Royal Zoo (3.5e Quest)

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Royal Zoo[edit]

Intended for four level 3-4 adventurers.

The Royal Zoo of Redford is a zoo gone wrong: the animals are malnourished and bloodthirsty, the workers underpaid and mischievous, and the whole business a front for darker things. This makes it a fantastic, if gloomy, location for your adventuring party to visit.

The use of Pansaer-exclusive ideas (how undeath works etc.) and characters (Vizidammar) means that a little editing is required if the quest is to be used in another campaign setting, but nothing exceptional should be required. Remember to keep the mood - the mechanical side is little more than a complement for the quest itself, after all.

  • Prep Time 30 min
  • Play Time 1-2 hours

Introduction[edit]

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The royalty of nature
trapped behind bars.

After discovering that something much more nefarious than mistreating animals is taking place in the hidden places of Redford's Royal Zoo, the party enters to investigate. Or they stumble upon it all by accident - your choice. In either case, the mood should be one of gloom and dark humor, alternating between comedy and horror.

History[edit]

In the time after the end of the Arn-Wars, king Parcel Brunhelm, at that time an old man, decided to celebrate the victory by beginning construction of several Royal Zoos: one in Redford, Calimport, Lindgalen, and Tull. Sadly, the king died before seeing even one of his precious zoos finished, and only the one in Redford was ever completed. It was quickly bought by Barogond von Gutherberg, who populated it with strange beasts and creatures from as far away as Dunas and the Tumbling Fells. The zoo is in a partial state of disrepair, and the animals are for the most part maltreated.

Hook[edit]

  • The party comes to know about the dark dealings taking place in the underground portions of the Zoo, and decide to investigate
  • While visiting the Zoo for pleasure, the mistreatment of the animals rouses the anger of the players
  • A slave trade is taking place in Zoo grounds at midnight - Thomas von Gutherberg is sure to be involved

Background[edit]

The players enter the Zoo (either while it's open or at night, depending on the hook) and investigate, happening upon the many exhibits and subsequent hilarious - and unpleasant - discoveries. The quest usually culminates in an underground fight against Vizidammar, but feel free to modify the quest to suit your needs.

NPCs[edit]

Rumble in the Phony Jungle[edit]

Royal Zoo.png

The Royal Zoo is closed only between 2 AM and 6 AM, during which time the place takes on a nefarious purpose: soon after the visitors have been shooed out, thieves and other nasty characters use the Zoo as a meeting place. Furthermore, Vizidammar works his foul alchemy in the underground part of the Zoo. The Zoo can be entered from the gates during the day (paying the entrance fee) or by ascending the 15ft.-high wall that runs around the Zoo, although if noticed, this will make Alli and her underlings hostile. At night, the gates are barred (hardness 10, 30 hp; Open Lock DC 24 to open, Strength DC 24 to bend bars). Alli often patrols the area even during night, and will quickly be alerted of any wrongdoings even if not present, so it's very likely the party has to face her.

NOTE: Whenever coordinates are present, alphabets are vertical and numbers are horizontal.

A1 - Underground Attractions[edit]

The gloomy underground part of the zoo is lit only by a few smoldering torches. The whole compartment reeks of misuse and decay. A sparse few chairs line the western wall.

(if during open hours) A couple of peasants are flocking around the other cage; the other one (filled with water) gets a lot less attention.

10ft.-by-45ft. room with a 10ft.-by-5ft. staircase, 8ft. high. Cage doors locked (hardness 10, 30 hp; Open Lock DC 24 to open, Strength DC 24 to bend bars), southern door locked (hardness 10, 30 hp; Open Lock DC 24 to open, Strength DC 23 to burst). A few commoners admiring the animals (if during open hours). A timetable on the northern wall, telling that the nixies are fed at 11 AM and 6 PM and the fire elemental display is at 12 PM.

A2 - Nixie Cage[edit]

The iron bars separate you from a large pool of water. The distinct smell of fish reaches your nostrils, and through the murky water you spot a few dark humanoid shapes swimming at the bottom. A plaque attached to the cage door reads: "The Wonders Of The Distant Seas!! The Fierce Yet Gentle Nixy!! Excitement!! Fed 11 AM / 6 PM". A mosaic of water-inspired figures decorates the walls. It'd be quite a pleasant cage if it weren't for the poor maintenance.

10ft.-by-20ft. cage, 8ft. high, water 15ft. deep. Basin populated by an adult nixie couple and their juvenile daughter. The nixies swim around the small tank. They are severely depressed, thanks to poor treatment and lack of activity. They've long ago stopped trying to charm people to free them, but interaction might rouse their desperate hope once again. The female nixie knows a bit of Mitter, and characters who speak it can discuss the strange events taking place at the zoo with them: the nixies have seen several bodies being moved into the back room.

A3 - Fire Elemental Cage[edit]

The small cage is filled with ash and soot, and you spot several impish characters, apparently made of living flame, hopping among the still-glowing cinder. Small alcoves in the walls (made to look like ovens) house some more of the burning figures. The bars of the cage have an eerie white glow on them, and are ice-cold to the touch. A plaque on the cage door reads: "See The Burning Bastard Children Of Hell!! Consuming Spirits Of Fire!! Fright!! Show 12 PM".

10ft.-by-20ft. cage, 8 ft. high. Populated by a throng of six small fire elementals. Oven-like alcoves on the walls work as nests for the elementals. Floor covered with ash and half-burnt pieces of wood. Cage door enchanted with a permanent chill metal set to "icy" (someone who holds on to the bars for a turn takes damage as normal).

The nigh-mindless fire elementals see nothing bad in being locked in a tiny cage: they are given things to burn day round (a great way for the owners to get rid of trash, animal feces and evidence) and at midday every day, they put up a show by burning a large wicker effigy. A particularly desperate enemy might free the elementals in an attempt to make them attack the characters; however, they invariably start with their savior.

A4 - Back Room[edit]

This is where animal feed, tools, archives and other random equipment is stored. At first you jolt at a large, humanoid figure in the corner - but it soon turns out to be a (still quite frightening) wicker effigy. Two cabinets, filled to the point of bursting, are to the west, and a small chest in the southeastern corner is too full to close properly. Sacks of animal feed of all kinds litter the floor, ranging from dead mice to rotten carrots. The smell is overwhelming, to say the least.

20ft.-by-10ft. room with a 10ft.-by-5ft. alcove in the northeast, 8ft. high. Door hidden behind wicker effigy (Spot DC 15 to notice; hardness 5, 10 hp). Large wicker effigy (A3-4, alcove A1-2). Two cabinets (A1, B1) containing mixed paperwork from the zoo: bills, advertisements and whatnot; DC 25 Search check (B1): a masterwork sickle and 3d4 poisoned crossbow bolts (Large scorpion venom, Injury DC 18, initial and secondary damage 1d6 Str). Tall wooden chest (B4) filled with 1d4+2 flasks of unquent of timelessness, three clubs, a scalpel (masterwork Small dagger) and a big clay jug filled with formaldehyde.

A5 - Corridor[edit]

The unlit corridor before you reeks of rot; something has been dead here for a long time. The walls are slick with moisture, and lichen grows from floor to ceiling. You even spot a few blue-green mushrooms in a corner.

An audible alarm spell cast on the corner; password "By My Genius", ringing alerts Vizidammar if set off. Door to A6 unlocked but trapped (hardness 10, 30 hp; when handle is turned, operates trap (Search DC 25 to locate, Disable Device DC 25 to bypass): electric shock (2d4 electricity) and DC 16 Fortitude save or paralyze for 1d4+1 rounds), secret door unlocked (hardness 8, 15 hp; Search DC 30 to locate).

A6 - Flesh Pit (EL 6 to 8)[edit]

Now you know where the smell's coming from. The 10-foot pit in front of you houses a mass of ravenous, groaning dead. The pale bodies lumbering around in the pit are well-preserved, but still obviously dead: patches of flayed skin and missing appendages attest to this. An autopsy platform (little more than a slab of stone with manacles attached) houses another body, this one partly cut to pieces. A disembodied hand crawls along the floor before your very eyes. A tall man, garbed all in white cloth, looks at you with empty eyes from before the table.

15ft.-by-25ft. room with a 10ft.-by-5ft. alcove in the southwest, 10ft. high, pit 10ft. deep. Autopsy table (alcove A1-2) with a manacled alchemical zombie (Strength DC 26 to break). Eleven more alchemical zombies shuffling around in the pit. A wooden rack on the western wall containing several jars of formaldehyde, two flasks of acid, a vial of antitoxin, a flask of unholy water, a scalpel (masterwork Small dagger) and a shrunken head (see below). Vizidammar spends most of his time here, perfecting his craft; he doesn't take kindly to intruders.

The underground parts of the zoo hide the centre of Vizidammar's research. Here, the subjects of his experiments (mostly dead, except for a select few) are held and contained. When confronted here, Vizidammar demands explanation from the characters, and is not too slow to strike out if the characters have no explanation for their barging. He starts fights by calling out to the alchemical zombies, which slowly climb up and engage the party. He then charges into melee and fights tactically, avoiding flanking. When the situation gets rough (which it invariably will), Vizidammar attempts to tumble past opposition while the zombies keep them occupied - Vizidammar can even command the zombies to grapple foes.

A particularly gruesome item, a shrunken head is the severed head of a humanoid that has been preserved to prevent decay. Generally, the process of preservation involves soaking the head in a mixture of alchemical ingredients and then hanging it to dry in the sun. By the end of the process, the head has reduced to a quarter of its original size. The process for creating shrunken heads originated in the deepest jungles and while they are occasionally made elsewhere, the vast majority are still created by headhunter shamans.

Shrunken Head[edit]

Each shunken head is keyed to one or more Knowledge skills. Once per day, the user may activate the shrunken head by holding in his hand and conversing with it for one minute, after which the user may immediately make a Knowledge skill check with a +2 competence bonus. The user must be able to speak and understand a language the shrunken head spoke in life to gain this bonus.

Minor necromancy; CL 5th; Craft Wondrous Item, speak with dead; Price 50 gp.

The shrunken head on the rack used to be a mortician from Dharuum (and speaks only Khabarat) keyed to Knowledge (alchemy) and Knowledge (nature).

A7 - Room of Summons (EL 5)[edit]

Your hair stands on edge as you step into this chamber. Small sparks of static electricity flash on the flagstone floor, and a voice like a far-off whistling can be heard. In the back of the room a great magical design has been drawn with what appears to be blood mixed with something. Tangible waves of force emanate from the glyph. On the western edge of the room lies a small black cupboard.

10ft.-by-20ft. room, 8ft. high. Black cupboard (A1) containing human bones, raw meat, pixies preserved in formaldehyde and a flask of unholy water. Magical design (C1-2, D1-2) that sends off a strong Conjuration aura. Any arcane spellcaster stepping onto the design loses a random spell of the highest spell level that he has available, and then loses another one per round spent on the design. An arcane spellcaster who casts a spell whilst standing on the design automatically fails to cast the spell and takes 1d6 points of Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma damage. Two needlekin hiding by clinging to the ceiling (Spot DC 10 to notice).

The needlekin are aides to Vizidammar, and will protect their master's wares and the magical design. They usually select a single foe to flank, try to deliver one or more nasty effects from their stings and then set off - only to ambush the party again at a later time, usually when they try to leave the underground.

B1 - Zoo Grounds (EL 5)[edit]

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Pretty, but not nice.

(during open hours) All your senses are strained as you walk through the zoo area: the screams and smells of the animals are enough to drive a man insane, but an ear-piercing, magically induced voice keeps screaming advertisements, suggestions ("Have You Seen The Enchanting Unicorn Yet?!") and short, excruciating jingles. The stream running through the zoo is hardly streaming, the cages look ill-kept, and the stupefied peasants gawking at the exhibits are less than interesting.

(during closed hours) The eeriness of the silence, vastly different from the ear-splitting bustle of the day, is made only scarier by the occasional animal voices. The smell is as terrible as ever, if not worse - clearly no one does nightly maintenance on the zoo.

Two ticket booths at the two brick bridges (entrance fee 2 sp, children free), collection box ("Save The Tumbling Fells Black Rhino!!") by the stairs. Stream 5ft. deep. All cage doors locked with padlocks (door: hardness 10, 30 hp; Strength DC 24 to bend bars; padlock: hardness 10, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 21 to open, Strength DC 22 to burst). Vermin House doors unlocked. Alli Goodbush works as a gardener and the head custodian of the Zoo. "Maintaining" the park with her are four gardeners-slash-enforcers.

Alli has no special fidelity towards the zoo as such, but she enjoys trashing the occasional visitor, and thus leaps into the fray if someone damages Zoo property or tries to free the animals. She buffs herself and her underlings if there's time, then goes to town with sound burst (at groups) and hold person (at single opponents). She concentrates more on breaking up opposition and mauling foes with her club than sound tactics, but is smart enough to run away when the going gets tough, leaving her underlings to fend for themselves. The underlings, on the other hand, do little except attack straight-on and protect Alli.

A special feature of fights in the Zoo is that they might release, either through accident or intentionally, the many dangerous animals. Alli Goodbush is especially ecstatic about unleashing dangerous creatures on anyone threatening the Zoo (she just wants to witness the carnage).

B2 - Vermin House[edit]

The humidity and heat here is unbearable; a fact that most visitors seem to have learned by heart already, since the place is empty. The room sports four cages, which house, from east to west: centipedes (running in and around a rotting tree stump), a lethargic rust monster, a pair of pixies (with a plaque outrageously claiming they're "Mindless Critters Of Reptilian Origin") and a poisonous fungus. Mold grows on the walls and you wonder when the creatures were last fed.

25ft.-by-10ft. room, 8ft. high, cage doors locked with padlocks (door: hardness 10, 30 hp; Strength DC 24 to bend bars; padlock: hardness 10, 10 hp; Open Lock DC 21 to open, Strength DC 22 to burst). Cages contain a centipede swarm cramped to a single 5-foot square, a rust monster, three pixies and a violet fungus. The pixies are depressed and near-suicidal, and if the characters show any empathy towards them, will beg them to free them from their cage.

B3 - Monkey Cage[edit]

The smell of feces is prevalent here. The monkeys in the cage look down-trodden and filthy. They're huddled into a far corner in the cage. With only two trees in it (one of which houses a broken swing), the cage looks about as hospitable as a prison.

(if during open hours) A few peasants are throwing foodstuff to beckon the monkeys closer, with no success.

20ft.-by-25ft. cage, 15ft. high. Houses twelve monkeys, four of which are inflicted with filth fever (and might pass it on to anyone they bite; DC 10).

B4 - Lion Cage[edit]

This cage is no better than the others: the filth of years seems to have accumulated without ever being cleaned, and the mangy-looking lions do little besides just lie down. Asides from a few strands of hay, the cage has nothing in it. A small plaque on a pedestal just south of the cage informs the reader that "These Wilde Beasts Have Come From The Passionate East", but they look like common mountain lions from the north, even to an untrained eye.

15ft.-by-20ft. cage. Houses three lions, one of which has gone insane with captivity. The two ordinary lions are more or less docile, and are slow to attack. The insane one, however, paces across the rim of the cage, and attacks wildly if a chance presents itself.

B5 - Empty Cage[edit]

Thick red curtains cover the entirety of this exhibit. A sign, haphazardly attached to the curtain with string, reads only "October 13th - You Will Be Surprised!!". Taking a quick peak past the curtains you spot a normal-looking cage, the only speciality of which seems to be iron shackles attached to poles. What could they be planning to bring here?

15ft.-by-20ft. cage. Four-feet iron poles at each square intersection, each with four manacles attached (Strength DC 26 to pull off).

B6 - Unicorn Cage[edit]

A sad sight opens before you: what was once a beautiful beast, a true king of the forest, is now broken and sickly. The creature in this cage can hardly be called an unicorn anymore. It may have been white once, but nowadays it's more of a dusty brown. It frothes at the mouth, and its once-gleaming horn has had its tip cut off. It has also been forced to wear a muzzle, probably to stop it from speaking.

15ft-by-15ft. cage, 12ft. high. Houses a single unicorn. If the muzzle is removed, the unicorn is free to talk and is thankful to its savior. It can impart knowledge about the shady dealings taking place at the zoo: after hours, thieves and assassins use the place as a gathering spot. Several goliaths have been hauling dead bodies to the underground sections of the place.

B7 - Cockatrice Cage and Island[edit]

On a little platform surrounded by a moat lies a lonely cage. Some creature creeps along the floor there, hissing menacingly - and clucking when it thinks no one is looking. Hundreds of tiny stone statues, mostly rats and other vermin, decorate the cage in an eerie fashion. A pedestal-held sign on this side of the moat states that "You Will Be Frightened!! You Will Shiver In Terror!! You Will Cower Before The Monster Of The Woods, The Mighty Cock-And-Trick!!"

15ft.-by-15ft. island, cage (B2-3, C2-3) 12ft. high. Island is about two feet higher than the rest of the zoo. The cage houses a cockatrice, which apparently enjoys the cloistered life and regular meals.

B8 - Bird Cage[edit]

This cramped cage is filled with a great variety of avian creatures. All are similar, however, in that they are malnourised, loud, and mean-spirited. To your horror you spot a few dead birds at the bottom of the cage among the milky-white droppings.

(if during open hours) Before your very eyes, a gardener-woman walks by and picks the corpses up with a sharpened stick, dropping them casually into a bag at her side.

10ft.-by-10ft. cage, 20ft. high. Contains about 40 birds (for simplicity's sake they share the same statistics). The cage has a loose tile (B2) which hides a satchel of three cure light wounds acorns and a wooden ring, intricately carved with a leaf-and-berry pattern (worth 100 gp; belongs to Alli Goodbush).



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