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Time to finally end Turn of the Torrent! When we last left off, we had just finished exploring level 1 of the complex under the Lucky Bones casino. Now it’s time to descend to level 2.
Lucky Bones: Lower Basement
This is a literal dungeon! It’s here that the Spiders kept their captives while waiting to ransom them or sell them into slavery.
The most important thing about the Lower Basement is that it’s almost completely flooded, and will remain so until the PCs clear it. The ring of swimming from Adventure 1 and cloak of the manta ray from level 1 of this same dungeon will surely be useful, though in the end the whole party needs a way to breathe underwater if they want to venture here.
Potions and scrolls of water breathing are available in the open market in Kintargo, and if Octavio is in friendly terms with the PCs he might ask the seers back at the Shrine of Saint Senex for their wands of wather breathing. Once that’s taken care of, the party still needs to mind the many combat penalties they’ll get against this level’s aquatic denizens.
Things get a bit more expensive in Dungeon Fantasy, since its water breathing spell has a duration in the scale of minutes instead of hours. A wizard who happens to have learned it at skill 20 could keep it on indefinitely on themselves. They’d need skill 25 to cover the whole party.
Item-wise, there’s an alchemical amulet of water breathing in DFRPG Magic Items that costs $23.400 and works for as long as it’s worn. If your party isn’t rich enough to buy one for each PC, you could introduce a more reasonably-priced alternative that only lasts for about as long as the Pathfinder potion.
Opposition in this level is a band of skum spies sent here by an aboleth necromancer to spy on Kintargo. The aboleth doesn’t have any designs on the city, it’s just sending spies on general principle. The skum “foot soldiers” are led by the wizard Ungol-Pagh, and either brought of befriended a bunch of other sea monsters to act as guards down here. They’ve also captured a group of sea elf rangers who came in here to search for their missing ally, the opera singer Shensen (who vanished in the initial Thrune purges before Adventure 1 started).
Here’s our condensed room key:
D1. Flooded Warehouse: Completely submerged in cold and still but mostly clear water. Large square stone pillars, a pile of algae-caked rubble. Five skum lounge here and will likely see the PCs as soon as they come in. They attack on sight and fight to the death1. Secret passage in a hollow pillar leads to D2 and requires a very hard Perception check to find. Obvious exit to D8 and up the well back to C16. If the party leaves, any surviving skum relocate to D8.
D2. Hidden Passageway: Accessible from secret door in D1. Corridor with stairs that rise out of the water and lead to D3.
D3. Vault Door: Accessible from D2. This area is above the water level. Large iron door with a fiendish (pun intended) combination lock that requires three hard lockpicking tests to open. Failure triggers a large blade trap embedded in the door that attacks the intruder for a boatload of cutting damage. The skeletal corpse of Guildmaster Baccus lies at the foot of the door (he fumbled the combination).
Baccus wears several magic items, which we’ll look at in detail later. He also clutches three keys to the chests inside the vault, and carries a fragment of a devil-summoning book2 containing a word that can cause great pain to the drowning devil on this level of the dungeon.
D4. Gray Vault: Accessible from D3. Three heavy iron chests; skeleton of a human woman with eight spidery legs protuding from her back. The locks on the chests are even harder to open than the ones on the vault door, but Baccus’ corpse has the keys.
The skeleton belongs to the vault’s former guardian, a jorogumo from Tian Xia3. It’s inert and harmless, but serves as foreshadowing for the next adventure. The chests contain quite a bit of money and loot, as well as a couple of cursed surprises. We’ll look at them in detail below, but bear in mind that some of the cursed items may alert the surviving Gray Spider leader that her old lair has been breached.
D5. Shells and Pillories. Accessible from D1. Low ceiling, completely flooded. Whiping posts, rusty empty cages, well leading to D11, doorway leading to D6, secret door leading to D7. Two piles of shells in this room are actually a pair of Shell Sentinels, amorphous seashell golems who animate and attack any intruders (meaning any non-skum).
D6. Acisazi Prisoners. Accessible from D5. Completely flooded. Several cells, currently containing a five person squad of sea elf rangers from the Acisazi tribe. If freed and given equipment, they will gladly help the PCs clear this level. They’re weaker than the PCs, but work well underwater and are valuable as support. The party gains XP for each elf who survives to the end of the adventure.
The elves came here looking for Shensen’s help against an aboleth wizard threatening their village - the same wizard who sent the skum here. Helping the village is an excellent way to gain outside support for the Silver Ravens, and is covered in the next adventure.
The PCs have about two weeks from the moment they enter the level to rescue the elves. It’s unlikely they’ll take that long, but at the end of this time the prisoners are taken away to be turned into more slaves for the aboleth.
D7. Pump Room. Accessible through secret door in D5. The skum know about this door. Completely flooded. Contains a huge, broken magical pump. Repairing the pump will take three days, some money and the services of a skilled enchanter (like Hetamon Haace). It also requires recovering a missing part from room D10.
Once repaired, the pump will drain areas D1-D9 and D12. Fixing it gives the party a large XP award and is one of the main goals in the adventure, after clearing this level.
D8. Smuggler’s Cave. Accessible from D1. Completely flooded. A cave with a submerged dock. Four skum lounge here with two trained reefclaws. Any survivors from D1 will retreat here as well. An alarm spell will go off as soon as the PCs enter from D1, alerting the skum leader in D12.
Reefclaws look like lobsters with eel backsides. They attack with grabby poisonous claws and constriction.
Also here are two watertight barrels containing still-functional bottles of air.
D9. Sewer Access. Accessible from D8. Small submerged cave, tunnel leads off the map and into a Kintargo sewer. Guarded by a devilfish in league with the skum. A devilfish is a sapient (but stupid) seven-armed octopus the size of a horse that attacks with tentacles, a bite, and a cloud of poisonous blood.
D10. Pump Valves. Accessible from D8. Completely submerged. Several pipes with magical valves connect to the pump in D7. One of the pipes is missing a valve, pried out by the skum and currently in possession of their leader in D12.
D11. Disposal Cave. Accessible from D10 or from well in D5. Completely submerged cave, walls encrusted with filth and sludge, huge pile of refuse in the center beneath the well. The refuse pile is the nest of an advanced globster whom the skum have been feeding. It investigates any noises and attacks if not immediately fed, fighting to the death.
A globster is a huge, blubbery underwater ooze. This one is particularly huge and blubbery.
D12. Observation Post. Accessible from D8 or from secret passage in D13. Underwater cave, walls partly covered with glowing lichen. The leader of the skum, a skum wizard named Ungol-Pagh, carves notes about his spying on the walls for future reference and attacks the PCs as soon as he becomes aware of them.
Ungol-Pagh is a level 7 wizard, meaning he’s slightly stronger than a PC wizard would be at this point. He has lots of charm and paralysis spells, plus a wand of lightning bolt with 12 charges, which is surely the thing you want to have when fighting underwater.
D13. River Access. Accessible from D8. Underwater cave links to a river outside Kintargo, and is guarded by a drowning devil originally summoned by Guildmaster Baccus. The devil summoning text found on Baccus’ corpse in D3 contains a word that causes this devil great pain. The devil is currently aligned with the skum, whose leader promised to find a way to free it from its binding.
Drowning devils have this name because they like to drown others. They’re Large, look like four-armed eels, are fully amphibious, and have all sorts of waterbending powers that maked them oodles of Fun (TM) to fight underwater.
The magic items on Baccus are a +2 mithral chain shirt, a handy haversack full of money, a +1 lawful outsider bane mithral dagger, and a ring of protection +2. I guess this is officially the point where the PCs are supposed to upgrade to +2-tier gear. And that dagger is a handy weapon against devils!
The first chest in the vault contains a whole lot of money. The second a whole bunch of potions and poisons, including a vial of oil of life distilled from the Philosopher’s Stone4. And the third has a bunch of magic items: cloak of elvenkind, folding boat, wand of alter self with 23 charges. The cursed objects mentioned earlier are also in this chest: a set of prisoner’s dungeon rings, and a robe of powerlesslness disguised as a robe of bones.
When someone puts one of those rings on, the wearer of the jailer’s dungeon ring that completes the set will instanly become aware of their location and status. That wearer is Hei Fen, the last surviving Gray Spider, who will deduce from this that her old hideout has been breached. I don’t know what a robe of bones is supposed to do, but it doesn’t really matter because what this robe actually does is act as a wearable No Mana/No Sanctity zone. Once worn, both the rings and the robe can only be removed by magic like Remove Curse.
The skum wizard has the already mentioned wand of lightning bolts, plus a headband of intellect +2, amulet of natural armor +1, and a lesser extend metamagic rod.
Delving the Dungeon
Stealth is almost impossible here, just as it was in the cultist hideout on level 1. There’s a bunch of skum right by the entrance, and it looks like any sounds of combat would carry well enough under water to attract the attention of anyone nearby.
The “brutal raid” approach is the only viable one, at least as I see it. The most logical response for the skum when they first see the party is for the level’s whole contingent to converge on the intruders! Here is how things will likely play out:
PCs arrive on D1, the five skum there start a fight.
The four skum on D8 notice the fight almost immediately, as there’s no barrier between the two rooms. Three of them plus their two pet reefclaws join the fight immediately, one runs to warn Ungol-Pagh. Depending on how you judge things, this could be accomplished by manually triggering the alarm spell, which reduces the wizard’s response time a bit.
Ungol-Pagh runs towards the fight as soon as he’s finished buffing himself, arriving in a few rounds.
The skum are all fanatics who fight to the death, so there’s no reason for them to retreat and turtle up, save perhaps to lure the party to one of the other monsters.
I don’t think any of the other monsters on the level would leave their territories to fight in room D1, but that still leaves the PCs facing down nine skum soldiers, two reefclaws, and Ungol-Pagh. If they’re really efficient they might turn this into a fight against three distinct waves of enemies, but this is likely to become one big subaquatic furball.
Well-prepared PCs could still take all the enemies here in one go, particularly if they’re Dungeon Fantasy delvers, but now I see why some of the text expects the PCs to retreat and take multiple tries to clear this level.
Clearing the skum and their allied monsters out of level 2 makes it possible for the PCs to fix the pump and make the place habitable to air-breathers again. Unless the party takes a serious beating from the defenses in this level, they should also clear it in time to rescue the aquatic elf rangers, which gives them a direct lead to the next adventure in the path.
That’s it for the final dungeon in Turn of the Torrent! The next post is going to look at what the PCs likely accomplished in the adventure as a whole, and the consequences of it.