Return to Undermountain
Room 3: Antimagic Room (EL 6)
By Matthew Sernett

Room Summary

Creatures: (1) Caryatid column (see map; the orange mark indicates the caryatid column).
Traps: None.
Terrain: No notable features; the stairs are broad and shallow, making them like normal terrain for movement. Combatants do not gain the benefit of higher ground unless they can reach all the way across the stairs and down into the room from the top of the flight.
Lighting Conditions: Darkness.
Magic: None. The room is an area of dead magic. Treat the whole room to the base of the stairs as though it is affected by an antimagic field.
Detectable Alignments: None.
Secrets: (2) One of the columns is a caryatid column, and an antimagic field blankets the room.
Treasure: Nothing but a blue candle tucked into one of the pillars (see Adventure Hooks and Tie-Ins for a treasure suggestion regarding the blue candle).

Relevant Skill Checks

Knowledge (Architecture and Engineering) DC 12: One of the columns in the room serves no structural purpose. (This is the caryatid column in column form.)

Knowledge (Nature) DC 15: A PC examining the vertebrae can make a Knowledge (nature) check to figure out that the bones are from a Huge constrictor snake slain years ago. The snake's ribs and head are missing.

Search DC 15: If someone can reach the top of the caryatid column in column form, a Search check with this result reveals it is not attached to the ceiling. A dwarf and any other creature with stonecunning can recognize this simply by passing within 10 feet of the column and succeeding at an automatic search check of this DC.

Search DC 25: Careful examination of the columns reveals faint carvings of scenes of battle between some kind of monsters and what looks to be elves and dwarves (actually drow and duergar). Only one column varies from this theme. It bears lines that indicate an elongated female form (the caryatid column in column form).

Spot DC 20: A Spot check result this high allows a character to notice that the top of one pillar does not appear to connect with the ceiling (the caryatid column in column form).

The Map

The map for this room is available in two different sizes: One serves as a reference for the DM, and the other is a map with a grid that works nicely with your miniatures.

Each map is presented as a compressed (zipped) Adobe Portable Document Format file (pdf). You need to have Adobe Reader installed to use it. Adobe Reader can be downloaded for free from the Adobe website.

Room Location on the Poster Map: This room is on piece 5 of the poster map. You can see the pieces in thumbnail size in the introduction to this series. For a better idea of where this room is, please view the Article Reference Map.

Read the following aloud, adjusting as necessary for successful skill checks:

Broad steps lead down into an irregularly shaped room filled with a forest of twelve thick granite pillars. The vertebrae of some large beast lie scattered about the floor in a haphazard fashion. There are three other sets of broad stairs and exits, one for each compass point. On the southeastern diagonal wall someone has written "Certain death this way!" with an arrow pointing at the southern exit. On the northwestern diagonal wall someone else has written "Even worse this way!" with an arrow pointing to the northern exit. Unlike much of the rest of the dungeon, the ceiling in this room appears to be about 12 feet tall. Otherwise, the room appears empty.

Images of Halaster's great accomplishments once decorated the pillars in this room, but centuries of battles and traffic in the room has left them smoothed off and dingy. One pillar has an open hollow with the stub of a melted blue candle in it. The hollow was once a secret chamber in the stone, but its door was broken away long ago, and now it too is smoothed over.

This area's main feature is that the whole room to the base of each set of stairs is an area of dead magic. This functions like an antimagic field. Many dungeon denizens know of the room's properties, and they seek to use it when in the area and facing foes who use magic or supernatural abilities. One such creature uses it that way now: a caryatid column.

The caryatid column stands near the center of the room in column form. Trobriand the Metal Mage set it to stand here. This mage was one of Halaster's original apprentices who, until recently, resided deep within Undermountain. He now has his base of operations in the eastern section of the first level. There he slowly attracts followers and apprentices. For more information about Trobriand, see City of Splendors: Waterdeep, to be released in July.

The caryatid column has been instructed to attack anyone who attempts to leave by the north or south exit. Otherwise it merely stands in the room and defends itself from attacks. It waits until one individual in a group has left the room by a prohibited exit. It then rushes to attack that creature and block its progress away from the room. If the PCs remain in the room or leave by the east or west exit, the caryatid column does not attack. Otherwise it follows those who leave by the wrong exit, attacking as it goes, until it has traveled 200 feet from the room, whereupon it returns to the room. If the PCs continue to attack the caryatid column when it is prepared to let them go on their way, it defends itself by concentrating its attacks on a single foe, hoping that killing one will convince the others of their error.

The caryatid column cannot speak, but it understands Common.

Caryatid Column (1): hp 53; Fiend Folio page 30.

Note that the caryatid column cannot make use of its break weapon ability while within the Antimagic Room. Similarly, the PCs cannot make use of their magic items, spells, supernatural abilities, or spell-like abilities while with in the Antimagic Room due to its antimagic field effect.

Lacking a caryatid column miniature? Consider using the Stonechild from Dragoneye or the Goliath Barbarian from Deathknell.

Adventure Hooks and Tie-Ins

  • The blue candle might be a key to a magic portal or secret door in a later part of the dungeon, or it could be a magic candle such as a candle of truth.

  • Creatures with a 15-foot reach might make this room an ambush spot, giving them the ability to strike foes from the top of the stairs and outside the antimagic area. A Large creature using a reach weapon makes a great choice, especially if the weapon can attack adjacent squares or if the creature has an extra natural attack such as a bite. With one standing above each stairway and one threatening PCs in the room, they could present quite a challenge to the PCs.

  • If you want to make the encounter more challenging, consider using more caryatid columns. One or two could stand in column form near each forbidden exit, lending credence to the writing on the wall.

Need more information? Check the Return to Undermountain: An Introduction for more details.

Article Reference Map

About the Author

Once editor-in-chief of Dragon Magazine and now a game designer at Wizards of the Coast, Matthew Sernett wrote in a Dragon editorial that there's nothing in D&D he likes better than when the adventurers flee through the dungeon, running pell-mell through traps and past monsters because what chases them is worse. When he wrote that, Matthew was thinking about Undermountain.

1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.