Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Taglar's Tomb (Mini-Adventure for Swords & Wizardry)

Taglar's Tomb is something of an open secret among the more disreputable types in the area. It is an old plundered tomb where many a grave-robber got their start.

This Mini-Adventure is suitable for 1-4 characters of 1st-3rd level, but could easily be adjusted and/or augmented to serve a larger or more powerful group.

The Tomb of Taglar is often mis-marked on maps and locals have a tendency to lead gullible types to any handy cave and tell them that it is Taglar's Tomb. The actual Tomb is located towards the top of a steep old hill where the trees are all dying. Storms are frequent in this place. Whatever trails or paths there are in this area, they tend to be known mostly to grave-robbers, thieves, bandits and the like.

Forlorn and despoiled long ago, Taglar's Tomb was stripped of most of its treasures by tomb-looters centuries ago. It has flooded twice that is known. The floors are thick with a damp, sticky mud that never quite dries. Various animals have made their lair in the first two chambers at different times in the past, but they rarely stay very long.

Grave-robbers and their ilk will sometimes take their apprentices to Taglar's Tomb in order to teach them the basics of their unsavory trade. Most of them return wiser, if not richer, for the experience.

The Tomb was built several hundred years ago to house the remains of the barbaric warlord Taglar, a fierce and ruthless conqueror whose dynasty came to an abrupt end within days of his being buried alive by his wife. Some say the empire he had built by axe and spell was brought to such rapid ruin due to the bickering of his two sons, neither of whom could get along, others say it was because of the treachery of their half-human mother. In any case, the enemies of Taglar pounced upon his empire, his people were scattered, his legacy was brought to an abrupt end, and he has been mostly forgotten. Only those who traffic in illicit tomb-goods still talk of the old warlord these days, mostly because they alone share something of a bond with the old dead king.

Common Rumors and Whispered Lore
Concerning Taglar's Tomb
  1. Sleeping in the First Chamber brings unpleasant dreams, the Second Chamber nightmares. No one has ever slept in the Third Chamber.
  2. Beasts rarely enter the Second Chamber, never the Third Chamber.
  3. Raw flesh tossed into the Third Chamber will rot untouched and untroubled by vermin. Not even maggots will cross that threshold.
  4. There are still a few old coins buried beneath the muck and mud that has flooded the floors of this place, especially the farther back one goes.
  5. These Chambers are Not haunted. So say the priests of six different gods who have visited the place.
  6. Corpses left in this place rot away to the bones more quickly than is natural, but they do not rise.
  7. There is a peculiar breeze constantly blowing out of the Third Chamber. It is strong enough to make torches flicker fitfully. No one knows the source of the breeze.
  8. Many old-timers believe that there is a secret chamber that no one has found yet. Most people consider this foolishness. Surely if such a thing existed, it would have been discovered by now.
Any of these statements might be true or so much hokum--we leave that up to the Referee/DM.

Typical Hillside Encounters
  1. Bad Weather. Roll 1d6 every 4 turns, on a "1" things get worse (heavy rain, lightning strikes, etc.), on a roll of "6" it starts to let up.
  2. Zombie: HD 2; AC 8[11]; Atk 1 strike (1d8); Move 6*; Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 2/30; Special immune to sleep and charm spells. This zombie is swinging back and forth in a noose. Someone hung the thing and left it. 
  3. Mudslide. Save or get swept 1d100' down hill and suffer 1d2 damage.
  4. 1d6 Bandits: HD 1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12; Save 17; AL C; CL/XP 1/15.
  5. 1d4 Green Beetles: HD 1; AC 6[13]; Atk 1 bite (1d6); Move 12; Save 18; AL N; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Explode when exposed to open flame inflicting 1d6 damage in a 12' radius per beetle.
  6. Wild Boar (Young): HD 3+3; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 Gore (3d4); Move 15; Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Continues attacking for 2 rounds after being "killed."

If anyone bothers to check, there is a water-proofed case containing 3d6 torches, with a flint and steel, wedged underneath one of the large, tumbled stones. There is also a broken shovel that was tossed behind another one of the stones.
  • The floor of the tunnel leading into the tomb is muddy and slopes downward, making it easy to slip or fall. The mud gets deeper and more slippery the farther back one goes.
  • There may or may not be some animal that has decided to make its lair inside either one of the first two chambers (See Table Below).
  • Instead of Wandering Monsters, there is a 10% chance of Other Visitors arriving every hour spent inside the tomb (See Table Below).

Chamber One
This Chamber has been totally stripped. Only a pair of heavy stone posts remain where the old throne used to sit. The walls are heavily scored and scratched and chipped by digging tools. Digging in the mud here will produce 1 random copper coin per 3d4 hours spent digging. (Roll 1d4 per coin found on Random Coins Table below).

Chamber Two
There are a pair of five-sided stone prisms set firmly into the floor close to the back of this chamber. The floor is much more muddy and slippery. Digging in the mud in this chamber will produce 1d6 random copper or silver coins every 1d4 hours spent digging. (Roll 1d8 per coin found on Random Coins Table below).

Chamber Three
There is a set of three obelisks set toward the back of this chamber. Behind the obelisks is a large, rounded stone deeply carved with bizarre pre-human hieroglyphs. There are three figures depicted on the stone, a ghoul, a lizardman, and a human being devoured by the other two. It is a thoroughly repugnant image, all too accurately carved in fine detail. The stone radiates a faint aura of Fear (Anyone coming within 20' must Save at +2 or suffer effects of Fear spell for 1 hour). Deciphering the hieroglyphs triggers a Symbol of Discord spell.

Digging in the mud back here will produce 3d6 random coins for every hour spent digging (roll 3d4 per coin found on Random Coins Table below). There is a 10% chance per hour of also finding some minor treasure (see Minor Treasure Table below).

There is also a chance of causing the West side of the floor to collapse, dropping 12' and revealing the once secret passage to the Fourth Chamber. This passage is unstable due to all the water that has seeped into it over the years. It could collapse at any moment...

Chamber Four
A large jade egg hovers over a well-like shaft 8' in diameter that extends down more than a mile. The mud and standing water seeping in from Chamber Three flows over the lip and down the sides of the shaft making it exceptionally treacherous to climb.

The 'Egg' is magically intelligent. It can communicate with one person at a time via telepathy, but its mind is so alien anyone contacted by it must Save or experience Confusion (as Spell) for 1d4 turns. The Egg cannot be removed from this place without first removing a set of very powerful, very ancient wards and bindings. The 'Egg' will attempt to lure a victim close enough for it to cast Petrify Brain upon them, which it hopes will be allowed to run its course so they can possess the victim's body and escape after centuries of imprisonment. Once the 'Egg' has caught a suitable host with its wicked spell, it will attempt to sow discord and confusion among the rest of the group, in the hopes of stalling them long enough to be able to effect the transfer of its consciousness into the new host body. If the 'Egg' fails to capture a new host, it will attempt to bargain with the group, trying to convince them to return and liberate will promise them anything it thinks they might want or that could induce them to rescue it.

'Egg': HD 8; AC 2[17]; Atk 1 Spells; Move n/a; Save 8; AL C; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Magic Resistance 30% (only while in this chamber), cause Fear and Levitate at will, can cast Petrify Brain once per month.
Petrify Brain
Spell Level: Magic-User, 5th Level
Range: 20'
Duration: Permanent
Target begins to suffer from a terrible fever that slowly and painfully destroys 1 point of INT and WIS each hour until both attributes are reduced to zero, at which time a disembodied entity can then possess their body.

Things That Might Try to Lair Inside the Tomb
  1. 1 Giant Pink-and-Orange-Striped Leech: HD 2; AC 3[16]; Atk 1 bite (2d6); Move 6; Save 16; AL N; CL/XP 5/240; Special: suck blood. 
  2. 1 Hill-Gator: HD 2+2; AC 4[15]; Atk 1 Bite (1d6); Move 9; Save 14; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: longer-limbed, land-based relative of the swamp gator. Can't swim, but can climb trees.
  3. Gelatinous Froth: HD 2; AC 8[11]; Atk 1 (1d4); Move 6; Save 13; AL N; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Paralysis (2 turns), Immune to Lightning and Cold.
  4. 1D6 Red Snouted Kobolds: HD 1d4hp; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 Weapon (1d6); Move 6; Save 18; AL C; CL/XP A/5.
  5. 1d4 Lesser Yellow-Banded Nagas: HD 1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 Bite (1d4+Poison) or Tail-Sting (1d4+Poison); Move 9; Save 6; AL C; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Poison (Save or contract 'Yellow Rot' which causes victim to suffer -1 penalty to DEX for 1d4 weeks unless magically cured sooner.)
  6. 1d6 Stirges: HD 1+1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 Sting (1d3+ Blood Drain); Move 3/18 (Flying); Save 17; AL N; CL/XP 1/15; Special: Blood drain for 1d4 damage.

Other Visitors
  1. 1d6 Bandits: HD 1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d8); Move 12; Save 17; AL C; CL/XP 1/15.
  2. 2D4 Ring-Tailed Kobolds: HD 1d4 hp; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 Weapon (1d6); Move 6; Save 18; AL C; CL/XP A/5.
  3. 1d6 Mauve-Bellied Lizardmen: HD 2+1; AC 5[14]; Atk 2 Claws (1d3), 1 Bite (1d8); Move 6/12 (Swimming); Save 16; AL C; CL/XP 2/30; Special: One in six will be able to cast 1d2 first-level spells.
  4. 1d4 Grave-Robbers-In-Training: HD 1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 Shovels (1d4); Move 12; Save 17; AL C; CL/XP 1/15.
  5. A Creature(s) looking to make this their lair--roll on Table Above.
  6. 2d4 Brigands: HD 1; AC 7[12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 12; Save 17; AL C; CL/XP 1/15.

Random Coins
  1. Copper triangle inscribed with dot-and-line symbols. (worth 1d6 cp)
  2. Copper oblong rimmed with electrum. Front has image of a dragon, back is a spiral. (worth 1 sp)
  3. Copper square impressed with four small glyphs. Back is plain. (worth 1d2 cp)
  4. Copper disk, beaten into shape, twice as heavy as average. (worth 1d4 cp)
  5. Silver square hoop. (worth 1d4 sp)
  6. Silver lozenge covered with squiggles. (worth 1d8 sp)
  7. Silver teardrop set with amber disks. (Worth 1d6 sp)
  8. Silver triangle punched with holes at each point. (worth 1d4 sp)
  9. Silver octagon scratched beyond recognition. (worth 1d6 sp)
  10. Gold Crescent inscribed with serpents and worms. (worth: 1d6 gp)
  11. Gold wheel with eight spokes. (worth: 1d8 gp)
  12. Gold Pentagon rimmed with reddish alloy, center features a lizard-like being flanked by humanoids in chains. (worth: 1d10gp)

Random Minor Treasure
  1. Raw amber fragments worth 3d6 gp.
  2. Semiprecious stones worth 1d20 gp.
  3. Gems worth 1d20+25 gp.
  4. Broken Jewelry worth 2d20+50 gp.
  5. Weird pre-human figurines worth 4d20 gp.
  6. Carved gemstones worth 1d100 + 25 gp.
  7. Large green amber pieces worth 1d100 gp.
  8. Ivory fragments worth 2d20 +100gp.
  9. Beaten copper and electrum 'claw' weapon, worth 2d100 gp.
  10. Mostly intact jewelry worth 2d100 +25 gp.
  11. Clay tablet inscribed with 1 spell of level 1-4. (Very fragile)
  12. Fossilized bone wand, 1 d10 charges, random first level spell.

The biggest treasure to be found in this Tomb could turn out to be proof of the existence of the Fourth Chamber. How they handle that knowledge, and whether or not they can capitalize on it before someone else stumbles upon it could easily drive several spin-off adventures. Once word gets out, there could be quite a fight between different factions trying to get into the Fourth Chamber ahead of anyone else. And once it is awakened, the 'Egg' will have its own schemes and machinations to play out as well...

Have Fun!
(...and Yes, this Mini-Adventure is Open Game Content. We'll post the OGL thingy for it later.)


  1. Excellent! I love what you did with the treasure & coin descriptions.

    1. Thanks! I wanted to keep things simple and easy to extrapolate out from, so people can make in their own in the course of playing/running it.

  2. Good adventure !
    Maybe the Egg is a minor spawn of the Egg of Coot...

    1. Thanks! Congratulations on catching that particular reference. When I first was introduced to D&D back in Ye Olden Days, a friend of mine had a really nice campaign map on that light brown pebble-textured paper that Judges' Guild used to print things on (wish I could get a few more of those blank map-sheets). It showed 'Egg of Coot' on it and I thought that was a really odd name. I mean how sinister or villainous could an egg be, really? So when I was writing-up this Mini-Adventure, I decided to include a seriously wicked 'egg.' Just for the sake of the old days. I can't say if it bears any resemblance or relation to the more infamous Egg of Coot, but than that's for you to decide, not me.

  3. Very inspiring. I agree with zerohero on the treasure and coins - these are surpisingly underused approaches. The wider context for the location is fresh too, but it's all still very modular, ready to be plugged into an existing site or complex. You haven't held back on the supplementary material either - that's a lot to work with, and a huge range of options. I also love the weird naturalism and the contrast between the mud scrabbling and the content of that last chamber.

    1. The treasure and coins thing is something we've been doing from way back. It makes each site distinct and leads to a lot of fun implications/repercussions that further develop the setting as player characters attempt to figure out just what some of those old square coins are worth. It also opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for spin-off adventures and the like as these sorts of artifacts may or may not hold particular significance to various cults, temples or NPCs.

      Environments and terrain have always been very integral to our adventures, this is why we both find the Noircana stuff you and JD are developing very pertinent to our own interests...

  4. I ran this today for my players, who've rolled up 0-level characters (a la DCC) They had a lot of fun digging around in the mud while wondering how some of the coins may be related to the stone formations in each chamber.

    They found the "claw weapon" in the third chamber and are a little afraid of it.

    We had one character death from a homebrew monster tailored to the campaign, but I'll be using the monsters as written for further expeditions.

    While they found possble entrance to the 4th chamber by tapping on the walls, it was already getting late in the day in gametime: For once I had PCs who didn't want to camp in the dungeon--all thanks to rumor #1-- and it was wonderful.

    Thanks for a great adventure!


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