Return to Undermountain08/24/2005


Room 12: Top Three Rooms
Call to Adventurers Contest Winners



Undermountain, that seemingly endless dungeon beneath Waterdeep, remains one of the most recognizable locations in Faerûn. Check out the top three room descriptions from out call to adventurers contest. First place finisher "The Undead Wish" by Jason Milligan, second place "The Auditorium" by sus323, and third place "The Temple of Fortune's Rebirth" by Ohtar Turinson.

The Undead Wish (EL Varies)
By Jason Milligan

Room Summary

Creatures: (2) One efreeti and one curst.
Traps: None.
Terrain: Hewn stone; all the furnishings of Mov'Harath's area are illusions that the genie created over time with his permanent imagespell-like ability and placed over old decrepit furniture.
Lighting Conditions: Darkness for the first two thirds of the room with light from a fireplace (30 feet of bright light, with 60 feet of shadowy illumination) in the upper third.
Magic: Mov'Harath's area radiates moderate evocation, enchantment, and illusion magic from the permanent images,wall of force, and binding effects.
Detectable Alignments: Moderate chaotic evil (Brelson) and strong lawful evil (Mov'Harath).
Secrets: (1) The switch for the secret door in the southeastern passage is on the front of the southwestern-most pillar. It is a pressure-activated stone switch upon which is carved the Dwarven word that means "to open." The secret door remains open for 10 rounds before closing. The switch to open it from the other side is left up to the DM's discretion, though it should probably be found in a nearby room.
Treasure: If defeated, the curst has only his breastplate and a +2 bastard sword.

Relevant Checks

Knowledge (Local History) DC 20: The curst were created by the battle with Myrkuls' minions in Waterdeep and its interaction with wild magic areas.

Search DC 25: This result finds the pressure-triggered stone block in the southwestern pillar.

Search DC 27: This result finds the secret door in the southeastern passage.

Spellcraft DC 27: This result identifies the barrier as a modified wall of force. The higher than normal DC reflects the modifications made to it.

Spellcraft DC 28: This result identifies the runes in the carpet as part of the binding effect used to bind the efreeti. If the result beats the DC by at least 5, the character also knows that it keeps Mov'Harath from plane shifting back to the Plane of Fire and it restricts his spell-like abilities (specifically only permanent image and wish, though no check can give information about what Mov'Harath's spell-like abilities are).

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 4 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 as the party passes through the double doors:

The large, double doors open into a vast, darkness-filled chamber. The darkness does not allow a complete view of how wide it actually is. Barely visible are two columns of aged and chipped stone rising 12 feet to the ceiling. To the west is a stout wooden door. On the east is a short passage that ends in a blank wall. Running from the center of the double doors is a rotted carpet; occasional patches of color amid its ruin indicate that it was once blood red in hue. At the far end of the room, you make out the presence of a light, such as that emanating from a hearth fire.

The room itself has no furnishings, nor any light source, until the PCs come to the northern third of the chamber. The six columns toward the entrance hold fading runes of an ancient and archaic nature. Most represent warding symbols with no power left in them and others are indecipherable due to age. The carpet is so worn away it does nothing to muffle footsteps. Carved upon the trigger block for the secret door is the Dwarven word that means "to open."

Once the party comes within viewing distance of the southernmost of the northern columns, read the following text:

The aged stone and tattered carpet end at the edge of a plush red carpet that has golden runes traced into its edge. The two northernmost columns are made of shining brass and have relief carvings of flames running the entire length of them. Spread throughout the area beyond are multiple fine furnishings, including a darkwood desk and chair with magnificent carvings adorning them. A hearth stands in the center of the northernmost wall, and a fire spreads a comforting light about the area. Above it sits a bejeweled longsword mounted upon an oak backboard.

The most peculiar feature of the area is the large red-skinned, horned humanoid sitting in the chair in the center of the area. Dressed in fine silks of varied colors, he speaks in a deep baritone, "I welcome you, mortals. Come to chat with an old riddler?"

Halaster originally created this room as a means to test his seven apprentices for when they eventually, he knew, would come looking for him. As one of his earliest additions to the Underhalls, he sectioned it off from the rest of the complex by two well-hidden secret doors. In this room he summoned, bound, and put into service a genie, or more specifically, an efreeti. After his apprentices finally gathered, Halaster decided to leave the genie imprisoned as both an obstacle and reward for those who decided to delve into his underground fortress.

Contained in a modified binding circle and wall of force, the mad wizard bound the genie to grant 101 wishes before he would be freed. (Review the efreeti's spell-like abilities and the wish spell before running this encounter; Mov'Harath is still bound by daily limitations.) Before he could grant these wishes though, the person must answer a constantly changing riddle. After many centuries, failed attempts at answering riddles, and the occasional success, the efreeti, called Mov'Harath, is down to just one riddle to be answered. Here is where things turn difficult.

During the Time of Troubles, a battle broke out in Waterdeep with Myrkul's minions. Some of the City Guard that died in that battle rose again as curst. One of these unfortunates, Brelson, wandered many years in and around the City of the Dead, Waterdeep's graveyard, looking for a way to return to life. With no luck in his endeavor, the undead almost gave up hope, until he overheard one of the few adventurers to have returned from Undermountain telling of a wish-granting genie. This was his chance. After passing through the Yawning Portal disguising his true nature, he spent many weeks on the upper level of the dungeon looking for this elusive genie. Little did he suspect that when he found him, there would be a riddle to answer to gain his reward.

For the past eleven years, Brelson has stayed here in the genie's room trying to answer his riddles. As of yet, thanks to his low Intelligence and Wisdom scores (6 and 2 respectively), he has yet to correctly answer it. After all, the riddles originally were meant for aspiring wizards of quick wit and great intellect. In his frustration, and due to the chaotic nature of all curst, he has pleaded adventurers that correctly answer to save him from his undeath as many times as he has slain them to keep the genie's last wish for himself.

Most of the preceding information can be gleaned in conversation with both Mov'Harath and Brelson. As a rule, determine beforehand Brelson's demeanor before the party enters the room. Typically, he approaches them from the darkness before they reach the northern half of the room inhabited by the efreeti. He has a 50% chance of being quite docile initially; otherwise he is depressed or arrogant and even violent to the characters. He also has the standard 5% chance per combat round of suddenly acting irrationally.

Mov'Harath has become very perturbed by his predicament over the past eleven years. With only one wish left, adventurers have consistently gotten the riddle wrong, fled Brelson's wrath only to be hunted down and killed, or defeated Brelson only to have him regenerate and annoy the genie with his continued presence.

Sample riddles are provided here:

Fires of destruction praise my touch yet mourn my tears,

Though I am unseen you see my travels,

My voice is as quiet as a mouse, yet louder than thunder's roar,

I tread the very mountains with ease yet water is as impassable as stone.

Answer: Wind.

You feel my kiss when you first see light and know my embrace as darkness falls,

I am king to no one, though everything bows before me,

Empires fall before my might, but the most delicate flower's blooming I cannot stop.

Answer: Time.

When the characters decide to take on the riddle, only one answer and wish can be granted, so they have only one opportunity. The riddle itself appears as shimmering words upon the wall of force that runs between the four large pillars at the northern end of the room. If correctly answered, the genie's bonds are broken, but it still takes 3 rounds for the magic to fully dissipate. Then the genie is once again free to act and use all of his spell-like abilities (minus any he used earlier). By answering, the party basically has three options:

Help the Curst

In the event the characters correctly answer the riddle, they may wish for the curst to be returned to life. Mov'Harath actually takes offense to this if he has told the party his story of the past eleven years with Brelson. To him, the party has just aided his would-be captor. Once the barriers are down, Mov'Harath attacks the party and curst alike.

Despite being free of undeath, and because he spent so long in his condition, Brelson's alignment remains chaotic neutral and he still has the chance to act irrationally. He could thank the party and offer his services, flee at the first sign of danger from the genie, or even flee so that he can later assassinate the party to prevent word of his own heinous acts ever reaching outside ears.

Help Themselves

If the PCs make a wish that helps themselves only, Brelson becomes enraged and attacks the party for 2 rounds. Fearing the genie's retribution, he flees during the third round but promises vengeance on the party for leaving him in his sorry state.

Help No One

If the party decides not to attempt the riddle, Brelson has a 50% chance to become withdrawn and depressed; otherwise he is extremely hostile to the PCs. Leaving Mov'Harath trapped certainly does nothing to engender respect for these "cowardly mortals." If ever freed, Mov'Harath could come after the party while simultaneously planning his revenge on Brelson, if he yet survives, potentially doubling the party's enemies.

Mov'Harath: hp 90; see page 114 of the Monster Manual

Brelson (male curst fighter 6): hp 65; see page 165 of the Lost Empires of Faerûn. You should add a level, replace the leather armor with a breastplate, and replace the bastard sword with a +2 bastard sword. Additionally, make adjustments for his Wisdom of 2.

Treasure: The only treasure is the breastplate and +2 bastard sword used by Brelson.

Adventure Hooks and Tie-Ins

  • The PCs could have heard the same rumors that Brelson had heard about a wish-granting genie located in the upper levels of Undermountain.

  • A lone adventurer tells of a creature guarding a genie who, after being destroyed by his party, kept returning to hunt his group down. This sole adventurer is the only survivor of that group, and he is offering a large reward to anyone who helps him gain vengeance.

  • A cleric of Lathander recently returning from Undermountain swears by his god that he encountered a creature that resembled his dead older cousin, whom he lost in the battle with Myrkul fifteen years ago. After the undead creature was turned, the priest lost track of him.

  • Because of his regenerative powers, the curst could make quite a reoccurring villain for the party if they didn't help him regain his life.

  • Helping Brelson could certainly earn Mov'Harath's enmity, putting the party at the top of his revenge list just under Brelson himself.

  • If the party could not correctly answer the riddle, they could still find a way to save Brelson from his current state.

  • If they returned Brelson to life, the adventurers could help Brelson atone for his past crimes as an undead.

Check out the Return to Undermountain: An Introduction for more details.

Article Reference Map

About the Author

Jason Milligan of Jacksonville, Florida, answered the Call to Adventurers Contest, and "The Undead Wish" is his winning entry. For more information about this contest, please visit the Call to Adventurers contest main page.

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