Content of the article: "I recently ran my players through a dungeon which I was proud of, so I’ve decided to share it here"
This dungeon was intended for 2 level 6 characters, in this instance a Cavalier Fighter and Artillerist Artificer. I was going to post this last week but we had to end the session abruptly shortly before the end and I know one of players uses Reddit so I didn’t want to post spoiler in case they saw this.
The party had heard from an informant of a location known simply as the Fire Giant’s Tomb, a memorial to a lost Kingdom of Fire Giants that had inhabited the area more than a millennium ago. The party was interested in the Tomb as the kingdom was the first to forge a type of weapon known as Flame Tongue, crafted with the help of their Efreeti allies.
The tomb was located an hour’s journey by horse from the town of Meanspur, and since it wasn’t close to any roads, it required an Investigation check to find. There wasn’t a specific DC, but a better roll meant that the tomb was found more quickly. The Tomb had been dug into a hillside, and the entrance consisted of a large door with two carvings of Fire Giants standing guard. The door was meant to be used by giants, so required a DC20 Strength check to open enough for both of them to enter.
They entered into a corridor. The floor was tiled red and the walls painted black, with torches with Continual Flame spells cast on them periodically placed along the walls. At the far end of the corridor was a set of double doors, with a series of 6 differently coloured locks keeping it shut. Guarding the door were two iron statues made to look like Fire Giants. Along each wall were three chambers. Standing in the centre of the corridor was Carl.
Carl is a recurring NPC in my campaign. He is a Rock Gnome who is mysteriously found in every dungeon or other such dangerous areas. He usually tries to sell items to the party that will help with the dungeon, to various degrees of success. How is he exactly where he needs to be, whenever the players need him? When asked he simply replies, “My boss told me to be here,” usually in a manner that is both equally offended and depressed. The party was initially confused, then angry, and then accepting of his recurrence. In this instance, he was selling a homebrew magic item called the Glass of Understanding. It is magnifying glass with 3 charges, regained at dawn, which can be used to cast Comprehend Languages or Detect Magic, going for 250gp. He also added, “those golems do not appear to be hostile,“ in reference to the statues.
The party then decided to explore each of the chambers.
The South West Chamber had a pedestal at the back. Above the pedestal was the following inscription in Giant (which the Artificer could read):
Earth born, fire raised, water come of age Peasant’s fear, king’s power, soldier’s rage Pen of history, noble’s mother Monster’s bane, protector’s brother
The party could not figure out the riddle at first so instead decided to check out other chambers.
The South East Chamber had the mummified corpse of a giant sitting on a throne in it. The Throne had carvings of various important looking Fire Giants in heroic poses on the arm rests. The mummy had a yellow key (the size of a human forearm) on a chain around its neck. The fighter decide to climb up the mummy to retrieve the key, but to the surprise of nobody, it stood up and attacked. It used the statistics of a normal mummy, but it had been increased to Huge size, with it’s HP scaled from 58 to 76 to reflect this. After the battle (which involved casting Enlarge on the fighter while still clinging to the mummy) was won, the key was retrieved.
The North West Chamber was mostly empty aside from another pedestal with an inscription above it, which simply read, “One Hundred Gold Pieces.” The price was paid, and the money was transmuted into a black key. Unknown to the players at the time was that the pedestal had no way of knowing what was placed on it, and any 2lb weight would have been transmuted.
Walking to the next chamber, they noticed an inscription on the floor in front of the golems
Peacefully we guard Attack only in defence Or those who cheat locks
They party decides it is in their best interest to not attack the golems or attempt to cheat the locks
The North East Chamber was also mostly empty, with a pedestal with a white key sitting on it. Because they’ve played DnD before, the party knew that this was not as it seemed. The Glass of Understanding was used to detect an aura of illusion magic surrounding the key and pedestal. The artificer attempted to pick up the key, but his hand simply passed through it. The fighter attacked the pedestal, which made a noise as if it was made of wood rather than marble. The pedestal was actually a chest, which had a white key inside of it
The Middle East Chamber had three stone heads, each of a fire giant with different types of fancy facial hair. On either side of the heads were two stone doors, with no apparent method of opening them. Above the heads was another inscription:
Answer Yes or No One speaks truth, one tells all lies One always agrees
A classic puzzle, but with a twist (which I did not steal from an episode of
, don’t let anyone say I did). There did not appear to be a limit on the number of questions that could be asked. For the sake of brevity, and also because I don’t remember, I will not recount the entire conversation, and I will instead say the answer. The left head spoke the truth, the centre told only lies, and before any heads answered, a d4 was rolled. On a 1 or 2, the right head agreed with the liar, on a 3 or 4, it agreed with the truth-teller. Upon figuring out which head was which, the party asked for the right door to opened, to which it obliged. Inside was a Green Key. If the party had asked for the wrong door to opened, they would have been teleported to the entrance and the answers switched, with which door being the correct one being determine randomly on subsequent incorrect guesses.
The Middle West Chamber consisted of a long corridor with the carved heads of three blue dragons at the end. A blue key lay underneath the central. A pressure plate in the corridor would cause the heads to unleash 4d10 lightning damage, which could be halved with a DC13 Dexterity save. The party made no attempt to bypass the pressure plate, because they hate me.
The party then returned to the South West Chamber. Being a blacksmith by trade, the Artificer was able to determine that, “Earth born, fire raised, water come of age” was a reference to the forging of swords, and the party was then able to determine that the rest of the riddle was also referring to a sword. Then fighter then placed his sword on the pedestal, which then deposited a red key.
All that was left to do was to open the door. The artificer cast Spider Climb on himself to be able to reach the locks. The Red Key was put into the Red Lock, which made a sound like a door unlocking. The Yellow Key was put into the Yellow Lock, which made a sound distinctly unlike a door unlocking. The Key was turned again, producing the desired sound. Each Lock then had the appropriate Key inserted into it, and was turned until the desired sound was made. The door then opened. On the other side was a dimly-lit chamber. On the far wall was a stone circle with various runes surrounding it. In the centre was a human sized set of plate armour. Before the party could inspect either, a voice sounded from the room:
“Who dares disturb my master’s tomb? Have you come to claim the prize of the Efreet’s Champion?”
The armour flared to life as fire erupted from its joints. It drew two swords from their sheaths.
The Tomb’s Guardian used the statistics of a Fire Elemental Myrmidon. Throughout the ensuing fight, many spell slots were expended and many 1s were rolled by both sides. But eventually, the guardian was slain, its armour collapsing into a pile.
The Glass of Understanding was used to cast Detect Magic to determine if the armour was magical. The armour itself was not, but a small y-shaped piece had a faint aura of conjuration. It vibrated slightly when held. The artificer then noticed that there was a similarly shaped hole in the stone circle, so he placed the piece into it. Its vibrations became louder, and the whole circle began to shake. The runes glowed yellow, and the circle collapsed inwards. A wave of heat overcame the players, as they had just opened a portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire.
Will the heroes be able to navigate the Plane of Fire and claim Flame Tongue from the Efreet’s Champion? Probably, these were the same two who fought a Gloomstalker at night without taking any damage.
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