Four: Deeper Secrets
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.
fourth 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 characters traced a group of human and orc
raiders back to the ruins. In episode three, they discovered the lift
mechanism that allows access to the ruins lower levels.
lowest level yet discovered by the Trember brothers, this area boasts
sturdy-looking walls, a relatively debris-free floor, and more evidence
of the dwarves that once inhabited these caverns.
orcs are busy clearing the passageway leading to Area 7. They double
as sentries for Aldin Trember, who is currently searching Area 7 for
a hidden passage that might lead deeper into the dwarven city.
(2): EL2; SZ Medium-sized humanoid (6 ft., 6 in. tall),
HD 1d8; hp 4, 5; 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.
and Feats: Listen +2, Spot +2; Alertness
Qualities: Orcs suffer a -1 penalty to attack rolls in
bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.
Each orc has scale mail, a greataxe, and a pouch containing
The orcs waste little time asking questions; as soon as the lift has
come to a halt, the orcs see that there are intruders and begin attacking.
They yell for their leader in Area 7. If Aldin Trember succeeds on a
DC 5 Listen check, he arrives after two rounds of combat. If he fails
the Listen check, he may try again during each successive round of combat.
Since the orcs yell only for one round, the Listen check during subsequent
rounds has a DC of 10.
Trember, male human Clr2 (Wee Jas): CR2; Medium-size humanoid
(5 ft., 10 in. tall); HD 2d8; hp 10; Init +0; Spd 20 ft.;
AC 16 (+4 armor +2 shield); Atks +4 melee (1d8+2/crit x2,
heavy mace); AL LE; SV Fort +3, Ref +0, Wil +6; Str 15, Dex
11, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 16, Cha 14.
and Feats: Spellcraft +4, Concentration +5, Heal +7, Knowledge
(Religion) +1; Combat Casting, Scribe Scroll
sure these skill points add up.
Scale mail, masterwork heavy mace, large wooden shield, holy
symbol, cold weather gear, scroll of cure light wounds, pouch
containing 13 gp.
Known (3/2+1): 0--light, mending, read magic; 1st--cure
light wounds, entropic shield, cause fear
7: The Grand Hall
Grand Hall is the current focus of Aldins investigation of the
ruin. The design on the floor (see below) hints that there is a secret
exit from the room, but Aldin has been unable to locate the hidden door.
are stacked along some of the walls near the door. Once the crews finished
clearing out the rubble, Aldin planned to consecrate the hall to Wee
Jas. Anyone searching the supplies who succeeds at a DC 15 Knowledge
(religion) check can identify the purpose of the supplies. The boxes
hold little of interest, but two fine tapestries depict important scenes
from the teachings of Wee Jas. If the party can find an interested buyer,
the tapestries could be worth as much as 50 gp each.
secret door leads out of Area 7. Characters who succeed at a DC 20 Search
check can find it in the center of the east wall. Aldin has found the
door, but has not yet figured out how to open it. The door has no visible
opening mechanism, and it is protected by an elaborate "puzzle"
locking device (see below).
of the most striking features of the room is the design on the floor.
A shallow circular indentation occupies the center of the room, with
six shallow grooves leading out of it to the edges of the room and continuing
under the walls. Characters succeeding at a DC 25 Search check notice
two key details about the design: (1) There is a slight crest to the
floor, the lip of the circular indentation being slightly higher than
each of the places where the grooves go under the wall, and (2) the
grooves themselves get slightly deeper as they approach the wall.
additional clue is written in Dwarven at the entrance to the chamber.
The letters, carefully engraved in the stone, say: "The dwarven
spirit is filled with secrets."
design looks like this:
solution to this puzzle is simple: Fill the circular area with water.
The water flows down the grooves and under the walls. Its movement releases
hidden catches that cause the secret door to open.
Aldin Trembers death, the party ends the danger to the inhabitants
of the nearby village of Travensburg. However, if the DM wants to allow
the party to continue searching the underground dwarven city, the adventure
could continue through several possibilities. One of the best is to
use the dwarven city map tiles from "Shards of the Day" by
Randy Maxwell, a mid-level adventure from Dungeon
issue #60. The encounters
in that adventure are too difficult for a party that has just completed
Unearthing the Past, but the tiles offer a quick and effective
way to let the party explore an entire city. As another possibility,
the passage from Area 7 could lead to part of the Sunless
introductory D&D adventure.
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.