of Undeath Portals
By Ramon Arjona
Portal of Failed Experiments
needed a portal close to her home in Thay, and so she created several.
Two of them were located in her tower and are described above. A third,
however, she created a short distance away from her tower on the shores
of Lake Thalambar. The sole purpose of this portal was to provide
the lich with a quick avenue of escape should she ever need to depart
from Thay quickly. Unlike the two portals hidden in her Tower,
nothing valuable to Zzarka is at the other side of this portal.
Should her enemies attempt to pursue her through the portal, she
will have lost nothing -- because they will find nothing on the other
side but their own annihilation.
Zzarka's other portals, this one is keyed to allow only undead
spellcasters to activate it. Once the portal is opened, it remains
open for 1 round. Anyone who touches the portal during this time
is transported from the shores of Lake Thalambar to a location somewhere
near the Sword Coast. This is not immediately obvious because the being
so transported finds him or herself in a lightless cavern, miles underground,
with no obvious means of exit. Furthermore the being now learns, if it
did not learn this before through an analyze portal spell, that
the portal is one-way. Nothing can activate it from this side.
of course, was part of Zzarka's escape plan. Should anyone succeed in
following her into the portal, they are trapped in the unfamiliar
cavern complex. They then have to deal with the numerous fungi, slimes,
oozes, undead, and constructs that Zzarka had dumped into the cavern over
the years. These include an enormously large black pudding, several mummies,
a few dozen crawling claws, and a nightcrawler. This is by no means an
exhaustive list of the cavern complex.
Pudding: CR 9; Gargantuan ooze; HD 20d10+150; hp 290; Init -5; Spd
20 ft., climb 20 ft.; AC 5, touch 1, flat-footed 5; Atk +18 melee (2d8+10
plus 2d8 acid, slam); Face/Reach 10 ft. x 20 ft./10 ft.; SA Acid, constrict
2d8+4 plus 2d8 acid, improved grab; SQ Blindsight 60 ft., ooze traits,
split; AL N; SV Fort +12, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 25, Dex 1, Con 23, Int
--, Wis 1, Cha 1.
Skills and Feats:
Climb +15, Hide -17.
The advanced black pudding secretes a digestive acid that dissolves organic
material and metal quickly. Any melee hit deals acid damage. The pudding's
acidic touch deals 50 points of damage per round to wood or metal objects.
The opponent's armor and clothing dissolve and become useless immediately
unless they succeed at a Reflex save (DC 26). The acid can dissolve stone,
dealing 20 points of damage per round of contact.
The advanced black pudding can crush a grabbed opponent, dealing slam
and acid damage with each successful grapple check. The opponent's clothing
and armor suffer a -4 penalty on Reflex saves against the acid.
Improved Grab (Ex):
If the advanced black pudding hits a creature that is at least one size
category smaller than itself with its slam attack, it deals normal damage
and attempts to start a grapple (grapple bonus +34) as a free action without
provoking an attack of opportunity. If it gets a hold, it can also constrict
with the same attack. Thereafter, the advanced black pudding has the option
to conduct the grapple normally, or simply use its pseudopod to hold the
opponent. Each successful grapple check it makes during successive rounds
automatically deals slam and acid damage in addition to constriction damage.
An advanced black pudding is blind, but its entire body is a primitive
sensory organ that can ascertain prey by scent and vibration within 60
feet. Invisibility and darkness are irrelevant, though the pudding still
can't discern ethereal beings. The black pudding usually does not need
to make Spot or Listen checks to notice creatures within range of its
Ooze Traits: The
advanced black pudding is immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning,
polymorphing, and mind-affecting effects and is not subject to critical
hits or flanking. The pudding is blind.
Split (Ex): Weapons
deal no damage to a black pudding. Instead, the creature splits into two
identical puddings, each with half the original's hit points (round down).
A pudding with only 1 hit point cannot be further split.
42; see Monster Manual, page 138.
hp 5; see Monsters of Faerûn, page 29.
hp 162, see Monster Manual, page 141.
also planted numerous traps, both magical and mundane, throughout the
cavern complex. These traps are designed to confound and confuse any being
who tries to pursue her, causing them to lose their way in the mazelike
tunnels. Few of the traps are immediately fatal since Zzarka expected
that the many creatures in the caves are sufficiently lethal to any who
choose to threaten her. Some suspect that the creatures were too deadly,
and Zzarka finally met her end at the hands (or tentacles or pseudopods)
of one of her more dismal mistakes.
scattered throughout the cave are several magical points of egress that
function either as a shadow walk or teleport without
error spell. These areas are the only means of escape Zzarka provided
from her cave of failed experiments, and only she knows their location.
How to Incorporate
the Portal of Failed Experiments Into Your Campaign:
- Another one of
Zzarka's lieutenants, the vampire cleric known as Keheb Re, has been
trapped in the cavern complex for five hundred years. Instead of dying,
as Zzarka planned for him to do, he has thrived in the brutal underground
environment. Now, having gone quiet insane after his long captivity,
Keheb has finally found a way out -- and he is taking with him some
of the most horrible and twisted creations he could gather from the
caves. He intends to find Zzarka and visit his revenge on her. The fact
that she is nowhere to be found, however, presents an obstacle to him.
The PCs must deal with what happens when the insane vampire turns his
army of abominations against the people of Faerûn.
- The PCs come close
to destroying a vampire called Torin Zsan. Just as they are about to
deliver the killing blow, he activates the portal and escapes
through it. If the PCs follow, they soon find Torin -- half devoured
by the black pudding and badly injured by the nightshade. While Torin
is still technically "alive," the PCs have the more immediate
problem of survival when faced with Zzarka's failed experiments. They
may even rescue Torin and attempt to enlist his aid in escaping this
chamber of horrors. Torin will do anything to survive -- even pretend
that he knows the way out when in fact he is as ignorant as the PCs
in this matter.
- The PCs learn where
an ancient lich's repository of knowledge is kept. In finding the repository,
they also find the portal. Should they attempt to enter it, rather
than destroy it, they learn that some things are best left undisturbed.
Of course, should they choose this particular course of action, there
is still the small problem of finding a spellcasting undead willing
to open the portal for the PCs!
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