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Engdyr’s Gameby John Calvin from Threshold Magazine issue 17
[Image: Engdyr’s Game AP]
A Mystara 2300 BC Adventure Path
Part I - Journey North
The Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path will take PCs on a journey through the Shimmering Lands and introduce them to the bizarre and fantastic technomagical world of the Moadreg dwarves, last inheritors of ancient Blackmoor. They will contend with the mad dwarven elder, Engdyr Heldfyst, and his plot to silence all living things within his domain. However, even as Engdyr attempts to remove the hateful living creatures around him, a new form of life may be stirring… one created by accident by the mad dwarf himself.
This adventure path is intended to introduce DMs and Players to the Mystara 2300 BC setting in general, and to the Shimmering Lands and its inhabitants specifically. Players will start on the plains of the northern province of Kargthyne, but from there they will be sent across the Shimmering Lands. During their journeys the PCs will be introduced to all facets of life in the Shimmering Lands, from the fiery forges of the Yardrak dwarves in Himmevand to the gnomish controlled hills of Qivar. As their careers advance, PCs may have the opportunity to gain dominions of their own within the dwarven lands, meeting the movers and shakers of the Elder Conclave and even possibly determining the fate of the dwarven nation on Brun.
Articles comprising this adventure path will attempt to provide much of the information required to run a campaign in these lands, however it will be impossible to cover all aspects of game play and the source material. Additional references can be found in the following sources:
Mystara 2300 BC Campaign Setting Overview [http://pandius.com/Mystara2300BC_SettingOverview.pdf]
GazBC 1, The Shimmering Lands DM's Guide [http://pandius.com/GazBC1_DMs.pdf]
GazBC 1, The Shimmering Lands Player's Guide [http://pandius.com/GazBC1_Players.pdf]
Map of the Shimmering Lands [http://pandius.com/m_shiml.html]
As winter approaches, the PCs make their way to the northern gatherhold1 of Kairhyeld. Forces are gathering in the northern province of Karghthyne spurred by innumerable rumors in the region. Some grumble that the beastmen of Urzud have encroached too far east, while others muse that the giants of Grondheim may be preparing a major offensive. Merchants and mercenaries alike are flocking to the gatherhold, eager to find some fortune to win. With all the activity in the area, only one thing is certain - things are happening in Karghthyne, and no one wants to be left out of the action!
PCs must make their way through the wilds of the northern Shimmering Lands to the stronghold of Kairhyeld, where they will become embroiled in the plots and schemes of Ryndis Heldfist, and her brother Engdyr. They will find a base of operations within Kairhyeld from which they can draw supplies, meet contacts, and interact with the important organizations of the region.
From Kairhyeld, the PCs will once again journey into the wilds, this time to explore the mysterious ruins of Lahash.
Design Notes: Part I of the Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path, is designed to introduce PCs to the Mystara 2300 BC setting and the borderlands of the Shimmering Lands. At the same time it can also be used to showcase the lifestyle of the Moadreg (one of solitude, reflection, and study), and some of their staunchest enemies including Grondheim, extra planar entities, and even the dwarves themselves.
The newly liberated ruins of Layhash may lead PCs to new and exciting discoveries, revealing ancient weapon caches and unthought of magical equipment. Once cleared the estate may be used as a base of operations by the PCs and may eventually be an available dominion.
At its heart, this is a wilderness exploration adventure, where the PCs can have some real skin in the game, and a real opportunity to break into the political arena of the Shimmering Lands.
Act I - Leaving Demhyeld
Most of the Shimmering Lands are wild and untamed, dotted by random oases of civilization throughout the realm. The few cities are located mostly along the coasts and populated mostly by gnomes and the disenfranchised, while the dwarven elders prefer to maintain residences on isolated estates in the wilderness. Journeying through these lands can always be dangerous, however there is a commonly traveled path from Demhyeld along the eastern shores to Kairhyeld in the north.
[Image: Path to Kairhyeld]
Design Notes: The first Act in the adventure is designed to introduce the PCs to the Mystara 2300 BC setting, the Shimmering Lands, and dwarven culture. They will experience the northern wilds, and will be able to interact with other travelers in order to get a sense about what kind of world they are adventuring in.
Why the PCs are traveling to Kairhyeld is left up to the DM, however several possible reasons are presented below:
Making their Fortune
While many dwarves in the Shimmering Lands would prefer to spend their time in solitary studies, the active pursuit of such a lifestyle requires vast amounts of gold and resources. While few dwarves ever achieve the title of Elder and acquire an estate of their own to manage, most strive for such accomplishments. The northern realm of Karghthyne is still seen as a land of opportunity by many in the Shimmering Lands - a place where one can make one’s fortune and find a quiet piece of land to settle down on afterward.
Pursuing a Foe
The northern wilds are a common destination for people who are looking to escape their problems and start their lives over. If the PCs have a vendetta against anyone, it is possible that they fled to Karghthyne (and perhaps even beyond) in order to avoid the PC’s wrath. Perhaps they stole something that the PCs need or desire. Perhaps the PCs are on the trail of someone who hurt their family or friends.
Discovering their Heritage
It is known far and wide in the Shimmering Lands, that the lone mountain, Hrokyrdran2, was once an outpost of Blackmoor not more than 700 years ago. For many this site represents a connection to that lost heritage, but for shades3 who have recently emerged from the Gate of Light the connection is even stronger. A large community of shades has gathered around the mountain, and there they attempt to understand their existence and to reclaim a heritage that was lost to them in the Great Rain of Fire.
Searching for Magic
Rumors abound of the vast magical treasure troves from ancient Blackmoor that can still be found in the north, and many enterprising dwarves are determined to prove them true. Some say that a lightning bridge lies in the depths of Hrokyrdran, or that one of the lost earthshakers4 is hidden just under the permafrost of the northern plains. Though none of these rumors have proven to be true, the PCs may want to conduct their own investigations.
Karghthyne is one of the younger provinces in the Shimmering Lands, established by Dranwyrf nearly a decade after the founding of the nation as homesteading territory for the dwarven clans arriving from Skothar. Felwig dwarves dominate these lands, and have served as the first line of defense against Antalians and giants of the north.
The windblown tundra of the northwestern Shimmering Lands stretches from the tree line bordering Demehvand past the lone mountain of Hrokyrdran. Grasses and sedges dominate, with small shrubs dotting the landscape closer to the tree line. The ground freezes during winter months, especially in the northern territory. The forested highlands of the south support a myriad of wildlife including rabbits, deer, lynx, foxes, and other small predators. Herds of caribou roam the northern tundra, along with packs of wolves and the occasional saber-toothed cat. Extreme winters sometimes bring remorhaz5 and even small troops of yeti.
Few natural resources have been discovered in the wilds of Karghthyne, though the Felwig dwarves who live there are industrious. Exotic ore mined from Hrokyrdran is traded throughout the Shimmering Lands and used in the forging of many magical items. Slaves also come through Karghthyne, as mercenary bands and Free Companies capture hill giants and human barbarians from the frozen lands of the north.
This is the trail from Demhyeld through the Imyrluran Forest to the Ford of Meghdul. Also known as the Lost Forest, or Forgotten Woods, Imyrluran has a reputation for being a place from which no one returns. A few trails do exist through the forest, and tradition holds that travelers can buy their lives from the woods in return for throwing in some item of value.
The rough, and sometimes overgrown trail makes it a 3 day trek through the forest to the Ford of Meghdul, but the party’s journey will depend upon whether or not they choose to follow traditions and placate the forest.
Imyrluran Forest is dark and foreboding, and rumors abound that it is haunted by restless spirits eager to reclaim from the living what they have lost in death.
[Image: The Forest of Imyrluran]
Placating the Forest
Should the PCs choose to follow traditions and placate the forest before beginning their journey, their encounters within it will be greatly reduced. Subtract 1 for each 5 gp sacrificed by the party (in total) from all random encounter rolls. Any number 0 or below indicates that there is no encounter for that day.
Should the PCs choose to ignore traditions (or should they make a sacrifice after their first day of travel), the encounters they face in the forest will be much greater. Roll on the random encounter table normally. In this case, the Haunt Encounter will happen on the last night of their journey before leaving the forest (even if they have encountered haunts before with a random roll).
Leaving the Trail
It is rumored that once off the established pathways, no amount of bargaining can prevent one’s disappearance into the forest. The PCs may be able to avoid this fate even if they leave the trails, however dangers off of established pathways increase greatly, and the forest itself seems reluctant for them to leave. Add 5 to each random encounter roll in the forest. In addition, each morning the PCs must perform a successful Survival Check or be lost in the forest for an additional 1d3 days before finding their way back to the path.
[Table 1: Weather in Imyrluran]
Roll 2d20 on each day that the party travels through the forest6.
[Table 2: Random Encounters Imyrluran]
In addition to the random encounters listed above, the following events will happen at some point along the trail.
I1 - Impish Theft
The trail through this portion of the forest is dense and thick with overgrowth, allowing little light to seep in from the canopy above. As you contemplate the oppressive atmosphere surrounding you, the bushes on one side of the trail begin to rustle. Leaves part and branches crack, as three growling and misshapen forms rush out from the forest toward you.
On the first day along the trail a small band of 1d3 imps leap out of the forest and disrupts the campsite. The imps rush in and grab one item of value before attempting to flee back into the forest. The PCs have 2 rounds to stop them before they are gone forever. Should PCs decide to try and track the imps, see the section “Leaving the Trail” above.
1d3 Imps HD 1, AC 5, hp 3
I2 - Fiendish Screams
Sounds in the forest have never been pleasant. It is almost as if there were a constant stream of screams ringing out in the distance… sometimes barely perceptible before drifting closer and then back away again. As you listen, you notice that the screams are steadily becoming louder. Suddenly they surround you, disembodied and blood curdling cries that buffet the wind around your campsite.
Fiendish screaming interrupts the camp in the middle of the night, waking up all PCs and disrupting their sleep for the day. All those who hear the screaming must save vs Paralysis or suffer from severe paranoia for the next 1d4 days. Those suffering from the paranoia will be unable to get any rest and will suffer all ill effects from that state (fatigued7 and unable to regain spells).
I3 - Haunting Apparitions
An ice cold breeze passes over you. Shuddering from the chill, you rub your eyes, revealing pale white images surrounding the outskirts of your camp. Silently they stare at you, for what seems like an eternity, and then begin to creep slowly toward you.
On the last night that the party camps in the forest, they will be visited by a Haunting Apparition, hungry spirits lost to the depredations of the malignant woods. The apparition manifests itself as a group of ghostly white and semi-transparent dwarven warriors standing around the PC’s campsite. The spirits will continue to stand, glaring at the PCs until one of them takes notice and raises the alarm. At that point the apparition will begin to slowly move toward the party, with one or more of the ghostly dwarves targeting each member.
[Image: Apparitions Attack]
Individual ghostly members of the apparition can be turned and destroyed by a cleric, but otherwise the apparition can not be harmed in any way. It will take the dwarven apparitions 1d3 rounds to converge on their target at which point the PC must make a save vs Death Ray or suffer a random ability drain of 1 point. After the apparition attacks, it disappears whether it was successful or not. Ability scores will recover at the rate of 1 point per day after a full night’s rest and a successful Constitution Check.
1d2 Apparitions (per PC) HD 1, AC -, hp -
Act II - Meghdul Ferry
Meghdul Ferry Station
The ferry caravan station is located in the hex above the Battle of Meghdul. While most dwarves (and other inhabitants of the Shimmering Lands) disdain traveling upon water, it is much easier to transport goods and supplies by ferry than it is to transport them overland, and the Meghdul Ferry is the quickest, and safest, way to transport supplies and passengers to Kairhyeld from the eastern Shimmering Lands.
Meghdul Ferry Station sits nestled in the forest on the southern shores of the Khyrnde River. It is a small stone structure surrounded by a stone and wood palisade with a single bronze reinforced gate. The ferry guards rotate their duties, with 2 of the 10 guards manning the station while the others accompany the ferry. The station serves as a barracks for the guardsmen as well as a hostel for travelers waiting for the ferry. Up to 15 people can bunk here comfortable while they wait for the ferry to arrive. Guards allow entry to the station to any traveler with a satisfactory story and disposition, but will only open the gates during daylight hours.
Unbeknownst to the PCs a dark threat is marshalling from the forest near the Battle of Meghdul8. Restless undead from the unhallowed battleground have plagued the area for decades, but a recent arrival has begun marshalling them into a cohesive force. For several months the undead have been gathering, and are now preparing to overrun the ferry station. Each night that the PCs stay at the station, there is a 5% cumulative chance that the undead band will attack.
M1 - Undead Brigands
Several weeks ago aetherial spiders9 found the battleground of Meghdul and began animating some of the more intact corpses. They have built up enough strength to begin foraging beyond the battleground graveyard.
You can see dark forms shambling across the open field and toward the Ferry Station compound. As corpses and skeletons long deceased stumble and stagger along, you can see a faint glow eminating from within their carcesses. Their movements appear to be controlled by large ghostly spiders attached along their spinal columns and limbs.
Several bands of undead attack the outpost, however the overall outcome of the battle should be based on the accomplishments of the PCs. If the PCs are successful with their encounter, the ferry station has been successfully defended, however if the PCs loose their confrontation then the station is overrun.
While the guards and other travelers rush to meet the onslaught, a single band moves towards the PC’s position. The brigand band consists of one dwarven ghoul and three dwarven skeletons, all with translucent spiders attached to their backs or throughout their innards. Once slain, the spidery remains decompose quickly into green goo and semi-corporeal cobwebs that disperse in the night breeze.
Dwarven Ghoul HD 2, AC 6, hp 10
Dwarven Skeletons (3) HD 1, AC 7, hp 4
Once the undead are defeated, the PCs have time for a short rest before a single giant form comes lumbering forward. It is the corpse of a recently slain giantkin10 with another of the translucent spiders attached to its head.
Giantkin Zombie HD 3, AC 8, hp 17
Once the battle is over the PCs may find the following treasure amongst the corpses.
2d20 + 20 cp, 2d10 + 10 sp, and 1d20 gp
1d4 gems, each worth between 5 gp to 10 gp
An ancient necklace made of silver worth 75 gp
The Spider Sword (See Sidebar)
[Sidebar: Spider Sword]
Ferry Journey Time
The ferryman is a disagreeable dwarf by the name of Merigk Dhul. His family has resided in the Meghdul region since before that gatherhold was razed. Rumors abound that the Dhul’s once ruled here, though Merigk only ever guffaws at such suggestions. He is a dour, grizzled old dwarf who’s only concern is getting the ferry to Kairhyeld and back on schedule.
Merigk Dhul (NE M Dwarf Fighter 5)
A round trip journey from the Forest of Meghdul to Kairhyeld, and back again, takes anywhere from 24 - 31 days to traverse, and the ferry is expected to make the journey once every month. When the PCs arrive at the station they will have to wait 2d6 days before the ferry arrives. The guards can give an approximate time-frame, but won’t be able to pinpoint the actual day of arrival.
PCs may choose to wait for the ferry, or to press on by themselves. Should they press on by themselves, the journey will be much more dangerous (add 5 to the random encounters Caravan Table dice roll). Otherwise, the following NPCs will arrive one at a time sometime during their stay. Their arrival time can be determined by the DM, but they will all arrive before the next ferry leaves.
Perrin Teikar (CN F Shade Rogue 2)
Years ago Perrin found herself manifested outside of the Gate of Light in Himnem. Since then she has been determined to discover the secrets of her past. Hearing that a large population of shades had made a home near Hrokyrdran, she is making a pilgrimage to that region. Perrin hopes that someone there can give her more clues to her own past.
Perrin’s starting attitude is indifferent, unless there is a shade among the PCs in which case it changes to friendly. It requires a moderate effort to change her attitude. If made friendly, Perrin will share the following information:
“There is something about being near to Hrokyrdran that grants shades like me corporeality. I suppose that’s why a large community of my kind has been drawn there. In Hrokyrdran I can live a fairly normal life… well… at the very least I’ll be able to feel the touch of another.
“I’m not sure what kind of power in Hrokyrdran allows this, but I suspect it is related to the radiance. There are only two places in the world where I’ve heard that shades gain substance - in Hrokyrdran and at the Gates of Light… though there we have solidity only while the Gates are open.
[Table 3: Perrin Teikar’s Reactions]
Thgel Ghedda (LE M Dwarf Wizard 1)
Thgel left the gatherhold of Kohlgor after a dispute with his clan leader that left half a dozen other Yardrak dwarves dead or dying. Now he is looking to make his fortune as a prospector near Hrokyrdran, hoping to stumble upon some treasure spewed forth from the mysterious mountain. While not overly paranoid, he does fear reprisals from his clan and is weary of anyone who tries to gain his confidence.
Thgel’s starting attitude is unfriendly. It requires a great effort to change his attitude. If made friendly, Thgel will share the following information:
“I heard many stories of the riches of Hrokyrdran before I was forced to leave my gatherhold by those miscreants there. It is a magical place of great power… some say from a bygone age. If there are secrets hidden there, I’m going to be the one to find them… and then I’ll be able to go home.
[Table 4: Thgel Ghedda’s Reactions]
Malla Khydwun (N F Soulbound Cleric 2)
A newly inducted member of the cult of Kagyar, Malla is willing to share her faith with anyone who shows interest. She believes that the folk of the Shimmering Lands are currently set on the path of destruction and that the Way of Stone is the only philosophy that can save them.
Malla’s starting reaction is friendly, unless there is a cleric of an opposing faith11 among the PCs, in which case her attitude becomes indifferent. It requires little effort to change her attitude. If made friendly, Malla will share the following information:
“I’ve been ‘called’ to the north… I’m not really sure how to explain it, but I am positive that Kagyar wants me there for some great purpose. Our people are sick… they have been for a long time, but we have the chance to cure them, to free them from Blackmoor’s curse.
[Table 5: Malla Khydwun’s Reactions]
The Ferry Caravan
There are two legs in the ferry caravan route. The first leg starts from within the Forest of Meghdul and continues downstream until it reaches the Kairdal Fork. The second leg starts from the fork, where the ferry must be attached to teams of riding mastiffs and pulled upstream along the Kairdal River (a tributary to the Khyrnde) until reaching Kairhyeld. On the return journey the ferry floats downstream to the fork, and must be towed back to the Forest of Meghdul.
It takes 6 - 7 days for the ferry to float from Meghdul to the Kairdal Fork. Passengers can choose to journey on the ferry (for additional cost) or ride one of the mastiffs along the river trail following it. At the end of each day the ferry lands on shore and the caravan makes camp around it. [On the return trip, with the ferry being towed, the journey takes 12 - 15 days.]
[Half of this journey is through the forest, while the other half is through the plains]
It takes 4 - 6 days for the ferry to be towed from the Kairdal Fork to Kairhyeld. All passengers are expected to travel by foot (or using their own mounts) alongside the riding mastiffs towing the ferry on this leg of the journey. [On the return trip, with the ferry floating downstream, the journey takes 2 - 3 days.]
[This entire portion of the journey is through the plains]
Roll 1d20 on each day that the party travels along the river through the plains.
[Table 6: Random Encounters Caravan Trail]
In addition to the random encounters listed above, the following events will happen at some point along the caravan’s path.
F1- Dark Stalker
For the past several nights you have had the feeling that someone, or something, has been stalking you. Rustling through the brush… slinking through the grass… whatever it is has kept its distance and remained hidden, but now the pit in your stomach drops. You can feel its eyes on you as the hair on the back of your neck pricks up.
A small felldrake12 has been stalking the caravan for several days and has finally grown hungry enough to attack. It will rush through the underbrush and grapple with whoever is farthest from their camp.
Felldrake HD 2, AC 6, hp 12
F2 - Escaped Slaves
As you round the bend in the river your view opens up to a small ravine in the hillside. Two large figures hunch over a smoldering fire, both leaping to their feet as you approach. The giantkin are bruised and filthy, with broken chains dangling from their necks and arms.
[Image: Escaped Slaves]
These two giantkin have only recently escaped their slavers, and were seeking some shelter when the caravan stumbled upon their resting place. They fear and hate dwarves, and will not allow themselves to be recaptured. Their starting attitude is hostile, but fast thinking PCs may be able to calm them down. The PCs must decide if they will recapture the giantkin and take them to Kairhyeld to be sold, or are willing to grant them freedom.
Giantkin (2) HD 2, AC 8, hp 7
F3 - Sentinel on the Horizon
A lone figure perches upon the top of a nearby hill looking down on the caravan. It appears to be a dwarf mounted on a giant riding mastiff. He stares down at the caravan in stoic silence.
Regardless of the PC’s actions, the figure does not speak, and will crest over the hill disappearing on the far side if approached. The lone Sentinel will not engage for any reason, and may show up periodically throughout the rest of their journey. If pressed, he will use his shadow mastiff’s ability to travel short distances through shadows in order to evade those curious enough to approach him. Any PCs that notice him may be able to recognize Kherdehk Halftroll when they reach Kairhyeld.
Act III - Kairhyeld
Commanded by General Ryndis Heldfyst, the holdfast of Kairhyeld sees much activity. Most of that is directed toward the giants of Grondheim or the Antalians of the north, both of whom pose a constant threat for the dwarves in the area. Ryndis’ primary passion however, is plotting for her brother Engdyr’s demise. Some say it is because of Engdyr that Ryndis has her obsidian heart.
When the PCs arrive, the gatherhold is in somewhat of an uproar. A group of thieves have recently made off with some of the gatherhold’s most treasured items, a cache of iron weapons. While Ryndis and her lieutenants search for the perpetrators, another threat looms in the distance. One of the recently captured giants being held in the slave pits outside the fortress is actually the daughter of a frost giant jarl, and her subjects are planning to attack the fortress in order to free her.
How the PCs choose to deal with these issues will have a lasting impact on the area, and may ultimately determine the fate of this region.
[Sidebar: Kairhyeld’s Troops]
[Image: Kairhyeld Gatherhold]
1. Outer Docks
Both sides of the Kairdal River sport docks along their shores, with the larger being on the southern shore. There stands a small guard post and resupply station for the ferry workers and the mules that pull the barges from Meghdul to here, while on the far shore s small trail leads from the north dock to the gates of the gatherhold proper. As you approach the southern dock, several dwarves scramble from a ramshackle hut to greet you. One of them calls out a challenge to old Merigk, but once the response is given he saunters back into his shack.
Most barges and ferries arriving at Kairhyeld are required to first dock on the southern shore where they undergo a brief inspection before being allowed to cross to the river’s northern side. Dranvid Barlegk (Dwarf Level 2) was put in charge of the southern docks after getting into a dispute with his commanding officer. He is bitter about his posting, and eager to redeem himself in the eyes of Kairhyeld’s hierarchy. This leads to overzealous searching for contraband and antagonizing of strangers.
Merigk and his crew will rest here for 1d4 days before resupplying and heading back down the river to Meghdul Station. If tensions between Dranvid and the PC’s escalate, Dranvid may “find” contraband amongst their belongings. Unless the PCs are able to bribe him sufficiently, Dranvid will send them before the gatherhold commander to face charges. If this happens the PCs will most likely face time in Kairhyeld’s dungeon and thereafter be banned from entering the stronghold.
2. Merchant Shacks
A handful of wooden shacks line the northern shore of Kairdal east of the docks and the gatherhold trail. Dwarves and gnomes spend all manner of hours shouting and haggling from one booth to another, with a frenzied pitch shortly after the arrival of the Meghdul Ferry.
The merchants here live and do business from their respective shacks. Many have factors that ship them merchandise at least infrequently using the Meghdul Ferry. Others trade with locals across the countryside for items that can’t be found in the Shimmering Lands’ interior. PCs should be able to find any item of value here worth less than 100 gps, though the merchants may be able to acquire anything less than 500 gps given advanced notice.
3. Slave Pit
The tops of heads bobbing around and the occasional uplifted arm and hand can be seen raising from a deep pit dug into the ground just behind the merchant shacks. As you approach a hill giant peers over the edge of the pit, meeting your gaze for half a moment before dropping back down into the darkness. Nearby, several sweaty and soot stained dwarves toil over a forge and bellows, crafting large chains of bronze.
Several hill giants are being kept in this pit, each destined to be shipped to some Elder’s estate across the Shimmering Lands. A small band of Enthrallers13 joined together and have been scouring the northern plains and hills for lone giants to capture and bring back to Kairhyeld, and the pit is tended at all times by at least one of them. Once they have captured enough stock their plan is to take the Meghdul Ferry and journey back to Demhyeld. They plan to auction off the giants to the highest bidder in Demhyeld’s slave market.
The giants are desperate to escape, already having made three separate failed attempts. One of them is more than she seems. The youngest female is in fact a polymorphed frost giant, daughter of Jarl Varhad of Grondheim. After an argument with her parents she fled into the hills and was caught unawares by the Enthrallers. She has enough gems and jewelry hidden on her to offer a hefty sum to any who might be willing to help her escape.
4. Training Camps
A constant clamber emanates from three small circular camps that fill the field west of the gatherhold trial. Armored dwarves and gnomes trudge back and forth through muddy fields with several sergeants shouting commands across the cool crisp air to their various troops. Their mesmerizing movement is infrequently interrupted by a fireball exploding in the western field, kicking up stones and dirt, and occasionally tossing one of the drilling soldiers into the air.
Soldiers on this field have been brought together from all of the major estates in the province of Kargthyne. Here they run drills and training exercises in order to learn how to work together to defend the gatherhold. In theory, once soldiers are sent to the gatherhold they give up allegiances to their former Estates, however in practice this is rarely the case. Many of the dwarves and gnomes training on this field have long seated grudges with one another and are just looking for an opportune chance to exact revenge on hated rivals.
Should the PCs venture onto the field for any reason they will find themselves in the middle of just such a feud. Tyruld, a soldier from Lumegk Estate has been waiting for an opportunity to rig his commanding officer’s riding gear with a fireball belcher potion, set to trigger when the dwarf saddles his mount. Once officer Ghorgid dismounts his war mastiff to confront PCs, Tyruld will move into action. Observant PCs may see him plan something on his commanding officer’s saddle before slowly backing up to find cover behind his fellow soldiers. If the PCs can prevent Ghorgid from triggering the trap, they may have earned an ally within the gatherhold. Otherwise Ghorgid will be killed in the blast, and the PCs may become prime suspects in the case.
5. Fortress Walls and Towers
Twenty foot walls of stone and timber surround the entire gatherhold, stretching from the center gatehouse to each of the bastions surrounding the keep in the back. Dwarves patrol the walls in groups of two or three, pausing along their course only long enough to pull out a farseer and scan along the horizon.
Patrols along the walls of Kairhyeld are tasked mainly with keeping a vigilant lookout for potential encroaching enemies. On the planes of Kargethyne this mainly constitutes roving bands of humanoids from Urzud, or small squads of hill giants raiding from Grondheim. These patrols rarely concern themselves with activities going on just outside the keep, but they will investigate any disturbances inside the walls of Kairhyeld itself.
Made entirely of dark basalt stones, hewn from the earth, the gatehouse rises to an impressive 35 feet in the sky. The dark stones, unlike any found in the surrounding region, are arranged into the shape of a massive dwarven head, with the gate itself shaped to be the mouth. A lone dwarf peers down from the top of the head to question all petitioners before granting them entrance.
The gatehouse head is said to be the likeness of Engdyr Heldfyst himself, back in his youth, and is one of the first structures built after the gathering of the clans in BC 2473 (nearly 200 years ago). On sacred days the gatehouse is given over to followers of Zugzul, who decorate it with bonfires and burning effigies that can be seen from miles away in the dark of night.
Kairhyeld’s stables are built along the inside of the southern wall, east of the gatehouse. A warm fog and foul smell constantly shrouds the muddy terrain surrounding the kennels, and strained barks and growls can be heard from the darkness within. One dwarf holds a war mastiff by its reins, giving it commands to “sit” and “stay”, while another rides his mount from the kennels out to the center courtyard of the gatherhold.
There is room in the kennels for 100 war mastiffs, though rarely more than 75 can be found here at any given time. Though the gatherhold boasts a mounted force of over 250 war mastiffs, less than half that number is ever stationed inside the fortress. Mounted patrols roam the countryside, performing training exercises and remaining vigilant against the possibility of foreign invaders. Smaller groups are broken up within the gatherhold itself, with some being stationed at the training grounds, and small groups staying inside the barracks themselves.
Narlygk is the kennel master, and has a cruel sense of humor. He takes bets on weekly dog fights, where he pits some of the older animals against one another (or sometimes a weaponless slave or prisoner). Though against regulations, Narlygk may be persuaded to part with one of his older dogs for the right price.
8. Temple of Zugzul
Smoke and ash constantly billow from the top of this dark structure, a double tower made of cracked stone and soot soaked bricks. Few mill about the entrance, despite the warmth that radiates from within, as two dour guards wearing the mask of Zugzul stand unmoving before its gates.
Rallies are held in front of the temple on a weekly basis, when Larla Vivell, the Primarch of the Church of Fire in Kargthyne, attempts to rile up her followers and spur them to commit acts of increasing violence across the countryside. The rallies are unscheduled, but always begin at first dark when the fires in the temple have the most impact upon the landscape. Dwarves, gnomes, and soulbound usually have little to fear from the crowd (unless they openly display allegiance to another Immortal), but other races may be targeted for violence.
PCs who are near the temple during a rally, and are of a race other than dwarf, gnome, or soulbound, may be pressured into formally joining the church. In order to prove their loyalty to Zugzul, they must accept the ‘Brand of Fire’ on their forearm. The branding, given by Larla herself, causes 1 point of damage, and subjects the recipient to a minor form of gease. Unless they give worship to Zugzul at least once a week, they will be cursed with a -1 penalty to their Con score. A remove curse spell will remove this effect (but not the scar caused by the branding). Those unwilling to receive the Brand of Fire may be set upon by the mob.
A large circular courtyard of hardened dirt lays in the middle of the keep. Bootprints and scuff marks across the ground suggest that it is used often by the troops stationed in the gatherhold. The faint stench of decaying flesh wafts across the courtyard from the keep, where a makeshift gallows has been erected. Three stocky bodies hang from ropes, dangling gently in the breeze.
Troops gather here to march, parade, and listen to command announcements from General Ryndis and other military leaders. Minor training exercises are also held within the gatherhold, though those are most often performed in the training camps just outside the western walls.
A makeshift gallows was recently erected in order to hang three of the armory guards for dereliction of their duty when it was discovered that several of the keeps iron weapons had gone missing. Though the guards undoubtedly shirked their duties, they were not responsible for removing the weapons, and Ryndis is still conducting a search to find the perpetrators. As the PCs are newcomers to the gatherhold, Ryndis may decide they are the perfect patsies to take on that investigation. If they get into trouble elsewhere in the gatherhold, Ryndis may offer them the assignment in order to pay their debts.
10. Sentinel’s Chapterhouse
The small tower attached to the keep’s eastern wall appears perpetually shrouded in shadows. Several kennels line its walls, no more than cages with roofs, protecting the war mastiffs within from rain, but little else. No guards can be seen standing before the copper bound doors, but as a lone dwarf stumbles drunkenly toward the building, one materializes from the shadows to turn him on his way.
This is the chapterhouse for the Sentinels of the Dusk Shroud. Only those inducted into their order are allowed inside, however observant PCs may notice the same brooding individual staring out across the courtyard from the tower’s inner window. This is Kherdehk, the warrior sent here by Engdyr to track down escaped aether spiders in the region. Kherdehk is looking for a likely group of adventurers that can help him end the threat, and preferably, that no one will miss afterward. After noticing the PCs’ activities in the gatherhold, he may approach them, offering his patronage in a task that needs completing.
The keep is on the far side of the courtyard, set upon the gatherhold’s northern wall. It is the tallest structure in the fortress, built in the shape of a giant square, with smaller towers at each corner. Like Zugzul’s temple, the keep is composed of the blackest basalt, however a detailed inspection of the stones reveals that they are sealed together with what appears to be veins of obsidian.
Originally created by Engdyr Heldfyst as a base of operations during the Giant Wars of BC 2542, the keep now serves as the stronghold and main meeting place for the Karghthyne Conclave. Though the Conclave rules this region of the Shimmering Lands, in practice they have delegated most of their responsibilities to General Ryndis Heldfyst. She rules the gatherhold, and most of Karghthyne, in their absence.
Shortly before the PCs arrived at Kairhyeld, a small cache of weapons was stolen from the armory in the keep, foremost among them the entire supply of iron weapons. Iron weapons are are in the Known World, and crafting them is a closely guarded secret of the dwarves. Ryndis wants them returned at all costs.
PCs may be brought before Ryndis if they are marked as troublemakers by authorities within the gatherhold. They may also petition to see her in order to be granted a treasure seekers charter, allowing them to plunder the countryside in the name of the Shimmering Lands. It takes 1d4 days for for their petition to see Ryndis, and they must check back at the keep each morning to see if it has been approved.
Six great bastions extend outward from the eastern and western walls of the keep, three on each side. Each building has its own entrance near the keep, which seem to be hubs of activity. Dwarves scurry back and forth from these buildings to carry out various tasks across the gatherhold. Each entrance is heavily guarded.
There are two barracks, each composed of three great bastions on either side of the main keep. Dwarves from estates across Karghthyne are stationed here, and trained to serve he gatherhold. A dwarf typically serves a term of 3 - 5 years at the gatherhold before being rotated out and allowed to return to their respective master’s estate.
Despite the size of the buildings, and the number of troops currently stationed at the gatherhold, these buildings are never quite full, and travelers may find lodging within them… as long as they have enough gold to pay and are willing to sleep communally. The gatherhold commanders try to create an integrated force using soldiers from estates across Karghthyne, however feuds and vendettas can not be dismissed easily. The dwarves stationed in the barracks spend a good amount of their free time plotting against old enemies, both real and perceived.
Kairhyeld not only serves as a fortress, but also as a mercantile hub for the northern Shimmering Lands. As such characters from all walks of life can be found within its walls.
General Ryndis Heldfyst
Dwarf 12(C), AC -3, hp 47
Ryndis is average height and build for a dwarf, with bright red hair, and pulsating black veins that snake up her neck and cover the lower left quarter of her face. Her gaze holds neither passion nor pain, and most who look into her eyes describe it as peering into the eyes of a corpse.
Ryndis Heldfyst was appointed general of Kairhyeld and of Karghthyne’s forces by the Karghthyne Conclave in BC 2342, despite vehement protests by her brother Engdyr. Since then she has survived several assassination attempts (most engineered by her own brother), although the latest nearly succeeded. Now Ryndis is kept alive by the beating of an obsidian heart and the only passion that flows through her veins is for revenge.
Gnome 3, AC 7, hp 6
Larla Vivell is short for a gnome, but makes up for her lack of stature by always speaking loudly. She dresses in orange and red, trimmed in black, and almost always wears her badge of office, a bone white mask in the design of a stern dwarven visage, when she ventures into the public view.
The regional primarch of the Church of Zugzul, Larla takes her duties quite seriously but is hothead prone to frequent fits of rage. She tolerates dwarves, but has little love for other races and will try to make trouble for them whenever she can.
Gnome 5, AC 8, hp 19
Thollwin is a middle aged gnome with close cut black hair that greys just above the temples. He is meticulous about cleanliness and won’t go out into public unless dressed in one of his finest outfits. The large knife he carries is never far from his side, and Thollwin often uses it to clean his fingernails while he is thinking.
Thollwin is quickly becoming known as a gnome who can acquire whatever you want in the area, but he is looking to make more than just a name for himself. What he really desires are allies, especially ones that can be indebted to himself. Secretly a member of the Vehdnen Syndicate, his mission is to stake a hold in Karghthyne for the crime family. To that end he will ingratiate himself to potential adventurers, doing them favors now and expecting to collect on them in the future.
Soulbound Cleric 6, AC 3, hp 14
Stoic and unmoving, Stonebeard is often mistaken for a statue in the gatherhold’s courtyard. He sits in the same spot everyday, and silently watches those who come and go from the stronghold.
Stonebeard is a soulbound cleric and secretly a member of the Way of the Stone. He will not interact with anyone while out in the open during the day, however Stonebeard will seek out any that he believes are followers of the Way of the Stone after hours. He may even offer help to those who are in conflict with the followers of Zugzul, regardless of their religious affiliations.
Dwarf 4, AC 3, hp 25
Rath is as hardened and grizzled as they come. His face, leathered by the sun, reveals little of his inner thoughts. Both is right hand and eye have been replaced with onyx, but neither seems to hamper his abilities. He wears pelted armor and openly carries a variety of weapons on his person.
A dwarven adventurer and member of the Gleaming Company, Rath spends most of his time exploring the untamed wilds of the north. His right hand and eye have been replaced with onyx, but neither hampers his abilities. Rath’s constant companion, a scruffy warg named Fetch, is an outcast from Urzud. The two make a living as hunters and trackers, supplementing that with any treasures they stumble upon in the wilderness.
Warg 3, AC 5, hp 18
Fetch wears his mood on his face. When he is happy his mouth goes slack with his tongue lolling to one side or the other, but his mood can go hard in an instant. At heart Fetch is a hunter and he keeps some small trophy from each of his kills, whether that be a tooth, a small pelt, or some other memento.
Fetch is a warg14, a proto-goblinoid in the form of a humanoid wolf. Hyllig Rath saved him from a rampaging giant several years ago, and the two have been inseparable ever since. Uncomfortable in “civilized” company, Fetch quietly keeps to himself in the gatherhold, but may open up if met in the northern wilds beyond the gates of Kairhyeld.
Dwarf 5, AC 2, hp 23
Kherdehk is tall for a dwarf, and always appears to be looking down his nose at the folk surrounding him. A jet black beard outlines sharp, chiseled features and accentuates the fact that his skin has a pallid blue hue to it. He neither smiles nor frowns, hiding his true mood and feelings behind a stark visage.
A Sentinel of the Dusk Shroud, Kherdehk enjoys the air mystery that he projects, often taking delight in the discomfort of those around him. Despite this, he may be helpful in pointing the PCs in the right direction, using any excuse likely to work in order to get them to explore Lahash. In truth has been tasked by Engdyr with eliminating all of the escaped aetheric spiders in the area, and plans to use the PC to do the job for him. Of course, once the PCs are victorious, he plans to eliminate them.
Several events can happen while the PCs are in the gatherhold. The DM may choose to run one or more of these events in any order, although if the PCs became friendly with the giantess in the slave pit, the Hill Giant Raiders event should be run last.
This event can be played any time the PCs are exploring the barracks or dungeons of Kairhyeld.
You can hear two dwarves arguing from beyond a nearby open doorway. As you approach one says in an agitated voice, “I told you there were too many! We should never have grabbed them all… they’re sure to find them here!”
“Enough,” the other replies calmly in a whisper. “Leaving them wasn’t an option. What the Queen wants, the Queen gets.”
If the PCs investigate, they will find two dwarves frantically trying to hide a small cache of swords within the mattresses of several nearby beds. These two are in fact changelings, and part of a larger group of thieves who made off with the contents of Kairhyeld’s armory only nights before. The alarm was sounded before these two could get away with their ill gotten gains, and so instead they have decided to try and hid the iron swords and come back for them later. If discovered, Rylgar, the calm one, will fight to the death, but his companion Herlyk attempts to flee.
Rylgar HD 2, AC 4, hp 10
Herlyk HD 1, AC 5, hp 6
If captured, and properly convinced, Herlyk will spill the entire plot. He and several companions infiltrated Kairhyeld months ago, and since then have been planning to raid the gatherhold’s armory in order to steal all of the iron weapons stored there. Iron weapons are a rarity in this era, and are vehemently despised by their mistress, the Queen of Grondheim. She has placed a generous bounty on all iron tools and weapons, and the group was planning to collect a kingly ransom for their efforts.
Warmth from the sun beats down upon the plains as you wander across the courtyard, momentarily replaced by a shadow and a cool breeze as a cloud passes by overhead. Distracted by the shaded interlude, you are startled by a commotion on the far side of the courtyard near the keep. A lone soldier frantically bats away at a giant translucent spider advancing upon him. Quickly overwhelmed, the dwarf falls to the ground only to be encased in a silvery silken cocoon. Before anyone can react, the spider has already dragged the soldier halfway back through the courtyard toward the entrance to the western barracks.
Let the PCs decide what actions they will take. The spider will continue to drag the captured dwarf into the barracks, and down a side tunnel leading into the dungeons. Should the PCs race to the soldiers rescue, or if the choose to wait for additional soldiers to react, read the following:
As you strain to see where the soldier is being dragged to, a strange sensation washes over you, leaving the hairs on the back of your neck standing up straight. Light crackles in the air as wispy shapes begin to materialize around you. A swarm of the translucent spiders, slightly smaller than the first, appear throughout the courtyard.
The spiders phase in throughout the gatherhold, attacking groups of soldiers wherever they can in order to buy time for their compatriot to steal away with its prize. One such group confronts the PCs.
Spiders (x5) HD 1, AC 7, hp 2
Once the spiders have been dispatched, the PCs are free to chase after the captured soldier. He has been dragged down into a far corner of the dungeon and hung up against a glowing and pulsating wall.
Before you, the large translucent spider is just finishing attaching the cocoon to the far wall inside of an empty dungeon cell. The wall itself shimmers and pulses, and it appears that glowing strands of web have burrowed their way directly into the rock. The cocoon still rocks and spasms occasionally, as the dwarf inside continues to struggle. Spinning its last web of attachment, the spider turns to face you.
Large Spider HD 2, AC 6, hp 10
[Image: Monster Spider]
The spider fights to the death, doing its best to keep anyone from the dwarf within the struggling cocoon. Once the PCs defeat it they will be able to approach the captured dwarf. Cutting through the thick, sticky webbing, takes 1d6 rounds, during which time the dwarf continues to groan and struggle. Once the PCs are finally able to open the cocoon, they find that it is empty.
In fact the aether spider’s victim was pulled into the Ethereal Plane and sent back to the spider’s main colony. Once breached, the cocoon’s portal is destroyed and there is no way to use it to travel into the Ethereal at this time.
Hill Giant Raiders
Just as the stars have begun to show, and the fires of Zugzul’s temple have been lit, and alarm is called from the western wall. “Giants!” Even as the call goes out, you can feel the thud of stone crashing into the wall and reverberating through the ground. Soldiers from around the gatherhold flock toward the western wall.
A small band of giants has come looking for the missing princess. While raiders mount an attack on the western wall, a lone giant sneaks through the darkness to the pit outside the gatherhold’s gates, in an attempt to free the princess. If the PCs have already spoken with the princess, they may already be aware of the plan. Otherwise they can make a Danger Sense Skill Check, or use the Thieve’s special ability to Hear Noises. Success means that they hear a minor commotion outside the gatehouse. The soldiers around them are marshalling on the western wall and will ignore any attempts to divert them. It is up to the PCs to intervene or not.
Several of the hill giant slaves have already crawled out of the pit and are tussling with the newcomers. You quickly realize they are being controlled by the three nearby Enthrallers. The small female giant is still trying to climb free from the pit during the commotion.
PCs must choose whether they will fight the giants or attack the Enthrallers. One of the Enthrallers will call out to them to stop the last giant (the princess) from escaping the pit. If the PCs can do this, the attacking giants will lose moral and retreat. If PCs instead choose to help the giants, all they need to do is distract at least one of the Enthrallers, which will cause them to lose control of their giantish slaves. This will turn the tide of battle, allowing the princess to escape.
Giant Princess HD 5, AC 8, hp 30 (10 - the princess is already wounded and weak)
Enthrallers (x3) HD 2, AC 6, hp 8
Should the PCs help the princess escape, goto the section “Recruited by Giant Princess” below.
On to Layhash
Recruited by Ryndis
Whether the PCs land into some kind of trouble while in the gatherhold, or they decide to apply for an adventuring charter, they will eventually find themselves in front of Ryndis Heldfyst.
“I want the weapons stolen from the armory recovered, and I want whoever was responsible brought before me. After that I don’t care what you do.” She pauses as if to rethink her words, but then turns to you with a dead look in her eyes, “Don’t cross me.”
Ryndis will agree to grant the PCs an adventuring charter as long as they pledge to find her missing weapons as their first mission.
Recruited by Sentinel
The Sentinel Kherdehk seeks out PCs and promises to provide them with an adventuring charter in exchange for investigating Layhash.
“Don’t worry, they charter is valid. It’s signed by Elder Heldfyst himself. Even his sister will honor it,” Kherdehk promises. “There are strange happening in the ruins of Layhash, and the Elder himself wants them investigated. Clear the ruins and he will be pleased. You shall be rewarded for your loyalty.”
Kherdehk’s idea of a reward may be different from that of the PCs however, as he plans on eliminating them once they have completed their task. The PCs will have to deal with Kherdehk in the next chapter of this adventure path.
Recruited by Giant Princess
This event will only happen if the PCs have already helped the giant princess escape from the Enthraller’s slave pit.
“Thank you for helping me,” the giantess says as the glamour around her dissipates, revealing her to be a young frost giant. She opens her hand revealing several gems, “These are yours, as I promised… but,” she says pausing, “I still need to find my father, and these lands are dangerous. If you help me find him, he will give you a far greater reward.”
The princess is sincere, and knows that her father was supposed to meet some of his servants in the ruins to the east (at Layhash).
Freeing the giantess won’t earn the PCs many friends at Kairhyeld, especially the Enthrallers who first captured her. They may dog the PCs journey to Layhash, attempting to regain their property and to exact revenge on those who betrayed them.
By the end of this adventure the PCs may have several mysteries on their hands - rogue giants gathering in the area, shadowy thieves working within Kairhyeld, and even other worldly spiders that can appear and vanish on a whim… but all of the leads they find will point them to the ruins of Layhash. The PCs must journey eastward to find the answers they seek.
Appendix 1: Organizations
This is a gnome run thieves guild run out of Gnen on the Bridge of Oost (it's detailed a bit more in the GazBC1 DM's guide IIRC). The wouldn't have a strong presence in this region of the Shimmering Lands, but the individual they meet wants to "expand their operations westward." The guild accepts all members, but only gnomish characters have the ability to make it to the top ranks of the organization.
This contact can provide PCs with information (both local and abroad) as well as provide venues for buying and selling equipment and artifacts (perhaps bypassing taxes and tariffs they might normally have to pay to the Elder Conclave). Any favors performed would have to be repaid in turn (at some point).
An adventurer's guild (also detailed in GazBC1), this organization is more generally distributed throughout the Shimmering Lands, and might offer support to potential members (up and coming PCs). Should they prove themselves worthy, their contact in Kairhyeld may sponsor them to become full fledged members.
The Gleaming Company can help to fund PC's operations (with the expectation of a percentage of their earnings). They could provide additional support in the form of hirelings, as well as information about local ruins and locations of interest in the north.
Way of the Stone
Although this cult isn't mainstream in these parts, it is steadily gaining a following. The worshipers of Kagyar espouse different philosophies than many of their contemporaries, advocating that dwarves work together for common goals (for the betterment of their race) rather than strive for individual power and prowess.
The Way of the Stone is the dwarven future, but for now they will help provide PCs with a friendly face, healing, and other personal aid. Dranwyrf Korskill (aka Dengar), the First Elder of the Shimmering Lands, is also the head of this newly formed cult. In later adventures, the PCs will have the opportunity to meet and interact with him directly.
Worshippers of the Fiery Forge venerate Zugzul. In him they see the forge that will shape dwarven lands as well as the dwarven spirit. Many of these sects also combine worship of the Warrior with that of darker beings such as Demogorgon, Orcus, and sometimes even Slizzark. The worst kinds of fanatical zealots are drawn to this religion, believing that it is the Moadreg's destiny to rule over the lesser races in the world. The majority of these practitioners are dwarves, as few other races are tolerated.
Enthrallers are composed of loosely organized band of misfits and outcasts from the Controllers Guild. Although many of them dabble in the slave trade, their true passion is in causing destruction brought about by the mental domination of their enemies. It is rare that more than a dozen Enthrallers would ever band together for a single operation. Living for battle, they often choose to enter into a fight alone. Their favored weapons are their foes themselves.
There are Enthraller chapterhouses in Fyngul, Abhuld, and Arankh, though individual Enthrallers can be found throughout the Shimmering Lands. Many also travel abroad, looking for work in foreign nations where their particular skill sets can be appreciated.
Sentinels of the Dusk Shroud
A semi secretive group based out of Hrokyrdran in Karghthyne, the Sentinels are mastiff riding knights that have strengthened their bonds to the spirit world beyond. Their numbers are composed mostly of shades, although a significant proportion of the knights are dwarves as well. The Sentinels are expert scouts and trackers specializing in hit and run tactics. Their bonds to the spirit world allow them to move rapidly across great distances, oftentimes through areas not traversable by normal means.
The war mastiffs that the order is famous for are not shades themselves, although they have been physically modified to be more in tune with the spirit world. Rumors abound that the shadow mastiffs are created by bonding a shade with a war mastiff, possibly serving as a punishment for members who fail the order.
Shades of the order gain control of their corporeality when in their saddles, and can easily choose between an insubstantial form and one that is more solid. Their mounts share the same corporeality as their masters.
Appendix 2: Monsters
The following table is a list of resources where many of the monsters in this adventure were compiled from.
[Table 7: Resource Descriptions]
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2* (M)
Move: 120' (40')
In Web: No webs
Attacks: 1 bite
Damage: 1d8 + poison
No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d4)
Save As: Fl
Treasure Type: U
XP Value: 50
Aetherial spiders are creatures native to the Ethereal Plane. Discovered long ago by Blackmoorian explorers the spiders were harvested and bred to serve very specific purposes, most of which enhanced various Blackmoorian technomantic arts. While there are doubtless countless breeds of aetherial spiders, many lost to antiquity, the species found throughout the Shimmering Lands was engineered specifically to aid in travel magics. Though their webs are not perceptible on the Prime Material Plane, aetherial spiders spin a network of webs across the Ethereal Plane. These can be accessed by the spiders (and those who know their secrets) to aid in the transport of goods and items (and sometimes living beings) across wide distances over short periods of time.
Aetheric Shift: Once per combat, an aetherial spider may sidestep a successful attack against it by partially shifting into the Ethereal Plane.
This section to be used by Layout
[Sidebar: Spider Sword]
A short sword with an arachnid motif, the Spider Sword is made of strong but nearly translucent metal, possibly of Blackmoorian design. Its hilt and pommel are crafted in the form of a spider with its bottom legs entwining the pommel, its center legs forming the guard, and its two front legs merging into the blade itself.
The Spider Sword functions as a +1 (+2 verses spiders) Ghost Touch sword, and may have additional powers that are yet to be discovered.
Damage: 1d6 +1 (+2 verses spiders)
Ghost Touch: The sword may be handled by incorporeal beings (including shades) as if they were corporeal. In addition, when wielded it can harm all incorporeal beings as if they were corporeal.
[Sidebar: Kairhyeld’s Troops]
Other Estates 51%
Karghthyne troops are led by General Ryndis Heldfyst. The younger sister of Engdyr, Ryndis has survived repeated assassination attempts from her brother. Her strong and robust outward appearance belies the fact that Ryndis is kept alive only by a magically beating obsidian heart implanted deep within her chest.
Kairhyeld troops whisper that when Ryndis lost her original heart, she lost all compassion toward living souls. For her the world is black and white, containing only allies and enemies – foremost amongst that list her own hated brother.
1st Company (Shadow Eyes): 50 expert (S5) shade scouts and (G4) gnome rangers armed with crossbows and rapiers
2nd Company (Flame Drakes): 300 elite (D4) dwarven artillerists armed with dragonbelchers and short swords; plus 12 Lieutenants (D7), 2 captains (D10), and a major (D12)
3rd Company (War Hounds): 250 elite (D2) dwarven cavalry armed with crossbows and halberds, riding war mastiffs; plus 10 sergeants (D4), 5 Lieutenants (D6) and a captain (D8)
5th Company (Stone Feet): 500 expert (D2) dwarven footmen armed with axes and daggers; plus 10 sergeants (D4), 5 Lieutenants (D6), and a captain (D8)
This section to be used by Layout
[Table 1: Weather in Imyrluran]
Table 1: Weather in Imyrluran
Skies are bright, and rays of sunshine occasionally penetrate the forest.
Normal travel time
2 - 4
Skies are overcast, and the forest is foggy.
5 - 6
Skies are dark, and rain pours down constantly.
[Table 2: Random Encounters Imyrluran]
Table 2: Random Encounters Imyrluran
<0 - 10
11 - 13
Carcass Eater - Animal
14 - 16
Dire Rat, Fiendish - Magical Beast
17 - 19
Monstrous Spider, Small - Vermin
20 - 22
Raven, Fiendish - Animal
23 - 25
Twig Blight - Plant
26 - 28
Yellow Musk Zombie, Dwarf - Plant
Monstrous Spider, Medium - Vermin
Skeleton, Wolf - Undead
Raggamoffyn: Tatterdemanimal - Construct
Krenshar - Magical Beast
Clockroach - Construct
Vasuthaunt - Undead
Black Bear - Animal
Boar - Animal
Boggle - Monstrous Humanoid
Felldrake - Dragon
Greenspawn Leaper - Dragon
Assassin Vine - Plant
Hell Hound - Outsider
Clockwork Mender Swarm - Construct Swarm
Yeth Hound - Outsider
1d4+1 Haunting Apparitions (see encounter below)
Allip - Undead (incorporeal)
[Table 3: Perrin Teikar’s Reactions]
Table 3: Perrin Teikar’s Reactions
As “unfriendly”. In addition, after they arrive at Kairhyeld and Perrin attains corporeality, she will seek one of the PCs out and attempt to murder them while they sleep.
As “indifferent”. In addition, Perrin will attempt to steal some item of importance from the PCs. While on the caravan route, her actions will be limited by her incorporeality, but once at Kairhyeld she may interact normally.
Perrin keeps to herself, floating at the periphery of the group while they travel, but seeking a place of safety near the center of the troupe when they make camp for the night.
Perrin will tell the group all the information she has been able to gather about Hrokyrdran.
As “friendly”. In addition, Perrin may be called upon for one favor once they reach Kairhyeld. She will not agree to go adventuring with the party outside of the gatherhold, but may assist them while they are there.
[Table 4: Thgel Ghedda’s Reactions]
Table 4: Thgel Ghedda’s Reactions
As “unfriendly”. In addition, once they reach Kairhyeld Thgel will stalk them and attempt to poison them during a meal. If his attempt is uncaught the PCs will suffer 2d6 days of bedrest while Thgel sneaks off into the wilds.
As “indifferent”. In addition, Thgel will attack one of the PCs at the most inopportune moment. He prefers to target someone who has strayed from the group, or to attack from behind while the character is engaged in another battle.
Thgel spends most of his time at the tail end of the caravan, constantly muttering to himself and dividing his efforts evenly between glaring at those in front of him and nervously looking over his shoulder.
Thgel tells the group his story of woe about fleeing from Kohlgor, and his dreams of striking it rich along the foot of Hrokyrdran.
As “friendly”. In addition, Thgel may be encountered periodically in Kairhyeld when he comes in from the wilds to resupply. He can provide the PCs with information regarding any activity he sees in the surrounding countryside.
[Table 5: Malla Khydwun’s Reactions]
Table 5: Malla Khydwun’s Reactions
As “unfriendly”. In addition,
As “indifferent”. In addition, Malla will refuse to help PCs during battle, or to heal their wounds afterward.
Malla keeps to herself, quietly humming verses and passages from the Way of Stone.
Malla makes a point to be helpful and upbeat, praising the tenets of the Way of Stone. She will come to the PC’s aid in battle and heal their wounds afterward, as long as they give respect to her parton Kagyar.
As “friendly”. In addition, Malla may be called upon to perform healing and other minor miracles for the party when they are in Kairhyeld.
[Table 6: Random Encounters Caravan Trail]
Table 6: Random Encounters Caravan Trail
Carcass Eater - Animal
Crawling Claw - Construct
Dire Rat, Fiendish - Animal
Mongrelfolk - Humanoid
Clockroach - Construct
Death Dog - Magical Beast
Iron Cobra - Construct
Demonet Swarm - Outsider
Wrackspawn - Outsider
[Table 7: Resource Descriptions]
This section to be used by Layout
Engdyr’s Game AP by John Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
The Path to Kairhyeld, modified from the Shimmering Lands Map, 2017 by John Calvin [used by permission]
Dark Forest, Feb. 16, 2015 by Pexels [CC0 Creative Commons] via pixabay
Folk-tales of bengal, illustration by W. Goble 1912 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
The Princess Idleways : a fairy story 1879, by Helen Ashe Hays [no known copyright restrictions] via Wikimedia Commons
Map of Kairhyled Gatherhold, 2017 by John Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
Spider-arachnid-insect-nature by RachelBostwick [CC0 Creative Commons] via pixabay
1A “gatherhold” is a community in the Shimmering Lands, usually fortified, where more than one dwarven family or clan has come together for mutual defense. The largest gatherholds in the Shimmering Lands have grown into what most would call full fledged cities.
2Hrokyrdran literally means “dangerous mountain” in old dwarvish, and will one day become the World Mountain in Ethengar. In the modern dwarven tongue the name would be translated as Hrokarden. See Gaz 6 for more information on the dwarven tongue.
3Shades are incorporeal spirits that emerged from the Gate of Light in BC 2319, and are relative newcomers to the Shimmering Lands. The most common theory is that they are the spirits of Blackmoorians who were transformed by the Great Rain of Fire. Shade characters can be played as “ghosts” from the Ghostwalk Campaign Setting [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostwalk].
5A remorhaz is a large magical beast that burrows beneath the snow and ice waiting for prey. It first appeared in Dragon #2, and the AD&D Monster Manual, and later appeared in Glantri Kingdom of Magic page 21. For more information see the D20 SRD [http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/remorhaz.htm] or http://www.lomion.de/cmm/remorhaz.php AD&D2.
7A fatigued character can neither run nor charge and takes a -2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity. Doing anything that would normally cause fatigue causes the fatigued character to become exhausted. After 8 hours of complete rest, fatigued characters are no longer fatigued. (From the 3E SRD [http://www.d20srd.org/srd/conditionSummary.htm]
8The Meghdul chose to pursue their blood feud against the Jarduhl rather than support Dranwyr when the nation was attacked by giants in BC 2473. After the giants were defeated, Dranwyrf turned his armies against the Meghdul, destroying them utterly and cursing their remains.
9See entry below for Aetherial Spiders.
10Giantkin (also sometimes known as half-giants) are the result of breeding experiments by the Shimmering Lands dwarves between giants and various other (smaller) sentient creatures. They were used mostly as shock troops against the true giants early in the history of the Shimmering Lands, but many still serve as slaves to evil dwarves. In game stats they are equivalent to ogres, although true ogres won’t emerge on Mystara for at least 300 more years.
11The faith of Kagyar/Way of the Stone is in its infancy during this era in the Shimmering Lands. The most prominent faiths in these regions pay homage to Zugzul, Skuld, Khoronus, Slizzark, and Stodos (among a few others). For more information on the faiths of the Shimmering Lands, see GazBC 1, The Shimmering Lands DM's Guide [http://pandius.com/GazBC1_DMs.pdf] and GazBC 1, The Shimmering Lands Player's Guide [http://pandius.com/GazBC1_Players.pdf] for more information.
12A felldrake is a beast with draconic blood from the Monster Manual 2 (3E), but it can be replaced by any stalking reptilian monster.
13Enthrallers are dwarves with unique mental abilities who often employ their powers to torment and dominate others. See the Organization Appendix at the end of this article for more information.
14A warg is a bipedal beastman that has wolven characteristics. Although gnolls will not exist for another 1300 years, wargs are similar in many ways (and stats for gnolls can be used to model them - see Gaz 10). Circa BC 2000, the wargs will have evolved from a bipedal species into the quadrupedal worgs.