Perilous Gateways
Dwarven Portals
By Robert Wiese

The Maze Portal

In a certain city (the default is Waterdeep, though DMs can choose other locations appropriate to their own campaigns), there once lived a noble with a desire for perverse entertainment. Mere bards did not satisfy him, and neither did spectacles. He craved life and death, and since he was rich, he could satisfy his desire. In a remote location, he built a large maze with no entrance and no exit. He arranged for it to be stocked with dangerous plants and animals. Then, he created a portal from within his townhouse to the maze. He would trick unsuspecting people into passing through the portal, and then scry on them as they faced the monsters and deadly plants in the maze. No one he sent to the maze ever survived, and he continued his cruel entertainment for years. Or, he would have except that the desire to watch people die became an obsession, and people began to disappear at a noticeable rate. The local law enforcement tracked the disappearances to the noble, and hung him for the crimes. They never learned how he made the people disappear, but they were certain that the noble was responsible.

The house sat abandoned ever since, since the city seized it and then prevented anyone from occupying it. Somewhere within was the secret of how the people had disappeared, and officials did not want any further disappearances.

Many years after the noble died, a young dwarf thief began to use the house as a hiding place. The dwarf was quite successful, since no one would follow her into the house because of rumors that it was haunted by the undead spirits of those who had disappeared there. The dwarf, Peggin Quickstone, accidentally found the portal entrance and wound up in the maze. By this time, many of the monsters had died, but some remained. The plants had thrived and were much larger than normal specimens would be. Peggin survived the monstrous plants, but discovered that the maze did not have a way out. Shrewd dwarf that she was, she thought that this could be quite useful. She had to first find a way out (which she did thanks to a weakness in an outer wall, intelligent use of the odds and ends left behind by past unlucky people, and persistence), then figure out where the maze was, and then return to the city. Then, with the right tools, she returned to the maze and dug a tunnel right to where the portal emerged in the maze. Her tunnel led underground and eventually out of the maze some distance away. Concealing the tunnel and her original cramped exit with secret doors, she returned to the city.

The maze is a large structure that is completely covered by translucent crystal slabs. Inside it is as light as dawn during the day, and as dark as on the new moon at night. The floor and walls are all stone and dirt. The portal is located in a doorway in the noble's former house and sends users to a spot near the center of the maze. Peggin's tunnel is 10 feet from the portal exit, concealed by a secret trapdoor (Search DC 28). The other exit originally created by Peggin is little more than a cramped tunnel, but she still put a secret door on it (Search DC 28). Stock the maze with advanced versions of monstrous plants (shambling mounds, assassin vines, and so on) and a few large monsters that have survived to this day. All monsters are extremely hungry and vicious. The portal from the noble's house is continuously active and one-way.

Peggin Quickstone: Female shield dwarf Rogue 7; CR 7; Medium humanoid; HD 7d6+14; hp 38; Init +2; Spd 20 ft.; AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +5; Grp +5; Atk +8 melee (1d6/19-20, masterwork short sword) or +8 ranged (1d6/x3, masterwork shortbow); Full Atk +8 melee (1d6/19-20, masterwork short sword) or +8 ranged (1d6/x3, masterwork shortbow); SA sneak attack +4d6; SQ darkvision 60 ft., dwarf traits, evasion, trap sense +2, trapfinding, uncanny dodge; AL CE; SV Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +3; Str 11, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 6.

Skills and Feats: Appraise +6, Balance +4, Climb +9, Craft (metalworking) +4, Craft (stoneworking) +4, Craft (trapmaking) +8, Disable Device +13, Hide +19, Jump +11, Knowledge (local) +6, Listen +7, Move Silently +19, Open Lock +11, Search +12, Spot +7, Tumble +16, Use Magic Device +4; Acrobatic, Stealthy, Weapon Finesse.

Dwarf Traits: Peggin has a +1 racial bonus on attack rolls against orcs and goblinoids, a +2 racial bonus on saves against spells and spell-like abilities, a +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves against all poisons, a +4 dodge bonus against giants, and a +2 racial bonus on Appraise checks and Craft or Profession checks related to stone or metal (these bonuses are already figured into the statistics above). She also has stonecunning (+2 racial bonus on checks to notice unusual stonework; can make a check for unusual stonework as though actively searching when within 10 feet and can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can; intuit depth).

Evasion (Ex): If exposed to any effect that normally allows a character to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, Peggin takes no damage with a successful saving throw.

Trap Sense (Ex): Peggin gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +2 bonus to Armor Class against attacks made by traps.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Peggin retains her Dexterity bonus to AC even if she is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker.

Languages: Common, Dwarven, Giant, Orc.

Possessions: Masterwork short sword, masterwork short bow, 40 arrows, masterwork studded leather armor, masterwork thieves tools*, climber's kit*, boots of elvenkind* , cloak of elvenkind*, gray bag of tricks, 308 gp.

*Already figured into the statistics above.

How to Incorporate the Maze Portal Into Your Campaign:

  • The PCs are searching for a thief when they follow Peggin into the haunted house. Peggin dashes through the portal and disappears, and the PCs must follow. They find themselves in the maze and have to deal with the inhabitants while Peggin uses the tunnel to escape and head back to the city.

  • Peggin branches into holding people ransom and is caught by a local merchant whose relative Peggin has sent to the maze. The PCs are called to take Peggin and find the missing relative. Peggin is not willing to tell them where the relative is, however, and leads them on a wild goose chase all over the city before leading them to the maze portal.

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