Return to Undermountain09/21/2005


Room 14: The Morgue (EL 10)



Room Summary

Creatures: (5) Four vampire spawn, one vampire aristocrat.
Traps: None.
Terrain: Normal.
Lighting Conditions: Darkness.
Magic: Faint evocation (scroll tube).
Detectable Alignments: Moderate evil (all the vampires).
Secrets: None.
Treasure: The equipment carried or once carried by the NPCs. See Treasure below.

Relevant Skill Checks

Heal DC 15: If a PC examines the body under the blanket and succeeds to this degree, it's obvious to her that the body in the blanket died a few days earlier than the headless form.

Search DC 10: If the PCs search the room, a success to this degree reveals a holy symbol of Torm that has been bent and battered and then stuffed into a crack in the wall. (It belonged to Thrent, the headless corpse.)

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 7 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.

About a week ago, a group of adventurers came to Undermountain to engage in some exploration and treasure hunting. Unfortunately for them, they encountered a vampire beyond their ability to combat. Now they are vampire spawn under his control.

This room is where they made their last stand and where they died. Not too far away lies a room in which their new master made them construct coffins. The vampire who now controls them keeps his coffin elsewhere, and he plans to have his spawn help him move it up to a safe location in Waterdeep.

Read the text below as the PCs open the door to the room:

You open the door to the room and a clatter indicates that something behind it tumbled to the floor. A helmet rolls around into view even as the stench of death wafts your way. Two bodies lie in the chamber amid stains of drying blood that spatter the floor. One is tightly wrapped in a blanket that has been tied about its form. A large brown stain around its head hints at some terrible injury beneath the cloth. The other body is headless and nearly naked. It seems as though something tore the head from its neck and then ripped at its garments and body. Long scratch marks furrow its flesh and its clothing and chain armor lie about it in tatters. Both appear to be male humans. As you take in the scene, a narrow black beetle crawls out of the neck of the headless corpse and scuttles away across the bloodstained floor.

Items also lie strewn about the room. Weapons of various sorts, armor, backpacks, bedrolls, and other adventuring gear make up most of the gear, but even a quick glance shows far too many items for these two to have carried. Of particular note is a scroll tube in the center of the room.

When the PCs enter the room, the vampires are in the next chamber. The vampire spawn take gaseous form when they hear the clatter of the helmet rolling away from the door. The vampire aristocrat takes the form of a bat and clings to the ceiling while he uses his children of the night ability to summon 1d4+1 bat swarms.

All the vampires then remain silent and still until a PC enters their room or the bat swarms arrive to harry the PCs. At that point, all four vampire spawn end their gaseousness and attack. Meanwhile the vampire aristocrat flutters about the room to observe the PCs for the first 2 rounds of combat. He seeks the PC who poses the greatest threat to his spawn and thus himself. When he decides who that is, he takes his normal form and focuses his attacks on that person.

If the PCs open up the scroll tube, it glows with the brightness of a torch. The scroll inside is the diary of one of the adventurers who is now a vampire spawn. The glowing aspect of the scroll comes from a continual flame spell cast on the paper so the author would always have light to read and write.

Here are the contents of the diary:

When a PC enters the room in which the vampires wait, describe the room this way if the vampires are still in it:

This long room bears none of the carnage of the previous room. Instead four long makeshift crates lie against the far wall. They were built with detritus from the dungeon: pieces of doors, broken shields, and bits of cast-off armor. Nails and rope hold them in coffinlike shapes.

Read the following only if one of the PCs looks up.

Several forms hover near the ceiling. Translucent humanoids float close to the roof, their bodies like fog. Suddenly they materialize and hiss at you, clinging to the ceiling like spiders!

If a PC enters the room after the vampires leave it, use the same description but leave out the last paragraph above.

The four boxes described above are makeshift coffins for the vampire spawn. When a spawn is killed, its gaseous form travels to this chamber and the coffin the vampire aristocrat demanded it build for itself. The vampire aristocrat keeps his coffin far away in another part of Undermountain. When he is killed, his gaseous form passes out of the rooms and travels away through the halls.

Vampire Spawn (4): Use the statistics for the Vampire Spawn (59/60) from the Deathknell miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use the statistics from the Monster Manual.

Vampire Aristocrat (1): Use the statistics for the Vampire Aristocrat (57/60) from the Archfiends miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use the statistics for the sample vampire from the Monster Manual.

Treasure: The vampire aristocrat has the equipment listed on its miniatures card or on its Monster Manual entry, depending on which you decide to use. The vampire spawn have no equipment, having divested themselves of it after death. This equipment lies scattered about the room where they were killed, and in some cases they used it to build a coffin. It consists mainly of bedrolls, backpacks, rotting rations, a few mundane weapons, a couple suits of chainmail, and some personal items. In total it's worth about 550 gp.

Adventure Hooks and Tie-Ins

  • If you like, you could have the vampire aristocrat summon other creatures with his children of the night ability. Also, the vampire aristocrat could take other forms with his alternate form ability. The Wolf (Harbinger, 37/80), Dire Wolf (Giants of Legend, 25/72), Timber Wolf (Deathknell, 27/60), and Dire Bat (Underdark, 44/60) can be useful in such situations.

  • Give the vampire aristocrat a name and background to suit your campaign. Perhaps he is a noble of Waterdeep.

  • If killed, the vampire aristocrat might lead the PCs on a merry chase through the dungeon as he seeks out his coffin. He could intentionally lead them through traps and monster-infested areas that pose no threat to him.

  • If the PCs are all dominated, that doesn't mean it's the end of the adventure. Once the vampire and his spawn feed for a bit, he stops the blood drain before the PCs die. He wants the PCs alive and dominated so that he can use them as pawns in his plans. Perhaps he has them seek something in Undermountain, following them through the dungeon. Maybe he has them go to the surface to serve his aims there.

  • The diary could reveal something interesting to the PCs, such as a map of part of the dungeon or the danger of a particular room.

Check out 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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