There Is No Honor | Part 1 | Savage Tide Adventure Path | Dungeon Magazine #139
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The first savage tide has already touched the mortal world, yet none who live today recall this time of red ruin. Unleashed from the cruel heart of a fell seed known as a shadow pearl, this savage tide swept over an ancient city – perched atop the crown of a remote island. The tide transformed beggar and noble, merchant and thief, resident and visitor into feral, ravenous fiends. The fruits of centuries of labor came crumbling down in a matter of days, and when the survivors tried to stem the tide by destroying the pearl, the resulting blast of power sunk their city into a boiling lake of death. Through it all the Abyssal architect of the savage tide watched, taking pride in the ruin. When the tide’s final ripples had faded, what was left became known as the Isle of Dread.
Now, after a thousand years, the true masters of the Isle of Dread look upon newtargets, new cities beyond the horizon, compelled by the hateful will of their demonic lord Demogorgon to prepare for the coming glory. This time, the doom will not be limited to one hapless city. This time, all of civilization waits unknow- ing on the shore, blissfiilly ignorant of what the incoming tide brings in.
“There Is No Honor” is the first chapter ofthe Savage Tide Adventure Path, a complete campaign consisting of 12 adventures that will appear in the next twelve issues of Dunczon. For additional aid in running this campaign, check out Dracon’s monthly “Savage Tidings” articles, a series that helps players and DMs prepare for and expand upon the campaign. Issue #348 of Dracon kicks offthis series with details on six affiliations based in Sasserine that your players may wish to join. And if you’re running Savage Tide in the FORGOTTEN REAIMS or EBERRON, make sure to check paizo.com for the latest conyersion notes for each adventure.
There Is No Honor Adventure Background
The city of Sasserine is still finding its feet after emerging from a century of oppres- sive tule during which the traditional thieves’ guilds were destroyed. Dozens of minor guilds now squabble for control of the city’s underworld. One guild in par- ticular has risen above the infighting, and is now poised to become a major player in city politics. This is the Lotus Dragons, a band of murderers, burglars, and smug- glers led by a charismatic and ambitious woman named Rowyn Kellani—a woman. who just happens to be the daughter of one of the city’s noble families. When Rowyn enters an alliance with the scion of another noble family, a scoundrel named Vanthus Vanderboren, the final piece of her plan falls into place and she prepares to seize control of the city’s sea trade.
Yet for all of her scheming and plotting, Rowyn’s capacity for evil and cruelty pales in comparison to that of her new lover. Vanthus, in an attempt to prove his value and worth to the Lotus Dragons (and to impress its beautiful guildmistress), recently committed a horrendous crime, Knowing his parents had just purchased a new ship and were planning on taking a relaxing trip up the coast, he smuggled adozen barrels of alchemist’s fire into the ship’s hold and arranged for an “accident.” The resulting fire burned the ship to the waterline and left its crew (and Vanthus’s parents) dead.
Alas, his plan to inherit his estate (and then use its resources to bolster the Lotus Dragons) fell through when a reading of his parents’ will revealed that the estate was to be passed along entirely to his older sister Lavinia. Seething with tage but unwilling to take drastic action against his sister, Vanthus did what he could to rob the family vault before she could claim its riches, Fortunately, he was able to make off with enough money to ensure his place in the guild—and after heabandoned the competition in a series: of undead-haunted smuggler’s tunnels, his position high in the Lotus Dragon’s tanks was ensured.
Now, the Lotus Dragons are ready to act on their nefarious plans. The only thing they aren’t counting on is Lavinia Vanderboren’s concern for her missing brother.
There Is No Honor Adventure Synopsis
The adventure begins as the PCs gather at Vanderboren Manor. Layinia asks the PGs to aid her in securing access to her family’s vault, the key to which is hidden on her father’s ship. Once her estate is in order, Lavinia turns her attention to her true concern.
Her brother Vanthus has been missing for weeks. She’s heard rumors that he’s fallen in with some unsavory types, but hopes he can be conyinced to return to civilized society. She sends the PCs out on his trail, and their investigations lead them to a small smugeler’s complex under Parrot Island. There, Vanthus springs a trap and locks them in the tunnels. forcing the PCs to navigate an escape while dealing with the hungry undead that dwell within. They eventually emerge, having learned that Vanthus has taken up with a much more dangerous thieves’ guild called the Lotus Dragons.
After locating the guildhouse, the PGs discover the guild is preparing to take control of the city’s sea trade. By defeating the Lotus Dragons, the PCs can save Sasserine’s harbor from falling under the control ofa band of murderous scoundrels, Alas, Vanthus is nowhere to be found, although clues send the PCs onto his trail (and into the next adventure in the series “The Bullywug Gambit”),
There Is No Honor Adventure Hook
During character creation, ask each player: to come up with a notable recent event in his character’s life that might mark him as an adventurer. “There Is No Honor” begins as Lavinia Vanderboren, on the hunt for affordable help of an adyentur- ous nature, hears about these exploits. Each PG receives a letter, hand-delivered by a wizened-looking halfling woman named Kora. The contents of the letter appear as Handout #41.
Part One: A Noble In Need
Once the PCs receive their invitations to Vanderboren Manor, they may wish to ask around about their new patron. It’s onlya DG 10 Knowledge (nobility and roy- alty) check to recognize the Vanderboren name – a DC15 checkis enough toknow that Layinia is the eldest daughter of the family. A DC 15 Knowledge (local) check is enough to recall news of a tragic fire a month ago that claimed the lives of Verik and Larissa Vanderboren. The Vanderborens were survived by their two children, Layinia and Vanthus.
Vanderboren Manor is located in the eastern section of the Merchant District; the seyen-foot-high stone wall that sur- tounds the estate is impossible to miss, as is the towering, gothic, three-story house that dominates the grounds within. Leer- ing gargoyles and capering nymphs fes- toon the eayes of the manor’s roof, and several trees give the manor grounds a nice buffer from the bustle of the city.
The front gates have been left open for the PGs, butno one greets them until they reach the front door and knock. After a few moments, the same wizened halfling woman answers the door. This is Kora Whistlegap (LG female halfling expert 3). She thanks the PCs for arriving on time and asks them to wait in the atrium, claiming Lady Vanderboren shall be with them shortly.
At some point after the last PC has arrived but before they are called into the private dining hall, four figures emerge from the hall and head toward the PCs. Kora races behind these figures, which include a jaunty male half-elf dressed in leather armor and armed with ahaldozen daggers of different shapes, a dark-skinned dwarf with a sour expression dressed in green and brown robes and clutching a large curved spear, an attractive but haughty-looking woman dressed in dark purple robes and with a tattoo ofa cres- cent moon on one cheek, and lastly, a tall and handsome man dressed in polished breastplate carrying a bastard sword.
These are the Jade Ravens, a mercenary company that’s been in the Vanderboren employ for several years. A DC 15 Knowl- edge (local) check recognizes the group. The leader of the group is the man in the breastplate, Tolin Kientai (LN male human ranger 3), The others include Zan Oldavin (N male half-elf rogue 3), Kaskus Kiel (LN male dwarf druid 3), and Liamae ‘Teslikaria (CN female human sorcerer 3), Lavinia has been relying more and more upon this group, but she suspects that their loyalty to her family name will only Jast as long as she can afford to pay them, eyen though she also suspects (correctly) that Tolin has grown quite attracted to her lately. The mercenaries have little time or interest in the PCs now, although Tolin does stop to size up the PCs fora moment before announcing, “Hmm. You must be the help Lavinia’s bringing in to do the chores. Best of luck to ya!”
Lavinia has asked the Jade Ravens to travel south to the city of Cauldron to contact her aunt and uncle for aid, and they are anxious to be on their way. The Jade Ravens play a more important rolein adventures to come in this campaign—this encounter should merely foreshadow these events.
Talking to Lavinia Vanderboren
The private dining hall is comfortable and cozy, softly lit by wall-mounted lanterns. A window overlooks the manor’s central courtyard and the carpet is thick and soft. A large portrait hangs on the wall, a fine work depicting a handsome young man with a short beard, Standing before the portrait is an attractive human woman. wearing a long, flowing blue dress, She smiles as the PGs enter, introducing herself as Lavinia Vanderboren.
“As you may have heard, I recently inherited my parents’ estates. Along with this fine house, unfortunately, came a substantial amount of debt owed to the Dawn Council, the harbor master, and quite a few guildhalls. It seems my parents, for all their success as adventurers, were not as skilled at finance as one might expect. If I’m to get these taxes paid, I’ll need to access my family’s vault under Castle Terakinian.”
“And that’s the problem, you see. The vaults are magically locked—keyed to special signet rings. Both of my parents had these rings, at least until recently. My mother passed away a few months ago. She arranged for a replacement, but it won’t be done for another month or so, too late for me. Which leaves my father’s ring. He never wore it—he had a thing about men wearing jewelry. He kept it hidden somewhere on his ship, the Blue Nixie.
The problem there is that the harbor master’s seized the ship until someone pays for the last four months of docking. I’ve paid the fines to the man the harbormaster’s put in charge of my ship, a brute named Soller Vark. Yet when I went to claim my ship, Vark’s men wouldn’t let me board, claiming that I hadn’t yet paid the fines. I spoke to Vark again, and he denied ever receiving my payment. My complaints to the harbormaster have fallen on deaf ears—he’s a doddering old fool who twists his man and won’t relent.
Vark and his men are up to something on my ship, I know it. What I need is to find out exactly what they’re up to. Unfortunately, Vark’s not the type to react well to diplomacy or logic. I need someone who speaks his language, which is where you come in. If you can find out what he’s using my ship for, or even better, recover the money I paid him, I’ll pay each of you 200 gold in return once I’ve access to my vault.”
Her presentation. over, Lavinia is open to specific questions. Some likely ones the PCs may have for her (and her responses) follow.
“Is there no one else you can go to for resolution? The city watch, perhaps?”
Lavinia admits she approached the watch and the government with her complaints, but unfortunately, she has no proof of wrongdoing. She also admits it was foolish to hand over the money to Vark without allied witnesses, but what’s done is done. The city watch has promised to look into the matter, but without proof, the investigation takes a back seat to other, more pressing matters.
“There could be trouble—are you prepared for the repercussions?”
Lavinia’s jaw sets; she asks the PCs to do their best not to throw the first punch if it comes to it, ‘but in the end, why would Vark’s men put up a fight unless they were up to no good? It’s her ship, after all!
“Can you come with us?”
Lavinia would rather not involve herself; if things go poorly, she’d like to maintain public distance from possible ramifications. Furthermore, she’s hardly an adventuring type—her strengths lie in diplomacy, and this approach has already proven useless against Vark.
“We want more than 200 gold as payment.”
Lavinia nods at requests for more money and can go as high as 300 gp each. She even hints that she has other employment offers in mind for the PCs at a later date, but until she finds out just how much her parents stashed in the family vault, she’s hesitant to promise more than 300 gp per PC.
“Who’s that portrait of?”
Lavinia pauses for a moment before revealing that the portrait is of her brother Vanthus. A DC 20 Sense Motive check reveals that she seems distraught when the topic comes up, but at this time, she has nothing to say about her brother other than that he’s “left town.”
“What happened to your parents?”
Such a direct question takes Lavinia aback. After she takes a moment to gather her thoughts, she says in a quiet voice that they burned to death in a ship fire in the harbor about a month ago. They were taking the recently purchased ship for a cruise when something caused the ship to catch fire and burn to the waterline. There were no survivors.
Lavinia Vanderboren CR 2
- Female elite human aristocrat 2
- NG Medium humanoid
- Init +2; Senses Listen -1, Spot—1
- Languages Common, Elven, Halfling
- AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 11
- hp 14 (2 HD)
- Fort +1, Ref +1, Will 42
- Spd 30
- Melee mwk rapier +2 (1d6/18-20)
- Base Atk +1; Grp +1
- Combat Gear potion of cure light wounds, potion of resist fire
- Abilities Str 10, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 15
- Feats Negotiator, Skill Focus (Diplomacy)
- Skills Appraise +7, Diplomacy +16, Gather Information +9, Knowledge (local) +7, Knowledge (nobility & royalty) +7, Perform (stringed instrument) +7, Sense Motive +6
- Possessions combat gear, masterwork rapier, ring of protection +1, gold earrings (100 gp each), jade ring (80 gp)
Part Two: Trouble on the Blue Nixie
Sasserine’s harbormaster, Keltar Islaran, is in sorry shape. Slowly succumbing to a chronic lung infection and saddled with sons and daughters uninterested or incapable of taking up the family traditions, Lord Islaran is coming to terms with the fact that he may need to pass the duties of harbormaster to another of Sasserine’s families. The very idea sickens him, consuming his thoughts by day and dreams by night. Tragically, it is his search and obsession with finding a replacement that lives up to his impossible-to-meet standards that has allowed what he feared to occur. Sasserine’s harbor is falling under the control of smugglers, bandits, and thieves.
Lord Islaran’s few remaining loyal employees have their hands full keeping the city harbor under control without exposing how precarious things actually are to the Dawn Council and the public. As such, they’ve been forced to hire out for certain tasks and don’t have time to handle relatively minor complaints and issues—such as the issues that surround Lavinia’s ship, the Blue Nixie. Attempts to learn more meet in endless bureaucracy and red tape. If the PCs want to solve the problem, they’ll need to take the law into their own hands.
The Blue Nixie (EL 3+)
The Blue Nixie Unlabeled Player’s Map
According to Lavinia, the Blue Nixie’s docked at pier five in the Merchant District—this pier is the long one between the Merchant’s Guildhall (area F3 on the Sasserine map) and the Smith’s Guildhall (area E4). Alas, upon arrival, it becomes apparent that the Blue Nixie is not docked at the pier at all but is, in fact, moored to a float about 100 feet from the pier’s end.
Soller Vark is indeed up to no good, and by mooring the impounded ship in the harbor, he hopes to limit access to its hold. Vark and his thugs have recently come into the possession of a large number of exotic animals, but the true prize of this catch is a fully grown spider-like monster called a thagodessa he purchased from the Lotus Dragons. The animal smugglers loaded their cargo onto the Blue Nixie, figuring it was a better hiding place than a waterfront warehouse, and are scheduled to transfer the animals to a ship heading north at midnight tonight.
Creatures: There are eight smugglers on board the Blue Nixie—seven male and female human thugs and Soller Vark. During the day, their positions are as noted in the Blue Nixie Key sidebar. After dark, all seven thugs are mobile as they prepare the ship for their rendezvous a mile west of the city.
The thugs have orders to let no one on board, and fear Vark too much to listen to diplomacy. A successful Intimidate check cows the thugs enough that they’ll let up to two people on board while one of them heads into area B8 to rouse Vark. Otherwise, they begin hollering for Vark as soon as any of the PCs attempt to board the Blue Nixie or draw weapons.
Soller Vark is a disagreeable bald man with a jagged scar running down one arm, a wound he sustained in a bar fight but which he claims was gifted to him in a battle with a hook-handed pirate. Vark’s prone to making flamboyant attacks to suit his inflated sense of style; he’ll often attempt to disarm or bull-rush foes even when such actions aren’t tactically sound.
Vark’s Thugs (7)
- Male and female human warrior L
- CN Medium humanoid
- Init +0; Senses Listen -1, Spot +1.
- Languages Common
- AC 13, touch 10, flat-footed 13
- hp 8(1 HD)
- Fort +3, Ref +0 Will-1
- Spd 30 ft.
- Melee rapier +2 (1d6+1/18-20)
- Ranged light crossbow +1 (1d8/19-20)
- Base Atk +1; Grp +2
- Abilities Str 13, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 8
- Feats Lightning Reflexes, Toughness
- Skills Intimidate +3, Swim +3
- Possessions leather armor, buckler, rapier, light crossbow with 10 bolts, 5 gp
- Male elite human warrior 2
- CN Medium human
- Init +2; Senses Listen -1, Spot—1
- Languages Common
- AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14
- hp 19(2 HD)
- Fort +5, Ref +0, Will-1
- Spd 30 ft.
- Melee mwk rapier +5 (1d6+1/18-20)
- Ranged light crossbow +4 (1d8/19-20)
- Base Atk +2; Grp +3
- Combat Gear 2 elixirs of swimming
- Abilities Str 12, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 13
- Feats Toughness, Weapon Finesse
- Skills Intimidate +6, Swim +6
- Possessions combat gear, masterwork studded leather, masterwork buckler, masterwork rapier, light crossbow with 10 bolts, earring worth 50 gp, silver ring worth 25 gp
Tactics: This can be a difficult first encounter to the Savage Tide campaign if the PCs aren’t careful. The thugs aren’t that dangerous individually, but there are probably more of them than PCs. The main advantages the PCs should have over the smugglers are an element of surprise and higher morale.
Boarding the Blue Nixie requires a DC 10 Climb check; there are plenty of ropes to aid the climber, but they and the ship’s hull are slippery in places. It’s ten feet to the main deck from the waterline.
The thugs call out an alarm at the start of their turn, then use their crossbows against the PCs.
Each round of combat, the thugs sleeping inside make DC 5 Listen checks to hear the battle and wake. The two thugs in the officer’s cabin (area B7) join a fight on deck in one round, while Vark and his lover take an additional round to teach the deck.
Any time a thug is wounded, he panics and tries to flee. If the PCs left a boat untended, the thug tries to escape in it—otherwise, they jump into the water and swim for shore. Any thug prevented from escaping begs pitifully for his life. Soller Vark is not above such cowardice—he fights until brought below 5 hit points, at which point he attempts to flee or surrender as well.
Once it becomes obvious to the thugs that the battle is going against them (or as soon as any PC attempts to enter the hold), Vark (or one of the thugs if Vark’s not present) shrieks out a command to “Burn them! Burn them all!”
Monster on the Loose (EL 2)
When the command to burn the animals is given, a thug named Mera Veskat in the Blue Nixie’s hold begins lighting cages of animals on fire. Fortunately for the PCs, Mera’s not that good at lighting fires, and the smoke riles the animals. The sound of shrieking monkeys and parrots wells up from the hold below, and a few moments later so does the sound of a terrific crash followed by a woman’s high-pitched scream and a strange, shrill keening. Mera’s actions have excited the rhagodessa to a point where the arachnid threw itself against the walls of its cage, causing the poorly latched door to fly open. The monster is upon Mera in a heartbeat, killing her with one powerful bite.
Creature: Once it’s loose, the ravenous rhagodessa begins killing the other animals rapidly, going from cage to cage in a fit of hunger. If it sees anything larger (like a PC) enter the hold, it fixates on the new target and attacks at once.
Rhagodessa: hp 22; see Appendix.
Reclaiming the Blue Nixie
If interrogated, the thugs know only that their boss, Vark, was going to pay them 20 gp apiece to help load crates of animals onto the Blue Nixie and then a few days later onto another ship in the middle of the night. Only Vark knows that the customer was a Scarlet Brotherhood ship, and he won’t reveal that unless magically compelled. In any event, the Scarlet Brotherhood ship learns of the complication and doesn’t show at the rendezvous if the PCs decide to try to pose as Vark and his crew later that night.
A search of the captain’s quarters uncovers a large trunk, within which is a leather pouch of 100 pp—Lavinia’s missing payment to the harbormaster. Lavinia’s father’s signet ring is hidden in the headboard of the captain’s bunk, in a secret panel that can be discovered with a DC 20 Search check. A scrap of rolled-up parchment has been threaded through the ring. Written on it in Verik Vanderboren’s handwriting is a strange list of monsters (see Handout #2). This list is actually the combination for the vault in area V3; the number of eyes possessed by each monster indicates the sequence of numbers (6-1-2-4-2) while the sunrise/sunset indicates right/left for the combination lock. See area V3 for more details. If the PCs don’t find this for her, Lavinia finds it after several hours of searching the ship.
Part Three: The Vanderboren Vault
Lavinia is overjoyed with the PCs if they manage to reclaim the Blue Nixie, and more so if they find her father’s signet ring. At this point, she makes a job offer to the PCs—she’s so pleased with their work so far that she’s willing to hire them on as her personal troubleshooters, agents, and bodyguards. She offers the PCs 100 gp per month to remain in her employ and implies that their service to one of Sasserine’s noble families could have advantages and rewards beyond this monthly wage.
Assuming the PCs are interested, she already has a task for them. She needs to travel to Castle Teraknian in the Sasserine Harbor to check her family vault. All of Sasserine’s nobility have vaults under the castle, but she’s never seen any of them (including her own). Rumors hold that some family vaults are quite extensive and guarded by traps. Based on things she overheard her father say through the years, she suspects that the Vanderboren Vault is relatively small and safe, but that there may be a construct guardian. She would like the PCs to accompany her to Castle Teraknian to provide protection and aid in investigating the vault contents.
Lavinia hires a coach to take her and the PCs from her manor to High Market in the Noble District, where the group takes a ferry over to Castle Teraknian. They spend little time in the castle itself, stopping only to speak to a clerk who verifies Lavinia’s identity and her signet, and who then escorts them down a spiral staircase into a large circular chamber under the castle.
The Vanderboren Vault Unlabeled Player’s Map
The short passageway ends at a solid-looking iron door. The portal is emblazoned with a simple rune—an eight-pointed star. Above the door, inscribed in flowing script on a polished silver plaque, is the name “Vanderboren.” A single handle protrudes from the door, just below a circular depression bearing the mark of the Vanderboren signet.
The iron door is arcane locked (caster level 15th) until a properly ensorcelled signet ring is inserted into the small depression above the handle by a Vanderboren. At this point, the door flashes once with blue light, then slowly swings open on creaking hinges. The door remains open until it is closed manually, at which point it locks automatically to the outside. A creature on the inside may push the door open again with ease, even without the signet ring or the proper bloodline.
Lavinia doesn’t quite recognize the eight-pointed star symbol, although she does admit it seems familiar. A DC 15 Knowledge (local) check is enough for a PC to place the symbol. The same star symbol appears on the sign of a building on the western edge of the Merchant’s District. This building is the Seeker’s Lodge, the regional base of a world-spanning group of adventurers and treasure hunters known as the Seekers. Lavinia’s family has long been members of this organization, although tradition held that induction of children into the guild didn’t occur until their 21st birthday. Lavinia turns 23 in a few months—her parents died before they revealed their allegiance to the Seekers.
V2. Iron Guardian (EL 2)
The floor of this domed chamber is of polished green marble. Two fifteen-foot-wide alcoves have lower ceilings and feature marble pillars carved to resemble coiling snakes. In the center of the room, five similar pillars are embedded into the walls, rising up thirty feet to a dome overhead. Looking up, the dome bears a huge representation of the same eight-pointed star that was engraved on the door to the south.
This room serves as an atrium and guardroom for the vault proper, one final defense to ward off would-be thieves. Although there doesn’t seem to be an actual exit from the room, a DC 20 Search check of the northernmost pillar recessed into the chambers walls reveals that the snake patterns on this pillar are different than those of the other pillars. A DC 5 Search of this pillar head reveals a hidden switch that, when triggered, causes the snake designs to animate. They writhe aside like living creatures, forming a coiling archway that allows access into area V3.
Creature: Iron Cobra (EL 2)
A single guardian watches over this chamber, a serpentine construct of metal called an iron cobra. The snake is three feet long and weighs about 100 pounds, looking like a cobra made of dozens of circular iron bands fitted together to form a snakelike body. The iron cobra is a master of stealth and hides in the eastern alcove behind the pillar. Although mindless, iron cobras are capable of following complex orders from their masters. This one has been commanded to attack anyone who enters and does not bear the Vanderboren signet. Although Lavinia wears this ring, she lets the PCs go first into the vault. As a result, the cobra quickly and quietly slithers out from its hiding place to attack the first PC to enter the room.
Iron Cobra Medium construct Fiend Folio 103
AC 17, touch 14, flat-footed 14 HP 31 (2 HD); DR 5/adamantine Immune construct traits SR 19 Fort +0, Ref +3, Will +0
Speed 30 ft. Melee bite +2 (1d6+1 plus poison) Base Atk +1; Grp +2
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 17, Con —, Int —, Wis 11, Cha — SQ: stalk victim, stealth Skills: Hide +13, Move Silently +13 Poison (Ex): Injury, Fort DC 14, 1d4/1d4 Strength. An iron cobra’s poison reservoir holds three doses of poison; refilling the reservoir takes 1 minute. Stalk Victim (Su): An iron cobra can be commanded by its creator to stalk down and attack any creature whose name is known to the creator. The iron cobra can detect this creature’s location, as if by the locate creature spell at caster level 12th. Stealth (Ex): An iron cobra gains a +10 enhancement bonus on Hide and Move Silently checks.
Tactics: If a fight with the iron cobra goes on for more than four rounds, give players a DC 15 Spot check each round to notice that the cobra seems to be taking pains to avoid Lavinia, if she’s present. Although she won’t think of it herself, if she boldly presents her signet ring to the construct, it immediately becomes docile and ceases attacking, returning to its post to wait for the next group of “intruders.”
This octagonal room is supported by a single large pillar with dozens of deep grooves along its sides. The seven walls of this room each bear fantastically detailed bas-relief carvings of exotic monsters in threatening poses. Starting at the wall immediately to the west of the entrance to the room and moving clockwise, the carvings depict a ten-tacled monster with a glaring red eye and a mouth full of teeth, a looming dragon, a fish-like creature with three eyes and four tentacles, a two-headed giant wielding a pair of immense clubs, a spherical creature with four eyestalks and a bulging central eye over a drooling maw, a gorilla-like beast with a fanged maw and six eyes, and finally, a towering black spider with seven eyes.
Each monster’s eyes consist of a glittering red stone. The ceiling above is eleven feet high, with the now-familiar eight-pointed star pattern radiating out from the grooved pillar. The arms of this star are black, save for the one pointing south toward the entrance, which is red.
The creatures depicted (in the order described above) are a roper, a red dragon, an aboleth, an ettin, a spectator beholderkin, a gray render, and a monstrous spider.
This entire room is, in fact, a clever combination lock designed to hide and protect the five hidden alcoves in the walls of the chamber. The grooved pillar in the room’s center is an immense stone tumbler that can be rotated in both directions, as a DC 20 Search can reveal.
The pillar doesn’t rotate smoothly. Rather, it “clicks” in its socket as it rotates, eight times in the course of a single revolution. As the pillar rotates, the eight-pointed star in the ceiling rotates as well, the red arm pointing to a new wall with each click. The trick to this combination lock is the number of eyes each creature on the wall possesses. Starting from the wall immediately to the west of the entrance, the eyes number 1-7.
Although the PCs may not realize it, the scrap of paper they found with the Vanderboren signet ring actually contains the combination to this lock—Verik Vanderboren wrote it down in code for his daughter, hoping she’d be able to figure it out if something were to happen to him before her 23rd birthday. Unfortunately, his code is too clever for her. As such, it falls to the PCs to decipher the mysterious list in Handout #2.
The correct combination for this immense safe is 6 right, 1 left, 2 right, 4 left, 2 right. Although the parchment lists different creatures, the code is the same: the number of eyes each creature has corresponds to the number of the combination, while the notation of “sunrise” or “sunset” indicates east and west (right and left).
While no amount of brute force the PCs possess at this level can open the vault, a series of five DC 30 Open Lock checks can crack the safe—this is how Vanthus got into the vault (although he had to take 20 on the checks and used up several potions of cat’s grace in the process).
Once the combination is entered, the entire room rumbles as the five alcoves rotate in place, revealing several coffers and chests.
Treasure: The red stone eyes sparkle nicely, yet are relatively worthless agates, each worth 2 gp.
Most of the 20 chests in the vault are empty—at best, only 1d6 silver coins remain scattered along the bottom of each chest. As more and more chests turn up empty, Lavinia grows increasingly distraught. Finally, in the last alcove, there’s a reprieve—several of the chests here remain untouched. In all, there’s 2,900 gp in coins and gems left in these chests, along with a large number of ledgers and a small iron coffer containing a thick pile of documents.
Most of the ledgers list debts owed to the Vanderborens from guilds and noble families in Sasserine. It seems that Lavinia’s parents made a practice of doing dangerous favors for numerous organizations in Sasserine but rarely bothered to collect rewards. Instead, they allowed their patrons to keep the rewards with the understanding that they could collect at any time.
The documents in the iron coffer are another story. These documents are written in her mother’s handwriting but in a strange language Lavinia doesn’t recognize (Sylvan), although she recognizes the letters as being elven. Included in the document are several maps of jungles, coastlines, and other regions that seem to represent some unknown tropical location. The document also includes dozens of sketches of strange, exotic creatures. This document was Larissa Vanderboren’s journal cataloging her explorations of the Isle of Dread. Over the course of the next two adventures, this journal leads Lavinia to discover the existence of Farshore, a distant colony her parents helped to establish on this remote isle, but for now, it serves as little more than a curiosity.
Between the gold and the ledgers, Lavinia now has more than enough to pay the back taxes and to begin setting her estate back in order. Nevertheless, the missing money concerns her greatly. It’ll be a rough year, especially if her aunt and uncle in Cauldron can’t help her out in the months to come, but at least she now has enough to carry on. She’ll pay each of the PCs 200 gp as a reward for their aid and asks them to come visit her as soon as possible regarding an even more important job when they get the time.
Development: The missing gold was stolen from the vault by Vanthus Vanderboren to aid in financing the Lotus Dragons. If the PCs don’t think of it as they leave Castle Teraknian, Lavinia asks the clerk if anyone else has visited the vault recently. He replies with an affirmative, saying that her brother Vanthus visited the vault several times over the past month. The clerk is shocked if he learns that Vanthus has been missing for a month and that Lavinia didn’t know he’d been visiting the vault—Vanthus had a signet ring (stolen well over a month ago from his mother), and the clerk recognized him as a Vanderboren. The clerk agrees to inform Lavinia if Vanthus tries to enter the vault again, but Vanthus has no plans to return to the Vault once his sister gains access to its contents—he’s already stolen more than enough as it is.
Ad-Hoc Experience Award: If the PCs figure out the combination to the vault on their own without NPC help (or if they open it with Open Lock checks), award them XP as if they’d defeated a CR 2 creature.
Part Four: Peril Under Parrot Island
Once the vault is secured and Lavinia’s immediate financial problems are taken care of, Vanthus becomes her primary concern. Lavinia explains to the PCs that the two of them were quite close growing up since their parents were rarely around. They grew to depend on each other and got into a fair amount of trouble together. After one particularly complex prank involving several elixirs of love being emptied into the nearby water tower, their childhoods came to an end. Lavinia was sent to the Thenalar Academy to live out the next five years of her life, and Vanthus was shipped out to work on a plantation. When they returned to live in the family manor a year ago, they had both changed. Lavinia likes to think she benefited from her time at Thenalar, but Vanthus spent his time away nurturing his bitterness. He no longer had time for Lavinia, slept all day, and spent the nights with what Lavinia recalls as “associates of doubtful character.” Eventually, he moved out of the house entirely—Lavinia believes he took up with a lover in Azure District, but she never learned the details.
When their parents died, Vanthus returned for a week to live at the manor, but he had changed even more. Gone was the easy sense of humor she recalled fondly from their childhood, and in its place was a bitter cynicism and a morbid streak that sent chills up Lavinia’s spine. After several arguments, Vanthus struck her with his fist. Lavinia was shocked, and for a moment she thinks Vanthus was shocked as well, but an instant later he was back to his new self, all scowls and menace. He gathered his belongings and left—Lavinia hasn’t seen him since.
She knows something profound happened to her brother at some point to change him, but she’s not sure what this was. She believes he’s fallen in with a bad crowd, perhaps smugglers, or thieves, or even killers. Although his attitude might speak otherwise, she hopes that it’s not too late, that if he can be brought back to her side she might be able to talk some sense into him and redeem him before he passes forever out of her reach. The problem is, she doesn’t know where he’s gone.
Lavinia has few clues as to where Vanthus has gone. She recommends asking around about him throughout the city; she doubts he’s hiding out in Champion’s or Noble District, but even these locations may hold clues. Her suspicion that he’s been living with a woman in Azure District arose from half-heard rumors, but it remains the strongest lead she has.
The results of a DC 20 Gather Information check about Vanthus and his current location vary from district to district, as detailed below.
Azure District: A few people remember seeing Vanthus at taverns here, often in the company of a woman named Brissa Santos, a notorious pickpocket turned semi-legitimate artist who’s had her fair share of brushes with the law. Like Vanthus, no one’s seen Brissa lately. For this adventure, Brissa’s a red herring; she’s got a more important role to play in the next adventure. Attempts to track Brissa down now should universally fail but quickly attract Shefton Rosk’s attention (see The Informant).
Merchant’s District: People remember seeing Vanthus here and there, although no one’s seen him recently. Everyone assumes he’s still living at Vanderboren Manor if asked.
Champion’s District, Cudgel District, Noble District: Nothing.
Shadowshore: Inquiries made in Shadowshore actually bear the hints of fruit. A successful check made here not only indicates that Vanthus was seen in the area, but that he was often seen in the company of a known smuggler named Penkus. Inquiries about Penkus reveal that he’s a semi-notorious figure in Shadowshore known for his drunken binges and violent temper. Over the last year, Penkus has been less visible in Shadowshore, leading many to believe he’d moved on to another venue. As recently as a few weeks ago, though, Penkus and Vanthus were spotted at a boat shop called “It Still Floats!” where they got in a huge argument with the proprietor, a pessimistic dwarf named Panchi. If the PCs speak to Panchi and manage to adjust his attitude from indifferent to friendly, he’ll admit he’s sold a boat to them. He goes on to say that they seemed excited and loaded a lot of lamp oil, lanterns, and rope into the boat before they left. He’s not sure where they went, but they headed west.
Sunrise: Although Vanthus is currently living secretly in Sunrise District, he’s careful not to be seen there. Gather Information checks made here reveal nothing.
Although the PCs may find little in the way of useful information by making these checks, they do have an unintended result. Agents and allies of the Lotus Dragons quickly note that someone’s asking about Vanthus, and it doesn’t take him long to piece together who they are (especially if he’s already figured out who was behind the recent events on board the Blue Nixié). Rather than risk having the PCs find him and the Lotus Dragon hideout, Vanthus decides to lure them to the same place he got rid of his competition in the guild—the smuggler’s tunnels under Parrot Island.
Under Parrot Island Unlabeled Player’s Battlemap
As word of the rising power of the Lotus Dragons spreads through Sasserine’s underworld, the number of desperate would-be criminals seeking to join the guild rises as well. One such misguided soul is Shefton Rosk (CN male half-elf expert 1; hp 4; Bluff +8), a man who hopes to join the Lotus Dragons so he can get rich. Unfortunately for Shefton, his sponsor Vanthus sees him as nothing more than a tool to be used to get rid of the PCs.
After the PCs have spent a day or two fruitlessly searching for Vanthus, a nervous-looking half-elf with messy black hair, a ragged suit of leather armor, and dirty hands approaches them. Glancing about, the man introduces himself in a quiet voice to the PCs as Shefton and asks them if they’re looking for Vanthus. If they are and if they pay him 5 gp, Shefton claims to know where Vanthus is hiding out. Shefton’s been told by Vanthus to lead the PCs to Parrot Island and to inform them that he’s been living for the past few days in an abandoned complex of smugglers’ tunnels below the isle. For an additional 5 gold, Shefton agrees to lead the PCs to the hidden trap door on the isle that Vanthus has been using to enter and exit the complex below. Shefton’s not the greatest liar, but his skill at Bluff may be enough to fool the PCs anyway. If they start asking difficult questions (such as, “How do you know so much about Vanthus anyway?”), Shefton claims that Vanthus approached him a few weeks ago to help set up a smuggling operation in the old tunnels below Parrot Island.
Parrot Island has long served as a hideout for smugglers. The tunnels in the bedrock below this narrow isle have existed nearly as long as Sasserine itself but are now abandoned. Aboveground, the island is little more than a rocky outcropping surrounded by 30-foot-high cliffs save from the eastern end, where a narrow beach affords an easier approach. The isle is thickly vegetated, the trees above serving as the roost for hundreds of noisy, brightly colored parrots. A DC 12 Survival check is enough to note a partially overgrown trail leading up from the beach to a small clearing at the center of the island. It is up this trail and to this clearing that Shefton leads the PCs.
Hidden at the southern end of the clearing is a stone trap door. A DC 15 Search check is enough to locate the door—if Shefton is with the PCs, he can point it out to them easily. Once it’s open, a five-foot-wide shaft leading down into the darkness below is revealed. A rope hangs from a hook in the wall, providing a relatively safe method of descent (DC 5 Climb). The shaft itself is just over 30 feet deep and opens into an empty room below (area P1).
Vanthus waits hidden in the undergrowth nearby, and once the last PC descends into the tunnels, he emerges. Give the PCs a DC 0 Listen check (modified by 3 to account for the distance) to hear Shefton’s exclamation of surprise as Vanthus approaches and stabs him in the back. A few moments later, Vanthus pushes Shefton’s bleeding body into the shaft—the half-elf takes enough damage to die upon impact. Vanthus’s next act is to cut loose the rope; it comes slithering down the shaft one round after Shefton’s fall. Vanthus may take a few rounds to taunt any PCs he sees looking back up at him, shouting things like, “Say hi to Penkus’s ghost for me while you’re down there!” or “Serves you right for messing around with my sister, you thugs!” He answers any questions or threats the PCs send up at him with mocking laughter—when he grows bored (or as soon as anyone tries to attack him or climb up the shaft), he drops the trap door back in place and rolls several large boulders over on top of it, the grinding sound of which is dreadfully obvious to those trapped below.
Staging this event can be tricky, especially if the PCs insist on leaving one or more of their number topside while the others explore below. Vanthus doesn’t spring his trap until he’s sure he can catch all the PCs below. The adventure doesn’t hinge on the plot twist of trapping the PCs in the smuggler’s tunnels, and if they’re clever enough to never present an opening for Vanthus, you should reward the PCs by not pulling strings to arrange their entrapment. As long as they find Penkus’s body in area P4, things should still be on track for Part Five.
Once the PCs are trapped in the tunnels, they essentially have two methods of escape. They can swim to safety through the underwater tunnel from area P3 to the harbor, or they can use the elemental gem from the treasury (area P5) to call an earth elemental to travel up to the entrance to clear the boulders and open the trap door. A canny party might engineer other methods of escaping—these two options simply represent the most likely means of escape.
For the majority of this part, the PCs must make do with what limited resources they brought with them to survive. The eastern tunnels consist of several rooms once used as barracks, storage, and meeting areas by the smugglers. Desperate characters who scavenge these rooms may find a few supplies like a barrel of drinkable (but nasty-tasting) water, a few torches, flint and steel, some rope, and the like—feel free to give them one or two pieces of old, worn-out gear for each room they search. There is no illumination in the brick-lined tunnels. Doors in the complex are of soggy wood, and most are swollen shut. All double doors hang ajar.
As the PCs explore the tunnels, they should quickly realize they’ve been abandoned for some time. Yet the tunnels are far from safe.
Simple Wooden Doors: 1 in. thick; Hardness 5; hp 10; Open DC 13, Break DC 13.
The Hungry Dead (EL 1-3)
Centuries ago, these tunnels were used by a band of pirates as a base for their smuggling operation. When their enemies discovered the lair, a fantastic battle that resulted in the collapse of the sea entrance to the tunnels sealed the pirates in. A few tried to escape via the shaft in area P2 only to find that their enemies had buried the entrance, making this route impassable. Things went from bad to worse when, in a few days, depleted food and encroaching madness drove one of the smugglers (a cleric of Olidammara named Veldimar Krund) to cannibalism. Veldimar organized a group of nine smugglers and murdered the others, and when they ran out of food again, the insane smugglers turned on themselves. Soon, only Veldimar remained, and when he perished in a gruesome attempt to amputate his foot for a meal, Olidammara cursed him, causing him to live on himself after his ignoble death in the form of an undead monster called a huecuva. The other cannibals rose from death as well, becoming ravenous zombies that now view the huecuva as their leader.
For nearly 200 years, these hungry undead wandered the tunnels aimlessly until several Lotus Dragons (including Vanthus and Penkus) explored the tunnels, hoping to find a place to set up a new smuggling operation. Before long, they were attacked by the hungry dead. Vanthus saw an opportunity for advancement in the Lotus Dragons and took it. He abandoned Penkus and the others, and while the dead fed upon his allies, he escaped. His report to the Lotus Dragons conveniently omitted his actions, and the guild decided to look elsewhere for a place to stage smuggling operations (such as the Blue Nixie).
Penkus made it all the way to area P9, where he succumbed to a terrible disease inflicted upon him by the undead cleric. Before he died, he scribbled a damning testimony of Vanthus—a parchment that conveniently reveals where the missing brother has been spending his time of late.
Nine ravenous zombies and one huecuva prowl the tunnels in groups of up to three. The zombies are mindless, driven only by their hunger. Proto-memories of life prevent them from entering water (they’re too stupid to realize they can’t drown), making areas of water relatively safe. Use encounters with the undead to liven up explorations of the smuggler’s tunnels, throwing groups of 1-3 at the PCs at any moment where the suspense would benefit (such as just after they open a door, find a bit of treasure, or turn a corner in a hall). Once the first group is encountered and defeated, the remaining zombies mobilize—their dreadful moans and the sound of their gnashing teeth echo throughout the tunnels, making it difficult to estimate how many remain or even from what direction they are approaching. When they attack, the fanged maws of these horrific zombies open wider than they should, revealing row upon row of jagged teeth. Veldimar himself should be the last undead encountered.
Ravenous Zombie Pirate (9) CR 1
NE Medium undead
Monster Manual 266, Dragon Compendium 212
[Need the stat block copied over correctly]
Male human huecuva cleric 1
NE Medium undead
Fiend Folio 94
[Need the stat block copied over correctly]
This ten-foot-square room appears empty. A shaft leads up through the ceiling in the northeastern corner, and a brick-lined tunnel with a curved roof extends to the west.
Although the walls are made of brick, they are also slippery and slimy with moisture—climbing them requires a DC 20 Climb check. If Vanthus has closed the trap door above, its iron-plated underside should be quite difficult to batter through. If the trap door is smashed open, the boulders Vanthus stacked on top come tumbling down, striking anyone in the shaft for 2d6 damage.
Iron-Plated Stone Trap Door: 4 in. thick; Hardness 10; hp 60; Open/Break DC 32.
P2. Smuggling Chamber (EL 3)
Four great wooden pillars rise up to support the ceiling, which sags dangerously in places and is thick with hanging strands of fungus. Several doors line the walls—one to the west (from which comes a muffled sloshing sound), two to the north (the western of which is badly damaged and hangs askew on its one remaining hinge), and two to the east. To the south, the ceiling has collapsed, and the southern part of the room is choked with debris. A rippling pool of water reaches halfway into the room from this wall of stone and rubble. It seems that a wooden pier once extended into this pool, but all that remains now are several rotting wooden pilings protruding from the water. A man’s body floats face down among them.
To the south, the sloshing pool of water may taunt PCs with promises of an underwater escape route. The pool is connected to the harbor, but unfortunately, the submerged tunnels are rarely wider than a foot (and in most cases much narrower). A Tiny or smaller creature could navigate one of the 50-foot-long tunnels to escape, but a Small creature must make a DC 30 Escape Artist check to move through the tunnels each round.
Creatures: Further complicating the pool as an escape route are the five foul-tempered dark brown kelp crabs that live within. Each of these crabs measures nearly two feet in diameter, with pincers the size of daggers. Fiercely territorial, they surge out of the pool to attack anything that approaches within five feet of the shore. The ravenous dead have learned to avoid this pool, but their hunger periodically draws them near enough to try to catch one of the crabs to eat.
Small Monstrous Crabs (5)
N Small vermin (aquatic)
Init +0; Senses low-light vision, scent; Listen +0, Spot +4
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14
hp 8 (1 HD)
Immune vermin traits
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0
Spd 20 ft.
Melee 2 claws +1 (1d4)
Base Atk +0; Grp +0 (includes +4 racial bonus)
Atk Options constrict 2d4, improved grab (claw)
Abilities Str 10, Dex 11, Con 12, Int —, Wis 11, Cha 2
Skills Hide +8, Spot +4
Treasure: The body in the pool belonged to one of Penkus’s allies, a Lotus thief who wasn’t quite fast enough to escape to safety before he was taken down by the ravenous dead. The crab-eaten, soggy body has nothing of value on it, but a DC 15 Search of the pool reveals his masterwork silver dagger, a weapon that may come in handy in a fight against Veldimar Krund.
P3. The Sea Caves
The sloshing sound comes from the churning waters of a sea cave. Fueled by what must be powerful submerged currents, the water laps and splashes against the walls of the twisting natural cavern that leads to the west. A sandy slope descends from the door down to the edge of the subterranean tide. Dozens of purple and red sea urchins glisten in shallow divots along the ground and lower walls here, their spines glittering with water.
During high tide, the shallow water is about a foot deep and the deep water ten feet deep, with the transition between the two zones being a sudden drop-off. At low tide (generally for three hours at sunrise and again at sunset), the “shallow” water zone is slippery but dry, and the deep section drops to eight feet deep. It costs two squares of movement to move through shallow water when it’s not low tide—further, any creature that begins its turn in a square of shallow water here must make a DC 16 Strength or Balance check or fall prone from the surging current. At low tide, the slippery surface requires only a DC 10 Balance check to navigate. Swimming in the deeper water requires a DC 15 Swim check.
A character that slips and falls in the shallow water must make a DC 14 Reflex save to avoid landing on a patch of sea urchins. Failure indicates the character takes 1d3 points of damage from the spines and must make a DC 11 Fortitude save to avoid becoming nauseated from the urchins’ poison for one minute, after which he must repeat the save to avoid taking 1 point of Strength damage.
A large pool of water sloshes in the western portion of the caves—this pool is twelve feet deep at its deepest point during high tide. A five-foot-wide tunnel leads north at the base of this pool; this submerged tunnel travels on a twisting course to the northwest for 70 feet before emerging from the sea bed in the harbor between Parrot Island and the gate that separates Shadowshore from Cudgel district; from here, it’s only a 20-foot swim to the surface and then a 50-foot swim to shore. The currents in the tunnel are strong but not overwhelming; it’s a DC 15 Swim check to navigate the tunnel. The tunnel entrance is difficult to see even underwater, requiring a DC15 Search check to locate. From above the water surface, this increases to a DC 28 Search check.
P4. Penkus’ Doom
The door to this chamber is barred from within; it can’t be opened with Open Lock but can be bashed down as normal.
The smell in this chamber is horrific, a cloying stink of rotten meat rising from the bloated, seeping body slumped in the middle of the floor. The corpse’s dark, almost black flesh bulges against its armor, once belonging to Penkus. Ready to burst at the slightest touch, an intricate tattoo of a dragon clutching a flower is visible on his shoulder against the diseased flesh, and clutched in one hand is a crumpled scroll.
This body was once Penkus. When Vanthus locked him and his companions in these tunnels, Penkus made it all the way to the sea caves before one of the undead, the fallen cleric Veldimar, caught up to him. Penkus took two solid blows from the huecuva’s claws before he made it through the pool in area Pua. Yet even after he locked himself in this ancient guardroom, he didn’t actually escape the undead menace, for he had contracted huecuva blight. As the days wore on and Penkus subsisted on fish and his dwindling water supplies, he grew more and more sickly. When he realized he was going to die, he lit his last torch and hastily scribbled a note condemning his “friend,” hopefully providing anyone who found his body all the information they need to avenge his death. This note is reproduced as Handout #3.
Treasure: Penkus’ suit of masterwork studded leather armor is still serviceable, although it needs to be cleaned before it is used. He used most of his other gear up in his frantic attempt to escape the undead, but a gold ring on a bloated finger is worth 120 gp, and a masterwork dagger is hidden in a boot.
P5. Treasure Vault
The air in this chamber is stale, yet unlike the other chambers in the complex, the place seems quite dry, even dusty. Cobwebs hang in thick sheets from the ceiling, and against the northern wall sit three large sea chests.
These three chests still contain the bulk of the smugglers’ treasure, forgotten in this room for well over a century. All three chests are locked, and the keys are long-lost; a DC 25 Open Lock check gets them open. Alternatively, they can be bashed open with weapons, although this automatically destroys all of the potions within.
Sea Chest: Hardness 5; hp 30; Break DC 25.
Treasure: The first chest is filled with copper and silver coins; 7,500 ep and 1,500 sp in all.
The second chest contains a dozen bags, 10 of which contain 100 gp. The remaining two each contain a small handful of assorted gems; each pouch contains 250 gp worth of gems in all.
The third chest contains three potions of cure light wounds, a potion of lesser restoration, a potion of invisibility, a potion of barkskin +3, a potion of cure serious wounds, an elixir of swimming, a wand of mage armor with 11 charges, and a small jade coffer worth 300 gp. Inside this coffer, resting on a tiny velvet cushion, is a light brown gemstone. This is an earth elemental gem, identified as such by a strip of paper tucked under the cushion.
Part Five: The Lotus and the Dragon
After the PCs escape from Parrot Island, it shouldn’t be long before they overhear the latest news that’s torn through Sasserine—namely, that old Keltar Islaran, the harbormaster of Sasserine, has been murdered! Details of how the deed was done vary wildly—the only thing the rumor mill seems to agree on is that he was killed in his bed late last night, and that the body was left in an especially gruesome state of evisceration.
Depending on how long the PCs have been gone, Lavinia greets them with varying stages of relief. If the PCs are diseased and can’t afford a cure, she gladly pays for potions of remove disease and potions of lesser restoration to fix them up. She reacts with shock and despair if the PCs show her Penkus’ note or tell her that Vanthus was the one who sealed them into the caves, yet quickly steels her emotions. She’s not willing to admit to herself that Vanthus is beyond redemption and asks the PCs to capture him alive. If he makes this impossible, though… she only asks that his death be merciful and quick.
Finding the Lotus Dragons
Since Sasserine threw off the Sea Prince rule, countless thieves’ guilds have formed and fallen in a hidden underground war. The city watch knows, and for the most part, they let these guilds fight it out with each other, figuring they suppress themselves far better than the law ever could. Yet in this environment, a clear victor has silently emerged—the Lotus Dragons. Founded in secret by one of Sasserine’s noble families and led by that family’s daughter, Rowyn Kellani, the Lotus Dragons are on the verge of publicly displaying their power and seizing control of Sasserine’s shipping concerns, effectively establishing themselves as the controllers of the city’s sea trade. The assassination of Keltar Islaran is merely the latest step in this nefarious plan. Left to their ambitions, the Lotus Assassins will become one of the most powerful organizations in Sasserine in less than a month.
Although they haven’t yet publicly declared their power, word of the Lotus Dragons has already spread through Sasserine. A Gather Information check reveals the information listed below.
- DC 15: “The Lotus Dragons are a new guild of thieves—they seem to be a lot more organized than the other fly-by-night guilds that have been popping up over the past few years.”
- DC 20: “I hear that they’ve got more than people working for them; they’ve got ties to animal smugglers, and keep the worst of the lot in their guildhall as guardians.”
- DC 25: “The Lotus Dragons have some sort of connection to at least one noble family, Why else hasn’t the city watch done anything about them?”
Lotus Dragon Ambush (EL 2)
The first time the PCs come to the Lotus Dragons’ attention (either as the result of a Gather Information check or a visit to the Taxidermist’s Guildhall), a single Lotus Dragon thief approaches one of the PCs on a busy street and uses Sleight of Hand to slip one of them a note (Handout #4). If a PC spots the thief planting the note, he tries to flee to Dead Dog Plaza.
If the PCs ignore the note, the Lotus Dragons arrange an ambush to take place at some point when the PCs are on the streets of Sasserine. They pay a street urchin to try to pick one of the PCs’ pockets and then race into the alley, at which point two thieves take prepared actions to fire hand crossbows at the lead PCs while the third throws 2 tanglefoot bags at the alley entrance to block retreat. From their vantage points atop the roofs 2 feet above, the thieves have cover (+4 to AC, +2 to Reflex saves). It’s a DC 15 Climb check to clamber up the building walls (during which time climbing PCs are flat-footed and susceptible to sneak attacks), and there are no convenient windows or doors into the buildings. As soon as one thief is slain or the PCs seem to be about to reach the rooftops, the remaining thieves flee across the roofs, taking a winding route that eventually leads to Dead Dog Plaza.
If the PCs track the thieves to Dead Dog Plaza, the thieves leap into a well in the plaza center, dropping down into area D9 below and hoping the PCs pursue. If the PCs do, they enter a chamber known to the thieves as the Crucible (see area D0 for the peril that awaits the PCs therein).
Lotus Dragon Thieves (3)
Human Rogue 1
NE Medium humanoid
Init +6; Senses Listen +0; Spot +0
AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 12
HP 8 (1 HD)
Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +0
Speed 30 ft.
Melee rapier +1 (1d6+1/18-20) or sap +1 (1d6+1 nonlethal)
Ranged hand crossbow +2 (1d4/19-20)
Base Atk +0; Grp +1
Attack Options sneak attack +1d6
Combat Gear potion of cure light wounds, 2 doses of urchin venom
Abilities Str 12, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 8
Special Qualities trapfinding
Feats Improved Initiative, Stealthy
Skills Climb +5, Disable Device +5, Disguise +3, Hide +8, Intimidate +3, Move Silently +8, Open Lock +6, Search +5, Sleight of Hand +6, Swim +5
Possessions combat gear, leather armor, rapier, sap, hand crossbow with 10 bolts, thieves’ tools, 10 gp
Any captured Lotus Dragon has an initial attitude of hostile; he won’t reveal the location of his guildhall or any other information unless his attitude can be made helpful. In this case, any captured thief can give the PCs a fairly accurate map of the guildhall that shows areas D1—Day and D20—D25; none of them know about areas Di8—Dig or D26—D33. They can reveal that their leader is a human woman, and that they know her only as Lady Lotus or the Dragon Mistress (depending on her mood). They can also reveal that her sub-commanders are named Vanthus Vanderboren and Kersh Reftun, and know that Nemien the Taxidermist is a guild ally.
The Taxidermist’s Guildhall (EL 3):
Either from Penkus’ note or after interrogating a captured thief, the PCs likely seek out the Taxidermist’s Guildhall. A relatively modest building, there are two entrances—the front door into the showroom (area G1) opens onto Water Street and a locked service entrance from Dead Dog Alley that opens into the workshop (area G6).
The Taxidermist’s Guild is run by a lanky, middle-aged man with a gold tooth and a penchant for looking down his nose at customers. This is Nemien Roblach, a pleasant-enough fellow as long as he suspects visitors are here to buy but quick to anger otherwise. Nemien spends most of his time in his workshop—his current project is a partially completed jaguar on commission for the church of Kord.
When the PCs enter the showroom, they are confronted with dozens of expertly stuffed and preserved animals, ranging from parrots, monkeys, and bats to more exotic creatures like a monstrous centipede, a stirge, and even a black dragon wyrmling. A bell near the door bears a short sign—“Ring for Service.”
None of the doors in the guildhall are locked, yet neither do any of the rooms hold anything suspicious that might tie Nemien to the Lotus Dragons—he knows better than to keep anything like that around. If he discovers anyone snooping, he flies into a rage and demands the PCs leave at once. He does not attack unless threatened or unless the PCs discover the secret door to area G8 (with a DC 20 Search check).
If he meets the PCs in the showroom, he tries to ascertain their interests quickly and bluntly. All of the stuffed creatures on display are for sale, with prices ranging from 5 gp for a bat up to 500 gp for the stuffed dragon. As soon as he realizes that the PCs aren’t really here to buy or commission his work, he asks them to leave, saying, “I’m a busy man, and have no time for solicitors!”
Nemien Roblach CR 3
Male human illusionist 3
CE Medium humanoid
Init +2; Senses Listen +3, Spot +3
Languages Aquan, Common, Draconic
AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 10
HP 9 (3 HD)
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +4
Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk sickle +1 (1d4—1)
Base Atk +1; Grp +0
Combat Gear: wand of ray of enfeeblement (29 charges), wand of mage armor (20 charges), potion of cure light wounds
Spells Prepared (CL 3rd, +3 ranged touch):
1st—hypnotic pattern (DC 15), invisibility, minor image (DC 15)
2nd—charm person (DC 13), color spray (DC 14), shield, silent image(DC 14)
0—detect magic, daze (DC 12), ghost sound (DC 13), prestidigitation
Prohibited Schools: evocation, transmutation
Abilities: Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 13
Special Qualities: summon familiar (rat named Theophilies)
Feats: Combat Casting, Craft Wondrous Item, Scribe Scroll, Spell Focus (illusion)
Skills: Concentration +8, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (nature) +8, Profession (taxidermist) +7, Spellcraft +10
Possessions: combat gear, masterwork sickle, four 100 gp pearls, key ring
Spellbook as above plus: 0—all; 1st—alarm, disguise self, identify, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement, unseen servant; 2nd—arcane lock, magic mouth, see invisibility
Tactics: Nemien is sure of his skills and confident in his magic, at least until he suffers any damage. His first action in any combat is to cast invisibility. On the following round, he casts minor image to make it appear that all the stuffed animals in the room are coming to life, hoping to trick the PCs into wasting resources. He maintains the illusion as long as it’s working, after which he casts a silent image of himself running away, hoping to trick the PCs into leaving. If found out, he casts shield and then uses his attack spells as best he can to defeat the PCs.
Treasure: Nemien makes a good living as a taxidermist, but his real source of income is kickbacks from the Lotus Dragons. In a locked (DC 30 Open Lock) chest under his bed in area G5, he’s stashed his savings—540 gp, 20 pp, and a small pouch of garnets and bloodstones worth 600 gp in all.
Development: If captured alive, Nemien quickly turns on the Lotus Dragons and admits that they pay him to act as their eyes and ears. He allows their members to come and go from his guildhall as they need and can show the PCs the secret door to area G8. He’s never been below, but he knows that the “boss lady” has a pet dragon (or something) that he’d dearly love a chance to stuff. Nemien has no illusions as to his fate once he gives up this information, and if not turned over to the city watch, he packs a bag and flees for Cauldron as soon as the PCs let him.
Lotus Dragon Guildhall Features
The Lotus Dragon Guildhall is located under Dead Dog Alley, a collection of buildings surrounding a triangular plaza. Most of these buildings are boarded up from the outside and apparently abandoned. A DC 20 Search check of the doors reveals that the boards are a ruse; the doors can be opened with ease. Inside, the buildings are indeed abandoned, but several of them contain hidden trap doors (DG25 Search to locate) that lead down into the guildhall, area Dio. Another entrance leads from the Taxidermist’s Guildhall to area Dx. Finally, a wooden wall under the nearby pier is actually a cleverly disguised wide door that can be lifted to allow small boats to pass into area D17; this door can be discovered by anyone who makes a DC 25 Search check under the pier.
Inside, the guildhall itself consists of brick-lined tunnels and rooms; both feature numerous wooden ceiling supports. The exceptions to this rule are areas Da, Do, and D17-Dag; these areas are of unworked stone. The entire place (with the exception of areas D31-D33) is quite damp, with moisture dripping down the walls to drain away through numerous lead pipes set into the floor, eventually emptying into area Do. Air quality is serviceable but musty. Doors are made of wood reinforced with iron and tend to stick. The thieves keep them ajar for this reason; a closed door requires a DC 13 Strength check to open.
The Lotus Dragon Guildhall is inhabited by nearly two dozen thieves (see “The Lotus Dragons” sidebar). These thieves can be encountered in numerous areas, depending on the alert status of the guildhall.
When the guildhall is at rest, only 14 thieves are present. Of these, half sleep in the barracks (area D3), with the remainder either eating in the mess hall (D20) or training in area D25.
When the guildhall is on alert, all the thieves are awake; the room descriptions that follow assume the guild is on alert status and list the locations of the thieves as appropriate. When on alert, the thieves are quick to make sure every door is closed tightly; this limits their own movement but also slows the advance of an invading force. Although there are no wandering monsters in the guildhall, when it’s on alert, there’s a 20% chance every time the PCs enter a new room or hall of encountering a patrol of 3 Lotus Dragon thieves. Only two patrols will be encountered, as all remaining thieves are posted at guard points.
Lotus Dragon Guildhall Unlabeled Player’s Map
D1. Taxidermy Entrance:
A wooden ladder leads up to a trap door in the roof of this natural passageway. Moisture drips from the walls to pool on the rough floor, draining into the east. A wooden door beckons to the west.
The trap door in the ceiling here leads up to area G8 in the Taxidermist’s Guildhall.
D2. Guardroom (EL 2):
Creatures: This room is kept empty at times of rest, but when the guild is on alert, the north door is closed and the south door is left open so that the two thieves posted here can keep an eye on the door to the south for intruders. If they see any, they raise a cry to alert the rest of the guild and attack with arrows.
Lotus Dragon Thieves (2): hp 8 each; see page 31. [Need scroll or jump link]
Teh walls of this long room are lined with dual bunks, eleven in all. The bunks sport sheets spotted with mildew, yet appear to be well-slept in.
The thieves sleep here, but never more than 7 at a time. If the guild’s on alert, there are no thieves at all here.
D4. Rum Storage
Four lage casks stand against the western wall; judging from the scent in the air, they’re filled with rum.
Locked doors have little meaning in a thieves’ guild, so the rum stores operate on an honor system. Thieves are allowed to drink in moderation, but drunkenness is not tolerated. Since drunk thieves are usually thrown into the Crucible (area D9), they’re good about remaining sober.
D5. Cruncher’s Pen (EL 2)
The floor of this room is cluttered with partially eaten bones and clumps of dark fur, giving the air the stink of a filthy wet dog.
Creature: A single black-furred worg named Cruncher dwells here, raised from a pup by Rowyn and given this room as his own. Cruncher’s smart enough to recognize guild members and doesn’t attack them—PCs might be able to slip by the monster unmolested with a good Disguise check.
Cruncher serves the guild in two ways: he helps guard the cell block to the north, and he helps get rid of prisoners who are no longer of use. He often misses the chance to run free (even though Rowyn takes him out on a boat to race around on a nearby island two nights a month), but the comfort of being fed regularly outweighs this minor inconvenience in his eyes. Cruncher understands a few words in Common but rarely speaks.
Cruncher is only found here if the guild isn’t on alert; otherwise, he’s stationed in area D14.
Cruncher, worg: hp 30; Monster Manual 257.
Five prison cells line the western wall of this hallway. Each cell features a nasty-looking heap of straw, a wooden bucket, and little more. Iron bars close each cell off, with a narrow gate faeaturing a large lock allowing egress from each.
Unless one of the PCs has been captured by the Lotus Dragons, no prisoners languish in these cells. The locks on the gates can be opened with a DC 30 Open Lock check, but the bars themselves are already beginning to rust. It’s only a DC 25 Strength check to break or bend them enough to allow passage.
D7. Guestroom (EL 4)
The purpose of this macabre chamber seems obvious. A stretching rack dominates the northwestern corner of the room, and an open iron maiden its southeast corner. A sizzling brazier of coals sputters in the southwest corner, giving the chamber a hellish red cast.
Jokingly referred to as the “guest-room” by the thieves, this chamber is obviously a well-kept torture chamber. Unless one of the PCs was recently captured, the Lotus Dragons haven’t had a reason to use this chamber in the past several weeks, something that its keeper, Kersh Reftun, regrets.
A DC 20 Search check reveals the secret door in the east wall.
Creature: If the guildhall is on alert, Kersh succumbs to his sense of theatrics and stages a trick here. After setting his magic armor to look like rags (making sure to cover the tattoo on his shoulder), Kersh straps himself into the rack, tying himself in with clever slipknots he can wriggle out of as a move action. (Anyone who examines these bonds and makes a DC 16 Use Rope check realizes the nature of the knots.) He then posts one of the Lotus Dragon thieves in this room to pose as the “torturer,” dressing him in a stained leather apron and arming him with knives and branding irons.
When the PCs enter, they find what appears to be a torturer heating several branding irons in the nearby brazier to torment a man dressed in rags tied to the rack. The “torturer” attacks on sight and fights to the death (this thief isn’t about to surrender in front of his boss!).
Kersh plays the part of the tormented victim, claiming to be a silk merchant who was kidnapped from his room at the Bent Goblin Inn weeks ago. He begs the PCs to escort him to safety, silently waiting for the best moment to turn on them and attack with surprise (likely as soon as the PCs get into a fight). If the PCs see through his Bluff check, he sneers at them and attacks.
Kersh himself is a muscular man with dark stubble on his chin and short, greasy hair. His eyes are pale and watery, and a Lotus Dragon tattoo graces one shoulder. His knuckles are badly scarred—testament to the use to which he often puts them. Kersh is a crude, foul-mouthed racist with little time or use for dwarves, halflings, or gnomes, although he does his best to hide his baser qualities when playing the part of a victim.
Kersh Reftun CR3
Male human rogue 1/fighter 2
NE Medium humanoid
Init +2; Senses Listen +1, Spot +1
AC 17, touch 12, flat-footed 15
hp 20 (3 HD)
Fort +4, Ref +4, Will +1
Melee: unarmed strike +3 (1d4) or red-hot branding iron +2 (2d6+4 plus 1d6 fire)
Base Atk +2; Grp +4
Atk Options: sneak attack +1d6, 2-point Power Attack
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Feats: Improved Bull Rush, Improved Unarmed Strike, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Intimidate), Weapon Focus (unarmed strike)
Skills: Bluff +3, Disable Device +6, Gather Information +3, Heal +4, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (local) +4, Sense Motive +5, Swim +6, Use Rope +6
Possessions: +1 glamered chain shirt, Lotus Dragon Thief! hp 8 each; see page 32.
Tactics: If the PCs see through Kersh’s trickery, he snatches up a red-hot branding iron (treat as a club) from the brazier if he can. If he can’t, he’s perfectly capable of fighting bare-handed. If he gets a chance, he tries to bull rush a PC into the waiting iron maiden; if he manages to do so, the PC takes 2d6 points of damage from the spikes with a DC 12 Reflex save halving the damage. If the PC doesn’t take a move action to clamber free of the iron maiden, Kersh takes a move action himself to slam the lid, automatically inflicting 10 pounds of damage on anyone trapped inside.
D8. Kersh’s Quarters
The cage at the foot of the bed isn’t…
[This section needs a lot of help b/c the OCR isn’t present]
D9. The Crucible (EL 5)
[This section needs a lot of help b/c the OCR isn’t present]
D10. The Ring of Ruin
[This section needs a lot of help b/c the OCR isn’t present]
D11. Observation Room (EL 2)
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
The “haze” is, in fact, a special and permanent illusory wall that Rowyn paid (at great expense) to install. From this side, the wall is transparent, while from the other side, it appears as a solid natural rock wall. The illusory wall functions at caster level 9th.
Creatures: If the guild is on alert, three Lotus Dragon thieves wait in this room to spring the Crucible trap (see area D9 above). If caught in here before the trap can be sprung, they do their best to fight but aren’t above fleeing into area D9 and out through one of the secret doors to the west.
Lotus Dragon Thieves (3): hp 8 each; see page 31. [Need a jump link]
D12. Visitor’s Lounge
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
Long-term visitors to the guild use this room and the one next door to rest and relax; currently, this room is empty.
D13. Visitor’s Quarters
Visitors to the guild are allowed to sleep in this room. Vanthus spent some time here a little over a month ago when he first approached the Lotus Dragons with his plan to murder his parents and use the inheritance to help fund the guild. A DC 20 search of the room locates a scrap of paper wedged between one bunk and a wall, on which a map of the Vanderboren vault is sketched along with row upon row of failed combinations—one of Vanthus’ worksheets he used to try to puzzle out area V3.
D14. Cruncher’s Guardpost (EL 2)
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
Creature: This room is empty unless the guild is on alert. In that case, Cruncher the worg (see area D5) has been placed here with orders to prevent any non-guild members from passing through. He howls loudly as he attacks, alerting the rest of the complex immediately.
Cruncher, worg: hp 30; Monster Manual 256.
D15. Meeting Room
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
This chamber is used by the guild to meet and interview prospective allies. It is currently empty. If the guild is on alert, the table in this room is missing.
D16. Waiting Room (EL 3)
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
Visitors to the guild spend anywhere between half an hour to two hours waiting in this room before Rowyn decides how to proceed with them. During this time, the occupants of the room are typically observed through a hidden peephole in the southern door (DC 25 Search check to find).
Creatures: If the guild is on alert, four Lotus Dragon thieves have dragged the table from area D15 into this room and turned it on its side. They huddle behind it and use it as cover to fire crossbow bolts and arrows at anyone who tries to enter the room from the east. They are ill-prepared to handle any intrusion from the south unless Cruncher’s howl alerts them, in which case they shift the table’s position as appropriate.
Lotus Dragon Thieves (4): hp 8 each; see page 31.
D17. Smuggler’s Pond (EL 3 or 5)
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
The Lotus Dragons use this cavern to stage smuggling operations or (less often) to receive visitors to the guildhall. Generally, a visitor has a black bag pulled over his head late in the night before being rowed around the city canals for an hour to disorient him. When he arrives here, he is led into area D16 through the secret door in the south wall (Search DC 20 to locate from the north side, automatic from the south) before the hood is removed. The crabs on the north shore clatter and clack menacingly, but they are relatively small and harmless. The current denizens of the water are not.
Creatures: To aid in their takeover of Sasserine’s sea trade, the Lotus Dragons managed to contact a local tribe of ixitxachitls, intelligent and cruel aquatic monsters that look similar to rays. Six ixitxachitls have taken up residence here. As needed, they swim out into the harbor to take care of any aquatic missions Rowyn requires, and as a result, these six are well-practiced in the art of gnawing holes in the hulls of offending ships. If the guild is on alert, four of these evil fish patrol this cave while two swim back and forth between this area and D18. If either group finds intruders, they call out to their allies in Aquan for aid and attack at once.
An ixitxachitl has a plain brown or black topside with a lighter-colored belly. Its large mouth is filled with razor-sharp teeth, and its eyes are intelligent and cruel. The scout, a base class that excels at skirmish-style combat, is detailed in Complete Adventurer.
Ixitxachitls (4) CR 1
- Male ixitxachitl scout 1
- CE Small aberration (aquatic)
- Monster Manual II 128
- Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +5, Spot +5
- Languages Aquan
- AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 13
- hp 11 (1 HD)
- Fort +3, Ref +7, Will +1
- Spd swim 30 ft.
- Melee bite +3 (1d6+2)
- Base Atk +0; Grp +2
- Atk Options skirmish +1d6
- Abilities Str 15, Dex 21, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10
- SQ trapfinding
- Feats Dodge
- Skills Escape Artist +9, Hide +13, Listen +5, Move Silently +9, Search +4, Spot +5, Swim +14, Tumble +9
- Skirmish (Ex) A scout deals an extra 1d6 points of damage on all attacks he makes during any round in which he moves at least 10 feet. This extra damage applies only to attacks taken during the scout’s turn and applies only to creatures that have a discernible anatomy. The scout must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot.
D18. Urchin Farm (EL 2 or 5)
The Lotus Dragons farm these sea urchins for their venom, although they’re careful not to deplete their stock.
Creatures: Two ixitxachitl scouts swim through the waters of this pool once every minute; if they see intruders, they call for aid from their kin in area D17.
Ixitxachitl scouts (2): hp 11; see page 39.
D19. Rhagodessa Pen (EL 5)
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
Creature: Before Vanthus joined the guild, one of the primary sources of income for the Lotus Dragons was smuggling dangerous and exotic animals—they worked as agents for hunters and poachers in the surrounding jungle, purchasing eggs and young monsters and then selling them to smugglers bound for the north. Soller Vark was one such smuggler, and the rhagodessa the Lotus Dragons sold him was one such creature. Rowyn was so intrigued by the strange vermin that she decided to keep four of them as pets. She keeps three of the monsters here, where they are well-fed on fish and the occasional vagrant or prisoner. Mindless, the rhagodessas can’t tell the difference between Lotus Dragons and anyone else—a brave party could “recruit” these monsters by luring them into the guildhall proper, where they begin to hunt for food.
Rhagodessas (3): hp 22 each; see Appendix.
Treasure: The skeleton is the remains of a hapless thief who tried to infiltrate the Lotus Dragon guildhall a month ago and made the poor choice of investigating this part of the caverns rather than the passage leading south from area D18—the Lotus Dragons never even knew the poor halfling made it this far. The skeleton’s leather armor and rapier are both rotted or rusted to ruin, but he still wears a gold ring worth 240 gp, a ring of jumping, and a brooch of shielding capable of absorbing up to 42 more points of damage from magic missiles.
D20. Mess Hall
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
The Lotus Dragons take their meals in this room—since the table itself can only accommodate 11 people at once, the thieves tend to eat at different times. The cage contains a half-dozen birds that quickly begin singing if anyone approaches within five feet of their cage, possibly alerting the cook in area D21.
D21. Kitchen (EL 1)
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
The fireplace chimney rises up through a twisting iron pipe that eventually feeds into an old fireplace in one of the abandoned houses surrounding Dead Dog Plaza, so that when the cook uses the fire to prepare food, the smoke appears to come from a building and doesn’t give away the guildhall’s location.
This room is also used by the Lotus Dragons’ cook, a kobold named Churtle, to distill poison extracted from the urchins in area D18. The contents of the cauldron consist of 10 boiling doses of urchin venom.
Trap: If the guild is on alert, Churtle has rigged the boiling cauldron of poison with a length of iron bent back to her hiding spot just behind the door in room D23; when anyone opens the door from area D20, she triggers the trap, causing the cauldron to catapult out of the fireplace toward the open doorway—and anyone standing within.
Fireplace Catapult: CR 1; mechanical; manual trigger; manual reset; Atk +8 ranged touch (1d6 fire, boiling poison); poison (urchin venom, DC 11 Fortitude Save resists, nausea for 1 minute/1 Str); Search DC —; Disable Device DC —
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
There’s enough supplies stored here to last the Lotus Dragons for a month.
Treasure; A DC 15 search of this room finds a that contains 10 vials of urchin venom. The milky fluid is unlabeled, but identifiable with a DC 12 Knowledge (nature) check.
D23. Churtle’s Quarters
[Needs Room Description Blue Text]
Creature: A female kobold named Churtle (LE female kobold expert 4, Craft (poison making) +10, Profession (cook) +12), lives here, her obsession with seashells apparent all over the floor. Churtle serves the Lotus Dragons as a cook, and although the thieves pay her well, her true loyalty is to Rowyn, who spared her life two years ago. Churtle’s followed her around ever since. Her cooking and poison-making skills are considerable, and she only rarely confuses the two.
Tactics: Churtle hides in the pile of blankets (Hide +7), hoping that no one finds her. She’s close to ineffectual in combat, and if confronted yelps in terror and tries to tumble past the PCs to escape to the north. If she gets away, she immediately flees the guild. If she takes any damage, she breaks down in tears, begging for her life and offering her 53 gp as a bribe to let her go.
Development: Churtle’s initial attitude toward the PCs is indifferent, but if she can be made friendly she offers to be that PC’s personal cook and assistant—at least until an opportunity to escape back into the swamp presents itself. If particularly well treated, you might consider having Churtle stick around—she can be a persistent source of comic relief, and her skills make her a fairly competent scout or sentry.
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