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The Granite Bank

The Granite Bank

The Granite Bank

The Granite Bank is a powerful guild of Mountain Dwarf financiers. The bank is known to be in the Cliffs of Shirdroppe, but its exact location is obscured by a series of winding caves filled with traps, cunningly hidden Dwarf-doors, and patrols of the Silent Axes, well-disciplined troops of tongueless eunuchs who cannot be coerced into revealing the location of the Granite Bank.

The entrance of the Bank is inside a huge cave and the perfectly balance granite door is set into a wall of silver-tipped spikes. The hall is well-guarded and leads to a spacious waiting area of polished granite, marble, and molten quicksilver. Several offices, manned by the Mountain Dwarves known as the Stonefaced, flank the waiting area to discuss, refuse, or fulfill the requests of the Bank’s customers.

To the south is a hall that leads to another well-appointed waiting room, though there are no guards here, as only trusted customers make it this far. When a customer wishes to make a deposit, make a large withdrawal, or to inspect his holdings, they are brought here to verify their identity. From there, they are brought to the Vault where hundreds of private storage containers hold vast fortunes. At the rear, behind an heavily fortified enchanted door, is the famed Vault of Infinite Locks, which requires two enchanted keys and brings the owner’s belongings from a pocket dimension. Time in this vault does not pass, so some have paid vast sums to lock away dragons, demons, unearthly beauty, or terrible weapons.

“Once inside, the first thing you notice are the dozens of Dwarven guards that stand at mute attention against the walls. Each carries a triangular-bladed poleaxe and tower shield bearing a gold coin on a marble-speckled field. They wear pointed helmets, ringmail coats, and tightly braided beards. The well-lit hall, nearly as bright as daylight, has a highly polished floor, seemingly rippled in silver, that reflects the light of the hanging crystal lamps hanging from the slender, sharp-edged stone pillars. The walls are rough granite, but embossed grids of polished silver plates both reflect the internal light further, but depict some of the history of the Granite Bank.”

The Unbroken Forge – Part 3

Unbroken Forge Part 3

Unbroken Forge Part 3

“The heat in the domed hall is intense and the air almost dances with embers and soot from further inside. The bas reliefs on the walls are brought to life by the shifting patterns of heat behind them and the work of the great fire-dwarf craftsmen depicted there is reflected by the clanging of hammer on anvil coming from all sides.”

The final section of the Unbroken Forge is the forge itself. There are three main chambers to the north, south, and east where armor, weapons, and shields are made. Other rooms are the various finishing workshops and storerooms.

The central chamber has a domed ceiling and walls covered in bas reliefs depicting the almost religious nature of the fire-dwarves’ work here. Thick archways rising from the floor branch out onto the dome to create a complex design of ridges and lines. An experienced magic-user might recognize that this pattern weakens the barrier between this place and the Plane of Elemental Fire. Invisible ley lines link this room with the three forges and helps create the infernal heat necessary for their work.  Of course, depending on who now controls the Forge, these ley lines may not be active, but who can say what will happen (or come through the planar skein) when they are activated?

The Unbroken Forge – Part 2

Unbroken Forge Part 2

Unbroken Forge Part 2

“Ahead of you is a long rope-bridge in place of a stone bridge (of which almost nothing remains) and spans a great crevasse in the earth. Taller, deeper, and wider than your eyes can see, the very space seems to breathe with the sound of bellows. You can see the glow of torchlight on the other side. Below the bridge are several windows and a thin stream of molten slag pouring from a narrow drain. As you begin your crossing, however, another light ignites from a balcony above you and arrows begin raining down around you.”

The bridge is about 70 ft long from end to end, though the crevasse is larger. On the other side is a large and well-guarded cave.

This level contains several finishing workshops and jewelers along with several guardrooms. A pool of dark, mysterious water is used to quench certain pieces made by the fire-dwarves, but the secrets of its use were known only to the lost dwarves. Stairs going down lead to the Unbroken Forge itself. Part 3 of 3 is coming next week!

The Unbroken Forge – Part 1

Unbroken Forge Part 1

Unbroken Forge Part 1

“Past the antechamber with its statues clad in mirrored ceremonial armor, you see a wide hall with long steps and a narrow ramp leading down to a huge bronze door. Upon the thick doors are shaped two dwarf thanesguard holding pikes, their beards appearing ornately braided and capped and their bodies wreathed in flames. Beyond the sealed door you can hear hammer on anvil, the distant whoosh of bellows, and echoed orders. The Unbroken Forge is occupied once more, though one wonders if it’s the ancestral dwarves of legend, or some usurper seeking the forge’s power.”

 The Unbroken Forge was originally built by the now-extinct fire-dwarves of Borzen-khar, the Firelands, who, centuries ago, were renowned for their skill in creating terrible weapons and frightening armor, all imbued with their unique runecraft rumored to be native to the Plane of Elemental Fire.

The map features two main obstacles: the bronze doors at the bottom of the hall and the wide portcullis just beyond it.

West of the bronze doors are mostly storage rooms and a few plundered museum pieces (though hidden treasures might still be found!). To the north east is a private bazaar where the fire-dwarves sold their wares to the highest bidder.

Beyond the portcullis, a wide tunnel leads to Part 2 of 3 maps in this series.

Special Crafting Materials – Part 1

Dwarf-forged Plate and Warhammer

Alchemical Silver:

Used to create weapons that are mostly metal. Effective against lycanthropes, some demons and some undead. -1 to damage and to Save vs Destruction.

  • +2gp per 20 missiles
  • +10gp Small weapon
  • +50gp One-handed weapon
  • +100gp Two-handed weapon

While weapons bonded with alchemical silver are beautiful, they make the weapon softer. Werewolves, however, will often retreat at the sight of a silvered sword.

Adamantium:

Used to create all armor types, shields, and weapons.

All items are 10% heavier than normal, but retain their size category.

Armor and weapons cannot be destroyed by most natural means, such as acid, rust, or extreme heat, and resistant to magical destruction.

Armor gains -1 AC and wearer reduces damage taken by 1 point / armor category. Shields provide -2 AC bonus instead of -1, but no damage reduction.

Weapons gain +1 to hit and damage. Ammunition gain +1 to hit only.

All adamantium items gain +2 to Save vs destruction (such as by Ray of Disintegration that killed the wearer).

Cost:

  • +500gp Shield
  • +2500gp Light
  • +5000gp Medium
  • +7500gp Heavy
  • base cost x3 cost +1500gp for weapon
  • +60gp per 20 ammunition

This strange metal is only found naturally alloyed with iron in the cores of fallen stars, making this metal the rarest in Ark. However, once purified in a secret process, they may be forged in furnaces kept unnaturally hot by magical fire and molded by adamantium hammers into armor that absorbs shocks and is nearly indestructible.

Beasthide:

-1 AC, -10% weight. Light armor only.

If the beast had extremely thick skin it may provide an additional -1 AC at my discretion.

Cost: +50gp or +100gp, must provide the raw hide.

Some of the larger, more brutal beasts not commonly seen in Ark have thick, resilient hides that can be, with a bit of effort, turned into armor.

Bone and Chitin:

Used to create Scale, Splint, Banded, Shields, and Weapons. Half weight and considered one size category lower (minimum Light) for the purposes of meeting class requirements and movement penalties.

Half cost to Necromantic enchants.

Chitin shields provide a -2 AC bonus instead of -1.

Cost:

  • +700gp Shield
  • +1500gp Medium
  • +3500gp Heavy
  • +1500gp One-handed Weapons
  • +3000gp Two-handed Weapons

Bones and chitin are, by themselves, quite brittle and shatter under stress. However, their organic shapes and light weight fit the humanoid form quite naturally. Historically, they’ve been used mostly as ornamentation. Sometime in the last thousand years, some of the more advanced of the barbarian cultures have discovered a secret process involving natural resins and mineral baths to strengthen bones and chitin to rock-hardness. Some have even created gruesome weapons from large bones. It is rumoured that the Bone-hammer Brigade once bought the secret of bone armor from an Ice Giant Necromancer centuries ago in order to defeat the Fire Giants after the Battle of Numberless Tears; a purchase they came to regret.

Cold Iron:

Used to create weapons that are mostly metal. Effective against fey, demons, and some undead.

Cost: x2 base weapon cost (if enchanted add +1000gp). Include ammunition.

Mined from the deepest, darkest mines in Ark, Cold Iron must be forged at much lower temperatures in order to retain its special property: the disruption of dark magic. Due to its resistance to enchantment, creating magical weapons made of Cold Iron is a much more involved effort, since mithril cannot be used in its creation.

Dragonhide:

Used to create Leather, Studded, Scale, Banded, and Plate armor. Plate counts as Medium for the purposes of meeting class requirements and movement penalties.

-1 AC and energy resistance (1 points / HD of the dragon) based on the breath weapon of the dragon.

A Watsai crafter can make a suit of Leather, Studded, or Scale with an additional +1 point per HD of energy resistance.

Cost:

  • Base +250gp +250gp/2HD of dragon
  • +1000gp Light
  • +3000 Medium
  • +7000 Heavy

Dragon scales and horns were rare even before the Great War, but they are almost unseen these days. The Dragon Lord commanders often wore Dragonhide armor and the captured suits that survived are prized trophies of Conclave generals. Few in Ark know the secret of preserving the scales and leather together, but when successful, the wearer is well-protected from the element the dragon used.

Dwarf-Forged Steel:

Used to create all Medium and Heavy armor types, metal shields and weapons. Armor weighs +25% more than normal and retain their size category, except that, for a non-Dwarf, Scale is considered Heavy armor.

Dwarf-Forged Steel armor and weapons are difficult to destroy and gain +2 to Save vs destruction.

Weapons are built for Dwarven hands, so a two-handed weapon could be wielded one-handed by the larger races with a 15 STR, dealing weapon damage as normal (1d10, for example). This enables a Dwarf, Halfling or Gnome to wield a metal two-handed weapon that would normally be restricted, so long as they meet the same 15 STR requirement.

When worn by a Dwarf, armor and shields provide an addition -1 AC dodge bonus and weapons provide +1 to hit.

Cost:

  • +600gp Shield
  • +2500gp Medium
  • +5000gp Heavy
  • base cost x3 cost +500gp for weapon

Crafter must be a Dwarf or Gnome.

Many centuries ago, the Forge-city of Baruk-Khazad perfected a method of alloying steel with a secret metal to give the steel extreme resilience and strength. Some guess it is a gold-adamantium alloy, judging by the metal’s yellow tint, but every Forge-Master has denied it. The secret of Dwarf-Forged Steel is passed down from Master to Apprentice and never revealed to outsiders.

Ironwood:

Used to create Banded, Splint, and Shields and Weapons that are primarily made of wood. Half weight, but retain size category, half cost to Druidic enchants.

Druids that wear this type of armor move more easily in it, reducing movement penalties by half. Druids gain +1 to hit with Ironwood weapons.

Cost:

  • +100gp Shield
  • +350gp Banded
  • +450gp Splint
  • Base cost x2 for weapons

Found only in the heart of forests in Ark and, it is said, in a grove owned by Emperor of Xi Pai and protected by his Lightning Blade Guard. The wood from these trees takes centuries to grow and Druids are said to ask the trees to shape the armor, which are given to them to finish. Cutting down the Ironwood tree and shaping it yourself (if you have strong enough tools) is a quick way to earn the deadly ire of the Druids.

Mithril:

Used to create all armor types and shields. Half weight for Medium and Heavy armors, but they retain their size category, except Chain is considered Light for the purposes of meeting class requirements and movement penalties.

Half cost and time required to all enchants.

Half loss of mobility penalties (Heavy armor movement is 30’ and Medium armor movement is 35’).

If the crafter is an Elf, Medium and Heavy armor (but not Shields) worn by an Elf gain a -1 AC dodge bonus. Elven weapons gain +1 to hit.

Cost:

  • +500gp Shield
  • +750gp Light
  • +2500gp Medium
  • +4500gp Heavy
  • x2 to weapon cost + 750gp

Resembling silver, mithril is a rare metal used primarily by Elves and Dwarves. Extraordinarily light and strong, it can make armor as thin as a sheet of vellum, but strong as steel. Mithril is also said in Elven mythology to be a residue of the god’s touch during Arkelon’s creation, for it retains magical enchants very easily. Elves in particular have crafted mithril into armor and weapons that flows with them like the wind.

Waystation of the Bone Hammer Brigade

Dwarven WaystationWhile not exactly hidden, the Waystation’s location is known only by Dwarves of the Bone Hammer Brigade, a group of mercenaries known for recruiting ex-military who can’t make it in the Forge Cities and buying the conviction contracts of dangerous criminals who would rather pay off their contract than slave underground in the mines.

Next to the doors is a stone guard tower, about 30′ up. Of course, the hall inside is also well-guarded. Temporary quarters are to the north east and the dining hall, kitchens and pantry are on the far east. To the west is a meeting hall (or temporary barracks if required), several offices and storage rooms.

Hidden in the dining hall is a room where a relic of the Bone Hammer Brigade can be found or, perhaps, a way down.

Hope you guys enjoy it! This map was on graph paper with a 0.5mm black pen in one draft.

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Obsidian Shells and Silver Claws

The Chitinous Lair FinalObsidian Shells and Silver Claws: A short Labyrinth Lord adventure for a party of 4-6 players of Level 7-8

This adventure uses the Chitinous Beasts and the Chitinous Lair map. Also, if enough people ask for it, I’ll make a nice PDF version available for download.

The Foreman of a nearby mine, the Silverdepth Mine, has sent a wax-sealed letter by courier to find the party, whose deeds are well known. The message is scrawled quickly and with thick lettering:

“There has been an accident at Silverdepth Mine and I require your assistance with handling the aftermath immediately. A dozen of my men are dead or missing and I cannot open the mine until this situation is dealt with. I have heard of your party’s particular skills and I believe they will be useful here. I cannot say more in a letter, but I will gladly pay for your stay in town and offer a substantial reward for your group’s time.

“Thank you, Foreman Korrpin Glofor”

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