Return to Undermountain
Room 19: Not a Drop to Drink (EL 9)
By Matthew Sernett

Room Summary

Creatures: (2) Two spectres.
Traps: None.
Terrain: Normal.
Lighting Conditions: Darkness.
Magic: Moderate illusion (see Well below).
Detectable Alignments: Moderate evil (spectres).|
Secrets: (2) A secret door lies at the bottom of the well (see Relevant Checks), and another one exists in the northeast wall of the chamber.
Treasure: (4,500 gp) A circlet of persuasion is hidden by a secret door at the bottom of the well.

Relevant Skill Checks

Climb DC 20: Climbing a side of the well requires at least this result.

Knowledge (local) DC 14: A PC with ranks in Knowledge (local) may make a check if Sasha mentions her name. A successful result allows the PC to recall that not long ago the City Watch sought two murderers and their daughter and placed posters about the city with their descriptions and that of their daughter, Sasha. Sasha closely resembles that description even in her current state.

Knowledge (nature) DC 11: If the PCs aren't familiar with orc remains, this check allows them to identify the bones near the well.

Knowledge (religion) DC 17: A PC with ranks in Knowledge (religion) may make a check to identify Sasha's undead type. A check with this result allows a PC to know that Sasha is an incorporeal undead such as a ghost or a spectre, and that she should be able to fly and move through objects although she apparently does not.

Listen DC 12 + 1 per 10 feet: A PC who succeeds can hear the spectre crying before entering the room. Sasha, the spectre, should make a Listen check to hear the PCs. If she hears them, she pauses a moment and then begins crying again a little more loudly; this time she is bluffing (see Sense Motive), but PCs should not make a Sense Motive check until they see her.

Search DC 20: A search of the bottom of the well reveals a secret door that pulls open to reveal a shallow space to hide things. Inside lies the treasure. A search of the northeast wall of the chamber above the well reveals a second secret door of which Sasha is unaware.

Sense Motive DC Varies: Sasha puts on a false show of grief for the PCs once she hears them, and once they are in the chamber, she tells them many untrue things to place some of them in a more vulnerable position. Sasha has only a +2 bonus on Bluff checks due to Charisma, but you should probably impose a secret -5 penalty on their Sense Motive checks because she was crying for real before the PCs arrived, and the PCs likely want to believe her story about being a ghost that needs release.

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.

As the PCs approach the area, have the PCs and the spectre make Listen checks, and consult the Relevant Checks sidebar for the results. Read aloud or paraphrase the following text if a PC can hear the spectre crying before entering the chamber.

The quiet of the dungeon is broken by the sound of sobbing. Somewhere ahead, a child cries. The pitiful sound echoes in the cruel halls of Undermountain.

A spectre named Sasha resides in the chamber surrounding the well. Sasha was brought to Undermountain by her parents, two criminals fleeing justice in Waterdeep who hoped to find a hiding place in Undermountain for a short time. Her parents met their end at the hands of traps and monsters, and for two days Sasha fled through Undermountain, terrified, hungry, and thirsty. Halaster saw this and took pity. His illusion of sweet-smelling water drew Sasha to this room, where an orc put her out of her misery. Sasha then rose as a spectre and took revenge upon her murderer. Now Sasha haunts this chamber, weeping at her fate but hateful of anyone drawn by her sobs or the scent of clean water. Most who see Sasha have fled, so now the spectre tries a new tactic of tricking her victims.

When the PCs look into or enter the chamber, read or paraphrase the following text.

A circular room surrounds a wide well from which the moist scent of sweet water wafts up. Two stone posts rise on either side of the well, the distance between them spanned by a metal crossbar. A rope tied around the center of the crossbar droops toward the well but ends after about a foot of length, apparently broken some time ago.

On the low wall surrounding the well sits a young girl, perhaps twelve years old. Her translucent and ghostly form looks famished, and her face is stricken with grief. She is sobbing into her hands, but when she notices your presence, she swiftly stands up and runs around the well, ducking behind it and peeking over its edge as though its solidity and not her incorporeal form would protect her.

"Don't hurt me," the spirit says in a plaintive voice before ducking behind the well again.

Next to the well lies a pile of bones, armor, and clothing. If the PCs have a chance to look at them, the bones are the remains of an orc. (DMs can call for a DC 11 Knowledge (nature) check if the PCs aren't familiar with orc remains.)

At this point the PCs might simply attack. If such is the case, simply have Sasha attack and the other spectre appear from the floor on the following round. PCs who do this likely never learn of the secret door in the well and the treasure it holds.

If the PCs talk to Sasha, this encounter offers a good opportunity for roleplaying. Sasha wants one or more of the PCs to enter the well where she and her spectre spawn attack the unfortunate PC. To this end, Sasha talks to the PC and tries to trick one of them into going into the well. Most of what Sasha says is true and requires no Bluff check on her part, but any untruths should benefit from the PCs' penalty to Sense Motive described in the Relevant Checks sidebar. Below are a number of questions the PCs might ask and Sasha's responses. Use them as a guideline if the PCs ask questions not on the list. In all cases Sasha should seem hesitant until she decides that the PCs do not mean to attack her. This is truthfully how she feels, but mainly for fear that the PCs won't fall for her trick rather than because she fears for her wellbeing.

Who are you?: "My . . . my name is Sasha." (TRUTH)

What are you?: "Um . . . I'm a girl, a human." (TRUTH)

Are you a ghost?: "What? No. Are you?" (LIE) Sasha doesn't know the difference between spectres and ghosts and in fact thinks she is a ghost, but she pretends not to know and to hate the idea if confronted with it. If pressed on the matter, she holds her hands over her ears and screams, "I am not a ghost! I am not a ghost!" (LIE)

How did you get here?: "My parents brought me. They're gone now. The things got them, and I ran away because mommy said to run. I always do what mommy says." (TRUTH)

Why are you here?: "I was thirsty and I smelled the water. Can't you smell the water?" (TRUTH)

Why don't you leave?: "My dolly fell in the water when I was trying to get a drink, and I haven't gotten a drink yet. Can you get me a drink? Can you find my dolly?" (TRUTH) These statements are true and the questions aren't lies, but this isn't the reason why she doesn't leave. In truth this is her preferred hunting ground. A PC who tries to discern whether she is lying can make a DC 20 Sense Motive check (with a -5 penalty if the PCs think she is a ghost) to get a hunch that she is dodging the question.

Can't you fly down and get it?: "Fly? I'm not a bird." (TRUTH) Although true, Sasha is dodging a direct answer to the question. A PC who tries to discern whether she is lying can make a DC 20 Sense Motive check to get a hunch that she is dodging the question.

How did you die? [or] You can float through stone. [or] You're dead. [or] You know you are a ghost.: She holds her hands over her ears and screams, "I am not a ghost! I am not a ghost!" (LIE).

Did you fall in the well?: Sasha shakes her head vehemently and fearfully but says nothing. (TRUTH and LIE) While this is true, Sasha's fear of the well is not true and a PC can oppose her Bluff with a Sense Motive check (no penalty if the PCs are getting suspicious). A success results in the PC getting the sense that she's not being forthcoming.

What's in the well?: "Water, silly, and my dolly." (LIE and TRUTH) Sasha knows that there's no real water in the well, but her doll is still down there.

Is there anything else in the well?: "I don't think so." (LIE) Sasha knows there is a secret door in the bottom of the well that hides thetreasure (see below).

Did you know the water was an illusion?: "No! Don't say that!" (LIE or TRUTH) If the PCs ask this and seem to imply the time when Sasha was alive, her response is the truth; otherwise, it is a lie.

What happened to this orc?: "I don't know." (LIE) Sasha persists in this lie until confronted with lying. Then she admits that, "I . . . I touched him and he fell down." (TRUTH) If pressed more on this issue, she says, "I didn't want to do it! He wouldn't leave me alone, and so I pushed him and he fell down." (LIE) Sasha gleefully killed the orc.

If the PCs catch Sasha in her lies and seem to be leaving or attacking rather than going in the well, she drops her façade and quickly tries a new lie. "Wait. I'm sorry I lied to you. I just want my dolly and then I can rest. If you get my doll out of the well, I'll show you the secret space behind the wall and the treasure there. Don't worry about the water. It's not real."

Well: Halaster cast a permanent image of clear, sweet water in the well about 10 feet from the top of the well. Any creature interacting with it (touching it, dropping an object in to see what happens, and so on) can make a DC 23 Will save to see through it. Any creature that enters the illusory water automatically understands it's an illusion and need not make a save. See page 173 of the Player's Handbook for more rules about illusions and saving throws.

A character who trusts the water is real and leaps into the well is in for a surprise. The well is 50 feet deep, causing 5d6 points of damage to a falling character.

Spectres (2): Use the statistics for the Goblin Skirmisher (31/60) from theHarbingerminiatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use the statistics from the Monster Manual.

Sasha and her spawn, the spectre of the orc she killed, attack either to defend themselves or when someone reaches the bottom of the well. They focus their attacks on one individual at a time, hoping to add another spectre to their forces before attacking the rest of the party. Note that although Sasha pretends not to understand her incorporeal state, she takes full advantage of it once combat begins, even going so far as to only extend half her body out of the floor, providing herself cover at the expense of giving the PCs a higher ground benefit.

Treasure: A circlet of persuasion is hidden behind the secret door at the bottom of the well, left here long ago by one of Halaster's apprentices. She feared that it was cursed because she found it so easy to attain. It isn't cursed, and despite her intentions, the apprentice never returned to study it further.

Adventure Hooks and Tie-Ins

  • Waterdeep's City Watch might have a reward for proof of the death of Sasha's parents. The PCs' tale and Sasha's doll or a discern lies spell might net them 100 gp as a reward.

  • Sasha's grandparents still live in Waterdeep and might offer a reward for her return or an explanation of her fate. Investigations can lead PCs to Undermountain. They offer up to 500 gp, their life's savings.

  • Discovering and opening the secret door in the chamber above the well could provoke another encounter in the midst of this one. Perhaps a chimera (CR 7) sleeps in the room beyond that door. If the chimera and the spectres attack at the same time, it is an EL 10 encounter.

  • In talking of her parents Sasha could reveal details about other parts of Undermountain or hint at treasures her parents carried when they died.

  • The circlet of persuasion could be cursed in some fashion. Perhaps its wearer can't leave Undermountain or remove the circlet unless the curse is removed.

  • You can increase the EL of the encounter by adding more spectres. You might also consider placing a trap on the secret door or having a different kind of undead at the bottom of the pit but hidden by the illusion of a water-filled well.

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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