Friday, May 27, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: The Opera House Part 1

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)


The Opera House
2 XP for destroying the red crystal here. 

From Wikipedia: “In 1896, one of the counter-weights for the grand chandelier fell, killing one. This, as well as the underground lake, cellars and other elements of the Paris Opera House, inspired Gaston Leroux in 1909 to write his classic Gothic novel, The Phantom of the Opera.”  This is a titanic building with five levels of balcony seating, 200 dressing rooms, instrument closets, trapdoors, hidden staircases, secret passages, cellars for food and barrels of wine, as well as the scenery, props, and wardrobe. Frankly, this building alone is worthy of its own adventure setting.  (Dungeon Magazine#39 has a pretty good representation of a large theater.  9 Megs.)

If you can believe it, this is mostly a social encounter.  If they play along, the Characters will only have two foes to beat in the Opera House.  Failing that, it’s going to be a long night at the Opera. 

This massive structure is surprisingly intact on the outside.  The windows all glow with a red light from within.  The entrance doors are in place, but unlocked.  Inside, the place is in complete shambles.  It saw disaster within well before the coming of Kurtz, and the audience that night was overtaken by it. 

Virtually everything is ruined or destroyed inside, except for one particular class of item (described below).  The auditorium itself is a truly macabre spectacle.  The stage features a painted background of the ruined city.  In front is a well-used guillotine, well-used on the natives.  A large number of their heads are piled up around the stage as their decapitated bodies fill the seats in the audience in observance.  An altar is also on stage, but without the familiar red crystal on it.        

All that is intact inside is the lighting system.  In the Entrance Hall, all 8 of the delicate chandeliers are still working and pristine and glowing red.

As are all 8 of the red lights at the Grand Stairway. 
The stage and audience are lit by a single massive Grand Chandelier 70’ off the ground floor.  All these lights glow red and are linked by a thin red energy line, but the Grand Chandelier glows brightest of them all with the red crystal in the center.  Very simply, the Grand Chandelier needs to be destroyed (AC 10, 10 hp).  However, it will be impervious to damage until all of the other chandeliers are destroyed first (AC 10, 1 hp).  (If the Native Witch Doctor is with the group, he can suggest what to do.  Even the Spectres might be helpful.  Or perhaps the Players can figure it out for themselves.)

Oh, when the big one comes down, don’t be underneath it (DC 18 Ref Sv or death for anyone directly underneath) or anywhere near it (for anyone on the ground floor area 3d6 collateral glass damage, DC 12 Ref Sv for half damage).  Outside, the river island will be vaguely visible (though not enterable).  If this is the final altar, the island will be completely visible and can be entered. 

***Opera House Part 2****

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: The Museum

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

The Museum
2 XP for destroying the red crystal here. 

Reference the Louvre.  The building has three wings with a pyramid structure in its inner courtyard.  While the building is ancient (Ancient?) and a devastated shell, the pyramid is of clearly more modern make.  It is a metallic skeleton, paneled in what appear to be glass plates.  Inside, an ever-burning sacrificial pit filled bodies is visible.  An altar with a bright, glowing red crystal on the dais stands over the pit.  The interior of the pyramid is impenetrable (yes, even burrowing underneath it or going ethereal, astral, or phasing).  Kurtz took advantage of some these Ancient structures’ inherent magical properties to create force fields of amazing strength.  There is a door with a keyhole at ground-level, however.  Again, nothing will open it though.      

Inside the building (hopefully are Players aren’t so discouraged as to not investigate it, perhaps a glimpse of a Demon Host inside is in order), different sections of the museum were dedicated to different foreign cultures and antiquities.  Of course, anything valuable that could easily be hauled away, has been (Sorry, no Mona Lisa).  What’s left was too heavy to move or has rotted away.  It is a rather empty, desolate place.

There is one chamber that is strangely intact and clean, except for a layer of sand on the floor.  There are a multitude of statues surrounding the chamber.  They are in state ruin, except for one, a man-sized Greek-like hero next to a painting.  Very curious is this completely intact painting, being out of place, as this is obviously a hall of statues.  A pile of dinosaur bones lay in the corner, seemingly misplaced from the natural history part of the museum. 

Upon closer inspection, the painting shows the museum and the pyramid, with the sacrificial pit and the altar.  (A perhaps minor clue that it’s of recent vintage.)  A blurry man stands before the pyramid, holding out a key.  (If somebody does something indelicate here to the painting, it instantly repairs itself.)  There is an inscription beneath the painting, which reads, in Common, “Speak the name of the Master and enter.”  The name is, of course, Kurtz.  This instantly transports the speaker into the painting.  (Jdh417 groans.  Oh, I’m sure these logic puzzles aren’t going to cause any consternation for the Ref and the Players.  If one of the Players even says “Kurtz” in passing away from the gaming table, let them in immediately.)

Inside the painting is the Demon Host, Speed, who will fight to the death before giving up the key.  Getting the key will transport the Character back into the hall.  Complicating matters, it’s more than likely that only one Character says the name.  Those outside are immediately beset upon by the painting’s other guardians.  The statue animates, as it is a Golem.  The dinosaur bones reassemble in the Skeleton Raptor.  The sand beneath the Character’s feet transforms in the Demon Host, Sand.  (If they all say the entry word together, the guardians activate upon exit.) 

The key opens the door in the pyramid.  Taking the red crystal off the altar (which shatters it), or just smashing it, will cause a blinding flash.  (If a Native Witch Doctor is with the group and they’re stuck, have him suggest it.)  The fire will go out in the pit.  Outside, the river island will be vaguely visible (though not enterable).  If this is the final altar, the island will be completely visible and can be entered.      

Minor Stone Golem
HD 7 (d10), Hp 40, AC 20* (Natural, Magic to hit)
Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +4
Vulnerability: Unlike normal Golems, these have no inherent immunity to Magic.  A Transmute Rock to Mud spell will permanently destroy these Golems.
Melee: Slam +10 to hit 1d10+3

Raptor Skeleton
HD 8 (d12), Hp 25, AC 18 (Natural)
Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +8
Melee: Talons x 2 +9 to hit 2d8+5 and bite +4 to hit 2d6+2

Sand (Demon Host)
HD 5 (d8), Hp 40, AC 18* (None, Magic to hit)
Fort +8, Ref +1, Will +1
Melee: Punch +8 to hit 1d6+4
Ranged: Sandblast +8 to hit 2d6 + DC 12 Fort Sv or blinded 2 rds, S
Special Defense: Sand is composed of sand, so his form is easily changed into virtually anything.  Anywhere there’s a hole or gap, Sand can fit through it.  He’s also immune to any normal damage. 
Special Weakness: It’s unlikely the Characters are going to have access to concrete and a mixer, the tradition bane of creatures such as this, but anything that could potentially gum or bond Sand together will make him AC 10, vulnerable to normal damage, and freeze his form. 
Description: A blurry sandman.

Speed (Demon Host)
HD 5 (d6), Hp 20, AC 18 (None), Enhanced Init +4
Fort +1, Ref +5, Will +1
Melee: 2 x Crystal dagger +5 to hit 1d6
Ranged: 2 x Crystal shard +9 to hit 1d6, S
Special Defense: Speed runs at super speed into melee combat and retreats to S range after each attack.  So he either can’t be attacked with melee weapons, or has to be confined somehow.
Special Weakness: A successful sonic or sound attack will cause him to shatter.        
Description: A blurry, crystalline man.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: Abandoned Catacombs

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

Abandoned Catacombs
1 XP for getting through this area.

This area was once an ossuary (all the block areas in the chamber) and later an impromptu graveyard (pit) under the Cathedral.  Approaching any of the bone piles will result in an attack, though the bones are immobile and Characters can simply run through them.  A few improperly disposed of corpses (Skeletons and Zombies) are also wandering around to attack the living.  A small Ghoul pack lays dormant in the pit area, who will animate should anyone pass near.

There’s a shaky stairway up to the basilica in the ***Cathedral***.  Coming this way will allow the Characters to survey the scene and get in 1 rd of attacks before the bell starts ringing.

Pile of Bones (x4)
HD 4, Hp 24, AC 15 (Natural)
Fort +3, Ref +1, Will +1
Melee: 3 attacks/rd +3 to hit, 1d6, if all 3 attacks hit the same opponent, they are grabbed and held, DC 12 Str or Escape Artist check to get loose.  Destroying the pile will also release the victim.

Skeleton (x6)
HD 1, Hp 4, AC 12 (Natural)      
Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +0                     
Melee: Claw +1 to hit 1d6

Zombie (x4)
HD 2, Hp 8, AC 11 (Natural) Will always strike last in rd
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0                                         
Melee: Slam +2 to hit, 1d8                                    
Swarm: If 2 or more make successful attacks one 1 victim in 1 rd, they Grapple the opponent.  DC 12 + 1 per additional attacker (up to DC 15 for 4 attacking the same victim) Str check or Escape Artist to break or automatically take 1d4 Bite/attacker/rd

Ghoul (x4)
HD 2 (d12), Hp 13, AC 14 (Natural)
Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +5
Melee: Bite +2 to hit 1d6+1 plus DC 12 Fort Sv or paralysis 1 turn

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: The Sewage Pit

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

The Sewage Pit
1 XP for getting through this encounter.

Under the Prison is a particularly vile cesspool.  Everyone entering this area must make a DC 12 Fort Sv or be sickened for 1 turn (all abilities and skills go to 0 bonus).  This is also the best place for mushrooms in the sewers, which attracts scavengers.  The bones and bodies of unlucky gatherers are scattered around them. 

There is a predatory brood of Giant Spiders in residence here.  Unlike what you’d expect, the webbed nest of the spiders isn’t visible at eye level, but rather 10’ above the ground.  The spiders work in concert with the Shrieker mushroom by the entrance, which deafens prospective mushroom pickers, allowing the spiders to drop in on victims.  There is also a Violet Fungus mushroom by the spiral staircase which can knock out the unwary.  Giant Centipedes come out whenever bodies hit the ground.  The webs above are flammable, which would cause the insects to scatter.

A spiral stairway leads directly to the bottom floor of the ***Prison*** offices.  It’s full of various oozes, but the Characters will avoid the Demon Host guards for at least 1 turn.

Shrieker (Giant Mushroom)
HD 2+6, Hp 15, AC 13 (Natural)
Fort +6, Ref –1, Will +0
Melee: None
Ranged: High pitched shriek goes off if approached within 5’, DC 12 Fort Sv or stunned for 2 rds.  Will also attract any monsters in the area.  

Giant Spider (x6)
HD 2, Hp 8, AC 14 (natural)
Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +0
Melee: Bite +4 to hit 1d6 + Poison DC 12 Fort Sv or sickened 1 turn (all bonuses and skills go to 0), a victim failing the first saving throw, bit again, and failing a second saving throw is reduced to 0 hp and rendered unconscious.
Stealth +4 (DC 16 to Detect)

Violet Fungus (Giant Mushroom)
HD 2+6, Hp 15, AC 13 (Natural)
Fort +6, Ref –1, Will +0
Melee: 4 attacks/rd Tentacles +3 to hit 1d6+2 + Poison Spore Cloud DC 12 Fort Sv or Die.  Immediate effect is 0 hp and unconsciousness.  Death occurs in 1 + Con Bonus days unless treated. 

Giant Centipede (x6)
HD 1, Hp 2, AC 14 (Natural)
Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +0
Melee: Bite +1 to hit, 1d6 + Poison DC 12 Fort Sv or Sick 1 turn (all bonuses 0)

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: Underground Lake

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016

(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

Underground Lake
1 XP for either pointlessly destroying or helpfully befriending the Lizardmen.

This reservoir was found during the excavation of the Opera House.  The lake has a small island with a ramshackle cabin on it.  There’s even a jetty on shore with a rowboat tied up to it.  In older days, there might have been a singing madman wearing a mask holed up there (Phantom of the Opera reference).  Currently, it’s just home to a degenerate clan of Lizardmen.  These are the inbred cousins of the residents of the river island and absolutely despise them. 

The Lizardmen are territorial, but not immediately hostile.  Their Troglodyte leader is something of a coward.  If approached with some enticement, they might speak (haltingly and ignorantly) about their relatives and their abode.  (If nobody has Tongues or Comprehend Languages spells, say Doctor Sane has them.)  Treated and rewarded well (food) and the Lizardmen can be enticed to act as guides through the sewers (avoiding the traps), and may even show up as volunteers when the Characters make to it to the island. 

There’s a series to stairways leading to the ****Opera House’s**** basements above, which puts the Characters backstage.  They might be able to surprise **Threadman*** there.

Lizardmen (x10)
HD 2d8+2, Hp 11, AC 15 (Natural)
Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +0
Melee: Club +2 to hit 1d6+1
Ranged: Javelin +1 to hit 1d6
Stealth +4 (DC 16 to hit) in water or swamp

HD 2+4, Hp 20, AC 15 (Natural)
Fort +5, Ref –1, Will +0
Melee: Club +1 to hit 1d6
Ranged: Javelin +1 to hit 1d6
Stench: DC 12 Fort Sv or sickened 1 turn, all bonuses go to 0, 30’ radius

This smell will also attract more Lizardmen and generally drive them into a frenzy.  They will be immune to fear attacks and morale checks for the encounter.  The death or retreat of the Troglodyte will automatically cause the Lizardmen to flee. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: Abandoned Quarry

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

Abandoned Quarry
1 XP for getting through this area.

The underworld was peppered with limestone quarries, which were eventually abandoned.  These became dangerous sinkholes as the city on top grew over them.  This quarry is underneath the Museum.  Fire Beetles, bred by the miners, roam free about the area.  A degenerate tribe of Grimlocks also live here, humans driven underground generations ago by the Thunderbird.  They are fiercely territorial.  

There are a series of tunnels that the Characters can crawl up to end up just outside the ***Museum***.  Unfortunately, there’s little advantage to this.

HD 2d8+2, Hp 11, (18 hp sgt.), AC 15 (None)
Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +2
Melee: Stone Battleaxe +4 to hit 1d8+3
Stealth +5 underground (DC 17 to Detect)
Blindsight: Grimlocks can sense all foes within 40 feet as a sighted creature would. Beyond that range, they treat all targets as having total concealment.
Grimlocks are susceptible to sound- and scent-based attacks, however, and are affected normally by loud noises and sonic spells and overpowering odors. Negating a Grimlock’s sense of smell or hearing blinds them, their “To hit” drops to +0.
Immunities: Grimlocks are immune to gaze attacks, visual effects, illusions, and other attack forms that rely on sight.

Giant Fire Beetle
HD 1 (d8), Hp 4, AC 16 (Natural)
Fort +2, Ref +0, Will +0
Melee: Bite +1 to hit 2d4

Luminous Gland: Produces a 10’ radius glow for 1d6 days after removal.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Dark Continent Redux: The Sewers

Dark Continent Redux
A Fantasy Core Adventure
© Jerry Harris 2016
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Playtest Rules.)

The Sewers

Underground Lake
Sewage Pit

"Sire," said the Minister of the Interior to Napoleon, "yesterday I saw the most intrepid man in your Empire."
"What man is that?" said the Emperor brusquely, "and what has he done?"
"He wants to do something, Sire."
"What is it?"
"To visit the sewers of Paris."

Find Les Miserables by Victor Hugo online and start reading at Volume V/Book 2. The Intestine of the Leviathan/Chapter I, The Land Impoverished by the Sea.  From there and into Book 3, you’ll find out everything you ever wanted to know about the sewers of Paris.  I cower in embarrassment at my own feeble attempts to put this into an RPG adventure.  This should be a separate adventure unto itself.  For here and now, it’s a dangerous alternate way around the city, but not as bad as fighting the Thunderbird.  There’s even an off possibility of gaining unlikely allies.

[I admit my map sucks, but is functional for the adventure.  I know the sewer map distance and the city map aren’t going to match up well, which is why there isn’t a scale on them.   I’m not a cartographer.  Here’s a couple of views of the actual sewers of Paris to make it up to you.]

As mentioned earlier, there’s a crater in the street just inside the city, which allows easy access to the underworld.  Otherwise, there should be several other less conspicuous opportunities to gain entrance.  The sewer even has direct connections to the other major areas, allowing for some surprise entries by the Characters. 

All the lines follow the streets above.  There are signs at the intersections.  The sewers are navigable by rafts and small boats, which are found in various states throughout the underground.  Tributaries feed into to the large trunk sewer line, the Grand Sewer (the Main Trunk Line), which has walkways on either side.  The trunk feeds into an enormous shaft 280 ft deep and into the river.  Different sections of the sewer come from different ages and can vary remarkably in appearance.  There are markings and even warnings everywhere from other expeditions.  Lost treasures, jewels, and even a crown can be found here.  Disturbing skeletons of animals, perhaps escaped from the zoo or elsewhere, also litter the sewers.

This isn’t a pleasant place, even beyond the garbage.  There are explosive methane gas pockets, sinkholes, quicksand, mudslides, and flash floods of mud and garbage that can actually burst the tunnels.  Massive fungus and mushroom growths populate the underground.  Some of them are hazardous.  The garbage heaps by the drains are filled with swarms of rats, giant rats, and even giant cockroaches.  Crocodiles patrol the waterways.  Giant spiders have spun traps down some of the tunnels.  And be careful, the main sewer river outlet is a nesting ground for the river creature.

The Grand Sewer
Award 1 XP navigating the length of the sewer.

The Main Trunk Line is an artificial river.  While there are walkways on either side of it, they are long ruined in places, forcing more difficult passage.  A small rowboat will be found just inside, if the party wants to chance it.  There are multiple threats to travelers in this tunnel.  There are Crocodiles, who have come in from the river, hungry hoards of Giant Rats, nasty swarms of insects, and various environmental perils (traps), which can attract these predators when they go off.  [The “traps” are marked on the map.  You can use the “wandering monsters” in the sewers as you will.]

Methane Gas Pocket: There is a bad smell before entering this area.  If approached bearing fire, it will explode.  2d6 dam to all in 10’ radius, DC 18 Ref Sv for ½ damage. 
Quicksand: This area is a sandy soup-like pool stretching across the intersection.  DC 12 Ref Sv to avoid stepping in, otherwise victim will sink in within 3 rds unless dragged out. 
Sinkhole: The ground here looks particularly rough.  DC 12 Ref Sv to avoid or fall 10’ for 2d6 dam + DC 12 Fort Sv or Knocked Out 1 turn
Mudslide/Flash Flood: Rain and flooding on the surface works its way down here.  A low rumble will proceed an outburst.  DC 18 Fort Sv or swept into canal with 2d6 damage + DC 12 Fort Sv or Knocked Out 1 turn.  Victims will wash up a ways down the sewer.  (Here’d be a good place for a sewer monster attack.)  

HD 3+9, Hp 22, AC 15 (Natural)
Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +2
Melee: Bite +6 to hit 1d8+6 or Tail Slap +6 to hit 1d12+6 + Knocked Down
Stealth +4 (DC 16 to detect in water)

Improved Grab: After a successful bite attack, the Croc may choose to hold on to drag its prey underwater.  A DC 12 Str Sv or Escape Artist check is necessary to break free.  Also, if the Croc takes a hit while grabbing, it must make a DC 18 Will Sv, or it will drop its prey.

Dire Rat
HD ½, Hp 2, AC 15 (Natural)
Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +0
Melee: Bite +0 to hit, 1d4

Insect Swarm
HD 2, HP 8, AC 13* (Immune to weapons, only fire, smoke, magic)
Fort +3, Ref +0, Will +0
Melee: Sting +2 to hit, 1 + DC 12 Fort or Stun 1 rd