Unearthing the Past
Episode Three: Good Dwarven Craftsmanship
by Jesse Decker
Unearthing the Past is a four-part Cliffhangers adventure for three to five 1st-level characters. Characters who survive the adventure should advance to second level. Dungeon Masters can easily modify the adventure to accommodate higher level characters by increasing the number of foes in each encounter. Many of the villains are humanoids, so another good way to adjust the Encounter Levels within the adventure is to substitute more powerful humanoids in each encounter.
The third episode of Unearthing the Past takes place in a dwarven ruin located a few miles northwest of the village of Travensburg. In episodes one and two, the players traced a group of human and orc raiders back to the ruins.
Area 3: Lift Room
The first thing the Trember brothers did when they occupied the ruin was to get access to the lower levels. The brothers found and repaired an ingenious dwarven lift. The lift uses a series of pulleys, cranks, and catches to give access to the two lower levels of the ruin.
The lift moves between levels very slowly. As a standard action, one character on the lift may attempt to move it 5 feet up, or control the lifts speed and descend 10 feet. To raise the lift or to control its descent, the character must succeed at a DC 10 Strength check. The crank apparatus on the lift was designed for only one person to use. In a pinch, one person can assist.
As the PCs approach the lift, they have a chance to hear its chains moving through the pulleys. Characters within 30 feet of the door to the room who succeed at a DC 15 Listen check can hear the chains rattling. Five rounds after the rattling begins, the orcs arrive at level one, and the noise stops.
Area 4: Lift Room, Level 2
The second-level lift room contains support beams and part of the pulley system, but nothing else of interest. Because of their fear of the choker in Area 5, the orcs and the Trembers pass through this area as quickly as possible.
Area 5: The Cliffhanger (EL 2)
This room, like the lift room on this level, has been left relatively untouched by the Trembers and their humanoid servants. The orcs that first explored the level were killed by the choker that hides in the rubble at the end of the southern corridor. The choker dragged the bodies into this room after finishing with them. Characters who succeed at a DC 5 Spot check notice the bodies right away.
The choker hides in the rubble at the end of the southern passage. As the party leaves the area, the choker attempts to Move Silently and grab the last member of the group. Because it has used the rubble many times, the choker gets a +5 circumstance bonus to its Hide check while in the rubble.
Next week: Unearthing the Past concludes with Episode Four.
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