Honey Pottery and Alchemy Chambers (3.5e Quest)
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- 1 Honey Pottery and Alchemy Chambers
- 2 What Lies Beneath
- 3 Oh No, Not The Bees!
Honey Pottery and Alchemy Chambers
Intended for four level 3-4 adventurers.
The honey industry of Redford is hardly an unique industry, even in fantasy worlds, so this quest can be adapted to any cultural setting that produces honey as well as practices magical alchemy of some sort. In the Years of Gold setting, the quest takes place in one of Carl von Arnberg's many honey potteries on the western side of the city.
- Prep Time 15 min
- Play Time 30 min to 1 hour
|Death is sweet.|
A short location-based romp through a honey pottery, with the players attempting to find their way into the hidden parts of the complex. Once there, the party deals with traps and opposition, discovers the secret of the place, then fights a boss fight with the hideous monsters of Von Arnberg's morbid imagination.
Carl von Arnberg has a love of bees that goes right past unhealthy into obsessive. He has made his fortune with the little golden critters, and his honey potteries were and remain the main source of revenue for the upstart noble. What the common populace doesn't know, and even the more can only guess at, is that Carl's obsession with bees has got him into experimenting with bees, their poison and their form. The masterpiece of his experimentation is of course the beeswarm nester process, but other perversion are being discovered just beneath the innocent-looking honey-packaging facilities.
- One of the competing nobles hires the party to sabotage a honey pottery, not knowing of the alchemy chambers beneath
- The party happens upon rumors of a secret alchemical facility below a honey pottery; investigation follows
- Carl von Arnberg wants to have a little chat with the party (possibly by proxy), and if they wont bend to his ridiculous demands, all hell breaks loose
The heroes enter the honey pottery (for whatever reason), search around, then discover the passageway into the alchemy chambers beneath - this is were the quest starts proper. The giant bees in the transmogrification chamber make for a wonderful boss for the quest.
What Lies Beneath
The honey pottery lies to the west of Redford, flanked by fields of bee hives. The facility has some twenty workers packaging honey at any given time (treat as 1st-level expert) during the day, and is abandoned and locked up (doors hardness 5, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 18 to open, Strength DC 23 to burst). During the night, two guards check up on the outside of the facility roughly once an hour, but don't enter the building.
If you want to have a further battle after the fight against the giant bees in the alchemy chambers, a good one is having the party exit the basement only to discover Clyde and Basil, along with two guards waiting for them (EL 6). They demand the party put down their weapons, but if they do, Basil laughs a wicked laugh and they attack the party anyway. Only have this fight in the quest if it makes sense; if there's no way for Carl or his cronies to know of the party's presence in the pottery (the party has been very sneaky, no guards have escaped the players or reported to doors unlocked etc.), it doesn't make sense for Clyde and Basil to have come investigate just randomly. Save them for a more sensible time. This is also a deviously hard fight for a party of level 3 or 4 characters, so only have it if the party is prepared (for combat or for death), or drop the guards to 1st-level Fighters.
NOTE: Whenever coordinates are present, alphabets are vertical and numbers are horizontal.
A1 - Atrium (EL 4)
An underground extension to the honey pottery, it seems. That explains why only the northernmost doorway was barred. The rooms are uncovered, with the corridor being little more than a beam-supported tunnel. The air smells sickly sweet, and some ways off, you can hear the nigh-hypnotizing drone of bees.
15ft.-by-30ft. room with a 15ft.-by-5ft corridor in the northwestern corner, 10ft. high. All doors locked (hardness 5, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 21 to open, Strength DC 18 to burst). A staircase (corridor A1) leading up to the pottery, large clay jars of honey spread around the room. A pressure trap on the floor (A1; Search DC 22 to locate, Disable Device DC 20 to bypass); when triggered, pours thick, sticky honey on the person standing on the plate (entangled for 1d4+1 rounds, can be mostly washed and wiped off as a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity; Reflex DC 15 to reduce entangle to 1 round) and releases a bee swarm.
The bee swarm always assaults the person that was covered in honey, regardless of easier or more dangerous targets. Washing off does little good, as the bees still smell the sweet nectar on their foe. The swarm fights mindlessly and to the end.
A2 - Alchemist's Cove
The acrid smell of ammonia strikes your nostrils as soon as you open the door to this room. All kinds of alchemist's tools, beakers, petri dishes, instruments and vials of various liquids lie on the table to your left. To your right is a large clay urn, half-full of clear fluid that smells distantly of honey, although somehow different. This is clearly a laboratory of some sort.
10ft.-by-15ft. room, 10ft. high. A heavy oaken table (C1-2) with two sets of alchemist's labs on it, as well a several notebooks written in a code (Decipher Script DC 25 to decode). The notebooks concern the beeswarm nester creation process, although on unclear enough terms to not be of much use in revealing Carl's plans; they do give a +2 circumstance bonus on the Craft (alchemy) checks to become a beeswarm nester (see below). A massive clay pot (A1), filled with an empowered version of royal jelly (+2 alchemical bonus to Strength for 24 hours when consumed; worth 500 gp altogether).
A3 - Bee Hive Chamber
Swarm after swarm of buzzing bees zip around this surprisingly high room. Three even rows of bees hives upon bees hives tower over your heads all the way to the roof. The air is unnaturally warm and moist, in a way that's most unpleasant.
25ft.-by-25ft. room, 15ft. high. Towers of bee hives (A1-5, C2-5, E1-5). Messing with the hives is likely to get the one messing them stung, but also has a 10% chance of releasing a bee swarm.
A4 - Transmogrification Chamber (EL 4)
|Prepare to get|
A very strange room lies ahead of you: the end of the small chamber is dominated by a massive pool, filled to the brim with a not-quite-honey substance and surrounded by glowing light-blue runes in an even circle. The sickly-sweet smell is overpowering. The room is furnished with several clay jugs of honey and a locked drawer.
20ft.-by-15ft. room with a 5ft.-by-5ft. secret alcove, 10ft. high. Secret door unlocked (Search DC 30 to locate), behind which a secret alcove, filled with shelves. The shelves contain more notes on the beeswarm nester creation process (provide a +2 circumstance bonus on the Craft (alchemy) checks to become a beeswarm nester), as well as smaller pots of experimental honey-liquids and a +1 sickle. Locked drawer (A4; hardness 5, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 24 to open, Strength DC 20 to burst), containing an amber rod of aid (activated by breaking in half), several books on subjects of biology and animal sciences, as well as a prayer book of Groke. Pool filled with an alchemical mixture of honey, bee venom and secret ingredients (C2-3)- When anyone attempts to study this mixture, they are ambushed by four magically-transmogrified giant bees (improvements: Str 12 (sting +3 melee (1d4+1 plus poison), Con 12 (16 hp), poison—Injury, Fortitude DC 12, initial and secondary damage 1d4 Con. The save DC is Constitution-based. Unlike normal giant bees, Carl's creations don't die after a successful sting) that break the surface of the opaque liquid and wildly attack those who are closest.
The bees are mindless monsters and have no plan or tactic in their fighting. They close in, sting a foe (usually two bees per target) and move on when the foe is down or there is a closer target.
B1 - Honeyworks and Potter's Wheels
The air in this windowless room is stuffy and far too hot for your liking. The heat comes from the small oven, probably for hardening the products of the two potter's wheels that are next to it. The northern side of the room is dominated by a massive array of shelves, used to drip honey from the honeycombs into trays. There are a couple of these trays against the walls, but besides that there is little furniture.
20ft.-by-20ft. room, 10ft. high. A series of shelves (A1-4) with trays of honey in it. An oven (C1) with a potter's wheel and a small chair on both sides.
B2 - Pottery
This is the main room of the pottery. It's a large area, but there's suprisingly little in it: a series of long tables for potting honey and a few wheelbarrows - apparently for moving the product around. The smell in the air is sweet, but you have a feeling that you're going to get tired of the sweetness sooner than later.
20ft.-by-45ft. room with a 20ft.-by-20ft. extension, 10ft. high. Door to trapdoor room locked (hardness 5, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 21 to open, Strength DC 18 to burst), door to honeyworks unlocked (hardness 5, 10 hp). Long tables (B2, C2-3, D3, F2, G2-3, H3, extension B3-4, extension C2-3) with a multitude of clay pots and urns, trays of honey, paint brushes, black paint, and stained ladles on them. During the day, roughly 4d4 workers patrol the area at any time.
B3, B4 and B5 - Pantries
A sizable pantry, apparently used for storing the finished potted honey. Line after line of "Basket's Golden Honey" stare at you from the shelves that surround you on each side. A few larger urns, as well as a wheelbarrow or two, are also spread on the floor rather haphazardly.
(B3) In the middle of the room you spy a large trap door.
20ft.-by-15ft. rooms, 10ft. high. Shelves on each wall, filled with pots of honey, unused or broken trays, large sealed cans of black paint and hempen bags. A trapdoor (B3, nothern), leading to the atrium. A honeypot of enlarge person (C4, southern; Search DC 25 to locate).
Oh No, Not The Bees!
The alchemical mixture of honey, bee venom and secret ingredients in the transmogrification chamber is the same substance used by Carl von Arnberg to turn himself, Jonathan Drake and Grimbold into beeswarm nesters. The exact make-up of the substance, as well as how to make it, isn't clear from the documents around the alchemy chambers (although a persistent alchemist can probably run their own experiments), but the prepared mixture has enough magical punch to turn one more person into a beeswarm nester, if they so wish. The mixture also has the power to turn a normal bee into a giant bee over the course of 24 hours.
Beeswarm Nester Transmogrification
The rough outline of the process can be discovered with a successful DC 20 Craft (alchemy) check; this doesn't reveal the specifics, but enough to jumpstart the operation. The process is started by perfecting the mixture: this requires alchemical components (an alchemist's lab usually has the required substances) and a DC 30 Craft (alchemy) check. The one attempting the check doesn't know if it's successful, but they'll discover soon enough when the process goes awry.
Then, the person is to bathe in the mixture and drink of it for 10 consecutive rounds. If the Craft (alchemy) check was successful, that person takes 1 point of Constitution drain per round as their body mutates, to a total of 10 points of Constitution drain; if the person has read at least one of the documents about the process in the alchemy chambers, they know to expect this painful transformation. The mutation ends up with the person filled with hexagonal holes, their skin grayed and hardened and their insides on fire.
If the Craft (alchemy) check was failed (or not even attempted), the bathing and drinking person takes 1d4 points of Constitution drain per round; if the person has read both of the documents about the process in the alchemy chambers, they know that the transformation shouldn't be this radial. If the character somehow manages to persist for the required 10 rounds, they can still finish the transmogrification. A character can have his ability scores healed while the mutation is taking place; this is how Carl made sure the process wouldn't be lethal.
Once the character is sufficiently mutated, they can receive a bee swarm into their body. This can be done by spending three rounds in the middle of an attacking bee swarm (easy to find in the Bee Hive Chamber) or by carefully inserting the bees by hand over three rounds (as Carl did it; Profession (beekeeper) DC 20 to succeed on this). Note that after 10 minutes, the mutated character is no longer a suitable platform for a swarm, and the draining mutation was for nothing. Once a character has successfully received a bee swarm into their body (and hasn't died in the process; the bees wont take to a dead body), they immediately receive the beeswarm nester template, but don't heal the Constitution drain.
Once a person has successfully mutated in the mixture, it becomes soiled, and can't be used to mutate further people into beeswarm nesters. Another mixture could be prepared, but the specifics of such a mixture are known in pieces by several alchemists, clerics and Carl von Arnberg; their cooperation (or lengthy personal studies) would be required to mix up another batch.
Giant Bee Transmogrification
The process to turn a mundane bee into a giant bee is much simpler: a bee is to be pacified (usually with smoke), then carefully placed into the mixture, avoiding damage to the frail creature. The mixture nurtures and sustains the bee, and they can easily survive the required 24 hours without other sources of nourishment or air. A bee grows exponentially in the mixture up until the 24-hour point, so that they operate as a giant bee (albeit a normal, weak one) around the 20-hour mark. At the 24-hour mark, they are perfect (see above). Past that, the bee's body quickly fails from excess mutation. Carl von Arnberg has been studying a method of making even larger bees, but is as of yet unsuccessful.