The Drowned Ball

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The Drowned Ball
Type Dungeon
Status Explored January 919 TA
Location Old Kingdom
Hex 2829
Campaign The Old Kingdom Campaign
Adventure # 156
Map-celestial.jpg

DM's Notes

There are three plots here to wrap-up culminating in a final coronation showdown.

  1. The Gray Councilors, after having lost Molloc in the Crown Jewel collection, have taken over the mind of Quintin Howers, the Master of the Heptarchy. He is wearing, after all, a tainted crown. They are calling the shots from Molloc's workshop below the throne.
  2. Theodric XIX is going mad. His palace is under siege, but the party must go on to raise money for the army and the fight against the Reaches.
  3. Young Master Theo, who might be Theodric XX. He is only a child, but his position is being supported by Antone Graves - who has a favor from Ernie in his back pocket - delivery of the Staff of Io.

NOTE: This also includes the conclusion of Alfric's Amulet, Part 2: The Highgate Crown

Masquerade in the Throne Room

This massive room is 60 feet wide and 240 feet long with arches supporting a ceiling that is 90 feet high and constructed of a series of domes that stretch the length of the room. Unlike the simple architecture of the Reaches, every inch of the stonework consists of intricately carved figures, scrollwork and ornamentation. Everywhere the eye lands, there is another detail to be discovered.

The room reeks of ancient magic - making spell casters slightly nauseated with the power of layers of enchantments and protections that have been cast here. Along the long walls of the room - about 60 feet from the floor - are a series of 30 foot square stained glass windows. At first glance, the figures seems to be representations of past Overlords. However, as you watch, the windows morph slowly showing scenes from the Overlords' lives - a living motion picture done in glass. The windows are mesmerizing.

Below the windows hang the banners of different houses and divisions within the kingdom. Some of the banners are ancient - mostly disintegrated showing almost no color or form. Others are new, bright and bold. Between the banners, stand suits of armor - 40 in total. Each sports a shield with a different insignia. Again, some are ancient in design while others look almost new. All the armor appears in functional condition, and the figures carry identical polearms.

Behind the knights running along one wall is a long tapestry. It shows an ancient wall snaking through the countryside. Beyond the wall is a dense forest. In front, plains with farmland, villages and small streams are common. Valiant figures of knights and battles against fantastical creatures - although oftentimes the enemies are sinister elven creatures with elongated ears and pointy, shining armor.

In front of each knight, a glass case stands - magically lit with a bright white illumination. In the cases are all manner of art: paintings, drawings, sculpture, artifacts and the like. They range in size and material - some clearly gold and gem encrusted and priceless. Others common but ancient in appearance. Patrons move from case to case. They are well dressed, unarmed and some wear masks or other finery. A number of men and women dressed in black robes and wearing heavy silver chains watch the patrons, periodically coming forward to answer questions or allow access to the items.

The near end of the room has three public entrances - arched doorways bound in steel - each about 15 feet wide and 20 feet tall. Near the entrance, a small 20-piece orchestra is performing a stirring concerto.

The far end of the room is dominated by a massive 40 foot square throne - with the seat perched about 25 feet in the air and reached by means of cleverly hidden stairs. The front of the throne is alabaster carved to resemble an a giant lion. The detail is stunning as are the emerald eyes of the massive cat. The throne itself is made of gold encrusted with hundreds of large jewels. The jewels glow slightly. The banner of Theodric - a white tree and seven stars - hangs on a wall that makes up the back to the throne.

Sitting on the throne is Theodric XIX. Theodric is a large balding man with a flowing white beard. He is speaking with a noble whose ermine and velvet gown matches that one of the bannered noble houses. The lord holds a small white statue and appears to be discussing the item animatedly with the Overlord.

While watching, the Theodric nods at the young noble. At the signal, a man dressed in dark, conservative robes comes forward. He wears the chains of a moneychanger. A slip of paper is exchanged - which the noble signs and returns to the banker. The noble beams at the white statue - clearly that of a small dragon, and then moves down the stairs and into the room.

Near him, Queen Jocelyne - young and beautiful - is dressed in a stunning green dress. Bedecked with emeralds, Jocelyne is speaking quietly with a young man dressed in the foppish costume of an entertainer.

The center of the room is filled with nearly 200 guests about half of which are dancing to the orchestral music.

Overhead, you see a number of black crows sitting on a ledge. Periodically, one will swoop down to a party goer and steal a strand of hair off a dress or costume. The black crow will swoop upwards and disappear.

Some of the dignitaries at the Masquerade:

  • Victor Kane was beheaded for making a deal "going forward" - orders had already been given. And failing to get the 5 million gold from the Reaches. A new emissary will show up to help them establish a consulate in Whitecliff. Well played.
  • Ernie made a deal with Antone Graves. For a future promise, he provided a distraction for the party to get into the painting while the guards searched the throne room. NEED to return platinum staff to Antone Graves to fulfill that promise.
    • MC 37: a dark sorcerer who leads the Order that is currently occupying Teufeldorf. He is here to meet with the Overlord about the talks between Victor Kane and the Three Kings. He will instantly recognize the party, although he will try to disguise this. His distinguishing features are jet black hair and bright, piercing green eyes.
    • MC 38: He is still dressed in a black cloak with a staff resting against his legs. His distinguishing jet black hair has some streaks of grey, but his eyes are still bright, a piercing green. He wears the emerald ring and matching necklace, as before. As usual, he is reading a slim book, which he puts into a pocket of the cloak as the party approaches.
  • Celebrin - Elven Charge d'Affairs has been contacted by Falstaff. Tell Celebrin that he saved the world from the Illithid. Tell about the Constable. Should the time come, working to preserve the balance, protect land, unite. Did not have knowledge of the intruders.
  • No Cha, Grandmaster of Thieves and his servant, Binden. An old man dressed in dirty brown robes, dilapidated sandals with a long white beard and crooked teeth. Messenger of No Cha gives them a replica puzzle. It is vital you can assemble it quickly once you have gained all the original shards.
  • Quintin Howers, the Master of the Heptarchy.
  • Constable of the Crown - A tall, thin man with a stylish mustache and well-tailored robes. He carries a staff with an odd-shaped tip - round with spike-like protrusions.
  • Sisters of the Bloodmoon - dressed in red flowing gowns with ruby necklaces and ruby rings. They will ask the party to dance, for drinks, etc. Attempting to get a piece of hair or clothing for the voodoo dolls. Eveningdust, Swiftwhistle, Catshore.

Highgate Crown Conclusion

Encounter 1: The Real Highgate Crown

Quentin Howers

Quintin Howers is a young man with rough features, a close-cropped brown beard and hair, and brown eyes. He forgoes traditional courtly garb, wearing a leather jerkin over a chain mail shirt. He stance is that of a swordsman. His speech is slow, deliberate, and thoughtful.

Quintin would normally not attend the Masquerade Ball, but he made a last-minute decision to do so, at the surprise of his advisors. The Highgate Freelands have played a decidedly neutral role in the first few years of the war with the Realm. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Quintin had shown all indication of following that same course of action.

Quentin is staying in the "official residences" reached via a secret staircase from the Manuscripts Room (marked as a Green A on the map).

RUMOR: Quintin Howers, Master of the Heptarchy, has come to the Masquerade Ball - against tradition of the Highgate Freelands. He has taken residence in the Palace and plans to attend the Masquerade to make an important proclamation.

He can't come to the ball because of the Collars - which is ironic since he has the last piece of Alfric's Amulet.

The "real" Highgate Crown worn by Quintin Howers, Master of the Heptarchy 918 TA has been substituted for one that allows a counselor (grey figure) to whisper in Quintin's ear. The "real" Highgate Crown is in the display of Crown Jewels at the Palace - guarded, of course, in Oblivion.

This small room is more an alcove than a proper room - 5 feet deep by 15 feet wide. The walls are covered with ancient tablets inscribed with First Age runes. Moves down slowly into a long hallway.

Encounter 2: Sisters of the Bloodmoon

Four women, dressed in flowing red gowns, stand outside a set of ornate brass and mahogany doors. Clearly guarding the room beyond, they do not stand at rigid attention like most palace guards. Instead, they move about, keeping vigilant eyes open and a dialog between them. Each woman wears a ruby necklace and ring. The women appear to be without weapons.

The women are Sisters of the Bloodmoon. They are able to travel through physical and magical walls with ease due to their rings. Their minds are stored in their necklaces - which can be discarded (or broken) if possessed.

As the party approaches, six black crows will fly through the air and attempt to grab a strand of hair from each party member (unless they have already been attacked).

Encounter 3: Silentstroke

This large room is ornate and clearly originally intended for formal meetings or events. However, the gilded chairs have been pushed against the walls, the formal vases and decorative bowls unceremoniously piled nearby. The center of the room is empty with the exception of a large Tang rug with an interlocking geometric design and a large chandelier which has been pulled close to the ceiling, an obviously not used.

In addition to the double doors leading to the Palace, there are two single doors at the far end of the room.

Sitting in the center of the room is a very, large black woman. She float several feet above the ground. Her legs are crossed beneath her, and she is in rapt attention. Her eyes are open, but only the whites of her eyes can be seen. Around the woman, there are concentric circles of radiant light - some just a few feet in diameter and others that extend into the walls of the palace.

As you enter the room, she smiles.

This is Silentstroke, Quintin Hower's wizard. She is current protecting the suite from magical attack. She is also gathering the thoughts and energies of those in attendance at the Masquerade.

Encounter 4: The Doll's Room

One of the doors from Silentstroke leads to the Doll's Room. The door is locked and magically held against any of the Palace staff that currently has a doll made for them.

This room was clearly a private library at one time. Currently, it is filled with floor to ceiling bookcases - all divided into small shelves about 6-8 inches high. The books have been piled in a large pyramid in one corner. On the shelves are hundreds of dolls. While not terribly lifelike, they differ in ways that make them appear to be modeled after real people. The center of the room is filled by a large table around which sit 13 men and woman - stick-thin and fully concentrating on their task of cutting, stuffing and sewing dolls. Cotton and cloth is piled in the center of the table.

When the party enters, six black crows will appear at the door. Each crow will attempt to pluck a hair from the party - if they have not already been attacked. The hair will be taken to one of the doll makers for quick inclusion.

The doll makers are creating copies of everyone from the Palace, although their use will be undertaken only once the collars have been removed. They can find, however, a particular doll and Silentstroke can cast spells upon it to make it do anything.

Encounter 5: Quintin's Room

One of the doors from Silentstroke leads to Quintin's Room. The door is locked and magically held against any of the Palace staff that currently has a doll made for them.

This room appears to have been recently transformed from a private meeting room into a bedchamber. Indents in the floor show where furniture has been moved, and the space is too empty to be a dedicated living space.

The room now holds a large canopied bed - who curtains are currently closed. Three large black dogs sit at the foot of the bed. A dresser, nightstand, small table and other furniture are small compared to the space and create an ill-fitting tableau. Clothes have been laid out neatly on a nearby chest of drawers.

The sound of snoring can be heard coming from the bed.

The bed has a sleeping Quintin and four grey Counselors who appear as wisps of insubstantial grey smoke. They draw their power from illithium and will attack characters who have some.

Quintin is here. The crown is in the chest of drawers guarded by a puzzle. Inside is his crown.

Drowned ball puzzle 1.jpgDrowned ball puzzle 1a.jpg

The Drowned Ball

Encounter 1: Activating Alfric's Amulet

Divide the hexagonal grid below into worms that look like , or some rotation. Worms do not overlap, do not cover hexes with numbers, and cover every vacant hex. The numbers indicate how many different worms are adjacent to that hex.

Drowned ball puzzle 2.jpgDrowned ball puzzle 2a.jpg

Encounter 2: Assembling Alfric's Amulet

The pieces of the ancient amulet slide together easily. Well-worn and smooth to the touch, they glide together easily. The final pendant is roughly cube-shaped with several small protuberances. As the final piece clicks into place, the amulet shimmers for a few minutes. A chain emerges from the device, and it settles and dims.

Around the room, you hear the gasp from the crowd. Women and men are all holding their hands to their throats as if choking. There is a silence to the crowd as the room grows deathly still. Then, a clink as the first guest collar drops to the ground and shatters. Suddenly, a cacophony of sound as hundreds of collars release and fall to the stone floor - shattering into shards of ordinary glass.

The overlord activates his throne's cube of protection! His guards move to protect him. Most of the guests are stunned, but the room quickly fills with the murmurs of the guests as it slowly dawns on them what happened.

The secret door can only be opened by solving a puzzle:

Place some + and x signs inside the digits 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 so the result is 2002.

1 × 2 + 34 × 56 + 7 + 89 = 2002

Order of operation (PEMDAS): Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication and Division (from left to right), Addition and Subtraction (from left to right).

Encounter 3: Molloc's Cave

Molloc's Cave is directly below the Overlord's throne - albeit deep in the earth.

On the sides of the throne, near head height is the marble relief of a scene of the night sky - planets and stars are pictured with other celestial phenomena such as comets and meteors. Looking closely, you see several of the comets on either side of the Overlord's head are actually holes drilled into the marble and painted black. However, it is clear the throne is hollow behind the holes.

The back of the throne appears to be hollow. A small staff-sized hole at the base of the throne appears to be a lock - although the indentation is oddly shaped.

The cave can be reached by a single narrow spiral staircase built into the throne. The Constable of the Crown will be the way the party finds its way to Molloc's Cave.

A narrow spiral staircase leads down through the floor of the throne room. After a while, the carved stairs give way to cruder, earthen stairs - but the path is always the same - winding downward into the musty darkness.

The stairway breaks into a vaguely spherical room. Hanging in the center of the room is a black grey stone about the size of a medicine ball. Piles of broken rock attest to the fact that the meteorite has been well-mined. There are no picks or shovels here - as it seems the rock has been mined using jeweler's equipment.

Surrounding the stone are hundreds of Grey Counselors who will move to attack.

Around the edges of the room are four workbenches. They are filled with more jeweler's tools. A lone gnome is sleeping on a stool, his head resting on the workbench. A half-finished Crown of Durin replica sits near his hands.

The gnome is the last of an impossibly long line of craftsmen that have been taken from White Cliff and brought here to make forgeries for Molloc. Compelled to work by the Grey Counselors, the artisans typically work themselves to death after a few months. This gnome is Eurig (which means gold in gnomish).

Eurig has two magic items: Warding Bookmark and Vesper Candles - which he will use to barter for his life.

Encounter 4: Theodric XIX's Death

Alfric's Dagger is the only weapon able to penetrate through the Overlord's throne. If he is killed, either by the party or Grey Councilors:

The Overlord of the Old Kingdom, Theodric XIX, lies on the marble floor of the Great Hall. His long, flowing white beard is flecked with crimson blood. Slowly, his hand releases a small blue-green orb, some 2" in diameter. The orb rolls onto the floor and then suddenly picks up speed, as if alive in its own rights. As it weaves its way through the room, any who attempt to pick it up are thwarted - always just missing the orb. It finally comes to rest at the feet of Hylax.

Encounter 5: The Coronation

The Overlord's throne has been replaced into its traditional position (or replaced, if destroyed). The Throne Room has been cleared of the debris from the fight - a task that has taken the entire Overlord's staff to accomplish.

Antone Graves, dressed in the regal finery of the Court, walks beside the small figure of Theo. Graves carries Alfric's Scepter in his hands, holding the ancient relic aloft. Both look straight ahead with the serious bearing of the occasion. In front of the throne, the Throne Room has been filled with rows of chairs. In a precession of regal complexity, the nobles of the Old Kingdom have filed to their places. You notice the frequency at which many members of the court reach to their throats - an involuntary reflex after many years of servitude.

As they reach the throne, Graves turns to Theo. The Master of the Crown enters the room bearing the Overlord's Crown on a pillow of the finest purple velvet. The nobles murmur and strain to get a glimpse of the crown as it passes by.

As the crown reaches the front of the room, Graves begins an incantation granting the power and responsibility of the Overlord's throne to Theo. It is a surprisingly short ceremony. After donnng the crown, Graves uses the scepter to magically link the boy to the crown - creating a glimmering shower of white and gold sparks - followed by the thunderous applause of the nobles. Some clearly are looking to gain favor by their boisterous support.

Theo climbs into the throne, a diminutive form in the massive chair. His feet do not touch the ground, although he sits still with a regal bearing.