Equinox
By Daneen McDermott
Complete Cliffhanger
Episode 4: Meat Grinder
Episode 3: Mirror rorriM
Episode 2: Pawn Pushing
Episode 1: Appearance
Maps 2 (452k ZIP)
Maps 1 (343k ZIP)
Cliffhangers Archive
The Approaching Swarm
Kingdom of the Blind
Into the Forsaken Temple's Crypt
The Trouble in Town
Sharkbait!
The Light of Despair
Training Grounds
Lorin's Chasm
Bridge Work
Nest of Corruption
Hindsight
A Giant Ransom
Black Water
The Horror of Lannock Hill
Over the Edge
Equinox
The Proper Count
The Tower of Lore
The Candlemaker's Fire
The Hallowed Hills
The Village of Camiram
Unearthing the Past
Special: Cliffhangers Live!
For more great adventures, check out each issue of Dungeon magazine


Cliffhangers Adventures

Equinox
Episode 4: Meat Grinder
by Daneen McDermott

Equinox is a short adventure for four 7th-level characters. The party may consist of any mix of classes. The adventure should prove a reasonable challenge for characters from 6th to 8th level and can be set in any campaign world.

Adventure Background

In the previous installments, the party entered a strange building with twin towers that appeared mysteriously overnight, during the equinox. Inside, they found traps that seemed geared to keep both good and evil people away, contended with a chessboard populated by pawns that weren’t happy about being pushed around. Now they face a mechanical trap.

Download towers map,
in jpg and Campaign
Cartographer 2
formats.
(343K ZIP file)

Corkscrew Staircase (EL6)

The tower stairs are not stairs at all, but ramps that spiral 35 feet up the tower. But there are large 5-foot gaps in the ramps (a total of three gaps in each staircase, each right above the other). Large stone wedgelike protrusions jut out from the wall (three black on the west staircase; three white on the east staircase) and block the way up the ramp. An observant character will discover (Spot check, DC 15) that the protrusions coincide with (and slip through) the gaps in the ramp when the ramp is turning.

Electrified Stair Trap: (CR 3), no attack roll necessary. Like the walls and doors, the black protrusions are magically trapped to electrify evil characters (4d8 points of electrical damage); Reflex save (DC 14) for half. The white protrusions are magically trapped to electrify good characters.

The nearby lever not only makes the ramps turn clockwise (up) and counter-clockwise (down), but also can stop the movement of the ramp if put back in the middle. Unfortunately for the PCs, there is an identical lever at the top of the ramp. Once the monk above detects the ramp is moving to allow someone up, he will wait 1d4+1 rounds and then pull and hold the other lever and reverse the corkscrew’s direction. This causes the lower lever to return to the neutral middle position. It will take an opposed Strength check (verses the monk) to reverse the ramp’s direction again.

In order to use the wedges to get past the gaps, the characters must turn the ramp and get it to stay in just the right position. If they attempt this while ramp is still moving, the west ramp (which ascends in a clockwise direction) must be turning clockwise, and the east ramp (which ascends in a counterclockwise direction) must be turning counterclockwise.

Anyone caught between the protrusions and the ramp, when it is turning in the wrong direction, suffers 5d8 points of crushing damage on top of any electrical damage caused by contact with the wedge.

The Final Battle (EL9)

At the top of the tower is a 20-foot-diameter round room with a 20-foot-high ceiling. A half-celestial/half-fiend monk lives here. This character has a commanding presence and large leathery wings that end in feathers.

The monk says the following to the first character to enter:

"You must have achieved balance to get this far, but to demonstrate wisdom, you really ought to go."

Good and evil characters who do not leave immediately face combat with the winged monk. Neutral characters may be able to negotiate an exchange of goods or services with this figure.

Note to DM: On the first round of combat, the monk drinks a potion of haste and casts darkness into the room.

East Tower Monk male half-celestial/half-fiend Mnk7: CR 9; medium-size humanoid; HD 7d8+21; hp 53; Init +4; Spd 50 ft.; fly 50 ft (average); AC 24; Atk +9/+6 melee (unarmed), +9 bite; SQ Spell-like abilities; poison, acid, cold, disease and electricity immunity, fire resistance 20, low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft.; AL LN; SV Fort +10, Ref +9, Will +8; Str 19, Dex 17, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 17.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +11, Diplomacy +13, Move Silently +13; Unarmed Strike, stunning attack, evasion, deflect arrows, still mind, slow fall (30 ft), purity of body, improved trip, wholeness of body, leap of the clouds.

Special Qualities: Spell-like Abilities: 1/day -- desecrate, bless, aid, detect evil, cure serious wounds, neutralize poison, unholy blight, holy smite, remove disease; 3/day -- darkness, protection from evil, poison.

Possessions: ghost touch chain shirt; brooch of shielding; +2 cloak of resistance; +3 ring of protection; necklace of fireballs (7d6, 5d6 (x2), 3d6 [x3]).

West Tower Monk female half-fiend/half-celestial Mnk7: CR 10; Medium-size Humanoid; HD 7d8+14; hp 45; Init +4; Spd 50 ft.; fly 50 ft (average); AC 25; Atk +9/+6 melee (unarmed), +9 bite; SQ Spell-like abilities; poison, acid, cold, disease and electricity immunity, fire resistance 20, low-light vision, darkvision 60 ft.; AL LN; SV Fort +9, Ref +10, Will +8; Str 18, Dex 19, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 17.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +11, Diplomacy +13, Move Silently +14; Unarmed Strike, stunning attack, evasion, deflect arrows, still mind, slow fall (30 ft), purity of body, improved trip, wholeness of body, leap of the clouds.

Special Qualities: Spell-like Abilities: 1/day -- desecrate, bless, aid, detect evil, cure serious wounds, neutralize poison, unholy blight, holy smite, remove disease; 3/day -- darkness, protection from evil, poison.
Possessions, ghost touch chain shirt; brooch of shielding; +2 cloak of resistance; +3 ring of protection; necklace of fireballs (8d6, 6d6, 4d6, 2d6 [x3]).

The monks’ cots, if searched, contain 2d4 x 100 gp, 1d8 gems (worth 500 each), and three potions of haste.

The most interesting feature of the room is a semi-circular well permanently affixed to the floor opposite the stairs. On the top of the well is a shimmering portal. Five inches above the portal surface hangs suspended an ornate four-panned scale. Each pan holds a large magical book. It’s obvious that lifting one book will cause the other three to dip through the portal. If a book disappears into a portal, the book is lost (the pan comes back up empty).

The books are:

    1. +2 Tome of Understanding
    2. +2 Manual of Quickness of Action
    3. Book of Exalted Deeds (in the east tower) or Book of Vile Darkness (in the west tower)
    4. Tome of Opposite Alignment (like a Helm of Opposite Alignment, but has no effect on neutral characters).

For the DM: The well is a Well of Many Worlds (see the Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 228). The west tower well leads to strange world that has neither sun nor moon, but is dominated by monsters accustomed to this unusual condition. The east leads to a world that has a sun much like the world the PCs came from, but when the sun sets, a smaller sun rises, making it a world that is always bathed in light. Although the well is a two-way portal, if the characters are on the other side of the portal when the building disappears at sunset, the portal access on the other plane also disappears.

The Cliffhanger

The characters had better not linger too long when sunset approaches. As the sun starts to set, the building and all its contents begin to fade from existence, becoming increasingly shadowy and transparent. They will have 10 rounds from the time the towers begin to disappear until the sun has fully set before the building vanishes entirely. Any characters still in the building remain trapped within it and will return intact in exactly six months.

About the Author

Daneen McDermott is a freelance puzzle and game designer who lives south of Seattle with her husband, an overgrown dog, and three little minions of her own. She has played D&D for almost 20 years and has a fanatical fascination with games and toys. She was until very recently the continuity manager for Magic: the Gathering.

Find out more about Campaign Cartographer 2
at ProFantasy Software’s website.
(www.profantasy.com)

 





© 1995-2004 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Wizards is headquartered in Renton, Washington, PO Box 707, Renton, WA 98057.


PRIVACY STATEMENT
Printer Friendly
Hasbro.com