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Koskatep level 7 - Signs of the Universeby Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 9
Signs of the Universe
Secrets of Koskatep, Level 7
by Francesco Defferrari (Sturm)1
The Death Hand came to take Traladara
Five years of terror it brought in the cruel nights
A Lady of the Sun on the fifth year
Destroyed four of them with her companions
But The Last One’s revenge was cast
Ten years of winter came upon the land
Until the Sun’s return at last.
From ancient Traladaran tablets, circa 1400 BC, kept at the Krakatos’ School of Magecraft.
The reason why the area is sparsely inhabited defies all our magical, clerical and historical research. It has been for years an haven of bandits and werecreatures, for sure, but even such people tend to avoid the area whenever it is possible. We know it was called The Dark Wood, or The Cursed Forest, in the past. We have explored it and we have not been attacked, but there is something disquieting about the place. Further exploration may be in order to determine if it’s true that an ancient evil inhabits the area.
Last report of an explorer sent to the Southern Wood by Lord Korrigan, about 999 AC.
Koskatep, Level 7
This level can be reached going down from area 14 of Level 6 (Kundrak, published in Issue 8 of Threshold magazine) or also from the shortcut of area 13 in Level 5 (Ieronyx, published in Issue 7 of Threshold). The PCs will find themselves in Level 7, Kosmoteiros, the ancient city sacred to Nyx in Taymoran times and now inhabited by the powerful and ancient vampire known as The Last One.
The text below repeats the original description of this level in issue 1 of Threshold Magazine (Mirror of Eternal Night article). Read on to discover more on this level of Koskatep!
Level SEVEN, SIGNS OF THE UNIVERSE
This level was the Taymoran city of Kosmoteiros, that the Church of Nyx herself partially destroyed to prevent it from falling into the hands of Thanatos’ followers. The holiest room is the great cave containing the Starlake, a great pool that mysteriously reflect stars and constellations. The artifact, being a small lake, cannot be obviously removed from here. “Night is truth, Light is lie” says the silver engraved inscription, in old Taymoran, on the walls of the cave.
Here resides The Last One, a vampire follower of Thanatos, immensely powerful, last surviving member of The Death Hand, a group of vampires that terrorized old Traladara 2500 years ago. He has magic and undead minions in large supply and only very powerful PCs, or PCs with very powerful allies, should be able to defeat him. Even if they can, he will not die but will escape to level TEN.
The secret: The Last One has defiled the Starlake. The waters will now slowly (3-12 years) kill any living being touching them and corrupt any undead creature. The effect is so slow that it cannot be easily detected and indeed Nyx herself isn’t yet aware of it.
If several spells are cast on the lake during a particular cosmic alignment happening once every 936 years, a permanent gate to Nyx’s home plane will be opened, the Sun will be extinguished, and the True Life of Nyx (Undeath for all) will triumph. Her followers could not complete the ritual in 1777 BC because the city was assaulted by Thanatos’ followers. Neither could they in 841 BC as gnolls had occupied the city and could not be defeated. In 95 AC the Darkers almost succeeded, but were killed at the last moment by priests of Ixion. The next alignment is in 1031 AC, and they will not miss it. Obviously Ixion will do almost anything to avoid this and Thanatos will do almost anything to use the event for his own ends. If the defilement of The Last One is not discovered in time, the rite will open a permanent gate to the home plane of Thanatos, and not to the one of Nyx as intended.
The Darkers will think, wrongly, that they have destroyed The Last One along with his minions and will transform the level into the main headquarters of the Sons of Night in Karameikos. At least a hundred people will live here permanently, with more coming and going. Among them there will be several powerful wizards and priests, like Mogren, the Grand Darker and most powerful wizard, and the Grand Daughter of the Night, Lady Sonya, the most powerful priestess of Nyx. The followers of Nyx will be here studying the place day and night.
In the year 1031 AC at the very last, every plan should come to fruition and if any side manages to use the artifact, the fate of Karameikos could change forever. The PC’s actions should decide the outcome of the millennia old fight for Koskatep.
Relevant history (expanded from issue 1 of Threshold)2
2.080 BC: In a time of crisis in Grondheim, Taymora, and Intua, lizardmen and troglodytes escaped from Mogreth occupy Krystallac and keep it for a hundred years.
1.976 BC: After a long siege Taymora conquers Krystallac and renames it Kosmoteiros, building a new city. Nyx knows about Ixion’s artifact but rather than try to steal or destroy it she decides to exploit the magical aura of the place to build her own strongest artifact that will bring fulfillment of her Dream.
1777 BC: To prevent Kosmoteiros from falling into the hands of Thanatos, the priests of Nyx destroy the city with a terrible earthquake. The Great Chasm of Level 12 rises up to Kosmoteiros and The Dark Waterfall is created. Thousands die and the place is abandoned for many years as seismic activity increases in the area.
1664 BC: After the destruction of Taymora, fairies of the Unseelie court, ancient inhabitants of Krystallac exiled long ago, build their city of Kudrak over the ruins of Kosmoteiros and try to use the Starlake in Kosmoteiros, but do not know of the hidden temple of Ixion below.
1597 BC: Lord Keiros, a Tal nosferatu and follower of Nyx, conquers Koskatep from the dark fairies. Keiros rebuilds the city as Ieronyx (sacred to Nyx). Vampiric followers of Thanatos attack several times but are defeated. Kosmoteiros houses the main temple of Nyx and The Chasm is partially covered.
1423 BC: A great crusade against vampires and nosferatu of Traladara exterminate a greater part of the nation’s undead in the space of two years. Many innocent followers of Nyx are likewise massacred. Lord Keiros of Ieronyx and a few others are spared because they make a deal with the crusaders. His long time friend Leukos, disgusted with the deal, gathers a group of powerful wizards, priests and undead to continue the fight.
1421 BC: Leukos’ band falls into an ambush and is destroyed by the crusaders. Leukos survives by making a dark deal with Thanatos.
1415 BC A group of five vampires called "The Death's hand" bring havoc in Traladara for five years, from their hideout of Mokan in the Dark Wood (in the peninsula between modern Mirros and Vorloi) in the south.
1412 BC: The Hutaakans take Ieronyx from Lord Keiros, exterminating his followers, and renaming the city Ranekek (Light over the Darkness). Hutaakans and Traldar settle the city, which over four centuries establishes peaceful relations with nearby giants and fairies. The hutaakans build over Ieronyx and seal the levels below, including Kosmoteiros and the Starlake.
1411 BC: At last The Death's Hand is destroyed by a priestess of Ixion and her companions. Leukos, now The Last One, hides for centuries in the former Dark Wood, now known as the Cursed Forest, which remains uninhabited for centuries due to his presence.
1021 BC: The red orcs sack and conquer Ranekek, renaming it Rak. The orcs make the former storage and treasury of the temple of Pflarr their main city but do not explore below Kundrak.
954 BC: Despite the successful campaign of the Traldars against the gnolls, the west is still in their hands and orcs still rule the city of Rak. In these years a large dwarven expedition sent by Loktal Ironshield of the Glittering Realm reaches the Cruth Mountains and conquers Koskatep-Rak, renaming it Karrast. Level 5 is sealed by the dwarves who are unable to completely eradicate the undead orcs that infest it, and so are the levels below it.
912 BC: The dwarves are finally defeated by the gnolls, who build their own city of Ranesh over the ruins. Shamans of Ranivorus and Thanatos reopen the levels below and begin to study the Starlake3.
841 BC: Followers of Nyx, aided by ogres and giants, attack Koskatep but are unable to conquer it from the gnolls. Yet they succeed in reaching Kosmoteiros and the Starlake, killing the most powerful shamans of Thanatos and burning their notes.
603 BC: The ogre king Kulfan conquers Koskatep in the name of Nyx and ogres rule over the area for centuries. Human priests of the Lady of the Night live in the city along with them. Kosmoteiros and the Starlake are once again a great temple of Nyx, and The Chasm is covered.
95 AC: The Darkers almost complete the ritual to use the Starlake and bring forth the Eternal Night, but are stopped at the last moment by an army of priests of Ixion, from all over the Known World, who drive out the ogres and occupy Koskatep for years. Soldiers of the Duchy of Achelos join the attack and establish good relations with the temple of Ixion that is consecrated in the akropolis of Kotesh. The priests try to cleanse all the levels up to Kosmoteiros, which is then sealed.
227 AC: The priests of Ixion have repelled several attempts by ogres, giants and followers of Nyx trying to reclaim the ruins, but are destroyed at last by The Last One, who establishes his seat in Kosmoteiros and begins to corrupt the Starlake and explore the levels below. In the following centuries ogres, giants, followers of Nyx, and even adventurers sent by Ixion try to reclaim Koskatep, but The Last One destroys them all.
445 - 788 AC: Adventurers from Achelos, ogres and giants or agents of Nyx and Thanatos sometimes reach Level 7, only to be slain or captured by The Last One or his minions.
818 AC: Lord Vudar’s expedition4 eventually reaches Level 6 but is stopped, his soul taken by The Last One.
856 - 934 AC: Groups of adventurers, humanoids and later Traladaran rebels and Thyatian explorers manage rarely to reach Level 7, but are slain as the others before them.
944 AC: Thyatian priests of Ixion reach Level 6, but are repelled by the Dark Fairies and minions of The Last One. Shortly after they are all slain by orcs on Level 1.
955 AC - present days: A few adventurers, ogres and followers of Nyx manage to reach Level 7 but are slain or repelled to the levels above.
[Image: Nyx creating the Starlake] Caption: Nyx creating the Starlake
The Random Critters table of level 2B (in issue 3 of Threshold magazine) and the Wandering Parties table may apply here if the DM wishes so. In this case there is a 1% chance in each room that a Wandering Party will be encountered. There is also a 30% chance that such creatures or people are already under The Last One’s control, and will therefore try to capture or trick the party.
The Followers of The Last One encounter table of level 1 (in issue 2 of Threshold magazine, page 122), can also still be used here if the DM wishes so. One such follower could try to join the PCs to explore this level, with the final purpose of bringing them in the presence of The Last One himself (in Level 7). After the Darkers take control (see issue 1) any Follower of The Last One will obviously keep a much lower profile and maybe even aid the party against the Darkers to use them or lead them to their deaths.
Spells that provide magical transportation, such as teleport, passwall, dimensional door, magic door, travel, gate and spells such as clairvoyance and find the path do not work on this level as on Levels 5 and 6 due to powerful wards placed by The Last One and others before him. The DM could decide to apply the same rule to the levels above the 5th, at least from Level 2 and below, particularly if the PCs are of high level.
There is also a magical alarm in place all over this level: whenever a clerical or magical spell is cast, The Last One will sense it and the general direction of the caster.
The Level and its inhabitants
The original Taymoran city has been repaired and modified several times during the centuries, but the renovation has not been consistent lately and therefore most of the level is ruined. The city had thousand of inhabitants at its height, while now a much lower number of The Last One’s minions inhabits it, so many houses and palaces are dark and abandoned. Some however are inhabited and sometimes even lit by blue or white magical lights. Most of the residents are undead and do not really need lights, but some use them anyway for preference or practical purposes.
Kosmoteiros is now inhabited by hundreds of undead, the minions of The Last One. Their exact number and power should be left to each DM’s decision depending on PC’s levels. All the indicated levels are indeed just suggestions to be lowered or augmented by the DM as they see fit. Unless the DM decides otherwise, it should however be almost impossible for a single party to defeat The Last One and his minions here, unless the party is backed up by an army of allies. When the Darkers takes the level indeed they succeed thanks to a surprise attack and a relevant force (see The Battle in This Level paragraph below). Not all the areas of the city nor all its inhabitants will be detailed, as they are too many, so each DM may add many more as he or she prefers.
About the map
Depicted in light grey inside the city are the multi story areas, which can have up to four floors. In dark grey at the boundaries of the map is solid stone which is very difficult to dig. Once the city was surrounded by mighty walls long crumbled, as were many areas on the outskirts of the original city, which were never repaired. In white are the open areas. As in levels above, “Open areas” should be considered a relative term as much of the terrain is rugged and full of debris. Area 5, above the Starlake, and the central area are those in better conditions, where most of the debris has been removed. As said above, most areas are dark or only partially illuminated by magical lights, if PCs do not bring their light. If they do bring light, of course, it makes the party quite visible.
The Black area is the Chasm opened by the earthquake of 1777 BC, which goes all the way down to Level 12.
As explained above, this level can be reached from Level 6, arriving in area 9, or from Level 5, arriving in area 14. The level also has two sublevels, which can be reached only by secret passages in area 10 and 14. There is only one way to reach Level 8 below, through the Starlake’s sublevel below area 5.
The Starlake’s cave, its treasure room and the two other sublevels will be described below but are not depicted on the map.
Map of Kosmoteiros, Level 7
Image: The Levels of Koskatep
1 - The Great Plaza and The Chasm
This huge area is about 200x300 meters and was once the main plaza of Kosmoteiros, where its market and any other public event took place. It is now partially occupied by the big chasm opened by the earthquake which buried the city in 1777 BC. The plaza appears to be empty. Looking inside the chasm a Dark Waterfall can be seen, formed by waters dripping from the levels above and this one. As the walls of the chasm are wet, it is extremely dangerous to try to reach Level 8 and below going down from here.
Touching the Dark Waterfall may also cause random teleportation effects to Annwyn, particularly the areas where it borders the Carnifex prison5.
Once the plaza was completely covered in ceramic tiles and its walls were decorated, but now only a partially destroyed fresco of some people leaping over a bull remains. It was a depiction of a ceremony held here in Taymoran times, celebrating Nyx’s domination of Ixion.
The Chasm has also partially opened the Palace on the left side of the plaza, and some of its interiors can be seen. At the time of Lord Keiros, the Chasm was partially closed on this level, but The Last One decided to open it again.
Random undead (at least 2d10+2), from skeletons to spirits, roam the plaza, all unfortunate remains of adventurers and spies that The Last One reanimated during the last 8 centuries.
1 - There are objects and weapons from all of the last 8 centuries half buried everywhere on the plaza, if someone has the patience to search for them. Some of these objects may be magical, but several could still be in the hands of their original owners, now roaming undead.
When The Last One’s spies in the levels above warn him that the Darkers are coming, he will gather many of his minions here under the command of Skloros (from Area 14), anticipating their arrival through the stair on the left side of the plaza. The Darkers however will arrive in area 14, gather some more allies and then fall on Skloros and his minions from behind, defeating them. If Skloros somehow survives, he will escape toward the Starlake.
After their victory, the Darkers will start cleaning the plaza, but it will take time. 1d10+1 Darkers (priests, warriors, ogres and hill giants) may be encountered roaming here at any time, and the plaza will be partially lit by continual lights.
2 - The Great Corridor
The corridor was once a sort of public street lined with vendors, which led to the great plaza. The houses around the corridor were mostly artisan shops and warehouses. Colorful ceramic tiles once decorated the walls, but now not much remains.
2 - There are three explosive magical traps in the corridor, placed by The Last One and his minions against trespassers proceeding to the Starlake (Area 5). If the traps are sprung, a magical alarm warns The Last One wherever he is.
The Darkers will disarm the traps and place three obsidian golems6 here instead, which will attack anyone without the current passphrase and a Nyx amulet on his person. A captured Darker, if menaced, will tell the passphrase but will conveniently forget to mention that the amulet is also needed. The activation of the golems will also warn the Darkers Mogren, Sonya, Anna (see below) and Lord Keiros (in Level 5) of the intrusion.
3 - The North quarter
This area contained the northern gate into the city, leading to once great structures which might have been temples but now lay in ruins. The Last One placed here a Druj (HD 16) as guardian, once a cleric of Thanatos which displeased him.
3 - There is a cache of hutaakan scrolls buried in this area, very difficult to find. A priest or follower of Ixion, or an Hutaakan, may receive the right inspiration and find the scrolls. Most of them are spells useful to fighting undead.
The Darkers will destroy the Druj. They will not start rebuilding this area, for the time being. They will not find the cache of scrolls either.
4 - The Fountain
This area contained a great public fountain inside a three storey tower. The fountain still exists but the surrounding buildings have almost completely decayed. Some Wraiths (HD 5) are hidden near the fountain, once Traladaran adventurers slain by The Last One’s minions 40 years ago.
4 - There are some more hutaakan objects in this area, including a mace +1. +3 against the undead, once property of a cleric. It’s well buried, but Hutaakans or priests of Ixion may receive an inspiration and find it.
The Darkers will try to convince the Wraiths to join them as Uncorporeals7, and they will accept, joining them against The Last One.
5 - The Temple of the Starlake
This great building of about 100x200 meters was and is the Temple above the Starlake. Once consecrated to Nyx, it is now a shrine to Thanatos, decorated with skulls, skeletons and darker images. Dakria, a nosferatu and powerful cleric of Thanatos (C16), is often here (30% of the time she will be below in Area 5B, The Starlake), with 4 apprentices, all nosferatu and clerics (C5-7) and 2 Nightshades (HD 20) who guard the access to The Starlake below. Dakria was turned into an undead by The Last One two thousand years ago, after she was captured in the Cursed Forest. She is extremely loyal to him and will fight until forced to return to her grave, which is inside a secret room on the right side of the temple. Her apprentice’s graves are in the same room.
A hidden trapdoor on the bottom left corner of the temple leads down to The Starlake through a narrow stair. The stair contains a magical trap (delayed fireball) which will spring if it’s not deactivate by the phrase “Glory to Thanatos” in ancient Taymoran.
5 - There are several magical objects in the temple and in Dakria’s room. All of them however have been blessed by Thanatos and will therefore be cursed items if used by anyone who doesn’t share His faith.
The Darkers will try to convince Dakria to betray The Last One, but she will refuse. If she doesn’t escape below with him, she will be destroyed with her apprentices and the nightshades.
After that, The Darkers will destroy all Thanatos’ paraphernalia and consecrate again the temple to Nyx. Samira (C10), a cleric of Nyx from Ylauruam, will almost always be here with 3 apprentices and 2 obsidian golems, 4 Undecayed8 (HD 2, as zombies) and 4 Uncorporeals (HD 5, as wraiths)
5B - The Starlake
The Starlake is contained in a cave about 100x200 meters big as the temple above. It’s a great pool that mysteriously reflects current stars and constellations, day and night. “Night is truth, Light is lie” says a silver engraved inscription, in old Taymoran, on the walls of the cave. Since the earthquake of 1777 BC the surface of the waters, once perfectly still, has small ripples. This happens because some droplets of water are dripping into the Dark Waterfall of the Chasm (Area 1) and down to Level 12. That is also the reason why the Artifact can now be used only once every 936 years, while it was supposed to work once a year before the earthquake.
The next alignment in which the Starlake will work will be on 1031 AC. On such an occasion priests and wizards casting the appropriate spells will be able to open a permanent gate to the Plane of Entropy and the Domain of the desired Immortal. In the case of Nyx, such a gate would obscure the sun in a 160 miles radius (covering almost all Karameikos and more than half the Shires, Darokin and Alfheim), slowly transforming the area into something more akin to the Immortal’s domain. In the case of Nyx the number and importance of intelligent undead will rise quickly. However any other party could use the Starlake with the same purpose. If used by the Church of Ixion, for example, the area will experience no more nights, and all undead will be weakened and eventually die. If an Immortal is able to maintain control of the Starlake for some centuries, he or she will absorb the whole planet, i.e. Mystara will become permanently a part of his or her domain. Such occurrence will give to that Immortal a huge advantage over the others. Should the Darkers succeed in completing the ritual of 1031 AC, Nyx will call most of her followers and undead from Mystara and beyond to protect the Starlake from the retaliation of other Immortals. She cannot do this now however, as she would attract too much attention too soon.
At the moment Louma (see Area 9), Dakria (see Area 5) and Koros (see Area 16) are often here (50% of the time each one, day and night) studying the Starlake a preparing the complex rituals for the alignment. The Last One (see Area 9), is often here too (50% of the time). Beside them, there are always 2 Nightshades (HD 25, formerly storm giants) and 3 Revenants (HD 15, formerly warriors consecrated to Thanatos) on guard duty in this area.
The stairs going down to Level 8 are closed by a bronze trapdoor. The revenants normally stay over it, even if the level below is firmly under The Last One’s control, for now.
5B - What the Darkers and Nyx do not know, and neither the other possible parties such as Ixion, Hel and the Fairies, is that The Last One has corrupted the Starlake in recent centuries. Now anyone attempting to use it will open a portal to the home plane of Thanatos, instead of the plane of her or his Immortal. The immediate effect would be the same as in the case of Nyx, with eternal night over a vast area and more undead, but such undead will be very evil and accompanied by all kinds of evil monsters and fiends. For every year the Darkers or any other party study the Starlake before the ritual, there is a 10% chance they can spot the corruption and correct it. If Fairies use the Starlake instead, the portal will open in Annwyn, home of the Dark Fairies, dangerously close to the Carnifex prison (see note 5).
The Last One will make his last stand here with any remaining minions, after The Darkers’ attack, but as many will be slaughtered in area 10, where The Darkers will take them by surprise, he will be defeated. As a boon from Nyx, the Starlake will also grant powerful magic to the Darkers. The Last One however will cast a powerful illusion, making the Darkers believe he and any remaining lieutenants have been disintegrated, while escaping to level 10, where he will hide for a year, waiting for the right time to strike back. Even if she survived, Louma will probably abandon him and join the Darkers. If still alive, Koros, Skleros and Dakria will instead escape with him. The Last One still has an hideout in the Vorloi peninsula, in the south, defended by monsters and magic, but will not escape there unless forced to, or defeated by the Darkers a second time (see the Battle on this level below).
After The Last One’s feigned death, here around ten Darker priests and wizards (Mogren, Sonya, Anna, Thaddigren, Basco, Samyra, Skoghios and Lord Keiros could be among them, see Areas 5, 9, 10, 16 and Level 5) will always be present studying the Starlake, along with 3 experienced warriors (F7-10) and 2 obsidian golems. The stair leading down to Level 8 will be closed with the bronze door, now also bolted and trapped. Only Mogren, Keiros, Sonya and Anna will have the keys.
6 - The Fallen Temple
Here once stood a huge temple dedicated to Nyx, the main public temple of the city. The Starlake temple in area 5 was in fact closed to the general public. The temple was damaged in the earthquake of 1777 BC, then rebuilt and destroyed again. Now it is a pile of rubble, but three massive columns and another partial one still stand.
Several Spectres (HD 7) roam the area, most of them adventurers from the last 8 centuries or former minions of The Last One who fell from his grace.
6 - There is a hidden crate near to one of the massive columns, which contains a diary, scrolls, books about Nyx and Taymora, potions, objects, jewels and weapons from Lord Keiros’ times. They were all hidden here to save them from the hutaakan invasion. Such objects would have a huge value for Lord Keiros and for any sage of the Known World.
The Darkers will offer the Spectres the same deal they offer to all the undead: join them or be granted eternal rest. Some will accept. Eventually the Darkers may find the hidden cache of objects when they start rebuilding the Great Temple, but that work will not start very soon.
7 - The Western quarter
This quarter was once the administrative center of the city and contained also many private houses. Most of the internal walls of several houses and buildings have fallen, but the area still contains many places in which to hide and many objects from the times of Taymora and Lord Keiros’ reign. A group of Baldandars9 (HD 6) lives here preying on intruders with the blessing of The Last One. They also have the special permission to leave the level and Koskatep when they want via phantasmal form, so they often scout the outskirts of the area.
7 - Besides many objects from Taymoran, Dark Fairies and Lord Keiros’ times, including potions and scrolls, there are also the remains of a dwarven party from 950 BC in this area. Some of the dwarves in Level 5 may recognize their possessions. Their objects include some magical armor, that can only be used by dwarves, and weapons.
The Darkers will leave the Baldandars alone if they agree to scout for them as they did for The Last One and promise not to prey on them. The Baldandars will agree, but will not aid the Darkers if any other party attacks them.
8 - The Warehouses
This area once contained the great warehouses of the Palace. They were mostly looted by Hutaakans and Traldars after the fall of Lord Keiros Ieronyx in 1412 BC, but one has remained untouched from Dark Fairies’ times. The Fairies hid within the body of a Storm Giant, who seems to be asleep rather than dead. Shovran, that was his name, was captured by the Fairies when he attacked their city with his giants in 1621 BC. The Fairies meant to do something with him, but they simply forgot. His magical slumber could be dispelled by a cleric or a wizard. Shovran could be grateful and willing to cooperate with PCs, but he will not aid anyone allied with the Dark Fairies or Thanatos. He will accept aiding anyone aligned with Nyx for a year in exchange for his freedom, considering that sufficient to pay his debt.
Another warehouse is still closed, but it was set by The Last One and contains some Wights (HD 4) including 2 former kobolds, an ogre, an hobgoblin, an orc and 7 humans, all explorers gathered in the last centuries.
8 - There is a hidden cache in one of the warehouses containing hundreds of ingots of silver and gold from Taymoran times. Their worth would be enormous but their weight also is.
The Darkers will try to free the Wights, offering them the chance to join their fight against The Last One, and will succeed with some of them. They will also free Shovran, who in gratitude will accept to serve them for a year. Eventually they will also find the treasure and will use it to further their goals in Karameikos and beyond.
9 - The Great Palace
This great building with five storeys was once the Great Palace of the city. Rather than the house of a ruler, it was a residence and a school for priests and acolytes of Nyx, some of them obviously undead. Now part of it is collapsed, divided in half by the Great Chasm (Area 1). In Lord Keiros’ times the damage was partially repaired and the Chasm partially closed, but The Last One has decided to open it again as he enjoys the sight and the potential danger of the Dark Waterfall.
The Last One (nosferatu and MU36) indeed has here his main home, his laboratory and his treasure, which contains an enormous amount of magical objects. The Last One appears as a middle aged man with dark hair and great confidence. If anyone surprises him here in his Palace (difficult, as there are several magical alarms, 10 Nosferatu and 20 Revenant guards in this area) they will simply receive an invitation to speak with him in the main parlor. The Last One is confident that there is always time to tear someone’s soul from their bodies or use them for magical experiments. Captured PCs will likewise be brought to his presence. The Last One could speak with them for months, hosting them in the finest rooms of the palace, before deciding what to do with them. He is always keen to have updated information on the world outside Koskatep. His unwilling main companions are Louma (Nosferatu and MU 21), who has her grave near to his, and Lord Vudar (Nosferatu and F22). Louma was the former wife of The Last One when he still was Leukos. She left him in 1420 BC after he made the pact with Thanatos, and came in Ieronyx to Lord Keiros. She was killed in the hutaakan invasion of 1412 BC, but The Last One somehow managed to take her soul. A moon shaped pendant he keeps at his neck gives him absolute control over Louma, who has tried in vain to steal it several times. Louma will ask for help any chance she gets. The Last One however will horribly torture anyone helping her. Lord Vudar, the last powerful Darker who led an expedition to Koskatep in 818 AC, is in the same situation, albeit for a much shorter time. The Last One controls him with a bracelet he always wears, but Lord Vudar doesn’t know that yet and is kept in check by the fact that some of his former companions are also in The Last One’s power. Lord Vudar however is still defiant and unbroken, and The Last One often enjoys tormenting him, either with magical means or by telling him about the suffering of his former friends and companions, like Nera and Mila10, the now deformed Darkers in Lower Kotesh11, the spectres in Karrast12, Adru and the others in Kundrak13.
9 - The Last One’s laboratory contains almost any possible magical objects and any possible undead creature known in the world. It indeed occupies all the bottom floor of the Palace. Above the Chasm, several tormented wights, spectres and wraiths hover, and will attack anyone getting too near. Magical traps and locks also guard the rooms with the most precious possession of The Last One.
As the Darkers will storm this level by surprise, they will take almost all the magical treasures and free all the Last One’s undead thralls, except for those sincerely loyal to him who will die fighting. They will also free Louma and Lord Vudar, who will take residence here along with Lady Sonia (C36) High Priestess of Nyx, and Lord Mogren (Nosferatu and M36). He appears as a lizardman with brown grey scales, but some say he is really a dragon or even another, mysterious and ancient creature.
At least 5 priests (C5-15), 5 elite warriors (F7-15), 5 obsidian golems and dozens of Uncorporeals and Undecayed will also take residence in the Palace after the Darkers win. Lord Keiros (from Level 5) and the occupants of Area 10 may also be here occasionally.
10 - The Priestess’ Palace
Here was the abode of the Great Priestess of Nyx at the height of the city, and her servants. A painting of some priestesses is still visible on one of the internal walls. Asteria, (MU13) a nosferatu wizard, live here with 3 nosferatu apprentices (MU 4-8). Asteria was one of the companions of Lord Keiros captured by the Dark Fairies (see Level 6) and The Last One recruited her because she was a former lover of Lord Keiros. The 3 vampires are Traladaran adventures from the past five centuries that he controls, placed here to learn from Asteria but also to check on her. Asteria hates The Last One but cannot break his control, for now. The palace contains her quarters and her laboratory, plus several unused rooms.
10 - There is a hidden sublevel which can be reached only by turning a sun shaped plaster relief, forgotten on a wall on the ground floor. No one has discovered it yet, not even Asteria and The Last One. The sublevel contains the intact tomb of Lyeria, (C21) the human priestess of Ixion who defeated The Death’s Hand in 1411 BC. The Church buried her here so that she could awaken if the Light needs her. Indeed any cleric or follower of Ixion may find her and obtain her help against The Last One and/or The Darkers. If not found before, she will awaken when Level 13 is opened and the followers of Ixion attack from below (see issue #1 and #2 of Threshold for more details).
When the Darkers arrive in this room with Lord Keiros, the shock will be enough to free Asteria from The Last One’s control. The three younger vampires will have also a 50% chance to escape his control and join the Darkers. After The Last One’s defeat, Asteria will remain here with 2 more apprentices, human wizards, and here will reside also Anna Exoter14 (MU10) with 5 apprentices and, occasionally, Basco Trius15 (MU7) and Thaddigren Dentiata16 (MU6), where the latter two are not on missions outside Koskatep. Skoghios (area 16) and Lord Keiros (Level 5) may also be here occasionally.
11 - The Audience Hall
This great hall decorated with double axes was a tribunal, an audience chamber and a general official hall for the High Priestess at the time of Kosmoteiros. It was used more or less with the same purpose at the time of Ieronyx, then abandoned. The Last One placed 10 Agarats17 here as guardians. They will attack anyone entering the area.
11 - There is a hidden tomb on the lower level of this area, never discovered by The last One nor by previous occupants of the ruins. It contained Kedira, (nosferatu and C15) priestess of Nyx when the city was in the hands of Lord Keiros. She managed to hide when the hutaakans conquered Ieronyx and was cast in a sort of suspended animation. Only Lord Keiros will be able to find her tomb, which contains all her objects and weapons, and a part of the old treasure of the Priestess Palace.
As Lord Keiros will be with the Darkers when they will arrive here, he will be able to awaken Kedira, who will then join them against The Last One. After their victory, she will be the custodian of this area along with 2 apprentices (C3-9). Lord Keiros may be here visiting her from time to time.
12 - The Tower quarter
This area dominated by a five storey high tower was a residential quarter for common people of the city and soldiers. Few houses are now still standing, and most of the area is obstructed by rubble. The Last One placed here 3 Banshees, once Dark Fairies who were too friendly with adventurers or humans and were therefore given to him at different times. The Banshees also command a host of about 50 zombies and skeletons of orcs, ogres, gnolls and giants gathered at different times, to use them against intruders.
12 - The possessions of previous adventurers can be found in this area, some of them fairly recent. There are for example the remains of a group of Darkers spies, of which a small diary with maps is also left, and other remains of some ogres who came from Level 1.
The Darkers will try to convince the banshees to join them. The creatures will not immediately join them against The Last One but will eventually join the Darkers, who will offer a new meaning to their existence. The zombies and skeletons will be destroyed.
13 - The Eastern Area
This area is made of decayed structures that cannot be recognized anymore, but included barracks at the height of the city. Sh’namg, (MU15) a powerful sidhe nosferatu and wizard has an underground lair here, with his grave and treasure. He also has a Soul Render18, a Mummy (once a Nyx’s priest) and several zombies at his service. The Last One visits him from time to time, and it appears that they have some common project. It’s hard to say if Sh’namg is somehow a thrall of The Last One or has rather deceived him for his own purposes.
13 - There is treasure of magical objects, scrolls and potions in the underground lair of Sh’namg, but also many dangerous magical traps and cursed items.
The Darkers will try to convince Sh’namg to join them. He will accept without many difficulties, but has he really betrayed the Last One or will he aid him when he returns after a year? Or has Sh’namg his own, even darker goals?
Regardless, the Darkers probably will not immediately discover his true motivations and will leave him be. The mummy however will be freed from his control immediately and will join the Darkers, while the zombies will be destroyed. Sh’namg however will hide the Soul Render and will slowly create more incorporeal servants in secret.
14 - The Fortress
This area of about four floors was a fortress at the time of Kosmoteiros and Ieronyx. Later abandoned, it is now the headquarters of Skloros (nosferatu and F25), a huge man who is the general of The Last One’s forces. He commands over a hundred between skeletons, zombies and ghouls, 10 wights, 7 wraiths, 5 mummies, 5 spectres and 3 nosferatus (F9-15). The latter 3, along with Skloros, ride Nightmare horses19.
14 - There is a hidden sublevel under the Fortress with the remains of Lord Edwac, (nosferatu, A21) an Avenger of Nyx who led the assault against the gnolls in 841 BC, preventing the Church of Thanatos from using the Starlake. Edwac fell and his companions hid the body here. A handful of them were able to escape and relate the story. When in 603 BC the Church of Nyx had again access to this level, the tomb was renovated and trapped, and Lord Edwac’s body preserved so that he might serve Nyx again in the future. Two other priests of Nyx, Lira and Jaken (C11) also remained here, in magical sleep, to aid him upon his awakening.
The Darkers will arrive here secretly, finding the fortress empty as Skloros and his minions will be in Area 1, waiting in vain for them. The Darkers will awaken Lord Edwac and the priests and proceed to ambush Skloros and his minions, who will be defeated, then will go to the Starlake in Area 5.
After The Last One’s defeat, Lord Edwac will stay here with Lira, Jaken, 1 obsidian golem, 10 uncorporeals and undecayed, 3 young clerics (C1-6) and 10 warriors (F1-5) he will train.
15 - The Southern quarter
A residential area for priests and merchants, this area was once filled with beautiful gardens now long decayed. The Last One placed here 3 Dusanu20 (HD9), an ogre, an orc and a gnoll with about 3 dozens zombie servants, moldy and rotten, some humans, and some humanoids.
15 - There is a collection of potions and other concoctions where each Dusanu has his laboratory: it seems the creatures are trying to develop some sort of preparation for their mysterious purposes, or following The Last One’s orders. Needless to say that trying to use such potions may be quite dangerous.
The Darkers will try to communicate with the Dusanu to bring them to their side. It’s up to the DM to decide if they can succeed or not. The Darkers will regardless request that the zombies be destroyed, as unintelligent undead are anathema to the Church of Nyx.
16 - The South palace
This palace was an academy for wizards at the height of Kosmoteiros, and is now inhabited by Koros (MU 24 and nosferatu), a former follower of Nyx who was a friend of both Lord Keiros and Leukos. He repudiated his faith sometime after 1411 BC and became a servant of Thanatos and The Last One. He has 6 apprentices (Nosferatus and MU 2-12) and a host of two dozen skeletons, wraiths, wights and spectres serving him.
16 - There is a sizable magical treasure of wands, potions and scrolls in Koros’ laboratory and among his private possessions, but most of them are well hidden and protected by magical traps. Some of the items are also cursed and will slowly influence the bearer, turning him or her to the worship of Thanatos.
When the Darkers attack, Koros and his apprentices will probably be caught in Area 1 as the rest of The Last One’s minions. If Lord Keiros spots Koros, he will try to destroy him immediately. Another Darker, Skoghios (Nosferatu and MU 20) was a former friend of Koros and will try to kill him for his betrayal of Nyx. Skoghios will take residence here with 4 apprentices (Nosferatus and MU5-10), 2 obsidian golems and about 10 Uncorporeals and 10 Undecayed.
THE BATTLE ON THIS LEVEL
When the Darkers attack, they will have a sizeable army, including at least a hundred or more ogres and hill giants with their leaders Golbag and Trosh (as detailed in Level 1, issue #2 of Threshold). They will also have at least a hundred humans between wizards like Mogren, Anna Exoter and Basco Trius, Clerics as Lady Sonya, Kivid and Ilena (the latter two are described in Level 5, issue #7 of Threshold), thieves and warriors. They will have also around 50 undead with them, including Undecayed and Uncorporeals (described in issue #1 of Threshold), Skoghios and his nosferatu, and some obsidian golems.
As explained in the above levels of Koskatep in the previous issue of Threshold magazine, the Darkers will also gather several more allies among the undead of the levels above, as many will join them, as Gilas and her ghosts in Level 4 (in issue #6 of Threshold) and Lord Keiros in Level 5 (in issue #7 of Threshold).
They will also have the strategic advantage to strike from the secret passage leading from Level 5 to area 14 of this level, thus surprising The Last One’s minions.
Approximately a year after the first battle, as explained in issue #1 and #2 of Threshold, The Last One will probably strike back from Level 10, but also Hel’s beastmen of Level 11, Ixion’s followers in Level 13 (with some more allies from the above levels as detailed in each one) and the Fairies in Levels 9 and 6 could be involved in this second battle.
1 Robert Nuttman (RobJN) also contributed with some interesting ideas about The Starlake, The Great Chasm and The Dark Waterfall
2 Several details of this history come from my History of Traladara (http://pandius.com/tralhist.html). Other histories may differ, as the one presented in issue 1 of Threshold magazine did (History of Karameikos by Simone Neri, page 37), but this timeline could easily fit into them too.
3 As explained in issue 1 of Threshold magazine (Mirror of Eternal Night, page 144), Koskatep is the center of a millennia old struggle between Nyx, Ixion, Thanatos and Hel.
5 This idea comes from RobJN here: http://thornschronicle.blogspot.it/2014/06/design-diary-time-before-years.html For more information about the Carnifex, see here: http://pandius.com/lore.html and here: http://pandius.com/carnifex.html Annwyn is the homeplane of the Dark Fairies, see also the previous level of Koskatep in Threshold issue #8 here: http://pandius.com/Threshold_8.pdf
8 See note 6 above.
10 Check Level 1, Area 18 in Threshold issue #2,
11 Check Level 2A, Area 10 in Threshold issue #4
12 Check Level 4, Areas 1 and 7 in Threshold issue #6: these are not really in The Last One’s control but Gilas’ however, but Vudar doesn’t know that.
13 Check Level 6, area 8 in Threshold issue #8
15 Described on page 35 of Agathokles’ Lords of the Cruth Lowlands.
16 Thaddigren appears in the Dungeon Magazine #24 adventure “In the Dread of Night” where he is clearly evil, as The Sons of Night or Darkers are. Me and Agathokles however, after a discussion here: http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7731&hilit=karameikos+developing&start=25#p101212 decided to use them as a non-evil Nyx organization in Lords of the Cruth Lowlands and Mirrors of Eternal Night, in issue #1 of Threshold magazine.
17 See AC9 Creature Catalogue for BECMI stats, or here for AD&D stats: http://www.lomion.de/cmm/agarat.php or here for D&D 3ed stats: http://pandius.com/agarat.html and http://pandius.com/agarat2.html
20 See AC9 or 1993 Creature Catalogue, here or in the AD&D Mystara Monstrous Compendium for AD&D stats: http://www.lomion.de/cmm/dusanu.php and here for D&D3.5 ed stats: http://pandius.com/tl_dsanu.html