- The young adventurers have been bloodied, but their resolve remains. The
smell of treasurepromise of exploration drives them forward.
- Having conquered the lock, the adventurers swing the massive stone doors open to catch their first glimpse of the inside of the stronghold. They are the first in centuries to see this sight; the remains of all previous would-be explorers lie scattered on the cavern floor outside. Before them lies the initial security room of the stronghold. The passageway almost immediately narrows from the 10'-wide opening holding the double doors down to a 5'-wide corridor.
If the adventurers managed to open the doors before all the darkmantles were slain (See Knock, Knock ... The Sky Is Falling), the darkmantles will continue to attack the adventurers until all are slain by the party. The creatures’ attacks are a distraction that could prove fatal to the party in light of the dwarven security system.
- If they are observant, the adventurers will see above them, in the shadows, the very bottom edge of a raised portcullis. If they do not jam (or disable) the mechanism or the portcullis somehow, the gate will fall as they step on the inside threshold. Any characters caught by the closing portcullis run the risk of receiving damage.
The inner threshold is a large slab of granite, 5' wide by 30' long. As the adventurers move around, the granite slab will slightly rock back and forth as well as side to side. This should lead the adventurers to believe that the slab itself is trapped; the rocking motion is simply the trigger for the falling portcullis. Once the portcullis is down, the rocking serves no other purpose. It should be noted that the closed portcullis proves no bar to the continued attack of the darkmantles; they will squeeze between the bars and pursue the adventurers as long as they are able.
On the far end of the slab, the corridor turns to the right at a 90-degree angle. At their feet is another mosaic, this time formed of cobblestone sized rocks in a 5' by 20' area. The pattern is abstract and is made up of white, black, and crimson stones. From the portcullis to the mosaic, the walls are riddled with murder holes, from which the past inhabitants could fire arrows at potential invaders. The ceilings likewise have long, narrow slits from which boiling oil or other foul liquids were poured down upon their foes. The holes and slits now lie dormant, serving no other purpose than increased paranoia in the adventurers’ minds.
The crimson stones of the mosaic will sink into the floor slightly if stepped on, which triggers a fusillade of darts from the walls. If the adventurers are unable to disarm the trap, crossing the mosaic would require either a Jump check with no more than a 5' running start or a DC 20 Balance check to keep from stepping on the trigger stones. The black stones also sink into the floor, but with no apparent result.
At the far end of the mosaic, the corridor makes of the mosaic, the corridor makes another 90-degree turn, this time to the left. There they find another 5' wide by 30' long rocking granite slab leading to a closed portcullis. Both the first portcullis and this second portcullis lock upon falling with a DC 25 lock. If they are successfully unlocked, a DC 25 Strength check is required to lift the portcullis long enough to allow one character through (or to prop the portcullis open in some way). Again, just like the last rocking passageway, the walls and ceilings contain murder holes and oil slits. Still dormant and still (potentially) upsetting the adventurers’ nerves.
Opening the second portcullis grants them access to the inner foyer of the stronghold. The stronghold lies open to their explorations; of course, there are always more traps and hazards ahead.
- Portcullis Trap: CR 1; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; Atk +10 melee (3d6); Search DC 20; Disable Device DC 20. Note: Damage applies only to those underneath the portcullis. Portcullis blocks passageway.
- Fusillade of Darts: CR 1; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; Atk +10 ranged (1d4+1, dart); multiple targets (fires 1d4 darts at each target in two adjacent 5-ft. squares); Search DC 14; Disable Device DC 20. Market Price: 500 gp.
This is the twenty-second of 26 adventures that I will be sharing over the month of September. They are designed for use with edition 3.5 of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG, although they can be easily dropped into any fantasy setting (or modern/sci-fi setting with a little work). These posts are a part of Asshat Paladin’s OSR Short Adventure Challenge , and utilize his Get Ready, Get Set, Go! Format.