Tag Archives: secret

Blood Witches Coven

Blood Witches Coven

Blood Witches Coven

The cave entrance on the surface wards away intruders with the heads of men who dared challenge the coven of witches that dwell below. If the heads aren’t enough to dissuade casual visitors, the Glyph of Warding just underneath them might.

The entrance tunnel opens up into a large cavern with a babbling stream running through it. A stone bridge allows crossing, though the water isn’t really deep enough to be an effective barrier.

On the left is a windowless tower with a conical top, but a hidden door grants access. The obvious door in the center is trapped to seal when whoever opened it reaches the room on the other side. This leaves the unfortunate person in an empty courtyard, devoid of cover and surrounded by arrow slits 30′ up. Skeleton archers usually man the guard posts. A hidden exit leads to the last exterior feature, an octagonal platform with an elaborate ritual circle in its center.

Otherwise, there are small cells where the witches sleep, a small (but disorganized) library, and a temple to their bloody, goat-headed god. Only the witches’ matriarch, a swamp hag, has access to the males she keeps captive next to her rotten quarters.

“The sound of rushing water was reflected by the sound of shifting gravel as the party half-slid down the steep tunnel. Their thief had gone ahead to scout, but didn’t return after several hours. Assuming the worst, they headed down anyway to find him.

The tunnel opened up onto a high ledge in a huge cave, poorly lit by cracks in the ceiling and a brazier glowing next to a large wooden door in a cobblestone fort. Water flowed, fast and loud through the middle of the cave. The water flung itself from a stony waterfall into darkness and the sound drowned out all else. However, the elf spotted the thief’s head above the lip of a platform embedded in the fort’s walls. Oddly, the halfling thief just stood there on the edge staring at nothing. 

The Elf was about to shout to the halfling, but another figure slid from the darkness behind him. She had long, lank hair and a crone’s face. Standing behind the entranced halfling, she stroked his short hair, shot a hateful look at the party and drove her long, taloned fingers through the back of his neck.

As we rushed down the ledge, the hag pushed the halfling’s body off to thud wetly on the stone below. A bloody aura of black magic surrounded the hag and the sickening light it gave off slid behind her as she slowly moved back the way she came. The party collected themselves at the fort’s door and swore they wouldn’t rest until they had revenge for the murder of their comrade.”

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Barrow of King Winterwolf the Cold

Barrow of King Winterwolf the Cold

Barrow of King Winterwolf the Cold

Inspired somewhat by the numerous barrows featured in Skyrim, the anteroom has curved stone walls and weather-worn stone steps. Dried offerings in urns line the walls. The central room is locked and barred to prevent looting, but the north wall has crumbled somewhat where a log support has rotted through and collapsed. Stairs inside lead down to a tunnel.

South of the anteroom is where his loyal banner-men of Clan Umbra are interred and, perhaps, to guard the entrance to the rest of the barrow.

The north tunnel leads into a very large dining hall, though none no longer feast there. Below the balcony is a study table covered in fine earthenware and the dusty remains of the food that had been laid out when the barrow was sealed. Corridors on either side of the table lead to additional tombs.

To the North West, the corridors lead to trapped rooms and a hidden entrance into the barrow. It’s also the method by which the builders had left the barrow after it was sealed shut. To the East of the hall is where the King’s family and most trust guards are interred. Hidden there is a magic token that opens the hidden door into a temple of The Rivermaster, and where King Winterwolf and his second born son are interred.

Even after finding this chamber, the room is not very richly appointed. There is a final hidden door that leads to the treasure room where his enchanted armor Rimecoat and greatsword Frostblade are kept safe.

“The fat innkeeper had asked for a lot of gold for the location of Winterwolf’s Barrow; too much. He won’t be telling anyone else where we’ve gone, either. Now that we’ve found it, it doesn’t look like much, but it’s where he described. They were atop a tall, wind-swept hill of jagged rock that jutted out of the ground towards to the south, so they’d had to climb up from the north. Above the entrance was a stone wolf’s head with snarling jaws and a spiked collar and carved writing in the barbarian’s scratches was too faded to read. Snowdrifts piled against the arched entrance, but once they cleared it away, wide, icy steps went down on other side into the barrow. They split up to see if they’d meet up in the middle, but Rorge found a cave-in at the bottom and came back. Worthless offerings lined the plain walls, only a few coppers and silvers glittered in the whipping torchlight, but the handle-less door proclaimed in Runic, ‘Disturb not the resting Place of King Winterwolf the Cold and his Sons or be Cursed by the Gods.’ Rorge offered to break it down and threw his shoulder into it, but some magic thundered and threw him back to slam into the wall, crushing some old pottery. This would be a tough nut to crack, I figured, but at least we were in the right place.”

Fort Blackcove and the Forgotten Chambers – Part 2

The Forgotten Chambers

The Forgotten Chambers

Behind Fort Blackcove, built into a huge stony hill on the shore of a salty sea, there is a tunnel that is hidden when the tide is high and protected by treacherous rocks. During low-tide, though, the narrow opening can be found and the tunnel traversed. The current can be swift, however, so if one isn’t careful, one’s boat will be dashed on the rocks further downstream. If one is sharp, one will notice the stone ladder built into a ledge (once there was a rope ladder as well, but it has since rotted away). At the top of the dank ledge is a heavy door, perfectly sealed and rusted shut.

The old lords of Fort Blackcove learned not to open that door too often, for it may let the sea in, but they used the chambers to build a secret prison. In this prison the lords kept the captives they never wanted their allies to know about, where they could torture whomever they please and let them waste away in the damp darkness. The goalers never cared that it was originally built by Naga, only that none ever escaped. The serpentine artwork and frescos are painted over or washed away.

Over the years, the salt water and underground streams have worn away the walls around some of the rooms, causing floors to collapse and flooding during high tide. One cave has been worn away so far it’s nearly washed some of the cells away.

No one can say what might be found in the dark torture chambers that have been forgotten by all living men. Perhaps what remains are only anguished souls, a monstrous goaler who never left the defunct prison, or perhaps the Naga have returned to restore their outpost.

“You’ve hit yet another impasse. Ahead of you and to your left are thick iron bars, though rusted at their base. Behind you is the hidden passages you passed through to enter this gods-forsaken dungeon. To your right you can see the other side of the thick door that keeps out the seawater at high tide. The air here is moist and smells of salt and seaweed. In fact, everything below a handspan’s height on the wall is encrusted with salt and tiny sea-creature’s shells. As you’re looking around the walls for a way to raise one or the other portcullis, you hear a high-pitched screech that echoes from all directions. You hope that whatever did that is still on the other side of those bars and doesn’t know another way around…”

Fort Blackcove and the Forgotten Chambers – Part 1

Fort Blackcove

Fort Blackcove

The fort has been built into the side of a large rocky hill next to a salty sea and protected the nearby fishing village of Wainsgreen when both were still occupied by loyal subjects. Now the fort’s been restored and occupied by an organized and hostile force (perhaps hobgoblins or an outlaw militia) who know how to make the best of the arrow slits and murderholes at the front entrance.

There are several rumors that can be heard in some of the nearest villages:

  • Fort Blackcove has a secret back entrance.
  • Fort Blackcove once had a secret prison where prisoners the Lord despised could never see the light of day.
  • Naga once lived in the sea and built a hidden outpost that is now Fort Blackcove, though the old construction had been torn down.
  • During low-tide, an elderly, drunk fisherman who’d risked approaching the Fort was nearly sucked into a tunnel behind the hill.

The fort’s entrance features two 30’ tall square archer towers and several arrow slits above the reinforced door. In the hall on the other side are several murderholes for those same archers to pour boiling oil or crossbow bolts. Troops in the next room can try to keep invaders in the line of fire or trap them behind a portcullis.

The central chamber has a tall 40’ dome with a badly faded fresco of writhing serpents. The door to the north leads to the towers, the guardrooms, and a small jail. The door to the south leads to a small temple and library. The doors to the east lead to the lord’s chambers and other bedrooms, kitchens, and storage rooms.

One disused storage room, damp and moldy, has a secret door that opens into a cave of dark, still water. Flat stepping stones go across the water to a natural tunnel. From the other side, the secret door can be opened with a lever. The tunnel leads into a winding tunnel that leads to the Forgotten Chambers. (which will be posted next week)

“Your party seems to have found the old lord’s library, though you don’t expect to find much of interest here. Bookshelves line the sides of raised platforms upon which are chairs, desks, and more shelves. Most of them, however, have been smashed and their contents strewn on the floor. Most appear to be about military history and volumes on tactics. The lord’s interest in combat is further evidenced by several torn coat of arms hanging from the walls between shelves, though the crossed swords one would normally expect are missing. Your clever Thief remarks that a path through the fallen books has been cleared, so the room is almost certainly patrolled. Hopefully you can find the fort’s commander (and kill him) before being detected.”

The Treasury of Golden Zamud

Treasury of Golden Zamud

Treasury of Golden Zamud

“Gold-leaf trim on the walls weakly reflects your torchlight as you step lightly down the corridor, alert for traps. Occasionally, sand and debris fall from cracks in the ceiling; this place seems built for opulence, not durability. Ahead is a bejewelled door with an elaborate cog-lock that must be Zamud’s treasury. In your excitement, you notice too late that a stone slab shifts under your feet. The corridor rumbles and tonnes of sand, stone, and marble comes crashing down on your head. You dive backward and only end up half-buried. However, the corridor is blocked. There must be another way around or you go back with nothing.”

Collapsed ceilings, secret doors, hidden passages, and enticing golden treasure just beyond reach is the theme of this (small) map. Of course, clever use of resources, keen eyes, and maybe a treasure map will help locate and exploit them.

Dragonroost Chasm

Dragonroost Chasm

Dragonroost Chasm

Useful for any expedition into the lair of any large, winged reptile with a devastating breath weapon, the chasm in the center goes a long way towards keeping potential invaders out.

The structures in the South West were built by bandits who didn’t know a dragon lived on the other side of the chasm. The quickly discovered the error of their assumptions. Now, it’s a useful place for the dragon to keep a few loyal allies close by. Alternatively, the dragon may have hidden the cave entrance on the other side of the chasm and a clue of its existence (or that of the secret entrance) could be found here, since the dragon is too large to fit inside.

The chasm is wide enough that typical light sources cannot reach the other side, nor can they reach the bridge below them. Of course, the truly sadistic DM would make sure that, one way or another, they encounter something flying around in the dark that they did not expect.

Inside the dragon’s lair is a  large chimney up to the surface. Unless one sees the dragon flying out of it, they’d never spot it and only an expert mountaineer could hope to climb the sheer rock face. At the other end of the cavern is where the treasure horde, a clutch of eggs, or a few young drakes could be hidden.

I really enjoyed using this large, but straight-forward map in my game and I’ll probably use it again. Let me know if you use it too!

Also, Happy New Years to my readers and here’s a toast to always making your saving throw!

The Den of Lord Sharptooth – Level 2

Wererat Den Level 2

Wererat Den Level 2

The narrow caves and tunnels of the Wererat’s Warrens are perfect for ambushes.

On the west side is a pit trap that leads into a pincer attack from the two structures on either side of the cave.

While on the east side the cave splits into many short branches that make it easy to be be surrounded.

At the rear is the cavern where the secret of Lord Sharptooth may be discovered.

This map was created using a 0.5mm pen on graphpaper in one draft. Hope you guys enjoy it!