The Shining Star is a roleplaying adventure that can be played with D&D Miniatures. Creatures encountered in Part 2 are drawn from the sets through Deathknell. This scenario is intended for four 5th-level player characters in an ongoing D&D campaign but could also be played as a stand-alone fight with either the full D&D rules or the tabletop skirmish combat rules.
This portion of the scenario uses the following miniatures:
- Bloodhulk Fighter (x2)
- Carrion Tribe Barbarian (x4)
- Abyssal Eviscerator
- Grim Necromancer
Shining Star uses the "Cliff Complex"maps from the Map-A-Week 2004 Archive (this part uses the map of the second level). Click below for a PDF containing a four-page, printer-friendly (low ink usage) version of the map in DDM scale. You can also download a PDF of this document, if that's more convenient than using an online version.
All the NPCs and monsters are exactly as noted on the D&D Quick Reference side of their statistic cards unless otherwise noted. None of the figures used here are rare, but feel free to substitute other miniatures you have for any you lack. Except where noted, monsters have no treasure, NPCs carry only their gear, and all creatures fight to the death.
As noted in Part 1, the PCs are contacted by one of their regular patrons to journey to the nearby wilderness where their patron believes an item that has been stolen from him (or her) is hidden. The thieves have holed up in a system of caverns among the cliffs in that region. The patron refers to the stolen item as the shining star, a family heirloom. The patron describes it as "a luminous jewel you shall recognize the moment you see it." The patron further states that the shining star must have been stolen surreptitiously from a family caravan as it passed near the cliff area on a recent journey. Unidentified figures were seen shadowing the caravan through that area, and then the jewel disappeared overnight. Embarrassed by the theft, the patron has not pursued other means to reclaim the lost item; he would like it to be recovered quietly by the PCs.
The shining star was taken from the patron as described. The mastermind behind the deed is Am-Rep-Ma, a Mummy Lord with an old grudge against the patron's family. Am-Rep-Ma's crypt was placed deep among the cliffs in the hope that he would not trouble the world in death as he did in life. His followers, however, found him and gave their lives in an attempt to return Am-Rep-Ma from the dead. They failed to restore his life, but they did grant him unlife. Over the years, the undead tyrant roamed the wilderness, gaining power and new followers. Finally, feeling ready to gain his revenge on those who executed him for his limitless crimes in life, he set his supporters to steal the shining star.
Am-Rep-Ma is fully aware that the patron will try to regain what has been taken, and the Mummy Lord has prepared his carven complex as best he can. The PC heroes shall test his preparations and their own resolve.
6. Ladder and Passage
If the Goblin Adept from Level 1 reached this area, track his movement as the PCs pursue him. If the PCs do not reach this level in time to regain sight of him in this passage, the Adept eludes pursuit and will not be found again.
The northernmost passage is clear of obstacles, but no light sources exist here. Once the passage turns south and then east, some indirect light can be seen coming from area 7 Before the PCs reach that chamber, they are attacked by two bloodhulk fighters hidden in the two alcoves along the northern wall (at the "Bs"). The first one attacks when an intruder passes in front of its alcove, when it sees a light source (not just the light from area 7), or when it wins an opposed skill check (Listen vs. Move Silently, for example) if the PCs are invisible or obscured from sight. Once combat is joined, the second Bloodhulk emerges from its alcove and joins the fray.
7. Barbarian Tribe Quarters
The Carrion Tribe of barbarians calls the desolate hills around the cliff complex its home. Am-Rep-Ma befriended the tribe and offered it the use of this chamber as a camp. In exchange for this hospitality, the tribe acts as scouts for the Mummy Lord, and a few warriors always remain on guard here. (The tribe's leaders don't fully trust Am-Rep-Ma, but they are willing to work with him as long as the tribe benefits. They believe it's better to have the undead cleric as an ally than as an enemy.) The tribe is out foraging now, which is why there aren't more people here and why the barbarians didn't alert Am-Rep-Ma to the approach of the heroes.
This chamber is a mess; it's filled with the tribe's belongings. Bedrolls, cots, bags, clothing, extra weapons, dried meat, stored food (in red clay pots of every size and type), even primitive dolls and other toys of the tribe's children litter the place. The heroes could take hours to search the room fully, but they haven't the time right now.
On either side of the entrance to this chamber stands a barbarian who is ready to rage the round he sees a PC. These two warriors maintain their positions until the PCs enter and threaten to flank the barbarians. Then, they fight side by side if possible.
Two more barbarians guard the exit from this room to area 8. Am-Rep-Ma instructed these two not to engage intruders along with their comrades but to prevent anyone from advancing further into the complex. When the PCs enter the room, one tribe member stands in the doorway and his fellow stands in the corner next to him. They rage once a PC attacks one of them.
These tribal warriors fear disobeying the Mummy Lord, but they also don't want to stand about while their tribesmen are slaughtered by the PCs. Once one of the first two barbarians in battle with the PCs falls, make a Wisdom check for these warriors (DC 20). Failure indicates that a barbarian's emotions overcome him; he immediately rages and joins the battle, screaming for the death of the PC who struck down his cousin. On the round following, the remaining barbarian cannot stand idle any longer and joins his partner.
8. More Quarters
This square chamber resembles area 7, but the accommodations are a bit better. Furs cover several large but primitive beds. Stuffed animal heads and primitive headdresses are mounted on the walls, and a few cheap but locked chests or footlockers rest near the beds. Kegs of beer and skins of wine rest on small tables, and more clothing lies scattered on the floor.
Am-Rep-Ma's minions have arranged this room to make it seem as if it's the home of the tribe's leaders when they are in residence. In truth, this chamber contains a series of poison traps for unwary intruders. (The warriors from area 2 do not know of the traps -- all they know is that, should any tribe member touch anything in this room other than the floor when walking across it, Am-Rep-Ma will kill 10 members of the tribe.)
The DM is left to determine the full extent and deadliness of the poison traps herein, but the following are suggested as possibilities.
- The pillows are laced with a fine powder form of burnt othur fumes (Inhaled DC 18: 1 Con drain; 3d6 Con dmg) that wafts up into the face of anyone who lays his head on a pillow.
- The furs covering the beds hide densely arranged pockets of barbed spikes (1d6 dmg, plus another 1d6 dmg to remove) that are coated with deathblade poison (Injury DC 20: 1d6 Con dmg; 2d6 Con dmg). The spikes are hidden in holes in the mattresses. Any Medium creature that lies down on a bed exposes itself to 1d4+1 of these spike pockets. Any Small creature suffers exposure to 1d3 of these pockets, and any Large creature risks encountering 2d4 pockets of spikes.
- The beer and the wine is not only cheap, it's also been laced with dark reaver powder (Ingested DC 18: 2d6 Con dmg; 1d6 Con + 1d6 Str dmg).
9. Secret Door/Ladder Down
This seeming dead-end conceals a trap door over a ladder leading down (Spot DC 27, Search DC 22) to the next level of the complex. Standing atop the hidden door is a Grim Necromancer, and in the square in front of him is a "gift" from Am-Rep-Ma: a pet Abyssal Eviscerator. As with the Goblin Adept on level 1, this spellcaster has had time to prepare for battle -- two full rounds before the PCs enter the passage and see him (the DM can adjust this up or down based on the heroes' actions). The DM determines which spells the necromancer cast in those two rounds and which he's casting in round 3 when the PCs enter combat with him. Roll initiative and continue the combat normally.
10. Necromancer's Quarters
This chamber is the home and study of the Necromancer encountered in area 9. Tomes (including the Necromancer's spellbook) and other wizardly materials, body parts, clothing, personal gear, and noncombat-related treasure or magic items that the DM determines the mage possesses are stored here.
Not believing the "primitive" barbarians can resist snooping in places they don't belong, the Necromancer keeps a single Deathlock on permanent guard duty here to attack any intruders. It stands 10 feet inside the room, directly in front of the door to discourage any from entering. It attacks any creature other than the Necromancer that crosses the room's threshold.
Concluding This Portion of the Adventure
This level of the complex should fill at least one play session. Future installments of this adventure detail the subsequent levels. Look for the next part in a few weeks.
For a 5th-level party of heroes, cleaning out this level earns 8,250 XP to be divided among the members of the party. Also, for each poison trap encountered and survived, the DM may add an additional 750 XP (an average value) to the total.
About the Author
Dale Donovan is a 15-year veteran of the gaming industry, during which time he edited Dragon Magazine, wrote or edited on every RPG line produced by TSR or Wizards, moved from rural Wisconsin to suburban Seattle and back to Wisconsin. He's worked for Guardians of Order, White Wolf/Sword & Sorcery, the Valar Project, Steve Jackson Games, and Green Ronin, among others. He loves games, books, comics, movies, and his wonderful wife and lovely daughter.