(If you don't know what this post is about in the first place, read this.)
For the creation of this dungeon, I will be doing the following.
1. Using 4e rules.
2. Assuming that the scale of this map is 1 square = 10 feet. 4e, and 3.x to a lesser degree, requires space to move. The game is less fun when all of those lovely movement powers are unusable because there's nowhere to stand. Also, the tactical decisions of positioning go out the window. (If you hate minis combat, you won't understand this reasoning, but you're probably also not playing 4e.)
3. Connecting my dungeon to the dungeon Kainenchen is writing. This particular entry is based on a preliminary conversation, and things may get changed around a bit as writing goes on.
4. Writing in story goals. While I'd like any DM to be able to plug this into a campaign without hassle, I think that defining spaces for those plug-ins and showing some cool ideas of my own are the way to make that work.
5. Rejecting any obligation whatsoever to use symbols on the map for their original purpose, since in some cases I don't even know what that was.
6. Statting fights for five characters of about 6th level.
The Big Idea
The core conceit of connection between Kainenchen's crypts and Harbinger's halls is that this dungeon, the one I'm writing, is connected by certain psychic strands. Barriers in one dungeon may be removed by solving a puzzle or winning a fight in the other. The specific do A to achieve B connections are the main things that I expect to see change as we go, because we haven't written everything before writing everything. See the tag at the bottom of the page that says, "you get what you pay for?"
1. Six magical daggers are spread through the two dungeons. Each is imbued with one energy type. These daggers are also shaped to be keys to a certain very unusual lock.
2. There is a very powerful, very dangerous creature called the Living Shadow of Ugrazhe that has been fragmented into six beings, and can only be destroyed while in this fragmented state.
3. By activating the six waystones, portals to a heretofore-undefined Elsewhere open, and the dungeon becomes a travel node for portals.
Rules of Travel Between the Dungeons
The locations with what is traditionally a "staircase" symbol - rooms 1, 30, and 39 - are stable lines of travel. When traveling across a stable strand in either direction:
luminous water becomes crimson aether (dissipates if not contained);
crimson aether becomes nightskein;
nightskein becomes luminous water, which begins to lose its light again (10 round duration, as before);
one randomly-determined character loses a healing surge; a second randomly-determined character gains a healing surge; and
travel takes one standard action.
Keep track of each time that the players travel to the Dungeon of Three Deceits. Some encounters are noted as fluctuating, and the creatures in them change each time the PCs enter the dungeon. They cycle through the following:
1. Flameskull (MM1)
2. Grick (MM1)
3. Palambro Alieri (a named and recognizable individual; stats to follow)
4. Death Shard (MM2)
A sheet of smooth obsidian eight feet tall by five feet wide stands in the center of the north wall. PCs who activate the stable strand of Room 1 in Kainenchen's map find themselves emerging from this solid piece of obsidian. From this side, it is solid and impassable. Scratched into the stone floor nearby are the words,
THREE FACES OF THE BEAST - LIGHT THEM AND THEY SHINE FORTH TO OPEN THE WAY
The rest of the room contains many small pieces of marble statuary: lions, goats, dragons, horses, coiled serpents, and bears. The statuettes in total are worth 1100 gp, though they would be quite weighty to remove from the dungeon at once.
The solution to the door is to apply luminous water (see below)to a statuette of a lion, a goat, and a dragon. Statuettes of other creatures crack and crumble when luminous water touches them, reducing the total value of the treasure by 100 gold each. This is intended less as a puzzle and more as a way to indicate to players ahead of time that a chimera is involved. If they don't Get It, it's really okay; all that's happening is that they're sad they destroyed some treasure.
Room 2 This area is a stony underground beach, next to eerie, luminous waters; the light dazzles the eyes enough to hide more than it reveals. Characters who traverse the waters - through swimming or some kind of boat - find that the waters have no tide, but the cave opens out into a greater body of the same luminous water; there is no telling what other shores these waters might touch, and that will not be explored in this series. The water tastes sickly-sweet. If bottled, the water glows like a candle, but it loses its light after 10 rounds and becomes normal water, though unpleasant to taste.
Room 3 will be in a later sector.
The hallway separating this chamber from Room 5 is twenty feet of intense, sourceless fire. Characters attempting to pass through the fire take 3d10 + 4 fire damage and ongoing 10 fire (save ends).
The walls of this room are paneled with a hard, dark wood, unlike the worked stone walls of most rooms in the dungeon. The middle of each wall holds a mirror, four feet tall by three feet across, that reflects the mirror opposite.
The floor of this room is inscribed with a ritual circle. An Arcana check (DC 12) indicates that this is not a normal ritual circle, and has a purpose for which it was designed.
This chamber contains one fluctuating creature (see above), and three bonecrusher skeletons (MM2). The skeletons defend the fluctuating creature, and respond aggressively to anyone getting too close to the creature. Regardless of which fluctuating creature appears, it starts the encounter near a lectern holding an ancient tome, located in the southwestern corner of the room. The only source of light is the burning hallway between this room and Room 4. The walls of this room are covered with bookshelves, though only a few books remain. Four uncomfortable, rickety wooden chairs stand in the center of the room around a low wooden table.
The book on the lectern is open to a page that reads, "My name was Palambro Alieri until the great beast broke my will and separated me into my component parts. I have become more and less than I ever was before. I am lost now, but some of the lore I once possessed can still be revealed to those with aetheric gifts. A recollection of what I was and am and will be stands in the chamber beyond the flame. Conjure the image with the Third Deceit and it will speak truth."
As the book suggests, additional books are hidden on the shelves. When a bottle of crimson aether is opened here, in addition to the crimson aether's normal effects, it reveals two scroll cases, made of horn and chased with silver, sitting on the shelves. They contain the rituals Speak With Dead (PH) and Wyvern Watch (PH2), as well as one ritual scroll each of Arcane Lock (PH) and Magic Circle (PH).
Stuff Introduced in this Sector
Luminous Water: A glass or crystal vial of luminous water sheds light as a candle for 10 rounds, after which time it becomes normal water. If consumed during the casting of a spell with the psychic keyword, it causes some of the spell's psychic energy to cling to the caster, reducing the spell's damage by 5 but granting resist psychic 5 until the end of her next turn. An Arcana or Dungeoneering check against DC 17 reveals these properties.
Crimson Aether: When inhaled, crimson aether draws out some of the user's vitality, draining one healing surge, but draws out toxins along with it, purging all poisons from his system, and purging diseases if he passes an Endurance skill check against a DC 2 points higher than the disease's normal DC. After its release from a stoppered vial, it soon becomes inert. An Arcana or Heal check against DC 17 reveals these properties.
Nightskein: When combined with 75 gold pieces worth of residuum, nightskein can be threaded into armor or robes. The next time an attack with the psychic or necrotic keywords affects the wearer, the nightskein reflects some of this energy back to the attacker. The wearer makes an attack as an immediate interrupt: +8 vs Fortitude, Hit: ongoing 5 necrotic (save ends).
Palambro Alieri Level 8 Controller
Medium natural humanoid (human) XP 350
HP 87; Bloodied 44
AC 22; Fortitude 19; Reflex 21; Will 19
O Leadership of the Broken • Aura 2
Allies within the aura gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls. Standard Actions
m Staff (weapon) • At-Will
Attack: +13 vs. AC
Hit: 1d6 + 7 damage.
R Chilling Ray (cold) • At-Will
Attack: Ranged 5; +12 vs. Reflex
Hit: 1d8 + 7 cold damage, and the target is immobilized until the end of Palambro’s next turn.
M Palambro's Spur (psychic) • Recharge 5 6
Attack: +12 vs. Will
Hit: 1d6 + 7 psychic damage, and the target must move at least 1 square during its turn or take 10 psychic damage at the end of its turn (save ends).
C Shared Torment • Encounter
Attack: Close burst 5 (targets enemies); +12 vs. Will
Hit: 2d8 + 7 psychic damage, and the target is dazed until the end of Palambro’s next turn.
Str 14 (+6) Dex 15 (+6) Wis 15 (+6)
Con 15 (+6) Int 19 (+8) Cha 12 (+4)
Alignment chaotic evil Languages Abyssal, Common, Primordial
Equipment: 150 gold in residuum, mace
Palambro's stats are a very close riff on the Doomdreamer, found in the Compendium. I don't claim any ownership.
Roleplaying Notes: When encountered in groups, Palambro is trying to accomplish some aspect of a goal that would restore him to wholeness, but his splintered mind cannot stay focused on this when his allies become hostile toward a target. By making no threatening motions toward him, including making no Intimidate checks, PCs could talk to Palambro and get some disjointed information from him about who he is and what that particular Palambro is trying to accomplish (Diplomacy, Bluff, or Insight at DC 17 to keep him calm, and Diplomacy or Bluff at DC 12 to work some information out of him). He has no comprehension that his allies are monsters.
Each time the PCs encounter Palambro, he is with a different arrangement of enemies, and he remembers everything from any previous conversation with the PCs up until a fight starts. After the first time they speak with him, he may pick up new conversations by answering questions left unanswered in the previous conversation, if the DM can track that well enough.
ETA: Dungeon philosophy musings to follow in a future post.