Return to Undermountain
Room 11: A Cold Welcome (EL 11)
By Matthew Sernett

Room Summary

Creatures: (8) One Red Wizard, two Thayan knights, one chraal, and four direguards.
Traps: None, but brown mold grows all over the hallway from which the PCs enter.
Terrain: Slippery; DC 10 Balance check to charge or run in brown mold areas and within 30 feet of the brown mold, also +5 to the DC of Climb checks in the area. The mold has caused the natural moisture in this area of the dungeon to freeze, covering the ground, floor, and ceiling nearby in frost and patches of ice.
Lighting Conditions: Darkness in the brown mold halls; bright illumination in the room (due to everburning torches brought by the Thayans).
Magic: Everburning torches (faint evocation) and treasure (varies based on item).
Detectable Alignments: Faint evil (chraal, Thayan knights), strong evil (direguards, Red Wizard).
Secrets: None.
Treasure: (22,520 gp) The equipment carried by the monsters and NPCs.

Relevant Skill Checks

Listen DC 21: A character who succeeds at the Listen check can hear the Red Wizard plotting with the Thayan knights.

Spot DC 17: This result allows a PC to spot the direguards lying in wait in the hall (assuming the direguards are in the range of the PCs darkvision or light source).

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.

As the PCs approach the hallway leading up to the room, read this text:

A chill overtakes you as you turn down this hall; the air is noticeably colder and it seems to become chillier as you move down the hall.

Ask the players to make Listen Checks. If all the PCs fail, read the following text:

You hear distant murmur from ahead in the hall, but you can't make it out or discern what's making the noise.

If any PC succeeds at the Listen check, read this text:

You hear voices in conversation in the distance down the tunnel. They're muffled by something so you catch only scraps of the conversation, but you hear a gravelly male voice speaking and a female voice speaking in a foreign tongue.

If a PC who made the Listen check speaks Mulhorandi, read the following:

You catch the gravelly male voice in mid sentence speaking in Mulhorandi, " . . . worry my pets. The Metal Mage will agree with my bargain."

A female voice, also speaking in Mulhorandi, replies, "But our spies in the city say he is not to be trusted."

Another female voice concurs, "Indeed, they say his academy is a front for other operations."

The male voice speaks again. "Your protests have been noted," he says ominously. "I have decided our course of action, and we will soon proceed with it. You would both do well to contemplate the punishments for insolence and cowardice while you pack up my things."

Silence answers him.

In the room ahead, two Thayan knights pack up the camp they laid for their master, a Red Wizard. The Red Wizard, Reven Zhul, has come to Undermountain to form an alliance with Trobriand, the Metal Mage. Trobriand is a powerful spellcaster who has started an academy in the western third of the first level of Undermountain. See City of Splendors: Waterdeep for details about Trobriand. The Red Wizards hope an alliance with Trobriand will give them an easy foothold in Undermountain and thus Waterdeep.

The Red Wizard came to Undermountain prepared for its dangers. In addition to the Thayan knights, his retinue includes 4 direguards (see page 162 in Lost Empires of Faerūn) and a chraal (see Monster Manual III). Having found some brown mold in his excursion through the dungeon, the Red Wizard had his direguards collect it and place it in both halls approaching this room. The Red Wizard then had the direguards apply fire to the brown mold to cause it to grow all over the hall and over themselves. Thus protected on both sides, the Red Wizard and his knights made camp in the room. When they're packed to leave, the Red Wizard plans to have the chraal breathe its breath weapon on the western tunnel and the direguards to destroy the brown mold, and so they can all make their way west toward Trobriand's secret college.

When the PCs approach, the Red Wizard, the Thayan knights, and the chraal are in the room behind its closed doors. Two direguards hide among the brown mold in each hallway leading to the room. The mold grows all over them, which allows them to hide against the heavily mold-encrusted walls without cover or concealment.

When the PCs come within sight of the brown mold, read the following:

The chill in the air increases as you move down the hall. You can see drips of water frozen into ice on the walls, and the passage glistens with frost until it reaches a section grown over with a brown mossy substance. The walls, floor, and even the ceiling are covered in the stuff. It's then that you notice a musty smell, like wet clothes left in the bottom of your pack for too long.

When the PCs come within 30 feet of the direguards, or if the PCs use cold magic against the brown mold, the direguards use their blink ability and attack. The sound of combat draws the notice of those in the room and the direguards in the other hall. On the second round of combat, the Thayan knights open the doors to room. The Red Wizard has the chraal breathe down the other hall the PCs aren't in so that he has an escape route. The chraal and other direguards join the combat with the PCs on the third round. In that round, the Red Wizard begins casting spells down the hall at the PCs. The Thayan knights remain by the Red Wizard and protect him with their lives. If they have to, they remain behind to cover his escape.

Brown Mold: Brown mold fills the hallways approaching the room. See page 76 of the Dungeon Master's Guide for more information.

4 Direguards: Use the statistics from Lost Empires of Faerūn and Direguard (38/60) from the Angelfire miniatures set.

Chraal: Use the statistics from the Monster Manual III and Chraal (37/60) from the Angelfire miniatures set.

2 Thayan Knights: Use the statistics from the Thayan Knight (38/60) from the Dragoneye miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use the Thayan knight prestige class from Complete Warrior to make two 7th-level Thayan knights.

Red Wizard: Use the statistics from the Red Wizard (37/60) from the Archfiends miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Table 4-22 in the Dungeon Master's Guide to design a 6th-level human wizard.

Treasure: This list of treasure represents the equipment carried by the Thayan knights, direguards, and Red Wizard: 2 masterwork spiked full plate, 2 +1 arrow catching shields, 2 +1 longswords, 4 masterwork longswords, quarterstaff, bracers of armor +2,cloak of resistance +1, headband of intellect +2, scroll of comprehend languages, scroll of mount.

Adventure Hooks and Tie-Ins

  • The Red Wizards are trying to make an alliance with Trobriand, but to what end? Perhaps they want to use his academy as a base for their operations in Waterdeep. Maybe they want to establish their own black market for magic not beholden to the political forces in Waterdeep or Skullport. Whatever their motives, the proposed alliance is sure to be of interest to the authorities in Waterdeep. If the PCs inform them of what they found out, the Lords of Waterdeep might employ them to find out more. If they don't tell anyone, Harper agents working with the Lords of Waterdeep might suspect them of collusion with the Red Wizards.

  • Perhaps the Red Wizards see the failure of their envoys to return as a sign that Trobriand killed them. The PCs might have inadvertently started a war between Trobriand and the Red Wizards, a war that could easily escape the dungeon and spill out onto the streets of Waterdeep!

  • The Red Wizard might have a map to Trobriand that can lead the PCs to his secret school. If the players follow the map, they might get a cold welcome. Yet if one or more of the PCs is an arcane spellcaster, or if the PCs impersonate the Red Wizard and his envoy, they might gain access to the secret college. Of course, once they know about the academy, Trobriand can't afford to have them tell others about it. . . .

  • The Red Wizards might have come down into Undermountain from Waterdeep like any other adventurers, but maybe they know of a portal from Undermountain to a location closer to Thay. Perhaps the alliance with Trobriand was for a trade route or for secrecy about their surreptitious means of attacking Waterdeep.

  • Perhaps the Red Wizards don't want anything to do with Waterdeep and their true interest lies somewhere in Undermountain. Maybe Trobriand holds some secret knowledge they need so that they can find what they want, and the Red Wizard came to bargain for it.

  • You can decrease the difficulty of this encounter by replacing the monsters with other monsters that work with this set up. Exchange the Chraal with a Small White Dragon (59/60) from the Dragoneye miniatures set. Switch the Direguards with Gnoll Skeletons (52/60) from the Aberrations miniatures set. Doing so changes the encounter level to EL 9 encounter.

  • You can increase the difficulty of the encounter by adding more chraals and direguards. Think carefully before adding more Thayan knights or Red Wizards, though. Doing so also adds more treasure to the encounter.

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.

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