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.
Orcs (4): CR 2; SZ Medium-sized humanoid (6 ft., 6 in. tall), HD 1d8; hp 4, 5, 5, 6; Init +0; Spd 20 ft.; AC 14 (+4 scale mail); Atk +3 melee (1d12+3/crit x3, greataxe); SQ 1 penalty to attack rolls in sunlight; AL CE; SV Fort +2, Ref +0, Wil 1; Str 15, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 9, Wis 8, Cha 8.
Skills and Feats: Listen +4, Spot +3; Alertness
Special Qualities: Orcs suffer a 1 penalty to attack rolls in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.
Possessions: Each orc has scale mail, a greataxe, and a pouch containing 20 sp.
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 door to this room lies broken in the passageway. There are old, dried bloodstains on the floor, big enough to be noticeable even in torchlight. Unlike the rooms of the first level, this chamber shows few signs of recent occupation: two bodies that seem to have been dragged there.
Choker: CR 2; Small Abberation (4 ft. 2 in. tall); HD 3d8+3; hp 18 (wounded, currently 16 hp); Init +4 (Improved Initiative); Spd 20 ft., climb 10 ft.; AC 16 (+1 size, +5 natural); Atk +6/+6 ( 1d3+3 [x2] tentacle slap); Reach 10 ft.; SA constrict 1d3+3; AL CE; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Wil +4; Str 16, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 4, Wis 13, Cha 7
Skills and Feats: Climb +16, Hide +7, Move Silently +4; Improved Initiative
SAHaste (Su): The choker may take an extra partial action each turn as if affected by the haste spell.
SAImproved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, the choker must hit an opponent of up to Large size with a tentacle attack. If it gets a hold, it can constrict.
SAConstrict (Ex): A choker deals 1d3+3 points of damage with a successful grapple check against Large or smaller creatures. Because it seizes victims by the neck, a creature in the chokers grasp cannot speak or cast spells with verbal components.
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.
About the Author
Before becoming managing editor of TopDeck magazine , Jesse Decker worked as assistant editor for Dragon. Unearthing the Past was inspired by his current campaign, which he runs for coworkers.