Got adventurers and need an adventure or two? Take a look at Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drow from the D&D Fantastic Locations series and Sons of Gruumsh, a Forgotten Realms campaign supplement and adventure. Fane of the Drow is a 16-page adventure booklet with battle maps, and DMs can combine the encounters within the product if they want a short adventure for four 4th-level characters. Those using miniatures will enjoy the product since the battle maps are at the correct scale. As for Sons of Gruumsh, it is a longer adventure for four 4th-level characters, and it occurs in the Moonsea region of the Forgotten Realms setting. The excerpts below include information from the beginning of each book so that you can get a better idea of what you'll find inside each product. Warning: Adventure spoilers are ahead, so ask your friendly neighborhood DM to read further on your behalf.
This 16-page adventure booklet contains several challenging encounters that can be combined to form a short Dungeons & Dragons adventure intended for four 4th-level characters. The encounters play out on the battle maps included in this product. To run these encounters properly, you (as the Dungeon Master) need the Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide, and Monster Manual, as well as some D&D miniatures. The Adventure Background (see below) contains all of the information you need to get the adventure underway. Although designed for 4th-level characters, this adventure requires only minor adjustments to adapt it to lower- or higher-level play.
Using the Battle Maps
Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drow includes four miniatures scale maps that provide exciting battlegrounds for RPG encounters or miniatures skirmishes. These maps allow for dynamic and challenging encounters, encouraging you and your players to make important tactical decisions while combat is underway.
For the Roleplaying Game:Fantastic Locations battle maps don't depict your average dungeon complex. The maps aren't meant to represent an entire adventure, either. Instead, the maps provide interesting locations for key scenes and important battles. The monster tactics take advantage of the maps provided, ensuring that the battles range over large sections of the map terrain.
Small reproductions of the maps, with the numbered locations within each site identified, are printed on the inside covers of this booklet. For obvious reasons, your players should not be allowed to view these small maps.
If you decide not to run the Fane of the Drow adventure, you can freely adapt the battle maps to other encounters in your own campaign.
Some of the labels on the battle maps are intended for the D&D Miniatures Game only. These include areas marked "Start Area," "Exit," and "Victory Area." Room tags for the RPG adventure have been deliberately left off of the battle maps, although they appear on the DM's maps on the inside cover.
Battle map labels that apply to the roleplaying game include the following:
Difficult Terrain: Squares marked with a light-colored triangle are considered difficult terrain. Each square of difficult terrain costs 2 squares to move into (3 squares if it's a diagonal move).
Risky Terrain: Squares marked with a light-colored skull are considered risky terrain. Any creature that enters a square of risky terrain has a 25% chance of taking 2d6 points of damage.
Sacred Circles: Any creature that stands on a sacred circle (wholly or partly) gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls. In addition, that creature's attacks are considered magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
For Skirmish Play: The maps in this product are carefully designed for fast and exciting D&D miniatures play. You can use these maps for any D&D Miniatures games. Starting in 2006, you will be able to use Fantastic Locations maps in sanctioned miniatures tournaments.
Refer to page 16 for specifics on using these maps with official D&D miniatures.
For the past few months, a small and relatively isolated dwarven fortress called Stonehelm has suffered from drow raids. Although the dark elves seem too few in number to approach the fortress itself, they have slain several dwarf miners brave or foolish enough to venture beyond its protective confines. Hoping to rid themselves of the drow threat and gain access to the valuable mithral mines near the drow enclave of Til'Asperna, the dwarves enlist the aid of adventurers.
Choosing an Adventure Hook
The player characters can become involved in the dwarves' plight in one of several ways. Choose the hook that best suits your particular group of characters:
-- Dwarves occupying a small fortress called Stonehelm hire the PCs. Their farthest-ranging miners have recently encountered drow and goblin raiders, and the dwarves need help from adventurers to drive the drow and their goblin slaves away.
If You Choose This Hook: The adventure assumes that you use this option, and you need to make only minor modifications to adapt the adventure to your own campaign world.
-- The PCs are traveling through the fringes of the Underdark on their way to some important destination when they stumble upon the drow enclave of Til'Asperna.
If You Choose This Hook: The adventure begins at Til'Asperna instead of the dwarven fortress of Stonehelm. The PCs can visit the adventure's four encounter areas (Mithral Mines, Drow Enclave, Fane of Lolth, and Tomb of Queen Peregrine) in any order.
-- One of the PCs' friends or acquaintances disappears after venturing into a cave that leads to Til'Asperna. PCs who explore the cave (Search DC 20) discover a secret door at the back of the cave leading to a secret tunnel. The tunnel descends for over a mile before finally connecting with the Mithral Mines.
If You Choose This Hook: The friend was captured by a goblin raiding party and taken as a slave to Til'Asperna. Characters can learn this information by listening for rumors around the dwarven fortress of Stonehelm (Gather Information DC 15). Now he is one of the prisoners in the dungeon waiting his turn in the torture chamber.
1: Mithral Mines
The first section of this adventure takes place in an extensive area of mines and natural caverns that marks the border between the lower reaches of the dwarven fortress of Stonehelm and the drow enclave known as Til'Asperna. Til'Asperna and the mines in its immediate vicinity lie on the fringe of the Underdark, and the enclave and surrounding area have long been the sites of confrontation between the dwarves of Stonehelm, duergar forces from deep within the earth, and drow seeking to hold on to their outpost.
The drow of Til'Asperna and their duergar neighbors alternate between uneasy truces and outright conflict. Currently, the two groups are in prolonged negotiations about this area rich in mithral. Both sides are quite interested in taking possession of it, but both are using it as a bargaining chip. According to the terms of the latest temporary treaty, neither side is permitted to explore or exploit this area. The small group of drow that controls the enclave managed to drive the duergar out of the area several weeks ago and force a short-term truce that holds still.
Sensing a lull in the conflict between the two evil races, the dwarves of Stonehelm must strike quickly. The dwarves sense that they must prevent both the drow and the duergar from gathering enough might to thoroughly dominate the region or forge a lasting treaty. More importantly, the dwarves must keep their own fortress secure and therefore cannot devote their own military might to the area. With little recourse, the dwarves enlist some adventurers to finally secure the valuable mines and to drive the drow from Til'Asperna.
The mithral mines show evidence of the drow occupation, from discarded weapons to the ancient magical symbols of the ruined teleportation circle (see below).
Journey to the Mines
Once the adventurers have agreed to drive the drow from Til'Asperna and the nearby Mithral Mines, the first step in their journey takes them through the fortress of Stonehelm itself and then deep into the earth through a series of caverns and mine shafts.
Read or paraphrase the following text to the players:
The journey through the mines near the dwarven fortress of Stonehelm is uneventful at first. The even tunnels of the dwarves are easy to navigate, safely reinforced, and well guarded. Dwarf sentries, stationed at key defensive points, eye you warily as you pass, but they don't hesitate to point you toward the areas plagued by drow raiders once you identify your purpose in their mines.
If you'd like to extend the adventure, you can insert an encounter with one or more wandering Underdark predators of the appropriate Challenge Rating (CR). Some possibilities include a group of 1d6+6 kobold miners, a pair of dire bats, a dark creeper, or a burrowing ankheg.