points of this area, the ceiling is very low, forcing any creature larger than a gnome, halfling, or other short race to crouch or crawl while exploring it. Only a few pockets of the area are 7 by 7 yards spaces, the rest of the cave is mostly 1-yard-wide passages branching off here and there.

Halfway through, in fact, sufficiently tall adventurers must crawl through narrow cracks under knife-sharp rocks in order to advance to the narrow tunnels going south-west. Roll Escape-2 to get through or hurt yourself on the ceiling for 1d+3 cutting damage (see DF Exploits page 21). Critical failure not only means getting stuck, but also an automatic maximum damage roll as well.

The cave has valuable metal ores within its walls. A Prospecting roll will identify the ores and allow mining them out given sufficient equipment and time. It takes 30 minutes to mine the ore vein, the resulting spoils weigh 20 lbs and is worth $3700.

This area is home to a small pack of N+1 Kroa-Kroa (DF Monsters 2 pages 24-25), who will attack the party just two-thirds of the way through the cave, between larger spaces and in 1-yard-wide “corridors”. They will exploit the tight spaces and practice cruel hit-and-run ambushes if possible.

D: Basilisk Nest

This cave is a large 30 by 30 yards field, lines of sight broken by constant rock pillars and slopes. Lots of fungus grows here thanks to rich nutrients in the soil and plentiful water coming in from above, so it’s dimly lit by glowing mushrooms (-5 Darkness penalty) and the adventurers can try foraging for fresh water and 1d+2 rations in this area with a Naturalist or Survival (Subterranean) roll at +3 and 1dx2 minutes. Unfortunately, this also means a +3 to the chance of a random encounter in this area as creatures are naturally inclined to come here for water and hunting.

There is a trove of precious but uncut gemstones in the walls of this cave. A Prospecting roll allows the party to mine the gems, which takes 2dx10 minutes to complete and gains the party 2d+12 gemstones. Each individual gemstone is worth $270.
Nesting in this cave and hunting the creatures who come here, is 1 Basilisk (Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic page 5) and its nest of six eggs (worth $500 each) in the darkest far corner. The monster hunts from the shadows as much as it can, using its Death Gaze ability from afar to slaughter any prey that does not see it. It will defend its nest to the death.

E: Warped Cave

This 35 by 50 yards cave bears a maze of stalagmites, stalactites, and natural stone columns in strange formations that resemble real objects and decorations. Movement through the cave is slow going and there are many places to conceal natural dangers and lurking foes. The whole area counts as bad terrain (+1 movement point per hex, -2 to attack rolls, -1 to active defences).

Thanks to 100 year+ old Elder Thing experiments, this whole area is tainted by horrid extra-dimensional warping, and hostile monsters from beyond occasionally intrude. Currently, there are N Elastoids (DF Companion 2 pages 26-27) and N Gru (Pyramid 3/98 page 14-15) lurking in the cave, ready to attack the adventurers when they try to advance through the cave. The former monsters will send in the later monsters first, to sneak attack and disrupt the party, before they move in afterward when they are distracted and committed to the fight.

The walls of the cave are covered with strange multicolored crystals of unearthly origins. A Prospecting roll and 70 minutes of work will allow the delvers to mine out 3dx2 lbs of crystals. The crystals are worth $500 per pound.

F: River

Instead of going through the narrow tunnels, the party may decide to travel down the underground river. Of course, this requires a boat, which they might get from the Wildman Village area. Swimming is not a good option at all. The water is fresh but very cold. The river is 8 yards wide, the water’s 6 yards deep, the currents are Move 2, and the cave roof is 4 yards above the water. It is completely dark. Random encounters every hour of travel are a risk, especially since there is a Hydra lurking in the waters.

After a mile of going down the river, the party will hit a waterfall. Going over the falls without disaster requires a Boating roll at -2. Failure means someone gets thrown off the raft and into the water (see Swimming, DF Exploits page 21). Critical failure means the watercraft capsizes.

G: The Island on Chains

A vast (400 by 400 yards) and pitch black cavern has an island suspended in the middle of its central gaping chasm by colossal chains; the party must walk across the 50-yard-long chains to get to the island. Going across the chains does not normally require a roll, but delvers be warned that the chains are only two yards wide and no guardrail stops them from plummeting into the chasm (a 50 yards fall for 6d+2 crushing damage, climbing back up has a -3 penalty to the roll). A fight with a random encounter here could be deadly. The only way over the chasm (other than flying) to the major tunnel deeper into the complex on the other side of the cave is a chain bridge accessible via the island. The chance of a random encounter in this area is only 6 or less on 3d.

Across the chains, the suspended island is a 150 by 150 yards square of “solid” ground. There’s four different stone buildings built on the island, all of them bearing the markings of a lost civilization. An iron cage holding a dead human is hanging from a high pole next to where a chain ends.

The first such building is a 20 by 20 yard cluttered storehouse of some kind, filled with stone furniture and dusty shelves of time worn artefacts of mundane living. A successful Search roll finds a dingy crib with a decomposing doll lying inside. Opening the seams, you can find inside the doll, a tightly wrapped bundle of 4d silver coins. Looking for secret doors in this storeroom requires a roll at -10 to find one behind a shelf, unlocking it requires an IQ-based Traps roll to open the secret latch, behind the concealed average wooden door is 2 hexes of space, and a small open wooden box containing 2 glow vials and a vial of acid.

The second building on the island is the smallest, 10 by 10 yards. By the looks of the interior, the building was basically a shack for one person once upon a time. Among the ruined living quarters is a hidden average wooden trapdoor – finding it requires a roll at no penalty, but it is locked (no penalty to Lockpicking), the space below is 3 yards of dusty pseudo-basement, and someone left a still active Rock Troll (Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic page 19) to rot here. Behind a plastered and painted wall (obviously discolored but also somewhat solid – DR 25 and HP 30) of the stone cabin is a small hollow stuffed with straw and rat bones, digging around in the hollow will turn up 20 gold coins.

The third building on the island is a very old 25 by 15 yards “funhouse”. The place is split into four different rooms. One room is dominated by a strange stone statue built into the wall. The statue resembles a large stone face and a chair made of rock is built into the ground in front of it. (A roll against Hidden Lore (Lost Civilizations) reveals that the statue is meant to resemble an legendary oracle of old. The statue is magical and detects as such, a Hidden Lore (Magical Items) roll guesses the statue is for divination in exchange for cash.) Examining the stone statue further reveals there is a coin slot in the statue’s right ear (with a small symbol of a round coin marked $10) and the chair in front of the statue has the words “BEWARE THE ODDS” engraved into its left armrest. Putting $10 worth of coins into the slot activates the magic of the statue, its eyes will begin glowing blue and it will animate, speaking “ASK YOUR QUESTION.” A delver may then ask one question of the statue for every $10 put into the slot, and the statue will answer the question like a fortune teller (on every odd-numbered question, the statue will subtly lie). Smashing open the stone could, in theory, get all the coins put into the slot (672 copper coins and 78 silver coins) but that would require a lot of work (the stone is DR 78 and HP 75). The second room of the building is a rough and messy parlor, a bar counter at the back is forever stained by strong drinks and lightly covered in small bits of broken glass. In a brick wall at the back of the parlor is a fake brick (Search -7 to find it while looking over the room), behind that fake brick is a small hollow that has a small pool of muddy water on the floor. Buried in that small pool are 45 loose silver coins. The third room of the building, just after the front door, is a lobby covered in shelves of fungi. The SM+0 fungi (DF Monsters pages 28-29) are dotted among 5 different hexes, all of them Smokers and Puffballs. The fourth room, behind the parlor, is a large bedroom where the bed has been crushed and chopped into a few large pieces. If anyone thinks to look for concealed doors in the bedroom, they can find one on a successful roll (-6 penalty to detect), it’s an extra-heavy locked (+0 Lockpicking penalty) wooden trapdoor on the floor under a tipped-over wardrobe, the hidden space is 4 hexes of area, and you can find a bottle of alchemist’s fire and a bottle of glue in the space.

The biggest building on the island (30 by 40 yards) is the lair of a Bugbear (DF Monsters page 17) who will lurk in the shadows and harass anyone who intrudes with intent to kill. The monster has quietly set up various boobytraps all around the lair and has many prepared hiding spots, it typically lies in wait until an adventurer falls prey to a trap so it can take advantage. The lair building itself is a messy and gore-splattered hovel of one-yard-wide corridors and six 5 by 5 rooms with unlocked light wooden doors. Searching the place (Search -2 roll for a base time of 5 minutes) is a dangerous affair (each minute of searching puts a delver in danger of a trap on a 4-in-6), shallow sharpened stake pits (-2 to detect, 1d impaling damage if you fall in) are in every length of passage. Other traps in the lair are 4 trip ropes (set up in corridors, -7 to detect, automatically disarmed if detected, trip and fall prone if walked into) and 3 bucket of bricks dead falls (set to fall on someone if a door is opened, -3 to detect, disarmed automatically if detected, Dodge at -2 (unless looking up or with Danger Sense) to avoid, 2d crushing damage if hit by the falling bricks). Successful searching finds the bugbear’s discarded sack of shiny things – there’s 493 copper pennies, 38 silver coins and a copper-and-gold drinking goblet (0.2 lb., $500) in there.

H: Manticore Lair

This 25 by 40 yards cave (lit by glowing mushrooms, -5 Darkness penalty) is home to one Manticore (Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic page 14). The monster hides among the rock protrusions for cover, to better hunt intruders. The cave has valuable metal ores within its walls. A Prospecting roll will identify the ores and allow mining them out given sufficient equipment and time. It takes 90 minutes to mine the ore vein, the resulting spoils weigh 70 lbs and are worth $105000. There are two narrow tunnels out of this area.

I: Glow Worm Cave

This area is 40 by 50 yards and has only a -3 Darkness penalty thanks to giant glow worms who build big silk and mucus lines for catching bugs, big enough that folks can traverse through the silk slime tunnels they make. The worms are largely harmless to humans and give off decent light.

The walls of the cave are covered with sparkly glowing crystals and precious metal ores can be mined out of them. A Prospecting roll and 40 minutes of work will allow the delvers to mine out 3dx3 lbs of crystals and 20 lbs of metal ores. The crystals are worth $50 per pound. The metal ores are worth $1dx50 per pound.

The cave is also home to a single Corrosion Crawler (Pyramid 3/98 page 13), a highly territorial beast who lairs near the eastern major tunnel. It’s mostly been feasting on metal ores in the cave walls, but occasional faery warriors with metal weapons or armour venture around here also…

J: Faery Party Grove

This 75 by 85 yards cave is completely lit by magic and centrally dominated by a fairy crowd’s rowdy festival next to a lush grove. Nature’s Strength is +2 here. There are NO random encounters in this area.

The festival has faeries drinking, eating, dancing and playing music everywhere. It’s a midsummer festival, however they’ve lived underground for so long the tradition has morphed into unrecognizability (they think the sun is green, for example). There are also lines of stalls set up, hawking food, drink and other amusements. Some smaller groups of faeries are playing games of chance or skill (darts, cards, chess, etc.), gambling with coins.

One “friendly” game of cards/dice is being dominated by one particular individual who is cleaning out all comers. The various faeries are too naive or magic-focused to understand that the individual is cheating in a mundane fashion, through sleight of hand, but the party should be able to tell without too much difficulty (especially if they’re a thief). Catching out the cheater, or out-cheating them, may help to gain good favour with the faeries. Especially if you give them back the stuff they lost gambling.

There is a small circus style act of a “performing animal” which is just a regular human in a costume (the costume is not that convincing, overall). The “animal” never breaks character while in front of the audience, but if the party takes it carefully and approaches them during a break in the show, they’ll find out that this human is not a prisoner or being forced to do this. They’re literally an entertainer by profession (clown guild licence and everything) and actually having a blast. If the party acts without thinking and tries to “rescue” the performer, they will make enemies of the clown guild. Sleep lightly.

If the party simply ignores the festival, they can get to the other side of the grove and leave the area. If they socialise and check out the fete with the faeries instead, one of them needs to roll Carousing, Dancing or Musical Instrument skill to get along with the faeries at the party. Failure means a degree of unfriendliness, like pickpocketing, refusal to talk, increased costs or heckling. Critical failure means a party-goer tries to sucker-punch someone (effective skill 10, 1d+1 crushing damage to the face if hit, Danger Sense allows a roll to see it coming and defend)! Severely hurting, cheating or disrupting the festival is punished with a curse, roll Will-5 to resist.

The Compulsive Carousing Disadvantage means the adventurer MUST roll self-control or join in, drinking faerie wine or take part in the merry-making. Enjoying the party food and drink means you must roll HT or suffer an affliction for 40-HT minutes. For what affliction, roll 1d; 1 or 6: euphoria (DF Exploits page 65), 2 or 5: tipsy (DF Exploits page 65), 3: hallucinating (DF Exploits page 66), 4: tiredness (lose 3 FP immediately, does not wear off, regain them through 8 hours of sleep).

Buying food (counts as a meal/ration) or drink (counts as both a pint of water and alcoholic) from the stalls costs only $2 per meal or drink. The food is standard carnival and day market fare; pies, bread rolls, cakes, chicken drumsticks, roast beef, stew, soup, popcorn, etc. The drinks are “wine” and “ale”, all of which are strangely smelling and bright colours swirl energetically within.

One stall sells meat, glistening in the grove light. Thick and juicy and ripe, the Leprechaun hawker swears you’ll never taste anything like them. But they don’t look like any cut of meat you’ve ever seen, and he’s notoriously cagey when pressed on which animals he’s butchered for your delectation. Still, the price is good and the flesh is tender, and who can argue with that? (The food costs $5 and counts as Essential Food…except for whatever strange side-effect the GM wishes to inflict.)

“Buy a star today!” the storekeeper screeches, hand patting the huge brass telescope mounted on a stand beside him. “Any star you like!” The male Nymph Maester Coldfront is the market’s pre-eminent astronomer. You know that because his cloak and his stall are covered in paper stars that flutter and flap in the breeze. Peer through his telescope, even at the height of day, and you’ll set your eyes on furious burning orbs far across the galaxy. He swears he can sell you them – and for the right price he can give you the means to visit, too. (Buying a star costs $1dx125. Five times that and the buyer also gets a magical token that teleports them to the strange celestial body when activated at the right time of night.)

One market stall is a twisted forest of glass, jars and beakers and flasks and tubes covering every surface. Thin gasses swirl inside them, so light and ethereal as to be almost invisible. The Faun storekeeper will sell you a quick sniff for $4, or a deep draw for $8. The carpets and pillows that surround the stall are always filled with punters in repose, smiling and drooling as they sleep off whatever concoction they’ve had a hit of today. The hawker won’t say what they are, and the only way to find out what they do is to pay up. (One possible effect is that the sniffer heals 1 HP and 1 FP (double that for a deep pull) but suffers a random affliction for 10 minutes (20 minutes for a deep smelling).)

One Faery hawker, a Faun wearing a big floppy wizard’s hat, sells various magical consumable items. One of the items on sale is magic mushrooms that allow the consumer to see the answer to any question. It costs $100 per mushroom (stealing and cheating the seller is punished by a curse, roll Will-5 to resist the curse). If an adventurer eats a mushroom and asks a question, roll a 1d; 1-2: the true answer in somewhat garbled or metaphorical language, 3-4: something clear and true but unhelpful (i.e. “Where is the guy we’re looking for?” “He’s on the toilet.”), 5: the answer to some totally different question that they might not even know about yet but which they could use in the future some time, 6: random affliction for 1dx5 minutes. The hawker also sells (at the usual list prices) Minor Healing Potions, Paut, Magic Resistance Potions, True Water, Goblin Nerve Tonic ($50, DF 8 Treasure Tables page 36), Orcish Energy Brew ($45, DF 8 Treasure Tables page 36), Hero’s Brew ($2000, Treasures 3: Artefacts of Felltower page 12), and Mana Gout ($1000, Treasures 3: Artefacts of Felltower page 13).

The partiers in the area include Fauns (stats given above), Pixies (stats as per Pixie Thief with Pickpocket-15, see Adventure 1: MotFD page 45), Leprechauns (stats given above) and Nymphs (stats given above).

Security for the festival is provided by a Dryad (Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic page 9) melded in the grove’s 15 trees, coordinating her small army of N Fly-Dragons (DF Monsters 2 pages 16-17) and N Mindhounds (DF Monsters 2 pages 28-29) in case anyone starts trouble. Being shy, the Dryad will not make herself known to most party-goers.

K: Throne Room of the Faery Queen

This 50 by 75 yards and fully lit area is supposedly the destination of the party’s quest to deliver the crystal skull. In actual fact, the Faerie Queen wants the party to return the crystal skull to its proper resting place before she considers the quest complete and the bargain settled.  The throne room is a lavish royal gathering with a large polished marble open floor for audiences with the Queen with tables and chairs around the edges of the area. The courtiers attending to the Queen and their affairs (gossiping, striking deals, eating, drinking, etc.) are faeries of various flavours who idly crowd around the throne room in bunches and cliques. At the back of the room and on raised steps, the Faerie Queen passively oversees it all on her ornate throne. At the eastern end of the room, there is a doorway to The Maze of the Crystal Skull, opened only to the party once the Queen has instructed them to put the artefact to its resting place. There are NO random encounters in this area. But resting here for more than an hour is unlikely to be tolerated…

When socialising, Savoir-Faire -5, Diplomacy -5 or Public Speaking -3 (Hidden Lore (Faeries) complements and Cultural Adaptability reduces penalties) skills are required to avoid offending the faeries and getting antagonised by the hangers-on and bureaucrats. The courtiers will not attack, but they are not above mischief like pickpocketing, spreading rumours, heckling, posting bounties on their heads and spiking drinks. The consequences of their negative attention might not happen right away, but strike the party a few days after they leave the dungeon. Successful rolls socialising with the courtier faeries gets the party hints for navigating The Maze later (+1 bonus to future rolls for avoiding danger in The Maze).

The Faerie Queen speaks Common, Elvish, Ancient, Faerie/Drudic, and Reptilian/Draconic. She is very compelling, wonderfully beautiful and enchantingly lovely in the most disturbing way possible. She wears a pointed golden crown with jewels upon her head.

Try to make the encounter with the Faerie Queen subtly surreal and unnerving. Let the players know the Queen is a powerful entity of a strange nature, with alien values and a mildly unhinged mindset. Her mannerisms should be odd and unexplained, she should occasionally babble about non-sequiturs and burst out into sudden displays of inappropriate emotions (laughing, crying, screaming, singing…) then immediate drop it without further comment, change your description of her appearance multiple times throughout the encounter without comment or reason (“She’s blonde? I thought you said she had black hair?” “Yes. I did. *Shrug.*”), and maybe mess with the memories of the delvers if they try to recall the encounter later (for example, insist that something totally wild or bizarre or horrid happened during the audience and agree immediately when the players correctly say it did not and then abruptly say nothing more).

If an adventurer wants to roll Hidden Lore (Faeries) or cast a spell to “figure out” the Faerie Queen, let them roll at whatever modifier your whim assigns. A failure means silence and a shrug. Success means you suggest the Queen is a multiversal entity that exists in several different times and places simultaneously and her actions make sense when viewed from the outer planes. A critical success means you simply state the Faerie Queen does whatever she does because that is how the story goes. Critical failure means you tell the player that “it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of a living God.” And offer no further explanation.

Anyone with Lecherousness must roll for self-control when meeting the Faerie Queen or else try to seduce her with a Sex Appeal roll (gender and race is irrelevant to these rolls, she is beyond such concerns, although Appearance definitely applies), a successful Sex Appeal roll means the Queen is receptive and meets privately with the adventurer for a tender and romantic embrace (just kissing if you do not want to take it that far, either way it is a fade-to-black). The outcome of this encounter varies wildly, but a suggested result is that the adventurer gains either a bonus Character Point to spend as the player wishes, OR improves a skill or two (typically Hidden Lore, Musical Instrument, Poetry, Occultism, Dancing, Singing or any Influence skill) by a level “for free” instantly in exchange for having to resist a curse with a Will-5 roll. The curse may take the form of Vulnerability, Weakness or Dread of silver/silvered weapons until it is removed. The embrace also inflicts a 1d+1 FP cost unless the delver makes a HT roll, even if just kissing the Faerie Queen. Her great and terrible affection can steal your breath away.

Angering the Faerie Queen due to a failed Influence roll or bad Reaction Roll causes her to lash out and inflict a Fright Check -4 or curse (the target of her ire resists with a Will-5 roll in the later case). Potential curses the Queen can inflict include lowered Attributes, Dread of holy symbols, Compulsive Behaviour of any kind, Vulnerability to silver/silvered weapons, Truthfulness, Gluttony, lowered Appearance, penalties to resisting Druidic and Wizardly magic, penalties to casting Druidic and Wizardly spells, and increased chances of random encounters. Cleansing the curse is resisted by Will 20. The Queen will strike a deal with a cursed delver to lift it, if the delver agrees to her request and returns the crystal skull to its rightful place in the maze.

Trying to fight the Faerie Queen is worse than useless. If the party attacks, all the courtiers fade away with their magic rather than join in, coming back after the “fight” is over. They know they do not need to protect the Queen. Instead, the Queen bursts into multi-coloured lights that split up and codolese into fighting clones of herself equal to the party in number.

Each of the clones effectively has an attack roll skill of 14+d (roll separately for each clone) and a Dodge of 12, their attacks (whatever form they SEEM to have) inflict 1d injury on hit ignoring DR, they effectively have no “real” HP or attributes (treat each clone as having a generic value of 12 for stuff like resisting spells or not getting tripped) and successful hits on them have no point but to stop them from attacking on their own turns. Stunning, knockdown and knockback applies (treat effective HT and ST as 12 for the purposes of the roll, remember) but actual injury is irrelevant or negated. For the purposes of major wounds, treat each clone as having 12 maximum HP but don’t bother with matters of unconsciousness or death – the clones won’t die or pass out no matter how badly they’re hit. To put it bluntly, the Queen is inflicting injury on the party and the party fighting back is just getting in the way of that, not actually killing her. If an adventurer does not attack a clone during the “fight”, they won’t be attacked in turn.

The clones will humour the party’s attempt at combat for 3d seconds/turns or until they give up before simply bursting into multi-coloured lights and fading away, before the Queen appears again on her throne, seemingly untouched and coldly scolding the party for thinking she was not beyond mere violence. She will do this as many times as she needs to. She is something of a Demi-God.

If the party does the obviously smart thing and shows her the Crystal Skull, the Faerie Queen will be pleased and praise the adventurers, but will also instruct them to return the artefact to its proper resting place; at the centre of The Maze, atop a crystal skeleton statue. If asked why she or one of her courtiers do not return the skull, the Queen will explain that The Maze is barred to her and her followers by the cosmic order. Of course, she will compensate the party for the extra trouble, even giving them a little payment in advance (50 silver coins, $1000, for each delver). If the party makes their way to the middle of the maze and returns the Crystal Skull, the Faerie Queen will reward them more upon their return. The GM can choose what reward the Faerie Queen gives for completing the quest, it would probably be a magical or druidic artefact. After completing the quest and receiving their reward, the Faerie Queen helpfully teleports the party to a town of their choice.

L: The Maze of the Crystal Skull

Not to scale.

Past the foreboding double doors in the Throne Room of the Faerie Queen is the ancient Maze of the Crystal Skull, a bizarre and dangerous miniature labyrinth made before time by entities unknown. Hidden Lore (Lost Civilisations) skill can help warn of dangers in this area. The maze entrance (marked 1 on the map above) is a round (10 yard radius) chamber lit unnervingly well (-0 Darkness) by coloured lights in the ceiling, the only way forward is a cylindrical tunnel opening suspended 50 yards in the air and going up at angle. There is a magical giant mushroom ring at the entrance to the Maze, marking the point where the perilous ordeal begins. This place is guarded by a Cerberus (Pyramid 3/108 page 11), who will attack the party if they try to enter the mushroom ring.

Going further into the Maze requires activating the zero gravity floating zone by entering the mushroom ring and allowing yourself to float up and through the sloping two-yards-wide tunnel above. Everyone going up and into the Maze must roll Body Sense to keep their bearings as they float through space to the other side, failure means they cannot roll to avoid or cut the razor wire obstacles criss-crossing the tunnel halfway through. The lattice of razor wires can be avoided with a Dodge or Acrobatics (whichever is higher) to get past a number of wires equal to margin of success plus 1. Someone with a ready cutting weapon (rolling Fast-Draw is an option) can roll Parry to cut wires equal to margin of success plus 1. There are five wires total, each inflicts 1d(10) cutting and is meteoric iron. Once past the wires, the delver floats up to a landing and exits the zero gravity zone, to the area marked 2 on the map.

Once the party is at the area marked 2, one Doppelganger (Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic pages 7-8) will start stalking them throughout the maze, quietly picking off stragglers or trying to sabotage them. The monster knows of all the traps and monsters in the maze and it will try to lure the adventurers into them or cover its escape from a fight using them.

The 2 area is a 10 by 10 yards square junction, a rusty signpost standing in the middle, the writing on the sign completely worn away. It is lit by a big blazing torch attached to the signpost. The party can hear a scratching noise somewhere here. There are three passages out of the junction. The corridors of the Maze are lit dimly (-3 Darkness) by periodic magical lights.

The place marked 3 on the map is a nest for N+1 Phase Serpents (Monsters 3: Born of Myth & Magic page 17). It is filled with rotten wood pieces and mouldy straw bales, there is no light to be found here. The Phase Serpents’ 5 eggs are kept safely inside the back wall in a hollow that must be broken into.

The area marked 4 is brightly lit and measures 8 by 12 yards of space. The place superficially resembles a treasure room, full of pedestals displaying fancy precious jewellery. In truth, all but one of those jewellery pieces is fake – they’ll turn to dust the moment they are touched. The one real jewellery is a silver torc with garnets and peridots inset (worth $1515) on a pedestal, the ground in front of which is cursed with a Reverse Gravity Trap (Pyramid 3/60 page 39) that will inflict a 3d crushing damage “fall” if triggered.

The area marked 5 is a 10 by 25 room. The floor is covered in square tiles, alternating white and black, and someone has scrawled “Orleing has no beard” in dwarvish runes on the north wall. The party can hear somebody playing a flute somewhere in this area. Burning torches in iron sconces line the south wall (no Darkness penalty), and someone has scrawled “Save yourself, kill the others” in blood on the eastern wall. There are copper coins scattered all over the floor of this room, 1d-2 (minimum 0) coins every square yard. Near the centre of the room is a camouflaged Flooding Pit Trap that the floor slides away to drop you in when a pressure plate is stepped on before opening water jets into the pit (-6 to notice, -6 to disarm, Dodge -2 to evade, fall for 5d crushing then water flooding in at 1 yard per 2 seconds until the pit is half full).

The area marked 6 is which 1 Colchis Bull (Pyramid 3/108 page 11-12) claims territory, aggressively guarding any way in or out from intruders. The room looks like it was a gladiator arena once upon a time, and it is completely lit by magical skylights. The circular walls of the arena are scrawled over with weird graffiti. The passageway to the west, where the Treasure Stash and Crystal Skeleton rooms are, is blocked off by a portcullis locked in place (weighs 1000 lbs, the bars are DR 12 and HP 23).

The room marked 7 is 13 by 13 yards of space. It is not lit at all. A shallow pit lies in the west side of the room, and several pieces of rotten bread are scattered throughout the room. 2 yards into the room, the floor is covered with Magebane that’s been mixed with dirt and grime to disguise it (see DF Traps page 5). There is an empty but locked (-2 Lockpicking) wooden chest placed at the back end of the area.

The area marked 8 is 13 by 13 yards of space, it is lit by torches on the walls, and cursed as per A Crooked Mile (DF Traps page 17). Walking through the room means a roll to save or suffer daze.

The Treasure Stash room is lit by torches along the walls and is an area of 15 by 15 yards. Whoever built this maze, kept lots of valuables here. There are big stacks of coins loose on the floor here – 7930 copper pennies, 574 silver coins, 4320 billion coins (can be mistaken for copper), 351 tumbaga coins (can be mistaken for gold), 188 electrum coins (can be mistaken for gold or silver) and 55 gold coins.

There are also 5 treasure chests (one hidden, all have the same DR and HP as an average wooden chest) in this area.

One of the treasure chests is actually a magical illusion – anyone trying to touch it finds their hands go right through it.

One of the treasure chests is unlocked and contains alchemist’s matches, 4 torches, 2 doses of paut, 2 batches of visibility dust, faerie ink, a minor healing potion and a vial of acid.

Another treasure chest is locked (-3 Lockpicking penalty) and affixed to a high spot on the north wall by adhesive or magic. Trying to pick its lock, check it for traps and open it is awkward (extra -2 to skill rolls due to the weird angle), unless it is somehow taken down from the walls. (Pulling it off means a Quick Contest of ST versus ST 25, or anti-magic versus a spell level-20.) Inside the chest is a gold crown ($21000, 1 lbs).

One treasure chest is fashioned to resemble a stone block. The chest is placed in a cavity in the eastern wall, making it seem to be an ordinary dungeon building block. Only careful searching (-7 to detect) reveals the slight depressions in the stone that act as handholds for pulling the chest out and accessing its contents. The chest is unlocked and contains a Meteoric Disguised Small Knife with Moonstone and Bloodstone gems inset (roll Search to identify the weapon, $1920, 1 lbs).

Another chest is locked (-5 Lockpicking penalty) and empty. It has a false bottom secret compartment (Search-5 roll to find it), which is also empty.

Two monsters lurk in the Treasure Stash; one Bandit-Snatcher (Pyramid 3/98 page 11-12) hiding in the coins and one Tatterdemalion (Pyramid 3/98 page 19) that resembles an old patchwork leather cloak laying discarded in the corner.

The Crystal Skeleton room is the party’s goal; at the centre of the place is a beautiful crystal statue in the shape of a mediating man, albeit one without a head, displayed on a raised platform. Placing the Crystal Skull on the statue’s neck top locks it into place with a soft blue glow and a pleasant jingle. The players earn bonus Character Points for completing the quest.

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