The Overlord's Undercroft

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The Overlord's Undercroft
Type Dungeon
Status Explored October 908 TA
Location Old Kingdom
Hex 2829
Campaign The Old Kingdom Campaign
Adventure # 137
Map-celestial.jpg

DM's Notes

Alfric's Scepter

When the first overlord was crowned in Rembia in 496 FA, the elves of the Collegium created an artifact of binding which is today known as Alfric's Scepter.

The scepter has been used in the Old Kingdom since then to ensure fealty between the different factions, houses and kingdoms. In a sense the scepter binds the noble to the Overlord. During the Ceremony of Fealty, the Overlord holds the scepter out, and the noble bows, pressing their forehead against it. It was used extensively by Alfric I until his death in 541 FA, and the tradition carried on to his son and grandson in time. The scepter appears to be an ancient twisted rod about 18 inches in length. Its tip resembles a crooked finger complete with blackened nail. It is warm to the touch.

Since the early days of the Third Age, any visitor to the Celestial City on the island of Serapherum must either be touched by the Scepter or wear a guest's collar. A guest's collar is a simple band which once donned cannot be removed. It prevents any direct action against the Overlord and his household. Anyone not meeting one of these two prerequisites will be immediately visible as an intruder on the island.

When not in use in a ceremony, the Scepter is kept in the Overlord's Undercroft beneath the Throne Room in the Celestial City. The entrance is through the Master's Gallery behind the throne. Touching the appropriate painting will teleport one into the Undercroft - a maze of traps that guard the most important of the Overlord's treasure - Alfric's Scepter.

Undercroft.jpg


Prologue

U-Gene scowled.

It has been five long years since the Wolfshaunt was awakened by breaking the Wolfshaunt Seal in the bowels of the Forbidden Library. Who would have thought that freeing a single werewolf could lead to a full-scale war? At least most of the tokens of passage have been secured. While that may stop the armies from coming over the mountains for awhile, how many other ways are there for Grandfather Josiah and Grandfather Bela to escape with their cursed families? They are powerful, determined and immortal - a dangerous combination. The Wolfshaunt must be sealed.

U-Gene scowled.

The Second War of the Reaches should have ended last year. The Orcs, Sandal, and the Tang pose no threat. Securing the Wolfshaunt would eliminate that threat to the Eastern Reaches. Dammit. Why did the Old Kingdom get involved in the war? For a million gold piece bribe? Maybe. But there must be another reason. Last year's conflicts were a disaster - with the City-State of Teufeldorf under the control of the Overlord's troops. Now, the demand has come in for the return of Teufeldorf to the Crown - five million gold. A true king's ransom. It will deplete the treasury, but the price might be worth it. Or, U-Gene mused, we could mobilize the Fleet of the Reaches. Invade Rembia. Hit the Overlord hard enough that he will think twice before attacking the Reaches.

U-Gene looked up.

Standing before him, Fuzzwort shifts from foot to foot, his nose buried in a large, iron-bound tome. "Have you ever heard of the Overlord's Undercroft beneath the Celestial City of Rembia? Some say it doesn't exist. If it does, it's one of the most guarded buildings in the Realm - its secrets protected by the Collegium Magicium. Legend holds that the source of Overlord's power over the nobility and military - Alfric's Scepter - is guarded in that vault. Certainty of death, small chance of success, what do you think?"

Encounter 1: The Emissary

It late October 908 TA. A storm is brewing - a cold, driving rain has cleared the streets of Dragonsford. Smoke curls from the chimneys of the homes - most of which are brightly lit against the gloom and wind.

It is after dinner, about 10pm, and you have settled into the Feasting Hall of Dragonsford Castle. Hylax has brought a keg of the finest beer from the pub. U-Gene is ranting about the loss of Teufeldort while a sullen Vince absently studies some old maps. Fuzzwort is curled up with a book by the fireplace.

A knocking at the door punctuates the arrival of two figures - both wet from the storm. The first is Gillian, a master sergeant in the employ of King Ernest. She is a no-nonsense, capable fighter dressed in armor, sword and a heavy woolen cloak. The second is a middle-aged man, trim, fit and well dressed in a heavy black cloak. His steely gaze sweeps the room, but his eyes and face show no emotion.

Gillian speaks first. "Sirs, may I introduce Victor Kane, Emissary from the Overlord Theodric XIX of Rembia. He has come to discuss the terms of surrender for Teufeldorf. He is unarmed and Morgan has swept him for any magical enchantments or spells. He had several items on him which he gave to me freely. His retinue consists of six men - also unarmed who are staying in the Great Hall under watch. Can he enter?"

"Gentlefolk, I represent the Overlord Theodric XIX of the Old Kingdom. I have been authorized to negotiate the return of the city of Teufeldorf to the Western Reaches. Do you wish to parlay?"

Shall I bring the items in?

  • A thick, glass jar with a hinged, heavy metal lid containing a few flakes of fine yellow powder at the bottom.
  • Three large chests that are covered in runes. The chests are unlocked, and empty. However, the interior of the chests are black and filled with pinpoints of light that seem impossibly far away.

The terms are simple.

  • My liege has no interest in holding the City-State. However, he also has no interest in giving it away.
  • Two hundred kegs of an enhanced explosive powder have been placed in strategic points around Teufeldorf. They will maximize both structural and civilian casualties. In short, they will level the entire city. To prove my point, I have provided you with just a few flakes for your own testing. These few flakes will decay and explode in about two hours filling a sixty foot radius globe with fire. The kegs in Teufeldorf will decay in 24 hours. My liege has mages placed around the city with orders to teleport the kegs harmlessly out to sea. If his demands are not met by nightfall tomorrow (about 20 hours from now), the mages will teleport themselves away. The kegs are magically hidden from scrying and are also bobby trapped to go off if tampered with - just in case you were considering an intervention.
  • The price for your city is five million gold pieces. These magical chests are capable of storing the gold. You must also promise from this day for a period of 10 years, you will give no orders to your armies to act against the Overlord or the Empire of Rembia.
  • I will leave you to your discussions. I will need to have your answer by 6pm tomorrow. If you need me, I will be with my men in the Great Hall. We will be on vigil throughout the night and all day tomorrow.
  • From the hallway, Morgan the Enchanter motions for Hylax.

NOTE: If stolen, the chests will disgorge troops into Dragonsford. ALSO NOTE: The orders to invade have already been given. ALSO ALSO NOTE: The party can intervene without giving any orders.

If the party tries to charm him, they will get the following reaction:

As you start your spell, the color begins to fade from your sight as if the world around you is in black-and-white. The face of the man also morphs, as if the skin is being peeled back to reveal a second face behind the first. This is clearly the face of Theodric. 'This one is mine. You will have to find your own slave. And just to remind you of this, here's a small gift.' An impossibly bright light flashes. All sight fades. You are blind. Your spell has failed.

Current time = 10 pm (4 am in Celestial City)
Test flakes go off = midnight (6 am in Celestial City)
Teleport deadline = 6 pm (midnight in Celestial City)
Boom = 10 pm (4am in Celestial City)

Six Silver Guest Collars

Morgan has been given a package by a magician from the Collegium - since Hylax is a wizard errant, communication is often done through Morgan who is a full member.

The package contains:

  • Six silver collars. They are made of a simple tube of silver. A hinge on the back allows the circlet to be completed, sliding one end into the other to form a continuous loop.
  • An unsealed note that reads:
My Esteemed Hylax,

We have gained knowledge that an emissary is traveling to Dragonsford to negotiate the surrender of Teufeldorf. While we do not presume to know the outcome of that parlay, we want you to have these items - six fake guest collars that are magically imbued to teleport you to the Overlord's Throne Room. In addition, these collars will fool the magics of Theodoric's court detection - at least for a few hours. Unlike the real ones, these collars have absolutely no ill effects on the wearer. They can be worn with other magical items. Note - you can still be seen and detected in normal ways, and the collars will not help you with negotiations, guards, etc. They simply mask you from being instantly detected by the Overlord's security. Once donned, they cannot be removed. After two hours, they will teleport you home and the collars will crumble to dust. Hopefully, these will prove useful in your negotiations.

Galambor the Tall Most High Wizard of the Council

The Collegium's Secret

  • A second note is sealed with a wax seal denoting its importance:
My Esteemed Hylax,

I share with you a secret that must never be told to another living being. Alfric's Scepter is actually the soul of Mulciber the founder of our Order. Upon the death of his physical body, he volunteered his soul to be sealed in the device. When activated, Mulciber reaches into the mind of the person and plants thoughts which are important to our cause. He also causes madness in those that he feels might be too dangerous. But, most importantly, he touches the mind of the Overlord, keeping his hubris and power at bay. The Overlord gains a "willing subject", and the Collegium gains influence and knowledge. The Old Kingdom would have long ago torn down our towers had it not been for Mulciber's guiding hand. While you might use the item in your negotiations, you must make sure that it does not disappear for long. And, your companions should not touch the item, lest Mulciber enter their minds.

Galambor the Tall Most High Wizard of the Council

The Overlord's Undercroft

Encounter 2: 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 in the Throne Room 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. Near the tops of 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 - perhaps 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.

The near end of the Throne Room has three public entrances - arched doorways bound in steel - each about 15 feet wide and 20 feet tall. All are closed and presumably locked. You can see a flicker of magic trace around the edges of the three doors.

The far end of the Throne 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.

You hear a low, guttural sneeze from behind the throne.

NOTE: The armor actually contains guards. Each polearm shoots 40 magic missiles each round. Some guards are undead others living - depending on the age of the armor.

Encounter 3: Behind the Throne

Behind the Throne Room are three archways each about 15 feet wide and 20 feet tall. The center archway is sealed with two massive brass doors. The doors are carved with hundreds of small shining faces connected by intertwining verdigris-green vines and leaves. The faces move and the leaves rustle and the faint smell of chlorine can be smelt here. Traces of a green light flicker on the doorway.

The western archway leads to a gallery of paintings and sculptures in a 20 foot wide hallway that extends for 60 feet before breaking west and continuing on out of sight. Long wooden benches are placed in the center of the hallway.

The eastern archway leads a library of books lining a 20 foot wide hallway. Bookcases extend to the top of the 20 foot tall hallway with library ladders along each wall. Long wooden benches are in the center of the hallway to allow patrons to sit and read.

Two guards stand on either side of the green door. In the library, a single figure, cloaked in black is reading a book. A staff sits resting against his legs. He appears unarmed, although he has an emerald ring and matching necklace. Although he is facing out towards the Throne Room, he seems completely captivated by the book.

The figure is Antone Graves - 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.

Encounter 4: The Master's Gallery

The items in this gallery appear to be ordinary at first glance - a mixture of portraits, landscapes, battle scenes, dragons. Several small statues sit on pedestals projecting from the wall. Again, they appear to be ordinary - a finely crafted boat, a pair of intricately beaded slippers, and a small statue of what appears to be a totem pole.

The painting of the Undercroft is the third one in from the entrance on the right. Its location does not appear to be special.

Concentrating on the painting causes the room to grow dim - except for the painting which brightens and takes on a three dimensional look, as if looking at a real room through a pane of pane of glass. Once in this mode, the painting can be touched.

Underneath the painting six symbols can be seen:

Undercroft 1.jpg

The following verse appears on the wall below the symbols:

Six tokens ancient placed,
Six levels interlaced,
A stronghold never taken,
The scepter's theft forsaken.

Encounter 5: Knight's Room

You appear in a 45' x 40' room. The walls, floor and ceiling of this room appear to be made of metal - steel perhaps, maybe even mithril - although such a quantity of mithril would be unheard of in the Reaches. The ceiling is about 15' above you. Spread randomly on the floor at the far end of the room are six metal disks - about the size of manhole covers - 2 feet in diameter. They are made of the same metal and sit flush with the floor.

Although you were standing in a small group around the painting in the Master's Gallery, you are now are spread along a narrow 2' x 2' ledge that runs along the south wall.

In the southwestern corner of the room are three levers set flush into the wall. The levers are all in the down position.

Undercroft 2.jpg

Pushing a lever up will cause the ceiling to drop very quickly. Give the party a reaction save to see what they will do - maybe someone will jump on the board to get the game going. NOTE: Sliding the ceiling up and down will cover up symbols - a clue!

Once a lever is thrown, the party will hear a ticking - 60 seconds to choose a final height. The 2' ledge will withdraw - pushing them each into a square.

NOTE: The game board is 2' below the ledge - thus the minimum height is 2'.

In the southeastern corner are 15 symbols spaced evenly up the wall about 1' apart. The symbols seem to be on some sort of slider that allows for their order to be changed.

Undercroft 3.jpg

Once the game is started, the party will find that they are each stuck in a square. Moving towards the edge (or teleporting) will put them back in the center of the square.

The six manhole covers will open and a metal shaft of the appropriate size will appear in the square. Each round, you can attack or move.

At the end of the round, each manhole cover will re-spawn (if not occupied). If the player is on the manhole cover, they can jump into it. The knight's manhole will lead to the next level. All others will put the players on the square they originally entered the maze.

Shafts can be killed. Physical weapons must be checked for damage. Otherwise each will take about 100 points at 90% absorption.

Encounter 6: The Rook's Metal Castle

You find yourself again in a 40' x 40' room with a 15' high ceiling. The walls, floor and ceiling of this room again appear to be made of metal. This time, however, the room is filled with gears about 5 feet thick attached to the floor with large steel shafts. Several chains links several of the gears, forming a big machine.

Near you is a lever which can be cranked either clockwise or counterclockwise up to four times. Some sort of timer on the crank makes you think that you will only get one chance to move the crank before needing to wait for it to reset.

At the far end of the room, six manholes are again in the floor. A pulley system attached to the manholes will open the appropriate tunnel when the crank is moved.

The floor of the room is covered in oil and is exceedingly slick. Climbing about the gears are a number of small creatures with whirligig tails. They have a coppery sheen to their bodies. They move slowly, but sure-footedly about the room.

Reverse rust monsters - will eat cloth, liquid anything but metal. Magic is suppressed first hit, eaten on the second.

If the party gets the solution wrong, the manhole will open up and 10 more will come out. The right solution gives them a slippery slide down.

Gear.jpg
Gear solution.jpg

In the example, the answer is A. So, the answer is CC 2.

Encounter 7: The Pawn's Room

You appear in a small glass room which is at the edge of a larger 40' x 40' room. The walls and floors are now stone, although the ceiling is still made of metal. In a similar glass room next to you, a woman dressed in blue robes is absorbed in a book, leaning back in a wooden chair with her feet on a small metal desk.

At the far end of the room is the familiar checkerboard pattern with six manhole covers.

A close inspection will show a set of footprints drawn on each.

When the woman sees the party, she will lean forward, looking bored, and pull a lever which will open the glass cage into the room. She will immediately lean back and start reading her book.

In a few moments a fine mist will start to fill the room - acid wash. It will destroy items and cause physical damage. If the party chooses poorly, they will be washed into an acid pit with acid lampreys.

Undercroft 4.jpg

Encounter 8: The Bishop's Tomb

You appear in a stone hallway. The ceiling and walls are white stone, but the floor is black stone. This chamber seems very old and radiates a strong aura of magic.

The party will get attacked at each wrong turn. Have them roll a 12-sided dice for a wandering monster:

Undercroft 8.jpg


Undercroft 5.jpg

Underneath the manhole cover for the bishop is a set of stone steps winding down. As the party ventures deeper into the tomb, a sense of ancient power becomes stronger. The air here is moist and cold. You see figures, ghostly image, flickering along the walls. They seem to beckoning the party to move downward.

Encounter 9: The Queen's Feint

The stairway ends in a stone room. Like the others it is about 40 feet square. However, this room is clearly ancient. The floor is uneven in places, and the walls are a strange blend of gothic architecture and natural stone formations - all covered with a patina of moss and lichen.

Stone windows open out into a larger space beyond - although no ceiling or floor can be seen past the windows. In this inky void float the disembodied wisps of ghosts - swirling but never appearing to approach or recede.

At the far end of the room, slightly left of center, sits an altar with a single case on top. In the case is a withered rod with a crooked finger projecting from its end. A discarded cape lies on the floor to the right of the case. Hunched over the rod is a withered woman, and broken silver crown on her head. She stares longingly at the rod her fingers almost brushing it, only to snatched away as if she is being burned.

Undercroft.jpg

The hag is, of course, a ruse - the queen's level. If attacked, she will summon the ghosts to help her. If light is cast out into the void, the party will see glimpses of large creatures, impossibly large with strange dangling lights in front of lantern-like jaws.

The escape is to simply move to the discarded cloak - which hides the passage to the final chamber.

Encounter 10: The Overlord's Undercroft

As you move downward, the air begins to warm. The stairway ends in a stone room. Like the others it is about 40 feet square. However, this room is clearly ancient. The floor is uneven in places, and the walls are a strange blend of gothic architecture and natural stone formations - all covered with a patina of moss and lichen.

Stone windows that opened up to the void above are blocked with stone here. At the far end of the room, slightly right of center, sits an altar with a single case on top. In the case is a withered rod with a crooked finger projecting from its end: Alfric's Scepter.

But what to do with it?

A simple puzzle locks the chest:

Round is even,
Square is odd,
The final answer,
Opens the lock.

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Undercroft 7.jpg