Four Fiendish Fountains

On November 1, 2004, Posted by , In Campaign Workbook, With No Comments

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Fountains are a perennial dungeon temptation. All adventurers know the dangers that a fountain can harbor: acid geyser traps, hostile water elementals, gates to Blibdoolpoolp’s blasphemous realm, and worse. Despite this, few PCs can resist investigating a fountain.

And who can blame them?

The rich tradition of fountains that grant ability score increases or other wondrous bonuses lends a powerful allure to even the lowliest wall font.

This entry in the Campaign Workbook explores several ways to use fountains in your campaign. Adding one to your existing world is as simple as taking a 5-foot square on your dungeon grid and writing: “Here jets the Lich’s Spout!”

Fountains in the Campaign

The fountains detailed here fall into two categories. A quest fountain can be a single pool that launches an adventure’s career (think of Excalibur rising from the lake) or a series of linked fountains that fulfill a prophecy (see the Fountains of Shrennil, below), When using a fountain as the pivotal feature of a quest, the DM should be careful to build an appropriate sense of grandeur. She should foreshadow the event with references in ancient texts, PCs should pick up rumors and half-truths about the fountain in riverfront taverns, and at least one PC could find, when finally arriving at the fountain, that his likeness was foretold and sculpted into the fountain’s base.

A treasure fountain allows a DM to reward adventurers with something other than coins, gems, or magic items. An especially powerful reward may be limited. For example, a bonus to Fortitude saves granted by a font in a Pelorian shrine might function only during daylight hours, or only at times when the character is exposed to natural sunlight.

Fountains of Fortune and Fury

Alchemist’s Blessing:

This rococo fountain is tiled with gold and alchemical silver. Any potion poured into the fountain is amplified so that the next three people to drink from the fountain gain the benefit of the potion, If the same person drinks twice from the fountain, the benefits do not stack, but the drink does count as one of the three “uses” of the fountain. An alchemist’s blessing fountain can amplify one potion per day. Strong transmutation; CL 15th; Brew Potion, Craft Wondrous Item, limited wish; Price 17,000 gp.

Fountain of the Laughing Rogue:

A copper jester tops this fountain dedicated to Olidammara in his aspect as the god of luck. Anyone drinking from the fountain is randomly affected according to the table below, The fountain can provide three magical drinks per day (the same person can benefit—or suffer—more than once per day).

D20 Roll Roll Result

  • 1-2 All gold coins in a 10-ft.-radius spread are changed to silver.
  • 3-4 Drinker is affected by Tasha’s uncontrollable laughter for 1 minute (no save).
  • 5-6 Drinker grows whiskers and is affected by cat’s grace for two hours.
  • 9-10 Drinker gains a +4 luck bonus on Sleight of Hand checks, If the drinker does not successfully pickpocket at least one item per day, he suffers 2 points of Dexterity damage. This effect can be lifted by a remove curse.
  • 11-12 Drinker gains а +2 luck bonus on his next save.
  • 13-14 Drinker suffers а -2 penalty on his next save.
  • 15-16 All creatures within a 10-foot burst are affected by a blur spell. In addition, the drinker is affected by a haste spell.
  • 17-18 Water in the fountain becomes fine wine for the next minute, Up to ten flagons worth 10 gp each can be gathered if sufficient vessels are at hand.
  • 19-20 Drinker may re-roll his next attack roll, skill check, or saving throw as if he had the Luck domain ability.

Strong illusion, transmutation, and enchantment; CL 11th; Craft Wondrous Item, cat’s grace, Tasha’s uncontrollable laughter, disguise self, Price 20,000 gp.

Fountains of Shrennil (major artifact):

Said to be a disciple of St. Cuthbert while that god still walked the world as a man, Shrennil constructed six linked fountains scattered hundreds of miles apart. Each fountain represents one of the ability scores, and when a character drinks from a fountain, he takes a -1 penalty to the associated ability score. After he has drunk from all six fountains, however, the penalties are removed, and he gains a permanent +2 sacred bonus to his Wisdom score and a permanent +1 sacred bonus on his Will and Fortitude saves. Typically, the completion of the Fountains of Shrennil quest is linked to an event of major consequence in the campaign world and confers an additional bonus related to that quest, For example, it may be prophesied that only one who has suffered the path of Shrennil the Disciple can turn back the advancing army of Avernus (thus, completing the quest grants a permanent +4 sacred bonus on all weapon damage rolls against devils).

Strong transmutation; CL 25th.

Lich’s Spout:

This fountain can take any form, although typically it is a simple stone basin with a 2-foot plume of water at the center. When a lich’s phylactery is placed anywhere within the basin, negative energy infuses the water. Any undead that drinks from the basin is cured of 2d8+5 points of damage. Any single undead may so benefit only once per day by drinking from the font, A cleric with the ability to rebuke undead who drinks from this font gains a +4 bonus on his rebuking checks for a period of six hours after drinking. A living creature that drinks the water takes 2d8+5 points of damage from the negative energy. A successful DC 13 Will save halves this damage.

Liches who wish to use their spouts as traps often blanket the fountain with Nystul’s magic aura and misdirection spells so that the spout detects as good, and some even sculpt holy symbols of good deities into the basin. Naturally, a lich goes to great lengths to conceal his phylactery within the spout, A DC 35 Search check is necessary to discover the secret compartment containing the phylactery.

Strong necromancy; CL 11th; Craft Wondrous Item, inflict moderate wounds, creator must have access to a lichs phylactery; Price 10,000 gp. 2)

Fountains of Mystery

The following table can help you generate quick fountain effects for speedy dungeon construction. Roll а d20 and consult the results below:

  • 1-2 Two (or more) widely separated lapis lazuli fountains are actually portals. Using a sapphire cup to drink from one teleports the imbiber to the other.
  • 3-4 A drink from a natural geyser’s runoff neutralizes poison.
  • 5-6 The font in an ancient kuo-toan shrine fills with enough adhesive liquid in a day to coat one shield (Monster Manual 164).
  • 7-8 Once per day, a fountain in а witch’s garden can be used as a crystal ball.
  • 9-10 A sip from a fountain at a shrine of Ehlonna grants а +4 sacred bonus on Wild Empathy checks for one day.
  • 11-12 Ooze seeping from a shrine dedicated to elemental earth acts as antitoxin.
  • 13-14 Placing a charged magic item in the fountain enhances the next spell effect generated by the item as if by the Maximize Spell feat.
  • 15-16 A spellcaster completely immersed in an obsidian and jet fountain loses all their prepared spells
  • 17-18 Anointing one’s head with the spray from a baroque wall fountain grants protection from evil for 24 hours.
  • 19-20 An ancient spirit harbored in the fountain momentarily possesses the body of the drinker and reveals the location of a sphere of annihilation.

BY FRANK BRUNNER
ILLUSTRATIONS BY ATTILA ADORJANY