More than 300 years ago a volcano was active. To appease its fury, members of a dead cult threw virgin women and treasures into the volcano.
Its activity ceased and there was prosperity for a certain time. The inhabitants of the region built a wall around the crater. A group of priests kept the tradition of the old annual rituals with sacrifices and offerings in gold and precious gems. Rumors started. They said the smoke that went up from the bottom of the crater was the breathing of a demon. Noises could be heard at night coming from the mountain. To ensure unauthorized people stayed away from the wall, noble men demanded the construction of a demonic face in the gateway so it could be seen from a distance.
The priests enhanced their torture rituals with time and started throwing heretics in the crater. Fear started to overcome the people. They built a crane where there was a cage at the tip. People were put there and lowered to the bottom of the crater through the hot smoke that came from the volcano’s hot lava mouth. They then built a spiral with many rooms isolated between them by thick iron gates. The spiral descended to the depths of the crater.
Countless challenges (traps, beasts) were put in the way in each room. The people who were lowered there had to come back to the surface going up the spiral. With each room beaten bigger challenges waited. They never had a chance to escape. Like in every inquisitory process they were considered innocent if they were able to escape the challenges safely. Unfortunately no one could go through more than 2 or 3 rooms without succumbing to the challenges or to the hot fumes coming from the volcano.
What the priests did not count on was that a malign being would arise because of all the atrocity and tried to climb the chains that lowered the cage to the depths of the crater. In despair they destroyed the crane and abandoned the place sealing the main gate. The location was abandoned. And the fumes diminish until ceasing but the evil face in the gateway still continued looking down the mountain.
Many years have passed and now the growls coming from the mountain have returned and with them the smoke coming from it. It is in this context that the inhabitants from the merchant city in the mountain foot come to the heroes asking they deal with it and solve the problem once and for all.. To seduce them, they tell them there are all sorts of treasures there. Gold, jewels, magic items.. All there, waiting for someone to come and get them.
I decided to draw some maps inspired by FFXII some time ago. I coud just go and remap the areas of the game and draw them by hand but i felt that was not enough. So I searched for the Esper sigils and thought of doing some art with them.
The first esper you get in the game is Belias, associated with Aries Zodiac sign. Its sigil is very intricate and i thought about a floating city on top of it. So here it is. The map is really big. The version here is low-res but i’ll put a link to the hi-res versions in the end of the post.
Had a rough time with my ISP last week but now I’m back with the last part of the adventure series I started with The Spoilt Child and continued with A Risky Rescue!
Now the heroes will proceed to raid the Baron’s fortress after rescuing the villagers in the Baron’s dungeon.
Located on the edge of a mountain chain there is a fortress built long ago to be an escape/defense route for the barony.
The place is not in a very good condition since the Baron died. The soldiers are now a bit scared because of the heroes efforts in restoring peace to the village on the other side of the mountain. But the heroes should not expect an easy raid here. Beside the halfling that escaped from the mansion are his elite soldiers plus his army of animated armors and, of course, his chimera pet.
The heroes must come with a raiding strategy. It is probable that they decide to invade the place at night coming from the dungeon area to make the task easier for them.
Let’s get to the map of the place:
The building has 2 stories. The ground floor is the main area of the building. There is a 10m wall around the castle and in the balcony there are always soldier archers on watch. Four Animated armors guard the Entrance hall and another four are roaming through the Deployment hall, Meeting room and Armory. There are 15 soldiers and two lieutenants in the barracks area of the castle.
I suggest increasing difficulty of the encounters if the heroes come by daylight or of they mess up and draw too much attention on their way in.
On the Second Floor there are the main point of interest here. The Baron’s Study where the halfling will be and the Baron’s Room and Secret room where the halfling keeps very valuable treasures.
There are 10 soldiers, a Lieutenant and the Baron’s general here guarding the area. Since there is an observation balcony, the lower rank soldiers will be there when the heroes arrive and only the lieutenant and the general will be inside the hall leading to the Barons’s Study. The halfling will be in their waiting with his pet and there will be another 2 Animated Armors and 2 Helmed Horrors.
The halfling will come full power with his magic and allies to defend himself since there is no escape route this time.
The time has come for the heroes to lipsync…oops… FIGHT FOR THEIR LIVES!!
After the fight with the halfling that was disguised as the Baron’s son, the heroes fail to go after him because he put some challenges for them and ran away by boat to the Baron’s Fortress uphill.
They return to the village and the townsfolk ask them about all the prisoners the halfling made. There were no prisoners in the mansion and now the townsfolk (knowing there is a way inside the cave to the Baron’s Fortress) want to go rescuing them. This task will not be an easy one!
The Heroes will need a raft/boat to go there.
The river goes for 18km under the mountain and the trip is fairly quiet. The issues start when they arrive at their destination.
Tips for the DM/GM:
Place monsters in the cave section of the map. In the Secret room in the cave there are soldiers listening to any noises the Heroes make and ready to attack. Do not make the journey to the cell block easy.
Place guards and wardens at will in the way to the cell block. There are many prisoner’s here. But not the ones the heroes want. They may free them if they want but have to take the risk of being attacked by some of them.
The arrested villagers will be in the Dangerous Prisoners area. Heavily guarded by the halfling’s soldiers. The heroes will have to escort the prisoners back to the village through the river by boat before going up to the fortress if they want to be successful in dominating it.
People from a decadent barony are complaining about the child of a dead Baron’s demands. The situation is unbearable. The only problem is: This child has some dark secrets!
The last time the city folk tried to raid the Baron’s mansion to demand the nonsensical child’s wishes to stop they were surprised not by an army or something of the sort. They were attacked by monsters and had to deal with a series of challenges and traps to enter the property. When they got in, the kid had a cruel surprise for them: He summoned a Chimera to defend him! It looks like the monster was his pet and obeyed all the kid’s orders as the survivors of the raid tell the heroes around the small town.
The protests intensified when the said Baron’s son raised all the taxes the people has to pay to an impossible amount. He is also demanding that the townspeople fulfill his eccentric food cravings and all his other stupid wishes. The community leader decided to call for aid as they are powerless to make the situation change.
About the Baron’s Mansion:
The property is at the north of the city. Surrounded by a deep river infested with carivorous fish by the Baron long ago. The main walking entrance is through a labyrinth. the other way is through the river itself but it crosses a rocky mountains from underneath to a point 50 km to the west and is heavily guarded in the entrance there (the entrance to the river tunnel is at in the old Baron’s castle up in the mountains (not shown in the map provided here). Food and supplies the townspeople bring here are let in front of the labyrinth’s entrance to the care of the Baron’s son’s servants. No one is allowed inside the property.
Inside the labyrinth place traps at dead ends/corridors of your choice (the main goal of the blog is to provide ideas after all). Three Hell Hounds live at the Labyrinth and will attack the heroes if they spot them. There are 2 hidden chests here under the floor tiles. Feel free to place plant-like monsters in the Labyrinth. Twigs, Dryads and Fungi are a good example of monsters to use here.
After the hereoes cross the labyrinth they arrive at the mansion itself. Before entering the Mansion they will have to face the Gargoyles that were sitting there waiting for intruders.
Inside the Mansion:
The opulence of the décor is stunning. As usual the Baron lived a wealthy life at the expense of the townspeople and his “son” is continuing the tradition. When the servants see the commotion outside they will flee to their alcoves in B1. The house will be guarded by Helmed Horrors that roam through the halls and are in the rooms 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 of the first floor. You can also put all sorts of Animated objects to challenge the heroes (Animated armors in room 3, for example.
Here is a full list of the rooms and brief descriptions:
Meeting room (with fireplace and access to Winter Garden)
Food Storage (Dry goods)
Hidden Stairs (Behind Dragon Statue)
Access to servants alcoves / Wine Cellar (B1)
Here is the map of the Wine cellar/Alcoves area:
The Baron’s Son won’t be here. He is in the upper level.
This is floor has the bedrooms and the Baron’s son’s accomodations. Here is the list with the descriptions:
Upper hall (access to 1F)
Private rooms hall
Servants working room (has a food elevator connected to the 1F kitchen)
Special library (has a secret passage at eastern end of the room. It opens removing some certain book from the shelf – place traps here as you will)
Rare book library (has a secret passage at eastern end of the room. It opens removing some certain book from the shelf – A trap is set here to trigger a poison dart device in case the heroes remove the wrong book from the shelf)
Private empty room (has 3 Animated armors)
Baron’s son’s lab/office
Baron’s son’s room (has a secret passage through the fireplace leading to the Underground Passage)
Treasure room (hidden by a secret door in room 35 and traps)
Upon getting to the Baron’s son’s room, he will summon his Chimera pet and start attacking the heroes. He will sit behind commanding the pet while telling the heroes the following story:
“Finally someone was able to get where no one was ever been able to. I’ll explain who i am. I’m a halfling. Yes, i’m not son of the Baron. In fact i killed him long ago. “
“You see… it was quite easy to pretend to be a child and trick a needy old man. All i had to do was put on some ragged clothes and make up and jump in front of his carriage begging for food hahahahahahahaha………..”
“Now you’ll have to deal with my baby!!!”
When the heroes deplete half of the Chimera’s HP he will make a run for the hole inside the Fireplace and disappear. The Chimera will sustain 3 mor rounds of attacks and disappear in a cloud of smoke and sparks.
The heroes may want to follow him and go down the shaft inside the fireplace (there is only space for thin/small people to go down. If they succeed in going down, they will be in the next area:
As soon as the heroes enter the Underground tunnel through the fireplace passage, the halfling will detonate charges imploding the narrow tunnel’s walls stopping making it impossible to go further. The heroes may choose to search for another way in if they did not discover the passage behind the dragon statue.
If they go through the passage behind the statue they will have to face a Galeb Durh in the area. If they take too long to find the entrace or to defeat the monster, they will only be able to see the halfling Summoner get away by boat through the undergound river.
Note: You can use some Summoner class archetype you find suitable for your scenario/campaign setting.
It is a big map and some ideas to use it. You are free to change background story/setting as you will.
Some young women went missing and the heroes are called to solve the mystery!
Up in the mountains near a city there is a long abandoned cult site. The monks who used to live there are long gone but in the past months the townsfolk started seeing signs the ruins of the old tower are being used somehow.
The girls started to disappear from their homes some 3 months ago. Their parents are desperate.
Here is the layout of the Cultists hideout:
Place some monsters in the way to the entrance cave.
Idea for the map use:
Inside the temple, put some low-level wizards in the “cave” part. There is a river flowing inside the cave. In order to enter the actual temple, the heroes must find a way to cross the water (either to the east where there is a secret passage or to the south where they will be able to take a glimpse of the stairs ahead.
The tower after the river room is demolished. The heroes will be subject to attack by a giant domesticated eagle that is nested in there and is used by the cultists as a defense measure.
Place more wizards and warlocks in the way to the temple aided by some cleric to make things harder for the heroes. If the heroes capture some cultist and argue him, he will reveal that the young women are deep inside the temple and their superiors are torturing them and intend to perform a ritual.
The Temple: The rooms in the north of the map are hidden by false doors. The Cultists plan to sacrifice a girl or more by night until they summon some creature. If the heroes get there in time, they will be able to free the her without no harm. If they take too long to get there and/or cause too much confusion in their way there, they will arrive after the ritual is held and will have to deal with some powerful entity of your choice (the cultists performing the ritual will be killed by the creature and the heroes won’t have to deal with them).
In the cells there are 6 girls. They will be extremely scared because they’ve been tortured in the rom beside the cells by the warden and the cultists. The warden will be in his office when the heroes arrive at the temple. If the cultists die to the creature summoned, he will come out and be eaten as well. Otherwise the heroes will have to deal with him before freeing the captive women.
If the heroes choose to explore more after freeing the girls they will be able to find the treasure room guarded by 2 fighters (place at least one magical item there).