The Shade Isle Campaign
Shade Abbey 1A
The Palatial Fortress of Acrefatum
The main level of Shade Abbey is a fortified temple and palace, where the priests of the Church of Acrefatum conduct their strange rites and initiate new converts or break in new slaves, soldiers, and other servants in their employ. The walls here are all a lightly-polished gray-blue stone, and the corridors tend to have iron sconces spaced about twenty feet apart, with torches (almost always unlit unless a large party has passed by recently) kept set in them at all times.
There are no peculiar features endemic to this dungeon-level, except for the droning, sinister chants and prayers that drift into the corridors near large, heavily-populated rooms. Random encounters occur with ordinary frequency, but 50% of the time they’re level one wandering monsters and 50% of the time it’s a wandering patrol of abbey priests, guards, or other followers of Acrefatum.
Event: When the adventuring company returned to Shade Abbey in December of 916, they found the Palatial Fortress occupied by a small tribe of hobgoblins, which the party had encountered before in the wilderness. Connor had already made some inroads into befriending them; now they respect the gnome as both a shaman and honorary tribe-member. Because of this, the hobgoblins allow the company to pass freely through they rooms they control (mainly areas 16 and 22).
1. Main Entrance. The gates to the palace-fortress are of stone, with Grim Reaper figures caved onto their outer faces in bas-relief. They are set into the rock of the side of Thunder Table, in a depression hewn into the stone which is 70’ wide, 60’ high, and 40’ deep. A detail of six guards is usually stationed outside the gates. (Or at least, that was the case before the adventuring company assaulted the front doors with techno-magical flame-throwers.)
2. Foyer. An entry-hall draped with blood-red tapestries up near the ceilings, another six guards waited here to reinforce the detachment outside.
3. South Tower. The towers are three levels high. The bottom floor, on this level has only a hay-pile in the corner.
3a. The 2nd level had four guards lounging about, off-duty.
3b. The 3rd level had two more guards, standing watch.
A fight with the adventuring party in area 4, during the PCs’ first foray into this dungeon, drew all the guards down out of the tower to join the melee.
4. Guard Post. There were five guards here, alerted by the sounds of the fight at the front gates; they were holding defensive positions around this area when the PCs attacked.
5. Guards’ Lounge. Furnished with simple but comfortable chairs and tables, with playing cards and trashy romance novels scattered about.
6. Stables. A single groom cared for the two war-horses stabled-here; the PCs knocked him out and tossed him into the third, unoccupied stall. What happened to him after that, nobody knows.
7. Storeroom. A large room stacked high with crates and kegs in very precarious arrangement.
8. North Tower. As with the South Tower, there are three levels here. The ground floor is quarters to four scarred slaves, fanatically loyal to the cult; despite being unarmed and effectively helpless noncombatants, they attacked the PCs on sight and wouldn’t relent until slain.
8a. The 2nd floor was filled with burned corpses when the PCs searched this area on a later (3rd or 4th) push into the dungeon’s upper levels. A single animated skeleton berserker was hiding among the corpses here.
8b. The 3rd floor was filled with loose rubble and bricks, as if partially collapsed. Hidden among the loose stones was a lockbox, trapped with a poisoned needle and containing a bit of gold and an elfsteel dagger.
9. Side Chamber, West. This room was mostly bare, except for a broken and defaced statue of Thünor, the thunder-god.
10. Trash Room. Piled high with rotting rubbish.
11. Fodder Stores. Horse-feed, saddles, bridles, riding-tack. Also a chest, trapped with a spring-loaded blade, which contained only worthless rocks.
12. Mudroom. Cloaks, boots, knapsacks, miscellaneous traveling-gear.
13. Armory. A side-chamber full of weapon ranks, mainly spears, swords, maces, and hammers. There were a few shields, a few suits of leather armor, one suit of decorative maille—which the PCs discovered was coated on the inside with a kind of itching-powder.
14. Guards’ Mess. Five long tables, close together, with simple wood and clay dishes, and a couple of huge fire-pits with giant cook-pots on the east end of the chamber.
15. Secret Magazine. Here was where the priests kept all of their guns, powder, and grenades. A magical trap caused several loaded flintlocks to animate and fire at the PCs when they first entered here.
16. Grand Hall. This huge hall has eight columns and a 20’ deep spiked pit in the center. When the PCs discovered this place, they found four guards watching as four acolytes, under the direction of a red-robed priest, partook in an evil ritual. The acolytes prayed and chanted, while four prisoners, tightly bound with ropes, were pushed toward the spiked pit.
17. Priests’ Dining Hall. A much more comfortable and lavish dining-room than the guards’ mess at 14, all of the dishes here were of pewter, and two zombies in fine servants’ uniforms work at slowly and awkwardly clearing the tables. These zombies were completely uninterested in combat; no matter what the PCs did, they kept at it.
19. Side Chamber, East. A broken and defaced statue of the queen of the gods, Freya, stands against the north wall here. When the PCs searched through the rubble here, they found a discarded mana stone here containing a charm person spell.
20. Kitchen. A mostly ordinary kitchen, except for one cupboard, locked. The PCs detected magic coming from the cupboard door, and so they left it alone, assuming the presence of a magic trap.
21. Pantry. Lots of fresh food and large wine-casks.
22. Throne Room. This chamber is surrounded by gallery seats, with a statue of Domstag against the north wall (like all such statues the PCs have encountered, it’s hewn from a very dark rock, like basalt, and depicts a grim three-faced, bearded man with the center face staring blankly, the rightward face scowling angrily, and the leftward face contorted in pain); and an ivory-and-mahogany throne against the south wall.
The room was unoccupied when the PCs first found it. They discovered a catch in the arm-rest of the throne that caused the whole 10’ section of south wall to spin around into a secret room beyond (area 23), taking the throne with it.
23. Secret Workshop. Here, the PCs found a number of bizarre constructs: solid torsos carved from solid granite, but also stone arms and legs with articulated joins—which animated and began to flop around harmlessly whenever anyone approached. It was difficult to tell whether they were the result of golem-craft or mechanology, but Henrik suspected sorcery was at work.
A secret door to the northwest led to a kind of slide or chute that spiraled down into darkness; the PCs have not yet dared to test where it goes.
24. Monks’ Cells. Four bedrooms containing spartan beds and writing-desks, there were a couple of acolytes here who attacked the intruding PCs on sight and zealously fought to the death.
25. Tabernacle. This room was locked initially. The PCs picked the lock and peered inside, where a priest and his troll assistant were busy blessing a pile of communal bread. The priest, angry at having his work interrupted, order the troll to attack. The PCs responded by taking one of the powder-kegs from area 15 out of their bag of holding, dropping a torch onto the top of it, and running for cover. The troll opened the door and got blasted in the face; then the PCs stormed back into the room and took out the priest. (This was where their very first foray into Shade Abbey ended; after having explored pretty much the entire southwest quadrant of the dungeon-floor, they retreated back to camp to rest.)
26. Shooting Range. This room has three archery-targets set up on the south wall. When the PCs arrived, the Abbey’s Range-Master, Quissler the gnome, was practicing here. Deliah managed to charm him, and Quissler remained a follower of the adventuring company for several days that followed, at least until he shrugged off the charm and escaped early one morning.
27. Forge. This room was occupied by Lunkin the smith, a grizzled old dwarf working at an anvil, and Takhbork, his goblin assistant, manning the bellows. When the party found the forge, they found two workers annoyed at being interrupted, but not overtly hostile. (Just to be on the safe side, Deliah charmed Lunkin too; after that, the dwarf became more receptive to questioning, but he didn’t know much about the abbey beyond his own business of smithing weapons.) The PCs wound up leaving Lunkin and Takhbork to their work.
28. Forge Storage. Smith’s tools and crates containing coal, coke, raw iron ore, and stacks of unworked steel blanks.
29. Offering Fane and Stairs Down. The center of this room has a triple-faced statue of Domstag above an altar with three affixed stone bowls, all of which contain a few fresh eyeballs (one of which was actually an amber gemstone, found by Viktor). A dozen one-eyed cultists were all moaning, praying, and kowtowing to the statue here.
The PCs attacked this room, but the cultists for the most part ignored them, considering their attack a test of devotion and allowed themselves to be cut down without fighting back. The PCs spared one cultist, only to use him first to test the magical altar in area 30; then they chucked him down the stairs back here in room 29, where something dragged the cultist into the shadows and noisily killed him. (As of yet, the PCs haven’t dared these stairs yet either.)
30. Chapel. This room is filled with rows of pews and an altar, all made of polished stone. The altar registered as dangerous when Connor cast detect danger on it. An inscription on the front of the altar reads, “rest here, ye faithful, and reap the boon of thy worth.” The PCs tried to test the altar, first by putting inanimate objects upon it, and then trying a snake charmed cobra, but neither had any effect.
Then, after rampaging through area 29 and taking one of the cultists prisoner, the PCs threw him on the altar. The room shook, and a deep voice boomed, “UNWORTHY!”, and the cultist suddenly caught fire. He rolled off the altar, burned and scarred, and started sobbing over the fact that his god apparently found him unworthy.
Later, Conner decided to risk the altar after casting resist fire on himself. The instant he lay down, he was forced to roll a saving throw; Connor normally makes a saving throw 40% of the time (1-8 on 1d20), but resist fire grants +2 to save against fire effects, so this bumped up his chances of saving to 50%; Connor wound up rolling a 9 on his save, which meant that when the room again started quaking and the voice declared, “UNWORTHY!”, the gnome was able to roll away before he could be burned… but as to what happens when someone who lies down on the altar is declared worthy (assuming that ever happens), the PCs haven’t been able to find out yet.
A secret room in the northeast corner of the chapel was found to contain sets of priestly vestments, some bread and wine, and a bejeweled gold chalice worth 650 silver pieces.
31. Priests’ Lounge. This was the first room that the party decided to explore during their very second foray into Shade Abbey. They found the doors locked; new party-members Gibli and Deliah took point. Gibli picked the lock, and Deliah, disguised as a cultist, peeked her head inside. There, an abbey priest, Father Boermund, was entertaining a slave-trader from Dolheim, Fritzhelm, and his three guards. Deliah asked the priest if he needed anything, and Boermund shooed her away with a request for fresh fruit and more wine for the guests.
Instead, Henrik rolled a canister of hallucinogenic compound into the room. The guards started freaking out and fighting each other; Father Boermund zenned out, stoned by a psychedelic trip; and Fritzhelm saved and tried to escape to the south. Deliah charmed Fritzelm while the rest of the party took care of the guards; and then she charmed Boermund too. After that, the party decided to dress up as cultists and use Boermund and Fritzhelm to lead their explorations—a ruse that only lasted until they went two rooms east, into the library at room 33.
32. Storeroom. This was a closet lined with almost empty shelves, containing a few sacks and boxes, some tools, and some linens. Under a crate, there was a spitting cobra; Connor snake charmed the cobra and threw him into the bag of holding. (Sometime later, he was able to use speak with animal to converse with and befriend the snake; now “Salazar Slithering” is Connor’s friend and animal companion.)
33. Great Library. This huge chamber is packed tight with bookshelves, barely two feet apart, and with a row of writing-desks against the east wall. The library was occupied by a number of 1st level druids and sorcerers ( acolytes and mediums), all browsing the stacks and studying.
The PCs tried to pass themselves off as cultists, but one of the mediums became suspicious at the way Father Boermund was deferring to Connor and Deliah and attacked. All of the mediums proved to have magic missile memorized, while the priests, being acolytes, could only attack with daggers. Boermund was killed in the ensuing fight (to say nothing of a quintet of bookshelves, laid low by a grenade).
Connor and Deliah found several spells that they could learn here, both divine and arcane, although the vast majority of the books were about insane philosophy or evil theology. Henrik, sadly, found no blueprints, formulas, or schematics of any sort.
34. Scriptorium. The center 30′ × 30′ of this room are five feet below ground-level, accessible by four short flights of stairs. Six writing desks here contained numerous writings: a scroll of levitation and scribbled notes left here by monks at various times:
a) “Reunite the stone god to open the way.”
b) “We give our eyes that HE may see through US.”
c) “All work and no play makes Janosz a dull monk,” written over and over.
d) “Domstag endures in all that we see.”
e) “Acre-Fatum: we are the church of that most Bitter Fate.”
f) “I mean to follow the prints in the dust.”
Some of it cryptic, some of it crazy, the PCs nevertheless paid attention to the writings, at least in one instance.
35. Blood-Pit and Warded Stair. Here, a large three-hdead Domstag statue looms over a 15’ deep pit with a thick layer of blood and gore and organs at the bottom of it. To the south, a 20’ wide staircase ascends 60’ up and south. At the top of the stair is a set of stone double-doors.
The PCs discovered that both the doors and the Domstag statue were warded with a powerful abjuration. Normal weapons directed at either would be blunted or destroyed. Elfsteel weapons bounced off, sometimes with such force that they would be flung back and stuck partway into the chamber’s stone walls.
One other peculiar feature: the Domstag statue had a kind of slot up between and behind the three heads. The faces of the statue were pointed north, east, and west; climbing up the back (south) side of the statue (which Connor did) revealed a kind of 12" wide, roundish depression with smaller, 5" circular hole in the bottom of it.
This proved to fit a kind of key that the PCs recovered from area 39, although it wasn’t exactly as simple as all that; but once the key was inserted, the ward on the doors was dropped, granting access up to the Rectory.
36. Sacrificial Altar. This strange chamber has a large stone altar, painted (yes painted) with fake dried blood. A headless bronze statue faces north, looking in the direction of the altar.
The PCs decided that this whole chamber looked too phony to fool with, although it was out of the way enough that they were able to barricade the doors and sleep here safely for a night.
37. Goblin Barracks. Smelly, foul barraks with lots of double-bunk-beds arranged in haphazard fashion, along with a bunch of footlockers, mostly containing pieces of shoddy iron armor. Also found in this room: a great big clay urn, 4’ in diameter, the top likewise sealed with clay, but having a slot in it like a piggy-bank. The PCs shattered this, and sure enough, they found a pile of billon, copper, and iron coins.
38. Hobgoblin Quarters. Several beds in here, neatly arranged. When the PCs peeked in here, they found a number of goblins standing in a ring, hooting and cheering while four hobgoblins beat the snot out of five more goblins. The arrival of the PCs ended the fight and turned the goblins’ attention to the interlopers; in the ensuing brawl, all of the goblins and the hobgoblins (and the gnolls from next door) were killed.
*38a. The small, semi-circular chamber behind the hobgobins’ quarters contained a great bronze head (depicitng a bearded man’s face, vaguely Hellenistic or Sumerian in style). The party realized that this head probably completed the bronze statue in area 36; but instead of taking there, they decied to remove the head from the dungeon altogether. What followed was a sweaty, noisy retreat from the dungeon, as they pushed and dragged and rolled the head all the way outside, and then down to their camp. There, Connor examined the thing more closely and found that the neck was actually a gray stone plug of sorts, which he removed from the bronze head completely; this proved to be the key that would fit perfectly into the slot of the Domstag statue in room 35.
39. Gnoll Quarters. Gnolls of Færith are not hyena-headed beastmen; they are freakishly strong, semi-magical goblin-troll hybrids who supernaturally exude light-blotting shadows around themselves wherever they go. Consequentially, the five gnolls dwelling in this chamber caused it to be plunged into complete darkness, even to the point of defeating the party’s mundane light-sources and light spells. They shouted into the room, “Where’s the head?” (having realized at this point that they were probably looking for a statue-head somewhere, and this being one of the last rooms left on the dungeon-level to explore.) The gnolls laughed with eerie, sucking breaths, and then hissed out of their shadowy room that the hobgoblins had it. This sent the PCs over to room 38, where a fight broke out. At that point, the gnolls finally emerged from their lair, to fatal results for them.
A circular seam in the stone floor in the southeast corner of this chamber proved to be a round stone plug, which the party was able to lift up with some effort. This revealed a round, well-like shaft that plunged straight down to some kind of lit chamber filled with shimmering water. The PCs tossed a goblin-body down the shaft, and something in the water—something rather piranha-like—very quickly buzzed the goblin-corpse, reducing it to bones and a blood-cloud in the water. Needless to say, the PCs chose not to explore down the shaft.
39a. The semi-circular secret chamber east of the gnoll lair contained a chest with 2,000 silver pieces and a cursed scroll of blindness. (The PCs would later wind up stashing this between the pages of Patriarch Pallidech’s personal diary, up on the Rectory level.)