- An unintentional night at the theater proves dangerous when new residents of an abandoned stronghold challenge and threaten the adventurers.
- The former inhabitants of the Valack Stronghold considered themselves cultured dwarves. The founder of the stronghold, Kilur Valack, included a small theater in his construction, complete with a raised stage and musician’s pit (it was not big enough for a full orchestra). It was a favorite stop for wandering bards and roaming troupes of actors. After the dwarves were wiped out in a war with the local Ogre tribe, the stronghold stood empty for several centuries.
What inhabits the Valack Stronghold now depends upon where one looks. There are drakes in the stables and ghouls in the cellars. Kilur’s beloved theater was taken over by a slightly insane mage, named Daizael Sak. The 25th-level mage used one of the dressing rooms as his workshop and installed his pair of pet shadows (named Shad and Doe) in the theater proper as guardians. He set a cunning trap on the stage which was easy enough to pass if you knew the secret, but deadly otherwise. Unfortunately, an experimental spell went wrong and he was killed, leaving the trap in place on the stage and the shadows roaming the theater..
The stage itself is 45 ft. wide and 40 feet deep. A wall runs the length of the stage at the back; the door to the stage from the stronghold is at stage right, while the dressing rooms are off stage left. The stage sits five feet above the level of the theater floor, with the floor of the musician’s pit sits five feet below the level of the theater floor; thus any creature falling from the edge of the stage would fall ten feet. The theater is filled with rows of wooden benches and is itself 45 feet wide by 60 feet long with double doors (7 feet wide) at the opposite end of the room. The double doors and the stage door are the only exits from the theater.
- Shad and Doe roam the empty room and stage. Most of the area is in darkness; in the exact center of the stage is a stool on which rests a candle. The candle is the only light source in the room, and is enchanted. The candle burns indefinitely; it will not seem to decrease in size while lighted, regardless of how long it burns. In addition, while the candle is lighted, there is an area of silence as the spell with the following exception: It is permanent while there is a flame on the candle and until the flame is actually extinguished. There is a strip approximately 5 ft. wide on either side of the stage untouched by silence; the spell runs up to the back wall and to the front edge, however.
Creatures who approach the stage door find themselves confronted by the figure of a loved one from their past once they come within fifteen feet of the door. This is a high-level permanent illusion cast by Daizael Sak as part of his protective spells. This illusion can be disbelieved by a DC 35 Will save, but will not vanish. Every creature sees something and someone entirely different, based upon their own history. The figure carries a candle identical to that which actually sits on the stage. The figure appears sad and beckons to the viewer, then turns and steps through the closed stage door, as if a ghost. The figure may speak to the viewer, or seem to make additional attempts to communicate, yet it neither makes any sound nor responds to communication by the viewer. If any creature attempts to make physical contact or an attack on the figure, the figure will simply shake its head and walk through the door. The figure will return within one minute to attempt again to beckon the creature or creatures through the door.
The stage door itself is unlocked and not trapped. There is a short flight of stairs running from the anteroom to the stage itself with a five foot square landing between the top of the stairs and the stage. The candle on the stage ignites once the door to the stage is opened and stays lighted until extinguished or until all creatures (save the shadows) leave the theater. On the back of the stage door is a parchment with the following verse printed on it:
My life can be measured in hours,
I serve by being devoured.
Thin, I am quick
Fat, I am slow
Wind is my foe.
In this lonely place
I challenge the voice.
(The answer to the riddle posed by the first 5 lines is “a candle.” The last two lines serve as the hint that the candle is the key to the silence spell that covers the majority of the stage area.) The shadows are attracted by the sound of the stage door opening, or barring that, the sound of footfalls on the side of the stage.
If the adventurers reach Daizael Saks’ workroom successfully, they find a stash of material components, all of which are corrupted in some way by time and ultimately ineffective. What few gemstones there may be are shattered or cracked and worth only ½ market value at best. Rags, worn clothing, and various detritus are scattered around the chamber. Saks’ remains rest one-half on and one-half off a filthy sleeping pallet in one corner. Hidden in the room (Search DC 30) are Saks’ two spellbooks and 100GP.
- Shad and Doe: Greater Shadows (See 3.5 Monster Manual p.221).
This is the tenth 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.