Cliffhangers Adventures
Kingdom of the Blind - Episode One: Noise and Motion
Jeff Quick

Episode One: Noise and Motion

Kingdom of the Blind is a short adventure for four 8th-level characters. The adventure is set in a minor duchy that is fairly removed from the ruler of the land. As a result, trouble can brew in the land and the king would not know immediately.

Cliffhanger Features

Player characters find that the citadel is lit by torches every 5 feet unless otherwise specified. Also, all doors have the following statistics unless the area description says differently:

Strong Wooden Doors: 2 in. thick; hardness 5; hp 20; AC 5; Break DC 25.

Adventure Background

About three years ago, a medusa, Zhanna Serpentlock, began systematically turning every person in Duke Jellhyn Fedorel's (N male human Ari5) duchy to stone. After losing many peasants to the medusa, Jellhyn attempted to placate her. He offered her his second son, Dephyl, for a husband. Duke Jellhyn and his family had always been rather tense and uncomfortable around Dephyl anyway due to the fact that Dephyl had lost an eye in a freak magical explosion as a boy. Zhanna accepted the marriage, and though Dephyl didn't really care for his family due to how they treated him, he was also less than happy with the arrangement.

A year ago, Zhanna appeared at Fedorel's citadel again. She claimed that Dephyl had been untrue and that she had turned him to stone for his adultery. Throwing Dephyl's stone head down in the courtyard of the citadel, she swore vengeance on all Fedorels for his betrayal. Duke Fedorel and his household fled the citadel. Rather than give chase, Zhanna took up residence there and began ruling the duchy as the sole remaining Fedorel family member. Jellhyn and his family have lived in exile for a year.

This is what the PCs can learn, but more is going on. As it turns out, Dephyl is alive and quite happy with his marriage. Zhanna is not repulsed by his disfigurement as his family was, and Dephyl's missing eye is something of an asset in the relationship since it lessens his chance of being accidentally petrified by his wife. In the two years of his marriage, he has grown up and gained ambition -- he wants to rule. As a second son (pawned off on a monster), he would never have received the chance. Now, with Zhanna's help, he can rule.

However, Dephyl doesn't have the stomach for killing his father and brother. Instead, he and Zhanna plotted to take over the duchy by frightening everyone away. Zhanna carved a stone bust of Dephyl and used it to frighten off the rest of his family. Now Dephyl and Zhanna live happily in the citadel and rule the duchy together, though Dephyl's existence among the living is a secret.

Adventure Synopsis

The PCs enter a kingdom ruled by a medusa and her spouse. They find grimlocks, animated constructs, fungi, statues, and more on their way through the citadel to where the medusa lives. They may uncover the fact that the medusa is also a skilled sculptor, which may make returning the statues to life after dealing with the medusa a bit interesting.

Maps

Use the Githyanki citadel map (Map 1, Map 2). Only the first, second, and third floors are used in this adventure. The third floor does not have a stairwell in the center, and the second floor doesn't have a southern staircase. Ambitious DMs can use more of the citadel map and add encounters to expand the adventure, of course. Alternatively, the adventure is designed loosely enough that DMs can easily swap in a small keep or citadel of their own. This adventure uses only the areas mentioned. Other parts of the citadel contain stone statues or disused furniture.

Character Hooks

  • After a year, the duke has scraped together some money and made some discreet inquiries about competent problem solvers who can remove a medusa.
  • The king's treasurer has noticed that the Duchy of Fedorel failed to pay tribute last year. The treasurer will no doubt want to hire some collectors to investigate and make sure that the tribute gets paid.
  • Almost every resident of the duchy has had at least one family member turned to stone in the last three years. The victims could be distant relations of a PC, or a group of peasants could band together in an attempt to find help.

Encounter 1 (EL 8)

The adventure begins as the PCs approach the citadel. If they scout or watch the citadel for 24 hours before entering, they see four or five grimlocks emerge at night to go foraging. The grimlocks never venture more than a mile from the citadel, and only five or fewer leave at once. If they watch closely, the PCs can see that the grimlocks work in shifts, so they can discover that more than five grimlocks live in the citadel.

All the windows in the citadel are little more than arrow slits. The only entrance to creatures of Small or larger size is through the front doorway. The front door itself is gone. In its place, a loose pile of stone statues blocks the doorway. The statues appear to be of human peasants, and they have either surprised or frightened looks on their faces. Some seem to be in the posture of working with a tool.

About two dozen stone figures make up this "door." The barrier is heavy, but not solid. Player characters can gain access by moving the statues (each statue weighs roughly 800 pounds), wriggling through the space between statues (Escape Artist check DC 15), or sliding through via magic such as in ethereal or gaseous form.

Zhanna's grimlocks tore the doors off the hinges when they broke into the citadel a year ago. Rather than replace it, Zhanna decided to stack the stone bodies of her victims in the doorway as a makeshift wall. The grimlocks move the statues to get in and out.

Anyone attempting to get through the pile of statues must make a Move Silently check (DC 20), because Zhanna's grimlocks are still around. They live in the various rooms on the first floor -- two in each wing. If they hear anyone disturbing the statues at the front door, they come out to investigate. Thanks to their scent ability, they also come out the moment a PC comes within 30 feet of their rooms. When they appear, they rush to attack.

Grimlocks (10): hp 11; see Monster Manual page 114.

Once they pass the door, the PCs come into the main hall. The ceiling is 20 feet high, and the east and west circular rooms have open galleries 20 feet above. The ground floor contains several features besides lurking grimlocks. The eight pillars in the room have been carved into various shapes. Starting at the northernmost pillar and going around clockwise, their shapes are a thick vine, a cascade of hands, an earth elemental, a purple worm, a caryatid of a human woman, an enormous mace, a lightning bolt, and a tower of dwarves standing on each other's shoulders.

Five stone statues block each of the eastern staircases. They are not piled like at the front door, but they were placed standing on the stairs and clamped down in such a way that anyone larger than Tiny size cannot walk up. Most statues are human, but some also appear to be elves and halflings.

Any PC with stonecunning or a Craft or Profession skill relating to stonework can make an appropriate skill check (Spot in the case of stonecunning) to notice that some statues are different than others. On a successful check result, the PC notices that the elves in the room appear to have been carved -- especially their faces. If the skill used is Craft (sculpting), the PC can tell that these elves have been chiseled down from human figures to resemble elves.

Cliffhanger

The PCs can freely move around the ground floor once they dispatch all the grimlocks. To get to the second floor, the PCs must move the statues blocking the eastern staircases (requiring five DC 20 Strength checks), take the western stairs, or use another means of ascending (such as the fly spell). When they attempt to walk up either of the western set of stairs, the stairs begin to buckle and thrash. The stairs are animated objects, and the PCs have set them off!


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