Mysteries of the Moonsea provides you with many ready-to-use campaign pieces so that you can learn the basic background information on an area, then use one of the severa the completed adventures you'll find within this tome.The excerpts below include information on Melvaunt, Hillsfar, Mulmaster, and Zhentil, plus you'll get two ready-made areas as a sampling of what you'll find within the book.
This location depicts a possible layout for the lair of a group of beholders making their home within Zhentil Keep. You can locate it within any area of the city you wish, but if you are using the encounter as part of the larger story arc described above, then you should place it within the southern section (old city) of Zhentil Keep.
The following adventure is designed for characters of 15th-17th level.
The Black Network historically consorts with beholders, finding them useful allies for thwarting their enemies, as well as invaluable spies and information gatherers. One such beholder was Torix, a powerful creature that was also a potent wizard. Torix produced three offspring, a set of beholder triplets that still use Torix's lair as their home. Normally, a beholder's genetic predisposition to xenophobia and hatred of others of its kind would prevent three beholders from ever sharing the same space, but these siblings seem to break that rule.
There is no set plot for this location. Rather, the characters arrive here by one of several means and reasons, intending to explore the lair and with hopes of either negotiating with or defeating the beholders living here.
The PCs can become involved in this adventure in one of several ways.
- The characters learn that one customer of the slave auction is a beholder, and that this beholder purchased a slave they need to speak with or rescue. They gather enough information to track down the beholder's lair.
- One or more of the beholders purchases the characters as slaves from the slave auction and brings them to the lair.
- Quon, the owner of the monster emporium (see page 139), asks or demands that the characters track down a creature that fled during the chaos surrounding the release of the frost worm. The characters learn that a beholder petrified the creature and took the prey back to its lair.
1. SEWER TUNNEL
This section of the sewer tunnel resembles most of those found beneath the surface of Zhentil Keep's streets. Within a 15-footwide tunnel, a 5-foot-wide walkway runs parallel to flowing water. In most places, the water reaches a depth of only 10 to 15 feet. However, at this particular spot it is much deeper, due in part to the natural connection to the River Tesh (see area 2, below). Since the water reaches such a depth, it is generally cleaner than most of the sludge that drifts through the sewer system.
2. SUBMERGED ENTRANCE
At a depth of 80 feet (the bottom of the sewer channel), a passage connects with another channel. This passage is 10 feet wide and runs for 40 feet, where it connects to another vertical shaft (see area 3, below).
Tactics: The three beholders pass through the water by means of necklaces of adaptation to aid them in breathing (they drape these over some of their eyestalks).
Development: On the opposite side of the bottom of the sewer channel, a natural fissure in the bedrock beneath the city connects to the River Tesh. The fissure runs anywhere from 10 to 20 feet deep and four to five times that wide. The other end of the fissure sits several hundred yards away, too far for any humanoid to swim without some magical breathing aid. However, if the characters choose to come and go from the beholders' lair over and over again, some creature might have wandered through the fissure to lie in wait at the bottom of the channel for unsuspecting passersby.
3. VERTICAL SHAFT (EL 9)
The submerged tunnel (area 2) connects to this vertical shaft, which rises 80 feet to another horizontal section of tunnel. That portion of the route contains breathable air, but the characters must swim a total distance of 200 feet from the sewer tunnel to reach the area.
The small space with air in it sports a deadly magical trap, triggered the moment anyone surfaces.
Incendiary Cloud Trap: CR 9; magic device, proximity trigger (alarm); automatic reset; spell effect (incendiary cloud, CL 15th, 4d6/round for 15 rounds, Reflex DC 22 half); Search DC 33; Disable Device DC 33.
Tactics: The three beholders bypass the trap using the antimagic ray from their main eyes.
4. SUBMERGED CHAMBER (EL 11)
This round room is completely submerged. The ceiling 10 feet overhead has a few tiny fissures that allow trapped air to escape upward.
A stone golem (built by the grandfather beholder during its life) guards the chamber and attacks any creatures other than beholders that attempt to pass through.
Stone Golem: hp 107; MM 136.
Tactics: The grandfather beholder commanded the golem to remain positioned directly under the opening that leads to area 5, standing so as to prevent creatures from getting past it. When a beholder wishes to pass through, the golem steps aside and permits the orb to traverse the route, and then it returns to its normal stance. Whenever any other (nonbeholder) creatures approach, the golem does not move, attacking only those creatures that get within range and attempting to prevent them from getting past it.
Because of the difficulty in fighting in water, the grandfather beholder placed a permanent freedom of movement spell upon the golem so that it does not suffer any adverse conditions for fighting underwater. Its opponents, however, cannot enjoy that luxury. (See DMG 92-93 for the effects of underwater combat.)
5. TROPHY CHAMBER
The vertical shaft rising from the submerged chamber (area 4) breaks the surface of the water after about 15 feet and continues up for another 30 feet or so before entering the trophy chamber. This huge circular room is 100 feet in diameter and very richly decorated. Beautiful rugs, mostly in red, purple, and deep blue hues, cover the majority of the floor. At various intervals, seemingly at random, statuary stand posed in realistic displays. Some of the statues are complete, while others might just be torsos or busts. While most are humanoid, a few wondrous creatures are also included. There are no natural light sources, but several of the statues are imbued with permanent faerie fire spells in various hues, giving the whole chamber an eerie glow. Of course, these statues are the victims of the beholders' flesh to stone eyestalks. They have brought their prizes here for gloating purposes, using their disintegrate eyestalks to "sculpt" away portions of some of the statues.
In the center of the vast room, a large three-sided stone table bears a strange board game. The game pieces are carved from colored stone, and the board is made up of tiles inlaid into the surface of the table. A game seems to be in progress. The three beholders enjoy playing this odd game, something like three-way chess.
There are four visible exits from the chamber. Three are set into the ceiling (marked a, b, and c on the map) and lead to areas 6, 7, and 8. The fourth is set into the floor (marked as d) and leads to the death tyrant's lair (area 9).
There is also a hidden passage, a circular shaft beneath the floor marked as location e on the map, that leads to the beholders' treasure vault (see area 10). The shaft rests beneath a rug, upon which a "statue" of a gray render stands. Since the creature weighed more than two tons in life, it's nigh unto impossible to move it (DC 40 Strength check to tip over). The beholders get around this by using the wand of stone shape (see area 6) to "create" a path to the tunnel, then sealing the path up again when they are finished.
If characters entering this area remain quiet, they can poke about without drawing attention to themselves. However, if they make any noise (or if they attract the attention of any prisoners in area 8), then the grandfather death tyrant (see area 9) appears and attacks them.
Development: Any number of statues could be important NPCs or monsters the characters have been searching for. The characters must have the means of reversing the flesh to stone effect, and might also need some form of restoration (in the cases where the beholders sculpted away major body parts to satisfy their own peculiar tastes).
6. BEHOLDER SANCTUARY (EL 15-17)
This hemispherical chamber serves as the private sanctuary of the beholder trio. Three nests, each one a bowl-shaped indentation atop a stone pillar, holds fluffy piles of feathers, fabric, and other soft materials. The beholders have positioned a series of strange lanterns around the perimeter of the room. Each lantern consists of a stone base with a tall crystal cylinder resting on it, itself capped by another stone. The crystal cylinders are roughcut and opaque. Inside, a permanent dancing lights spell creates the image of faintly glowing orbs that drift about, giving off soothing hues of color.
Each nest has a magic trap placed upon it set to trigger if anyone other than the beholders touches any part of the stone pillar.
Chain Lightning Trap: CR 7; magic device; touch trigger; automatic reset; spell effect (chain lightning, 11th-level wizard, 11d6 electricity to target nearest center of trigger area plus 5d6 electricity to each of up to eleven secondary targets, Reflex DC 19 half); Search DC 31; Disable Device DC 31.
Depending on how deadly you wish to make the lair, none, one, two, or all three of the beholders could be nesting here (when combined with the death tyrant, that's EL 15, 16, or 17).
Beholders (3): hp 93 each; MM 26.
Tactics: The moment the beholders hear any sort of intrusive noise in the trophy chamber below them, they move to check it out, attacking interlopers on sight. The beholders attempt to flank the group but avoid getting into melee with them by moving to the entrances of areas 6, 7, and 8 and hovering there. They turn themselves so as to aim their antimagic rays at spellcasters (but avoiding canceling each other out) while using their other eyestalks in concert to take out the powerful characters. Should things begin to go badly for them, they attempt to flee through the portal in area 7.
Treasure: A wand of stone shape (CL 7th, 37 charges) has been hidden in the northern nest under the piles of fluffy lining. The beholders use this to gain access to their treasure vault (area 10). There is the possibility of one or more necklaces of adaptation hidden in each nest (one for each beholder present in the lair). The beholders use these to move through the submerged portions of the entrance.
7. PORTAL CHAMBER
This chamber, another hemispherical room, contains nothing of any visible interest in it whatsoever. The only feature at all is the 10-foot-circular stone projection that protrudes from the ceiling like a ring. It is, in fact, a portal leading to a magical location in Yûlash (see Lost Temple, page 148). It has no key or limitations -- any creature moving into the space inside the stone ring instantly teleports to its twin gateway.
The beholders sometimes bring captives or slaves to their lair to serve as menial laborers, hostages, or even as food. The eye tyrants keep their prisoners in this chamber. The entire room has been treated with a permanent reverse gravity effect, so the prisoners actually dwell on the ceiling of the room. In addition, the walls are coated with thick grease to prevent anyone from climbing out of the prison. The beholders simply use their telekinesis eyestalks to maneuver the prisoners up to the ceiling.
Development: The beholders might have purchased one or more of the slaves marked with the mysterious Thayan tattoo. If so, then they are here; if the characters are not playing through that story arc, feel free to add any of your plot elements to whatever creatures the PCs find in this room.
9. DEATH TYRANT LAIR (EL 13)
This unremarkable room is shaped like many of the other chambers in this complex, a simple bowl-shaped room with a hole at the top. A few scraps of rubbish -- odd scales, bones, and other material -- litter the bottom of the bowl.
This area serves as the lair of the beholders' grandfather, which has passed into undeath and is now a death tyrant.
Death Tyrant Beholder: hp 71; FRCS 309.
Tactics: The death tyrant stays in its lair, resting against the bottom of the bowl, until summoned by one of the beholders or it hears any noise in the main trophy room. If there is a commotion, it rises up and begins attacking anything other than its kin.
Development: If the PCs destroy the grandfather death tyrant, and at least one of the beholders escapes (because it wasn't in the lair when the PCs invaded, or because it fled through the portal chamber), it vows revenge on the characters and attempts to hunt them down some time in the future.
10. TREASURE VAULT (EL 8)
The bottom of this shaft opens into a spherical room. The beholders store their treasure here, spilled loose on the floor.
Any creature that touches any portion of the spherical wall of this room triggers a trap, which releases insanity mist into the entire room.
Insanity Mist Vapor Trap: CR 8; mechanical; touch trigger; automatic reset; gas; never miss; onset delay (1 round); poison (insanity mist, Fortitude DC 15 resists, 1d4 Wis/2d6 Wis); multiple targets (all targets inside the chamber); Search DC 25; Disable Device DC 20.
Treasure: +3 full plate armor, rod of the viper, potion of haste, scroll of blur, scroll of jump, scroll of knock, scroll of magic circle against law, scroll of daze monster, scroll of Tenser's floating disk, scroll of darkvision, potion of barkskin, staff of life (28 charges), ring of evasion, rich purple corundum (1,200 gp), blue star sapphire (1,000 gp), fire opal (1,000 gp), golden yellow topaz (800 gp), black pearl (600 gp), yellow topaz (600 gp), two alexandrites (500 gp each), black pearl (500 gp), green spinel (110 gp), amber (100 gp),two jets (100 gp each), chrysoprase (80 gp), white pearl (80 gp), iolite (70 gp), smoky quartz (70 gp), carnelian (60 gp), chalcedony (50 gp), onyx (50 gp), star rose quartz (50 gp), iolite (30 gp), rose quartz (30 gp), tiger eye turquoise (13 gp), banded agate (12 gp), golden deep tiger eye turquoise (11 gp), freshwater (irregular) pearl (8 gp), 1,800 pp, 10,000 gp.