The Shining Star is a roleplaying adventure that can be played with D&D Miniatures. Creatures encountered in Part 3 are drawn from the sets through Angelfire. 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:
- Ettin Skirmisher
- Hell Hound (x2)
- Gravehound (x2)
- Goblin Adept (x3 or x2)
- Goblin Warrior, Skirmisher, or other Small humanoids (many)
- Grell (x3)
- Large Air Elemental
- Mummy (x2)
Shining Star uses the "Cliff Complex"maps from the Map-A-Week 2004 Archive(this part uses the maps of the third and fourth levels). Click below for PDFs containing four-page, printer-friendly (low ink usage) versions of the maps 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. Two of the figures used here are rare (Mummy), 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 and part 2, 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.
Encounters -- Level 3
On this level and all subsequent levels of this complex, the walls, ceiling, and floor are rough, natural-looking stone rather than the finished stone of the two upper levels. All other structural details remain the same (door strengths, etc.).
7) Ladder Bottom & Chamber
Guarding this landing against intruders who descend from above are two Gravehounds. They need to hear a password only Am-Rep-Ma and his minions know in order not to attack. Unless the PCs discover this password's existence and what the word is, the Gravehounds attack when the first PC sets foot on the chamber floor without speaking the password.
8) Ettin Chamber
This long, north-south area serves as the home for an Ettin Skirmisher and his two pet Hell Hounds (one for each of the ettin's heads). The Mummy Lord hired this trio to guard this "gateway" chamber to the rest of this level and beyond.
Unless the PCs defeat the gravehounds quickly and quietly (or manage to bypass them without alerting the undead beasts), the ettin and his pets know of the PCs' arrival. The ettin places himself around the corner of the corridor that leads south, and he instructs his "puppies" to hide in the passage leading to the north. Once the heroes enter the chamber, the monsters attack. Note that unwary or panicky PCs may mistake the canine shapes charging at them from the dark as more Gravehounds, until they learn otherwise.
The chamber is the living area for the trio. It contains a heap of furs that the ettin uses for a bed, some supplies, and several well-gnawed bones belonging to the hell hounds. To those who would recognize such things, these bones are clearly goblinoid in nature. The ettin occasionally sets the hounds loose on the goblins that occupy much of the rest of this level.
9) Goblin Common Room
Most of the rest of this level serves as the home for a band of goblins that once claimed this area of the badlands as their domain. Upon Am-Rep-Ma's return, he coerced the band's leaders into accepting him as their lord in exchange for promises of refuge and wealth.
This chamber is the common area for the band, where they eat, train, fight, and try to find new ways to harass the ettin in the chamber to the south while also seeking some way to keep his pets from occasionally grabbing an unlucky or unwary member of the band.
Any combat on this level alerts the goblins, and they are ready to defend their home. The noncombatants will hustle into Area 10, away from the fight. Meanwhile, the goblin adepts (the band's leaders) are hidden among the warriors, ready to unleash their spells. If the goblin adept from level 1 escaped the PCs, he is here with his two compatriots. If the heroes slew him, then only two adepts are present here.
A band of goblins numbers 10-100 warriors, plus an equal number of noncombatants (those too young or old to fight). DMs are left to determine the size of this band, and thus, the level of resistance this set of foes presents to the heroes. Gaining access to the ladder down to the fourth level (see below) should not be easy, but it should not be impossible, either. Perhaps the size and alertness of the band demands that the PCs resort to actions other than combat in order to proceed. Presenting the band with proof of the ettin's and hell hounds' destruction may go a long way toward defusing hostility between the goblins and the PCs. Use Goblin Warrior or Goblin Skirmisher figures to represent as many of the residents as you can. If you lack enough miniatures, substitute other figures or note to the players that each miniature actually represents more than one goblin, as determined by the band's size.
Against all reason, the goblins don't seem to fear Am-Rep-Ma or what they risk by betraying him. The surviving adepts feel that if the heroes have gotten this far (and killed the bullying ettin and his vicious hounds), then the tide may be turning against the Mummy Lord, and it could be time to return to roaming the surface as the band did prior to Am-Rep-Ma's revival.
9a) Ladder Down
This alcove is not visible from the southern entryway into this chamber. Heroes will not see it unless they actually enter area 9. Unless an accord is reached with the band's leaders, the goblin warriors seek to prevent the PCs from reaching this alcove.
10) Sleeping Area
This large area serves as the goblin band's common rest and sleeping area. Many bedrolls, cloaks and other attire, and some toys litter this room, which is permeated with a dank, musty odor. Little of value is to be found here.
If the PCs do end up fighting and defeating the goblins, there remains the issue of what to do with the dozens of noncombatant goblins. Heroes worthy of the name will not resort to a wholesale slaughter of those unable to defend themselves, but if left alive and unfettered, there's a good chance they'll cause trouble in the near future and make escape from the cavern difficult. Encouraging them to gather their belongings and flee back to the surface may be the simplest solution.
11) Adepts' Quarters
The band's adepts claim this small room directly south of the sleeping area. Their bed, totems, spellbooks, and other gear will be found here if the adepts are unable to halt the PCs from ransacking this room. If the heroes are in need of some quick healing, generous DMs may place healing potions, poultices, etc., here, although it's recommended that these items are describe as being composed of nonstandard materials (smelly, cloudy potions, lichens or moss that must be consumed despite tasting terrible, etc.).
12) Loot Chamber
This room along the eastern wall south of the sleeping area holds the accumulated wealth of the goblin band. The size of the band determined by the DM also helps set the level and type of treasures found here. Note that goblins have "Standard" treasure.
13) Pillared Chamber
The goblins seldom venture into this chamber, which was claimed as home by the pair of grell that the heroes encountered on level 1 of this complex. Because it's likely that the PCs killed those grell, the three young, immature grell here are now orphans. If the PCs stay close to the northern wall and do not attack, the young grell, which are hovering above, do not descend to attack. This is the path taken by the goblins who seek to reach room 14, where they dump their refuse.
These three grell here do not leave the chamber, and they fight mainly to protect each other. They have only 24 hp each, rather than 32. Otherwise, they fight as their parents did.
This stinking room serves as the garbage dump for the goblins, the ettin, and the grells that live on this level. There is nothing of interest to the PCs here.
Encounters -- Level 4
15) Ladder Down
This area is guarded by a Large Air Elemental that fills the small room with a whipping wind once it becomes aware of the PCs in its presence. It dos not leave this room.
16) Temple to Be
What purpose, if any, this large chamber may have served is lost. Am-Rep-Ma is in the process of converting this area to a temple devoted to Wee Jas, the goddess of death and magic. (DMs using other pantheons can assign the role of Am-Rep-Ma's divine patron to any suitable god of death, magic, evil, or tyranny. DMs also may choose to have Am-Rep-Ma worship a long-lost or otherwise unknown deity, such as Tharizdun or the Great Old Ones.)
The place has an unholy feel to it already, despite its semi-constructed state. The northeast corner will one day hold the altar, the rest of the northern wall already has some murals and bas-reliefs, depicting either the vile glories of Wee Jas, the heinous acts of Am-Rep-Ma when he was still alive, or both. The rest of the chamber is open now, but may one day hold pews upon which supplicants can sit.
This place is guarded by two mummies that attack as soon as the heroes enter the chamber. If you lack two mummy figures, substitute other undead, ideally two of the same variety, to represent the mummies.
Consecrating the altar area or casting other divine spells to offset the lurking miasma of evil here sets back the Mummy Lord's construction plans by weeks or months. Give the first PC to think of this tactic a roleplaying bonus of 800 XP. Award all the heroes who aid in this effort (casting spells, defacing the murals and bas-reliefs, or even splashing holy water around the room, etc.) a roleplaying award of 400 XP.
17) Lower Chamber
Three stairways lead down to this area that slopes downward from east to west, which is dominated by a large, deep pit. This is also the home of a destrachan that Am-Rep-Ma convinced to join him and guard this area.
Am-Rep-Ma's workers (largely, the goblins from the level above) work here to quarry the stone needed to build the temple in the chamber up the stairs. Most of the quarrying is done along the west wall, as revealed by cut stones, tools, and two small alcoves there. The alcoves represent the original floor of this end of the chamber, about 10 feet above the current floor.
There is no evident way down from here, other than the dark pit, which extends downward at least 50 to 60 feet. How the PCs proceed at this point remains a mystery until the final portion of this adventure.
Concluding This Portion of the Adventure
This area should take at least one session of play to get through. Look for the conclusion of this adventure in a few weeks.
Characters that finish this section of the scenario will divide 16,500 XP among them, plus XP for overcoming the goblin band and the two or three goblin adepts present.
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.