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Koskatep level 9: Krystallac, Crystal Heartby Francesco Defferrari from Threshold Magazine issue 11
Krystallac, Crystal Heart
Secrets of Koskatep, Level 9
by Francesco Defferrari (Sturm)
The Three Sisters ruled over the Fair Immortals. A Queen of Spring, a Queen of Summer, and a Queen of Twilight. The Queen of Summer had a daughter with the Sun, to mend the wounds of the world. The Sun did not want the wounds to mend, and the daughter was buried deep under the earth. The Queen of Spring had a daughter with the Enemy, to prepare the end of the world. And the Queen of Twilight had a daughter with the Lord of Death, that she could kill her mother, and her father too.
Ancient, haunting fairy song.
Koskatep, Level 9
This level can be reached going down from the closed and trapped hatch of area 9 on Level 8 or even through the chasm in area 10 on Level 8 (Mokrath, published in Issue 10 of Threshold magazine). The PCs will find themselves on Level 9, Krystallac, once a city of fairies, now apparently completely empty, but in truth haunted and cursed.
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 NINE, CRYSTAL HEART
This level was Krystallac, a holy place of the fairy and giant realm of Grondheim1. The walls of this levels are heavily decorated with magically enlightened, coloured crystals and beautiful natural designs. This level is empty, apparently everything of value was plundered when the city fell to the lizardmen many centuries ago.
The secrets: Even though fairy folk were driven away from the city so many years ago, they have always maintained a hidden magical gate in a small, unassuming room. Now sidhe lords from across the Known World, Oberon’s court, and storm giants are gathering their strength to reconquer Krystallac. Unknown to the Darkers, at the time of Grondheim, sidhe priests discovered that the Starlake could indeed be used to open a permanent gate to any other plane, and the fairies would like to open one to the Dreamlands. Yet, as the Starlake is defiled, the gate would now open to the Unseelie court, unless it is first purified.
Before the Darkers arrive, this level is empty, and afterwards it still is, even though the Darkers are slowly exploring it, hoping to find some lost fairy folk artifact.
The Great Mother Time: When the fairies were not divided in two Courts, Chaos ruled over Law and the Great Mother reigned. The mythical time in which fairies were above the modern Immortals.
The Dragon wars: When, after the Immortals betrayed and killed the Great Mother, the Dragons waged war against the Immortals and were defeated, losing their immortality. Fairies, allied with the dragons, were also exiled from the immortal realms.
Ixion and Elienor: When Elienor the Fairy Queen of Summer fell in love with the Immortal, Ixion, and they had a daughter who was called Ashira.
Ashira’s Dream: When Ashira created the Dream of Fire, a powerful artifact that could change past history. Her father Ixion imprisoned her for this. Elienor led a war against her former lover, but the fairies were defeated.
Carnifex wars: When Carnifex and the Outer Beings almost destroyed the Immortals, and some fairies decided to help them to save the worlds2. Thus it was that the rift was created between the Unseelie Court of Elienor and the Seelie Court of Morganna.
Blackmoor: When Morganna fell in love with Uther, King of Blackmoor, but later the fairies of both courts had to fight the encroachment of the technomagic empire.
2504 BC: The Inti, led by the church of Ixion, occupy the ruins and rebuild the city of Koskatepetl.
2379 BC: The Troll Queen of Grondheim conquers the city, renaming it Krystallac. Just a few years later sidhe priests discover the existence of the inner temple and begin a century long negotiation with the Sollux and the Brutemen below to gain access to the artifact. The Troll Queen also creates the Crystal Lake, a permanent gate to the Border, the area between the Dreamlands and the Nightmare dimension.
2282 BC: As the Queen grows impatient about the unwillingness of Ixion to compromise, she sends her best troops to open the temple. Inti troops soon attack the place, and Taymora intervenes shortly thereafter. This is the beginning of the War of the Empires, or the Twilight Wars, or the War of Southern Grondheim, that will last decades and will devastate the region. Mogreth intervenes as well a few years later.
2170 BC: Some fairies of Krystallac turn to the Unseelie, and decide to tell Elienor about Ashira’s tomb. The Troll Queen discovers them and exiles them, and manages to scatter the essence of Elienor after a terrible magical battle near the Crystal Lake. But she is gravely wounded by Elienor’s magic, and will never be able to recover. The Crystal lake is also damaged and its capacity as a portal greatly reduced.
2080 BC: In a time of crisis in Grondheim due to the Troll Queen’s malady Taymora and Intua, lizardmen and troglodytes, escaped from the Mogreth, occupy Krystallac and keep it for a hundred years. As the lizardmen cannot locate all the portals left by the fairies in Level 9, they try to seal it completely.
1976 BC: After a long siege Taymora conquers Krystallac and renames it Kosmoteiros. 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. The followers of Nyx leave Krystallac alone, and fairy agents of Titania, the Troll Queen and their mother Morganna start to fight to control the Crystal Lake.
1777 BC: To prevent Kosmoteiros from falling into the hands of Thanatos, the priests of Nyx destroy the city with a terrible earthquake. Thousands die and the place is abandoned for many years as seismic activity increases in the area. The Starlake waters from Level 7 spill into the Crystal Lake of Level 9, changing its properties. Agents of Oberon and Mabel also arrive in Krystallac.
1664 BC: After the destruction of Taymora fairies of the Unseelie court, former exiles of Krystallac, take possession of the place and try to use the Starlake, but do not discover Ashira’s burial and are not able to reach Elienor until much later. The dark fairies of Kundrak try to reach Krystallac but the agents of the three Seelie Courts ally against them. A long negotiation begins, but is cut short by Lord Keiros’ coming.
1597 BC: Lord Keiros, a Tal nosferatu and follower of Nyx, conquers Koskatep from the dark fairies. Vampiric followers of Thanatos attack several times but are defeated.
1412 BC: Hutaakans conquer the site for Ixion and Pflarr, a seriously wounded Lord Keiros is forced to hide, and his followers are exterminated.
1021 BC: Orcs sack Koskatep, some hutaakan priests survive hiding in the lower levels, and will become more guardians for the hidden temple of Ixion. The fairy agents let the hutaakans pass, Haput is recruited by Oberon’s faction.
954 BC: After several battles a dwarven army defeats the orcs and conquers Koskatep, but are soon in constant warfare with the gnolls that rule over the region.
912 BC: The dwarves are finally defeated by the gnolls, who build their own city over the ruins. Shamans of Ranivorus and Thanatos begin to study the Starlake.
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 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.
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 priests of Ixion, who drive out the ogres and occupy Koskatep for years. Elienor returns to Krystallac, and the Lord of Leaves pledges his fealty to her. She learns about the existence of her daughter’s tomb and tries to conquer Koskatep, but she and her agents are repelled by the priests of Ixion, who also occupy Level 9, hindering the work of the faerie agents or stopping it completely.
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 a very powerful and ancient vampire sent by Thanatos, The Last One, called by Elienor. Some priests of Ixion escape to the lowest level and become defenders of the inner temple. 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. The Last One sends Akrash’s minions from Level 8 to conquer Krystallac, but the Seelie Courts ally to stop them. The Dark Fairies of Elienor try too, but are likewise repelled. Rarely, some human adventurers reach this far, and are kidnapped by the fairies or sent back against Akrash and the Last One, to their doom.
912 AC: Traladaran freedom fighters hide in the ruins for some time, but are destroyed by the Thyatian army. The Thyatians soon leave the place.
998 AC (or later if the DM prefers): Lady Sonya, the Grand Daughter of the Night, a powerful priestess of Nyx, and her followers, are able to defeat The Last One and reclaim Koskatep. Elienor on Level 6 is now growing impatient with The Last One’s apparent inability to reach Level 13, while secretly on Level 9 agents of Titania, Oberon, Mabel, Morganna and the Troll Queen are waiting for the right chance to take control of the Crystal Lake. Elienor also tries to turn some of their agents to her cause, and sends parley offers to her rivals.
1031 AC: The next alignment. On this date the Starlake could be used to bring forth The Eternal Night.
The Random Critters table of level 2B (in issue 3 of Threshold magazine) and the Wandering Parties table may apply here if the DM so wishes. In this case there is a 1% chance in each room that a Wandering Party will be encountered.
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 so wishes. 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 5-8 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 a high level.
In addition, every faerie being secretly surveilling this level will immediately perceive any spell cast here and will likely try to invisibly follow the PCs to discern their motivations. The behaviour of these agents will be described in each individual area.
The map and the inhabitants of this Level
The area in dark grey on the map is solid stone, very difficult to dig, even though it may contain small tunnels dug by critters and wandering monsters. The area in light grey is partially clear, but full of rubble, rocks and collapsed structures which cannot be recognized anymore.
The black “scar” in the middle of the map is the Chasm opened by the Kosmoteiros earthquake of 1777 BC, which goes all the way down to Level 12.
The structures in green are the original constructions of Krystallac at its height, built with magical greenish crystal that still glow in the dark of this level. The green points are trunks of the crystal trees, which once had branches and leaves. The purple squares are the seven abodes of the Seven Dream Kingdoms. All these locations will be fully explained below.
At its height, the city was packed of green crystal houses, but most of them have since crumbled, their magic exhausted. A fine green dust covers most of the area in light grey, all that remains of the thousand magical houses of Krystallac.
The green and purple structures not only glow, but also show transparent images from time to time, usually leaves and flowers, but sometimes faces, or creatures.
The azure spot is the Crystal Lake built by the Troll Queen.
This level is completely empty and apparently has no living (or dead) inhabitants. This is because the inhabitants of this level are not physically here, but are instead in the Dreamlands (or Annwyn in the Nightmare Dimension) the homes of the fairies of the Seelie and Unseelie Courts respectively.
The DM could decide that the PCs will be able to cross this level without encountering anyone, or, through this level, the PCs will be able to travel to the Seven Worlds.
Map of Krystallac, Level 9
The Levels of Koskatep
1 - The stair from Level 8 and the Crystal Trees
Here a spiral staircase comes down from Area 9 of Level 8, the Shrine to Thanatos. This access is normally kept locked and trapped by Akrash and his minions above (see Level 8 in issue #10 of Threshold magazine). All around the spiral staircase there are the trunks of the Crystal trees. Magical constructs of the Troll Queen, at the height of Krystallac they had branches, leaves and fruit with various magical properties, but now they seem just broken columns of green crystal. In front of the staircase there is the huge crystal green wall of the Temple (Area 7). The wall is impossible to climb. Anyone attempting this will simply reappear at the base of the wall right before he or she reaches the top, unless he or she possess immortal level magic.
Bones or other similar remains litter the floor in this area, among the green dust. They are mostly what’s left of followers of the Last One who tried to invade the level and were destroyed by the fairies of Areas 2, 5, 8 or 9.
1 - It is possible to reactivate the trees with a green key. These keys are normally only in the possession of high level fairies and can open any green crystal house or structure, if the fairy concentrates on it. PCs of other races will be able to activate the key only 30% of the time. A reactivated tree can randomly provide food, beverage and magic. Fairy folk are able to call a specific “product” from the tree, but non-fairies will succeed only 10% of the time, otherwise the tree will create a random object, food or beverage, up to a maximum weight of 3.3 pounds (1.5 kilograms).
The Darkers will open this access to start exploring this level, but mostly it will be Elienor and her minions from Level 6 that take advantage of this option, as they will hope to contact the members of the Seelie Court who sometimes come here, to sway them to their cause. A mixed group of 1d10+2 Darkers and Dark Fairies may be present here at any time.
2 - The Mound
This is just a round wall of green crystal, apparently less massive than the one of the Temple in Area 7, yet likewise unclimbable. There is no apparent access to the inside.
This area was inhabited by cloud and storm giants at the height of Krystallac. Vuram, a cloud giant envoy from the Altan Tepes mountains, and ally of the Fairy King Oberon, sometimes visits the area, mostly to hunt and kill minions of the Last One who are exploring the area from Level 7. He often has 2d4 other giants (mountain, cloud or storm giants usually) with him. He has an unique green key which opens the Mound, and if he encounters the PCs will ask about their allegiance before attacking. He will know if they tell the truth, but will not attack if they are not aligned with the Last One.
2 - There are giant sized pieces of armor, weapons, furniture and food inside the Mound, but PCs will probably be able to access it only with the aid of Vuram, and he will not let them take anything away.
Some time after the arrival of the Darkers they will contact Vuram and he will be friendly with them, even if he has his own plans about Koskatep.
3 - The Crystal forest
This great area is full of green crystal trunks, once the crystal trees that provided Krystallac with magical food, beverages and items. Now they can only be activated with a green key, as explained above.
3 - There are 1d10+1 followers of the Last One hidden among the trunks. Check the table in issue #2 of Threshold magazine as explained above or choose any kind of undead minion as appropriate to the PCs levels. Their purpose here is to kill faerie agents, if they can surprise them. In truth, this is only the latest group of followers the Last One sent. All the previous ones were discovered and destroyed by Vuram (Area 2) or the fairy agents (Area 5).
After the Darkers initial attack any follower of the Last One still alive in this area will escape with him to Level 10, and wait for his revenge. Afterwards there is a 3% chance that a group of them (1d6+1), led by a priest or a wizard, may be encountered here.
4 - The Purple Houses of the Seven Kingdoms
These seven houses, the only structures built in purple crystal instead of green, each lead to one of the Seven Kingdoms. The kingdoms are just how the fairies call seven very different areas of Mystara. The Houses were built by the Troll Queen thanks to the magic of the Crystal Lake and their use was reserved to her and her most trusted servants. They can be accessed only by a purple key, unique to each house, which only the Lord of Leaves in Area 9 and any other very high ranking fairy may possess. Using the house may leave the PCs stranded in a far away location or even kill them, if they do not have faerie help:
I - The Earth House leads anyone entering it to a random faerie location in the Outer World3, unless the traveller concentrates on a specific location. Non-faeries will only be able to pick a specific location with a successful saving throw against spells, but they will not be aware of the necessity to concentrate unless a faerie agent explains it to them.
II - The Sea House leads anyone entering it to a random Undersea location4 in the Outer World. PCs not equipped with water breathing spells will probably drown.
III - The Sky House leads anyone entering it to a random Cloud Castle of the cloud giants or a random Faerie City5 in the skies high above the Outer World.
IV - The Shadow House leads anyone entering it to a random fairy location of the Shadowdeep6 between the Outer and the Hollow World.
V - The Hollow World House leads anyone entering it to a random fairy location in the Hollow World7. As normal teleportation spells will not work in the Hollow World, PCs will be able to return here only with Immortal level fairy magic, i.e. the aid of an extremely powerful fairy, should they stay for more than a week (see below).
VI - The Matera House leads anyone entering it to a random fairy location in the moon of Matera8, either on the outside (where the PCs could die for lack of air) or in the Hollow Moon.
VII - The Patera House leads anyone entering it to a random fairy location9 on the invisible moon of Patera.
Once the user reaches a location, the Purple House will remain in that location for a week, waiting for the traveller’s return, then it will disappear forever, leaving him, her or them stranded if they do not return in time to the House.
4 - There is a safe way to travel the Purple Houses, as the Lord of Leaves will explain to the PCs if he decides to meet them in Area 9, see the description of that Area for further details.
The Darkers will be very interested in the Purple Houses, but any fairy party will try to destroy them before they are able to use them. Should the faeries fail to defeat the Darkers, they will magically blow up the whole level to avoid the danger of a human organization gaining control of so many faerie portals.
5 - The Houses of Green Crystal
These houses of green crystal, apparently without doors or windows, are the only ones still standing in the city because they are occasionally visited and occupied by living fairy folk. A green key is needed to access any of them, one unique to each house. There are twelve green houses still standing, and twelve active faerie agents. (Fifteen if the Lord of Leaves in area 9, Vuram in area 2 and Heshaanis in area 7, are also counted. They, however, have their own particular stories as detailed in their areas). The exact location of these twelve minor agent’s houses can be determined randomly. They normally avoid each other and all are trying to repair and study the Crystal Lake in area 7:
I - Crais, a pooka who appears as a porcupine man and is an agent of the Summer Court of Queen Titania. Crais seems nice and harmless but it’s just a ruse. He is a powerful wizard (Pooka 10, Wicca 13) who has destroyed many followers of The Last One already. He normally only exits the house with 1d10+2 other powerful fairies (Levels 4-10). He is the leader of the Summer Faction, whose ultimate goal is to make a rebuilt Krystallac the center of a new fairy realm, open only to some selected races, such as elves, but not to humans.
II - Etraig, a sidhe knight (Sidhe 10) is another agent of the Summer Court, but of King Oberon’s faction. He cooperates with Crais and the other agents of Titania, but Oberon has his own agenda as he would prefer a fairy city more open to the external world, including humans. He may also be more willing to ally with the Darkers, or at least not oppose them directly. He normally only exits the house with 1d6+1 other powerful fairies (Levels 3-9).
III - Aesha, a dryad shaman (Dryad 9 Shaman 9) and chief agent of the Twilight Court of Morganna, the mysterious Queen of the Fairies of Skothar. The other factions are not sure of what goal she might have. Morganna supposedly aided the ancient King of Blackmoor, Uther, in his rise to power, but it’s hard to say if she is still friendly toward humans, as the other fairies are not even sure she is still alive. Aesha normally only exits the house with 1d8+2 other powerful fairies (Levels 4-10).
IV - Cuachal, a Tepictoton (as Pixie 10 or see note10), a Davanian fairy, is the only agent of the Spring Court of Mabel in Virdin. His goal is mostly to wait and see what the other Courts will do, or who will win, and intervene only if The Last One or the Darkers gain control of Krystallac. In this case, Mabel could decide to send relevant forces. Cuachal often leaves the house alone, or with just a single companion (normally another sprite or pixie, Level 3-7)
V - Shorok, a woodrake (Woodrake 10, Wicca 9) is the chief agent of the Troll Queen in Krystallac. The other fairy courts are not sure about the ultimate fate of the Troll Queen of Grondheim. Some say she is asleep, hidden somewhere, while others say she has awakened and is active again in Alphatia. Regardless, Shorok’s purpose is to repair the Crystal Lake and bring Krystallac back to its former glory, destroying any interloping humans. He normally only exits the house with 1d12+2 other powerful fairies (Levels 5-10).
VI - Jinimix, a brownie (Brownie 9) is officially an agent of Titania, now in the service of Elienor (see Kundrak in Threshold issue #8) due to his fealty to the Lord of Leaves (see Area 9) who also turned to the Queen of Winter. The others of his faction do not know this, but Crais suspects something. He normally leaves the house alone or with 2 bodyguards (Pooka 5). The bodyguards have turned to Elienor too.
VII - Kirvos, a faun (Faun 9) is the only known agent of Elienor, even if he was sent by the Troll Queen centuries ago. Shorok hates him for his betrayal. Kirvos has met with Jiminix in secret several times already. Elienor’s goal is nothing less than access to Ashira’s tomb on Level 13, then destroy the Immortals and bring back the Time of Chaos. Repairing the Crystal Lake and exterminating humans in all the area surrounding Koskatep could be a minor goal. Until the Last One is destroyed, Kirvos does not have easy access to the Dark Fairies of Level 6, due to the wards preventing teleport and portals in Koskatep, he communicates with them through spells. The situation could change if Heshaanis (see Area 7) shares his access. Kirvos normally exits the house alone, secretly and in the dark, but Elienor has given him the power to summon 1d6+3 wraiths once a day, with a black magical stone he always brings along.
VIII - Taasea, a dryad (Dryad 9) is another agent of Titania and apparently loyal to Crais, but she is secretly in love with Etraig, who plans to enlist her help for Oberon’s faction if needed. She normally only leaves the house with 3 other dryads and 2 fauns (Levels 3-7).
IX - Kuyckj is a bog imp (Bog Imp 1011) and an agent of the Troll Queen. He would like very much to kill Kirvos but normally obeys Shorok loyally. He normally only exits the house with 1d6+2 other bog or wood imps (Levels 3-6).
X - Tairyc, a sprite (Sprite 10) is an agent of Morganna and he normally just aids and obeys Aesha. He often has 1d7+1 other sprites with him (Levels 2-7).
XI - Kaeja is a dryad (Dryad 10, Shaman 8) and an agent of the Troll Queen. She obeys Shorok but would like very much to succeed in their mission before him and take the credit. Tairyc is trying to turn her to Morganna. She normally exits the house with three dryad acolytes (Dryad 3-5, Shaman 1-4).
XII - Verish is a Pixie (Pixie 10) and an agent of Titania. He is loyal to Crais and doesn’t know that Jinimix has turned to Elienor, but suspects that Taasea has a relationship with Etraig. He normally exits the house with 1d6+1 pixies (Levels 3-8).
5 - Politics of the fairy courts could well be quite confusing for the PCs, but they are meant to be. All of them could be allies against the Last One, some could accept a temporary alliance with the Darkers or the Church of Ixion, but they will eventually try to take Koskatep for their people. From the most friendly to the less friendly faction, consider that Mabel’s faction could be the most willing to share the place with others, even humans, but it also the less powerful and most far away, as it represent Davania’s fairies. Oberon’s faction too is relatively friendly, and much nearer. Then there is Titania’s faction, who would prefer not to share the place with humans, but will try to use non lethal force to drive them away. Then there is Morganna’s faction, whose purpose is mysterious even to other fairies. The Troll Queen’s faction is willing to resort to any means to drive other races away from Koskatep and control its magic, and its ultimate goal is to bring back Grondheim, conquering any human nation in its way, such as Karameikos. Elienor’s faction plans nothing less than awake Ashira in Level 13 and change the past, thus destroying the world as the PC’s knows it.
There are a multitude of enchanted fairy objects in each house, belonging to the faerie who lives inside when he or she is present. It is very unlikely, however, that the PCs could be able to gain access to a house without the consent of the owner, even if they stole his or her unique green keys. A non faerie can in fact gain access, even with the correct key, only 10% of the time, and he or she can try only once a day. If the PC fails, he or she will be stunned for the rest of the day.
Some time after the arrival of the Darkers all the minor agents will show themselves and profess their friendship, while secretly trying to further their cause by spying on the Darkers and the rival agents and smearing the rival groups. If the Darkers have allied with the Dark Fairies of Level 6, the agents of Titania, Oberon, Morganna, Mabel and the Troll Queen will try to warn them that the ultimate goal of Elienor and the Winter Court is nothing short of the destruction of the world and all the Immortals, Nyx included. Obviously the Dark Fairies and their agents here will try to deny such claims and accuse the others instead. All Faerie factions, except maybe for Oberon’s, will probably betray the Darkers for their own ends, sooner or later. Oberon, Titania and Mabel could also be willing to compromise with a winning Ixion faction, while Morganna’s goals are completely mysterious and the Troll Queen will want complete control of Koskatep for herself.
6 - The Chasm, and entrance to the Temple
The Chasm opened by the earthquake of 1777 BC has destroyed the former entrance to the Fairy Temple which contains the Crystal Lake. Now the only safe way to enter is to fly over the Chasm, while climbing up and down or tying a rope could be quite dangerous as the water dripping from Level 7 has random teleportation effects, see sidebar.
6 - There is the Dark Waterfall coming down from above. As the walls of the chasm are wet, it is extremely dangerous to try to reach Level 10 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 prison12.
The Darkers will eventually try to cover the Chasm to have an easier access to the Temple and the Crystal Lake. The fairy factions will not hinder them, waiting for another good opportunity to strike at them and at the other factions.
7 - The Temple and the Crystal Lake
This area is now partially isolated from the rest of the level by the Chasm, as explained in the previous area, and the faerie factions constantly battle one another to have access to the Crystal Lake. This happens through pitched battle, laying traps or sending expendable minions (such as human adventurers) against each other, or by simply trying to sneak here unnoticed by the other factions. There is a 5% chance each time that the PCs arriving here may encounter a (temporarily) victorious fairy faction here studying the Lake. There is another 5% chance each time that the PCs arrive right in the middle of a battle between fairy factions, or between a faction and the followers of The Last One of Area 1.
The Crystal Lake was created by the Troll Queen to be a permanent gate to any faerie land in Mystara and to the Border, the land between the Dreamlands and Annwyn and the Nightmare lands. Thanks to its properties, the Purple Houses and the Green Houses were built too (see Areas 4 and 5). After the battle here between the Troll Queen and Elienor in 2170 BC the Crystal Lake began to fail, sending users to unknown locations of the multiverse13, or maybe just destroying them. Since then, the fairie factions are trying to repair the magical damage, but their efforts have been seriously undermined by the fact that they do not cooperate but rather constantly try to hinder each other.
7 - Heshaanis, a dark hsiao (a hsiao aligned with the Unseelie Court) is hidden among the crystal trunks of this area. He has arrived from Area 7 of Level 6 (through the random teleportation effect of the Faery Ring) but he has not communicated this to his superior and Queen Elienor. He is trying to decide if he could gain more by exploring this level first, in the hope he could discover some treasure of Krystallac. He will try to contact the PCs to obtain their help. He will claim to be a hsiao of the outside world who just wants to save the ancient secrets of this fairy city from the plundering of the Last One.
The Darkers will be quite interested in the Crystal Lake too. After their arrival a group of them, (1d6+1), led by a priest or a wizard, may be encountered here with a 3% chance. They will probably not have the time to study it properly, however, as one or all the fairy factions will soon strike against them once they rid them of The Last One. The latter’s return from Level 10 (see Level 7 and previous issues of Threshold) could well happen while the Darkers are busy fighting the fairies here and on the level above.
8 - The City
This was the main area of the city of Krystallac at its height, it therefore contained a lot more houses than now. The terrain is covered with fine green dust and there are still 7 green houses and 2 purple houses here, but not much more.
8 - With a thorough search of the area some items could be found, mostly weapons, coins, armor or other objects dropped during the centuries by the rare adventurers or minions of the Last One who came this far and were destroyed by the fairies.
The Darkers will make plans to rebuild the city, with the assistance of the Dark Fairies of Level 6. In truth, as explained before, they will just wait for the right time to betray them. After the arrival of the Darkers a group of them (1d6+1), led by a priest or a wizard, may be encountered here with a 3% chance.
9 - The Palace of the Queen
This was the Palace of the Troll Queen at the height of Krystallac. Now it is apparently completely empty, and without a door to close it, it can be easily entered. In truth, the Lord of Leaves (Sidhe 10, Wicca 10, Shaman 10) is often here with several minions (at least 1d20+5 or more), including sidhe knights, pookas, drakes, sprites and more. But they will all be invisible unless he decides to meet the PCs. If the PCs had some agreement with Elienor on Level 6 or the Flame Duke (see Area 14 of Level 6), the Lord of Leaves will appear to them.
The Lord is in fact the brother of the Flame Duke, leader of the Fairies who betrayed the Troll Queen in 2170 BC. The Lord of Leaves remained loyal, but the rift with his brother weighed heavily on him, and with the passing centuries he reconsidered his position. Officially aligned with Titania after the fall of Grondheim in 1700 BC, the Lord of Leaves nevertheless contacted his brother in Kundrak in 1664 BC and kept contact with him even after the fall of the Dark Fairies. Eventually his turning point was in 95 AC, when he found Elienor by the Crystal Lake. Since then, he has been a secret agent of the Winter Queen. Even if he normally aids Crais and the other agents of Titania and Oberon to deflect suspicions, he always subtly sabotages their efforts. He has also successfully deflected Crais’ suspicions to Jinimix (see Area 5) and other factions, so far.
The Lord of Leaves has found a way to repair the Crystal Lake, even if he has not shared this information with anyone yet, not even with his brother and Elienor. The magical ritual to repair the lake needs some quite rare components from the Seven Kingdoms accessible through the Purple Houses (Area 4):
I - A dryad’s love potions from the earth fairies.
II - A nixie’s veil from the sea fairies.
III - A faerie’s wing dust from the sky fairies.
IV - A gem of Annwyn from the Shadowdeep fairies.
V - A tepictoton’s cloak from the Hollow World fairies
VI - A pinch of enchanted dust from Matera’s fairies
VII - A pooka’s boot from Patera’s fairies.
Obtaining all the above items will include some difficult feats of persuasion and a lot of travel. If the PCs manage to do that the Lord of Leaves will reward them handsomely with magical items and will promise even more rewards from Elienor and the Flame Duke, once he informs them. The PCs could instead obviously bring such items and knowledge to one of the other fairy factions described in Area 5. Elienor and the Duke will obviously eventually use the lake to bring here huge numbers of Dark Fairies, to eliminate humans and any other faction. The Lord of Leaves may try to convince the others to spare former allies, but Elienor and the Duke may well not necessarily listen to him.
9 - There is a treasure of magical objects in the palace, some dating back to the time of Grondheim. Spells to see magic and invisible things may reveal them, but the Lord of Leaves and the other fairies here will not allow thieves to escape unmolested.
The Darkers will meet the Lord of Leaves too but he will not tell them about the items, as he will decide to speak directly with his brother and the other Dark Fairies. The Lord and his retainers will become visible here once the Last One has been temporarily defeated.
10 - The Cave, only safe way to Level 10
Even if it is possible to reach Level 10 through the Chasm, this cave is the only safe way to do so. The fairy agents and the Lord of Leaves know that the Last One has awakened some mummies below, but they did not care as their only interest is the Crystal Lake. Therefore the hatch opening into the spiral staircase going down is bolted.
10 - There is a trap on the hatch left by The Last One if someone tries to open it without saying “All praises to Thanatos Lord of Death”. The trap is exceedingly powerful, sending a meteor swarm against the intruders. A clue to its existence are the battered bones of some old adventurers who somehow managed to reach this far.
The Darkers will not immediately try to open Level 10, but should decide to do so eventually, activating or disarming the trap. It is very likely, however, that The Last One, hidden below on Level 10 and after his first defeat on Level 7, will strike against them well before they decide to explore below.
THE BATTLE ON THIS LEVEL
There will be no initial battle on this level, as the Darkers and the Dark Fairies will arrive here peacefully after conquering Level 7 (see issue #9 of Threshold) and finding an agreement with the lizardmen on Level 8 (see issue #10 of Threshold). After some time however the minions of the Last One (or of other parties, see the next issue of Threshold magazine for a possible timeline and outcome of the battles for Koskatep’s control) will come up from Level 10, and they will have to battle whoever controls Krystallac, probably the Darkers or the Dark Fairies, or another fairy faction.
1Grondheim is mostly a creation of John Calvin (aka Chimpman) and more details can be found here in the Vaults of Pandius: http://pandius.com/grndheim.html and mostly here: http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=8922&start=25 and here on The Piazza: http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=8924. Many ideas in this article also come from RobJN (aka Robert Nuttman, jr) on Thorn’s Chronicles and Thorn’s Mystara, about which more details can be found here http://pandius.com/thorns_c.html and here http://pandius.com/thrnmyst.html in the Vaults of Pandius, or here http://thornschronicle.blogspot.it/2014/06/design-diary-time-before-years.html in the Thorn’s Chronicle website. My personal take and interpretation on faeries and Grondheim could well be different from the original intentions of both John and Robert.
3See PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk or this thread http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15289 for fairy locations in the Outer World
4Nixies are detailed in PC3 The Sea People
8About the surface of Matera, see this article by LoZompatore: http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15203, about the Hollow Moon, see here in the Vaults: http://pandius.com/hllwmoon.html and John Calvin’s articles in previous issue of Threshold.
12This 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 and issue #9 about the Dark Waterfall: .http://pandius.com/Threshold_9.pdf. The chance of teleportation could be very low (only 5% of the times that someone touches the waters), or much higher, depending on the DM’s preference.
13Anywhere, such as the Vortex or Calidar...