FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 603

  • Humal (level 10 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 10 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 10 elf rogue/ranger)

Not wanting to invade the now departed Earl of Coalchester's privacy, the party chose one of the two remaining doors at random.

It opened into a large chamber that was sparsely illuminated by four spherical lanterns. Another spherical structure hung from the center of the room, but rather than emit light it disgorged a black fluid onto a dark, glassy expanse of floor that seemed to simply absorb it.

Humal and Sumia checked for magic: the four lanterns radiated conjuration, which was expected due to the light. The central sphere also radiated conjuration, but its purpose was unclear. The mysterious, fluid-gobbling section of the floor didn't radiate anything at all, which was both surprising and more than a bit disconcerting.

Fortunately it was also at the lowest point of the room: a short flight of stairs led up to a raised platform that surrounded it, allowing them access to another pair of doors without having to go anywhere near it.

They again chose a door at random. This one opened into a much smaller chamber that contained an urn and some baskets filled with various trinkets and oddities: a few stone tablets written in what Humal assumed was a dialect of the Wind Dukes, some platinum jewelry, a silken gown with hundreds of gems sewn into it, and a wand featuring a predictably avian theme.

The urn radiated an intense aura of necromantic energies, which Humal deduced to be some sort of life-sapping trap, while the wand radiated evocation magic, but before they could examine anything more closely the presumed "floor" surged towards them, revealing it to in fact be a well-trained, impossibly vast black pudding.

Sumia loosed a few arrows, a she was wont to do, while Humal used a simple abjuration trick to fling the trapped urn at the ooze. Green lightning crackled about as it shuddered briefly: he desperately hoped that this hurt it, but he had no idea as to how badly. More than familiar with black pudding, Corzale warned everyone that its body was highly acidic as she conjured a wall of trees, leaving a small gap that Sumia and Humal could strike through.

She knew that the pudding would also be able to flow through the opening (and it would soon melt through the trees anyway), but they still impeded its progress. The party also backed into the smaller room, using the stone doors for cover since that was the one thing they knew it couldn't dissolve. It managed to get in a few strikes against Corzale before they finally destroyed it; while her flesh was severely burned, her armor was still functional.

Looting the remaining contents of the room, the silken gown literally vanished into thin air, leaving the pearls and sapphires behind, the platinum jewelry was merely obscenely valuable (moreso if they could find someone to purchase the entire lot), and the wand both enhanced its wielder's magic missiles, and granted them temporary flight after a generous investment of mana.

The other door led to a ramp that in turn led to a balcony, which dispelled any doubts as to where they were. From here they could see much of the tomb's exterior, suspended in an endless blue sky illuminated by sunlight that radiated from everywhere and nowhere.

A long bridge connected the balcony to another structure, several hundred feet away. It seemed stable enough, and though they weren't sure what would happen should they fall (nothing else was falling, or even moving), no one was particularly interested in figuring it out.

After crossing the bridge, they realized that the uppermost part of the structure was damaged, with chunks of stone simply floating above it, frozen in mid-destruction. The interior wasn't particularly impressive: the walls were covered in faded frescoes, but this time there were three doors to choose from. One was flanked by a large, bulky statue of an armored warrior and a pile of rubble. None of it radiated magic, hopefully ruling out the banal animated statue trap.

Random door selection led to yet another small chamber. This one contained a small shrine, with a suit of chainmail draped over a stone slab. Magic detection revealed that it would protect its wearer from lightning. Satisfied with her albeit mundane plate armor, Corzale took it anyway so that Humal could transfer the enchantment later. When she removed the armor, she saw a square depression in the stone slab, suggestion that something there had been removed.

Saving the rubble-and-statue door for last, they took the door directly across the chamber. It opened to a winding stone bridge, the middle of which was surrounded by a ring of slowly flowing water, studded with small patches of floating earth, all overgrown with grass and trees.

When they passed through the center of the ring, a water elemental shot out of it at Sumia. Corzale knocked it out of the air with her hammer, but it exploded into a torrent of water that bowled over Sumia and flung Humal into and through the ring, though he managed to catch himself on one of the tiny islands drifting about its exterior. Staggering to his feet, Humal was surprised to see that he had no trouble standing despite being perpendicular to everyone else.

The elemental again burst from the ring, colliding with and surrounding Sumia. Trapped inside its body, it began slamming itself into the bridge in an attempt to harm her. Unable to free herself, Sumia smashed open a flask of alchemist's fire she had been carrying: the ensuing explosion hurt them both (the elemental more than her), but it also blasted her free of its body.

Humal hopped across a few islands, relieved that he didn't go flying off, and conjured an illusionary force to attack the creature: fortunately it was intelligent enough to be affected by his magic. While it was momentarily stunned, Corzale commanded a tangle of thick roots to grow and crush the creature, drawing from the trees on the surrounding islands, but it was able to slip around and up them, again retreating into the ring to hide.

Humal scanned the water for any sign of its presence, but it managed to sneak up on him and knock him out with a single blow. Before it could finish the job, the sluggish flow of the water brought the island both it and Humal were standing on into Sumia's sight, and she destroyed it with a few well-placed arrows. Using the root bridge, Corzale was able to make it to Humal and revive him, and they returned to the stone bridge before they withered away.

Design Notes
If you've read/played A Gathering of Winds and remember it, you've probably realized that I've changed up this particular section quite a bit (the previous area was tweaked, just not nearly as much).

Here's a map from the original adventure:

Here's how I've changed it up (without spoiling anything to the players):

First time I've done the isometric thing, which I think makes it easier to explain the water-ring-with-islands, though looking at it now I think it'd be cooler to have the bridge twist about so that the building is on its side (instead of everything being level).

The big building is area 9, the small room in the lower-right hand side is room 10, the bridge with the water-ring represents area 11, and the building it connects to is area 12. I haven't drawn the rest of the area because I don't want to spoil what's in store.

Suffice to say I've got enough going on from this post and some other stuff I thought of, that I'm now working on this whole wind dungeon thing as its own adventure. Probably won't bother with the whole adventure path, but might link a few adventures or dungeons together to do a kind of campaign arc deal.

We'll see what time and attention span allows.

Another thing I want to mention is the wand. Never really liked D&D and wands-with-charges. The wand in the original adventures was a wand of eagle's splendor, which basically means you can use it to gain +4 Charisma for awhile, until it runs out of charges and becomes a useless stick.

Underwhelming, so I changed the wand to do the following, and you can assume other wands in FrankenFourth would do similar things:

  • It's a +1 wand, so you get +1 to attack and damage, and your save DCs go up by 1. Obviously very useful to all wizards.
  • Your Magic Missile range is doubled. Since all wizards get Magic Missile (make ranged Intelligence attack to deal force damage), this is also useful to all wizards.
  • You can spend 3d4 Mana to gain a fly Speed for 1 minute per wizard level. Basically gives you access to what the Fly talent would do, you just gotta have the wand on hand. Again, useful, though for a lower level wizard it's pretty risky (or at least liable to drain all of your Mana in one go).

If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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