Excerpts 06/13/2007


Expedition to Undermountain



Heroes, beware. Undermountain awaits those foolhardy or brave enough to walk its passages, but step lightly and with care. Undermountain's welcome is not that of a gracious friend who seeks to make you comfortable. Learn more about this superadventure by reading a few excerpts, including the introduction, various adventure sections, plus a couple of encounters.

DOPPELGANGER CAMP

The doppelganger merchant camp is northwest of the Helmwatch and a good distance north of the Hall of the Black Helm. The camp is housed in a large, L-shaped chamber with three entrances. The corridors leading to the camp bear chalk-marked warnings written in Common, Dwarven, and Elven. These warnings include the following messages, as well as messages along a similar style:

"The people up ahead are heavily armed."

"The people up ahead do not like to be surprised."

"Peaceful visitors -- please announce yourself very loudly as you approach."

Each corridor also has a simple tripwire trap (Spot DC 20) that rings a concealed bell in the camp to alert the doppelganger to anyone trying to sneak up on them.

Tripwire-Bell Trap: CR 1/3; mechanical; local trigger; manual reset; single target; Search DC 20; Disable Device DC 15.

The doppelganger camp is sparse and efficient. When the PCs approach the camp, read:

This large chamber features an open tent, not unlike the covered stalls you might see in any town or village marketplace. Blankets are spread beneath the tent, upon which you notice a variety of general goods. Next to the tent you notice three bedrolls, three wooden chairs, three locked chests, and a small cooking stove. A metal torch set in the center of the floor burns with a magical flame. Near each bedroll rests a heavy crossbow, close at hand. Three nondescript humans lounge in this camp, sitting, stirring something in a pot atop the stove, and arranging items on the blankets.

Three doppelgangers are here at all times, using their change shape ability to look like nondescript human sellswords from the city above. They welcome any friendly adventurers and introduce themselves as Dorn, Grim, and Malvar (the leader). They explain that Malvar's brother is a merchant in the city who had the clever but risky idea of setting up a merchant camp in Undermountain where adventurers could sell whatever they find and buy basic gear without having to make the long trek up to the surface.

The doppelgangers use their ability to detect thoughts to fill in their story with details that will convince the PCs that nothing out of the ordinary is going on here. If the PCs interacted with any doppelgangers on the surface, the ones here use that information to bolster their story, making statements such as, "My brother has been informing adventurers of this camp," "My brother has been telling people about the portals that lead near here to drum up business," and so on.

The truth is, the doppelgangers are interested in profiting here, and they are supplied with goods from the surface to help adventurers (though for their own ulterior motives), so attempts to catch them in a blatant lie are unlikely to succeed.

Two of the doppelgangers are typical of their kind, but Malvar is an exceptional individual, able to cast expeditious retreat and invisibility once per day as a 4th-level sorcerer. Malvar helped build the doppelganger-cloaker alliance. The sellswords are outfitted essentially the same -- chainmail, a longsword, a shield, and a heavy crossbow that is kept loaded and ready to use. In addition to this gear, Malvar wears a long black cloak (actually a cloaker, here to observe what the doppelgangers are doing).

If the doppelgangers are forced into combat and the battle turns against them, the cloaker stops pretending to be a garment and fights alongside them. If the cloaker takes heavy damage, it flees to report the attack to its superiors.

From time to time a fourth doppelganger (Brem) might be here as well. He normally presents himself as a wealthy human merchant, but could appear as an elf ("Baelar"), dwarf ("Barundar"), or halfling ("Blazanar") if the PCs announce themselves in a language other than Common. Brem is in charge of resupplying the camp with surface goods, taking acquired monies elsewhere, and carrying news from the surface and elsewhere in Undermountain. Brem acts slightly aloof, as if the PCs aren't really worth his time, and pretends to be a business partner of Malvar's brother. If the PCs need gear that the camp doesn't supply, Brem can get it for them if they give him half the money as a deposit; delivery to the camp takes two to three days.

When not talking to adventurers, the doppelgangers pass the time telling stories and playing dice games. They usually eat their food cold, using the stove only occasionally to cook or for warmth, since suitable fuel is hard to come by in this part of Undermountain.

WHAT THE DOPPELGANGERS KNOW

With their connections to the surface city and many sites within Undermountain, the doppelgangers are possibly the best-informed group the PCs can interact with. They know the following facts and items of information. Facts noted as "free" they share without prompting; other facts must be acquired through the use of Diplomacy or in other ways.

  • Details about the immediate area and the corridors connecting to the Helmwatch and the Hall of the Black Helm. (free)

  • How to reach the surface through direct tunnels. This is not a safe or fast path, taking several days with a half-dozen encounters along the way. (free)

  • The general location of the Crypt of Yeldoon. (free)

  • The general location of the drow, dwarves, and grimlocks living nearby. (free)

  • Typical monsters and hazards nearby. (free)

  • The Sargauth River (south and one level down) is experiencing an influx of giant spiders from downstream, moving into the main levels of Undermountain. This information is presented as hearsay from other adventurers they've spoken to. (free)

  • Anything the PCs already know. Because they can read minds, the doppelgangers are good at "confirming" information the PCs already know, either by repeating what the PCs are already thinking or coming up with their own spin on the PCs' thoughts. Since they are trying to help the PCs rather than mislead them, these doppelgangers try to reinforce true rumors and subtly contradict false ones, though not in a way that reveals they aren't humans from the city. (free)

  • They have copies of the portal key that momentarily reverses the one-way portal in the Helmwatch. They use this key to quickly access the city above. They are willing to sell these keys at a high price (see below).

  • The location and key for the portal in location 7 that leads to Belkram's Fall.

  • The general layout of most of Level 1 and Level 2. Since humans from the city wouldn't know this, they keep this knowledge secret from the PCs so as to maintain their disguise.

  • The sellswords are actually doppelgangers. The true purpose of this camp is to find adventurers to help the doppelgangers defeat or drive off the drow. They won't reveal this information unless they absolutely trust the PCs, and only after the PCs have proven themselves valuable to the doppelgangers.

WHAT THE DOPPELGANGERS SELL

The doppelgangers don't anticipate a huge amount of business, but they are adequately stocked to take care of the adventurers. The camp contains the items listed below (most of them in the chests, some of them displayed on the blankets inside the tent). If an item is sold, it is restocked in 1d4 days. They sell these items at the normal price unless otherwise listed. Any other items must be specially requested and take 1d4+1 days to arrive at the camp.

  • Potions of cat's grace (1,300 gp), cure light wounds (650 gp), and cure moderate wounds (2,300 gp)

  • Potions of cat's grace (1,300 gp), cure light wounds (650 gp), and cure moderate wounds (2,300 gp)

  • Scroll of identify (1,125 gp)

  • Metal rod with continual flame cast on it (1, or 2 if you count the one used in the camp, 90 gp)

  • Arrows (60, 1 gp per set of 20), bolts (30, 1 gp per set of 10), daggers (4, 2 gp each), sling bullets (10, 1 sp per set of 10)

  • Chalk (10, 1 cp), crowbar (1, 2 gp), grappling hook (1, 1 gp), oil (5, 1 sp each), pitons (10, 1 sp each), rope (1, 50 ft. hemp, 1 gp), sacks (10, 1 sp each), tindertwig (5, 1 gp each), torches (40, 1 cp each), trail rations (10 days worth, 5 sp per day)

  • Portal keys to reverse the Helmwatch portal (4, 100 gp each)

Portal Key Note: To keep the actual nature of the portal key from becoming known, the doppelgangers hide the true keys (carved basilisk bone rings; see the entry on Helmwatch, below) inside small clay figurines of a popular god and sell each as if the figurine itself were the key. That way, if someone decides to make his own figurines (without the true key within), they won't work, and the doppelgangers will maintain control over the use of the return portal.

WHAT THE DOPPELGANGERS BUY

The doppelgangers buy anything they have a reasonable chance of reselling in the city above or that might be useful to them in Undermountain. They keep only about 200 gp in the camp, and prefer to trade items in their inventory (particularly the potions) rather than just exchange cash. Larger purchases require them to arrange for additional money to be brought to the camp, which takes 1d4+1 days. They buy items at half price, just like a merchant in a normal settlement. They are unlikely to pay out more than 1,000 gp in any given week unless they are offered a high-demand item or the PCs are selling something for less than the normal purchase price.

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