Kingdom of the Blind
By Jeff Quick
Episode Two: Stairdown
Kingdom of the Blind is a short adventure for four 8th-level characters. The adventure is set in a minor duchy that is fairly removed from the ruler of the land. As a result, trouble can brew in the land and the king would not know immediately.
The PCs had just entered the citadel in the last episode. Are they now dealing with hauling statues or fighting angry staircases in their efforts to get to the second floor?
Encounter 2 (EL 7)
If the PCs tried to use the western staircases, they have just set off the staircase by walking on it. The stone spiral staircase pulls away from the wall, thrashing all the while, and it coils like a snake to strike. The staircase tries to throw off anyone standing on it. Player characters who want to remain on the stairs must oppose the staircase's Strength check with their own Strength check, or make a Balance check (DC 15).
Animated Staircase: CR 7; Gargantuan construct; HD 16d10; hp 90; Init -2; Spd 10 ft.; AC 12, touch 4, flat-footed 12; Atk +15 melee (2d8+10, slam); Face/Reach 20 ft. x 40 ft./10 ft.; SQ construct traits, hardness; AL N; SV Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +0; Str 24, Dex 6, Con --, Int --, Wis 1, Cha 1.
Construct Traits: The animated staircase is immune to mind-influencing effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects), and to poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, necromantic effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects. It cannot heal damage, but it is not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, ability drain, or energy drain. It is not at risk of death from massive damage, but it is destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points or les. It cannot be raised or resurrected. An animated staircase has darkvision 60 ft.
Hardness (Ex): An animated staircase has a harness of 8. Subtract 8 hit points from the damage it takes from each attack.
Note that both western staircases react this way, though only when walked upon. Getting up to the second floor requires magic or ingenuity on the PCs' part. After defeating a staircase, the simplest way is to climb the stone walls to reach the second floor. Climbing the walls requires a Climb check (DC 15). Other ways to reach the second floor include prying up the statues on the eastern staircases, or flying or climbing up to the gallery on the second floor and lowering a rope down for the others to ascend.
The second floor of the citadel contains several stone sculptures in varying conditions. Tall candelabras covered in wax with little stubs of candles stand near one sculpture. The statues are not medusa victims; they are artist's sculptures in progress, and all stand in poses of fear or look as if they are attempting to escape. The ones with faces look terrified.
Encounter 3 (EL 1)
The circular room to the north is dark. It contains half a dozen potted fungi, and purple fungus coats all the walls. In contrast, a thick, multi-hued fungus swathes the stairs in this room. The potted fungi are shriekers. This room contains no real threat, though a trap door at the top of the stairs is closed and locked (Open Lock check DC 25) from the other side. Bashing through requires a Strength check (DC 25). Unless a PC is flying or has ensured solid footing (at DM's discretion), each attempt to bash open the trap door also forces every character involved to make a Balance check (DC 20) or slip and fall down the fungus-covered stairs.
Shriekers (5): hp 11; see Monster Manual, page 93.
To the south of the circular room with the stairs is a semicircular room. From outside it, the PCs can see a desk, two chairs, and a bookcase filled with books. Two statues of orc barbarians flank the doorway of the room.
Encounter 4 (EL 4)
The area between the orc statues contains a glyph of warding trap. It triggers when anyone not of lawful evil alignment passes through the area.
Glyph of Warding (Blast): CR 4; spell; location trigger; no reset; spell effect (glyph of warding [blast], 5th-level cleric, Reflex save [DC 14] half damage, 2d8 fire); multiple targets (all targets within 5 feet); Search (DC 28); Disable Device (DC 28). Cost: 350 gp to hire NPC spellcaster.
Once inside the office, the PCs discover that not everything they learned from Duke Fedorel is as it seems. On the desk, anyone who looks can find a letter (download 54k .jpg) dated with yesterday's date. It says the following:
Please reference our earlier order for another delivery of granite blocks. Zhanna's art is coming along splendidly; sometimes she carves long into the night, far after I've gone to bed. The terror she puts into the faces of her sculptures is a thing of beauty. We will arrange for payment as last time. We wish you well in your endless toil.