Lords of the secret citadel (4e Quest)
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The players enter a tavern to find the innkeeper polishing a piece of metal. It appears to have been broken off of a large, hollow, iron sphere. What at one time may have been ancient draconic runes scratched onto it's surface, is now a largely incomprehensible wreck. The innkeeper claims that he acquired it from a group of adventurers who found it in Stonewyrm Barrow. The bard, serenading from his seat in the corner, halts his song, and pipes up. He believes it to be a part of the sphere of dragons. He goes on to recount that while the dragonborn empire of Arkhosia was still at the height of its' power, they built a city. The name of that city has been lost to time, but is known to many as The Secret Citadel. No one knows where it is exactly, but there are rumors that it's located in a valley with only entrance, and it's said to be virtually inaccessible. In the Secret Citadel, the dragonborn are said to have created the sphere of dragons, which could control dragons as a weapon during the War of Teeth. When the Arkhosian Empire fell, the sphere was shattered into four pieces. One of those pieces, this one presumably, was taken out of the city, while the others remained locked, and hidden, away from sticky hands, and prying eyes. The players should figure out (with help if necessary) that there might be something of use still in the Stonewyrm Barrow. The innkeeper can give directions.
The Stonewyrm Barrow
the entrance to the barrow is a forbidding stone portal in the side of a hill. there are no monsters inside, but you should play it up as a scary, shadowy place where undead might lurk round every corner. the random encounter table should help.the barrow is very simple - the entrance passage leads to a cross junction. areas A and B are to the left and right, while ahead stairs lead down to C. all the areas are 10ft diameter circular rooms.
- A: there is a stone dragon in the middle of this room. it has ruby eyes (20gp each), but removing them causes a poisoned (carrion crawler brain juice) dart to shoot out of the statues mouth.
- B: there is another stone dragon here. its eyes were gold orbs, however, previous adventurers have already removed them.
- C:there is an open coffin in this room, and a badly mangled dragonborn skeleton on the floor. there is an empty alcove in the back wall, and the back wall itself is carved with a map showing the exact location of the secret citadel!
|You notice a bloodstain on the wall
|A few stones clatter down from the ceiling, surprising you
|You see a skull on the floor
|You think you see something moving in the shadows
|Something brushes against your face (spiderweb)
|One of the tiles presses down as you step on it. it's a trap! (it's just a loose tile)
The Secret Citadel
The path through the mountains leads up to an imposing iron doorway that appears to be protected by a magic lock. The lock is a 3 by 3 grid of ancient draconic symbols. The previously incomprehensible scratches appear to have changed to become a string of four symbols (in fact these spell out 'Arkhosia'). A DC14 int check can open the lock, with a +2 bonus for speaking draconic and a +3 bonus for looking at the orb fragment. once the players solve the lock, read: "the door opens smoothly despite its age onto the secret citadel. though glorious, the marble expanse before you is overgrown and slowly falling apart. there are four main points of interest:
- One of the towers is swathed in cobwebs, but nowhere else is
- There is a large, imposing structure, probably a palace or temple
- One area of the city has a makeshift red flag flying over it
- A little way up the slopes above the city is a dense but small forest"
the players can investigate these in any order, but for ease of use they are presented in the order they are listed in above.
1-The Tower of the Drow
this tower is inhabited by crow who came up through a crevasse to the underdark. a rockfall long ago closed the crack, trapping them here. the leader of these crow, Ishamael, possesses a piece of the sphere of dragons. there are five floors to the tower, explained from bottom to top below:
- There are two crow guards here armed with crossbows. they count as bugbear warriors(MM135). when the players attack, one of them rushes up the stairs to warn the soldiers.
- The drow soldiers live here. there are six of them here, ready to fight unless the guard was prevented from waring them in which case they are sleeping. three of them have longswords, two have short bows and one has a spear. they count as human guards(MM162).
- There was originally another floor between 3 and 4, but it has long since collapsed, along with the stairs. the drow scale the intervening space using the giant spiderwebs up the north side of the wall. in the webs dwell four death jump spiders(MM246).
- This floor is half collapsed, but the stairs upwards remain.
- On this floor dwells Ishamael (counts as a goblin underboss, MM137) with two guards (count as human berserkers, MM162). Ishamael attacks a martial character while his guards keep the others away. Ishamael has his piece of the sphere on a chain around his neck. he wields a rapier of venom +1 (+1d6 poison damage, +1d12 on a critical hit.)
2-The Vampires Temple
this building was a temple of Bahamut. it is now being used by the vampire Slaarin, who was raised from her tomb by dark magic during the last Arkhosia/Bael-Turath war and now dwells on the top level guarded by many undead. Slaarin also has a piece of the sphere, she keeps it in her coffin. there are four floors, as follows:
- The entrance hall takes up the entire floor, which is swarming with zombies (6 zombies and 3 zombie rotters, MM274). there are two spiral staircases leading upwards; one in the middle of the hall and one at the far end.
- Only the staicase in the middle (the main staircase) opens out here. this floor is taken up by shrines to different aspects of Bahamut. there are 4 skeletons and 4 decrepit skeletons lurking here(MM234).
- Only the back staircase opens out onto this pitch black level, and it doesn't go any further up. there are three huge pillars here, all of which are hollow. the closest has a door in it, inside are cleaning implements and tools. the middle pillar has no door, inside it is the main staircase. the third pillar has a door in it, inside are three healing potions, 200gp and some bandages.
- On the top step of the stairs is a magic trap (percep. dc19 to spot, 2d10 fire damage) if it is set off Slaarin is automatically woken, otherwise she rolls to hear approaching enemies as normal. she is asleep in her coffin on top of the defiled alter of Bahamut. she counts as a kenku assassin(MM2,154). the temple library is on this level too, in it the players can find several copies of The Book Of The Platinum Dragon, The Tales Of Honour and some books about healing. reading these books over one week grants a character +3 to heal checks.
The Hobgoblin Courtyard
the area surrounding this courtyard is held by hobgoblins. their leader, Grath Ironbone, does NOT have a piece of the sphere of dragons. the courtyard is surrounded on three sides by small houses, but the fourth side is taken up entirely by one enormous three storey house. there are three grey wolves (pets of the goblins, MM264) roaming the courtyard, and two hobgoblin soldiers(MM139) live in the houses.the barking of the wolves will probably alert them to the adventurers presence. each of the houses three floors has one or two points of interest:
- There are two interesting rooms here- the entrance hall, which is guarded by four hobgoblin archers(MM139), and the torture chamber. in the torture chamber a rebellious hobgoblin called Munst is dying painfully. there are no torturers here, Grath likes to do it himself. Munst will tell the players anything to get revenge on Grath, and if he doesn't know he makes it up.
- There is one interesting room on this floor: the armoury. in it there are four hobgoblin soldiers(MM139), bad quality weapons for 20 and a locked closel. in the closet are Grath Ironbones personal arms- a suit of scale armour and an +1 short sword.
- This entire floor is one room, with an open balcony along whole the front wall. Grath Ironbone(hobgoblin hand of bane,MM140) sits here on a makeshift throne, assisted by five goblin cutters(MM136)
The Dryad Wood
the dryads of this forest are unique among the denizens of the secret citadel in that they do not attack on sight. almost as soon as the players enter the wood, a band of dryads emerge from the trees and surround them. they only speak an ancient elven dialect, but they motion clearly for the players to follow them. if the players fight, the dryads disappear into the trees. the wood is full of traps (per cep dc19 to spot, 1d12 damage) and the players will encounter 1d4+1 of them before they stumble across the dryad village if they don't have the dryads to guide them. in the village are 12 dryads and queen Angelica, who speaks common. if they wish to talk, Angelica will make a bargain with the players for her piece of the sphere. her priorities are to keep her people safe and avoid unnecessary conflict. if they choose to fight, the 12 dryads count as elf scouts(MM106) and angelica counts as an orc raider(MM203).
once the players have the pieces of the sphere they can sot them together. the completed sphere of dragons is a magic orb +3 with the following extra powers: the wielder can speak and write draconic, the entire party get +2 to attack and damage rolls against dragons, once per day the wielder can attempt to dominate a dragon they can see. this is an int vs will attack that dominates the dragon for as long as the wielder of the orb desires. while dominating, both the dragon and the one dominating it are dazed.