Sojourn to Oblivion

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Sojourn to Oblivion
Type Dungeon
Status Explored March 889 TA
Location Duskwillow
Hex 0906
Campaign The Elven Watch Campaign
Adventure # 100
Map-duskwillow.jpg

Prologue

It is early in the Spring of 889. The snows are still falling in the northern Reaches. War is months away, and the land is quiet, the trees barren and the ground covered in a white blanket. You have gathered for your annual poker game with the other members of the party. U-Gene is hosting this year, and your thoughts have turned to a hot, steaming mug of Dwarven mead (your sixth). Falstaff is away on "important" Druid business, and somebody has just made a ribald joke about half-elves, when a crackling sound splits the air.

Standing in front of you is Galdor the Learned, Master of Nations, Priest of Sarth. His grim continence is foreboding. The fat man sits down heavily, as if the teleport has caused him to lose his breath. At last, he speaks.

"I come to tell you of a grim happening in Loftwood. As you know, we have been watching the northern edge of the great woods. The area around Pilgrim's Point has been quiet of late, but by chance one our scouts spotted a line of heavily armed knights disguised as a trader's caravan moving towards the coast south of Timberway. It is too early for traders in the forest, and we wondered why were they so intent on avoiding the normal paths of commerce. Strange to say the least."

"To make a long story short, we have discovered that the Knights were actually from Sandal. How they made it all the way to the Loftwood is a mystery. But, they were heading towards some specific goal, as their path did not stray. Then, suddenly, our scouts did not return. The elves were unable to help us, and so I turn to you to discover what is at the center of the mystery. For Sandal to risk an excursion this far north does not bode well. The fact that we have been unable to approach is concerning as well."

"From the best of our ability, our cartographers feel that the army was headed towards the small hamlet of Duskwillow. It is the smallest of places, and quite unimportant in all ways. Although, there is nothing there of interest, the reasoning for these actions must be most dire."

Overview of Oblivion

In the dusky twilight of a foggy autumn night, you may see the visage of a lost brother or mother at the edges of the forest. A brief glimpse of familiar movement, a long unseen but not forgotten face just as darkness envelopes the land. Many believe that what you are seeing is a shade - a projection of your loved one into the land of the living. As if they wander the land in turmoil. What few know is two other worlds lies on top of our world of sunshine and life. The same mountains and rivers run through these other lands - they are merely washed out views of the same landscape. Muted in greys and browns, perpetual twilight engulfs them. In this oblivion, the souls of the dead wander - some unknowing that they are no longer a part of the living world. And, when the moon is dark and wind howls in the trees, sometimes they can emerge into the land of the living - although those moments are rare and fleeting. For the most part, these souls look down - hoping one day to sink below their grey world into a black world. A world without life, the land of the dead.

Philosophers call the grey land Oblivion, the Land of Shades. The black land is the Land of the Dead. While the latter is locked away from contact with the living, sometimes the fabric of the world lets the shades walk.

In the Land of Shades

  • There is no natural healing.
  • There is no need for sleep.
  • Spells are not recovered.
  • Some spells (especially divine spells that require a deity to respond) are weakened.
  • Time moves at a different rate.
  • Etherealness and magic attracts creatures here.

In the Land of the Dead

  • There is no natural healing.
  • There is no need for sleep.
  • Spells are not recovered.
  • Some spells (especially divine spells that require a deity to respond) do not work.
  • Time moves at a different rate.
  • Etherealness, magic and life attracts creatures here.

DM's Notes

From Evil's Perspective

With the recent defeats in the Realm, the forces of evil are taking one last desperate grasp to turn the tides of war. After their defeats during the last few years, the supply of troops is waning. In fact, it is unclear whether the tide of Knights of the Realm can be kept from invading Sandal itself, the last bastion of the Baron Valdemar.

To that end, the forces of evil have made a desperate ploy in order to swing the balance of power. They have sent Nightshade and his minions into Oblivion, the Land of the Shades. They have two major objectives (each is a multiplier for the party's experience):

  • One group will head towards the Elven Pool which stands frozen in the center of a large forest. In the elder days, upon death, an elven soul would travel through the pool into the land of dead. From this, there was no coming back (aka, no resurrection). However, with the pool frozen, the elves have enjoyed the ability to come back from the dead, thriving in population.
  • One group will head towards the Dock of Eternity. There they will board a boat that will carry them to the Land of the Dead. Once there, they will attempt to break a Lesser Ward, a stone seal that keeps the inhabitants of the Land of the Dead contained.

The Lands

In Oblivion, the party must stop the Bad Guys from melting the Elven Soul Pool. The freezing of the pool has allowed the elves to be able to be resurrected (since the First Age). If the party fails, the elves will become mortal again, unable to be resurrected. This is a multiplier quest.

Characters must gather 6 Dead Man's Coins to journey into the Land of the Dead. These disappear when they make the journey. Somewhat like paying coins to Charon. The passageway is not obvious and impossible to traverse without the coins.

The bad guys have split up with Nightshade and Nathalia making the journey to the Land of the Dead to break the Seal. Cabell and Ione have journeyed to the Elven Soul Pool to do the deed. Death and fire rocks. They have also brought with them a legion of Chaos Warriors. These will turn into Shades if killed. The Chaos Warriors are moving towards the Elven Pool, as they are quite unable to find enough coins to make it to the Land of the Dead. The warriors, however, carry great stores of oil and firewater with which to light the water on fire.

Oblivion is filled with Nigglers. These small creatures attempt to suck the magic from one item. They are non-corporeal, flying and tend to come up through the ground or through dungeon walls. Items not given freely are allowed a saving throw. They will scream to stun. Then kiss an item to drain it. Random (pick a card).

The Land of the Dead is a grim place. The party will need 6 more coins to get back. In the Land of the Dead, the party must stop the Bad Guys from breaking the Lesser Ward. This is what holds the dead back from visiting too often into the world of the living. Undead legions will spew forth from Loftwood if the Lesser Ward is broken. If a Greater Ward were broken…

Oblivion: The Land of Shades

Map of Oblivion

The Town of Duskwillow

A small valley lies to the south of a small range of mountains. There, at the concordance of several narrow roads lies a village, more of a collection of farm houses protected by an old stone wall about 10 feet in height. A wooden gate proclaims the town as Duskwillow. The town proper is a collection of a dozen buildings around a central square. In between the village buildings are a number of tents, each of recent construction. From the looks of it, an army has taken over the town. Everywhere you look, you see soldiers. Many are heavily armored knights from Sandal, their black hardened armor glinting dully under the overcast sky. It seems that the command tent has been set up in the center of town, almost filling the town square.

Inside the command tent lies an odd stone sculpture which is a Keystone to the Land of Shades, known in the Reaches as Oblivion. The sculpture has been in the center of town longer than any of the locals can remember. For the most part, the villagers tolerate the army, as they pay good gold and provide protection from the Elves that have been creeping into town. BTW, they will report any dwarves, etc. to the commander of the garrison, Lord Commander Fiske.

The Lord Commander is finely dressed in the black armor of the Knights of Chaos. He wears a plumed helm to mark his station in the army. His face is handsome except for a jagged scar that runs from his right eye across his nose to his left cheek. A little reminder of the sharpness of a dwarven axe.

Fiske hates dwarves more than anything. At Fiske's command are several dozen wyvern who patrol the skies at night. During the day, harpies watch from the treetops for any "visitors". Fiske's orders from the Baron were simple, "secure this area until Nightshade has opened the Ward of the Dead. Then, he is to lead the army of Sandal into the elven territories and crush them while they cannot be resurrected.

The townsfolk will talk about the elven massacre that killed many of the locals and all six of the town elders about a year ago. Elves. Bah. I would rather deal with the orcs.

In the center of the square lies the statue of an old man, gnarled and bent, leaning heavily on his walking stick. He points up, but he looks down. The statue sits on a pedestal of polished marble. The marble is traced with a pattern but otherwise looks pristine. Around the base of the pedestal are carved the following text:

What is a Shade but the Shadow of a Man?
And in that Shadow, the Shade can be found.
A Man follows but a single path through life.
And that path, never crossing, is where the Shade is finally bound.

Tracing the following pattern will activate the statue. Stepping into the shadow of the statue will teleport the party to Oblivion.

Oblivion01.jpg
You are still standing in the center of town. However, the tents are gone, as is the army. You smell the faint sweetness of decay, as if you are standing on the edge of dank forest. The smell is not strong here, merely a prelude to what is to come. The sky is leaden as if the sun has just set on an overcast, gloomy autumn afternoon. There is no breeze, and there are no discernible clouds, just an unending streak of grey. The temperature is warm and the air is heavy with moisture. It is not uncomfortable, just muggy and oppressive. A sense of despair washes over you, although the feeling passes quickly. From the buildings, a number of townsfolk appear. You quickly realize that most are moving with a jerky, mechanical gait. They begin to move towards you. You can hear the murmurings from the crowd. "Magic…" they moan. "Magic…" Clearly, these townsfolk are undead, although many of their wounds look somewhat fresh.

These are the souls of the shades of townsfolk killed in the recent battle with the elves. They seek retribution against all that is good. They will attack good party members first. Once the battle gets going, six specters will appear out of the ground. These were the town elders. They will drain 1d4 points of constitution if the hit. Save to lose only 1 point.

Almost immediately, the party will notice a number of ghostly shapes in the air above them. These are the riders from the Keyhole who have spotted the activity and come to see what all of the fuss is about.

The Dock of Eternity

A single path winds along a desolate finger of land. The countryside is barren, bereft of trees and vegetation. The sides of the path are lined with white stones, that appear from the periphery of your vision to be skulls. The wind is constant here, howling in from the sea. The feel of this place is that of ancient power. At the end of the path, a set of stairs leads down to a dock. Pulled up at the dock is a strange boat, made of the blackest wood. In the boat, a skeletal man stands watching you. He sways gently as the boat rocks back and forth.

"I am March, one of the twelve keepers of the gates to the Land of the Dead. As your souls are not yet prepared for this journey, a Dead Man's Coin is required for passage."

The skeletal figure reaches out a hand, as if awaiting payment.

The boat plunges into the icy cold water. You feel the breath knocked out of you as you rapidly sink in the inky black sea. You feel your lungs fill with water and slowly consciousness leaves you.

You wake up on the shore. Next to you is the same dock. However, it is now rotted and collapsing. There is no sign of March or his boat. The sky overhead is now pitch black. Light sources are dim by comparison to normal. There is a cold chill to the air, and you feel an oppressive weight and sense of helplessness. A light mist seems to be falling, as your clothes are damp.

The Return Trip to Oblivion

To reuse the Docks to return, the party must get another coin and jump into the water, allowing themselves to "drown". They will wake up again on the shores of Oblivion.

The Return Trip to the Land of the Living

In Oblivion, the statue has changed slightly. The old man is now looking up instead of down.. The verse carved on the base of the statue has changed.

What is Life but a path into the Past?
While those who have moved on cannot return
Those who know the truth can follow their Past
Retracing their Path crossing back to the Land beyond.

Oblivion02.jpg

The Seal of the Land of the Dead

In the Land of the Dead, the old man in the statue is now lying in effigy. His staff is crossed over his chest. There is no inscription on the base of the statue.

Swirling about the statue, in anticipation of returning to the Land of the Living, a host of undead screams through the inky blackness. The moans of the dead can be heard as a great caterwaul against the silence of the tomb. In their center, the form of a young woman lies draped across the effigy. Over her, the Tomb King stand enchanting a prayer. Slowly, he brings his knife up, lifting his eyes to the sky.

Striking the woman, a great explosion, like the sundering of a stone mountain rings through the air. Suddenly, a shaft of light can be seen coming from the place where the statue once stood. With a wail as terrible as any that have been heard in the Reaches, the hordes of undead dive into the shaft of light, fighting and clawing to be the first to reach the life beyond.

The Baddies

  • Nightshade, General of the Tomb Kingdom - If a skeleton could be considered handsome, this one would fit the bill. He is tall, almost seven feet, and his bones are bleached white, almost glowing. He wears a crimson cape that is dark and luxurious. Two red eyes are the only sign of his true nature. Across his back is slung a bow made of what looks like bone and arrows made of the same substance. On his head, a gold crown hovers unnaturally just above his brow.
  • Nathalia Valdemar, Duchess of Sandal - Clearly a warrior, this figure is as deadly as she is beautiful. Dressed head to toe in glimmering chain mail that clings seductively to her body, at least six weapons are visible. Not the least of which are two magical matched rapiers. Each flickers with a deep purple light and radiate an aura of palpable evil. Surrounding Nathalia are typically four chaos warriors of the first rank, battle tanks dressed in full plate standing almost seven feet tall.
  • Cabell, High Wizard - Misshapen compared to his companion, this small creature appears at first to be a monkey. Dressed in brown robes, this creature carries a small gnarled staff. While small and ungainly, this creature moves with great speed." Hylax recognizes this figure as Cabell, a high wizard who is known for his ruthless death spells and his love of outrageous fire conjurations. He was considered a danger by the Council of Wizards and was always watched closely for signs of insanity. He has not been heard from in a long while.
  • Ione - This creature is almost impossible to see, as she has a permanent invisibility cast on her. If glimpsed, she will appear as a thin, young women with flowing hair." She can phase shift and will walk inside a person to attack them. Her attacks do not do much damage, but they are annoyingly effective. She uses two Daggers +5.
  • Battle Priest Marcala - Marcala is a slim, impeccably dressed man with gray hair and a thin, tight mouth. He is known for his cruelty and love of torture. His weakness is that he likes to take the souls our of his mace and "play" with them. He took the lives of the priests on Chapel Mount before the arrival of the party. He is known also as the Mace Wielder.

Encounter One: The Knot

Oblivion13.jpg
The dark pine woods of this tangled forest are twisted and gnarled, and an eerie wind blows constantly off the water from the west. A slightly rolling hillside, a maze of small game trails lead to a large circular valley in the center of the forest. Here, the trees are dense and ancient. The valley appears to be filled with interlaced spider webs.

A number of small wooden huts can be found throughout the area. These are typically abandoned woodsmen's huts. Some are populated by goblins who are trying to capture giant spiders (to become spider riders).

SHADE: The forest is filled with a slowly moving fog that obscures almost all vision.

DEAD: The mists and trees appear to be animated, moving against the wind. Loud creaking sounds come from the forest.

  • Goblin spider riders - spiders shoot webs, riders shoot poisoned arrows. The spiders would know the way to the queen's lair.
  • Phase spiders - will attack by the dozens. They are drawn by the smell of magic and spells.
  • Woodsmen Ghosts - Died lonely and alone in the woods. They seek a loved one in a far off place. Maybe they will help if the party offers to help find their body in real life and bury next to their lover. Otherwise, they will attack as specters.
Under a complete canopy of white silk held up by the trees in parody of a great tent, the darkness and smell of decay is very strong here. In places, the webs droop down to fill the cracks between trees. It is difficult to walk here and impossible to ride or run.

The webs will not burn and can barely be cut, sticking weapons that try. Phase spiders can move through the webs without any pause. Normal spiders cannot move through walls, but are not affected by stickiness. They can burrow through a spot, making a tunnel as they go.

Sitting in the center of the room is a massively bloated spider. She is clearly the queen, although her appearance is odd, and her face vaguely humanoid. While she has the eyes of a spider, there is a glimmer of intelligence here.

Wigga will speak with the party. She is actually a human (from Teufeldorf) cursed because of her fondness for poisoning paladins after she lured them to her home to help with some domestic affair. She would them rob them, and wrap them in linen bandages before burying them in her back yard. She was cursed by a gift of a shawl which has a magical star which must be removed by picking out the stitches and extracting the star from the other portions of the patchwork. Wigga can't see it.

Wigga guards a coin (in the Oblivion or Land of the Dead). It is kept with her other treasure which she will part with if threatened with death.

Over a chest is draped a magical shawl. It is a maze of colors and patterns.

If it is removed, the chest will disappear (phase out), only to return when the shawl is put back.

Oblivion03.jpg

The chest contains: 2000 gold, Potion of Phase Spider Control, Periapt of Proof Against Poison +3, Spool of Endless Rope, Dead Man's Coin.

Encounter Two: The Wailing Waters and the Manse

Oblivion14.jpg

The black waters of this small inlet smell of salt and the sea. The shoreline of the lake are steep cliffs, diving down into the inky waters. The waters stir unnaturally and ripples can form even on the stillest day. On the northern edge of the lake is a small keep, made of a strange grey stone. The keep is tucked into a dark copse of large trees. A single path leads to the east. The manse is rumored to be the domain of an ancient vampire, Ivor, and his concubines.

An ancient grey stone structure is perched on a small cliff above the lake. The structure has a steeply graded roof made of grey stone. There are no windows, and a single massive wooden drawbridge is closed, leaving a gap over a chasm of some 15 feet. A single road, in ill repair, winds up the side of the cliff with a number of crumbling switchbacks. Several flocks of black carrion birds circle the structure. Periodically, a thin wail, like a woman's scream can be heard on the wind.

There are two anti-magic shells around the castle. They will temporarily drain all magic items (sv. vs. 20th) and kick off any spells.

SHADE: Shadows flit about the exterior of the castle. An intense sorrow can be felt here. All saving throws for wisdom or intelligence are at a -5.

DEAD: Wailing can be heard almost constantly as it is carried on the wind. It causes madness in those who miss too many saving throws. 1: uncomfortable, 2: nervousness, etc.

  • Werewolf - will attack by the dozens. Alternate forms, curse of lycanthropy, wolf empathy.
  • Vampire bats - will approach as a fog bank. Drain blood (1d4 constitution).
  • Banshee - wailing women. If the castle is approached, they will sing. They are the dead lovers of Ivor and will be released if the vampire is killed.
  • Harem - vampiresses (6) - in the Land of the Dead will come to the aid of Ivor.

Ivor - "A handsome man, thin and regal, Ivor has a thick mop of brown hair and boyishly good looks. His smile is engaging and his eyes, a deep crimson, are mesmerizing. He is dressed in the finest purple silk cape and linen mantle and carries an ivory handled walking stick (which draws into a +5 Lifestealer rapier). Ivor appears graceful, quick, and sure of himself."

Gaseous form, resistant to mundane (except silver), cold and electricity, shadow jump, blood drain (1d4 constitution), domination (gaze), energy drain (1 level).

The Manse

The walls of the manse are of a grey stone which does not appear to be native to the area. The stone appears oily, as if wet, although it is dry to the touch. A faint aura of magic emanates from the place.

As you enter this room, a large grandfather clock (quite a rarity in the Realm) chimes once. (It is the half-hour). The room is musty. A large common table sits in the center of the room surrounded by a number of large, heavy dark wood chairs. The room is tidy but threadbare, although the furnishings show signs of great wealth at some point in time.

A large metal chest is pushed up into the corner of the room. On it are 11 squares. The first seven contain the numbers 12, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 3. The last four squares are empty, although the metal in those squares has been slightly dented as if by a stick rapping in them.

The answer is 1, 4, 1, 5. It is the sound of the chimes of the grandfather clock.

The chest contains: 3000 gold, Sword +5, Vampire Slayer, Potion of Mana, Ring of Gaseous Form, Dead Man's Coin

Encounter Three: Dragon's Tongue

Oblivion15.jpg

This is where dragons in this area of the Reaches go to die.

Several ranges of low mountains rise above the thin finger of pine woods that stretch along the base of the hills. A series of deep canyons cut into the mountains, carved by centuries of water that collect and run down in small streams and rivers from the high country. A number caves can be found along the edges of these hills.

In the side of the largest mountain are five large caves, each naturally formed into the stone of the cliff with a wide, generous landing area.

The inside of the cave is covered with depictions of men riding blue dragons into battle, slaying armies of men and dwarves and elves. Lightning bolts rain down upon the helpless soldiers, and it is clear that a rout is in progress. At the far end of the mural, a dwarven king sits atop a golden throne, his feet resting upon a silver chest. The armor and weapons appear to be from the First Age.

Following the hallway down, the party will be subjected to whatever type of damage would normally be dealt by the dragon (to which they are immune).

The hallway breaks into an enormous hexagonal room. The ceiling is likewise angled and disappears into the shadows. Six passageways lead out. The center of the room is dominated by dozens of stone tables and benches. These are covered with tankards and platters, all empty and gathering dust.

SHADE: These tables will be filled with dragon riders, here waiting for the arrivals of their dragons. They will attack the party as specters, although the party may be able to befriend one if they promise to slay his dragon and release him from oblivion.

DEAD: The tables are empty. The dragon riders have all met their dragons. However, the sky will be filled with the ghosts of dragons and riders.

  • Ancient dragons.
  • Spectral Chazor. (Shade). Real Chazor (Dead).

Chazor the Bringer-of-Ashes

This massive arena is several thousand feet long. It is filled with dragon bones which form a carpet of sharp spikes and protruding edges. Around the edges are 12 pedestals, on which sleep 10 ancient dragons. Each dragon appears to be nested on a pile of gold. At the end of the room, opposite you, is a massive, ancient five-headed dragon. It watches you closely, its eyes taking in all the details of your party.

Breath weapon, frightful presence. If the party is smart, they will wait for a dragon to enter and seek the coin while a battle is raging. Or, we could play a battle of wits for the Coin.

Be you a dragon rider?
Mortals are not allowed in my domain.
Make a statement.
If what you say is true, I will eat you.
If what you say is false, I will tear you into small pieces.

I will be torn to small pieces. If this were true, he would under the terms of his sentence be eaten. That would be contradictory. If this were false, he would be eaten - also contradictory.

For the gnome, how many Winterweed cigars can you make from twenty-five cigar butts if you need five butts to make one cigar?

Six. Five from the original 25 butts, and one more once he has smoked the five cigars.

Treasure in horde: more gold than you can carry. Dead Man's Coin, Staff of Frost, Ring of Demonic Obedience, Plate Mail +4 (small)

Encounter Four: The Keyhole

Oblivion16.jpg
A single road leads into the Cloudfen Mountains. A series of switchbacks traverse the steep trails of this rocky area. About halfway up the mountain, the road plunges into a tunnel, known locally as the Keyhole. It is said that this path is the only way to traverse the mountains.

A natural cavern has been carved by what looks like dwarven hands many centuries ago. While the workmanship is utilitarian, it does not show the classic beauty of the finer dwarven works. The entrance stone is carved in traditional dwarven fashion and shows eagles flying high over the mountains.

Inside magical torches gutter from sconces along the walls. High on the face of the wall on the east are a number of hollowed out nests about 40 feet up on the wall. Across from them, a number of small rooms have been carved from the stone. The doors, long rotted, are missing. A common room holds several stone tables, although the benches are gone. In the center of the room is a great pit. It is filled with debris.

Land of the Living: In the Land of the Living, the Keyhole on the north side is home to a particularly nasty red dragon, Emberbrood, who lives in the pit atop a mound of gold. She hasn't been seen of late because she is sitting atop a clutch of 5 red dragon eggs. On the south side are a vile tribe of trolls led by the Troll Giant, Toothshock the Rancid. The trolls control the hallways although they have posted several charred skulls before you pass through the tunnels into the southern keyhole.

Oblivion: In Oblivion and the Land of the Dead, the Keyhole is home to the shades of Admund, the Highway Man. Admund and his followers ride winged nightmares throughout the land, demanding magic for passage.

Admund is a short, fat man. He is balding, although his soft face has an outwardly kind appearance, his eyes are mean and feral. He dresses in a voluminous cloak that covers leather armor. He speaks softly and does not repeat himself. His companion run the gamut from waspishly thin and short to the extraordinarily tall and fat. Most show the signs of a hard life, missing fingers, scars and limps. All are dressed in riding leathers.

As a shade, Admund and his men are cursed to roam the land for their greed. Their treasure was taken by Emberbrood who left them to wander the Loftwood. They all starved to death in a snowstorm, and their bodies still lie heaped in a jumble somewhere in the forest. They seek just a single piece of gold or item from that treasure. The nightmare steeds live in the nests above the pit.

Land of the Dead: In the Land of the Dead, the Keyhole is occupied by spectral dragons in both the South and North chambers. These breathe a cone of death which causes fear and a drain of constitution from those failing to make their saving throw. Their damage is non-corporeal, but it still smarts.

Hidden in a chest in the block are: 2000 gold, Dead Man's Coin, Potion of Mana (3), Darkskull, Earrings of the Wolf

Hidden in the dragon's lair: Wand of Magic Missiles, Potion of Mana (3), Potion of Grievous Healing, Hand Axe +1

Encounter Five: The Elven Soul Pool

Oblivion11.jpg
In the Land of the Living: "This small swirling body of water has been formed by a rock slide which has created a natural sink-shaped formation of stone. The gentle slope of the shore belies the depth of the water at the center of the whirlpool. The water is fresh and clean, and there is a sense of peace to this area. Where the western forest touches the water, a copse of dark spruces form a perfect circle around a small meadow. Even in the early spring, the meadow is clear of snow, a faint warmth emanating from its springy turf. The sound of the water here is almost hypnotic."

In Oblivion, this place is quite a bit different. "The temperature drops noticeably as you approach the lake. From a distance, you can see that a number of figures move about the frozen surface of the pond. Humanoid, their movements are graceful and quick. Additionally, a number of white staves have been spaced around the lake approximately 100 feet apart, creating a fence of sorts. The staves radiate an aura of enchantment. The meadow is filled with a number of green huts, as if constructed from the living grasses of the fields. These huts are tucked within the protective boughs of the trees."

As you approach, you realize that these creatures are brighter than most of the shades that you have encountered here, dressed in the greens and browns of the elves.

In the center of the meadow is the stump of a massive tree. As you approach you can see the ghostly outline of an oak growing out of the stump. In the rotted center of the trunk, a small chest can be found.

It contains: Unguent of Timelessness, Bottle of Endless Sand, Dead Man's Coin, 600 gold pieces.

In fact, these are living elves. They are guarding the lake from thawing. They fight with cold bolt arrows. It may be that Cabell and Ione are here fighting. Or they may just be waiting in the wings for the perfect moment to strike.

In the Land of the Dead: "A cold dark frozen lake sits at the edge of the meadow. A dark copse of trees surrounds a massive oak that towers several hundred feet in the air. The oak appears to be dead, it's leafless trunk and limbs like a gaunt skeletal reminder of its ancient beauty."

Around the base of the tree a number of elven ghosts flitter, dressed in the garb of First Age soldiers. They are outraged that none of their brethren have joined them for a thousand years.

Encounter Six: The Village of Windshorn

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In the Land of the Living: "This small village looks at first glance to be of human origin. However, the low rectangular building with their traditional thatched roofs are clearly falling into disrepair, many of them burned husks. Much of the open spaces between the building have been jammed with round huts and lean-tos favored by the orcs. The construction of these is clearly inferior but much newer. The streets seem to have fallen into disrepair and the gardens and fields are, for the most part, overrun."

"The center of town is dominated by a large round watchtower, built in orc fashion on high wooden poles driven deep into the ground. The area around the base of the tower, once the town square is now littered with garbage and debris. Large circular disks of stone litter the ground. Several dozen orcs sit inside an inner wall at the base of the tower. Another half dozen man the tower itself. Outside the tower, orc women and children go on about their daily tasks. Several orc hunters are stripping a moose of its fur while a fire is being built around a community pit."

The party will find the bodies (now bones) of the human villagers scattered throughout the high grasses of this area. They were left where they were killed during an orc raid. The orcs are led by Rogdish of the Blood Claw. Rogdish was a minor sub-commander until he lead the raid on the village of Windshorn. Now, he claims the title garrison commander.

In Oblivion: "This small village is comprised a number of square buildings. Many of these have been burned, although the grey pallor of the place makes even the intact buildings look abandoned. The center of town is dominated by a large circular spire, almost 50 feet high. It is carved of stone and is clearly made up of discs, each of which depicts a different creature of the forest: bears, deer, and elk. Each disc has four faces which show the animals during one of the seasons of the year. The craftsmanship is outstanding. Traces of color can still be seen through the grey, alluding to this object's once colorful past."

The town is filled with ghosts. The town hall is still intact, and is the location of the Dead Man's Coin. The ghosts want to be buried. Sigh.

In the Land of the Dead: The town is empty. Instead a Revenant lives here, feeding off the misery of those who died before. It will quickly move to suck the life from the party, using a mass of tendrils that come up from the ground. The revenant itself is in the library of the Town Hall.

Suspended in this room is a vaguely human-shaped creature that is transparent allowing just brief glimpses of its body. It appears to be suspended by a number of fiber that emanate from its body joining the walls at odd angles. It's mouth is elongated and impossibly large, showing rows of sharp teeth. It has no arms and legs, as these seem to be part of the strands holding it in place.

The fibers are its tendrils. They will strike at an opponent attempting to drain its life. Each hit requires a save versus Wisdom, or the victim falls into a gibbering state of depression and fear. Simply sitting and waiting for its ultimate fate. The Revenant cannot move without losing its food source. It can fly if the need arises.

In the library, pulling a book called The Joy of the Simple Life, A Pilgrimmage to Nature causes a secret drawer to open revealing a small chest of finest filigree silver. On the top is etched a strange design. Eight buttons surround the design. They are numbered 18 through 25 inclusive. The chest is trapped with a puzzle. Failing to solve the puzzle will cause it to disappear and reappear somewhere in town (the mayor's house?).

The chest contains a number of gems and the Dead Man's Coin.

The key is the squares in this puzzle fair.

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There are eight buttons around the edge of the square numbered 18 through 25 inclusive. The answer is, of course, 23.

Encounter Seven: Chapel Mount

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These wide sweeping fields running from Duskwillow to the southeast were once fields filled with corn and wheat. Low stone walls crisscross the area, although many of these show signs of recent destruction. The fields have been trampled, and it doesn't take a ranger to see that hundreds of heavy knight horseshoes lead from the town into these makeshift training fields.

At the southwestern end of this plain rises a cliff which marks the edge of the harbor of Somber Beach. Atop the cliff stands an ancient chapel, small and thick-walled, looking both over the harbor and the plains in the distance. It is clearly of Second Age construction. A battle standard flies on a makeshift pole that has been driven into the hole where a cross once stood. The standard flies the colors of Sandal, yellow and black. A number of figures can be seen on the chapel's portico.

This is the training grounds of the Knights of Sandal. They are currently in the field on maneuvers. This will be a killing spree that only U-Gene could love.

The chapel has a single entrance, although it's stained glass windows have long-since been destroyed. Standing at attention are eight guards, dressed in heavy plate and carrying bastard swords. Each of them has a whistle about his neck.

The chapel has been warded against Silence spells. Attempting to cast one will cause an alarm to sound and the caster to take 20d4 worth of electrical damage (save to half).

The chapel has been taken over by the military guard of Sandal. Pews have been scattered, and debris piled up in the corners. Recent shards of glass show that the last window has been broken out to allow a more commanding view of the plains and the training fields below.

The commander has a Dead Man's Coin in his pocket.

This room has two large tables at the end closest to the stairs. A number of sleeping pallets have been laid out here. A small altar in the southern part of this room has been smashed in antiquity, as dust has accumulated here. A number of stone sarcophagi line the room, many now broken.

A secret door is undiscovered, and lead to a small two-room chamber beneath the crypt. It is currently empty. The lintel above the secret door is carved with a skull relief.

In Oblivion: The crypt is empty, although the sarcophagi have not been despoiled, showing effigies of men and women, mostly dressed as townsfolk and woodsmen. A number of candles lie burnt upon the tombs.

Above the secret door in the south is now an inscription.

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The skull relief now states "His Martyrdom Bound Evil".

Entering the chamber room causes some to be sickened, although most find the room very peaceful and almost warm to the skin. The walls of this room are filled with letters carved in stone,

In the second room that lies beyond the first is a most peculiar magic. Floating mid-air in this room is a coffer, a box several feet in each dimension. It radiates a strong aura of magic. The coffer appears to be solid.

In the Land of the Dead: The chapel will be filled with priestly ghosts who will try and stop any who attempt to enter the crypt. They will wail for their souls taken by the Knights in the Land of the Living.

The inscription will be above the door.

In the second room that lies beyond the first is a most peculiar magic. Floating mid-air in this room is a ghostly coffer, a box several feet in each dimension. Observers can clearly see through the box.

Encounter Eight: Leper's Brood

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A single path leads from the village into the northern forest. Deep within the canopy of the trees, you feel a slight tingling of magic as the path plunges into a deep hollow. The feeling isn't bad, but it reminds of a good buzz from drinking a bit too much beer.

As you reach the bottom of the hollow, the road suddenly forks. At the fork there are two wells. A small hand-lettered sign reads:

"Lost your way? Ask the well. One well speaks only truth, the other lies. You may ask one question of one well. Of course, you could always guess."

If I were to ask you if this is the way I should go, would you say yes?

The path leads through a series of low hills, before making the last push up the side of a idyllic slope. Lush green vegetation is on either side of the road. A number of neat square building are along the road to either side. Gardens are well tended, although there is no sign of livestock of any type. Periodically, you glance the hunched figure of a peasant's brown robe. At the end of the road perched at the top of the hill is a large wooden building made of rough hewn logs. Like the rest of the town it is tidy and well kept.

"Welcome to Summermead. We are a leper colony, for those of you who don't know. My name is Elsbeth, how many I help you?"

"The master, Diriel, is most beneficent. He seems immune to our affliction and works only to help our cause."

Diriel: "A kindly old man with white flowing hair and a neat blue robe greets you. He smiles broadly, showing impossibly white, straight teeth. His blue eyes match his robe, and he radiates an aura of warmth and love."

Diriel is actually a demon. He actually keeps the town poisoned by added a few drops from a vial in his bedroom into the town well once a week. The vial is kept in a secret compartment along with a Dead Man's Coin and the Master's Ring.

If challenged, Diriel will flee and follow the party. He is adept at summoning demons to his aid, and he is not shy about using domination to bend the party to his will.

A metal guardian waits at the end of the hall. This is actually, a solid block of iron. It is impossibly heavy and does the requisite damage. Ramming one can cause the player to black out. It is impervious to damage and will cause weapons to dull or potentially break. Obviously, it can't go up stairs. It will not leave this room, although the wall could be used against it.

Oblivion and the Land of the Dead: The lepers are dead, although they still serve Diriel. They know that they have been poisoned and need the party to set them free.

My master has moved my pieces around
Please tell where the square can be found?

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Encounter Nine: The Twisting Trees

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This small forest sits at the eastern edge of Scarmoral Mount. It is a windswept place with vast plains to its north and south. For years, these trees were used as a place of execution for all manners of scoundrels within the Loftwood, used both by orc and men. It is said that once the trees had more ruffians hanging from their branches than pinecones. Because of this, this barren place is rumored to be haunted by the ghosts of those who have died here before.

Most recently, the Twisting Trees have become the home to a commune of peaceful outcasts, free folk who have left their families to be with each other, journeying here from the far corners of the Reaches. They have set up a small commune on the western edge of the forest. The commune is called Lone Flower.

Nestled into the pine trees at the base of Scarmoral Mount, in the lee of the harsh winds, a small wooden pavilion has been constructed for the obvious purpose of providing a common area for the "free thinkers", as they like to call themselves, to gather. Around the common area are small wooden huts, constructed primarily to combat wind, although their appearance blends in with the surrounding forest floor, making the entire village hard to spot.

As you travel east into the Twisting Trees, the propensity for corpses dangling from trees increases dramatically. In many cases, frayed ropes swing crazily above small piles of whitened bones.

The main hall of Lone Flower is built upon a much older structure, as a set of stone steps lead up to the current hall on all four sides. The older structure was the gallows. All prisoners were taken to the gallows to be hung before being taken into the forest for display. If the party spends the night or much time in the Lone Flower hall, they may have visions of the hanging at the hands of an massive, brutish giant.

Lone Flower is run by Lotus Blossom, a buxom wench who is dressed in peasant's garb and has a garland of flowers in her hair. As the inhabitants of Lone Flower have no metal, they have adopted a large family of rust monsters which they use for protection against knights and other who might come to cause them harm.

Stonethroat - "This creature appears to be an over-muscled human standing about eight feet tall. His face is covered by a black executioner's hood, although most of the rest of his massive frame is exposed. He carries an axe that blurs as he moves it, making a vaguely nauseous whirring sound. A coin is set in the pommel of the axe."

Oblivion: Lone Flower is gone. Stonethroat stands upon the dias of the hangman's platform. Unmoving, it is difficult to tell if he is a statue. Around the dias whirl spirits of the dead who were wrongly accused and sentenced to die.

The Land of the Dead: The forest here is filled with specters and wraiths of the dead. They wait here for the arrival of Stonethroat. His axe rests against the uprights of the hangman's apparatus. Trying to remove the axe will cause the ghosts to attack. The axe, you see, is their bait.

Encounter Ten: Braken Dale

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The woods of the Braken Dale grow steadily darker and more foul as you approach Shadeshore. A single path winding from Duskwillow becomes fainter and fainter until the overgrowth is more prominent that the path itself. Suddenly, the path ends at a large rock, turns sharply to the left and plunges into a massive sinkhole several hundred feet in diameter. The sinkhole is filled with tree, making spotting anything very difficult.

As you wind down along the path, you can spot what looks like a small pond at the bottom of the sinkhole. The strange stone island is clearly not natural. In addition, a sense of dread and foreboding come over you. You could swear that the ring of trees circling the lake are moving, although not a wisp of wind moves below.

As you reach the bottom of the sinkhole, you look up to see that the sky is completely hidden by the overgrowth. Eleven trees circle the small island that you glimpsed from above. The island itself is very small, some 20 feet across. However, it appears to be carved from stone into a hexagonal shape. A small path leads to the island. On the island sits a three-sided pyramid. While it blended in perfectly from above, three glowing red eyes currently burn from the device.

If more than one party member tries to advance, the trees will animate to hold the party back. As long as the party complies, they will not fight. Otherwise, they act as ropers.

As you walk onto the island, over a grey stone causeway, you notice that the water is filled with cloudy wisps. It also begins to roil as you move out onto the stone rampart. Suddenly, two of the red eyes lock upon you. You feel your mind being gently probed. It is an uneasy feeling.

In your mind, you hear the following: "I know what you seek, and I have it within my powers to grant your desires. However, first you must face a Shade from your past and defeat it in single combat. Do you agree? Decide or begone forever from my sight."

If they agree, the water will boil sending up great clouds of steam. Suddenly, a half-elf druid appears in front of you. Malice is in his eyes. "How dare you disturb my slumber by calling me hence. Now, you will pay for your transgression." The half-elf carries a Dead Man's coin.

This scene is the same for all three "locations". It's just darker and danker in the Oblivion and the Land of the Dead.

Oblivion - the party will get simultaneously attacked by the shades from the pool who will attack non-corporeally.

Encounter Eleven: Shadeshore

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Across the banks on the rocky slopes of the Cloudfen Mountains, a short squat round tower sits nestled at the back of a cove. It's brown walls are unadorned and no windows can be seen.

This is the tower of Asargat the Forlorn. Asargat is a mad wizard in the employ of the Orc King, Gruumsch. He is working on a cloning device to create an army of warriors from a single orc. So far, his experiments have been unsuccessful with each clone being slightly madder and less perfect than the original.

There are actually 10 copies of Asargat running around the keep. Each is dangerous in its own right, and the clones share a very limited form of telepathy.

The tall thin man stands in front of you does not seem quite right. His arms are slightly different lengths, his eyes are mismatched, and he reeks of a musky odor. He is dressed in outlandish green robes with a tall pointed wizards hat, adorned with gold stars, moons and other astrological symbols. He carries no weapons or staff.

A beautiful women stands before you. She is wearing a long white coat which, while quite unflattering, fails to hide her voluptuous form.

His servants are succubus that will attempt to charm the party. They will also summon lesser demons to do their bidding. In the cells on the upper floors of the laboratory are eight orcs

SHADE & DEAD - Filled with duplicate shades of past victims.

In the master's dressing room is a steel door set into the stone. It is approximately 3 feet square. On it are two rows of symbols. The bottom row are clearly buttons.

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The chest contains: 3000 gold pieces, Potions of Grave Healing (2), Beer of Eternity, Halistra's Comb

Encounter Twelve: Scarmoral Mount

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Rising from its surroundings like a lone giant, Scarmoral Mount looms over the surround countryside. Its rocky slopes are barren, without trees or vegetation of any kind. A number of narrow valleys lead up onto the mountain, and several of these can be easily traversed on foot. Several hundred feet up, a number of caves dot the side of the mountain.

It is rumored that a great black dragon lives in the largest of the caves, sitting atop a vast horde of gold.

Indeed a black dragon did live there. But now he is a stone dragon.

The stone dragon sits upon a cache of treasure, but it seems uncannily that anything that is loose is missing. Sets of human-sized prints move along the passageways. The outbound footsteps are deeper than those returning.

You appear at the end of a shaft where a stone grate has been moved to reveal an entrance into large carved room beyond. The room has high, vaulted ceilings and intricately carved pillars supporting it. A stone stairway at the far end of the room leads up into a hallway. Around the room, several dozen dwarves are frozen in place, many with tankards held to their lips.

This is the room that the medusae and basilisks will flee to if need be. Most of their treasure is in the alcove marked on the map with the X. Several basilisks are always on guard here.

Two statues of Moradin the Forger and Angmar Deepstone, the Miner. Both are exquisitely done.

If the party blesses the dwarves, Oblivion will be empty. Otherwise, Oblivion will be filled with the angry shades of the dead dwarves.

Moving the dragon reveals a hefty pile of gold, silver and copper. What catches your eye, however, it a large golden chest that flickers with the unmistakable aura of magic. Upon the chest is written the following verse:

Four identical pieces must you make
Before my contents you can take.

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The chest contains: Dead Man's Coin, Shrouds of Disintegration, Memory Crystal, and Potions of Mana (2).

Monsters

Nightshade, General of the Tomb Kingdom
Nathalia Valdemar, Duchess of Sandal
Cabell, High Wizard
Ione
Wigga
Phase Spiders
Ivor
Banshees
Chazor Bringer of Ashes (five-headed dragon)
Emberbrood
Toothshock the Rancid
Admund and his highwaymen (on wyverns)
Diriel
Stonethroat
Asargat
Medusae
Basilisks

Treasure

Crimson Cape of Nightshade
Bone Bow
Bone Arrows
Gold Crown of Nightshade
Rapier +4, Dancing
Rapier +4, Vorpal
Staff of the Fire Bomb
Dagger +5, Wounding
Dagger +5, Life Stealer
Boots of Phasing
Potion of Phase Spider Control
Periapt of Proof Against Poison +3
Spool of Endless Rope
Rapier +5, Soul Stealer
Sword +5, Vampire Slayer
Potion of Mana
Ring of Gaseous Form
Staff of Frost
Ring of Demonic Obedience
Plate Mail +4
Darkskull
Earrings of the Wolf
Wand of Magic Missiles
Potion of Mana (3)
Potion of Grievous Healing
Hand Axe +1
Unguent of Timelessness
Bottle of Endless Sand
Potions of Mana (3)
Vial of Poison
Master's Ring
Twinblade
Beer of Eternity
Potions of Grave Healing (2)
Halistra's Comb
Shrouds of Disintegration
Memory Crystal