Zenith Trajectory | Part 3 | Shackled City Adventure Path | Dungeon Magazine #102

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“… [T]he savagery , the utter savagery , had closed round him, — all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There’s no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination — you know. Imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust the surrender, the hate.”

— Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Zenith Trajectory takes the player characters (PCs) from the town of Cauldron to an Underdark temple, where they must rescue a dwarven defender among a bloodthirsty cult of kuotoans. The adventure is designed for a group of four 6th-level characters, and the PCs may reach 8th level by the conclusion of “Zenith Trajectory.” You can easily modify the adventure to accommodate larger or smaller parties as well as PCs of higher or lower level (see the “Scaling the Adventure” sidebar below). When the PCs earn enough experience to attain a higher level, allow them to advance during the course of the adventure. There isn’t much time pressure on the PCs, so they can take time off during “Zenith Trajectory” for healing, item creation, or spellcasting.

The adventure takes place after the events of “Life’s Bazaar” (Dungeon #97) and “Flood Season” (Dungeon #98). if you’re playing through the adventures in sequence, characters should be familiar with the town of Cauldron and will recognize some of the NPCs in the adventure. You can also play “Zenith Trajectory” as a stand-alone adventure, because it doesn’t explicitly rely on events from the previous adventures.

Zenith Trajectory Preparation

You should have a copy of the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual before you run “Zenith Trajectory:’’ A copy of Dungeon Magazine #97 Life’s Bazaar (published on this site) is also useful because it provides more detail on the town of Cauldron, including a large town map.

Pertinent statistical information is provided in the adventure text when appropriate. Because the kuo-toan temple at the adventure’s conclusion has many NPCs with class levels, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with those stat blocks before those sessions begin.

As in Part 1 : Life’s Bazaar and Part 2 : Flood Season, Campaign Seed sidebars are scattered throughout this adventure. Some campaign seeds refer to threads of the ongoing plot that future adventures in this series will use. Others are useful points for you to add your own creativity to the ongoing campaign.

Zenith Trajectory Background

Dark plots are afoot in the town of Cauldron, despite the best efforts of adventurers, who’ve already foiled a kidnapping conspiracy and averted a citywide flood. Vhalantru the beholder is still the city’s puppet master, ruling from behind the guise of the Lord Mayor. The secret society of Cagewrights build their soulcages in secret, looking forward to the day when they can turn Cauldron into a massive gateway for an army of fiends from the Outer Planes.

For the interplanar gate to open, each of the soulcages must contain a sacrificial victim bearing an invisible birthmark: the Carcerian Sign. Most of these victims, known as the Shackleborn, are unaware of their sinister birthright. The characters may have met one Shackleborn, a child named Terrem, in “Life’s Bazaar,” but they were probably unaware of his birthmark. Now the Cagewrights have set their sights on another Shackleborn: Zenith Splintershield, a righteous dwarven defender who disappeared in the Underdark a decade ago. The Cagewrights divinations have revealed that Zenith yet lives, but is a prisoner of a kuo-toan cult deep tinder ground — a prisoner of sorts.

Zenith marched into the Underdark with a small army of dwarves, steadfast in his determination to save the vast caverns from evil. But the Underdark didn’t want to be saved, and Zenith’s men faced countless grim battles against mind flayers, derro, and worse. As he buried friend after friend, Zenith despaired of his quest. Somewhere in the dark, he grew insane — or had his first revelatory vision from the Eye in the Darkness, as he would put it. With the surviving dwarves, Zenith marched into the kuo-toan temple-fortress of Bhal-Hamatugn, as bid by his vision. The kuo-toans easily captured the dwarves, then mercilessly slaughtered all but Zenith in a horrid ritual. As he was being led to the sacrificial dais, Zenith began to babble wi1d1y in Kuo-toan, prophesying the bloody death of the kuo-toan sorcerer-chieftain.

Intrigued, the kuo-toas spared Zenith’s life. The following day, the kuo-toan chieftain was indeed dead, slain by a demon when its planar binding spell went awry. The kuo-toans unshackled Zenith and listened closely to his raving prophecies. Years later, Zenith is the de facto leader of the kuo-toans, goading them to greater atrocities in the name of the presence he knows only as the Eye in the Darkness. His dread ferocity in battle and his uncanny visions have amazed the kuo-toas, who venerate him with a passion that borders on worship.

The Cagewrights don’t know any of this, but they need Zenith in their clutches just the same. For he bears the Carcerian Sign, and there’s a soulcage waiting for him in Cauldron.

Meanwhile, Vhalantru has noticed the PCs, and he wants to determine whether they’re an obstacle or a useful tool. After testing the characters’ mettle, he sends them to look for Zenith Splintershield under completely false pretenses.

Zenith Trajectory Adventure Synopsis

Vhalantru wants to test the characters, and the Lord Mayor has had difficulty lately collecting taxes from a merchant named Maavu. When an errand takes the PCs to northwest Magma Avenue, Vhalantru’s agents release a fiendish umber hulk to rampage through the city — conveniently near many of Maavu’s shops, offices, and warehouses. When the characters vanquish the marauding umber hulk, they get an invitation to Cusp of Sunrise, an invitation-only club for nobles.

After dinner at the Cusp, an alluring noblewoman named Celeste leads them into a private meeting room where they meet a dwarf so decrepit that he looks dead. The dwarf, Ironlord Davked Splintershield, explains that he has been cursed by a terrible wasting disease because he disowned his three sons. The only way for the curse to be lifted, Davked relates, is to make peace with each of his three sons. He’s done so with two sons, but he can’t find the third son, Zenith Splintershield.

Celeste offers the PCs 5,000 gp each if they can find Zenith and return him to Cauldron. The characters head north from Cauldron into the mountains, eventually reaching an entrance to the Underdark near the hut of an old hermit named Crazy Jared. They climb down into the Underdark and reach the kuo-toan temple of Bhal-Hamatugn. There the PCs learn that Zenith is the leader of the kuo-toas, not a prisoner. They must contend with Zenith and the kuo-toas before returning to Cauldron to claim their reward.


Most of the combat encounters in the first three chapters of the adventure are of a higher encounter level than the PCs’ average level. That’s intentional, because the PCs aren’t under immediate time pressure and can fully heal and prepare spells after every major encounter.

Once the PCs reach Bhal-Hamatugn, “Zenith Trajectory” becomes a more traditional site-based adventure. There are fewer high-EL encounters there. Other than the climax, many of the high-EL encounters have extenuating circumstances that make them easier for the PCs.

Depending on how close to a new level the PCs are when they begin the adventure, they may attain a new level while in the mountains north of Cauldron or in the Underdark. Let the characters level-up without taking time off or undergoing training if they’re traveling, because such a delay will bring the whole party to a halt. You can justify instantaneous level advancement by imagining that characters have been training in their spare time all along. For example, it’s reasonable to assume that the 6th-level wizard has been practicing wall of fire for weeks and finally gets it right one day (the day she attains 7th level, of course).


“Zenith Trajectory” gives out roughly 40% more treasure than the average recommended in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The adventure has many monsters with class levels, all of whom are equipped by NPC standards. That means the PCs will collect a lot of gear that, when accumulated, is worth a lot of money. But the PCs will find that much of the monsters’ equipment is inferior to the gear they already have, so they’ll sell it at half its purchase price and thus get only half the economic value from it. The PCs will have more than a dozen masterwork heavy shields and rapiers at the adventure’s end, but they probably have magic weapons and magic armor already.

It’s a good idea to audit the PCs accumulated gear periodically, making sure that they adhere reasonably closely to the average PC wealth described in Table 5-1 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. If the PCs don’t bother with the kuo-toas’ nonmagical gear, for example, they’ll be “undertreasured” and you might have Celeste give them a bonus for a job well done.


The town of Cauldron is described in greater detail in “Life’s Bazaar” and “Flood Season.” If you aren’t using those two adventures, the following brief description should suffice.

Cauldron is a large town nestled in the crater of an inactive volcano. The city streets form concentric rings around the inner ridge, and the cross-streets lead down to a small lake in the crater’s center. A 50-foot-tall wall surrounds the city, broken only by four gates that lead to the outside world.

In general, upper-class neighborhoods are near the walls and lower-class ones surround the lake. The map of Cauldron identifies locations important to “Zenith Trajectory,” plus locations featured in previous adventures and some spots you might find useful during the ongoing campaign.

Cauldron (large town): Conventional; AL NG; population 4,500 adults, 3,000 gp limit; Assets 600,000 gp; Mixed (79% human, 9% halfling, 5% gnome, 3% dwarf, 2% elf, 1% half-elf, 1% half-ore).

Authority Figures: Lord Mayor Severen Navalant, male human Ari10, Terseon Skellerang, male human Ftr8 (Captain of the Town Guard).

Important Characters: Lord Orbius Vhalantru, beholder (true overlord of Cauldron); Jenya Urikas, female human Clr7, (cleric at the Church of St. Cuthbert); Meerthan Eliothlorn, male half-elf Wiz13 (merchant staying at the Drowning Morkoth Inn); Keygan Ghelve, male gnome Exp3/Wiz (Ill)1 (owner of Ghelve’s Locks); Gretchyn Tashykk, female halfling Com1 (Lantern Street Orphanage headmistress); Vortimax Weer, male human Wiz10 (alchemist and potion brewer at Weer’s Elixirs); Skie Aldersun, female gnome Sor6 (proprietor of Skie’s Treasury); Phalian Gurnezarn, male human Exp6 (blacksmith and proprietor of Gurnezarn’s Smithy); Bjellkir Zanathor (proprietor of Zanathor’s Provisions, a general store); Rivek Mol, male human Exp4 (proprietor of The Tipped Tankard); Halpeen Welvihk, male human Exp6 (proprietor of The Drunken Morkoth Inn); Tippys Surefoot, female halfling Exp4 (proprietor of Sure Foot Livery); Embril Aloustinai, human female Wiz5/Clr9 (high priest of the Cathedral of Wee Jas); Asfelkir Hranleurt, male half-ore Clr7 (high priest of the Temple of Lordly Might dedicated to Kord).

Typical Guard Patrol: Vhalantru has started supplementing the town guard with mercenaries lately (it’s been an eventful year in Cauldron, after all). A typical patrol consists of a sergeant (Ftr4) and 1d4+2 privates (Ftr2). Many are half-ores. Guards typically wear breastplates and bucklers emblazoned with the town emblem (a watchful eye wreathed in flames) and carry masterwork halberds or longswords, and shortbows. The sergeant generally has two potions of cure light wounds and a potion of sanctuary.

Healing: If the characters have befriended the Church of St. Cuthbert (likely during the events of “Life’s Bazaar” and “Flood Season,” they have access to a 20% discount on potions and healing magic. And Jenya Urikas, the head of St. Cuthbert’s order in Cauldron, will arrange to cast raise dead from a scroll if the PCs can make a 5,000 gp donation to the church. This is an intentional exception to Cauldron’s spending limit, because a long trip elsewhere to get a raise dead spell might derail the adventure.


The rumor mill in Cauldron is as busy as ever. If the characters do some asking around (either with Gather Information checks or more specific inquiries), they may hear some of the following unsubstantiated tales. Many refer to the umber hulk’s rampage described in Chapter 1. For several weeks after “Zenith Trajectory” starts, the PCs’ fight against the umber hulk dominates conversation, and the PCs find they’ve achieved a certain level of celebrity — or notoriety, if the encounter didn’t go well.

d12 roll Rumor

1 The umber hulk burrowed its way up into the city from the Underdark because its caverns were flooded this winter. There are hundreds of such fell creatures down there, and if they discover how much food is available on the surface, they’ll destroy Cauldron! (False.)

2 A sinister cult of nobles, playing with dark magic they couldn’t control, summoned the umber hulk. (False.)

3 Maavu the caravan-master was keeping the umber hulk has a pet. If you didn’t pay the price he offered you, he’d feed you to the monster! (False, although Vhalantru’s agents are spreading this rumor.)

4 Maavu was conducting magical experiments and storing the results in his warehouse. One of them escaped and tried to destroy everything in sight. (False, although Vhalantru’s agents encourage this rumor too.)

5 Actually, people trying to stop the umber hulk did more damage than the monster did. (True or false, depending on how the encounter went.)

6 Maavu didn’t have anything to do with the umber hulk. Most of the property damage was to his buildings. (True.)

7 Kidnappings, magic floods, rampaging monsters . . . Cauldron isn’t as safe as it used to be. (True.)

8 Groups of cloaked figures have been seen jumping from rooftop to rooftop the last few evenings. (True; the Last Laugh guild is training new recruits.)

9 When there’s fog on the city streets, a vampire stalks Lava Street. (False.)

10 A group called The Striders of Fharlanghn recently defeated a large bandit army west of town. (True.)

11 The Stormblades will be named “Champions of Cauldron” because they recently completed a dangerous mission in the tunnels below town. (False, although they did just do a mission below the city at Vhalantru’s behest.)

12 The giants in the mountains north of the city are getting restless and plan to invade Cauldron this winter. (False.)


Because Cauldron generally doesn’t have magic items worth more than 3,000 gp available for sale, the characters may have to go elsewhere for their big-ticket shopping. The nearest large city is the capital, Sasserine, which boasts 21,000 residents and a 40,000 gp spending limit.

Sasserine is 200 miles south of Cauldron, however. If you want to play out the trip, use the hills and plains encounter table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide to generate random encounters along the way. If you don’t want shopping to become too much of a distraction, two scrolls of teleport (1,125 gp each) are sufficient to get the shopping trip done quickly. Vortimax Weer, proprietor of Weer’s Elixirs, sells teleport scrolls, as does Skie’s Treasury (detailed in the Web enhancement for “Flood Season”). Or you can simply decide that the journey to Sasserine and back was uneventful and leave it at that.


The adventure starts with the characters minding their own business on Magma Avenue Northwest when a fiendish umber hulk begins its rampage through the city. The timing of the attack is no accident, of course — Vhalantru has had the characters under sporadic and discreet surveillance, and he’s decided the time is right to test their mettle.

The events of “Flood Season” (in Dungeon #98) passed many weeks ago, so the characters are completely healed and have had plenty of time to do any shopping, item creation, or other long-term tasks. Before the adventure begins, inform spellcasters that they should prepare spells for a day spent running errands in town, keeping in mind that Cauldron hasn’t been the safest city in the world lately.

Magma Avenue Northwest is a mix of small shops and larger mercantile warehouses, so the characters might go there for any number of reasons: replenishing the contents of a spell component pouch, repairing a loose pommel on a sword, or fencing some of the loot from their previous adventures. Even if they don’t have specific business on Magma Avenue, it’s one of the four main thoroughfares encircling Cauldron, so they might just be passing through.


High Resolution Umber Hulk Attack Map

Homebrew Umber Hulk Attack Battle Maps

Umber Hulk Attack City Urban Streets Alley Lava Magma Avenue Crowds Battle Map Grid Combat Dungeon Magazine102 Rhineglade

High Resolution Umber Hulk Attack Map Homebrew by Rhineglade

Umber Hulk Attack City Urban Streets Alley Lava Magma Avenue Crowds Battle Map Grid Combat Dungeon Magazine102 Homebrew

High Resolution Umber Hulk Attack Map Homebrew

Light: Daylight.

Sounds: Umber hulk’s entrance (DC 20). Burrowing umber hulk (DC 10; DC 30 to discern direction of movement and DC 40 to pinpoint). Approaching city watch (DC 10).

Reaction: See Development section below.

Auras: Dim (umber hulk, DC 21 conjuration); faint evil (umber hulk).

This encounter should play like a big set-piece action sequence from a movie, with lots of property damage, civilians caught in the crossfire, and other distractions. Because the characters begin completely rested and may eventually get help from the city watch, they have a better chance than the Encounter Level would otherwise indicate.

Have each PC make a DC 20 Listen check to get a moment’s forewarning of the umber hulk attack. Those who succeed get a surprise round when they hear the low rumble, and the following boxed text applies to them.

You’re walking among the crowds of Magma Street when you hear a low, almost imperceptible rumble, as if a lot of horses were passing close by. But the people around you don’t seem to notice, continuing to walk and shop normally.

Those who succeeded at the Listen check should roll initiative, then take their surprise round actions. Then everyone hears and sees the following, making initiative rolls once you’re done reading.

The rumble becomes a shaking, then a corner of a nearby warehouse collapses with a roar, revealing a burly, insectoid creature with massive mandibles, compound eyes, and wisps of flame visible between its plates of chitin. The street fills with screams and panic.

Map #1 indicates where the umber hulk emerges from Maavu’s warehouse. The characters immediately have to deal with the umber hulk and the crowd. At the end of every round, assess how the battle is going, and introduce encounter elements to help or hinder the PCs if you need to. The Development section below provides a suggested schedule for reinforcements and complications, but let your own sense of pacing guide your decisions. It’s okay if the PCs fight to their limit in this battle, because they’ll have plenty of time to recuperate afterward.

There’s a lot going on in this encounter. The terrain is complex, there are a number of NPCs to keep track of, and a bunch of characters are probably going to behave randomly because of the umber hulk’s confusing gaze. Make sure you’ve read the stat blocks and keep your notes organized.

Magma Avenue is well-maintained cobblestone except where the umber hulk crashed through the wall, where the terrain is dense rubble, adding 5 to the DC of Balance and Tumble checks, and adding 2 to the DC of Move Silently checks. Warehouse and shop walls are 6-inch-thick wood (hardness 5, 60 hp, Climb DC 21). Exterior doors are strong wooden doors (hardness 5, 20 hp), and they’re all unlocked because the shop proprietors flee in such haste.

Creatures: The most important creature in this encounter is the fiendish umber hulk, desperate to destroy as much of the city as possible. The characters also have to deal with crowds of Cauldron residents who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the battle goes on, they may have to deal with the city watch (a help or hindrance, depending on the confusion rolls) and three Cauldron residents in particular danger (Beppo, Kyria, and Mergala). The characters may get some useful assistance from agents of the city’s Magical Threats Agency, which will rush to Magma Avenue as soon as they can. The tactics for each character or group are discussed separately below.

Fiendish Umber Hulk: CR 9; Large aberration (extraplanar); HD 8d8+35; hp 71; Init +1; Spd 20 ft., burrow 20 ft; AC 18, touch 10, flat-footed 17; Base Atk +6; Grp +16; Atk +11 melee (2d4+6, claw); Full Atk +11 melee (2d4+6, 2 claws) and +9 melee (2d8+3, bite); SA confusing gaze, smite good l/day (+8 damage); SQ darkvision 60 ft., DR 5/magic, resistance to cold 10, resistance to fire 10, SR 13, tremorsense 60 fit.; AL CE; SV Fort +8, Ref +3, Will +6; Str 23, Dex 13, Con 19, Int 11, Wis 11, Cha 13.

Skills: Climb +12, Jump +5, Listen +11. Feats: Multiattack, Power Attack, Toughness.

Confusing Gaze (Su): Confusion as the spell, 30 feet, caster level 8th, Will DC 15 negates.

City Watch, Male and Female Half-orc Ftr 2 (4): CR 2; Medium humanoid (ore); HD 2d 10+4; hp 15; Init +1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 16, touch 11, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +2; Grp +5; Atk/Full Atk +7 melee (1d10+4/x3, masterwork halberd); SA — ; SQ darkvision 60 ft.; AL LN or LE; SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +0; Str 17, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 10.

Skills: Intimidate +3, Sense Motive +1. Feats: Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Weapon Focus (halberd).

Possessions: Breastplate, buckler, masterwork halberd, shortbow with 20 arrows, 2d4 gp.

Kyria, Female Human Exp 2: CR 1; Medium humanoid (human); HD 2d6; hp 7; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 11, touch 11, flatfooted 10; Base Atk +1; Grp +1; Atk/Full Atk +1 melee (1d4/ 19-20, dagger); SA — ; SQ — ; AL NG; SV Fort +0, Ref +1, Will +2; Str 11, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 9, Wis 8, Cha 13.

Skills: Appraise +4, Craft (seamstress) +7, Diplomacy +6, Knowledge (local) +4, Sense Motive +4, Spot +7. Feats: Skill Focus (Craft — seamstress), Skill Focus (Spot).

Possessions: Dagger.

Beppo, Male Human Com 3: CR 2; Medium humanoid (human); HD 3d4; hp 8; Init -1; Spd 30 ft. (5 ft. when moving fruit cart); AC 9, touch 9, flat-footed 9; Base Atk +1; Grp +0; Atk +0 melee (1d6-l, club); Full Atk +0 melee (1d6-l, club); SA — ; SQ — ; AL LG; SV Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +4; Str 8, Dex 9, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 13, Cha 12.

Skills: Appraise +5, Decipher Script +2, Knowledge (local) +3, Profession (foodmonger) +9. Feats: Diligent, Iron Will, Skill Focus (Profession — foodmonger).

Possessions: Club, fruit cart (see below).

Mergala, Female Elf Rog 3: CR 3; Medium humanoid (elf); HD 3d6; bp 11; lnit +3; Spd 30 ft.; AC 17, touch 13, flatfooted 14; Base Atk +2; Grp +3; Atk/Full Atk +4 melee (1d6+1/l8-20, rapier) or +6 ranged (1d8+1/x3, composite longbow); SA sneak attack +2d6; SQ elf traits, evasion, trap sense +1, trapfinding; AL CE; SV Fort +1, Ref +6, Will +3; Str 12, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 8.

Skills: Disable Device +6, Escape Artist +9, Hide +9, Listen +8, Move Silently +9, Open Lock +9, Spot +8, Tumble +9. Feats: Dodge, Mobility.

Possessions: +1 studded leather, masterwork rapier, masterwork composite longbow (+1 Str) with 20 arrows, potion of spider climb, 2 potions of cure light wounds.

MTA Agent, Male and Female Gnome Ill 3: CR 3; Small humanoid (gnome); HD 3d4+9; hp 17; lnit +1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 12 (20 with spells active), touch 12, flat-footed 11 (19 with spells active); Base Atk +1; Grp -5; Atk +0 melee (1d4-2 Small club) or +4 ranged (1d6, light crossbow); Full Atk -1 melee (1d4-2 Small club) or +4 ranged (1d6, light crossbow); SA — ; SQ gnome traits, spell-like abilities; AL LG; SV Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +7; Str 6, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 14, Cha 10.

Skills: Concentration +8, Gather Information +2, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (local) +8, Spellcraft +10. Feats: Iron Will, Scribe Scroll, Toughness.

Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day — dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation, speak with animals (burrowing animal only). Caster level 1st; save DC 10 + spell level.

Spells Prepared (5/4/3): save DC 12 + spell level): 0 — detect magic, flight, ghost sound, mage hand, message; 1st — color spray, mage armor, magic missile, shield; 2nd — blur, web x2.

Spellbook: 0 — all except necromancy, conjuration; 1st — color spray, expeditious retreat, hypnotism, mage armor, magic missile, shield, silent image; 2nd — blur, web.

Possessions: Small masterwork light crossbow with 10 bolts, Small club, potion of cure light wounds, scroll of dispel magic, wand of magic missile (1st level), scroll of fly, scroll of haste, spellbook.

Umber Hulk Tactics: The umber hulk’s mission is to destroy the city, so it focuses on property damage at first, relying on its confusing gaze to keep the city’s protectors at bay. It won’t completely ignore the city’s residents; it might take a swipe at anyone who comes within reach. Once an attack deals the umber hulk 10 points of damage or a spell somehow hampers its ability to rampage, it attacks any obvious foe.

The umber hulk’s most important ability is its confusing gaze. It’s too busy trashing the city of Cauldron to actively try to meet the eyes of PCs, so characters only have to make Will saves at the beginning of their turns. If a PC is within 30 feet of the umber hulk at the beginning of his turn, ask how they handle the confusing gaze (their options are described in the Gaze Attacks section in Chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide).

If reduced to 50% of its hit points, the umber hulk burrows into the ground, leaving no tunnel behind it, then emerges 1d4 rounds later by digging up into the middle of a building. It then trashes the interior before moving out into the street again. It repeats this tactic when it reaches 25% of its remaining hit points.

The umber hulk saves its smite good ability for a bite attack against an enemy wearing the holy symbol of a good deity, unless it’s about to die anyway, in which case it smites anyone nearby, hoping the target is good. It reserves use of its Power Attack feat for unarmored foes and buildings. If it misses an unarmored foe by 5 points or more, it won’t use Power Attack against that character again.

When the umber hulk attacks a building, just skip right to damage, rolling 2d4+12 for each claw and 2d8+9 for the bite. A building wall has hardness 5 and 60 hp. If you don’t want to keep track of hit points for wall sections, just assume that six attacks (or 2 full-round actions) are sufficient to tear a 5-foot hole in a building. Two adjacent 5-foot holes is enough damage to cause the entire wall to collapse.

Crowd Tactics: The passersby marked on the map of the umber hulk attack function as crowds (described in the City Streets section in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide). As the DM, you have enough to keep track of without worrying about the exact composition of the crowd. Every round at initiative point 0, the crowds move 30 feet away from the umber hulk. If the crowd falls within range of the umber hulk’s confusing gaze, however, the entire crowd doesn’t move that round (those fleeing are hindered by those attacking, babbling, and so on). Characters can use Diplomacy or Intimidate to direct the crowds, as described in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Even a confused crowd can be directed, although it moves at only half speed because not everyone willingly responds.

City Watch Tactics: Unless the PCs warn the city watch ahead of time, 1d4+4 soldiers of the city watch rush into melee with the umber hulk, exposing themselves to its confusing gaze. Those who make their save — which won’t be many of them — avert their eyes each round and attack as best they can with their halberds. Once they realize they’re out of their league, they attempt to retreat (read: flee) or desperately cry for help.

Kyria Tactics: Kyria is a seamstress who lives in the third story apartment marked “K” on the map. The round she appears, she screams for help from the apartment window, holding a baby in her arms. On the following round, the umber hulk passes within 30 feet of her window. Once that happens, Kyria sets her swaddled baby on the window sill on her next action, twitches, and flees back into the apartment. The baby works its way free of the swaddling with a DC 10 Strength check (the baby has Str l), making one check each time Kyria’s initiative point comes up. Once the baby gets free, it wavers precariously on the window sill for one round, then falls to the street at Kyria’s initiative point in the round after that.

Beppo Tactics: Beppo is a fruit merchant who frequents Magma Avenue in the spot marked “B.” His cart is overladen with fruit and other comestibles. Beppo has a Strength of 8, so he can only move the cart 5 feet as a full-round action. Beppo is stubborn enough to have a good chance of resisting the umber hulk’s confusing gaze (and he keeps his eyes closed after the first round anyway), but also stubborn enough to refuse to leave his fruit cart.

The cart weighs 800 pounds, but its wheels make it effectively weigh 400 pounds for the purposes of movement. As a full-round action, each character helping Beppo applies his Strength separately to the cart, using the heavy load listed on Table 9-1: Carrying Capacity in the Players Handbook. Beppo, for example, has a heavy load of up to 80 pounds. If the sum of everyone’s heavy load reaches or exceeds 400 pounds, the cart will move 20 feet with each of Beppo’s move actions. Otherwise, it moves at only 5 feet per round during Beppo’s turn.

Mergala Tactics: Disasters sometimes bring out the worst in people, and one of them is Mergala (marked “M”), a common criminal who tries to take advantage of the disorder to sneak into the warehouses and shops of Magma Avenue and help herself. She uses the Hide skill, moving 15 feet with each move action, until she reaches one of the following three buildings: Udoo the Silkmonger, Maavu’s Imports, or Garlock’s Auctions. Then she enters, spends a round casing the joint, then takes 2 rounds to grab all the valuables she can. She then runs away (60 feet as a full-round action because she’s got 100 pounds of loot).

MTA Force Tactics: The Lord Mayor recently created a special section within the City Watch, the Magical Threats Agency, in response to recent events. Their precinct station happens to be nearby, so they come to face the umber hulk. A group of four gnome wizards arrives with mage armor already cast, then they cast shield and blur while they assess the scene. The gnomes then attack from outside the range of the umber hulk’s confusing gaze with their wands of magic missile. The MTA agents try to coordinate their efforts with the PCs if it looks like the PCs are being effective, offering to cast haste or fly from their scrolls, for example. They’re also eager to lure the umber hulk into an alley, where they can cover it with web spells.

The MTA agents have decent Will saves, so they risk the umber hulk’s confusing gaze if they must.

Development: This encounter includes a lot of NPCs, but you don’t have to deal with them all at once. The umber hulk’s confusing gaze ability means that fights against it probably last longer than normal, so you can introduce other NPCs gradually. The following schedule indicates when the characters have a chance of noticing each NPC. Adjust it depending on how the pacing of the battle goes. In particular, strive to give the characters one or two things to worry about beside the umber hulk. They should be somewhat distracted, but don’t overwhelm them — or yourself.

Round 1: Umber hulk and crowds.

Round 2: Beppo.

Round 3: City Watch.

Round 5: Kyria.

Round 7: Mergala.

Round 10: MTA agents.


Cusp of Sunrise Dinner Invitation Zenith Trajectory Dungeon Magazine 102

Once the threat of the fiendish umber hulk is over, the PCs have passed Vhalantru’s test. Accordingly, he’s got work for them, but he disguises the nature of what he’s asking the characters to do.


As Magma Avenue returns to normal, squads of the City Watch swarm the area, directing crowds, securing the crime scene (Maavu’s warehouse), and otherwise urging everyone to move along, nothing to see here. A kindly sergeant takes a statement from the PCs, thanks them for their efforts, and says, “A representative of the Lord Mayor’s office will be in touch with you, probably tomorrow, if there’s anything else.”

If the PCs want to do some investigating themselves, let them. The City Watch is willing to let them cross barricades and ask the occasional question of a witness, as long as they don’t make a nuisance of themselves. But the Watch doesn’t have time to escort them from place to place or get them interviews with people who aren’t present.

The inside of Maavu’s warehouse is completely trashed; the umber hulk’s burrowing has even buckled the floor and covered everything with heavy rubble. A DC 20 Search check reveals some sigils that may have formed part of a summoning circle, but it’s impossible to know for certain. Any member of the City Watch and anyone who works on Magma Avenue Northwest knows that the warehouse belongs to a rich merchant named Maavu. But Maavu is nowhere to be found. Some of his employees helpfully suggest that Maavu might be at his manor on Obsidian Avenue Southwest, but the domestic staff there says they don’t know where he is. Gather Information checks are likewise unhelpful.

More information becomes available later that evening. Shortly after sundown, a rumor spreads through the city about Maavu, and a DC 10 Gather Information check reveals that Maavu was seen fleeing the city at dawn on a black horse with clouds where its hooves should be.


Also that evening, a strikingly beautiful woman who identifies herself as Celeste hands one of the PCs a white card and says, “I’d like to arrange a business dinner with you and your comrades for tomorrow sundown. You’ll find it profitable. Dress appropriately.” She demurs on further questions, saying over and over again, “We’ll discuss it tomorrow night.” If pressed, she hints that the invitation has something to do with the umber hulk rampage.

The white card is written with fine calligraphy, and it reads: “Cusp of Sunrise/Obsidian Avenue Northeast.”

A DC 10 Knowledge (local) or Gather Information check reveals that the Cusp of Sunrise is a well-known dinner club and inn for nobles. Access is by invitation from a member only, and the membership list is reputed to be quite exclusive. A trip along Obsidian Avenue Northeast will reveal an ivy-covered, cross-shaped building with a circular tower that stretches as tall as the city walls. An engraved sign on the ironbound door says “C.o.S. — Members Only.” Soft laughter and music can be heard from within.


When the PCs arrive the next day, a knock on the door is met by an immense bald man in light blue robes. “You’re the umber hulk people. I’m Renjin — welcome to the Cusp of Sunrise.”

He doesn’t move from the doorway, however, until the characters produce the white card Celeste gave them. He’d rather not ask for it directly, however, and coughs politely and acts ever more pleasant and nonchalant until the PCs get the idea to give him the invitation. He then smiles broadly and ushers them inside with a grand bow.

Once inside, he looks the PCs over from his mahogany desk. Any character who isn’t wearing a noble’s outfit (75 gp) and at least 100 gp in visible jewelry won’t get beyond the antechamber. Renjin hints about clothing without actually saying the PCs are underdressed, repeatedly complimenting the outfit of everyone he sees who is dressed nicely. If a PC asks about a dress code, Renjin smiles broadly and mentions a clothier and jeweler he knows on Lava Avenue Northeast who’s “ever so tasteful.”

Melee weapons are perfectly acceptable accessories in the Cusp of Sunrise, but medium or heavy armor is considered a dress code violation. Ranged weapons are likewise frowned upon, and Renjin mentions that “there are no stags to be hunted in the Grand Library, good sir” to anyone carrying a bow or crossbow.

Once everyone is ready, Renjin says, “Celeste will join you shortly. Until then, make yourselves at home. As invited guests, you have access to all areas except for the east wing. You’ll find the Grand Library through the door behind me. Good evening.”

The encounter with Renjin should last only as long as everyone at the gaming table is having a good time — there’s no sense in dragging this out longer than necessary. What you’re trying to get across is the exclusive, high-society nature of the club. If you can have a little fun watching the PCs deal with a world that’s more foreign to them than the most dangerous dungeon, so much the better.


The doors behind Renjin lead northeast to the biggest room in the club: the Grand Library.

The center of the Cusp of Sunrise is a room some 100 feet across — a circular tower whose inside surface is covered with bookshelves and iron ladders on sliding rails. A score of nobles are present, but only a few are reading. Most are clustered in conversation as they sip wine from slender flutes. Others play a dice game at a series of circular tables. A few eat, using fine cutlery while ensconced in plush leather chairs.

A harpsichord stands on a small stage to one side, but no one is playing it at present. Blue-robed servants scurry from noble to noble, appearing and disappearing through swinging double doors to the north, south, east, and west.

The PCs can explore beyond the Grand Library if they like. The doors behind them lead past Renjin’s desk and outside. The other doors lead to the rest of the club.

North Door: Stables. Nobles who fancy horses make a show of arriving via this door. Stabling and grooming is free for members, and servants are always present grooming horses and repairing tack.

West Door: An engraved sign above the door says, “Dueling in West Courtyard Only.” Passing through the door, The PCs find themselves in a glass-enclosed courtyard with finely manicured topiaries and flowering plants. No one is dueling at present, but blue-robed servants are cleaning the glass and trimming the bushes.

South Door: This hallway beyond this door leads to a succession of nicely appointed studio apartments (for out-of-town noble guests and philandering nobles whose spouses have kicked them out of the manor). Members can stay as long as they like for free. About half of the dozen apartments are occupied and thus locked.

East Door: An engraved sign above the door is marked “Offices.” Despite Renjin’s warning, no one stops the PCs if they walk through this door. Two spiral staircases lead up and down from the underground kitchen; observant characters soon realized that the servants always ascend on one staircase and descend on the other. The rest of the east wing is given over to six conference rooms of varying sizes. Characters who scan the area magically see moderate auras on three of the conference rooms, and a DC 20 Spellcraft check reveals that they’re guarded by an abjuration effect (Mordenkainen’s private sanctum, specifically). Those three doors are locked.


While they wait for Celeste, the PCs can amuse themselves in any number of ways.

Order Drinks: A bar just past the harpsichord in the Grand Library serves dozens of different libations, each costing from 1 gp (house wine) to 100 gp (vintage faun-mead).

Order Food: Any servant can provide a menu or bring a meal to a PC who asks. Each day’s menu features at least a halfdozen complete meals ranging in price from 1 gp (slow-roasted mutton with spiced potatoes and leafy greens) to 10 gp (rare venison, saffron-infused grain medley, and druid-tended vegetables). Meals arrive 10 minutes after a character orders one.

Play Dice: The nobles play a dice game called gem snatcher that uses strange-shaped dice (conveniently, the same dice you play D&D with). Any number of characters can play gem snatcher, although the tables seat only six. The game begins with each player simultaneously rolling a 4-sided die. Characters who roll a 1 have “snatched the gem” and trade their 4-sided die for a 6-sided die. Then everyone rolls simultaneously again, and anyone who rolls a 1 gets to “snatch the gem” and upgrade their die to the next larger one.

This continues until the round where one or more players are rolling the d20 for the first time (by virtue of rolling a 1 on the 12-sided die in the previous round, obviously). Everyone rolls the die one last time. Every player who doesn’t roll a 1 in the final round must pay a number of coins equal to the d20 roll to the player who rolled the 20-sided die. For example, if you’re the first player to upgrade to the 20-sided die, your first roll is also the final round of the game. You roll a 14, so every player who didn’t roll a 1 in the final round must pay you 14 coins.

At the Cusp of Sunrise, tables are designated “gold,” “platinum,” or “ingot.” The kind of table tells you what kind of coin the winner gets paid in. Ingots are small platinum bars worth 100 gp, and they’re available from the bartender. Gem snatcher is played conversationally. A player typically regales the others with an anecdote, then everyone rolls the dice as they laugh. Someone might then ask a pointed question, and everyone rolls the dice while someone thinks of a witty answer.

Chat with Nobles: Most of the nobles engaged in conversation don’t particularly welcome newcomers; they’re considered to have an unfriendly attitude, although they are outwardly polite. Characters can use Diplomacy to improve a noble’s attitude. Mentioning that they defeated the umber hulk immediately changes the nobles’ attitude to friendly, although they insist that the PCs tell them about the battle rather than discuss anything else.

Perform: The unattended harpsichord is a magnet for a bard PC. The nobles are a jaded audience, however, especially when confronted with a musician they don’t know. Unless the PCs have already identified themselves as the vanquishers of the umber hulk, the DCs for a Perform check (described in the Perform skill description in Chapter 4 of the Player’s Handbook) are 4 higher than they’d otherwise be. The harpsichord is of masterwork quality, so it grants a +2 bonus on Perform checks.

Browse the Library: Most of the books cover Cauldron’s history, and there’s a treasure trove of genealogical data, as well (the Cagewrights have secretly been researching the family history of those born with the Carcerian Sign in case it’s an inherited trait). Characters able to spend 4 hours researching a question here gain a +2 circumstance bonus on a Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nobility and royalty), or bardic knowledge check.

Don’t drag any of these activities out too long, just as they’re diversions for the nobles who frequent the club, so too are they diversions for the players at your table. If your players’ eyes are glazing over, introduce Celeste and get on with the adventure.


Celeste makes sure the PCs have whatever food and drink they desire, then ushers them into a conference room in the East Wing (not one of the magically warded, locked ones). Awaiting her there is Davked Splintershield.

Before you sits a dwarf so old and emaciated that he’d pass for a skeleton in some dungeons you’ve explored. Even his snow-white beard looks ragged and thin, as if it were about to fall out. But he wears fine robes, and beneath their voluminous folds you see a hint of chain — adamantine, perhaps?

“You’re the heroes of the city right now, and it’s heroes I need,” he wheezes. “I’ll pay you well if you rescue my son from the Underdark.”

Davked then tells the tale of his son, Zenith, although Celeste takes over for part of the story when Davked gets too winded to keep speaking. Zenith was a righteous dwarven defender and the lord of the Malachite Fortress that guarded the underground approaches to Cauldron. About a decade ago he recruited a small army for a crusade to rid the Underdark of evil, marched into the darkness, and never returned.

Davked pleaded with him not to abandon the Malachite Fortress, and father and son nearly came to blows over the disagreement. Davked freely admits that he was a harsh, unyielding father to his three sons. But he’s paid a terrible price: When his wife Marta died last year, she cursed him with her dying breath for driving her sons away. Davked will waste away to nothing unless he makes peace with each of his three sons. He’s done so with two of his sons, but he can’t possibly travel the Underdark in his frail condition. That’s why he wants the PCs to bring Zenith back.

The PCs probably have some questions. Here are Davked’s likely answers:

Can’t magic cure you? I wish it could. Even the most powerful clerics of my faith have been unable to reverse what Marta wrought. Perhaps the gods found her words fitting — I can’t argue with her sentiment.

How do you know he’s alive? I’ve had cleric and wizard alike cast powerful divinations, and here’s what they’ve revealed: Zenith is being held prisoner in a kuo-toan shrine in the Underdark north of here. The shrine is called Bhal-Hamatugn.

How will we find him? Find Bhal-Hamatugn and you’ll find my son Zenith — how many dwarves could there be in a kuo-toan shrine? You’ll know him by his great righteousness, his jet-black beard, and the battle standard of the Splintershield clan, which he is honor-bound to carry.

How soon? The sooner the better, obviously. I don’t know how long I’ve got, and I don’t want to face the afterlife with a curse hanging over my head from this world.

How much money? I’ll pay you 4,000 gp each, or 6,000 gp worth of arms and armor from the finest craftsmen in my clan. Plus Celeste says she’ll sponsor you and pay your membership fee here at the Cusp of Sunrise. That’s worth 1,000 gp right there, and the fact that she’ll vouch for you is something money can’t buy.

How do we get to Bhal-Hamatugn? (Celeste fields this question.) There’s a complication. Another group of adventurers — they call themselves the Stormblades, perhaps you’ve heard of them — caved in all the passageways beneath Jzadirune and the Malachite Fortress about a month ago. So there’s no easy access to the Underdark from Cauldron anymore. However, there’s reputed to be a fissure that leads to the Underdark in the mountains north of the city. Specifically, a hermit named Crazy Jared mentioned it to some of Davked’s clansmen. I’ve got a map that’ll get you to Crazy Jared’s place. It’s about two days north by horse, or four days on foot.


Davked is willing to pay more for the PCs’ services, but he won’t exactly volunteer that information. If the characters ask for more money, he instead offers them an advance (he’ll go as high as 50% paid in advance) or up to 7,000 gp in dwarven weapons and armor. His true limit is 6,000 gp or 9,000 gp in dwarven weapons and armor. If he reaches that point, he angrily wheezes that he should hire the Stormblades instead and tells Celeste the meeting is over.


Zenith does indeed have a father named Davked, but this isn’t him. This is Gortio, a doppelganger who works for Vhalantru. The real reason that Vhalantru wants Zenith recovered is that Zenith bears the Carcerian sign and a soulcage awaits him in Cauldron. Gortio is smart enough to lie effectively, coming up with believable but unverifiable details in the answers he gives. He drank a potion of glibness before coming to the Cusp of Sunrise in case the characters employ truth-detecting magic. He says whatever the characters want to hear — all he cares about is that they accept the mission. Gortio doesn’t know the real reason Vhalantru wants Zenith back in Cauldron. “Vhalantru wants Zenith back in Cauldron” is all the reason Gortio needs.

Gortio/Davked also doesn’t quite lie when he tells the PCs that powerful divinations revealed Zenith’s location, but he comes close. Spells did reveal the general whereabouts of the missing Shackleborn, but Gortio also knows that his master received the specific location and the name of Bhal-Hamatugn from an informant within the kuo-toan stronghold (see the “Campaign Seed: Dhorlot and the Cagewrights” sidebar for details). A Sense Motive check opposed by Davked’s Bluff check (when the PCs ask about how they know Zenith is alive) here reveals that the dwarf isn’t quite revealing everything he knows about how Zenith’s whereabouts were determined. See “The Truth” below for details.

Gortio the Doppelganger: hp 28; Monster Manual 67.


Celeste provides a map showing the way to Crazy Jared’s hut, which is some forty miles north of Cauldron along trails that wind through alpine meadows and rugged mountains. The characters have an 8d4 chance per hour of having a random encounter, rolled on the table below.

Cauldron Mountains Encounter Table (EL 6)
d%EncounterAverage EL
01-041 stone giant8
05-091 bulette7
10-131 chimera7
14-161 hill giant7
17-291d4+2 bugbears6
30-401d3+1 ogres6
41-491 ogre mage6
50-581d3 displacer beasts6
59-691d3 griffons6
70-831 wyvern6
84-901 troll5
91-1001d3 giant eagles5

Once the characters reach the spot on the map marked “Crazy Jared’s Hut,” it takes a further 2 hours of searching to actually locate the small alpine meadow surrounded by scrubby trees where Jared makes his home.


Crazy Jareds Hut Dungeon Magazine 102

High Resolution Map of Crazy Jared’s Hut

Light: Sunlight or moonlight (shadowy illumination), depending on time of day.

Sound: Wind rustling through the alpine meadow grass (automatic).

Reaction: None.

Auras: Strong (Jared’s rod, DC 21 conjuration and transmutation); moderate evil (Gotrrod).

The PCs reach Jared’s strange home just as a dragon attacks.

In the center of the meadow to the west is a thatch hut surrounded by a low wooden fence crudely painted to look as if it were made of brick and mortar. Four thick posts have been driven into the ground at each corner of the fence, and a mixture of wood and fabric between the posts forms an unconvincing simulation of a stone tower. Here and there you see tufts of straw poking out of gaps in the “towers.”

With a whoosh of its crimson wings, a dragon soars over the ridge to the west of the hut, bearing down on it quickly. An older man carrying a silver rod runs from the hut in your direction.

Creatures: The dragon, Gotrrod, is trying to clear territory for itself. The PCs soon learn that Jared has earned his appellation but can still be a useful ally.

Gotrrod, Male Young Red Dragon: CR 7; Large dragon (fire); HD 13d12+39; hp 121; Init +0; Spd 40 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor); AC 21, touch 9, flat-footed 21; Base Atk +13; Grp +24; Atk +20 melee (2d6+7, bite); Full Atk +20 melee (2d6+7, bite), +14 melee (1d8+3, 2 claws), +14 melee (1d6+3, 2 wings), +14 melee (1d8+10, tail slap); Space/Reach 10 ft/5 ft (10 ft. with bite); SA breath weapon, spells; SQ darkvision 120 ft., immunity to fire, sleep, and paralysis, low-light vision, vulnerability to cold; AL CE; SV Fort +11, Ref +8, Will +9; Str 25, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 12.

Skills: Appraise +17, Concentration +10, Intimidate +17, Knowledge (local) +17, Listen +17, Search +17, Sense Motive +17, Spellcraft +8, Spot +17. Feats: Flyby Attack, Hover, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (bite), Wingover.

Breath Weapon (Su): 40-ft. cone, damage 6d10 fire, Reflex DC 19 half.

Spells Known (5/4; save DC 11+ spell level): 0 — detect magic, ghost sound, open/ close, read magic; 1st — cure light wounds, mage armor.

Jared, Male Human Brd 10: CR 10; Medium humanoid; HD 10d6; hp 33; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +7; Grp +8; Atk/Full Atk +8 melee (1d3+1 nonlethal, unarmed strike); SA countersong 10/day, fascinate 10/day, inspire competence 10/day, inspire courage 10/day, inspire greatness 10/day, suggestion; SQ bardic knowledge +12; AL CG; SV Fort +5, Ref +8, Will +8; Str 12, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 8, Cha 21.

Skills: Concentration +13, Decipher Script +15, Diplomacy +22, Knowledge (history) +15, Knowledge (local) +15, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +15, Perform (oratory) +18 , Sense Motive +12, Spellcraft +15. Feats: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Eschew Materials, Extend Spell, Great Fortitude, Iron Will.

Spells Known (3/5/4/3/1; save DC 15 + spell level): 0 — dancing lights, detect magic, mage hand, message, read magic, summon instrument; 1st — comprehend languages, disguise self, lesser confusion, silent image; 2nd — eagle’s splendor, enthrall, minor image, tongues; 3rd — confusion, glibness, lesser geas, major image; 4th — hallucinatory terrain, legend lore.

Possessions: Chain shirt, rod of splendor.

Gotrrod’s Tactics: Gotrrod prefers to stay aloft, bombarding Jared’s hut and any foes with blasts from his breath weapon. He commonly flies directly overhead at an altitude of 30 feet and breathes straight down, creating a 25-foot radius circular breath-weapon pattern on the ground. He only lands if it looks like there’s no opposition or if he’s taking more damage from ranged attacks and spells than his breath weapon is dealing.

Jared’s Tactics: Jared is, quite frankly, as nutty as a fruitcake, and he’s ill-equipped for combat. But if the PCs can keep him safe, he can be helpful indeed.

Once Jared sees the PCs, he yells, “Onward, my knights! For Anduria!” and uses his rod of splendor to garb himself in robes fit for a king. On the second round, he begins to use his inspire courage ability, composing a new verse in an epic poem every round. His epic tends to be equal parts flowery language and play-by-play, but even a round that goes badly for the PCs gets a very sympathetic treatment in Jared’s epic. If one PC does particularly well against Gotrrod, Jared switches to inspire greatness, targeting that character.

Jared’s hut and the fences that surround it are made of wood and straw, so they immediately go up in flames if Gotrrod breathes on them. They deal 2d4 points of fire damage to any character standing next to them (within 5 feet) until they burn themselves out in about 20 minutes.

Gotrrod Male Young Red Dragon Crazy Jared Male Human Bard Zenith Trajectory Dungeon Magazine 102


Once the fight is over, Jared thanks the PCs in an imperious voice and says, “Behold the peaceable realm of Anduria! Have you seen a land more beauteous?” Then he casts hallucinatory terrain to cover the immediate vicinity in an illusion of verdant, sun-dappled rolling hills covered with ready-for-harvest vineyards and dotted with stands of flowering trees.

Jared isn’t trying to fool the PCs; he openly casts the spell, and anyone who succeeds at a DC 19 Spellcraft check knows exactly what he did. But he is fooling himself. Jared lives his life under the delusion that he he is King Jared IV, ruler of the (nonexistent) realm of Anduria. In reality, his illusion and enchantment spells keep him safe from the dangers of the mountains, and he’s just a hermit in a thatched hut. But in his mind, he’s a head of state, serving the brave and doughty yeomen of his realm.

Here are some questions PCs might ask, and his answers:

Are you crazy? What a bold question to ask of your liege! But I’ll indulge it, for you are not the first citizen to make such a query. I’m as sane as any ruler, and saner than the demon-queen of Kheltos, who threatens my realm from north and south. (There’s no such place as Kheltos.)

Is there an entrance to the Underdark near here? Indeed, a foul place known as the Pit of the Seven Jaws. If some servant will fetch me pen and parchment, I can easily sketch you a map of the place. Just last week I sent five hundred of Anduria’s finest there to guard against an incursion by the mind flayers.

We come from Cauldron. How is that town, certainly one of the finer in my realm? Are the residents carefree under the gentle hand of the Lord Mayor? I am cheered to see the city rebuilt after the long siege by the army of Kheltos.

Do you know Zenith Splintershield? Know him? He bowed before this very throne before he left to battle the mind flayers of the Underdark. I sent five hundred of Anduria’s finest to act as the vanguard of his army.

Have you heard of Bhal-Hamatugn? (Jared immediately casts comprehend languages.) It sounds Kuo-Toan, this phrase that trips ill from my tongue. In the third declension, it means “lucky blackness.” Or perhaps “black fish” — my Kuo-Toan is somewhat rusty.

This isn’t a castle. It is in need of repair, ’tis true. I’m considering a competition where the finest artisans in the realm will offer designs of grandeur for a new palace whose towers will scrape the sky itself.

If the characters confront Jared with proof of his delusion, he chuckles and says: “It is said that the royal blood of my family is tainted with a touch of madness. Too much inbreeding in a bygone age, I suppose. We’ll just have to get along, knowing that our perceptions differ in certain minor ways.”

The PCs can banter with Jared as long as they wish; he’s a font of information, even if obviously imaginary details surround the useful answers Jared provides. Once Jared scrawls a map on a tattered bit of parchment for the PCs, they can head further into the mountains. Another twenty miles on reasonably clear mountain trails leads to the Pit of the Seven Jaws.


Pit of the Seven Jaws Dungeon Battle Map Zenith Trajectory Shackled City Adventure Path

High Resolution Pit of the Seven Jaws Battle Map

Light: Sunlight from pit opening (shadowy illumination).

Sound: Faint, intermittent hissing (DC 20).

Reaction: None.

Auras: Faint (drow armor, DC 17 abjuration).

Pit of the Seven Jaws Hydra Zenith Trajectory Dungeon Magazine 102This entrance to the Underdark would be used more, except that it’s remote and guarded by a dangerous cryohydra. Hydras are complicated monsters, so it’s a good idea to reread their entry in the Monster Manual before running this encounter.

This 40-foot-wide pit scars an otherwise unremarkable alpine meadow, surrounded by low mounds of the dirt and rock that once filled the hole. Peering down into the pit, you see a metal-grate stairway that spirals counter-clockwise down the interior surface of the pit. The pit bottom is dimly visible some 60 feet below. With the stairway in the way, you can’t see the walls of the pit near the bottom from your vantage point.

The stairs are gradual, so it poses no particular difficulties to movement. However, the stairs are also extremely creaky, imposing a -10 penalty on Move Silently checks. Each flight of stairs descends 15 feet vertically, so the landings at the corners are 45 feet high (northeast), 30 feet high (northwest), and 15 feet high (southwest).

The PCs can’t initially see it, but a rough fissure in the south wall near the pit floor leads into the Underdark.

Creatures: In the fissure is a seven-headed cryohydra. It listens (Listen +7) for the approach of intruders, hoping that the stairs will bring it another meal.

Seven-Headed Cryohydra: hp 75; Monster Manual 155.

Tactics: The cryohydra waits in the fissure until the PCs reach the northwest landing, then attacks the lead PC or PCs with its breath weapon. It can’t reach higher than the landing, so any PCs farther up the stairs are safe. Then it ducks back into the fissure while its breath weapon recharges. Because the stairs are a metal grate, not solid iron, they provide less cover to those standing on them (+2 bonus to AC and +1 bonus on Reflex saves). Once PCs reach the southwest landing, the cryohydra makes bite attacks with its heads between breath weapon attacks.

The cryohydra isn’t smart enough to realize it, but its breath weapon attacks might bring down the stairs if they shatter the dozens of pegs that hold the stairs to the inside walls of the pit. Those pegs have hardness of 10 and 20 hit points each — but area effects like the cryohydra’s breath attack them all at once, so it’s easiest to assume that all pegs along a particular flight of stairs or landing share the same fate.

To calculate damage to the pegs, first figure out which pegs are involved: northwest landing, west stairs, southwest landing, or south stairs. Depending on where the cryohydra aims its breath weapon, it may hit more than one set of pegs. Then calculate damage normally, letting PCs make their Reflex saves. Quarter the damage (because it’s cold damage against an object), subtract 10 for the hardness, and apply the rest to the pegs.

If a set of pegs reaches 0 hp, the relevant landing or set of stairs collapses into the center of the pit, probably hitting the cryohydra and dealing damage according to the table below:

Falling objectDamage to Pit BottomFalling Damage to PCs
Northwest landing7d63d6
West stairs6d62d6
Southwest landing5d61d6
South stairs—-—-

Treasure: In an alcove in the northeast corner of the pit bottom is the flash-frozen corpse of a drow elf. He carries a +1 mithral shirt, two masterwork scimitars, a masterwork composite longbow (+3 Str), five arrows, and 25 gp.


The fissure at the bottom of the Pit of Seven Jaws leads downward gradually, descending about 100 vertical feet over the course of a quarter-mile. A stalactite-studded ceiling is 20 feet to 50 feet (1d4+1 x 10) overhead, and the fissure itself is 10 feet to 40 feet wide (1d4 x 10) at any given point. For purposes of overland movement, the fissure counts as trackless mountains (1/2 movement). It’s ten miles to the cavern containing Bhal-Hamatugn.

Random Encounters: There is a 10% chance per hour of an encounter as the characters to Bhal-Hamatugn. If an encounter is warranted, roll on the following table:

Underdark Encounter Table
01-031 behir8
04-081 drider7
09-131d3+1 minotaurs7
14-171d3+1 centipede swarms7
20-241 gauth (beholder)6
25-341d3+1 derros6
35-421 ettin6
43-491d3 gargoyles6
50-581d3+1 ghasts (ghoul)6
59-661d3+1 gricks6
67-741d4+1 shadows6
75-791d4+2 giant bombardier beetles (vermin)6
80-841d3+1 bugbears5
85-871d4+4 dire bats5
88-911d4+2 drow elves5
92-951d3 ogres5
96-1001 troll5


High Resolution Bhal-Hamatugn Battle Map

Bhal-Hamatugn Homebrew Battle Maps

Bhal-Hamatugn Rhineglade

High Resolution Bhal-Hamatugn Homebrew Map by Rhineglade

After their journey through the mountains and into the Underdark, the characters reach the kuo-toan shrine of Bhal-Hamatugn. Here they face the kuo-toan religious fanatics who have fallen under Zenith Splintershield’s sway. And they learn the chilling truth: Zenith is the leader, not the prisoner, of the kuo-toas.

The kuo-toas have killed or frightened away most of the other nearby denizens of the Underdark, so they don’t fear an attack on Bhal-Hamatugn. A few guards watch the entrance, but the other kuo-toas are busy worshiping, monitoring the breeding program, and preparing for their next major battle. They respond quickly to a cry of alarm or other sign of trouble, but they go back to their usual routine after 12 hours. The kuo-toas of Bhal-Hamatugn are convinced of their invulnerability and the oracular wisdom of Zenith; their leader would surely have foreseen any serious invasion.

It may take the characters several forays into Bhal-Hamatugn before they reach Zenith Splintershield. After the first attack, the kuo-toas send Hlanamm and four kuo-toa soldiers to pursue the characters, discover where they’re camping, and perhaps pick off any stragglers. The whips prepare new spells every midnight; although they’re underground, the water clock in area 7 tells them when to meditate about Blipdoolpoolp’s slimy majesty. If the PCs employed a daylight spell to force the kuo-toans to suffer light blindness, every whip prepares a darkness or deeper darkness spell the following midnight. Thereafter, in every encounter, one whip always readies darkness as a counter spell against a daylight spell (assuming a whip is present).


The Underdark passage opens out into an immense rift cavern at least a half-mile across and several hundred feet deep. Faintly glowing with phosphorescence at the bottom of the rift is a massive stone structure shaped like a prehistoric spined fish. A wide stairway can be dimly seen leading up into the fish’s mouth. A narrow ledge slopes down from your position, hugging the side of the cavern as it descends in a series of switchbacks.

Characters who succeed at a DC 20 Spot check note that water covers the floor of the cavern. From this distance, they can’t tell how deep the water is.

The ledge heading downward is fairly smooth and well-traveled, although there aren’t any discernable tracks on it. The characters can easily walk down to the shore, where they encounter the ferry-keeper.


Light: Phosphorescence from Bhal-Hamatugn exterior (shadowy illumination).

Sound: Water dripping down cavern walls (DC 5); faint rhythmic croaking (DC 25).

Reaction: To sounds of battle — kuo-toas in area 15 sound alarm throughout Bhal-Hamatugn (Listen DC 20); to bright lights or flashy magic — kuo-toas in area 15 sound alarm (automatic).

Auras: Moderate (Aabhaca’s bracers, DC 18 conjuration); faint evil (Aabhaca).

Many PCs will start a fight here. Those who don’t may learn something about the nature of the kuo-toans, although the nature of the ferry-keeper may leave them more puzzled than ever.

There’s a good chance this encounter or the next one will involve underwater combat. It’s a good idea to read the Underwater Combat section in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide beforehand if you aren’t already familiar with it.

The water begins about 100 yards from the base of the stairway that leads into the structure. It’s murky, silty water — obviously only a few inches deep at first, but impossible to tell by looking how deep it gets. A thin mist floats a few feet over the surface of the water.

A long canoe emerges from the mist, drifting slowly toward you. Crouched in the stern is a silvery, froglike creature the size of a human, holding a paddle in one hand and a shortspear in the other. The canoe stops about 20 feet from the water’s edge, and the creature looks in your direction.

This is Aabhaca, the ferry-keeper. His kuo-toan keen sight is good enough to see even invisible PCs, as long as they’re moving.

Aabhaca, Kuo-Toa Mnk 5: CR 7; Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic); HD 2d8+4 plus 5d8+10; hp 47; Init +2; Spd 30 ft., swim 50 ft.; AC 25, touch 17, flat-footed 23; Base Atk +5; Grp +7; Atk +8 melee (1d8+2, unarmed strike) or +7 melee (1d6+3, shortspear) or +7 ranged (1d6+2, shortspear); Full Atk +8 melee (1d8+2, unarmed strike) and +2 melee (1d4+1, bite), or +6/+6 melee (1d8+2, unarmed strike) and +2 melee 1d4+1, bite), or +7 melee (1d6+3, shortspear) and +2 melee (1d4+1, bite), or +7 ranged (1d6+2, shortspear); SA stunning fist 5/day (DC 17); SQ adhesive, amphibious, immunity to poison and paralysis, keen sight, light blindness, resistance to electricity 10, slippery, evasion, still mind, ki strike (magic), slow fall 20 ft., purity of body; AL NE; SV Fort +6, Ref +9, Will +11 (+13 vs. enchantments); Str 15, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 18, Cha 8.

Skills: Escape Artist +10, Hide +12, Listen +16, Move Silently +12, Search +4, Sense Motive +7, Spot +14, Swim +10. Feats: Alertness, Deflect Arrows, Dodge, Mobility, Stunning Fist, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike).

Keen Sight (Ex): Kuo-toas can spot invisible and ethereal creatures, as long as they’re moving.

Light Blindness (Ex): Exposure to bright light (such as a daylight spell) blinds kuo-toas for 1 round and dazzles them as long as the light remains.

Slippery: Kuo-toans can wriggle free from webs and other forms of confinement.

Possessions: Shortspear, bracers of armor +2, canoe.

Tactics: Aabhaca will wait a moment for the characters to speak.

If the PCs attack right away, Aabhaca throws his shortspear at the nearest PC, then dives into the water. The following rounds, he swims for the stairway, which he reaches in 2 rounds. If he gets inside Bhal-Hamatugn, he sounds the alarm, then joins the soldiers in area 15 after getting another spear from area 16.

If the PCs don’t say anything, he croaks, “Seek ye the Eye in Darkness? I’ll guide you through the maw.” Slowly putting his spear down, he beckons the characters into the canoe.

If the PCs speak to him, Aabhaca behaves in a friendly manner but speaks only cryptically. Many players will attempt some sort of ruse or false pretense to get Aabhaca to take them into Bhal-Hamatugn. Let them, and have them make Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate checks as appropriate as you roll Aabhaca’s Sense Motive check. But Aabhaca’s initial response is the same, no matter how well or badly the ruse goes. He beckons them into the canoe, then slowly paddles toward the stairway. Even if the PCs are completely honest (“We’re here to bring Zenith Splintershield back to the surface”), Aabhaca paddles them across the surface of the lake.

But it matters whether Aabhaca believes them or not. If Aabhaca senses danger or falsehood from the PCs, he attempts to flip the canoe when the stern passes near the stalagmite by the stairway, 40 feet from the base of the stairs. The splash alerts the guards in area 15, who immediately begin shooting into the water. It takes a DC 10 Strength check to flip the canoe, and each PC in the canoe adds +2 to the DC. Whether Aabhaca succeeds or not, he dives under the surface of the water, then attacks whichever PC appears to have the most trouble swimming.

If Aabhaca believes the PCs, he drops them off at the stairway, then paddles off into the mist. Along the way, the PCs can pump Aabhaca for information about Zenith and Bhal-Hamatugn. This is your chance to be as cryptic as possible without lying outright or seeming deliberately evasive. Like many of the residents of Bhal-Hamatugn, Aabhaca has a poor grasp of reality. His responses to the PCs’ questions tend to wander and circle back on themselves, and he speaks as if the characters are fellow kuo-toan worshipers of the Sea Mother, even though they obviously aren’t. For example, if the characters say, “Have you seen a dwarf named Zenith Splintershield?” Aabhaca responds, “I glimpse Zenith amid the great darkness, but he glimpses things beyond the dark, where it is darker still. Darker than dark, yes. And I see dimly what Zenith sees, in the dark. The cold, wet dark. It’s dark, dark where I see Zenith. Are you from the dark?” And so on.

Ad-hoc XP Award: Because the characters are on a specific mission — recovering Zenith Splintershield — they earn full experience for Aabhaca whether they defeat him in combat or trick him into delivering them to Bhal-Hamatugn.


Bhal-Hamatugn Underdark Zenith Trajectory Dungeon Magazine 102Once the characters get to the stairs, they’ve reached their goal: The kuo-toan fortress-shrine of Bhal-Hamatugn. Unless stated otherwise, dungeon features have the following characteristics.

Walls: Bhal-Hamatugn’s walls are made of 1-foot-thick superior masonry (hardness 8, 90 hp, Climb DC 25, break DC 35) covering the solid stone that the giant fish is made out of. They’re covered with a tiny droplet of condensation and trickles of water run down them, which is why the Climb DC is higher than it otherwise would be. Ceilings are 15 feet high.

Floors: Well-fitted flagstone floors are the rule, although they’re uniformly wet, with large puddles collecting water in the center of most rooms. This makes them slippery and increases the DC of Balance and Tumble checks by 5. Some places are marked on the map as shallow pools. It costs 2 squares of movement to move into a square with a shallow pool, and the DC of Tumble checks in such squares increases by 2. The pools also impose a -2-circumstance penalty on Move Silently checks.

Doors: All the interior doors in Bhal-Hamatugn are carved from solid blocks of granite (hardness 8, 60 hp, break DC 28) and have nested hinges (described in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide). The doors all have locks (DC 25), but they’ll only be locked if the alarm has been sounded and it makes tactical sense to do so. Mangh-Mictho, Saagogoi, and Zenith each have a key for the doors — the same key opens every door in Bhal-Hamatugn. The doors lock from either side, and a locked door won’t open from either side without a key.

Stairs: The staircases in Bhal-Hamatugn are steep stairs, requiring 2 squares of movement to enter each square when ascending. They’re also slippery, so characters running or charging down them must succeed at a DC 15 Balance check or stumble and perhaps fall, as described in the Miscellaneous Features section in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The stairs have railings wherever they don’t have a wall next to them.

Illumination and Noise: Lighting and sound vary from room to room; they’re described in the quick-reference section at the top of each encounter area.


Light: Phosphorescence from Bhal-Hamatugn exterior (shadowy illumination).

Sound: Sporadic froglike croaks (DC 20); Whispers in Kuo-toan from guards in area 15 (DC 35)

Reaction: To sounds of battle — kuo-toans in area 3 awaken, grab weapons, and reach top of staircase in 4 rounds (DC 0, but the sleeping kuo-toans have a -10 penalty on Listen checks)

Auras: None.

Bhal-Hamatugn Kua-Toa Stairway to the Maw Underdark Zenith Trajectory Dungeon Magazine 102

When the characters approach Bhal-Hamatugn, they may come under fire from the kuo-toa soldiers keeping watch from the structure’s “eyes.”

Before you stands an immense structure of rough, wet stone in the shape of a fishlike creature. Its eye sockets are empty, revealing darkness beyond. Its slick surface is dotted with patches of faintly phosphorescent moss, giving the entire structure a faint purple glow. A steep but wide stone stairway emerges from the water and leads to the open mouth of the fish.

The PCs can try to sneak past the four kuo-toans in the eye sockets (area 15) above, but it’ll be tricky because the kuo-toans have good Spot bonuses and can see moving invisible creatures.

Creatures: Four kuo-toan soldiers watch this area. They’re actually hiding in area 15, but they probably fight characters in area 1.

Kuo-toa Soldier (4): hp 20, 22, 18, 19; see the Appendix for complete statistics.

Tactics: The kuo-toans are watching from the rough crenellations that form the lower eyelid of each eye socket. As the PCs approach, check whether the kuo-toan soldiers see the PCs and whether the PCs see them; the kuo-toans have a Hide bonus of +7 and a Spot bonus of +12. If possible, the kuo-toans wait until a PC is within 30 feet of the eye sockets before firing their hand crossbows, because then they deal sneak attack damage. They focus their attacks on whichever PC is closest to the entrance. They have cover (+4 to AC, +2 to Reflex saves) from the sockets.

If the kuo-toan soldiers have a chance, they draw their rapiers and leap out of the eye-socket balconies and onto a nearby PC. They take 2d6 points of damage and deal 1d6 points of damage to whomever they land on. The impact automatically bounces them into a random adjacent square.

Development: The sounds of battle may awaken the offduty soldiers in area 3. Check at the end of each round; it’s a DC 0 Listen check to hear the battle, but they have a -10 penalty because they’re sleeping for a net penalty of -7. If the kuo-toas from area 3 don’t arrive on their own, one of the kuo-toa in area 15 rouses them if a protracted ranged battle develops.


Light: Pitch black. If the PCs have only darkvision, eliminate color reference in the read-aloud text below.

Sound: Faint rhythmic croaking (DC 20); Scurrying and rustling from area 4 (DC 14).

Reaction: To conversation — kuo-toans in area 3 awaken if necessary and attack (Listen DC 4; -10 on check if asleep).

Auras: Moderate (double doors on north wall, DC 21 abjuration).

Whether Bhal-Hamatugn has been alerted or not, this area is usually empty, but the battles in other rooms could spill into this chamber. The double doors leading deeper into the kuo-toan shrine are trapped.

Red and green-tinted frescos cover the walls in this largely empty chamber. A set of carved stone doors stands opposite you, flanked on the left: by a fresco of a frog-creature carrying a strange staff with two-tined forks on both ends, and on the right by a squat male humanoid in plate armor with a black sphere where his head should be. Frescos to your right and left depict hundreds of red, spear-wielding kuo-toans marching through Underdark caverns. Curved shards of what look like thin, fragile porcelain cover the floor. Passageways lead left and right from here.

A DC 15 Search check reveals that the paint on the humanoid fresco is much fresher than the other frescos, which are starting to crack and peel. The new fresco is an “artistic” representation of Zenith himself. A DC 10 Knowledge (nature) check reveals that the porcelain shards are actually broken eggshells, and a DC 20 Knowledge (nature) check reveals that they’re from kuo-toa eggs. Spreading eggshells on the floor is a measure of hospitality among the kuo-toa.

Trap: The doors are carved with an abstract zig-zag pattern. They’re also trapped with a glyph of warding that goes off when any non-kuo-toa opens the door, whether it was locked or not. The kuo-toas can’t cast such a powerful glyph of warding themselves, so this trap can be encountered once. The kuo-toas are also careful to take any legitimate non kuo-toa guest through the prison (area 3) and the torture chamber (area 8) rather than through this door.

Greater glyph of warding Trap: CR 7; spell; spell trigger; no reset; spell effect (greater glyph of warding [blast], 16th-level cleric, 8d8 sonic, DC 19 Reflex save half damage); multiple targets (all targets within 5 ft.); Search DC 32; Disable Device DC 32.


Light: Phosphorescent patches on floor (shadowy illumination).

Sound: Faint rhythmic croaking (DC 20).

Reaction: To sounds of battle — kuo-toans in area 15 arrive in 2 rounds (automatic).

Auras: None; faint evil (four kuo-toas).

The text below assumes that the characters have managed to talk or sneak their way into Bhal-Hamatugn without starting a fight. Read the last sentence only if it’s appropriate.

Behind a ratty tapestry is a room faintly lit by purplish patches of phosphorescence on the floor. A midden-heap sits in the center of the room, and the walls have primitive stick-figure carvings of bipeds with spears on them. Four slight depressions in the floor hold an inch or two of water. Nestled into each depression is a sleeping frog-creature.

A DC 15 Knowledge (nature) check or the scent ability reveals that the phosphorescent patches are actually kuo-toa excrement — the glow is a byproduct of the glowing mushrooms in area 17.

Creatures: A few kuo-toan soldiers rest here. If the complex is on alert, they’re no longer asleep.

Kuo-toa Soldiers (4): hp 16, 19, 18, 23; see the Appendix for complete statistics.

Tactics: Unlike their counterparts in area 15, these soldiers are likely to engage in melee combat as soon as they make contact with the PCs. They use the Tumble skill to set themselves up in flanking positions so that they can deal sneak attack damage with their rapiers. They have only one attack per round anyway, so they don’t give up anything if they move into new positions every round. They fight to the death, although they aren’t above feigning unconsciousness if they think they can get a sneak attack from the deception later.

4. PRISON (EL 8)

Light: Pitch black.

Sound: Rustling from cells (DC 10); Faint rhythmic croaking (DC 20).

Reaction: To brief movement of portcullis — Garekk in area 8 hides underwater (Listen DC 15); to raising the portcullis — Garekk hides underwater (automatic).

Auras: None; faint evil (White-Eye), faint evil (Cherrit).

This room puts characters in the dilemma of dealing with two prisoners who tell mutually contradictory stories.

Beyond the iron portcullis is a hallway running north and south. Along its east wall are a series of cells, divided by walls of solid masonry and enclosed by portcullises of their own. You can see two cells from where you are, plus parts of two others. Each of the cell portcullises has a 1 -foot-square metal plate set about 5 feet off the ground. The bars are set only a few inches apart. Inset in the wall to your left is an iron lever pointing straight up.

First the characters have to contend with a loud portcullis. Once the PCs get into area 4 itself, two prisoners of the kuo-toas beg the PCs to release them.

The iron portcullis that bars the way into area 4 is easy to operate. Swinging the inset lever clockwise from the 12-o’clock to the 6-o’clock position sets the mechanism in motion that opens the portcullis. But the portcullis makes a shrieking, grinding racket when it opens or closes. If the PC who pulled the lever immediately reverses the course of the lever, the mechanism emits only a brief shriek. But otherwise the cacophony of the portcullis lasts for a full round.

Brief Noise: The kuo-toas in area 5 don’t hear the brief shriek of metal on metal, but Garekk the mummy in area 8 might hear it and hide underwater.

Sustained Sound: Garekk automatically hears the portcullis open fully, and he hides underwater, waiting patiently for the PCs. If the PCs previously succeeded at a Listen check to hear the faint rhythmic croaking (whether in this room or not), have them attempt a DC 20 Listen check. If they succeed, tell them that they can’t hear the rhythmic croaking anymore. If the players ask specifically about the croaking sound, tell them they can’t hear it anymore; don’t ask for a Listen check in this case.

Silencing the Portcullis: Most of the mechanism is behind the wall, so it’s impossible to manually lubricate and repair the portcullis mechanism to be quieter. A grease spell is likewise problematic because the spellcaster can’t target the relevant parts. A silence spell does the trick, however, and a DC 25 Disable Device check lets the PCs manually lift the portcullis without engaging the mechanism.

Each of the metal plates is a cover that swings outward to reveal a lever in the 12-o’clock position. Unlike the portcullis between area 2 and area 4, these levers make only a faint squeaking sound when pulled, but they’re locked in place with big iron padlocks (Open Lock DC 25). The PCs can bash these locks open (hardness 15, 30 hp), but if they do so, there’s a 50% chance that the blows also knock the gears out of alignment, sticking the portcullis in place.

Creatures: Two of the cells are empty. The northernmost cell holds White-eye, a wererat thief apprehended by the kuotoas. The southernmost cell is occupied by Cherrit, an evil halfling sorcerer from Cauldron who knows part of the Cagewrights’ plan. They’ve been locked up together for weeks, and each hates the other intensely.

White-Eye, Wererat Human Ftr 4: CR 6; Medium humanoid (human, shapechanger); HD 4dl0+4 plus 1d8+2; hp 37; Init +2; Spd 30 ft.; AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 12; Base Atk +4; Grp +6; Atk/Full Atk +6 melee (1d4+2 nonlethal, unarmed strike); SA — ; SQ alternate form, low-light vision, rat empathy, scent; AL CE; SV Fort +7; Ref +5; Will +3; Str 15, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 10.

Skills: Climb +5, Disable Device +4, Hide +5, Intimidate +4, Move Silently +5, Open Lock +5, Swim +12. Feats: Dodge, Iron Will, Mobility, Multiattack, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (claw), Weapon Focus (bite), Weapon Specialization (claw)

Hybrid Form: As human form, except: Init +5; AC 17, touch 15, flat-footed 12; Atk +10 melee (1d4+4, claw); Full Atk +10 melee (1d4+4, 2 claws) and +8 melee (1d6+1 and curse of lycanthropy and disease, bite); SA curse of lycanthropy, disease; SQ alternate form, DR 5/silver, lycanthropic empathy, low-light vision, rat empathy, scent; SV Fort +8, Ref +8, Will +3; Str 15, Dex 21, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 9, Cha 10.

Skills: As human form, except: Climb +16, Disable Device +7, Hide +8, Move Silently +8, Open Lock +8, Swim +15.

Dire Rat Form: As hybrid form, except: Small humanoid (human, shapechanger); Spd 40 ft., climb 20 ft.; AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 13; Atk +11 melee (1d3+4, claw); Full Atk +11 melee (1d3+4, 2 claws) and +9 melee (1d4+1 and curse of lycanthropy and disease, bite).

Skills: As hybrid form, except: Hide +12.

Alternate Form (Su): A wererat can assume a bipedal hybrid form or the form of a dire rat.

Curse of Lycanthropy (Su): DC 15 Fortitude save or contract lycanthropy.

Disease (Ex): Filth fever; bite; Fortitude DC 14; incubation period 1d3 days; damage 1d3 Dex and 1d3 Con.

Rat Empathy (Ex): Communicate with rats and dire rats, and +4 racial bonus on Charisma-based checks against rats and dire rats.

Possessions: None.

Cherrit, Male Halfling Sor 6: CR 6; Small humanoid (halfling); HD 6d4 +6; hp 21 Init +3; Spd 20 ft.; AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11; Base Atk +3; Grp -2; Atk/Full Atk +3 melee (1d2-l nonlethal, unarmed strike) or +3 melee (spell effect, melee touch) or +6 ranged (spell effect, ranged touch); SA spells; SQ halfling traits; AL CE; SV Fort +4, Ref +6, Will +7; Str 8, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 16.

Skills: Concentration +6, Climb +1, Hide +7, Jump -5, Listen +3, Move Silently +5, Spellcraft +3. Feats: Dodge, Spell Focus (evocation), Eschew Materials.

Sorcerer Spells Known (6/7/6/ 4; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 — arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, light, ray of frost, read magic, touch of fatigue; 1st — burning hands*, mage armor, magic missile, shield; 2nd — invisibility, web; 3rd — fireball*.

*Evocation spells. The save DC for these spells is 14 + spell level.

Possessions: None. Cherrit had an owl familiar, but the kuo-toas ate it.

As soon as either prisoner sees that the intruders aren’t kuo-toas, he begs to be freed. The other prisoner immediately replies, “Don’t free him! He’s working with the kuo-toas!” The first prisoner replies, “Liar! You love the frog people, not I!” They both begin jabbering at once, accusing the other of perfidy and inventing very specific stories about how the other one is a kuo-toan thrall.

Tactics: White-Eye knows that Cherrit is a spellcaster of some sort — he’s seen Cherrit cast light occasionally — although he’s not sure what kind. He claims that Cherrit tried to get White-Eye to talk one day, then relayed the conversation to the kuo-toan jailers while White-Eye was pretending to sleep. White-Eye was captured by the kuo-toas about three weeks ago as he tried to sneak into Bhal-Hamatugn, intending to rob it of its riches.

Cherrit knows that White-Eye talks to a rat, so he believes that White-Eye has a rat familiar (making him an arcanist) or is a druid. He was captured about five weeks ago. Cherrit claims that White-Eye is a mercenary magician working for the kuo-toas who locked himself in a cell moments before the PCs arrived.

Cherrit, a Cauldron native, is here looking for Zenith Splintershield too. He happened to see Zenith’s strange birthmark a decade ago when the duo were fighting duergar beneath Cauldron. Cherrit didn’t think anything of it at the time, but recently he heard a rumor that invisible birthmarks had immense arcane power and used a legend lore scroll to get to Bhal-Hamatugn. At first, he claims to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time” and admits his interest in Zenith only after a successful Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate check on the part of the PCs. Even then, he claims to be checking on his old comrade’s well-being and won’t mention the birthmark unless charmed or otherwise compelled to do so.

The PCs can simply leave both White-Eye and Cherrit locked up, although if they announce their intention to do so, both try to bargain for freedom with detailed but completely fictitious descriptions of the kuo-toa defenses deeper in the temple (neither of them have been beyond the torture chamber in area 8. If one prisoner starts describing the rest of the temple, the other will loudly exclaim, “He’s lying! He’s leading you into a trap!”

Both prisoners try to conceal their true power from the PCs (White-Eye’s lycanthropy and Cherrit’s spellcasting). White Eye takes hybrid form only if he’s about to fight.

Development: If PCs are obviously badly wounded, either prisoner immediately attacks if freed. Otherwise, a freed prisoner promises to leave Bhal-Hamatugn and never return. They keep half their promise, returning a few hours later. White-Eye figures that the PCs might disrupt the kuo-toas enough to make temple looting easier, while Cherrit figures he can still find Zenith. The PCs probably meet the former prisoners on a later foray into Bhal-Hamatugn — when it’s least convenient for them.

The characters earn no experience for setting the prisoners free, nor do they earn experience for leaving them in their cells, because neither is a challenge. They earn experience only if they defeat the prisoners in a reasonably fair fight. But if the PCs set either prisoner free, they will undoubtedly have that chance in a later encounter, and they earn experience points then.

Ad-hoc XP Award: As they are when initially encountered, both prisoners are worth 20% less experience than normal because they have no equipment.


Light: Red glow from eyes of statue (shadowy illumination).

Sound: Rhythmic croaking (automatic if the kuo-toas in this area haven’t been alerted yet); spellcasting (DC 15, but only if Mangh-Mictho in area 7 has been alerted); banging drums (automatic, but only for the 2 rounds before Aushanna arrives as described below).

Reaction: To sounds of battle — Mangh-Mictho puts on armor, casts prep spells, and emerges from area 7 in 5 minutes (automatic); To entry by non kuo-toa — Aushanna arrives 2 minutes later (automatic).

Auras: Strong (Sea Mother statue, DC 25 conjuration and necromancy), moderate (Aushanna’s bow, DC 20 evocation), faint (whip armor, DC 17 abjuration), faint (cure scroll, DC 16 conjuration), faint (bears endurance scroll, DC 16 transmutation); overwhelming evil (Aushanna), strong evil (Sea Mother statue), moderate evil (four whips), faint evil (four kuo-toa soldiers).

Area 5 is another set piece battle, an immense room where the PCs will face low-level kuo-toas, a powerful devil, and the kuo-toan high priest in succession.

The read-aloud text assumes the characters are coming into area 5b, the middle level of area 5. Adapt it if the PCs arrive from area 5c (the lower level) or 5 a (the upper level, although that’s unlikely). In any case, nonevil PCs must succeed at a DC 17 Will save to enter area 5, because of the magic circle against good effect that’s part of the statue’s un hallow ability. Characters who step out onto the balcony see the following:

A 70-foot-high statue of a lobster like creature dominates this chamber. Its eyes glow with a bright crimson that illuminates the room. You stand on an iron-railed balcony. About 30 feet below you is the floor of the chamber, where four kuo-toas wearing banded armor stand in knee-deep water at the base of a stairway. The stairway leads up to a platform directly across the chamber from you that encircles the midsection of the lobster statue, a few feet below its massive crustacean claws.

The balcony you stand on follows the walls three-quarters of the way around the chamber. To your left and right are stairs leading both up and down. About 30 feet above you is another balcony, which extends only halfway along the left and right walls.

Frescos of bloody sacrifices — mostly stylized kuo-toas carrying dismembered body parts — cover the walls. Every single kuo-toa depicted is facing the lobster statue.

Creatures: The statue generates an unhallow effect that covers all of area 5. You need to know the PCs’ alignments before this encounter starts, because the NPCs get +2 to AC and on saves against good PCs, but not neutral or evil ones.

The kuo-toa whips in area 5c are engaged in rhythmic croaking if they haven’t been alerted yet. If they’ve had at least a few rounds warning, they have prepared enough electricity for a lightning bolt.

The characters immediately have to contend with two groups of kuo-toas: the whips at the base of the stairs and the soldiers on the upper balcony, who aren’t initially visible to the PCs. Two minutes after the PCs enter this chamber, Aushanna the erinyes arrives, called from the Nine Hells by the power of Blipdoolpoolp’s statue. Because the PCs won’t necessarily face all these creatures at once, they’re dealt with separately below.

Kuo-toa Whips (4): hp 23, 24, 22, 21; see the Appendix for complete statistics.

Kuo-toa Soldiers (4): hp 19, 17, 16, 22; see the Appendix for complete statistics.

Aushanna, Advanced Erinyes: CR 9; Medium outsider (baatezu, evil, extraplanar, lawful); HD 12d8+60; hp 114; Init +5; Spd 30 ft., fly 50 ft. (good); AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 18; Base Atk +12; Grp +21; Atk +17 melee (1d8+5/l9-20, longsword) or +18 ranged (1d8+6/x3 plus 1d6 fire, +1 flaming composite longbow) or +17 ranged (entangle, rope); Full Atk +17/+12/+7 melee (1d8+5/19-20, longsword) or +18/13/+8 ranged (1d8+6/x3 plus 1d6 fire, +1 flaming composite longbow) or +16/+16/+11/+6 ranged (1d8+6/x3 plus 1d6 fire, +1 flaming composite longbow with Rapid Shot feat) or +17 ranged (entangle, rope); SA entangle, spell-like abilities; SQ damage reduction 5/good, darkvision 60 fit., immunity to fire and poison, resistance to acid 10 and cold 10, see in darkness, SR 20, telepathy 100 ft., true seeing; AL LE; SV Fort +13, Ref +13, Will +12; Str 21, Dex 21, Con 21, Int 14, Wis 18, Cha 20.

Skills: Concentration +20, Diplomacy +10, Escape Artist +17, Hide +20, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +17, Knowledge (the planes) +17, Listen +19, Move Silently +20, Search +17, Sense Motive +19, Spot +19, Survival +4 (+6 following tracks), Use Rope +5 (+7 with bindings). Feats: Dodge, Flyby Attack, Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Shot on the Run.

Entangle (Ex): Aushanna can hurl her rope up to 30 feet at no range penalty; as animate rope spell (16th-level caster).

Spell-Like Abilities: At will — greater teleport (self + 50 pounds of objects), charm monster (DC 19), minor image (DC 17), unholy blight (DC 19). Caster level 12th.

True Seeing (Su): As the spell; caster level 14th.

Possessions: +1 flaming composite longbow (+5 Str bonus) with 40 arrows, longsword, rope.

Kuo-toa Tactics: Both sets of kuo-toas are more than willing to engage in ranged combat because they know that if they can survive for a few minutes, Aushanna will arrive and reinforce them. The whips stay together in a group, casting their defensive spells (entropic shield, then shield of faith) and generating lightning bolts as often as they can. They only draw their Morningstar and attack if they’ve already cast their defensive spells and the characters have moved down to engage them in melee. The soldiers spread out to the balconies on the east and west walls and fire their hand crossbows at the PCs. If the characters head toward the upper balconies (either by flying or ascending the stairs), two soldiers move to the platform in the center of the south wall, then untie the suspension bridges to the left and right of the door, which takes a full-round action.

If a kuo-toa is close enough to charge a PC on a balcony, it tries to bull rush the PC off the balcony, going with the PC if necessary — these are religious fanatics, after all. It’s a 30-foot drop from the balconies and platforms in area 5b and a 60-foot drop from the upper balcony in area 5 a. The presence of the rail gives a character resisting a bull rush attempt a +2 circumstance bonus on the Strength check.

Aushanna Tactics: Unlike the kuo-toas, Aushanna has to work quickly because she returns to the Nine Hells after 10 minutes. She flies up near the ceiling and peppers the PCs with arrows, using Rapid Shot to make four attacks. If the PCs deal her significant damage (more than 15 points in a single attack), she teleports away for a round or two, then teleports back. She takes advantage of her speed and maneuverability, using Flyby Attack and Shot on the Run to flit back and forth between squares with cover from the PCs.

If Aushanna arrives to find an empty chamber, she flies through Bhal-Hamatugn looking for intruders. With her true sight ability, she’s likely to find them, but the search uses up some of the 10 minutes she’s allotted on the Material Plane.

Statue of Blipdoolpoolp: The lobster statue, made of pure obsidian, is essentially a massive, stationary magic item. It has the following effects, all with a caster level of 15th:

  • Permanent widened unhallow that covers all of area 5. This prevents nonevil characters from entering area 5 (Will negates DC 17), blocks all mental charm and compulsion effects, makes rebuking easier and turning harder, and gives all creatures a +2 deflection bonus to AC and a +2 resistance bonus on saves against attacks made or effects created by good creatures.
  • The statue counts as three additional whips for the purpose of the kuo-toas’ lightning bolts, and the whips generating the lightning bolt need only be in the same room as the statue, not necessarily touching it. Four whips can generate a lightning bolt that deals 7d6 points of damage in area 5, and even a solo whip can generate a 4d6 lightning bolt.
  • Whenever a nonevil character enters area 5, the statue uses a variant of a planar ally spell to call a specific erinyes devil, Aushanna, 2 minutes later. Aushanna returns to the Nine Hells after 10 minutes, and then won’t return for another hour. If Aushanna is killed she is dead, and the statue can’t call another outsider until a cleric of Blipdoolpoolp of at least 15th level learns the name of another demon or devil and makes a deal with it through the statue to serve as this area’s guardian. Once the cleric learns the outsider’s name, the process of establishing the new link requires a ritual that takes 12 hours of prayer and meditation. For the sake of this adventure, slaying Aushanna effectively ends this particular threat even if the PCs leave the kuo-toan stronghold and return later.

Treasure: If Aushanna is slain, the PCs can claim her bow and other equipment. As a called outsider, her body and possessions don’t disappear when she dies.

Experience: This area essentially includes two EL 9 encounters: the kuo-toas present when the PCs enter, then Aushanna the erinyes, who arrives 2 minutes later. Depending on the PCs’ actions, they might face these encounters one after the other, in separate forays, or even both at once if the kuo-toas are able to stall for time. If the characters defeat both during the same foray — no mean feat — they face the high priest, Mangh-Mictho, when he emerges from area 8. Mangh-Mictho is also an EL 9 encounter.


Light: Continual flame from brass brazier hanging in center of room.

Sound: None.

Reaction: None.

Auras: Moderate (clay pot, DC 21 abjuration), faint (continual flame, DC 18 evocation).

These two rooms differ only in minor details. The personal quarters of the high-ranking whips, the chambers are notable only for their trap and treasure.

A stone cistern about 6 feet long and 4 feet across dominates this room. Shelves cover the walls. Most are empty, but a few hold moldy scrolls or rotting books. A lidded clay pot some 4 feet tall sits in the northern corner. An obviously magical flame burns in a brazier hanging from the ceiling.

The scrolls and books are mostly religious texts about Blipdoolpoolp, although they occasionally reference other faiths — mostly those of Wee Jas and Vecna. A PC who reads Kuo-toan that spends at least 20 minutes scanning them, however, spots a passing reference to the “dark wisdom of the dwarf Zee’niht Shpehn-trahshad.” The text provides no further details.

The cistern is filled with clean water. A priest sleeps there.

Trap: A greater glyph of warding guards the clay pot, triggering if anyone who isn’t a kuo-toa wearing a holy symbol of Blipdoolpoolp breaks the clay pot or lifts the lid.

Greater Glyph of Warding Trap: CR 7; spell; spell trigger; no reset; spell effect (glyph of warding [blast], 16th-level cleric, 8d8 sonic, DC 19 Reflex save half damage); multiple targets (all targets within 5 ft.); Search DC 32, Disable Device DC 32.

Treasure: The contents of the pot are different in each priest’s chamber. If the trap is triggered, the blast destroys everything but the coins.

East Chamber: 500 gp, malachite-handled mirror (100 gp), pearl necklace (300 gp), garnet ring (100 gp).

West Chamber: 1,200 sp, 200 gp, embroidered mantle (400 gp), ebony chess pieces (200 gp).

Ad-hoc XP Award: Because the characters will expect the second clay pot they encounter to be trapped, award 20% fewer experience points for it.


Light: Illumination from doorways to area 6 (shadowy illumination).

Sound: None.

Reaction: None.

Auras: Faint (Mangh-Mictho’s armor, DC 17 abjuration). If Mangh-Mictho has cast his preparatory spells, he has the following additional auras: moderate (divine power, DC 19 evocation), faint (bear’s endurance, DC 17 transmutation), faint (bull’s strength, DC 17 transmutation), faint (owl’s wisdom, DC 17 transmutation), faint (entropic shield, DC 16 abjuration), faint (shield of faith, DC 16 abjuration), faint (magic weapon, DC 16 transmutation), faint (divine favor, DC 16 evocation); strong evil (Mangh-Mictho), faint evil (duergar).

This room is almost devoid of features, but one of the most powerful kuo-toas in Bhal-Hamatugn spends most of his time here. Read the last sentence of the boxed text only if Mangh-Mictho is present.

Murky water laps just a few inches below the threshold to this room. The room is empty of furniture, but the walls are covered with crab claws, mandibles, and other crustacean appendages carved in bas-relief. The warm light of a fire streams from doorways to your left and right. A kuo-toa wearing chitin-styled plate armor stands in the center of the room, water lapping at his knees.

The meditation chamber is where the whips come to prepare spells each day. Some of the claws on the north wall form shallow bowls that spill over into each other; the fountains form a water clock so the kuo-toas know when to pray to Blipdoolpoolp again. But the characters have to get through Mangh-Mictho, the head whip, before they can examine the water clock.

There’s a chance the PCs have to engage in underwater combat here. It’s a good idea to reread the Underwater Combat section in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide before running this encounter.

Creatures: Mangh-Mictho, the head whip, spends most of his waking hours here, tending the shrine and notifying the other whips when it’s time for them to return to the chamber and pray. He is waited upon by a duergar slave.

Mangh-Mictho, Male Kuo-toa Clr 8: CR 9; Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic); HD 2d8+6 plus 8d8+24; hp 75; Init +1; Spd 15 ft., swim 35 ft.; AC 26, touch 11, flat-footed 25; Base Atk +8; Grp +10; Atk +11 melee (1d10+3, pincer staff); Full Atk +11/+6 melee (1d10+3, pincer staff); SA lightning bolt, pincer staff; SQ amphibious, immunity to poison and paralysis, keen sight, light blindness, resistance to electricity 10, slippery; AL NE; SV Fort +9, Ref +6, Will +14; Str 15, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 21, Cha 8.

Skills: Concentration +15, Escape Artist +6*, Jump -8*, Listen +7, Search +4, Spellcraft +11, Spot +11, Swim +6*. Feats: Alertness, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (pincer staff), Spell Focus (evocation), Spell Focus (necromancy), Weapon Focus (pincer staff).

*Includes -2 armor check penalty (-4 for Swim)

Cleric Spells Prepared (6/7/5/S/4 ; save DC 15 + spell level); 0 — cure minor wounds x2, detect magic x2, read magic, resistance; 1st — cure light wounds x2, divine favor, entropic shield, magic weapon, protection from good*, shield of faith; 2nd — bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, darkness, owl’s wisdom, shatter*; 3rd — bestow curse*, contagion **, deeper darkness, dispel magic x2 ; 4th — control water, cure critical wounds, divine power, unholy blight*

ºDomain spell. Domains: Destruction (smite once per day for +4 attack, +8 damage), Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level).

‘Evocation or Necromancy spells. The save DC for these spells is 16 + spell level.

Lightning Bolt: Every 1d4 rounds, whips can generate a lightning bolt that deals id6 points of electricity damage for every whip touching each other; Reflex save DC 13 + number of whips for half damage.

Keen Sight (Ex): Kuo-toas can spot invisible and ethereal creatures, as long as they’re moving.

Light Blindness (Ex): Exposure to bright light (such as a daylight spell) blinds kuo-toas for 1 round and dazzles them as long as the light remains.

Slippery: Kuo-toans can wriggle free from webs and other forms of confinement.

Possessions: +1 mithral full plate, pincer staff, holy symbol.

Duergar Slave: hp 9; Monster Manual 91.

Tactics: When he hears trouble, Mangh-Mictho first locks the door, then has his duergar slave help him put on his armor (4 minutes). Once armored, he casts preparatory spells in the following order: bear’s endurance, bull’s strength, owl’s wisdom, entropic shield, shield of faith, magic weapon, divine favor, and divine power. He moves to the door and listens for 1 round, then he unlocks the door to face the intruders in area 5.

When Mangh-Mictho has all the spells cast, his stats improve as follows: hp 103; AC 29; Full Atk +19/+14/+9 melee (1d10+10, + 1 pincer staff); Fort +11, Will +16; Concentration +17, Jump -5, Listen +9, Spot +13, Swim +11; save DC 17 + spell level, 18 + spell level for Evocation and Necromancy spells.

By stepping into area 5, Mangh-Mictho can generate a lightning bolt every 1d4 rounds that deals 4d6 points of electricity damage. But Mangh-Mictho can also try to entice at least some of the PCs into entering area 7, so he might step back a square or two so he threatens an open door with his pincer staff, which has a reach of 10 feet. Once one or more PCs step into the room, Mangh-Mictho moves to the door himself and closes and locks it. He’s willing to suffer attacks of opportunity for this action. If Mangh-Mictho gets PCs inside area 7 when the door is locked, he casts the raise water version of control water, filling areas 6 and 7 to the ceiling. Then the PCs have to contend with the dangers and difficulties of underwater combat, as described in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Those outside the locked door see only a slowly growing puddle of water, unless they can open the door before their comrades drown.


Light: Continual flame from brass-and-wood brazier floating in northwest corner of room.

Sound: Dripping water (automatic), rhythmic croaking (DC 15, unless it stopped when the portcullis in area 4 opened).

Reaction: None.

Auras: Faint (continual flame, DC 17 evocation); moderate evil (Garekk).

Lurking in this room is the kuo-toas’ torturer, a mummy named Garekk. If he heard the PCs approach, he’s hiding underwater.

The passageway leading to this room slopes down slightly, and the omnipresent puddles eventually grow to the point where you’re knee-deep in murky water. The room, lit by a floating brazier in the northwest corner containing an obviously magical flame, has all manner of torture implements: shelves with scalpels, thumbscrews, and a large jar of salt. A well-oiled stretching rack. Pairs of manacles hanging from the ceiling and the eastern wall.

Assuming the rack and shelves are of normal height, the room probably has 2 to 3 feet of standing water in it.

Creatures: Garekk rarely leaves this room, except to gather torture victims from the cells in area 4 or deliver “ritual components” to area 5. Garekk doesn’t remember what race he used to be, and he’s so twisted and decrepit that it’s impossible to tell by looking at him.

Garekk, Mummy: hp 55; Monster Manual 190 except Hide +7, Intimidate +13, Listen +8, Spot +4.

Tactics: If Garekk hears the portcullis in area 4 open or hears conversation in the southern hallway, he crouches underwater in the northeast corner of the room. When he first rises from the water — or when the PCs otherwise first see him — they must succeed at a DC 16 Will save or be paralyzed with fear for 1d4 rounds. He attacks a paralyzed foe first if possible and the nearest enemy if not. (Kuo-toas are naturally immune to paralysis, so Garekk’s despair ability doesn’t get in the way.)

The room is filled with waist-high water to Medium creatures. Medium or larger creatures get cover from the water, but it costs 4 squares of movement to move into any square in the room (or they can swim if they wish). Small PCs have to swim, but they gain improved cover (+8 bonus to AC, +4 bonus on Reflex saves). Tumbling is impossible, and the DCs of Move Silently checks are increased by 2.


Light: Pitch black. If the PCs have only darkvision, eliminate color reference in the read-aloud text below.

Sound: Dripping water (automatic); Hlanamm moving into position (PCs’ Listen checks opposed by Hlanamm’s Move Silently check of +9, but PCs get a +2 bonus because of the shallow water in area 9e).

Reaction: To conversation in a language other than Kuo-toan — Hlanamm the Spearmaster in area 9e sneaks down the hallway toward the PCs, setting up a sneak attack with his spear. Auras: None.

This vacant room is where one of the kuo-toas makes shields and armor for the rest of the tribe.

Down a long hallway is an alcove, partially covered with a bright red tapestry hanging from pegs in the ceiling. Beyond it is a primitive forge and a table with woodworking and leathercrafting tools.


Light: Pitch black. If the PCs have only darkvision, eliminate color reference in the read-aloud text below.

Sound: Dripping water (automatic); Hlanamm moving into position (PCs’ Listen checks opposed by Hlanamm’s Move Silently check of +9, but PCs get a +2 bonus because of the shallow water in area 9e).

Reaction: To conversation in a language other than KuoToan — Hlanamm the Spearmaster in area 9e sneaks down the hallway toward the PCs, setting up a sneak attack with his spear. Auras: None.

One of the kuo-toas prepares the paints that become the frescos elsewhere in Bhal-Hamatugn in this room.

Beyond the second red curtain is another alcove, dominated by a wooden table covered with mixing bowls, mud-pots, and ceramic jars of paint.

Treasure: The fresco paints in area 9b are worth 500 gp (Appraise DC 25 to discern their value).


Light: Pitch black.

Sound: Dripping water (automatic); Hlanamm moving into position (PCs’ Listen checks opposed by Hlanamm’s Move Silently check of +9, but PCs get a +2 bonus because of the shallow water in area 9e).

Reaction: To conversation in a language other than KuoToan — Hlanamm the Spearmaster in area 9e sneaks down the hallway toward the PCs, setting up a sneak attack with his spear.

Auras: None.

This alcove is for the stonemason, who does everything from repairs to the walls of Bhal-Hamatugn to arrowheads and spearpoints for Hlanamm in area 9e.

This alcove has a pedal-operated grinder and a table covered with chisels, picks, and shards of flint, some crudely fashioned into spearpoints.


Light: Pitch black. If the PCs have only darkvision, eliminate color reference in the read-aloud text below.

Sound: Dripping water (automatic); Hlanamm moving into position (PCs’ Listen checks opposed by Hlanamm’s Move Silently check of +9, but PCs get a +2 bonus because of the shallow water in area 9e).

Reaction: To conversation in a language other than Kuo-toan — Hlanamm the Spearmaster in area 9e sneaks down the hallway toward the PCs, setting up a sneak attack with his spear.

Auras: None.

The kuo-toa weaver responsible for the tapestries in Bhal-Hamatugn plies his trade here.

A big loom covers most of the available floor space in this alcove. A half-completed tapestry on the loom depicts the green and black legs of what is apparently a kuo-toa, and the swirling black tail of something else. Another tapestry is rolled up and leaning in a corner.

The PCs should be glad the tapestry isn’t completed. It depicts Dhorlot (who lives in area 14) impregnating a kuo-toa female.

Treasure: The tapestry in the corner, an abstract zig-zag design, is worth 400 gp. It weighs 75 pounds.


Light: Pitch black. If the PCs have only darkvision, eliminate color reference in read-aloud text below.

Sound: Dripping water (automatic); Hlanamm moving into position (PCs’ Listen checks opposed by Hlanamm’s Move Silently check of +9, but PCs get a +2 bonus because of the shallow water in area 9e).

Reaction: To conversation in a language other than Kuo-Toan or entry by non-kuo-toa — Hlanamm the Spearmaster attacks. Auras: Moderate (Hlanamm’s spear, DC 18 transmutation); faint evil (Hlanamm).

A kuo-toa rogue waits in ambush in this room, and it provides some insight into how the kuo-toa tribe works.

The final alcove holds a round table with a bag of feathers, wooden shafts of various lengths and thicknesses, and a stitched-together padded mannequin with several crossbow bolts sticking out of its head.

Creatures: Of the artisans, only Hlanamm the Spearmaster is present in his workshop. The others are in area 12.

Hlanamm the Spearmaster, Male Kuo-toa Rog 5: CR 7; Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic); HD 2d8+4 plus 5d6+10; hp 41; Init +2; Spd 20 ft., swim 50 ft; AC 23, touch 12, flat-footed 21; Base Atk +5; Grp +8; Atk +10 melee (1d6+4, +1 shortspear) or +9 ranged (1d6+4, +1 shortspear ); Full Atk +10 melee (1d6+4, +1 shortspear) or +9 ranged (1d6+4, +1 shortspear ); SA sneak attack +3d6; SQ adhesive, amphibious, evasion, immunity to poison and paralysis, keen sight, light blindness, resistance to electricity 10, slippery, trap sense +1, trapfinding, uncanny dodge; AL NE; SV Fort +3, Ref +9, Will +7; Str 16, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8.

Skills: Climb +10*, Craft (weaponsmith) +8, Escape Artist +9*, Hide +9*, Jump +12*, Listen +7, Move Silently +9*, Search +4, Spot +9, Swim +9*, Tumble +11* Feats: Alertness, Dodge, Point Blank Shot, Weapon Focus (shortspear).

*Includes -1 armor check penalty (-2 for Swim).

Adhesive (Ex): Foes who miss a kuo-toa with a melee attack must succeed at a DC 14 Reflex save or have the weapon yanked from their grasp and stuck to the kuo-toa’s shield. A shield can only trap one thing. It takes a DC 20 Strength check to pull something free from the shield.

Keen Sight (Ex): Kuo-toas can spot invisible and ethereal creatures, as long as they’re moving.

Light Blindness (Ex): Exposure to bright light (such as a daylight spell) blinds kuo-toas for 1 round and dazzles them as long as the light remains.

Slippery: Kuo-toans can wriggle free from webs and other forms of confinement.

Possessions: +1 shortspear of returning, masterwork studded leather armor, masterwork heavy wooden shield.

Tactics: Hlanamm listens carefully, hoping to get warning of the PCs’ approach. Then he hides at the entrance to his workshop. Ideally, he throws his spear when only one PC remains in the hallway, but he also throws if he gets too worried that he will lose the element of surprise. Hlanamm does whatever he can to deal sneak attack damage. If taken below half his hit points, he tries to flee to area 12, although the portcullis may keep him in area 11.

Treasure: The fresco paints in area 9b are worth 500 gp (Appraise DC 25 to discern their value). An abstract tapestry in area 9d is worth 400 gp, but it weighs 75 pounds.


Light: Pitch black.

Sound: None.

Reaction: To sounds of battle — kuo-toa soldiers in area 11 warn kuo-toas in area 12 (automatic); to pit trap triggering — area 11 warns area 12 (DC 10).

Auras: None; moderate evil (wraith).

This room has a pit trap and a resident wraith who eagerly takes advantage of PCs who fall down the pit.

This chamber is mostly empty, but attached to the walls are about two dozen motionless kuo-toas. Those on the east wall have shields and weapons, usually spears or rapiers. Some have large slashes in them — wounds that certainly look fatal. Those on the west wall all have grisly holes in their bellies and carry no weapons. A basalt altar with a single carved-stone crustacean claw is built into the south wall.

The PCs assume the worst — that the kuo-toas on the walls are zombies or some other undead. But the truth is far simpler: The kuo-toas honor their heroes by stuffing their bodies and mounting them here so that they can inspire others even after death. The east wall is for war heroes, and the west wall is for kuo-toan females who’ve died giving birth to the fingerlings in area 11.

Trap: A deep, spike-filled pit lies just inside the room through the double doors.

Spiked Pit Trap: CR 5; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; DC 25 Reflex save avoids; 40 ft. deep (4d6, fall); multiple targets (anyone standing in the marked area after a one-second delay); pit spikes (Atk +19 melee, 1d4 spikes per target for 1d4+4 each); Search DC 21; Disable Device DC 20.

Creature: A wraith haunts this room. It doesn’t attack the kuo-toas because it’s learned that doing so invites Mangh-Mictho’s wrath.

Wraith: hp 32; Monster Manual 258.

Tactics: The wraith lurks near the altar, hiding with only its head sticking out of the wall. If someone falls down the pit, the wraith swoops down to the pit through the floor and attacks the trap victim, hoping to drain him completely and create a spawn before the other PCs can help. Otherwise, the wraith waits until one PC stands apart from the others before attacking, if it can.

Treasure: Golden incense burners (1,000 gp) sit on the altar.


Light: Pitch black.

Sound: Tiny splashes from water (DC 10); occasional rustling and splashes from area 12 (DC 20).

Reaction: To sounds of battle — kuo-toa soldiers emerge from area 12 in 6 rounds, open portcullis, and join battle (automatic).

Auras: None; faint evil (two fingerling swarms), faint evil (two kuo-toa soldiers).

In this room, the PCs come into contact with the product of the kuo-toa’s crossbreeding program: half-dragon kuo-toa fingerlings.

This octagonal room has a stone staircase ascending into an alcove in the northwest corner and an iron portcullis in the south wall. It looks like a net has been woven through the bars of the portcullis, but the net only reaches halfway up the bars. Most of the western half of the room is covered with standing water. The water is murky, so you can’t tell how deep it gets, but if the floor is mostly level, it shouldn’t be more than a foot deep.

The walls are covered with frescos of young kuo-toas emerging from eggs and being handed spears by other kuo-toas.

The water is indeed shallow, except as marked on the map near the stairway. There it’s 4 feet deep, providing cover for the guards in this room.

The lever that opens and closes the portcullis is inset into the west wall on the south side of the portcullis. It functions like the portcullises in area 4, except that it makes only a faint rattling noise. The net keeps the draconic fingerlings from swimming into area 12.

Creatures: Two kuo-toa soldiers crouch on either side of the staircase, and under the surface of the water lurk two draconic fingerling swarms (described in the appendix).

Kuo-toa Soldiers (2): hp 19, 20; see the Appendix for complete statistics.

Draconic Fingerlings (2): hp 62, 64; see the Appendix for complete statistics.

Tactics: The kuo-toa soldiers hide underwater if they know the PCs are coming, then raise their heads and hand crossbows above the surface hoping to surprise (and sneak attack) the PCs when they enter the room. Crouching in the deep water, the kuo-toa soldiers have improved cover (+8 bonus to AC, +4 bonus on Reflex saves) from PCs who aren’t also in the deep water. The fingerling swarms simply attack any PC that sets foot in the water or comes within a vertical jump of the water’s surface.

Experience: The PCs gain experience for the draconic fingerling swarms as if they defeated the swarms in battle if they get onto the stairs that lead to area 13. Their purpose here isn’t to defeat acidic tadpoles, it’s to recover Zenith Splintershield.

Bhal-Hamatugn Kua-Toa Underdark Zenith Trajectory Dungeon Magazine 102


Light: Phosphorescent patches on walls (shadowy illumination). Sound: Trickling water (automatic).

Reaction: None.

Auras: Faint (whip armor, DC 17 abjuration), faint ( cure scroll, DC 16 conjuration), faint (bear’s endurance scroll, DC 16 transmutation); moderate evil (three whips), faint evil (six kuo-toa females).

This is where the rank-and-file kuo-toas sleep, bathe, and eat.

A pool of murky water lies in the center of this room. The walls are covered with primitive stick-figure drawings of bipeds with spears. Some carry oval-shaped objects. Nine kuo-toas glare at you balefully.

A straightforward fight is in store here, the only complication being the shallow water that covers much of the room.

Creatures: Three of the kuo-toas are whips, and the others are Bhal-Hamatugn’s remaining females (the others died after giving birth to the fingerlings and are now stuffed in area 10).

Kuo-toa Whips (3): hp 28, 30, 31; see Appendix.

Kuo-toa Females (6): hp 11, 13, 9, 12, 10, 14; Monster Manual 163.

Tactics: The kuo-toa whips cast protective spells on themselves if they are forewarned of the PCs’ approach. The females engage the PCs in melee, while the whips cast spells and generate lightning bolts. The kuo-toas fight to the death unless they can slip past the PCs and run away, in which case they head toward area 5.

Ad-hoc XP Award: Because this encounter features many low-level opponents, it’s easier and thus less of a challenge than its encounter level would indicate. Reduce XP awards by 10%.


Light: Pitch black.

Sound: Occasional slithering from beyond north door (DC 25). Reaction: To triggering either trap — Dhorlot in area 14 knows of PCs’ presence (automatic).

Auras: Faint (door trap, DC 20 abjuration).

Trap #1: This empty room has two traps: one on the carved stone doors between this room and area 12, and one inside the room itself. Deal with the door trap first, then read the boxed text when the PCs get the door open.

Lightning Bolt Trap: CR 6; magic device; touch trigger; automatic reset; spell effect (lightning bolt, 10th-level caster 10d6 electricity, DC 14 Reflex save half damage); Search DC 28; Disable Device DC 28. The lightning bolt is wide enough to encompass the entire stairway.

This empty room has wall frescos in a zig-zag pattern so busy it’s almost dizzying to look at. You see another carved stone door in the center of the north wall.

Trap #2: Characters who cross the room face the second trap, which triggers 6 seconds after the first PC steps beyond the threshold. Anyone in the room at that point gets targeted by the trap, unless they’re Small or crawling, in which case the spears fly harmlessly overhead.

Poison Wall Spears: CR 5; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; Atk +16 ranged (1d8+4 plus poison, spear); multiple targets (anyone Medium or larger in room); poison (Medium monstrous spider venom, DC 12 Fortitude save resists, 1d4 Str/1d4 Str); Search DC 17; Disable Device DC 21.


Light: Continual flame from brass brazier on altar.

Sound: None.

Reaction: None.

Auras: Faint (continual flame, DC 17 evocation); moderate evil (Dhorlot).

One of the most powerful allies of Zenith and kuo-toas, a black dragon, lives here. Dhorlot fathered the draconic fingerlings in area 12.

This plain chamber features a stone altar on its north wall and clay pots lining the east and west walls. In the center of the room crouches a black dragon the size of a horse, its nostrils twitching as it stares you down.

Creatures: Dhorlot is the only creature present in this area. The characters need to make their saves against the dragon’s frightful presence during the round after Dhorlot first attacks.

Dhorlot the Dragon-Father: CR 9; Large dragon (water); FID 16d12+48; hp 150; Init +0; Spd 60 fit., fly 150 ft. (poor), swim 60 fit.; AC 24, touch 9, flat-footed 24; Base Atk +16; Grp +24; Atk +20 melee (2d6+4, bite); Full Atk +20 melee (2d6+4, bite), +17 melee 1d8+2, 2 claws), +17 melee (1d6+2, 2 wings), +18 melee (1d8+6, tail slap); Space/Reach 10 fit./5 ft. (bite 10 ft); SA breath weapon, darkness, frightful presence, spells; SQ blindsense 60 ft., DR 5/magic; darkvision 120 ft., immunities (acid, sleep, and paralysis), low-light vision, SR 17, water breathing; AL CE; SV Fort +13, Ref +10, Will +11; Str 19, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 12.

Skills: Bluff +9, Climb +20, Diplomacy +8, Hide +8, Intimidate +19, Listen +17, Move Silently +16, Search +17, Knowledge (nature) +7, Spot +17, Swim +10. Feats: Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, Multiattack, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (bite), Weapon Focus (tail slap).

Breath Weapon (Su): 80-ft. line, damage 10d4 acid, Reflex DC 21 half.

Darkness (Sp): 3/day — as darkness, but 50 ft., radius. Caster level 5th.

Frightful Presence (Ex): 150 ft. radius, HD 15 or less, Will DC 19 negates.

Water Breathing (Ex): Can breathe underwater indefinitely and freely use breath weapon, spells, and other abilities underwater.

Spells Known (5/4; save DC 11 + spell level): 0 — daze, detect magic, ray of fatigue, read magic; 1st — obscuring mist, shield.

Tactics: Dhorlot applies typical dragon tactics — breath weapon or full attack every round — against intruders. He casts shield if he hears intruders at his door. But unlike the fanatical kuo-toas, Dhorlot isn’t willing to die to protect Bhal-Hamatugn. If reduced below 60 hp, he flees, bull-rushing PCs out of the way if he has to and using obscuring mist at an intersection to slow pursuit. If the PCs drive him off, he never returns to Bhal-Hamatugn.

Treasure: Most of the clay pots are empty, but some hold the dragon’s hoard: 60 pp, 800 gp, 1,100 sp, 400 cp, finely wrought electrum bracers (500 gp for the set), four sets of silver flatware (50 gp each), three rubies (300 gp each), two emeralds (200 gp each), 1 cut zirconium (10 gp, but it takes a DC 15 Appraise check to avoid mistaking it for a 2,000 gp diamond), scroll of dismissal, scroll of cloud kill, scroll of wall of fire, wand of see invisibility (11 charges remaining), potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of dark vision, potion of displacement, oil of keen edge.

Ad-hoc XP Award: Because Dhorlot will readily flee, and because the close-quarters terrain favors the PCs, award 10% less experience for this encounter.


Light: Pitch black.

Sound: Faint rhythmic croaking (DC 25).

Reaction: To sounds of battle — kuo-toans in area 3 awaken and attack in 6 rounds (automatic).

Auras: None; faint evil (four kuo-toa soldiers).

A narrow passageway connects these two small chambers. Neither has any furniture or features beyond the large openings in the south wall, which afford a view of the lake Bhal-Hamatugn sits in and the larger Underdark cavern.

There’s a stone door in the north wall of the passageway that connects the two eye-chambers.

Creatures: It’s likely that the PCs fought the kuo-toas here when they entered Bhal-Hamatugn. If they didn’t, or if this is a later foray, four kuo-toa soldiers watch the entrance from these rooms, the eyes of the giant fish that is Bhal-Hamatugn.

Kuo-toan Soldiers (4): hp 20, 22, 18, 19; see the Appendix for complete statistics.

Tactics: Because the kuo-toas guard Bhal-Hamatugn from exterior attack, they don’t pay attention to the stairway that leads from area 3 to here. Accordingly, they suffer a -5 penalty on Spot and Listen checks against PCs coming up the stairs. Once engaged, they rush into melee, trying to make as much noise as possible to warn the rest of Bhal-Hamatugn.


Light: Pitch black.

Sound: None.

Reaction: None.

Auras: None.

This room is simply weapon and armor storage.

This small room has shields stacked on the floor and dozens of spears in racks on the wall.

Treasure: The room holds 40 heavy wooden shields, 120 short spears, 10 pincer staffs, and 200 hand crossbow bolts. Five of the shields have had kuo-toa adhesive applied to them.


Light: Phosphorescent patches on walls (shadowy illumination). Sound: None.

Reaction: To collapse of roof — every creature in BhalHamatugn alerted to PCs’ presence (automatic).

Auras: None.

Characters face two perils here: dangerous fungi and a roof that’s about to collapse.

The floor of this large, T-shaped room is covered with bellcapped purple mushrooms standing a foot or two high. Two massive pillars are the room’s only other visible feature. The southern pillar has partially collapsed and no longer reaches the ceiling. The northern pillar is cracked but otherwise intact. From the vantage point of the door, you can’t see into the alcoves to the north and south.

The northern pillar is all that’s holding up the roof. If it takes 30 points of damage, it collapses, caving in all of area 17 (everything west of the double doors). The cave-in functions as described in the Cave-Ins and Collapses section of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

The mushrooms that cover the floor count as light undergrowth, providing concealments and costing 2 squares of movement to enter each square. The DC of Tumble and Move Silently checks increases by 2.

Creatures: Four violet fungi live among the mushrooms. The kuo-toas don’t mind because they’re immune to poison.

Violet Fungus (4): 15, 14, 16, 17 hp; Monster Manual 112.

Tactics: The violet fungi lurk near the interior corners of the room. Until they move and extend their tentacles, they’re indistinguishable from the rest of the mushrooms. They shuffle forward and attack as soon as they have a living target that doesn’t look like a kuo-toa. They aren’t intelligent, so they mindlessly fight until slain.

Experience: If the PCs get caught in area 1 7 as it collapses, they earn experience as if it was a CR 8 trap.


Light: Pitch black.

Sound: None.

Reaction: None.

Auras: Faint (Saagogoi’s slippers, DC 17 abjuration); faint evil (Saagogoi).

The PCs have nearly reached Zenith, but they must first deal with a deadly guardian: Saagogoi, a kuo-toa monitor assassin.

This lozenge-shaped chamber has more frescoes, this time of kuo-toas emerging from the sea and marching into holes in the ground. The floor is covered with the same porcelain shards you found near the entrance. The eastern corner of the north wall features a set of double stone doors.

Creatures: If Bhal-Hamatugn has been alerted, or the PCs have made any noise opening the door, Saagogoi is perched directly above the door’s threshold, using his slippers of spider climbing to cling to the wall where it meets the ceiling. Otherwise, he’s standing at attention at the doors to area 19.

Saagogoi, Male Kuo-toa Mnk 3/Assassin 3: CR 8; Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic); HD 2d8+4 plus 3d8+6 plus 3d6+6; hp 49; Init +3; Spd 30 ft., swim 50 fit.; AC 21, touch 15, flat-footed 21; Base Atk +6; Grp +7; Atk +9 melee (1d6+1, unarmed strike) or +10 melee (1d4+1 plus poison, dagger) or +10 ranged (1d4+1 plus poison, dagger); Full Atk +7/+7/+ 2 melee (1d6+1, unarmed strike) or +10/+5 melee (1d4+1 plus poison, dagger) or +10 ranged (1d4+1 plus poison, dagger); SA death attack (DC 15), sneak attack +2d6, stunning fist (DC 15); SQ evasion, still mind, uncanny dodge, amphibious, immunity to poison and paralysis, keen sight, light blindness, resistance to electricity 10, slippery; AL LE; SV Fort +5, Ref +12, Will +8; Str 13, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 6.

Skills: Disguise +2, Escape Artist +11, Hide +14, Jump +10, Listen +15, Move Silently +14, Search +7, Spot +19, Swim +9, Tumble +9. Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Stunning Fist, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (dagger).

Keen Sight (Ex): Kuo-toas can spot invisible and ethereal creatures, as long as they’re moving.

Light Blindness (Ex): Exposure to bright light (such as a daylight spell) blinds kuo-toas for 1 round and dazzles them as long as the light remains.

Slippery: Kuo-toans can wriggle free from webs and other forms of confinement.

Possessions: Slippers of spider climbing, 5 poisoned daggers (shadow essence; Fort DC 17; 1 Str drain/2d6 Str).

Tactics: Saagogoi is confident enough in his ability to hide in the ceiling shadows that he studies a foe for 3 rounds, then leaps from the wall and attacks a PC. He chooses whichever PC looks most like a wizard or sorcerer, because he knows they’re less able to resist his death attack. Then Saagogoi runs from the chamber, trying to lure the PCs away from area 19. If possible, he hides again, then makes another death attack or sneak attack.


Light: Zenith’s sphere of the unseen (shadowy illumination until Zenith breaks it).

Sound: Muttering from overhead corpses (automatic). Reaction: None.

Auras: Strong (teleportation circle, DC 24 conjuration), strong (Zenith’s sphere, DC 21 conjuration), moderate (Zenith’s amulet, DC 19 transmutation), faint (Zenith’s gauntlets, DC 18 transmutation), faint (Zenith’s armor, DC 17 abjuration), faint (Zenith’s shield, DC 17 abjuration), faint (Zenith’s axe, DC 17 transmutation), faint (muttering corpses, DC 17 necromancy); faint evil (Zenith).

This is it — the characters meet Zenith face-to-face. Not surprisingly, he won’t return to Cauldron willingly.

Against the north wall sits a throne made of what looks like stitched-together skin. Four slender pillars surround a faintly luminescent circle about 5 feet across, carved into the stone of the floor. To either side of the throne hang banners depicting a dwarf in blue and white armor holding a war axe aloft. Both banners are apparently upside-down.

A tired-looking dwarf slumps in the throne, a glowing sphere in his hand and an axe across his lap. “I prophesy your doom!” he whispers harshly.”

If the characters have any light brighter than a candle with them, add the following:

Hanging by their feet from nooses attached to the 30-foot ceiling are dozens of rotting corpses, each with the top of its head removed. The corpses mutter and twitch in a pale mockery of life.

The throne is made from the scalps of the corpses, all foes that Zenith vanquished during his time in the Underdark. A unique necromantic effect (equivalent to a 3rd-level spell) makes the corpses mutter nonsense and flex their limbs from time to time, but the corpses aren’t undead — they’re just corpses. The tapestries are the Splintershield clan’s battle standards. A successful DC 18 Knowledge (nobility and royalty) check reveals this, as well as the information that hanging them upside-down is a grave insult to anyone of that clan. The circle in the floor is a permanent teleportation circle. Anyone who steps into the circle is teleported to the platform in area 5b between the pincers of the massive statue.

Creature: Zenith won’t willingly leave his throne, but he’s willing to listen to any entreaties from the PCs.

Zenith Splintershield, Dwarf Ftr 7/Dwarven Defender 3: CR 10; Medium humanoid; HD 7dl0+24 plus 3dl2+9; hp 88; Init +1; Spd 20 ft.; AC 23, touch 11, flat-footed 23; Base Atk +10; Grp +14; Atk +16 melee (1d10+7/l9-20/x3, +1 dwarven war axe)’, Full Atk +16/+11 melee (1d10+7/l9-20/x3, +1 dwarven war axe); SA — ; SQ dwarf traits, defensive stance 2/day, uncanny dodge; AL LE; SV Fort +11, Ref +4, Will +4; Str 19, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 12.

Skills: Intimidate +11, Jump +8*, Sense Motive +2, Spot +2. Feats: Dodge, Endurance, Improved Critical (dwarven war axe), Power Attack, Quick Draw, Toughness, Weapon Focus (dwarven war axe), Weapon Specialization (dwarven war axe).

*Includes -6 armor check penalty.

Defensive Stance: Zenith’s defensive stance lasts for 8 rounds. It gives Zenith +2 to Str, +4 to Con, +2 on saves, and +4 to AC. His stats change to hp 108; AC 27; Full Atk +17/+12 melee (1d10+8/l9-20/x3, +1 dwarven war axe); Fort +15, Ref +6, Will +6 (not factoring in Zenith’s dwarven bonuses); Str 21, Con 20.

Possessions: +1 full plate, +1 heavy steel shield, +1 dwarven war axe, gauntlets of ogre power +2, amulet of health +2, sphere of the unseen.

Tactics: Zenith’s first action is to hurl his sphere of the unseen at the south wall. That summons an invisible stalker that attacks any PC who hangs back rather than meeting Zenith in melee.

Zenith then adopts a defensive stance and tries to kill any PC who comes within reach. Each round, he utters another prophecy, pointing to a random character. Here are some sample prophecies, but feel to make up your own.

  • “A man in blue will slay you before the year is done.”
  • “You’ll be buried alive, but you won’t be alone.”
  • “Your heart harbors two ships: betrayal and joy.”
  • “You will set your city aflame.”

When possible, the prophecies should involve death or destruction and a include specific detail, even if they’re otherwise maddeningly vague.

When Zenith reaches 20 hp or less, he breaks out of the defensive stance and use the teleportation circle to go to area 5b. As soon as he can, he readies an action to attack anyone who follows him. He goes into a second defensive stance there and make his last stand before the red eyes of the Sea Mother.

If a PC uses magic such as a see invisibility or invisibility purge spell to fight the invisible stalker, describe Zenith’s birthmark: the sign of Carceri like a big tattoo across his face. If the characters examine it later, they may discover that it’s naturally invisible — it doesn’t radiate magic at all.


Once the characters defeat Zenith and get him out of Bhal-Hamatugn (provided he still lives), he becomes eerily docile. He follows the PCs wherever they go, but he won’t speak or otherwise interact with them, other than taking offered food and water. If he’s involved in a fight, he adopts a defensive stance and readies an action to attack anyone who comes within reach.

Cauldron is several days away. You can either use the random encounter tables from Chapter 3 or just declare that the trip back to town was uneventful. At the Cusp of Sunrise, Celeste happily pays the PCs, then takes Zenith away, ostensibly to meet his father. In reality, Zenith winds up shackled in a magic cage, and the plans of the Vhalantru and the Cagewrights are that much closer to fruition.


The PCs undoubtedly have some shopping to do — both selling extra gear taken from Bhal-Hamatugn and spending the reward money for returning Zenith. They should be at or near 8th level — ready for the fourth installment of the Adventure Path: Shackled City series, which will appear in Dungeon #104. The characters have unwittingly done the bidding of Vhalantru, but that doesn’t mean he trusts them, nor is he willing to leave them alone.


The following stat blocks cover creatures encountered in multiple areas.

Kuo-toa Soldier, Male Kuo-toa Rog 1: CR 3; Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic); HD 2d8+4 plus 1d6+2; hp 19; Init +2; Spd 20 fit., swim 50 fit.; AC 20, touch 12, flat-footed 18; Base Atk +2; Grp +4; Atk/Full Atk +7 melee (1d6+2/l8-20, masterwork rapier) or +6 ranged (1d4/ 19-20, masterwork hand crossbow); SA sneak attack +1d6; SQ adhesive, amphibious, immunity to poison and paralysis, keen sight, light blindness, resistance to electricity 10, slippery, trapfinding; AL NE; SV Fort +0, Ref +5, Will +3; Str 16, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 6.

Skills: Escape Artist +7*, Hide +6*, Listen +8, Move Silently +6*, Search +5, Spot +10, Swim +9*, Tumble +6*. Feats: Alertness, Weapon Focus (hand crossbow), Weapon Focus (rapier).

*Includes -1 armor check penalty (-2 for Swim).

Adhesive (Ex): Foes who miss a kuo-toa with a melee attack must succeed at a DC 14 Reflex save or have the weapon yanked from their grasp and stuck to the kuo-toa’s shield. A shield can only trap one thing. It takes a DC 20 Strength check to pull something free from the shield.

Keen Sight (Ex): Kuo-toas can spot invisible and ethereal creatures, as long as they’re moving.

Light Blindness (Ex): Exposure to bright light (such as a daylight spell) blinds kuo-toas for 1 round and dazzles them as long as the light remains.

Slippery: Kuo-toans can wriggle free from webs and other forms of confinement.

Possessions: Masterwork heavy steel shield with adhesive, masterwork rapier, masterwork hand crossbow with 10 bolts.

Kuo-toa Whip, Male Kuo-toa Clr 2: CR 3; Medium monstrous humanoid (aquatic); HD 2d8+4 plus 2d8+7; hp 29; Init +1; Spd 15 ft., swim 35 ft.; AC 26, touch 11, flat-footed 24; Base Atk +3; Grp +6; Atk/Full Atk +7 melee (1d8+2, masterwork Morningstar); SA lightning bolt; SQ adhesive, amphibious immunity to poison and paralysis, keen sight, light blindness, resistance to electricity 10, slippery; AL NE; SV Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +10; Str 16, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 19, Cha 8.

Skills: Concentration +6, Escape Artist +3*, Listen +6, Search +4, Spellcraft +4, Spot +12, Swim 1. Feats: Alertness, Lightning Reflexes, Toughness.

*Includes -6 armor check penalty (-12 for Swim).

Spells Prepared (4/4; save DC 14 + spell level); 0 — cure minor wounds, detect magic, read magic, mending’, 1st — doom, entropic shield, protection from good*, shield of faith.

ºDomain spell. Domains: Destruction (smite once per day for +4 attack, +2 damage), Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level).

Adhesive (Ex): Foes who miss a kuo-toa with a melee attack must succeed at a DC 14 Reflex save or have the weapon yanked from their grasp and stuck to the kuo-toa’s shield. A shield can only trap one thing. It takes a DC 20 Strength check to pull something free from the shield.

Keen Sight (Ex): Kuo-toas can spot invisible and ethereal creatures, as long as they’re moving.

Light Blindness (Ex): Exposure to bright light (such as a daylight spell) blinds kuo-toas for 1 round and dazzles them as long as the light remains.

Lightning Bolt (Su): Every 1d4 rounds, whips can generate a lightning bolt that deals 1d6 points of electricity damage for every whip touching each other; Reflex save DC 13 + number of whips for half damage.

Slippery: Kuo-toans can wriggle free from webs and other forms of confinement.

Possessions: +1 banded mail, heavy wooden shield, masterwork Morningstar, scroll of bear’s endurance, scroll of cure moderate wounds.


Diminutive Dragon (Aquatic, Swarm)

Hit Dice: 10d12 (65 hp)

Initiative: +3

Speed: Swim 30 ft. (6 squares)

Armor Class: 18 (+4 size, +3 Dex, +1 natural), touch 17, flatfooted 15

Base Attack/Grapple: +10/ —

Attack: Swarm 2d6 + 1d6 acid

Full Attack: Swarm 2d6 + 1d6 acid

Space/Reach: 10 ft./O ft.

Special Attacks: Distraction

Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., feed, immune to weapon damage, swarm traits

Saves: Fort +9, Ref +12, Will +9

Abilities: Str 1, Dex 16, Con 11, Int 3, Wis 10, Cha 1

Skills: Jump +9, Listen +13, Spot +13

Feats: Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes

Environment: Temperate aquatic Organization: Solitary or colony (2-5)

Challenge Rating: 5

Treasure: None

Alignment: Always chaotic evil

Advancement: None

Level Adjustment: —

A glistening school of ebony tadpoles turns the water black as it swims closer.

The product of the union of a male black dragon and several kuo-toan females, the draconic fingerlings that make up this swarm will eventually grow up to become half-dragon kuo-toas. Until they develop limbs and grow much larger, they swim about in great schools, looking for food.


A draconic fingerling swarm seeks to surround and eat any living creature it finds in the water. If a meal flees, they give chase, even leaping out of the water briefly to bring down their prey. The swarm deals 2d6 points of damage plus 1d6 points of acid damage to any creature whose space it occupies at the end of its move.

Distraction (Ex): Any living creature that begins its turn with draconic fingerling swarm in its space must succeed at a DC 15 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.

Feed (Ex): When a draconic fingerling swarm slays an opponent, it can feed on the corpse, dissolving and devouring the corpse as a full-round action. Feeding destroys the victim’s body and prevents any form of raising or resurrection that requires part of the corpse. For every 3 Hit Dice the victim had, the draconic fingerling swarm gains an inherent +1 bonus to its Constitution score. The draconic fingerling swarm ignores living opponents if there’s a suitable corpse to feed on within 30 feet.

Skills: A draconic fingerling swarm has a +4 racial bonus on Jump checks, which it uses to leap above the surface of the water to reach prey.


As an experiment, this adventure alters the usual format for Dungeon adventures in an effort to make key information easier for you to find quickly. At the beginning of each encounter are four entries.

Light: Indicates the source and strength of any light present, using the rules in Chapter 9 of the Player’s Handbook. This doesn’t include any light sources the PCs are carrying with them, of course.

Sound: Describes sounds that PCs might hear. Some will be automatic, while others require Listen checks at the listed DC.

Reaction: Indicates how the PCs’ actions in this encounter might affect other areas. Reinforcements from adjacent rooms are the most common kind of reaction. The trigger for the reaction is listed first, then the reaction after a dash. Some reactions occur automatically; others happen only under certain conditions, which are listed parenthetically. For example, the bugbears in the next room over will join the fray in 3 rounds if they succeed at a DC 15 Listen check, made every round of the fight. The reaction line for that encounter would read: “To sounds of battle — bugbears join fight in 3 rounds (Listen DC 15).”

Auras: In order from strongest to weakest, lists the magic auras PCs might see with a detect magic spell. The strength of each aura is listed, then in parentheses it lists the source of the aura, the Spellcraft DC required to tell what school the aura is, and what school it is. Keep in mind that PCs might not be able to see every aura listed right away because they don’t have line of sight to it. If an encounter has evil auras, those are noted in this section after the magic auras. Auras of other alignments exist, but aren’t part of the quick-reference format because they come up in play so rarely.


“Zenith Trajectory” is designed for a group of four 6th-level PCs, but with a little work it can be adapted for use by 4th— 5th or 7th— 8th level characters.

  • For lower-level characters, the most important thing you can do to adapt the adventure is give the PCs breathing room as they travel in the wilderness and make their forays into Bhal-Hamatugn. Have the kuo-toas go into “lock-down” mode when the PCs attack Bhal-Hamatugn, rather than have them respond to the sounds of battle in adjacent room. Roll for a possible wilderness encounter every 2 hours during the day and every 4 hours at night.

You should also replace certain creatures with less powerful creatures as indicated below:

Fiendish Umber Hulk: Replace with a normal umber hulk.

Dragons (Gottrod and Dhorlot): Reduce them by one age category each.

Cryohydra: Replace it with a regular hydra, and reduce it to six or even five heads if necessary. Make sure Jared refers to the place as the “pit of the six jaws” or “five jaws” as appropriate.

Kuo-toa Soldiers: Replace with normal kuo-toas.

High-Level Kuo-toas (Aabhaca, Mangh-Mictho, Hlanamm, Saagogoi) and Zenith: Reduce by one or two character levels.

Aushanna the Erinyes: Replace with chain devil or bearded devil.

Draconic Fingerlings: Reduce to only one swarm.

Traps: Replace door traps with glyph of warding (blast) traps that deal only 5d8 damage.

Other: Eliminate the Sea Mother statue’s ability to augment the kuo-toa whips’ lightning bolts.

  • For higher-level characters, the easiest way to adjust the adventure is to add a level to each of the creatures that already have class levels, and increase each dragon by one age category. In addition, make the following changes:

Cryohydra: Add an eighth head. Jared mentions the “pit of the eight jaws.”

Aushanna the Erinyes: Replace with barbed devil.

Draconic Fingerlings: Add a third swarm.

Traps: Upgrade the greater glyph of warding traps so they deal 10d8 damage, and upgrade the poison on Dhorlot’s antechamber to purple worm poison.

Other: The Sea Mother statue adds 5d6 points of electricity damage to the kuo-toa whips’ lightning bolts.

Remember that changing the Encounter Levels should raise or lower the amount of treasure in the adventure, and the effects will be particularly dramatic if the NPCs have gear the characters want themselves (rather than gear they’ll sell at half price for cash). Chapter 3 in the Dungeon Master’s Guide provides guidance for raising and lowering treasure amounts.


This might be the first time characters have contact with the half-ore mercenaries that Cauldron has hired, ostensibly “in response to recent events” (like the kidnappings and the Flood Festival debacle). Vhalantru has a more sinister motive, of course. As preparations to open the gateway to the Lower Planes continue, Vhalantru wants law enforcement officers who didn’t grow up in Cauldron and aren’t sentimental about the city or its residents.

The Magical Threats Agency, on the other hand, is the brainchild of Haanu Pershai, a watch captain who also happens to be a sorcerer. She set up the MTA herself, with low-level spellcasters (such as the gnomes that respond to the umber hulk) doing street patrols and higher-level spellcasters taking on investigative work. Vhalantru knows about the MTA but is unaware of the higher-level spellcasters acting as “investigative consultants” for Pershai.


More importantly, is Celeste another agent of Vhalantru, an innocent dupe, or a woman with an agenda of her own? We aren’t telling. Everyone at the Cusp of Sunrise knows that Celeste — always just Celeste, never a last name — has been a regular at the club for about five years. She doesn’t talk about herself much and stays away from gossip and noble intrigues. She’s pretty enough that the noblemen chase her for dalliances, but not well-connected enough for serious courtships to develop.

A few of the noblemen are spellcasters in their own right, and they might tell a trusted friend this: charm person spells fizzle on Celeste (because she’s not a humanoid).


Gotrrod’s mother is a much older dragon, Hookface, who lairs on a mountain peak about 60 miles north of Crazy Jared’s hut. If the PCs kill Gotrrod and Hookface finds out, she will seek revenge, either personally or through another of her children.

Jared is a loon, but he could be a useful loon if the PCs befriend him. He happily casts any spell he knows — including legend lore — on their behalf, and he knows a great deal about the history of Cauldron and the region.

Jared’s madness is beyond the power of remove curse, greater restoration, or heal to fix. But if the PCs discover how he went mad in the first place, it may point them toward a cure.


For a relatively young dragon, Dhorlot is fascinated — some might say obsessed — with creating half-dragon progeny. He’s allied with the Cagewrights in Cauldron because bringing a horde of fiends to the Material Plane will open up new opportunities to pursue his avocation.

Dhorlot has been in Bhal-Hamatugn for several months, arriving at Mangh-Mictho’s urging. When he arrived, he noticed Zenith’s birthmark and immediately informed the Cagewrights, selling them the location of one of their Shackleborn in exchange for “breeding rights” when the gate from Carceri is open.

In the meantime, he’s been impregnating the kuo-toas while keeping an eye on Zenith Splintershield for the Cagewrights.


Sphere of the Unseen: This variant of an elemental gem contains a conjuration spell tied to the Elemental Plane of Air. When the glowing glass sphere is broken, an invisible stalker appears as if summoned by a summon monster spell. The invisible stalker is under the control of the creature that broke the sphere and remains for 13 rounds.

Strong conjuration; CL 13th; Craft Wondrous Item, summon monster VII; Price 4,550 gp.