Catacombs of the Cold Legion (5e Quest)
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This is a dungeon for PCs of level 2 or 3. Three centuries ago, the immortal Cold Legion rampaged across this land but were finally halted at the battle of Nalrim. The dwarves of Nalrim defeated the horde and used elemental ice to freeze those evil creatures, imprisoning them in a specially prepared catacomb. However, the ice is beginning to thaw and this terrible army will soon be free. Someone needs to wrap up warm and insert the last ice chi into the heart of the dungeon.
- Ice Chi
The ice chi is an arcane orb, 4 inches in diameter, that acts as a catalyst for the growth of everice. It can be used as an arcane focus. If you use it to cast a spell that deals cold damage, you can reroll the damage dice and use either result.
- Construction and Environment
Unless otherwise specified, the walls, floors and ceilings of the catacomb are worked masonry. The walls and ceiling are covered with a 1-inch layer of ice. Doors are stone; stuck stone doors require a DC 15 Strength check to open. The whole catacomb is underground and in pitch darkness. The temperature is around zero degrees centigrade: if the party wishes to take a long rest anywhere they must have winter blankets or some means of creating fire. However, a fire will melt a room's ceiling ice after four hours, foiling a rest attempt unless the party took precautions against water.
The halls and corridors of the catacomb are normally mostly devoid of life. A breed of rodent, the giant ice rat, sometimes finds their way into the dungeon through cracks in the ice to feed on vermin. More recently, some members of the cold legion have been freed from their ice-block prison and they patrol the catacomb while they wait for their comrades to thaw.
- Surroundings and Entrance
The area above the catacomb is a featureless field of snow banks, with the occasional outcropping of rock. If the PCs take the time (1 hour) to investigate the area, they may find the grill leading to the secret room (30). This requires a successful DC 20 Investigation check.
Cold legion creatures are resurrected at midnight. You should note where they have been slain, and keep track of the time of day as the party explore and take rests.
48 hours after the start of the adventure, the ice imprisoning the cold legion finally breaks and the following creatures appear:
- Room 7: 4d20 cold legion minions; 4 cold legion slingers
- Room 13: 1 cold legion veteran
- Room 18: 4 cold legion minions
- Room 27: 4 + 1d6 cold legion minions
The thawed prisoners will spend 1 hour consolidating, and then make their way to the exit (emerging in a single file) to wreak havoc once more. How many prisoners are frozen, how many get unfrozen, and what cold legion creatures these prisoners are, are choices left for the DM.
Since cold legion creatures can rise after being slain, only award XP for defeating them the first time.
If the players refreeze the catacomb and escape, award 450 XP (divided among the PCs). They will also have the gratitude of the dwarves of Nalrim.
- Random Events
Each time the party enter a location, roll 1d20.
- 1–10: No event
- 11–12: 1d4 ice rats
- 13–14: 1d4 cold legion minions
- 14–16: A chunk of ice falls from the ceiling. Select one creature in the room at random. They must make a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw. On a fail, they take 1d10 bludgeoning damage.
- 17–18: The party come across a small brass mechanism. It is a part of the buckler guardian at location 17. If all five are found, ignore this random event result.
- 19–20: The faltering power of the frozen pool courses through the location. Creatures with cold resistance or immunity are restrained for 1 minute.
- 1. Entrance Chamber (Combat)
This is the only known entrance to the catacomb. A u-bend brass pipe, wide enough for one person, that leads to the surface. It is normally solid with ice, but it melted a few weeks ago. Four giant ice rats aimlessly wander this circular chamber, and will hungrily attack the party as they emerge from the basin one by one.
Scattered around the room are the bones and rags of lesser adventurers, scavenged clean. Amidst the remains are 73 cp.
Combat: 4 × ice rats
- 2. Library (Treasure)
A 10′ × 10′ chamber with a bookshelf, on which are various logbooks detailing the construction of the catacomb, how many cold legion troops were interred here and where. Underneath a small reading, table is a coffer containing 100 cp.
- 3. Flooded Passage (Hazard)
This twisty-turny passage is flooded with ice-cold water. See "frigid water" (Dungeon Master's Guide 110).
- 4. Lever Room 1 (Key)
A 20′ × 20′ chamber. On the south wall is emblazoned the holy symbol of Moradin. A large steel lever protrudes from its centre. Pulling it produces a mechanical grinding sound that lasts for six seconds: it raises the set of steel portcullises sealing room 29.
- 5. Lever Room 2 (Key)
This room contains a large brass lever similar in design to the one in room 4. Pulling it raises the set of brass portcullises sealing room 29.
- 6. Gallery of the Battle of Nalrim (Treasure)
A 40′ × 80′ chamber. The granite walls are lined with frost-coated carvings depicting dwarven warriors battling with the cold legion, and the struggle of the dwarven clerics using ice chi to return the horde to their icy tomb.
A set of rough steps leads to a raised section on the west wall. The base of the steps is treacherous with the tip of a crevice that splits the room in two. At the top of the steps is an offertory container. There is a hidden switch in the container which when pressed opens a panel in the base, revealing 1000 cp.
- 7. Minion's Prison (Combat)
A 10′ wide balcony runs around the edge of this 100′ × 90′ sunken room, glistening with thick ice. Under the ice, hundreds of ice horde minions can be seen frozen in their prison.
Combat: 4 × Cold Legion Minions, 2 × Cold Legion Veterans and 1 Cold Legion Slinger. They are singing war chants and planning victories whilst waiting for their brethren to thaw. Many areas of the sunken room are slippy ice (1 in 4 squares).
It should be made clear that engaging this group head on would make an extremely hard battle. They are present to remind players that they are dealing with the threat of a hoard. The balcony has a short wall, so sneaking through this area is viable.
- 8. Gallery of the Gods (Empty)
This 40′ × 40′ cross-shaped chamber features an altar, and wall carvings depicting the dwarf deities Moradin, Marthammor Duin, Hanseath and Dumathoin. Underneath, in the dwarven language, are incantations calling upon them to protect the catacomb.
- 9. Tomb of Dwarven Warriors (Empty)
A 20′ × 30′ room filled with a shallow pool of ice water. Entombed in the walls are six dwarven warriors who died fighting the ice horde as the catacomb was being built. Stone and brass plaques mark their names.
- 10. Tomb of Dwarven Clerics (Empty)
A 30′ × 20′ room. Entombed in the walls are four dwarven clerics who died to bring the first ice chi to the catacomb. Stone and brass plaques mark their names. A chasm splits the room east-and-west.
- 11. Tomb of the Allies (Treasure, Trap)
A 30′ × 20′ room. Entombed in the walls are five human warriors who died in the battle of Nalrim against the cold legion. Stone and brass plaques mark their names and a commemorative obelisk blocks a 5′ × 5′ area in the centre of the room. In the north-west corner, there is an iron trunk. It is unlocked but trapped with spring darts. It contains 100 cp and 400 sp. When the trunk is opened, the first creature in a 5 by 20 ft. line in front of it receives four ranged attacks with a +4 bonus. Each hit deals 2 (1d4) piercing damage. The trap can be deactivated by turning one of the bolts on the trunk's right-hand side.
- 12. Hidden Morgue (Combat, Treasure)
A 15′ × 15′ room accessible only by a secret door — a PC succeeding on a Wisdom (Perception) check of 15 will notice the hairline seam; whilst on a Wisdom (Perception) check of 10 a character will hear the faint sounds of people arguing in common tongue.
Benches, scattered embalming tools, and a dusty old tomb on dwarven burial rites indicate that this was used for preparing the bodies entombed in rooms 9–12. Four recently thawed cold legion minions are in here, rooting through the detritus and arguing on how to escape this prison. They are carrying 75 cp between them. Amid the melting ice, there a heap of trash, under which is hidden a pottery jar containing 200 cp.
Combat: 4 × cold legion minions.
Terrain: Piles of detritus are difficult terrain. The workbench can provide half cover.
- 13. Veteran's Prison (Empty)
Segregated from the corridor with iron bars, a 20′ × 20′ chamber containing an altar to Moradin. The east wall is an ice block. Just visible within it is a frozen cold legion veteran.
- 14. Worker's Rest Area (Empty)
A 15′ × 20′ room with a fireplace and two chairs. The fireplace has not been lit since the catacomb's builders left three hundred years ago.
- 15. Ice Carving Chamber (Combat)
A lozenge-shaped room, 40′ × 80′. The four entrances are covered with thick white curtains that have faded little over the years. The curtains are drawn except for the south-western entrance. Chains, hooks, pulleys and large ice saws are scattered around and hanging from the ceiling. This chamber was used to prepare frozen cold legion warriors for internment in other rooms.
Combat: 4 × cold legion minions, recently thawed, are following the tracks of ice rats through here. They are carrying 50 sp between them.
- 16. Everice Concourse (Combat)
A concourse, with ice block walls and angular floor tiles that form an arcane symbol around the central block. Ice chi once flowed into the symbol, maintaining the everice and imprisoning members of the cold legion. Now the walls are thawing, many minions have already broken free. A cold legion slinger noisily stomps in a clockwise direction around the concourse, occasionally shouting out in celebration, flanked by two minions
Combat: 1 × cold legion slinger; 2 × cold legion minions. The minions will attempt to screen the slinger from melee attacks.
Terrain: Patches of ice require a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check when stepped on to avoid falling prone.
- 17. Guardian's Room (Treasure, Deadly Trap)
A secret room, concealed by a thin layer of ice. In the centre, a buckler guardian stands waiting. It was supposed to be patrolling the catacomb but does not seem to be functioning. If the party have found all five of its missing components, it can be reactivated. To do so, a character must succeed on a DC 20 Intelligence check, with each attempt taking 1 hour. On a roll of a natural 1, one of the components is damaged and no further attempts can be made. The functioning buckler guardian will recognize the party as agents of the catacomb's owner and follow the party to aid them in combat (although it cannot leave the catacomb.)
By its side, a silk sack sits on a pedestal. It contains 300 cp and 300 sp, but the pedestal is protected with a glyph of warding. The glyph is only noticed on a successful Intelligence (Investigation) check (DC 16). If the sack is removed, creatures within a 20-foot-radius must pass a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw. Creatures takes 5d6 thunder damage on a failed saving throw, and half as much on a success.
- 18. Minion's Prison (Empty)
A small 30′ × 10′ room with four small pillars. The south wall is a block of ice holding four frozen cold legion minions.
- 19. Storage (Empty)
These four staggered 30′ × 30′ rooms were used for storage while the catacombs were active. Hundreds of stone bins line the walls, containing ice picks, shovels, saws, boxes of nails, hinges, and other tools and fittings; now all horribly rusted. In the centre of each room is a 9′ orthostat, 5′ × 5′ at the base.
- 20. False Tomb (Trap)
A 20′ × 20′ room with a 10′ × 5′ layer of thin ice in the centre. Underneath the ice is visible a frozen ice horde veteran, surrounded by glittering coins. The prisoner and the coins are an illusion. Breaking the ice destroys the illusion, revealing an empty pit and triggering a poison needle trap.
- 21. Unfinished Tomb (Empty)
This is a natural crevasse in the ice wall. At the end is a sarcophagus carved from ice. It is half-finished, with tools scattered around.
- 22. Regulator Chamber (Combat)
A 20′ × 15′ room. Arcane channels in the wall once regulated the flow of everice through the catacomb. Now they are just hollow grooves.
- 23. Grave Entrance (Empty)
From the ceiling hangs a pewter pull-chain. Pulling it activates a mechanism that raises the heavy bar locking the door to the south. Pulling it again lowers the bar.
- 24. Mass Grave (Hazard)
An irregular room, about 30′ from corner to corner. The stone doors in the north-east corner are shut with heavy iron bars (each weighing 180 lb). They can be lifted temporarily from within this room, or raised via a mechanism from room 23.
The bodies of ice horde minions that never regenerated were dumped in a pit to the south-west. They have long since decayed to a pile of bones, picked clean by ice rats, but the carrion stench still lingers. Steps lead down into the pit.
Much of these remains are covered in yellow mold (Dungeon Master's Guide 105), and searching through the bones will disturb it.
- 25. Shaft (Obstacle)
A diagonally-oriented 20′ × 20′ room with no visible floor: from wall to wall there is a deep pit. The jump distance from the western door to the eastern corridor is 25'. The pit is 30' deep (4d6 damage on a fall), with smooth ice walls (DC 25 to climb). The bottom of the pit is littered with the remains of small animals that fell down and could not climb out.
There is no ledge, so it would be most unfortunate if the door was shut and barred with members of the party on the eastern side.
- 26. Zombie Room (Combat)
This chamber is blocked east-to-west by fallen masonry. There are four zombies (Monster Manual 316) here. At some point, someone has tried to disguise their rotting smell by decorating them with pungent, rare herbs (worth 25 sp).
- 27. Minion's Prison (Empty)
A 30′ × 30′ chamber of ice, with ice horde minions imprisoned and frozen in the walls. There are several small ice statues depicting dwarves fighting the horde.
- 28. Ritual Room (Combat)
A 20′ × 20′ ice chamber filled with rubble. Amidst the rubble is broken stone furnishings: this area was once used by dwarven clerics to prepare ice chi for the frozen pool. The ceiling collapsed some time ago. A swarm of white drakelings have taken roost here, and are cruelly pecking at a fallen adventurer. 21 cp are scattered around.
Combat: 3 × white drakeling swarms. If the drakelings are defeated, the adventurer can be an ally if healed. See Naranzorig, below.
- 29. The Frozen Pool (Quest Room, Treasure)
A 30′ × 30′ chamber. The entrances to the north and west are blocked with two sets of portcullis separated by one foot; one steel and one brass. While a feat of strength will lift a portcullis (DC 25 Strength), one person is required per portcullis to allow the whole party through.
At the top of the steps is a 30′ × 30′ room with an alcove in the southeast. In the alcove is the frozen pool. It is a disc of elemental ice, 4 feet in diameter, lit from beneath with a dwindling blue light. It is ringed with brass and granite coping. Behind the pool is a thick tapestry, glittering with frost, depicting the acolytes of Nalrim activating the pool for the first time, locking the cold legion in their prison. Hidden behind this tapestry are three chests, containing 9 citrine gems, 700 cp, 300 sp and 120 gp.
The ice chi given to the party must be dropped into to refreeze the catacomb. The moment this is done, the catacomb will begin to refreeze, and the corridors and hallways will resound with the creaking of ice reforming. The party have 10 minutes to reach the exit before it becomes solid ice!
- 30. Secret room
The entrance to this 5'-diameter room might be spotted from the corridor by noticing a patch where the wall has thinner ice (DC 20). The interior is a vent, of sorts, where heat is expelled from the dungeon. Condensation drips from the rough stone wall, and the sky can be seen through a grill some 30 feet above.
This area is chilly, but warmer than the rest of the catacombs, and is a suitable place to rest for a party of no more than four characters. In addition, the wall can be climbed and the grill removed, providing an alternate exit if the main entrance has frozen over.
Naranzorig is an exceptionally handsome man, but beneath the good looks is a shallow, abrasive personality. He often stares vacantly into the distance. He is perceptive and has good knowledge of survival in cold climates. He is fond of card games and rarely loses.
He does not express his gratitude for being rescued and will continue to be unappreciative of any help. However, he does know the location of the two lever rooms (4 and 5) required to access the frozen pool.
Use the statistics for a Scout (Monster Manual 349).