View Full Version : [3.5e] Don't forget to feed the Aboleth!

Neon Knight
2008-10-08, 07:36 AM
Latest idea: Epic level Wizard needs to save the world/take a vacation/be away for a while. Trouble is, he's got this massive castle filled with research that needs guarding, foolish apprentices that need checking, menageries that need care, magical experiments, and "test subjects."

So he hires the PCs to watch the place while he's gone. Hilarity ensues.

So, what would the castle of an Epic wizard be like?

I'm looking for architectural suggestions (layout, materials, purpose,) suggestions for research (other than studying the mating rituals of fire monkeys,) pets, apprentices, rooms, servants, projects, spells cast/made permanent and other stuff that one might find in a magical super fortress.

I don't mind if things get a bit clockworky/steampunky (I enjoy that, in fact,) and I don't mind homebrew stuff, so link away. I also like psionics.

I have the following books (and am pretty much limited to them, due to money concerns:
Core 3.5e
PHB II (Electric Boogaloo)
Tome of Battle
Tome of Magic
Complete Warrior
Complete Arcane

So, what can the minds of the playground come up with?

2008-10-08, 07:55 AM
There needs to be at least one Escher room. Those are classic.

Guinea Anubis
2008-10-08, 08:06 AM
two classics

1. His garden is full of every kind of plant that can kill you and some new hybrids.

2. A living room that is really a living room where every thing in the room (chairs, rugs, lamps, ext) is animated.

and last if you want to have a lot of fun look up information on Castle Heterodyne from the Girl Genius comic.

2008-10-08, 08:28 AM
One important thing to consider would be that the wizard likely made the entire place in synch with his own quirks and idiosyncracies.. In other words, the entire fortress "lives" according to a preset rhythm - one that the PC's will have to familiarize themselves with. So for example:

- at dawn every day a small army of Unseen Servants descends upon the living quarters to clean and air the rooms, kicking out any PC's still in bed.
- Breakfast is always buttered toast and two eggs, and there's no way to change that without knowing the command words for the golem kitchen staff.
- At noon every day Fuzzy and Wuzzy, the two abyssal basilisks go on a rampage are let out for a walk around the outer courtyards.
- Selmezar, the neighborhood Ancient Silver Dragon has a habit of dropping in for a game of chess every month or so - only the wizard forgot to tell him he's leaving.
- The castle's waste disposal is ordinarily handled by a few Otyughs in the dungeon, only they ate something that didn't agree with them and someone needs to clean up the mess.
- The pegasi in the stable are foaling - is there someone who can deal with complications?

2008-10-08, 08:30 AM
PC's are constantly getting bumped into by the Unseen servant horde. Is this wizard anything like the Harpell's from the FR setting? If so this could get really fun.

2008-10-08, 08:42 AM
What kind of wizard are we talking about? If you make him a specialist then he's bound to have a castle layout that goes with his chosen school;

-Diviners might have powerful scrying devices on their rooftops, their entire castle modelled like a spire as to get the scrying device as high as possible, for example.
-Illusionists might have a lot of locked vaults where they keep their secrets, making for a more squat building with lots of cellars (perhaps with a maze-like structure).
- Conjurers might build their castle in a pattern which resembles the circle required for a planar binding. They might have heating systems by opening small portals to the elemental plane of fire.
- Abjurers might have impressive defensive structures in their architecture.

2008-10-08, 09:09 AM
An Epic Wizard would have many powerful enemies who may come by in an attempt to slay the wizard, who is gone, so they will settle for trashing his place. The PC's must use whatever magical gizmos they can find to stop said foes.

There should be a couple apprentences who feel miffed that the Wizard didn't have THEM housesit the tower while he was off. they will attempt to usurp the PC's duties (oh, you don't know the proper method to clean the prismatic hall, let me do it), or get in there way (The Master shurley didn't expect YOU to help keep the library organized. Shoo! Shoo!), with Hilarious Consequences!

2008-10-08, 09:21 AM
Since you have Sandstorm, Stormwrack, and Frostburn, I'm tempted to suggest that there might be some doors in the place that are actually permanent portals to other planes/demiplanes/far off locations. Maybe the mage has a door that leads to a frosty demiplane where he's raising frostworms or one that leads to a tropical island chain on the other side of the world.

2008-10-08, 09:22 AM
Well, you asked for it: Castle Zagyg (http://paizo.com/store/games/roleplayingGames/c/castlesAndCrusades/trollLordGames/roleplayingGame/castleZagyg) (the original mad wizard's castle) :smallwink:

2008-10-08, 11:23 AM
Nothing can go wrong w/ a castle build on top of a sleeping tarrasque...

Neon Knight
2008-10-08, 04:22 PM
Hm, I was expecting a Tippy post by now.

RE Demonslayer: I'm imagining more of an archmage/master of all magic type rather than a specialist, but good suggestions.

RE Asbestos: Already in the playbook, alongside Swampgas shenanigans.

I like all of the suggestions so far, but would like some more. Because you can never have enough input/feedback.

Bob the Urgh
2008-10-08, 04:33 PM
Have a large group of dwarves show up, and get into an argument with a group of titans over who had the contract to build a new wing, while a group of elves arrive saying that they cant build there due to elvish reasons, and then throw in some humans wishing to build a settlement there and worship the wizard. Should take the pcs a while to sort out.

2008-10-08, 04:40 PM
You could have an Epic level Lich Sorcerer with his goblin cleric cohort and an army of goblins arrive at the gates of the castle and try to lure out the Wizard so that they can kill him and take over the castle because of a particular gate that is keeping a god killing abomination from manifesting...

You get the idea.

2008-10-08, 04:45 PM
Have every door open the other way then you expect. Not really exclusive to Epic Wizards, but still annoying.

Have the doors lock themselves or lead somewhere else the next day.

Trapdoors. EVERYWHERE.

"Origin of Species" Epic spell. Let your imagination run away with you.

2008-10-08, 05:20 PM
Furthering the theme of the place being a giant enabling mechanism for the owner's personal idiosynchracies, I suggest a recurring theme of doors that lead to different places depending which way you go through. IE leaving the bedroom in the morning takes you to breakfast, but if you try to go back to the bedroom you find yourself instead looking at a strange room full of burbling glassware and noxious fumes.

It'd be a job of work to plan out in advance consistently enough but it would certainly add to the english farce type thing you're going for. It could also lead to some interesting directions from the staff. "Oh, the greenhouse? Head out that door, go through the door on your left, then back through, up the stairs, and check the closet."

The Glyphstone
2008-10-08, 05:55 PM
Hm, I was expecting a Tippy post by now.

Tippyzards don't build castles. They spend their entire lives inside Mordekainen's Mansions on personally created Genesis demiplanes blanketed with defensive spells and interacting with the world through Astral Projections.:smallcool:

2008-10-08, 10:24 PM
- Selmezar, the neighborhood Ancient Silver Dragon has a habit of dropping in for a game of chess every month or so - only the wizard forgot to tell him he's leaving.

Don't forget that in wizard chess, the queen has Contingency Time Stop active at all times.

2008-10-08, 10:44 PM
Perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but just before the wizard leaves, he should instruct the PCs never, under any circumstances, to enter one specific room. His bedroom, the kitchen, the master bathroom, the attic, whatever, your pick. It's your choice as to what should happen in that room, be it horrendous (Haversacks full of the corpses of his ex-girlfriends!) or comical (Room full of ducks!), but that room conveniently only allows one less than the whole party to enter it at any given time.

As far as architecture goes, to get a less-than-Escher-but-still-sorta-there feeling, you could make your maps kind of like the Key to the Kingdom boardgame...

...Wow, not too many resources on it... here (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/213467) and there (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/5294) are the two main images I want to show you to, essentially the board (map) is folded and you fold or unfold the board when players get to a certain space, changing the whole dang world.

On that note, switches that turn the castle upside-down.

... I want to suggest a prototype flying mechanism, but then I'm ripping something off. I want to suggest a prototype burrowing mechanism, but then again, the same problem occurs. So, okay, prototype castle-wide invisibility mechanism. Chance that whenever somebody enters a room, everything that isn't them or on their bodies suddenly become invisible.

Finally, "Complicated Network of Giant Hamster Tubes". Some of which involve slides going up.

I'm tempted to suggest that there might be some doors in the place that are actually permanent portals to other planes/demiplanes/far off locations.
Take this a step forward, and have it that the castle is larger on the inside than it is on the outside, because the castle itself spans several planes.

2008-10-08, 10:50 PM
Watch the Harry Potter movies for ideas.

Beyond that, it depends on the kind of wizard. If the wizard specializes in one kind of research, then it really helps in giving the castle some flavor.

I had one wizard who specialized in cold magic. His castle was located in the arctic mountains, housed elementals, ice golems, cold forges, magical storehouses, a library full of texts written on yeti hide, and a basement lake that held a gargantuan white pudding. I had another wizard/effigy master who specialized in crafting and clockwork. His "castle" as actually a mansion full of minor constructs, animated objects, various forms of clocks, some massive clockwork constructions (including a clock face that was 2 stories tall), permanent presdigitations that would clean up, put away books, doors that closed and locked themselves, etc.

2008-10-09, 05:54 AM
Man, i would love to play in this game if you use even half the ideas here!

The castle needs to have hidden passege ways and rooms and things that look like one thing but when touched turn into somthing elce.

He should also have one room that has a HUGE Aquarium in it, the wizard should keep kraken or some other really big monster in it, and the PC should have to feed it/look after it.

I think it would be really cool if ot had a bif garden at the top were you could see all the lands around the castle too, but thats just me.

2008-10-09, 06:02 AM
If he is from a family of powerful casters not all the designs are his. For instance a relative of his used to love walking up and down stairs while thinking. So the castle has all sorts of redundant staircases going nowhere special as a long way around.

One of them liked fish. Too much. Above beds there are fish tanks you can watch while you are about to go to bed, whole walls are fish tanks (not actual glass, permant walls of force), etc.

The current master HATES unseen servants for a reason, everything must be done by the players. With the exception of a bone golem butler. One of your tasks should be shine the bones on it :D

Have one door that opens to anywhere there is a door within 2 miles. It is in the attic behind 10 of those crazy staircases.

The "beds" are actually constant gust of wind coming from the floor on a tied down sheet. Pleasantly warm, bit hard to climb into, one of the most comfortable beds ever.

Don't forget to leave behind the raven familiar who will complain about everything, and make vague threats about a touch spell the master left in it.

2008-10-09, 06:06 AM
The most simple part... Transportation. Obviously, the best way to get from one room to another is the door... But which one?

Doorways are short range portals... But Direction-dependant.

I.E. If you enter the door between the kitchen and the Living Room from the east, you wind up in the Kitchen.

If you go in from the west? The Atrium.

Makes getting around the castle incredibly quick...
If you know the right doors.

2008-10-09, 06:14 AM
The most simple part... Transportation. Obviously, the best way to get from one room to another is the door... But which one?

Doorways are short range portals... But Direction-dependant.

I.E. If you enter the door between the kitchen and the Living Room from the east, you wind up in the Kitchen.

If you go in from the west? The Atrium.

Makes getting around the castle incredibly quick...
If you know the right doors.

The problem with that is it doesn't mean anything and actually helps the players do thier stuff.


It is a constant annoyance that would force you to draw out the entire castle, make your players hate you, and slow down the game.

However, it is always one of my favorite wizard things, and my only epic wizard had a system like that. Except it was based on knocks. 3 quick knocks, open, and you are in the kitchen. Etc.

2008-10-09, 06:44 AM
Storage site for cursed items that it's possible to fall into via a trapdoor.

Valuable stuff with curses on it to guard against theft; curses only activate if the stuff leaves the tower, so it can be safely used by PCs right until they wander outside the front gate.

If you go for outside stuff turning up, perhaps some of it should be linked to what the Wiz went to do. Sub-ideas:
- a distraction sent to keep him away from whatever he's up to which arrived a little late
- vital resources, e.g. a powerful artefact that needs to be taken to him (segue to next adventure after the castle, perhaps)
- a so-called powerful artefact that's really a trap for the wizard
- an old fellow Epic adventurer that wanted to join him (maybe one he left behind for a reason...)
- one of the PCs wakes up the next morning to find he's transformed into the Wizard. It turns out the Wiz was really running away from creditors who are actually Devils and want to claim his soul (or other similarly powerful entities). Naturally, he cast a delayed-action illusion on one of the PCs to look just like him (maybe complete with contingent defensive spells and pseudo-randomly casting other spells to make it more convincing). Unless the PCs can break the spell or otherwise convince the creditors they've got the wrong guy, doom ensues. Preceded by hilarity.

Various safety features that are introduced beforehand so as to seem less MacGuffin-esque (e.g. curse-removal/healing facilities of some kind). The ultimate safety feature would be the wizard coming back and extracting the party from the mess they're in Sorceror's Apprentice-style, but that would kind of end the adventure.

Flawed duplication device that creates evil clones of the party, whom they then have to fight on a battlefield neither group understands.

Further cast of servants/denizens (in addition to unseen cooks & cleaning):
- The gardener and/or groundskeeper: something properly sylvan. Treant? Druid? Fey of some kind? I think there's some kind of obscure Druid prestige class that really likes gardens - saw it in Dragon magazine iirc.
- The butler: could be a ninja (for the silent bit); but why was he not eligible to be left in charge? Maybe new to the job? Maybe the Wiz is deliberately insulting him by bringing in the PCs?
- Lab assistants/students

More pets/twisted lab creations/otherworldly vermin-in-the-basement than you can shake a stick at. Further ideas:
- Dangerous pests/lab escapees that are semi-encouraged as a defense mechanism. (Thinking rats, bees, wasps, ants, termites - probably not encouraged, spiders etc. with really really mean templates - feral half-dragon dire rats, anyone?)
- Apparently harmless ornamental creatures with strange abilities (mind-controlling koi carp or goldfish that make a PC bring them food and guard their pond from all threats, including other PCs; parrot that knows a Power Word spell; songbirds which operate as sirens; yadayadayada)
- Half-golem guard beasts

I could go on and on and on, but alas work is calling. Have fun!

Piggy Knowles
2008-10-09, 01:37 PM
Following the transportation/doors line of thought...

The castle/keep/tower is clearly large, with many add-ons and rooms, from the outside. However, when you get inside, you find yourself in a foyer with just a single door.

In fact, there is only one door within the entire castle - this one! Based on whatever system you would like (special knocks, pass-phrase, thought, whatever), that one door opens up to your intended room.

Going back through the door puts you into the foyer again, but as if you had come in through the front door.

(And I'm sure somewhere is a control room with all sorts of scrying and magical detection set up in the foyer, since you MUST enter it to get anywhere. Automatic security system! And perhaps in order to "activate" the one linking door, you must be specified by the Wizard - on a list, more or less.)

Instant adventure hooks when the PCs, being on the list, accidentally stumble onto doors that lead to forbidden areas or, better, far outside of the castle itself.

...hey, why DOES this wizard have a special room in the dungeon of an enemy King?

Neon Knight
2008-10-09, 04:55 PM
I'm going to start sketching out and plotting the castle proper, in order to gain feedback and input.

Castle "Insert Name Here" (suggest one, folks)


Set atop a steep sided hill, the castle is a structure made possible only by magic. The structure itself, as well as the hill that forms its foundations, has been expanded and supported by magic as long as its masters have been wizards. The sides of the great mound are too steep to climb ordinarily; access is gained through a great earthen ramp.

The outer curtain wall is seemingly abandoned. While the surface of the wall is devoid of life, the area beneath the wall is a flurry of activity. Two of the wizard's original companions were a kobold and a gnome. The descendants of that kobold and that gnome have grown so numerous as to be an entire tribe, and the two factions are in constant conflict with one another. Their job in the castle is to make, set, and repair traps; the outer curtain wall and the outer court are filled with traps. Most of the time, the kobolds and gnomes set traps for each other and end up nailing intruders.

A nasty habit of both groups is the abduction of castle "insiders" so to speak; they are bound by powerful oath magics never to harm a person who has spent at least one night of the week in the castle. Thus, having a castle resident marching at the front of your column is an excellent way to force the opposing side to destroy or pre-trigger their traps.

The outer walls in general are overseen by a dwarven Deepstone Sentinel. He is bound to guard the castle exterior until he can figure out a way to rebalance the castle foundations so that it can support itself without magic. He has been at it a long time.

The Second Curtain Wall:

No ideas here.

The Second Court:

Massive magical forest garden. Probably employing a crazy groundskeeper, lots of mischevious/malevolent fey, cranky wildlife, man eating flora, etc. You know the drill. Possibly a very dangerous moat. With a creature in it that is everything but a crocodile.

The Old Keep:

The most normal building in the whole place. The original structure. Filled with unseen servants (they hide when the current wizard is home, as he hates them,) constructs, golems, Warforged, and steampunky stuff of every sort. Holds the guests quarters, kitchens, armory, etc. Basically the closest thing they'll get to a home base.

Occasionally, inevitables and other lawful outsiders show up, locked in conflict with chaotic creatures. Bypassing these fights of finishing them are necessary to maneuver throughout the structure.

It connects to the Spiraling Sphere of Infinite Progression in the north.

Spiraling Sphere of Infinite Progression:

It looks like a gigantic sphere whose surface is made up of walkways and pathways. It floats a few feet off the ground, and is connected to the old keep by a bridge. As you walk on that bridge towards the sphere, a path unfolds from the sphere before you leading inside the sphere, taking you to a trans dimensional space/plane were most of the Wizard's work occurs.

Inside the Sphere-

The sphere is divided into "wings" for lack of a better term.

West Wing- The Necropolis:

Massive center for negative energy research/grave robbing. Basically a massive museum for objects and bodies taken from graves everywhere. May or may not be filled with undead. Heavily horror themed. Trips to this place are serious business.

North Wing- Frostfell Enviornment:

A massive frostfell environment filled with all sorts of free roaming creatures from cold climates. Basically a massive nature preserve. Used by the wizard for sport and amusement. Inhabited by several peoples who have no idea that their world is someone's plaything.

East Wing- Wastes Environment:

Gigantic desert Sandstorm theme park extravaganza. Filled with psuedo Berbers/Moors/Saracens/Turks/Persians living atop the ruins of an ancient Egyptian-esque civilization. Used by the wizard as a giant RTS game; he delivers orders to the largest city in the land disguised as a god, directing their lives.

South Wing- The Aquarium:

Basically the lost continent of Atlantis magically lifted from the sea of the real world and placed in the sea of this plane. A giant research project for the Wizard, studying how the hell underwater civilizations work (seriously, how?!? How!?!?) Lots and lots of Stormwrack content, pirates, and fishmen.

High Wing- The Citadel:

A master control room for the whole sphere. Situated near the top of the sphere, one can look down and see the other wings, which are normally separate from each other (as they reside in different planes/dimensions.) Filled with lots and lots of outsiders, usually just passing through. A sort of planar highway/look out spot.

Low Wing- Welcome to the Jungle:

A massive tropical jungle/rainforest/swamp/wetlands in general, this place is just an excuse for me to use Swampgas.

Further stuff to come.

2008-10-09, 05:04 PM
A guards and wards spell that he's forgotten to key to the PCs?

2008-10-09, 05:15 PM
I love the kobold and gnome tribes! Though there'd be a LOT of in-breeding by now, no?

Mansion Massif, perhaps?

2008-10-09, 05:20 PM
I love this idea.

2008-10-09, 05:43 PM
A basement, from which the PCs hear scream that are close to... human.

After the listen to that, have them see, barely, through dark glass, something that looks like undead. Every night, there are more, and the screams grow less human...

It turns out to be a prank on the hired help. Just some ghost sound devices and illusion spells, set up to make sure the players repair the fridge in the basement.

2008-10-09, 06:04 PM
This reminds of that movie Night at the Museum. Maybe you should hand the players a list of tasks they are expected to complete, but of course it way underestimates the difficulty of each tasks and the number that can be completed in a given day.

Occasionally the players should be forced to leave the castle to retrieve things or what not. That way, players get to use their travel magic but they have to make the hard choice about who stays to maintain the place and who leaves.

You could always put in a Hypercube Trap (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=79135)

I feel like this game should have more puzzle-rooms in it, but it would be hard for you to find a reason for the wizard to install them. You could hand-wave it and say that it is an automatic castle defense mechanism that the wizard forgot to tell you about, but you can only use that excuse so many times and puzzles aren't very good defenses. Instead I say that the wizard has a nephew that likes puzzles a lot and the wizard built them for him (that nephew is now elsewhere or is still there but is so obstinate and spoiled that he rarely drops any hints and occasionally makes the PCs lives harder).

Be sure the castle has some things that are fun for the PCs to take advantage of too. Maybe there is a room that will generate any illusion that you can imagine. Maybe there is an amulet of ooze riding and trained Gelatinous Cube that is needed to access certain parts of the castle. Maybe there is an extra-dimensional space that is particularly entertaining. Have a cache of minor wonderous items somewhere. Magical Fireworks.

Neon Knight
2008-10-10, 02:53 PM
*is reminded of Timecube for some odd reason*

Anywho, I'm going to post my thoughts on groups within the castle.

Servants: Those who serve the wizard but have no free will. Constructs, unseen servants, and maybe some Warforged utterly lacking in personality (PCs might be able to fix that.) Primarily go about doing their duties and chores, but intervene to aid people in trouble. Clever PCs can lure tough opponents into the path of servants. I'm going to draw a lot of inspiration for these from the Big Daddies of Bioshock (the one part of that game that was worthwhile.)

Vassals: People who would flee from the castle given a chance, but are bound by magics and oaths to stay there. The dwarf Deepstone Sentinel is a prime example. Unlike the servants, who only follow their instructions, vassals use their initiative to better the wizard and to try to earn their freedom. Basically high level wild cards.

Assistants: Lab assistants; only concerned with insuring their experiments continue successfully. Range from ordinary humans to scared cowards to insane mad scientist types. A faction with its own goals, but mostly loyal to the Wizard.

Apprentices: People chosen by the wizard for several qualities: magical or supernatural skill, megalomania, arrogance, audacity, and sheer bloody bravado. Have no duties or tasks, but go about poking their noses into other people's business and lording over everyone else. Second only to the wizard. Antagonistic figures.

Students: People sent to the castle to gain experience and knowledge. Usually spend most of their days trying to improve themselves or performing relatively menial tasks and grunt work for the others. The NPCs that I get to flesh out as real people; they're just as vulnerable to the castle as the PCs, and will primarily be PC allies.

Cults: Religious groups either worshiping the large amount of magic in the castle or the wizard himself as an arcane messiah. Another variation worships the remains of various heroes entombed in the Necropolis. Not officially sanctioned by the castle; servants, vassals, assistants, and apprentices feel compelled to destroy them. Students, usually more concerned with staying alive, generally leave them alone.

Any suggestions? I like AstralFire's suggested name, but more options couldn't hurt. Also, I still don't know what to do with the second curtain wall.

2008-10-10, 03:26 PM
I don't really have any ideas to contribute, but this is a fantastic idea. I might just steal it, if that's ok with you.

Neon Knight
2008-10-10, 03:37 PM
I don't mind, and I can hardly stop you anyway.

2008-10-10, 05:08 PM
Personally, I'd try to limit the size of the populace or increase the size of the castle. Just two or three from each of those demographics (except Servants) would probably do better. After all, since they are all employees of the Wizard it would probably be a terrible idea if they were regularly killed off. Plus, there appears to be too many people to ask questions of and not enough that the PCs have to explore for themselves. Again though, wonderful setting.

2008-10-10, 09:25 PM
Make sure the party accidentally walks through the Hall of Mirrors of Opposition.

2008-10-11, 12:55 AM
I don't mind, and I can hardly stop you anyway.

I know, but I respect your ideas enough that if the thought of someone else using it (and probably mucking it up, like i would) bothers you, I wouldn't.

An idea - the mindless servants should carry out instructions given to them to the letter. The players will learn to be careful after a few thoughtless words.

Also, why does the castle need two walls?

Neon Knight
2008-10-11, 10:30 AM
Also, why does the castle need two walls?

It doesn't need it, but I felt a marker that indicated you no longer needed to fear setting off a bear trap that fired rainbow lasers of doom would be nice.

Plus, several real life castles had multiple curtain walls.

2008-10-11, 10:54 PM
Make sure the party accidentally walks through the Hall of Mirrors of Opposition.
I grinned just working out the logistics on that one.

"Gah! We just made like a hundred evil duplicates! We're doomed!"
"No, wait! Half of them are on our side!"

It doesn't have to involve lots of dice rolling if you arrange for most of the action to be synchronized and symmetrical.

2008-10-11, 11:51 PM
It doesn't need it, but I felt a marker that indicated you no longer needed to fear setting off a bear trap that fired rainbow lasers of doom would be nice.

Plus, several real life castles had multiple curtain walls.

The inner curtain wall is a barrier of pure magic, safely passable only by the use of a couple permanencied teleportation circles. The catch? The teleportation circles that put you safely on the other side of the wall aren't the only teleportation circles in its vicinity. The wizard has seeded the ground around the wall with circles. Where the other circles lead is up to you.

2008-10-15, 01:42 PM
Hi guys,

I read this thread with great interest last week, and, needing a short "filler" campaign between longer campaigns for our group, I decided to run it on Friday!

Below you will find my complete notes with encounter tables, NPCs, treasure, and a play report. There are also links to stats for many, but not all of the encounters. In other words, you could print what I have below and it's about 90% playable (just throw in some fine MM choices and it's 100%).

You will also find many of the ideas from this thread shamelessly pilfered. I wrote most of this on or before last Friday so more recent suggestions haven't been incorporated.

House-Sitters in Peril!
A D&D 3.5/Pathfinder RPG (http://paizo.com/store/byCompany/p/paizoPublishingLLC/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG) adventure for 3 - 5 characters of levels 10 - 12. Any type of characters can complete the job, but parties with at least one arcane specialist will have an easier time.

Tone: Lighthearted and humorous

Length: Probably 3 sessions

Alignment: Any, but works best for neutral-to-good characters. Ratchetina has some dangerous research and questionable friends, so lawful good characters may need some incentive to not burn the whole castle down.


You’ve been hired by Ratchetina, an extremely powerful and highly respected wizard. She’s powerful enough to be called “eccentric” instead of worse things. She’s also a pretty stylish old lady, with spiky silver hair and a taste for indigo in her wardrobe. She’s thought to be a generalist – if she has specialised in or neglected any particular schools of magic, she’s kept others from finding out which ones.

She normally stays locked up in her massive fortress, working at her magical arts. However, this weekend she will be heading out on business. She has hired you to house-sit.

The job pays very well: 5 bars of gold per person, plus one favour token per person. Each bar is worth 4,000 gp; each token is redeemable for one favour from Ratchetina. You also get to use all the luxuries of Ratchetina’s keep while there.

You signed liability waivers and non-disclosure agreements when you accepted the job – it was explained to you that the castle and labs contain both dangers and secrets. You were selected based on your significant reputation, and are expected to be able to handle this sort of job professionally.

Plot Hooks: ((I ran this as a mini-campaign, starting out with the characters having already accepted the contract, and the players agreed to that beforehand. We did not use any hooks, but the pay alone may be enough to convince most adventurers to take the job.))

Introduction - First Night in the Castle:

Late Thursday night you are brought to the fortress via flying pumpkin. Ratchetina receives you in her parlour, serving drinks and offering all manner of goodies. She will leave before dawn on Friday, and you will be responsible for the fortress till her return Sunday night.

She calls for her apprentices: Dandy, Randy and Candy. They wouldn’t have been her first choice for apprentices, but she took them on because, one day, the fate of the world will be in their hands. When the three of them unite they will be able to topple an ancient evil. “A job the three of ‘em know nothing about,” she confides, “On account of they’re dumber than a stick!”

When the three arrive, they turn out to be a young-ish human (Dandy), elf (Randy) and gnome (Candy). The three will act like curly teenagers, not talking much or openly insulting the party (see "Notes on the Apprentices" below.)

Ratchetina will take a few minutes to chat with the PCs, and answer questions they have, though sometimes not satisfactorily. After only a couple of questions she will stand up and announce that she should get going, point out the direction of the guest rooms and wish them well.

Notes on the Apprentices:

Dandy actually has no interest in the party. He’s a slacker and a dreamer, and wanders the grounds avoiding work as best he can.

Randy is a piss-poor wizard, but think he’s great. He’s extremely resentful that he wasn’t offered the castle-sitting gig, and he will continuously work against the party. Randy isn’t his real name. It’s a nickname that Dandy gave him, and he hates it. “My name is Pelucidaeorandymion!” he often complains.

Candy has significant natural ability, but prefers pranks to serious study. She gave herself the nickname Candy to rhyme with the others. She will frequently lead the party into trouble purely for her own amusement.

Randy can sometimes convince Candy to help him work against the party (if it seems fun); Candy can sometimes convince Dandy to join her pranks (it’s better than actual chores); Randy can sometimes talk down Dandy from being a bastard (if he appeals to his reason and catches him at the right moment). The party may be able to exploit these traits and relationships.


Each adventurer is given their own bedroom for the duration of their stay. They are randomly assigned and can be swapped if they want. Each bedroom has a theme:

Sea Room has a ceiling which is the bottom of an aquarium full of rare aquatic life. A seasoned adventurer will recognise numerous (highly deadly) creatures swimming by – some of which will simply float above the bed, staring down hungrily. The adventurer may also note that there is no glass on the aquarium; a wall of force contains it.

Cloud Room has a bed which is nothing more than an oversize sheet with its four corners fixed to the floor. Under it is a hole, which emits a constant hot wind. The resulting “air mattress” is quite warm and quite hard to wrangle. No blankets are offered, and staying in is a mission in itself.

Dream Machine is a normal bedroom, comfortably appointed. However, the room reads the sleeper’s mind and, as they wake, uses illusions to recreate their most recent dream and keep it going. Ratchetina built it to help her remember and record her dreams, but she forgot to consider what happens if the sleeper has a nightmare (20% chance in this creepy castle) or just troubled sleep (50% chance).

Ogre’s Paradise is a massive room. All the furniture is far too big (even for ogres). The guest will have to scale the side of the bed and will find the pillow far too thick to use comfortably. Whoever sleeps here will get a nasty case of (normal-sized) bedbugs, but if they keep that to themselves they have the best chance of luring someone into a room swap.

A devious GM might require fort saves vs. fatigue from sleeping poorly at night.

Fortress Layout:
About 3 miles in diameter, the fortress is roughly pentagram-shaped. It is surrounded by the outer curtain wall, a fortress in its own right some 8 city blocks thick and varying from 50 feet to 200 feet in height. The outer curtain is mostly solid wall, with some hidden chambers inside it; its few gateways lead to trapped hallways of death. The true path past the wall lies in the underground mazes beneath it.

Inside that is a ring yard known as “the Racetrack”. It is about 8 more blocks in width and consists of overgrown gardens, orchards and swamps. It is filled with terrible creatures.

Then, the Old Wall. Kept in good, defensible condition, the Old Wall is more like a standard castle fortification: 50’ high and 25’ thick at the bottom. None of the guards from the outer curtain are allowed onto or inside of the Old Wall except in an emergency. (Sgt. Rockefeller is the exception, coming in often to chat with Calvin or give reports to Ratchetina. See "Noteworthy Characters" below.)

Then, the Inner Court, divided into five courtyards; then the Keep, a massive upward-sprawling castle with numerous towers.

Beyond that the castle is not mapped out; most areas won’t be used in the game anyway, and the game works best if there is no set configuration. For descriptions of some rooms, see Key Rooms below.

Ratchetina's instructions to the PCs did not include a map, and many of the NPCs will be unhelpful in this regard. Calvin will promise a map if asked, but never actually give it to the PCs.

Whenever the PCs go somewhere without reliable directions, there is an 8% chance they will wander into one of the forbidden areas (see "Forbidden Rooms" below) and a 75% chance they will get lost along the way, taking a long time to get to their destination. The GM can decrease these % chances as the weekend goes on or if the PCs hjave a creative plan for learning the layout.

Noteworthy Characters:
It is suggested that the PCs know nothing of these characters until encountered during a chore.

Clops: A cyclops who works as the groundskeeper. His background is in gardening. He is very, very dumb, and kind of a scaredycat.

Calvin: Ratchetina’s familiar, whom she left behind for this trip. He is an imp. He is sarcastic and cruel, but even if abused he is thrilled to only be treated like dirt, and not treated as bad as he was in the Hells.

Sgt. Rockefeller: An eladrin who maintains the outer traps. (I use 3.5 ed but put the eladrin in for his teleport abilities. Use a different race if you like.) He is a teleport specialist and moves from area to area easily, resetting traps as needed. He is officially in charge of security in the outer curtain, but the 14th Kobold Regiment of Glory think of themselves as in-charge and he doesn’t correct them. He is very hard to get a hold of, but if he can be tracked down he has nigh godlike knowledge of the mazes.

14th Kobold Regiment of Glory: The unofficial guardians of the mazes under the outer curtain. They number in the thousands and live for Ratchetina’s praise. Their commander, Reggie, is a touchy fellow with some serious abandonment issues.

Golden Goblin Brigade: Longbowmen goblins who patrol and defend the ramparts of the outer curtain wall. Their elected king, Harvinor, is a conceited but honourable fellow who suspects everyone of treason.

Plethra: A devil commando engaged in constant insurgency against demons. He often brings his troops to Ratchetina’s fortress via planeshift spells and similar; it’s their place to lay low after a major guerilla mission. Ratchetina has no love of evil, but she prefers law over chaos and has made diplomatic arrangements with certain devils, offering them sanctuary on her grounds. Plethra is polite and haughty (think French resistance) but he always seeks advantage over his hosts and will cheat, steal or bully them out of anything he can.

Brickly: A brick golem with a birdhouse built into the back of his head, Brickly is in charge of physical maintenance of hard-to-reach areas. He can often be spotted scaling the outsides of towers to touch up the tuck-pointing or repair shutters.

Kitchen Golem: Kitchen golem will block the door to the kitchen starting Friday morning, offering a tray with 2 slices of buttered toast and 2 fried eggs. He will not offer any further food until someone uses his command word, which can be determined with a DC 26 UMD check or possibly gleaned from one of the apprentices.

Forbidden Rooms:
At the top of Ratchetina’s chore list is a list of places the adventurers are absolutely, positively forbidden to go. “Forbidden” is underlined three times. They are:

-East Tower
-My lab and study!

Of course, she did not include a map or any indication of which areas these might be. For descriptions of the consequences of entering each area, see “Key Rooms” below.

Chore List:
The party is given a list of chores. Some are to be done daily, some happen only on specific days. Here they are, along with the consequences for failure:

Daily Chores
-Walk Fuzzy and Lumpkins (abyssal greater basilisks) each morning. The rear hatch from their stables opens onto the Racetrack, and they are supposed to be taken for 3 laps around the damn thing. The basilisks navigate the treacherous ring with ease; the adventurers chasing after them will have to fight many vermin and guardians along the way (roll a few random monsters of CR 3 - 8 and toss them in along the route; the monsters avoid the basilsks and then attack/pursue the adventurers). Clops, who will meet the PCs near the stables but not actually go in with them, tells them if they let the basilisks out of their sight they will run away. (50% chance they run away each unsupervised lap). Each day there is a 20% chance they escape on their own before the PCs even get to them.
Failure: rampaging basilisks can now be randomly encountered in any area of the fortress (5% chance if you are looking for them; 30% chance if you are not).

-Check up on the apprentices (all three). Get an update on their homework and arcane practices. Of course, that means finding them, which they will try to avoid at all costs unless luring the PCs into mischief.
Failure: the apprentices have even more time to mess with you; once per day roll twice on the "Meddling Apprentices" chart in the "Complications" section below.

Friday Chores
-Add stock fish from the breeding pond to the Deathquariums.
There are five deathquariums, each with a different terrible, horrible sea beast inside. 2 of the 5 deathquarium gates are jammed and must be manually opened from inside the water channel, exposing the PCs to attack as soon as the gate is open. Also when the gate opens, the current essentially "flushes" the stock fish and adventurers into the Deathquarium. leaving them with a 120' swim back to the safety of the gate. The distanceis halved to 60' on a successful DC 22 swim check.
Failure: the kraken will break out and start crawling about the grounds. (Yes, squid do quite well outside of water - for a while.)

-Check the Prisoners
Ratchetina leases her space and services to several kingdoms for the containment of high-level prisoners. The PCs need to inspect the cells for escape attempts and check to make sure the prisoners are doing okay. There is a substantial party of ilithids in the prison. Calvin and Sgt. Rockefeller have both assisted with this task before, and either one can offer helpful advice if the PCs can somehow enlist their aid.
Failure: Just some dead prisoners. No one will actually care, but the chances of a prison riot go up; 96+ on the "Unexpected Problems" chart now result in a prison riot, just like 75-78 always do.

-Kick the Lich
Ratchetina has an evil lich she captured, sentenced to 100 years of being kicked around. He is in a stockade, but is otherwise unrestrained; he can still cast any of his spells that don’t use somatic components. The PCs need to rough him up without dying. Generally he gets 20-30 swift kicks, but he should not be kicked to death, even if it means less kicking.
Failure: There is no consequence for failing this job. The lich sure won’t tell anyone.

Saturday Chores
-Check the pumpkin patch.
Ratchetina has a thing for pumpkins. The pumpkin patch, located in one of the five divisions of the Inner Court, is surrounded by a variety of deadly and man-eating plants to protect it. Clops won’t go there on his own. The PCs have to escort him in and help him check the pumpkins (including tactical exploding pumpkins, phase pumpkins, stink pumpkins, vampkins and infant pumpkinheads). The young pumpkinheads will need to be fought but not killed – they have to be let to win somehow. It’s part of their “exercise” (and it gets them XP). If anything else needs to be watered, fertilised or fed Clops ain’t touching it. Enjoy.
Failure: Ratchetina will threaten to kill the PCs if they let her pumpkins die, and will need some serious placating to let them off alive. Pay is almost definitely not forthcoming.

-14th Kobold Regiment of Glory (Demonstration)
The kobolds who live under the outer wall put on a twice-yearly military demonstration to strut their stuff. They were especially pleased to hear that they’d be showing their prowess to outsiders this time, and will enthusiastically demonstrate every trap they have – either by springing it on their own kobold volunteers or on captured low-level adventurers. The PCs can deal with that as they please.
Failure: If the PCs don’t go or if they insult the kobolds, the kobolds will declare all-out war on them. This means very little, since they probably can't get into the Inner Court or the castle proper, but random kobold encounters along the wall or uin the Racetrack are now likely.

Sunday Chores
-Sunday is Customer Day!
That’s what Ratchetina calls the one day of the week when she makes her spellcasting services available to the general public. Peasants and nobles alike come to request love charms, revenge spells, curse-removal, magic item identification and all manner of goodies. There is no fixed charge; supplicants donate what they feel is appropriate. (They do have to provide or pay for expensive material components, however). Ratchetina trusts that the PCs, though less powerful than she, can fill these people’s needs on her behalf. She maintains small pavilions in several towns and villages which, starting at 9 a.m. Sunday, will each open a portal to her sitting room. There will be a continuous string of supplicants all day long, who will become increasingly angry at the PCs if their problems aren’t resolved in a timely manner. Nevermind that the PCs will be interrupted with numerous distractions!
Failure: The people want to see Ratchetina, and start to suspect foul play if they are not given their usual customer service. They will form into an angry mob (remember, a mob of innocent civilians) if they are not appeased. Some of the mob may have quite powerful curses and magic items on them!

Ratchetina will arrive home shortly after midnight Sunday night/Monday morning. She expects that all of her apprentices, servants and pets will be alive and in good health. She also expects that the fortress will be in good working order and that all of the chores will be done.

Complications (Random Encounter Charts):
Starting right after breakfast, whenever the PCs leave one area of the fortress to go perform some task, roll once on each chart below. You can choose when the various complications happen, but it should be sometime before the next random roll. Make extensive use of the servants, employees and apprentices to be the bearers of bad news—generally, these figures show up when there’s more work to give the PCs but can’t be found when their help is needed. Calvin is especially good for this.

Unexpected Problems (d%)
1-20 Otyugh toilet system backup (see Key Rooms)
21-23 Good-aligned adventuring party accidentally planeshifts into fortress
24-26 Evil-aligned adventuring party purposefully planeshifts into fortress (to raid it)
27-30 Sgt. R. reports heavy structural damage in the curtain wall (adventurers on the loose)
31-36 A large army of knights and archers shows up at the gate, demanding redress for some slight
37-42 Magical beasts in the stables are unexpectedly foaling (pegasi, etc.)
43-45 Two different work crews show up, both hired to do the same work, and fight each other
46-52 Plethra & company show up on their own
53-56 Plethra & company “come in hot”, with a pack off demons ransacking the place looking for them
57-60 PCs are bowled over by a pack of unseen servants at the worst possible moment
60-65 PCs are bowled over by a pack of unseen servants at the worst possible moment (plus roll again)
66-74 Ibarra, a silver dragon, shows up for monthly chess game; accuses PCs of killing Ratchetina
75-78 Prison riot
79-81 Ratchetina’s creditors show up and try to repo valuable magical items & equipment
82-84 Ratchetina’s high-level, Venerable aged barbarian friend shows up; terrible houseguest
85-95 Brickly gets stuck in a chimney, needs to be rescued
96+ No unexpected problems
(When an event other than an unseen servant pack is used, cross it off. If it is rolled again there are no unexpected problems.)

Meddling Apprentices… (d%)
1-10 Give faulty directions that lead PCs to East Tower
11-20 Give faulty directions that lead PCs through Solarium
21-30 Give faulty directions that lead PCs to Ratchetina’s lab & study
31-40 Tamper with interplanar heating/cooling/water system, PCs must fix
41-45 Summon a terrible blizzard/hurricane next time PCs are working outside
46-50 Relax and obligingly help the PCs
51-60 Activate a door behind the PCs to teleport them somewhere odd
61-63 Summon a succubus and glamour her to look like Candy, send after PC’s
64-67 Replace PC potions with foul-tasting, nonmagical liquids
68-72 Replace PC potions with potions of baleful polymorph
73-80 Tell the worst possible lie to the next NPC the group has to deal with
81-90 Make sure the PCs hear about the beerfall in the old brewery (see Key Rooms)
91-92 Accidentally trip the fortress self-destruct; frightened, come tell PCs there’s limited time to stop it
93+ Nothing in particular
(When an action is used, cross it off. If it is rolled a second time, reroll it. Actions are taken at the next possible chance; this may mean the apprentices have more than one action ready to go the next time the PCs encounter them.)

Lying in the Closet You Find… (Random Loot Charts):
Whenever the PC’s enter an area they haven’t visited before, roll to see which (if any) of the magic items below happen to be stashed in that area. Once the item is determined, roll twice to determine any special circumstances about that particular item. Unless the chart says otherwise, Ratchetina will expect it to be returned in good condition before the PC’s leave. Any random variables in the item’s description should be rolled unless the chart below specifies the result.

Item stashed nearby… (d%)
1-5 Flying broom (clumsy, plus shoots fireworks all around it as it flies)
6-10 *Teapot of Speak with Animals (put an animal, vermin or non-intelligent magic beast in, you can speak with it)
11-15 (roll random Wondrous Item)
16-20 *Phial of dragon pheremones (Ratchetina doesn’t care if you use it all up)
21-25 *Angry Dwarf in a Jar (Ratchetina doesn’t care if you take it)
26-30 *First Aid Kid (box with 20 charges, each charge can be used for any 5th level or lower 31-31-healing/restoration spell)
31-35 Bracelet of Friends, three charms remaining
36-40 Deck of Illusions
41-45 Hand of the Mage
46-50 Hat of Disguise
51-55 Horn of Fog
56-60 Iron Flask
61-65 Ring Gates (1 pair)
66-70 Slippers of Spider Climbing
71-75 Apparatus of the Crab
76-80 Well of Many Worlds (Ratchetina will not allow it to be taken from her keep)
81-85 Wings of Flying
86-90 Ring of Clumsiness (cursed item)
91-95 Sword of Berserking (cursed item)
96+ The Moaning Diamond (Ratchetina will not allow it to be taken from her keep)

*Items with asterisks are made up by me, and not found in the DMG. Use your imagination.

Special Conditions (d10; roll twice)
1-9 Hard to find: seeing items requires Search check, DC is 4d10
10-15 No Biggy: item can be taken or destroyed and Ratchetina won’t notice or care
16-19 Let it go: item can be taken or destroyed and Ratchina will know, but not say anything
20 Cursed: roll a random curse for the item unless it is already cursed
(If a rolled result conflicts with item entry above, follow the item entry.)

Key Rooms:
East Tower
This is a relatively narrow tower, at least on the inside. From the outside it looks like it has two entrances: one to the main keep (inside) and one to the rampart running along one of the walls that divides the Inner Court (outside). Whichever way the PCs first approach from is unlocked; the other way has actually been bricked up. The apprentices might well tell the PC’s it’s a different tower ("Looking for the Prison Tower? Sure, first door on your right…") so it should be easy to get the PC’s there if that comes up on a random roll. Be sure to ask which PC is in the front of the party.

Whoever walks in first will hear the door snap shut behind them. If someone else is following closely, give them a reflex save; 3d8 crushing damage from the door if they fail, no damage if they succeed. Either way they have to decide which way they are jumping: into the tower, or out. The crushing damage is dealt to their leg, which jams open the door; they can pull it out if they want, but then the door closes.

Those inside find themselves in a small (6’ diameter) round room with smooth, copper-lined walls, a metal floor and a metal ceiling. The ceiling is 30' above them.

Those outside will find an extra-tough door with no handles or locks. It shuts tight automatically when the tower is “loaded”. Treat the door and surrounding wall as adamantium with Spell Resistance 15 and a 20% chance of rebounding any spell cast on it at the PCs or their items. If the door is jammed partly open, they can try to leverage it farther open with a DC 26 Str check.

1 round after the door closes (whether it closes all the way or jams partly open) gravity is reversed inside the tower. Anyone inside will fall 30’ to the ceiling. Anyone caught in the door does not fall.

On the next round, and every round thereafter for 4 rounds, the PCs inside the tower will hear twin “clanking” noises (one above the ceiling, one below the floor). The noises get louder each round.

On the 5th round, the tower floor below the PCs and the ceiling they are standing on clank open, and the PCs “fall” upward. This is your typical “teleport ring rail gun” setup; when they hit the top of the tower they teleport seamlessly to the bottom and continue falling. Ratchetina had this brilliant idea years ago but never did get rid of the air resistance problem which would make a truly frightening weapon. The PCs inside just keep falling and falling at terminal velocity.

If someone is caught in the door, each round they can either choose to cling to the door, allowing the falling person to zoom past them. Or, they can try to grab the person (grapple check DC 25 + 2/round of falling). They take a -5 penalty to their grapple from being caught in the door. On a successful grapple, falling damage is split between the catcher and the caught. If the catcher goesunconscious from this the grapple fails.

When the PCs inside the tower reach maximum speed, (takes 5 more rounds), those on the outside see two small, whirling spheres appear. Both spheres are made of nothing more than faint white light. They are the controls for the rail gun.

One of them (the one with Ratchetina’s arcane mark if the PCs manage to see it) will disarm the tower. If it is touched, walls of air begin to block the falling PCs’ progress. The PCs hit one wall per round, and each wall deals 1d6 damage, no save; it will take some 20 walls to slow the PCs down to a reasonable stopping speed (PCs can use healing items or spells while falling, of course). Once the 20th wall has been passed through, the ceiling just above the door clanks shut and the PCs hit it as if falling from a height of 60’. Then the other sections clank shut, the antigravity is turned off (and the PCs fall another 30’ to the original floor) and the door opens.

If the other orb is touched, the teleport reconfigures and the PCs in the tower find themselves some 1000 feet above an empty field. On a DC15 reflex save they can maintain a “belly flop” posture rather than falling head-first; this reduces the falling damage they take from 70d6 to 30d6.

The solarium was supposed to be converted into a youth-restoring room but never got finished. Anyone in the room ages at one-tenth of an age category per round.

The room is a large rectangular room, with floor-length windows along one wall and a balcony running outside of them. There are several doors into the room and skylights in the roof. Comfy couches and chairs line the place. Anyone laying down on the big couch can notice (DC 13 spot check) the extremely dessicated remains of a humanoid curled up in a fetal position beneath the coffee table.

Ratchetina’s Laboratory and Study
The laboratory is a huge workroom; the study is a small, cozy office. Every square in this room has a 10% chance of setting off a magical trap (but describe the trap’s effects as if the PCs stumbled into some invisible ward or experiment, touched an item, brushed against something, etc.). Additionally, within 1d8 rounds Calvin will appear to order the PC’s out. He will attack them if need be (see stats below and remember he has access to all the hidden goodies of his master’s laboratory) and will enlist Brickly’s help (use Greater Stone Golem Stats). Of course, the traps will continue to go off on both Brickly and the PC’s during the fight; Calvin won’t set off any, however.

If the PCs stay in this room for more than a few rounds or offer Calvin any resistance, they can consider their pay cheque cancelled and will be lucky if Ratchetina does not attack them upon her return.

Otyugh Waste Disposal Den
Four Otyughs live in a series of rooms inside the labyrinth beneath the outer curtain. These rooms are not connected to any other passages. All of the toilets and waste disposal chutes in the fortress use teleport spells to empty here; the rooms are coated in filth of all kinds. Only organic waste (and a few pit traps) are sent here; metal is saved in the fortress for scrap.

The PC’s will probably only get to this room if they need to investigate the toilet backup, a mission they will receive when one of them is unceremoniously tossed off the throne by a heaving wave of rejected refuse. This omen plus a little NPC explanation should get the PC’s on their way.

Most of the teleport chutes to the otyugh pit are very small, but there is a sealed two-way teleport door the PC’s can take. When they do they will find themselves in a completely dark room. If lit, they will discover that one Otyugh is in terrible condition, nearly dead in the centre of the pit while another one, also sick but not as bad off, tries to comfort it. Unfortunately two of them are both healthy and thoroughly aggravated, and have been slugging, splashing, burping and belching excrement at the teleport chutes in anger. The PCs will need to calm or disable these aggressive Otyughs and somehow nurse or heal the two sick ones.

The PCs will need to make a DC 25 Fort Save against nausea, and will vomit uncontrollably for 1d4 rounds if they miss by 5 or more.

A Search or Heal check performed near the two sick Otyughs (DC 15) will reveal the chewed remains of a bar of soap in the filth beside them. In order to heal them, someone will have to reach into their mouths, remove the soap bar from their gullets, and then cast either a Restoration, Remove Disease or Neutralise Poison spell on them. This has to be done on both of the two sick otyughs. Reaching into their mouths provokes another Fort Save vs. nausea, this one DC 30 (if already nauseated, cut right to the vomiting). If the Otyughs are not sedated or somehow restrained, trying to reach in their mouths will get a PC automatically grappled by them. Once fishing around in their gullets a DC 30 Search check is needed to locate the soap.

To further complicate things, about halfway through their stint in the stink, a halfing with a torch will come tumbling down a chute from the ceiling into a pile of filth. Within rounds six more halflings, these ones with ropes, will fall down as well (their ropes were severed by the teleport trap they passed through). These are adventurers who were busting their way through the outer curtain when their comrade fell into a pit trap with a teleport at the bottom. They assume that the PCs and Otyughs are all foes waiting to pulverise them. Whether by death or diplomacy, the PCs are going to have to deal with the intruders. (The halflings, of course, all make their saves against nausea.)

Brewery & Beerfall
There is an old brewery on the premises which was once the alcoholic's equivalent of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Like said factory, it was closed down years ago, but beer continues to be produced by mysteriopus forces behind closed doors. Anyone prying open the door to the place (a barred metal door, Str DC 20) will find a fantastic garden with a waterfall of bear filling a foamy golden river. The beer is strong, finely crafted, and tastes of whatever brew the drinker prefers; the 8d10 fey who live and work there, however, will be outraged if anyone "pollutes" the river by drinking from it.

Stat Blocks Needed for this Adventure (alphabetical):

Abyssal Greater Basilisks

Greater Stone Golem: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/golem.htm#stonegolem

http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheets/view.php?id=84655 but triple hp, double DR and Fire Resistance, add Spell Resistance 20, and remember he has access to all the magic items of his master’s laboratory. CR 10.

Use Hill Giant stats: http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/giant.htm#hillGiant but add 14 ranks in profession (gardener).

Evil-Aligned Planeshifting Adventurers
Drow Rogue: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Silent_Killer%2C_Drow_Rogue/Assassin_CR_9
Ogre Ftr: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Bezzandine_Triskelion%2C_Ogre_Fighter_CR_9
Pre-Lich Sorcerer: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Galen_Medici_-_pre-lich
Healer: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Female_human_cleric_9
(tweak as needed)

Good-Aligned Planeshifting Adventurers
Ballista-User: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Rita_%22Red-Eye%22_Thatcher%2C_ballista_expert
Melee: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Serjeant_Thed_of_the_Palace_Guard%2C_Ftr-6_CR_6
Cleric: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Enkirdos%2C_Gnome_Cleric_6
Wizard: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Levran_Helder
Rogue: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Patches%2C_Half-Orc_Rogue_CR7

Halfling Adventurers
Use these stats for all 7: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Sweetwater_Tenderfoot%2C_Halfling_Rogue_3

but call him a goblin and give him +2 AC

Ilithid Prisoners
(from MM)
(or if needed solo them against this guy: http://d20npcs.wikia.com/wiki/Ktalotep%2C_Mind_Flayer_Monk_CR_20)

(use sample lich from MM)


Plethra & co.
(use devils from MM to taste)

use the stats of the Earth Mephit (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/mephit.htm#earthMephit) but with the following changes:

-loses breath weapon

-Gains at-will SLA, “Pumpkin Smash” which is a close-range spell (50’), standard action, verbal & somatic components. It halves the target’s hp in a rain of orange goo unless they make a DC 17 Fort Save.

-Gains 1/day SLA, “Pumpkin Shower” which is a close-range spell (50’), standard action, verbal & somatic components, affects all creatures in any 4-square area within range. 3d4 pumpkins rain down, each pumpkin targeting a random square within the area. All creatures in that square must make a DC17 Fort Save against each pumpkin or get its hp halved. The DC goes up by 1 for each additional pumpkin that hits that creature during that shower.

-CR 5.

I didn't stat out Ratchetina and I hope I don't have to. I hinted to the players that she is "around Level 30" so I don't think they want to mess with her. If your players decide otherwise, your best bet is probably to track down an epic wizard from the d20 NPC wiki and tweak as needed; statting out someone so high-level who they shouldn't fight in the first place is too much work.


Sea Beasts
Any 5 you like from MM

Sgt. Rockefeller
but add a 30’ at-will teleport ability & call him an eladrin. Replace a few of his domain spells with thinks likle Teleport, Dim Door, Ethereal Jaunt, etc.

Play Report - First Session

We played this adventure with three level 12 PCs and it seems balanced - the challenges so far are actually easy given their power level, but often require a lot of thought so they come off as challenging.

We used the Pathfinder RPG (http://paizo.com/store/byCompany/p/paizoPublishingLLC/pathfinder/pathfinderRPG) rules to create characters, and I have to recommend those rules highly. They make 3.5 even more enjoyable. The skill system seems complex but, once tried, is more rewarding than the normal 3.5 skill system.

Our characters were all half-elves: Drd 12 (megaraptor companion, Gaea worshipper); Pldn 12 (of Artemis and Apollo); Brd 12 (he made it work quite nicely). It should be noted that in Pathfinder half-elves do not suck like in normal 3.5; they're actually quite cool. We made these characters specifically for this mini-adventure, and the players came up with a great backstory. The three of them are triplets (hence all the same age, which fills me with glee anticipating their time in the solarium).

The PCs took to the assignment readily enough, asked some excellent questions of Ratchetina, and found her apprentices worth interacting with. The Bard specifically tried to chat about arcane matters with Dandy, and managed to break his apathetic exterior a bit. I added in some flavour text about the cool magical flying candies in the parlour, they chose their weird bedrooms and soon the mission was on.

After dealing with the kitchen golem and feeding the raptor, they looked at their chore list and decided to walk the basilisks first thing. They couldn't find the way, but managed to spot Clops in the gardnes below, and called him up. He came and got them and led them to the stables.

They went with bandanas over eyes, staring at their feet and shuffling about. I had Fuzzy and Lumpkins snuffle each of them, reacting to the druid with licking and purring but bowling the other two down (reflex saves to avoid looking up during this). They found blinders for the basilisks but decided against trying to wrangle them to put the things on. The paladin wanted to ride one, but was (thankfully) talked out of it.

Soon they had the gate open and the basilisks were off. The bard followed them with Fly, avoiding all the monsters and swamps and waving at the treants he passed. He also spotted Calvin sitting in a lawnchair on the ramparts, holding a drink and cheering as he went past. They hadn't met Calvin yet so this both startled and amused him.

The bard also managed to notice that the basilisks already wore blinders, which had the PCs kicking themselves over their 20 minutes of aborted blinder-planning. His spell ran out before the basiliks got back to their stable, so he had to leave them unattended and fly back to tag in the druid. I rolled the % but neither of them escaped.

The druid mounted her raptor and escorted them through the second lap, choosing to run from any monsters and making pretty good time even through the swamp. Meanwhile the paladin found the firework-shooting flying broom tucked in the stable rafters and the bard mounted up for the third lap. During his lap, a basilisk tried to climb a wall to escape but he greased it and it fell back down. The tough part was getting the basilisks back into the stable, which was accomplished with a combination of poles, ropes, "non-lethal raptor attacks" and broom dives. They're already planning things like Entangle and Wall of Stone to make it easier for the next morning.

They had then planned to head down to the prison for the inspection and the mysterious "Kick the lich" that was asterisked on their to-do list. On the way, however, the paladin peeked into a bathroom and saw poop being flung out of the oubliette. They reported this to Calvin, who has seen this kind of thing before; he sent them into the otyugh chamber via the teleport door. They didn't really trust him and said they wanted a map, which he said he can get from the library for them later. They won't ever see it.

They handled the otyugh problem quite masterfully. I wasn't really sure if the bard's fascinate ability is supposed to work on these kinds of creatures, but I allowed it, so the druid went to work fishing out soap. When halflings started raining down the PCs completely ignored them until they formed up into ranks of archers. Soon otyughs and PCs alike were being targeted, but the halflings made rooky mistakes like targeting the tank and grouping together in clusters.

My favourite scene is when the druid got irritated by the halflings (and really, didn't want them to all be slaughtered) so she rolls diplomacy and yells, "Would you people stand down? I'm just trying to perform surgery here!" To this the halflings answered in chorus, "KILL THE CLERIC!" and she became the new pincushion.

The halflings were all killed or knocked out. The otyughs were no longer fascinated, and one started to eat halfling bodies. With some serious restraing the second of the two sick otyughs was de-soaped and the soap disposed of. The druid took the two living halflings out with her and healed them up. She tried to talk to one, who was in a state of shock, while Calvin repeatedly tail-slapped the other one yelling "You *slap* don't *slap* mess *slap* with *slap* Ratchet *slap* tina's *slap* castle! *slap slap slap*" The PCs decided that they would release the halflings once they were feeling better, in the hopes that they would go back to whatever adventurer guild they were from and explain how important tactics are.

At this point, Sgt. Rockefeller came in and told Calvin all about the fight (which he had presumably watched remotely). He really exaggerated it, describing how the halflings had no chance and "these new guys just slaughtered through 'em! You should've seen it, even this paladin here was cutting them while they were trying to run away! Most brutal thing I've seen in months!" Calvin found this hilarious, and the paladin was kind of steaming. In his defence, the halflings didn't stop shooting even as they fell back, but that isn't how Rockefeller told it.

Anyhow, that was where we had to cut off the session because we had used most of our time for character generation. I expect that next session we'll finish Friday and most of Saturday, and a third session will finish the whole module.

I'm really looking forward to the randomly rolled complications that are stored up: the evil adventurers are going to teleport in next time, the apprentices are set to tell a really bad lie to the next important NPC that turns up, and the PCs are set to stumble into the solarium by accident.

I haven't gone through and revised the tables or encounters above, but I did notice that the module as written is a little heavy on the non-lethal-damage encounters. The PCs had to not kill the basilisks and not kill the otyughs. They're also going to have to not kill the pumpkinheads, so I'm thinking of revising that encounter - maybe have the pumpkinheads be on their side against a greater threat, or have some of the pumpkinheads "go bad" and need to be wiped out.

Otherwise, the encounters as written were balanced and challenging without being overpowering for a small party. For a larger party or one with a full arcane caster I would suggest using 10th level characters instead of 12th. Otherwise it'll be way too easy.

The loot also seemed appropriate. The broom was a lucky roll, as it helped alot and made sense for it to be in the stables. The PCs left the broom in the stables (good thinking) and found a Deck of Illusions buried in the filth in the otyugh pit. They haven't used the Deck yet but I think it'll come in handy on Customer Day especially. Instead of rolling to see, I ruled that the deck is theirs to keep (without telling them of course) since it was found in a waste pile. Ratchetina obviously doesn't want it.

Play Report - Second Session
We picked up where we left off, still Friday (in the game) but playing on a Sunday (in real life) which is unusual for us. That meant we had time constrains, since no one wanted to stay up late on a work night.

Anyhow, the PC's got directions to the "Prison Tower" from Candy. Of course, Candy actually gave them directions to the solarium. She said they would come to a big rectangular room, and just go through to the doors on the left and that'll be the prison tower.

Now, in my game world, the prison isn't actually in a tower (it's below ground) and Candy doesn't really know what the Solarium is (just that it's cursed in some non-lethal way). So the PCs fell right into Candy's hands by not asking any other NPCs to back up her direction (they were warned she's a trickster!) and Candy didn't think what she was doing was so bad.

Anyway, the PCs say they'll follow the directions. I draw out a big room with lots of furniture, a long balcony, and some stands of silk flowers. The two doors out are on the far end, on their left like Candy said. I told the PCs to go through the room as they wish, but one round at a time.

This immediately set off their paranoia. Even though they'd theoretically just gone through several doors with no precautions, they decided to check this door for traps before they went through. They were worried it would lock behind them and even considered taking it off the hinges.

Eventually they decide it's fine and walk around. At age 31 I ruled they were at the beginning of young adulthood for half-elves, so they had 10 full rounds before attaining Middle Age (remember: one tenth of an age category per round). It took them 4 or 5 rounds to spot the corpse under the coffee table, and some of them spent a couple of rounds examining it (no wounds... may have died of natural causes or old age... seems to have weekly crawled under the table and died crawling... body must have been here for centuries, even the bones are going to dust...). Others spent those rounds checking the doors on the left and opening them up - to reveal balconies, no tower.

At this point the PCs still didn't think they were in the wrong place. They wondered if there was a teleport door to the prison or something. I even threw them the hint that there were sunbursts on the doors, and skylights in the ceilingas, and the room was so sunny....

Druid wanted to order her raptor to use its Scent ability, and I said it was freaking out and acting all nervous. She figured out there must be a curse on the room, but it wasn't until Round 9 that one of them finally made a Perception check and I told them they spotted grey hair on one of their siblings.

The bard got out on Round 9 so he's "only" 53 now, just shy of middle-aged for a half-elf. The others didn't get out till Round 10 so they are now 62 and took aging penalties.

They could hear Candy laughing, invisible, from down the hall and chased after her. Then they talked about giving up on the prison chore, until they talked to Sgt. Rockefeller...

(to be continued)

All in all my players are really enjoying it! Thanks for the great idea guys, and use this module as you wish!

2008-10-15, 05:04 PM
Freaking awesome set up.
Can't wait to hear more of your group's adventuring therin.

2008-10-15, 10:06 PM
Some comments:

Why wouldn't cultist overlap with other groups that live in the castle? The wizard has a castle that has an entire civilization in a pocket for his own amusement. He certainly qualifies some definitions of god.

So the headmaster's gone. "When the cat's away, the mice will play." You could have some fun with wild party related mishaps, pranks, and cleanup.

2008-10-15, 10:27 PM
... I'm blown away. That sounds like the best campaign EVER.

2008-10-15, 10:31 PM
Freaking awesome set up.
Can't wait to hear more of your group's adventuring therin.

:) thanks!

I'll be sure to post a new play report when we do our next session. I'm hoping it'll be this weekend but it may not be until next weekend.

Neon Knight
2008-10-16, 06:26 PM
So, I inspired a super special awesome campaign. Neat.

I guess that's worth an achievement. (http://achievements.schrankmonster.de/Achievement.aspx?text=5G%20-%20Inspired%20A%20Cool%20Campaign)

2008-10-17, 10:34 AM
I think the nice thing about this is that it is so adaptable. You can always add a room or subtract a room, add and NPC or forget about one, add an random event or take one away, tell the PCs they are there for longer or shorter.

I might do this one day as well.

2008-10-17, 11:46 AM
Yeah, short adventures run almost totally off of random charts are so easy to prep and run, I love it.


2008-10-17, 03:02 PM
a hall of "worthy foes" who have been turned to stone. When he is bored, he fights them again using different spells