Return to Undermountain10/05/2005

Room 15: The Hall of Sleeping Kings (EL 8)

Room Summary

Creatures: (26) Twenty-six human commoner zombies.
Traps: (1) See trap below.
Terrain: Normal.
Lighting Conditions: Brightly lit by violet flames from above.
Magic: Moderate evocation (flames on the ceiling) and faint transmutation (the treasure).
Detectable Alignments: None.
Secrets: (1) See trap below.
Treasure: (3,500 gp) The ring glittering on one of the sleeping king's fingers is a ring of climbing, and five of the zombies wear noble's outfits worth 200 gp if properly cleaned and not too damaged by the fight.

Relevant Skill Checks

Climb DC 20: Climbing the walls of the pillars or of the pit requires this result.

Disable Device DC 29: A Disable Device check result that beats this DC disarms the falling floor but the zombie animation effect can be negated magically only.

Knowledge (local) DC 17: A PC with this skill can recall tales of this room told in taverns around Waterdeep. Many adventurers have encountered it before and all tell a similar tale of discovering moldering bones on twenty-six stone thrones. The "sleeping kings," as they are known, are supposedly the remains of ancient lords of the human tribes and nations that roved the North and settled in the area of what would later become Waterdeep. The kings have never been encountered with wealth of any kind, having been picked clean hundreds of years ago by Halaster's apprentices. A bard can attempt a bardic knowledge check to recall this information.

Search DC 29: A Search check with this result discovers the mechanical aspects of the trap (the falling floor), but the check result must exceed this result by 5 to discover the magical aspect. A dwarf makes this Search check just by coming within 10 feet of an entrance to the room due to the stonecunning ability of all dwarves. Make the check secretly for any dwarf PCs. A dwarf can discover that the floor is trapped to fall, but cannot find the trigger or the magical effect.

Spellcraft DC 21: A PC who casts detect magic can determine that the ceiling's flames are of a spell related to the evocation school.

Spot DC 12: A ring glitters on the finger of the nearest corpse. The DC listed is for PCs making the check from one of the entrances to the room. (The ring is on the nearest corpse regardless of which door the PCs enter through.)

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.

An enormous chamber stretches out before you, its entire length eerily lit by violet flames flickering across the arched ceiling 40 feet above. The fires produce neither noise, smoke, nor heat, but waves of flame waft over the ceiling from the end you stand at to the far side of the chamber, looking like wind playing upon a wheat field.

The flames on the ceiling are a special creation of Halaster. They appear to be faerie fire or continual flames to someone casting detect magic and making a Spellcraft check, but hidden necromantic effects in the flames do not manifest until someone touches one of the corpses of the kings. Both the flames and the necromantic effects are considered 9th-level spells.

When the players have absorbed this (and clarified any questions about the fire), follow up with the following about the throned kings. Note that the "kings" are just corpses and are not yet undead creatures.

The purple radiance from above falls upon the shoulders of enthroned kings. Twenty-six thrones run down each side of the room, and in each sits a moldering corpse wearing the dusty raiment of royalty from some forgotten kingdom.

Allow the PCs to make their initial investigations of the room (read the Relevent Checks sidebar for more info). When a PC enters the room or attacks one of the corpses in some manner from outside the room, a voice speaking in Common booms out in the grand hall and echoes through the nearby hallways. Read the following:

"Disturb not the rest of the sleeping kings! They laid the foundation for Waterdeep and deserve your respect. Awaken them and you shall lose your foundation!"

This chamber shows Halaster's sense of humor. Halaster himself had no respect for the corpses he discovered here long ago and neither have the many creatures that have come through the hall. Although lords of the ancient tribes once sat on these thrones, the bodies in this room are those of dungeon delvers who fell prey to Undermountain's dangers. Halaster placed them here to stand in for the lost remains of the true sleeping kings. The booming voice that echoes through the dungeon is Halaster's, and the Mad Mage is giving a clue to the trap in the room.

If the PCs pass through the room without molesting the corpses, nothing happens. If any creature larger than Tiny size is within 10 feet of any throne while someone touches either the throne or its occupant, the trap goes off.

Trap:CR 4; mechanical and magical; touch trigger; manual reset; unavoidable or DC 20 Reflex save avoids (depending on if the PC is close enough to grab an edge of a thone's pillar); desecrate spell cast upon the whole room; Search DC 29; Disable Device DC 29.

When the trap is set off, the floor in the entire chamber falls away except for 5 feet in front of (toward the center of the room) and under each throne. Parts of the floor are hinged around the edges of the room and around each door so that the floor falls away like doors swinging open. Creatures in the 5-foot squares around the outer edges of the room or in the 5-foot squares just beyond the safe area around the thrones can make a DC 20 Reflex save to grab the hinged edge of the floor and avoid falling into the pit below.

Also, a desecrate spell fills the whole room. This causes a -3 profane penalty on Charisma checks to turn undead, gives each zombie 2 extra hit points, and gives each zombie a +1 profane bonus on attack rolls, damage rolls, and saves.

Read the following when someone triggers the trap and falls in. If no one falls in, modify the presentation to fit the situation.

There's a terrible creaking noise, and suddenly the floor in the chamber falls away! A tremendous staccato of booms sounds out as the various parts of the floor slam against the walls of the pit and the sides of the thick pillars upon with the thrones rest. Dust showers down around you.

As for the view from the pit or the room, read the following after the players have had a moment to absorb the situation:

Violet flames leap about their bodies but instead of consuming their dry flesh and brittle bones, their bodies seem to suck the fire inward. Purple light shines from their eyes and mouths as each sleeping king slowly and regally rises from his throne, casting his baleful gaze upon you.

Zombies (26): Use the statistics for the Zombie (Human Commoner) (40/72) from the Giants of Legend miniatures set {{link href="/default.asp?x=products/dndmin/967010000"}} or the Zombie (58/80) from the Harbinger miniatures set {{link href="/default.asp?x=products/dndmin/965800000"}}. If you don't have these miniatures, use the statistics from the Monster Manual.

The sleeping kings have just been turned into zombies. The magic that created them instructed them to first push nearby creatures into the pit and then to fall into the pit themselves and attack those creatures (other than zombies) who survive below. Thus, the zombies doggedly attempt to bull rush or grapple any PCs standing near their thrones, and they attack those who hang onto the top side of the pillar's edge (if any PC made the Reflex save). The zombies willingly follow a PC successfully bull rushed off the pillar, making it impossible for the PC to grab the edge as she falls. When a zombie attacks a PC that has already caught the edge of the pillar, remember that the PC has no Dexterity bonus while climbing and that any damage suffered requires the PC to make a Climb check or fall.

Zombies that don't have any nearby foes simply fall into the pit and move to attack any living thing in it. Remember that the zombies also take falling damage when they drop into the pit, but their damage reduction negates some of the damage.

Treasure: The ring glittering on one of the sleeping king's fingers is a ring of climbing, and five of the zombies wear noble's outfits worth 200 gp if properly cleaned and not too damaged by the fight.

Adventure Hooks and Tie-Ins

  • Although technically an EL 8 encounter, you should consider using this encounter against lower-level PCs. The cleric's turning ability at 8th-level and the spellcasting abilities of characters at this level could make short work of the zombies and the trouble caused by the pit.

  • You can easily make this encounter more difficult by changing the type of undead. Also the pit could be a lot deeper.

  • If the PCs have access to an easy way out of the pit (such as flying magic), consider presenting them with some condition that makes fighting it out with the zombies preferable. Perhaps the violet flame on the ceiling fills the area above the pit and burns anything that tries to escape unless the undead are first destroyed.

  • The pit might contain more undead ready to do battle with the PCs as soon as they fall.

  • The pit might hold clues to other adventures in Undermountain, such as the identities of the adventurers who became the sleeping kings and what they sought in Undermountain.

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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