More Cartography for The Ruins of Old Soguer

I’ve been bitten by the cartography bug again.  Honestly it’s one of the things I most enjoy about game design – making maps.  And these are both big maps of something that I particularly enjoy drafting: cities – one prosperous, one in ruins.

These maps will be featured in the upcoming adventure The Ruins of Old Soguer , an exploration-oriented 4e D&D adventure for 10th level characters.  Over the course of the adventure heroes will search the ruins of a destroyed city in search of the last king’s sword, and by strange paths relive the cataclysm that brought doom to the mighty city of Soguer.

Stay tuned for more maps for the adventure coming soon, as well as preview art for our upcoming board gameVampyre Women of Venus.

Happy Gaming,

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New Adventure: The Ruins of Soguer

We’ve started layout for the new 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons adventure The Ruins of Old Soguer. As part of the process we’re gathering together some of the last pieces of art: the cartography. On our Facebook page you can see a preview of the cover art, and the interior art is pretty much done, but I wasn’t totally satisfied with the black and white maps I had made. So I’ve busted out the drawing tab and am adding a splash of color. Here’s a peek at what the maps look like.

Waddaya think?  Let me know in the comments below.


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The Ruins of Soguer – The Mages’s Guild Tower, Part 2

Once again we return to the adventure The Ruins of Old Soguer, being posted piece-by-piece here on Tailslap.  Today’s post details the first two floors of the Mage’s Guild Tower in the central portion of the ruins.  There, a figure from the past languishes under a mysterious curse.

Previous sections of the adventure can be found here:
The Ruins of Soguer – Introduction
The Ruins of Soguer – Start of the Adventure in Aguies Town & Castle
The Ruins of Soguer – River Journey to the Ruins
The Ruins of Soguer – The Western Ruins
The Ruins of Soguer – the Central Ruins
The Ruins of Soguer – The Mages’s Guild Tower, Part 1

Journeyman’s Hall

I – Haunted Mirror – here a cursed magic mirror shows the night of Soguer’s destruction and serves as a conduit to the Shadowfell.

Stepping into the thick fog at the top of the stairs you see the corpse of a long-dead man in worn leather armor. Patches of fog fill the room and partially conceal the tables and chairs scattered about. Corpses of men in ragged leather armor and light hand weapons surround a stand-up mirror near the center of the hall.

A DC 10 Arcana check reveals that the mirror is magic. DC 16 Arcana reveals that is is useful for scrying, DC 21 Arcana to know that it is somehow broken. A DC 25 Arcana check reveals that the barrier between the worlds is thin in the city, and that the mirror is stuck showing scenes from the land of the dead – the Shadowfell.

Looking at the mirror causes it to show scenes of the twilit city as it once was – bustling with people and commerce – with the regal king in gleaming mail astride a green dragon outside a magnificent palace. Then, the scene turns to night. Some type of calamity seems to grip the city. Some people shuffle down the street with blank looks, transfixed by some type of ominous droning, while others scream and flee in the opposite direction. Then shadowy figures are drawn to the scene, approach the mirror’s view, and come out of the mirror into the hall.

Encounter (level 12 +, xp 2400 / 3000 / 3600)- Wraiths from the Shadowfell come through the mirror and attack the players. A DC 28 Arcana check is required to control the mirror enough to stop the additional wraiths from coming through, or a DC 25 Strength check to break it will stop the tide of wraiths. Otherwise another wraith comes through the mirror every other round.
2 x oblivion wraiths (level 14 brute – xp 1000)
1, 2, or 4 vortex wraiths (level 9 soldier – xp 400 each) + one additional vortex wraith every other round.

Treasure – the dead adventurers carry shoddy armor and weapons, and 500 gold worth of scavenged jewelry, flatware, and other art objects.

J – Dead Journeyman’s Apartment – Here a dead journeyman, Malaki guards his chambers and his spellbook.

These chambers feature two small apartments, each with a disheveled bed, and a chair and small table broken and knocked to the ground. Debris litter the floor, including a large illuminated tome lying open on the floor, its pages open to reveal some type of arcane diagram. Standing above the book is a ghostly apparition of a young mage wearing robes and wielding a runed dagger and a wand of oak.

Encounter – xp 1200
1 x watchful ghost (with magic ritual dagger instead of sword and spectral wand instead of crossbow) – (Open Grave)

Treasure (parcel 8) – The ghost’s ritual book contains the following rituals: Water Walk, Phantom Steed, Silence, Shadow Walk, Wizard’s Sight, Water Breathing, Arcane Barrier, Detect Treasure and Shrink.

K – Crumbling Masonry – An open pit that falls through to area A.

Level 10 Warder – xp 500

The bottom ten feet of these stairs have collapsed, leaving a large hole that plunges down to the floor of the main hall twenty feet below.

Hazard – Careful climbing or a great leap are needed to ascend these stairs. Failure results in a painful fall.

DC 21 perception or dungeonering check to notice the cracked stonework at the edges of the pit.

Trigger – If anyone comes within 5′ of the edge of the pit.
Attack – immediate interrupt
Target – the first creature coming within 5′ of the stairs
+13 vs Reflex
Hit – 2d10 falling damage and secondary attack from falling stones
-Secondary Attack – +13 vs Fortitude, 1d10+5 damage
-Effect – the floor at the edge of the pit crumbles, widening the pit that looks down into the Main Hall (area A).

– DC 16 Acrobatics check to to gingerly stand at the edge of the pit without the masonry opening up further (player is attacked as above on failure).
– DC 21 Athletics or Acrobatics check to cross the pit (player falls for 2d10 damage on failure).

Master’s Chambers – these rooms contain only fine furniture in various states of decay, except one chamber.

R – Alidol’s chamber

This chamber’s walls and ruined furniture bear are cracked, scorched, and twisted. Above the door a curse still burns on the wall in letters of cold black magical flame – it reads “Alidol – you are cursed to languish here, un-helped within your tower until you have died here.”

Master’s Workshops – The landing at the top of the stairs leading up to this floor features doors carved with stars and constellations over tall mountain peaks.

L – Master’s Workshops – these chambers contain tables and a few pieces of discarded alchemical equipment but are otherwise empty.

M – Alidol’s Private Laboratory – The door is arcane locked and requires a DC 21 Strength or Thievery check to open it. The laboratory is currently occupied by a mute, mad naked old man who is an incomplete simulacrum that looks just like Alidol, and a shield guardian that guards the clone.

Overturned tables and broken alchemical equipment litter this chamber. A stone door leading to a side chamber on the north wall lies broken on the ground. A large humanoid made or stone, wood and metal stands still near the southwest corner for the room, and in the middle of the chamber stands a naked old man with a long beard that hangs to his knees and a mad gleam in his eyes. Catching sight of you, he screams wordlessly and lunges at your throat!

A DC 16 Arcana check identifies the old man as some type of magical copy of Alidol. DC 21 Arcana reveals that it is a simulacrum – a copy made of snow – that is incomplete and therefore not controlled by its creator.

Encounter – level 12 – xp 2800
Uncontrolled simulacrum (use flesh golem stats) – xp 1400
shield guardian – xp 1400

N – Warded Treasury – The secret door to this area is DC 21 Perception check to find, unless they specifically search that wall, in such chase it is a DC 16 Perception check. Within is a magic staff and a tome guarded by two deadly traps.

Opening the secret door reveals a small vault, with a table at the west end. Upon the table are a steel staff tipped with a pointed mason’s plumb and a brass-bound tome.

Traps – spectral tendrils – level 13 trap – xp 800 – (DMG p.91) will attack any entering the treasury, and a kinetic wave (level 19 trap – xp 2400) which wards the staff’s display table and will also attack any who approach the table.

Treasure – PARCEL #1 – Architect’s Staff +3 (level 15, Arcane Power), Summoner’s Tome +1 (level 5, Arcane Power) – contains the Summon Fire Warrior (Arcane Power) and Summon Shadow Serpent (Arcane Power) powers.

O – Simulacrum Creation Chamber

The stone door to this chamber lies broken on the floor outside in the laboratory. Within a large metal coffin covered with runes lies empty, and various labeled vials and boxes of reagents stand on some shelves and a table.

A DC 16 Arcana check reveals that this coffin is the focus for a ritual used to make magical copies of oneself.

Treasure – PARCEL #9 – 1,000 gp worth of arcanum and 2 emeralds worth 500 gold each.

P – Master’s Hall

A large stone table is set in the middle of this solemn hall, surrounded by four stately chairs and flanked by stout pillars. Surrounding the table is an engraved magic circle.

A DC 10 Arcana check reveals that the circle is some type of runes of protection or privacy, and a DC 16 Arcana check determines that the circle is inactive.

Q – Roof

From the wide, flat platform that is the top of the mage’s guild tower there is a magnificent view of the ruins of the city – the river, the trees, the ruined buildings, the walls and gates, and towards the sea, another stone tower. Near the south edge of the roof there are faintly glowing arcane runes in several overlapping circles.

A DC 21 Arcana check reveals that these hastily summoned but very powerful runes ward the tower and permanently protect it from intrusion by demons.

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The Ruins of Soguer – The Mages’s Guild Tower, Part 1

Once again we return to the adventure The Ruins of Old Soguer, being posted piece-by-piece here on Tailslap.  Today’s post details the first two floors of the Mage’s Guild Tower in the central portion of the ruins.  There, a figure from the past languishes under a mysterious curse.

Previous sections of the adventure can be found here:
The Ruins of Soguer – Introduction
The Ruins of Soguer – Start of the Adventure in Aguies Town & Castle
The Ruins of Soguer – River Journey to the Ruins
The Ruins of Soguer – The Western Ruins
The Ruins of Soguer – the Central Ruins

5 – The Mage’s Guild Tower, A reclusive old mage named Alidol lives within this tower, trapped by a curse.

Standing here among the ruins of the city is a tall square tower with smooth, windowless, slightly tapered sides. The once-fine facade is cracked and crumbling and vines crawl up the walls. A single wide doorway stands open, the door long gone. You see an old man in tattered clothes and with long, tangled beard and hair peering at you from the doorway.

If the players apprach, the old man greets them cautiously. If not threatened, he will converse with them, telling them that his name is Alidol, and that he was the Master of the Mage’s Guild of Soguer before the fall, and that he has lived in the tower since then. He is hesitant to reveal more detail then that, though he can be convinced to reveal some of his secrets with a skill challange (below).

What he cannot reveal are the details of the curse that he languishes under.

Skill challenge – xp 200 (4 successes before 3 failures)
DC – 14 Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate and Arcana skill checks to learn the old man’s history – that when he was young the pleasures of the flesh and his ambition consumed him and he pledged his soul to Grazz’t. After he amassed great power he became the high mage of the guild, and that then he used forbidden magic to share his soul to make simmalacrum of himself (magical copies who share his soul – and therefore his pact with Grazz’t). He goes on to tell that when the city was attacked he used up all of his power to ward the tower against the demon god that rose up out of the sea and now has no more magic in him.

He then tries to say “With my power gone my simmalacrum were free to act as they willed. They made separate deals with Grazz’t, I believe, then betrayed and cu… cur…” (as part of his curse he is unable to say that they cursed him and left him here to die, and will become angry at this point and begin tearing at his hair and beard in frustration. Once he calms down a bit he will implore the players to help him, though he is unable to say anything about the curse or its nature – he can’t even say that he can’t speak about it.

If asked about creatures in the tower, he will mention his shield guardian, but will say it should not be hostile – it will just protect him, though that’s useless since it is trapped above, where he cannot reach due to the stairs having fallen apart.

If asked about his past and his pact with Grazz’t, the old man will sadly relate that he once burned with ambition and lust, but that after spending forty years alone in the tower he has repented those things and now just wishes to live out the rest of his days in peace.

If the players try to leave the tower, Alidol warns them about the hezrou (toad demon) that stalks the ruins. He will go on to say that his final spell – a ward against demons – still protects the tower and that the Hezrou cannot enter.

Minor Quest (Level 10 – xp 500 for each player): Free the guildmaster from his tower.
The curse laid on Alidol prevents him from leaving the tower until he has died there. It also prohibits him from helping anyone lift his curse in any way. If the players kill his simmalacrum he has technically died in the tower and is then free to leave.

Success – If the players free Alidol from the tower, he will thank them gratefully and promise to assist them any way he can. If the subject of the inquisition comes up he will inquire about it, and if the church of Baccob is mentioned he will let them know that one of his simmalacrum was working to join the church of Boccob many years ago. He will accompany them out of the ruins if they will allow him to join them, eventaully making his way back to Aguies with them. While with the party, he will happily share his vast knowledge of the arcane, making Arcana skill checks to identify creatures and help with arcane skill challanges at +30.

Tower Locations

Much of the tower is shrouded with patches of dense fog, all corridors are filled with fog, all doors are Arcane Locked (DC 21 Theivery or Strength to open), and there are some illusionary features thoroughout. The entire tower is also warded by a spell that protects against demons – Alidol’s ward from the fall of Soguer – that keeps the hezrou out.

Ground Floor

A – Main Hall

A chair stands alone near the door in this large open room. The floor is littered with dirt and bits of wood and fallen masonry. Pillars support the ceiling twenty feet above, which shows cracks and some dark holes where pieces of stone are missing. A door leads to a hallway with smaller chambers – also with long-rotted chairs and tables. At the end of the hall is a spiral staircase leading up. Empty sconces and burned out torches line the walls.

B – Meeting Rooms – These chambers contain only the broken remains of tables and chairs.

C – Guest Chambers – Here three bedrooms hold simple furniture that looks fragile with age – a bed, chair, table, and empty chest.

D – Kitchen – This kitchen features a large rusty stove, and some tables and shelves still stand among the debris.

A simple wooden spoon lies on the table, next to a worn wooden bowl. The spoon is magical – if it is placed in the bowl or any container it fills with plain-tasting but nutritious gruel (as Everlastng Provisions – it provides food and water for up to 5 people a day). If Alidol sees the players examining with the spoon – his only source of food – he becomes agitated and takes it away from them.

Novice’s Chambers

E – Warded Door (Arcane Locked – DC 21 Theivery or Strength to open) – The password is “korth” (draconic for danger), but Alidol’s curse prevents him from telling them what it is.

F – Scribe’s Workshop

Two long tables with benches and a bookshelf fill this chamber. Scraps of paper and a set of quills sit on the tables. Some books stand on the shelves. A few small vials, bits of paper and a few books sit among the thick dust that coats the floor.

This is where books and documents were copied and some scrolls were made – a search of the papers on the floor (easy perception check – DC 10) will turn up a complete scroll of water breathing. The books on the shelves that have survived the ages and vermin cover arcane and mundane topics, history “Wars of the Fridon”, philosophy “Natural Science of the Rivers”, “On Rulership”, religion “Tracts of Truth and Guidance”, fiction “There and Back Again”, erotica “Ten Tales of Romance”. There are 10 salvagable books all told.

G – Novice’s Dormotories

These simple rooms hold a single bed, a footlocker, a small table and a chair in various stages of decay.

The rooms are empty, the novices having taken their posessions with them as they left the city after the fall.

H – Unstable Masonry – Hazard

Level 10 Lurker – XP 500

Small debris litter the dusty staircase here.

Hazard – These crumbling stairs could collapse at any moment – plunging the unwary down to the hall below and leaving a pit that must be climbed or jumped over.

Perception – A DC 21 Perception or Dungeoneering notices the cracked and dangerous stonework on the stairs.

Trigger – The first creature to climb the stairs causes them to crumble under them. The stairs make the following attack.

Attack – immedeate interrupt
Target – the first creature climbing the stairs
+13 vs Reflex
Hit – 2d10 falling damage and secondary attack from falling stones
-Secondary Attack – +13 vs Fortitide, 1d10+5 damage
-Effect – the staircase crumbles, opening up a pit that looks down into the Main Hall (area A). Once the pit opens, a DC 21 Athletics or Acrobatics check is required to cross it.

– DC 16 Acrobatics check to carefully cross the stairs one at a time without triggering the stairs to collapse (player is attacked as above on failure).
– DC 16 Athletics check to run and jump over the stairs without triggering the collapse (player is attacked as above on failure).
– DC 21 Athletics or Acrobatics check to cross once the stairs have collapsed (player falls for 2d10 damage on failure).

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The Ruins of Soguer – the Central Ruins

Once again we return to the adventure The Ruins of Old Soguer, being posted piece-by-piece here on Tailslap.  Today’s post details some of the notable locations in the central area of the vast ruined city.  There, the remains of a great cathedral, the overgrown market square, and a mysterious still-intact tower beckon to brave explorers.

Previous sections of the adventure can be found here:
The Ruins of Soguer – Introduction
The Ruins of Soguer – Start of the Adventure in Aguies Town & Castle
The Ruins of Soguer – River Journey to the Ruins
The Ruins of Soguer – The Western Ruins

3 – The Broken Cathedral – The following can be seen from the streets of the ruins.

An iron fence, twisted and flattened in several places, surrounds the grounds of a large cathedral here.  The south face of the cathedral is tumbled down into rubble that chokes the steps leading up to its open doors.  The windows of the cathedral still hold a few shards of stained glass.  The wind makes a low moaning sounds as it blows through the empty openings.  A cemetery occupies he northwestern portion of the grounds, and low stone walls – all that remain of several smaller buildings stand to the west and north of the cathedral.  Carvings on the cornerstones of buildings at the intersection indicate that the large road heading east-west is Market Road, and the road leading north is Gods Road.

A search of the grounds and the remains of the rectory and other buildings with a successful DC 10 Perception check reveals old and weathered personal belongings such as combs, bits of wooden dishes, and even some human bones.  A successful DC 21 Perception check uncovers a dirt-encrusted golden holy symbol of Pelor worth 150 gold.

Should the players enter the cathedral they see the following:

Climbing up the steps over piles of stone blocks and rubble, you enter through the open doorways, through a entryway with two side passages, both filled with rubble, and into the large chapelWild birds, disturbed by your entrance, screech in alarm and fly up and out of the chapel. Large stone pillars rise up to support what remains of the ceiling above.  Much of the southern part of the roof is missing, revealing the sky above.  Before you, wooden pews are smashed beneath more stone rubble.  At the far end of the chapel is a raised dais upon which a bare stone altar stands, carved with a relief of a sunburst, an eight-pointed star, and a gauntlet holding a sword.  Detritus lies on the ground around the altar, and three large windows stand open to the sky on the far wall.

A DC 10 Religion check allows a character to recognize the carvings on the altar as the holy symbols of Pelor, Kord, and Heironeous.

If the players investigate the north side of the chapel they see the following:

The floor of the dais, like the rest of the chapel, is covered with dirt, some leaves, and bits of broken stained glass.  There, behind the altar, lies a gruesome sight: the dessicated corpse of a priest in age-browned robes.  His face is twisted in a horrible rictus of fear, and his outstretched arm points to the rear face of the altar.  Following his dead gesture, you read the single word that is written there in long-dried blood: DOOM.

Searching the rest of the cathedral reveals side passages which lead to a staircase leading down.  Beneath are long-ago-ransacked offices and catacombs with cardinal’s and bishop’s sepulchers there, opened up and looted. 

Treasure – A search of the side chambers and offices can yield the following treasure with the corresponding Perception skill checks; DC 10: 5 gold worth of Sanctified Incense, DC 16: 50 gold worth of Sanctified Incense, DC 21: 100 gold worth of Sanctified Incense and 100 gold worth of Residuum.

4 – Overgrown Market Square – Traveling east down Market Road leads to the overgrown remains of the market square.

A grove of trees hundreds of feet across fills this large open area between the ruins.  The roots of the trees have pushed aside the cobblestones and their branches spread out above the walls of the empty buildings surrounding the grove.  Walking through the woods briefly, you come upon the remains of a large fountain in the center.  The large round stone basin contains some muddy dirt and chunks of stone, and in the center, upon a pedestal a set of stone legs stand broken off at the knees.

A DC 16 History check brings to mind the tale of the statue of the King of Soguer that once stood in the vast market square of this city.  During the height of Soguer’s power goods from all corners of the known world were traded here.  Over them stood a statue of the Lidwen Staledo, King of Soguer 70 years ago, carved holding aloft the scales of justice and a sword.  A DC 21 History check reminds the observer that the statue was depicted wielding the royal family’s sword The Judge’s Tongue, the family’s symbol of the supremacy of law.

5 – The Mage’s Guild Tower, A reclusive old mage named Alidol lives within this tower, trapped by a curse.

Standing here among the ruins of the city is a tall square tower with smooth, windowless, slightly tapered sides.  The once-fine facade is cracked and crumbling and vines crawl up the walls.  A single wide doorway stands open, the door long gone. 

Details of what can be found within the tower coming in the next installment of The Ruins of Old Soguer….

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The Ruins of Soguer – The Western Ruins

Presented below is the overview of the Ruins of Soguer, a map of the ruins, and descriptions of the western gates and the palace – the two locations where players are likely to enter the city. Following posts will describe the remaining sections of the city.

Previous sections of the adventure can be found here:
The Ruins of Soguer – Introduction
The Ruins of Soguer – Start of the Adventure in Aguies Town & Castle
The Ruins of Soguer – River Journey to the Ruins

The Ruins of Soguer

Running the Adventure: This section of the adventure details locations in the ruins of the city of Soguer. As the players explore these locations they will learn the events surrounding the fall of Soguer forty years prior. Notable locations they may explore are the mage’s guild tower, where they can meet and help the former guildmaster of the mage’s guild, a sea-side ruin where the Auroch priestess-princess Ijer’svern is held, and the skeletal remains of the old king’s dragon, which is itself a portal to the Shadowfell where the players may find the old king’s sword.

There are also several locations that are not central to the main plot, such as the old palace, the elven and dwarven districts, the cathedral, the lighthouse, the market square, and various gatehouses. These locations contain lurking monsters and hidden hazards, treasure, and interesting locations to explore that add to the city’s atmosphere. Finally, there are dangers that threaten those who stay in the Ruins of Soguer. Restless spirits and wandering monsters will haunt visitor’s dreams and stalk them when they rest, as detailed below.

Hazard – Dreams of Things That Should Not Be – The ruins are a haunted place. By night, horrible nightmares of inhuman things coming out of the sea beset those who sleep here. Sleeping results in an attack at +13 vs the Will defense of the sleeper. A hit prevents the recovery of 1d6 healing surges. Those who do not sleep see faint ghosts of townsfolk pawing at the sleepers. If the ghosts are confronted, likely waking the sleeper, they dissipate, returning when the sleeper is once again left unguarded.
Random Encounters – Taking an extended rest in or around the ruins brings a 25% chance of a random encounter. Feel free to roll randomly or pick an encounter from this list.

  • level 7 – Dwarven scavengers. An expedition of 5 dwarven bolters and 4 dwarven hammerers, traveling stealthily (+9 stealth), searching the ruins for valuables and trying to avoid the Hezrou. They will be wary of or hostile towards anyone they encounter.
  • level 8 – The Saurian Hunters detailed below are encountered searching the ruins for valuables. They will be unfriendly when encountered.
  • level 9 – A pack of worgs or spectral panthers finds and attacks the players.
  • level 10 -A bog hag from the swamps and her pets, a venom-eye basilisk, 2 shambling mounds, and 2 trolls are hunting in the ruins and gleefully attack the players.
  • level 11 -A group of 2-3 Spirit Devourers (MM p. 68) attack the party.
  • level 12 -The Fen Hydra from the palace is out hunting, and finds the players.
  • level 13 – The Hezrou that stalks these ruins finds the players and attacks them.

Location Descriptions The player characters are likely to enter the city through the west gates – start this portion of the adventure there. The locations described are presented from west to east, which is the most likely order the party will come upon them as they explore the city.

1 – West Gates – The walls are falling in places, but the towers and tall gates still stand here. There are some gems and precious inlays still intact near the tops of the enormous doors. As they approach read or paraphrase the following:
Each open door of these enormous gates stands fifty feet across and one hundred feet tall. The gates are made of rusted iron, decorated with the remains of an enormous inlay depicting royal lords at the head of an army, standing before a walled city, with many ships in full sail on the sea nearby. In the sky above the city are reliefs of two flying dragons – one on each door.
Skill Challenge, Level 11, XP 600, to get the precious inlays. The skill checks must be done in the following order to succeed. In this skill challenge, the players only fail and cannot proceed if they fail the Perception check to begin the challenge. Once they spot the inlays they are free to continue to try to retrieve them, and risk falling, for as long as they like. Only award the XP for this skill challenge if they retrieve the inlays from the gates.

  • DC 16 Perception check to spot the precious inlays remaining in the dragons at the top of the gates, or DC 21 History check to recall tales of the fabulous jeweled gates of Soguer. Failure at this stage ends the skill challenge.
  • Two DC 16 Athletics checks to climb up the 80 ft. to reach them. Failure on the first check results in a fall for 3d10 damage, failure on the second results in a fall for 6d10 damage.
  • DC 16 Acrobatics check to balance on footholds on the wall as they work on freeing the inlays. Failure at this stage results in 8d10 falling damage.
  • DC 16 Thievery to get the inlays loose. Failure at this stage results in a fall for 8d10 damage.

Treasure, Level 11, Parcel #10: 1,000 gold worth of ebony, ivory, and semi-precious stones, weighing 50 pounds in total.

2 – Palace – A hydra lives in the hilltop pool that was once the palace. Submerged passages connect the palace and a nearby empty keep and lead to the royal armory. As they enter this area read or paraphrase the following:

The river borders a large walled area here. Near the river a wide, low hill stands, surmounted by several large columns surrounding a large square pool of water. Ruined remains of small buildings lie near a gate in the northwest corner of the walls, and the burned remains of a large stone keep stand by another gate to the east.

Encounter – Level 12, XP 3500 – a fen hydra lives in the pool on the hill, a structure that was once a lowered ballroom in the palace. Anyone approaching the pool will attract the hydra’s attention, and it will attack them, fighting to the death.
Trap – The 5′ of ground at the edge of the pool is slippery and unstable, which a character can notice with a DC 23 Nature or Dungeoneering check, or a DC 28 Perception check. The edge of the pool gives way under a character’s feet: upon entering one of the squares at the edge of the pool the trap attacks at a +14 vs. Reflex; on a hit the target falls into the water of the pool and must begin swimming or sink beneath the surface.
Trap – The palace grounds are peppered with sinkholes which will open up in this area and plunge characters into the pool or submerged halls under the palace. A character can notice these sinkholes with a DC 23 Nature or Dungeoneering check, or a DC 28 Perception check. The sinkholes give way under a character’s feet: upon entering one of the squares that is a sinkhole the trap attacks at a +14 vs. Reflex; on a hit the target plunges into a submerged passage below, and must swim 100 feet to escape to the hydra’s pool.

2 a – Palace Pool – Characters entering the pool of water on the hill that was once the palace will see the following:

This deep, murky pool is wider below than the stonework that borders the surface. The cold water descends to a flat, muddy floor thirty feet below. Pillars support the overhang and a balcony that runs around the circumference of this submerged hall, and passages lead off in all directions.

If characters swim down and explore the side passages, they will eventually find that all are caved in after a short distance except for one passage. This passage leads north for fifty feet and then turns east and continues for three hundred feet. The last section is lined with the remains of rusted suits of armor standing in display before ending at a bent and open iron door. This door leads to area 2c, the treasury. With DC 10 Athletics checks to swim explorers should be able to swim to the door and back with 4 rounds to spare before having to make Endurance checks to drown on the return trip (DMG p159).

2 b – Palace Keep – Approaching the keep reveals the following details to the PC’s:

The burned out remains of a keep stand against the wall separating the palace area from the rest of the town. The keystone of the arch above the door-less entrance is inscribed with the words “The Lord’s Word is Law.” Within, the keep is empty except for a large mound of rubble where the southwest tower has fallen and a staircase in the northwest corner leading down into a water-filled passage.

If the players descend into the passage with some type of waterproof light source they see the following:

The staircase descends into a water-filled passage. Three muck-filled store rooms open on the south wall of the corridor, which continues four hundred feet to an iron door.

This door is barred from the other side, is a DC 27 Strength check to break down, and leads to area 2c, the treasury. With DC 10 Athletics check to swim explorers should be able to swim to the door and back with 3 rounds to spare before having to make Endurance checks to drown on the return trip (DMG p159).

2 c – Treasury and Armory – If the players reach the submerged treasury, read or paraphrase the following:

This plain room’s ceiling is supported by pillars. The rotted remains of two empty chests are in this otherwise empty room. An iron door with a keyhole stands closed to the south, and another door, barred from this side, leads east.

Searching the muck on the floor and succeeding at a DC 16 Perception check will reveal 5 gold left behind by those who looted this chamber. A DC 16 Thievery check to pick the lock or a DC 27 Strength check to break down the iron door allows access to the Palace Armory. Here, weapon racks and armor stands hold once-fine examples of every type of armor and weapon, now ruined by the murky water that fills this chamber.

Treasure – Level 11 Treasure parcels 4 & 9 – Examining this gear and succeeding on A DC 10 Perception check reveals that two pieces of equipment have weathered the water without damage: an ornate quiver with 4 level 13 magic arrows in it and a level 12 suit of armor.

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The Ruins of Soguer – River Journey to the Ruins

Presented below is the first leg of the adventure The Ruins of Soguer. Previously the players had been tasked with traveling to the nation’s fallen capital to find the old king’s sword so that their liege can be coronated.

Previous sections of the adventure can be found here:
The Ruins of Soguer – Introduction
The Ruins of Soguer – Start of the Adventure in Aguies Town & Castle

Running the adventure – This section of the adventure details the player character’s travel from Aguies town to the ruins of Soguer. There is an important encounter along the way, where they meet a ship crewed by Aurochs who are searching for a kidnapped member of their royal family. There are also a few encounters with dangerous creatures and terrain as they travel the wild marsh near Soguer.

Read or paraphrase the following as the players begin their travel to the ruins:
You step aboard the riverboat. Like many of the boats that ply these waters, this 30 foot long boat features a single mast on a broad, flat deck, a small cabin behind the mast, and a low-ceilinged hold below the deck for cargo. The boat’s crew – four weathered men – push off from the docks in Aguies town, pushing off from the pier with long poles and then drawing in the mooring ropes once clear of the docks. Soon the sail is hoisted and the boat begins speeding downriver, pulled by the current and pushed by the wind. One of the crew sits in the rear with his hand on the rudder, and the other three watch the sails, occasionally tightening or loosening a rope before retying the crossbeam in a new position. And so goes the journey. For several days your boat travels downriver through farmland and woods, among low hills, and past the towns and keeps of humanity. After a week or so of travel the farmhouses and towns along the river grow fewer. Occasionally you pass the remains of a town or house ruined or burned. The riverboat crew grumbles that this part of the river is subject to pirates and raiders sailing up from the south. As the days pass the land lies lower, and small trees and marshy plants line the riverbanks. Occasionally you pass a small hut, but you see no inhabitants.

Encounter – A boat full of lizards – During the last stretch of the journey before the ruins, they PC’s encounter a mercenary ship of auroch warriors on the way.
Sailing down the river among the marshes another boat comes around the bend – a long boat with red crossed swords painted on the high forecastle and a monstrous figurehead. A roaring cry goes up from the other vessel and you see many reptilian men on the decks wearing mail and bearing spears and bows. As the other boat nears you can see that at the base of the mast is a shrine surmounted by two gilded dragons. The sails are furled slightly and oars put out. The boat turns and glides swiftly towards you, and at the very prow is a large armored dragonborn, wearing a helm crested with a dorsal line of many horns. He roars as they near.
Any characters who speak draconic will understand Captain Gamora’s hail – which is a demand that the player’s identify themselves. If the players try to communicate it is a simple social skill challenge.

Skill Challenge – Treat with the Aurochs (level 10, DC 16 diplomacy, 3 successes before 4 failures, XP 500)

Success: If they succeed in convincing Gamora that they are friendly, they give them some information and a quest. Read the following:
Having introduced yourselves, Captain Gamora takes off his helmet and scratches his scaly head for a moment. “I’m Captain Gamora of the Clashing Red Swords. Sorry about the scare – my men are in a strong rage. One of the holy family is missing – she was kidnapped from the royal shrine!” He narrows his eyes, staring at you for a moment and continues, “Have you heard anything of a young dragonborn lady with fine, pale scales in your travels? Where are you going on this river?”
Seeming to accept your answer, he nods and says, “I would consider it a personal favor, and indeed all our people would be grateful if you hear any word to send it to us. And if you should by chance come upon her, I would expect you to lend her aid in any way you can.” After asking for your help thusly, his anger returns, “and if I hear tell you met her and did not – by Chronopsis I will hunt you down and have my vengeance upon you.”
After a moment, Captain Gamora begins climbing aboard his ship. As he goes he says “Also, I would not go further down river. There are ruins there of a city of your men that lies there. Demons haunt those ruins, and the spirits of the dead. The gods curse that place.”

Minor Quest – level 12, XP 700
Goal – rescue the Auroch princess – Iejir’svern.

Failure: If the players fail the skill challenge, the Auroch mercenaries will demand to board their ship and inspect it. Resistance is met with violence – and the Aurochs swarm the player’s smaller riverboat – jumping across, swinging over on ropes and swimming to the attack. All told there are 4 Dragonborn Raiders, 6 Dragonborn Gladiators, and 20 Dragonborn Soldiers who attack. If the players manage to defeat the Aurochs, any captured or left alive will reveal that they are searching for their princess, Ijer’svern. If the players allow the dragonborn to search the ship, they do so and then Gamora imparts the above information.

Encounter – Crocodiles!
level 10, XP 2000 or 3000

This is an encounter with crocodiles in what were once the surrounding farmlands – now swallowed by the marsh. As the journey continues, read or paraphrase the following:

For the next few days you ravel further downriver through thick swamps. The river is wide and slow here, and the boat’s crew work the sails and their poles to keep the boat moving east towards the sea and the ruins of the city. Occasionally you spot a few peasants in wooden huts on the low, marshy hills the river winds through. As you push your boat through a fen of high grasses one of the fallen logs in the water leaps to life and reveals itself as a huge scaly monster!

Creatures – 2 or 3 x feymire crocodile – hiding in the river (stealth +13) – These crocodiles attack the boat as they pass it.

Reaching the Ruins
After the crocodile encounter the player characters come to the ruins of the city of Soguer. As they approach they may encounter a patch of quicksand. Read or paraphrase the following:
You sail downriver for another day and the faint smell of salt water begins to tinge the air. Rounding a bend in the river you catch a glimpse of tall walls through the drooping cypress and willow trees. The cracked and vine-strewn walls must stand at least 50 feet high, but you can see no one upon the battlements. As you float closer you can see that the walls end at the river with a fallen tower that makes a hill of stone on the banks. From there the wall stretches inland. Through the foliage you think you can see another set of towers – perhaps an entrance? The riverboat crew poles over to the shore and moors the boat to a large tree on the river bank. The remains of a road lead through the trees, roughly along the wall towards the gates to the north. As you proceed you see the remains of farmhouses and fences – now fallen down and overgrown with the swamp’s fecundity.
As the players walk this path towards the ruins they will pass over a patch of quicksand. Unless one of them makes their perception checks, it is likely the first player or two will fall into the hazard.

Hazard – Quicksand – level 11 elite hazard – XP 1200.
Leaves and dirt cover this stretch of flat ground.
Hazard: This hazard consists of a roughly 5 square by 5 square area of quicksand, which is difficult terrain. When characters enter these squares, or try to move in these squares, the hazard attacks. Attempts to escape can also hasten a character’s demise in this deadly hazard.
Perception or Nature
– DC 29: The character can discern if any adjacent squares are quicksand.
Additional Skill: Nature
– DC 25: The character’s knowledge provides a +2 bonus to Athletics or Acrobatics checks to escape or help another escape.
When a creature enters, begins its turn in, or makes a map move in a quicksand square, the trap attacks that creature.
Free Action Melee 0
Target: Creature in a trapped square
Attack: +14 vs. Reflex
Hit: The creature falls into the quicksand, is restrained until they escape and begins sinking (see Effect – Sinking below).
Miss: The character is slowed in the quicksand square but is not yet sinking.
Effect – Sinking: After one hit, a character sinks up to their waist. A second hit or a failed Athletics check means they sink to their neck. A third hit or failed athletics check indicates they sink completely and begin suffering the effects of suffocation (DMG p. 159).
– An character can extract themselves or an adjacent sinking comrade with a DC 29 Athletics or Acrobatics check. A rope or similar tool can give a +2 to this check. Failing this check by 10 means that the helping character falls into the quicksand or that the sinking character sinks further.
-A character wearing light or no armor can make a DC 24 Nature check to know that if they hold still they will float, and can then do so. While floating in this way the character is not subject to any more attacks from the quicksand. Any move or standard action will end the float and cause the character to be subject to further attacks by the quicksand.

If you wish to add a greater threat to this encounter, feel free to add a few hungry stirge swarms to up the threat.
Creatures – stirge swarms – XP 700 each.

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The Ruins of Soguer – Start of the Adventure in Aguies Town & Castle

Welcome back for part two of The Ruins of Soguer, an adventure you’ll see here piece by piece over the next few weeks. In the previous post you saw the introduction of the adventure for the dungeon master. Below is the start of the adventure to be read to the players at the beginning of the adventure, and some detail about the town where the adventure starts.

Castle Aguies – Holding Court as the Count of Aguies: At the start of the adventure, read or paraphrase the following:

Having arrived in Aguies town to answer the call for heroes, you walk up the hill upon which Castle Aguies is built to the large stone gatehouse. Towers to the left and right are topped with battlements upon which fly a flag with a green dragon on a white field. A young guard in mail looks down at you from the battlements as you walk up the road to the open doors between the towers. Another guard standing at the door nods to you as you pass through the gatehouse into the castle’s courtyard. Within the well-trodden dirt courtyard a group of soldiers practice their sword-work at the direction of a gruff veteran barking orders at them. A wagon loaded with goods stand unhitched. Servants in simple clothes are busy unloading the sacks and barrels from the wagon while a groom brushes down the horses nearby. Across the courtyard the castle stands, its towers stretching up into the sky.

Crossing the busy courtyard you enter the stone castle by the open double doors below battlements two stories above. Inside this vestibule there are passages that lead left, and right, guarded by soldiers holding halberds. A long hallway with a polished stone floor and pillars flanking the walkway stretches before you, and the sounds of several voices conversing can be heard ahead.

Walking down the hallway between the stone pillars you come into a large hall filled with tables and people. Knights, squires, servants and a few people in fine dress sit or stand talking, eating and drinking. A line of petitioners stands before a scribe awaiting audience with the Count.

At the far side of the hall seated on a wooden throne atop a dais is a young man dressed in a fine green tunic and wearing a golden signet ring. At his shoulder stands a tall dragonborn also in a lordly tunic and with an ornate sword strapped to his hip. The two are in the midst of a discussion with an middle-aged priest in red robes wearing a holy symbol of Kord. As you cross the hall the young lord and his attendant take note of you. The dragonborn speaks in with a hissing accent. “Who approachesss Count Ludwig?”

After you introduce yourselves the young lord says, “I am Ludwig Staledwo, Count of Aguies and heir to the throne of Soguer. This is Gix’varie, leader of my Knights of the Order of Dragonforce, and this is Father Dirk of the Three Brothers. Thank you for answering my call. I am in need of brave heroes such as yourselves.”

The young Count stands up and begins to pace about the dais as he talks. He is young – perhaps seventeen – but speaks with passion and has a friendly presence. “As you may have heard, I am grandson to King Ludwig Staledwo, the last King of Soguer. I have made it my life’s work to unite the warring lords of this wounded and divided land in peace again. To that end I have asked the Fathers of the Church of the Three Brothers, Kord, Pelor and Heironeous – the same holy order that once ministered to the people of Soguer from their cathedral in the capitol – to coronate me the Heir to the throne of Soguer.”

At this the priest of Kord speaks up, “Yes, Ludwig, and after consulting the Brothers in prayer I was sent a message from Kord. I was in prayer in the chapel when a strong man appeared at my side. I could tell that he was a messenger from the gods. This herald of the gods told me that only if the boy speaks with the tongue of the law can he be the heir of Soguer.”

The dragonborn warrior interjects, “And of coursssse everyone knowssss he mussst be talking about his grandfather’sss sssword, the Judge’ssss Tounge. Which was losssst when the city of Ssssoguer was dessstroyed by the godsssss.”

“Too true,” continues the young lord. “They say they will not coronate me without my grandfather’s sword. Such is the gods’ will.” He shrugs.

“So that brings me to you, noble heroes. I have just conquered this county, and am fully occupied restoring order and seeing to the needs of the people. The Knights of Dragonforce are similarly occupied, or else I would send Gix’varie here and his men to search for the sword.” Ludwig continues, pointing to the dragonborn warrior.

Looking you in the eyes he says, “What say you, will you travel the River Daren to the ruined capitol of Soguer and retrieve the Judge’s Tongue? I will provide you with a boat and crew, and if you succeed then as the anointed King of Soguer I will happily reward you as dear friends. In the name of peace in this land I ask this of you.”

If the players accept this task Ludwig asks Gix’varie to see to the provisioning of a daren riverboat for the PCs and fares them well. Give the players the following major quest:

Major Quest – Crown Ludwig the Heir of Soguer
12th level
– xp 700 for each player that completes the quest.
Goal: Go to the ruins of Soguer and retrieve the sword of the last King of Soguer, so that the priests may coronate Ludwig as the Heir of Soguer.

After that, give the players time to explore the city at their leisure and provision themselves as they see fit. Gix’varie will accompany them and tell them that by boat is should be a week or so’s journey downriver from here to the ruins of the city at the mouth of the river.

Aguies town
A large human town, and capital of Aguies county, Aguies is peopled by farmers on the river’s banks and traders on its docks. A large town square with a fountain stands at the foot of the hill upon which the castle stands. Farmlands spread out on the banks of the river east and west, and the Pitore Wood borders the town to the south.

Population: 4,000 people call Aguies their home, mostly human serfs, tradespeople and merchants but with a handful of elves and gnomes from the woods to the south and eladrin from Linton to the southwest. A sprinkling of members of all the other races can be found here as well among the citizenry – especially halfling traders. A few knight’s families from throughout the county also have town homes here.

Government: Ludwig Staledwo has just conquered this city, having defeated and killed the Count Aguies in a short war. Mayor Balwin – appointed by the late Count Aguies – oversees the administration of the town’s day-to-day business.

Defenses: Ludwig’s five Knights of the Order of Dragonforce lead the city’s defenses, assisted by 20 cavalry, 40 archers and 50 footmen. In times of need Ludwig also has the right to call up the other lords of the County to aid him in war, adding 15 knights, 60 cavalry, 100 archers and 150 footmen to his forces.

Taverns & Inns: The Old Crow is a busy tavern and public house on the town square, the Wagon Wheel serves mainly merchants and sits at an intersection on the road to Linton, and the Knucklebone caters to gamblers and carousers north near the docks.

Supplies: A few merchants set up stalls in the town square, and most any good can be purchased from the town’s many craftspeople and traders. Fynn’s Imports by the docks is the front for the local branch of the thieves’ guild. Nickad the armor-smith is the famous royal armorer.

Temples: The Cathedral of the Three Brothers (Kord, Pelor and Heironeous) stands on the town square and is the head of the church in Aguies County, the Shan’n’nur Sanctum (Inquisition – Heironeous) stands near the cathedral, a temple to Erathis between the square and the docks, a sailor’s shrine to Melora at the docks, and a shrine to Avandra on the road east to Halton.

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The Ruins of Soguer – Introduction

Welcome back to Tailslap!, Unicorn Rampant’s 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons publication.

Today I’m releasing the first on many dungeon-a-day style posts for our latest adventure: The Ruins of Soguer. I’m super excited to be sharing this adventure with y’all in this great format! Every few days you’ll see a new section of the adventure, be it a location in town, a interlude, and overview of an area or an encounter.

So without further fanfare, I present the introduction to The Ruins of Soguer!
Look for the details of Aguies town to follow shortly, followed by the start of the meat of the adventure: a trip by riverboat down the river Daren to the Ruins of Soguer!

Introductory Text: Called upon to retrieve the old king’s sword and crown from the ruins of the god-destroyed capitol, the heroes must brave the crumbling remains of the once-great city to find the royal insignia. Destroyed, overgrown and daemon-haunted, the ruins of the city of Soguer are said to be cursed, and do not relinquish their secrets easily. It will take heroes of true mettle to return alive with their prize and crown their lord the new King of Soguer!

Background: A year ago, in the war-torn country once known as Soguer, a young man named Ludwig appeared claiming to be the heir to the throne of the shattered kingdom. Pursuing a daring campaign this young warrior captured Castle Devyn from the orcs of the Yellow Snake Clan. As peace spread around Devyn town Ludwig was pressed to become a vassal by the neighboring Count of Aguies. Ludwig, claiming himself the true heir to the kingdom, and that Aguies was thereby rightful vassal to him, refused and forged an alliance with other lords in the County. Ludwig and his allies fought a brief, victorious war against Count Aguies.

Now Count of Aguies, one of the five Counties that composed the kingdom of Soguer, Ludwig has asked the priests of the Church of the Three Brothers to coronate him as King of Soguer. Hesitant, the priests of Kord, Pelor and Herionious cloistered themselves to pray upon the matter.

Several days later Father Dirk, the priest of Kord in the Aguies Cathedral announced that he had received a vision from The Brawler. In Ludwig’s hall he tells how a strong man appeared to him and told him that “only if the boy speaks with the tongue of the law can he be the heir of Soguer”. All agree that this must refer to Ludwig’s grandfather’s sword, the Judge’s Tongue, and that this is a sign from the gods that if this task can be mastered Ludwig should be coronated.

Thus does a call go out for heroes to retrieve the old king’s sword and crown from the ruins of the god-destroyed capitol at the mouth of the river Daren. The heroes are asked to brave the crumbling remains of the once-great city to find the royal insignia. Promised great reward and Ludwig’s eternal gratitude they are asked to return alive with their prize and crown Ludwig the new King of Soguer!

Adventure Hooks: This adventure was written as part of a larger campaign, called The Heir of Soguer, where the players are knight-vassals to Ludwig, and are assisting him to establish peace in the war-torn and fractured land that was his grandfather’s prosperous kingdom. In this context Ludwig simply asks them as friends to try to find the Judge’s Tongue.

If you are playing this adventure as a stand-alone adventure or as part of your own campaign, you may simply announce that a call has gone out for heroes to retrieve the royal sword and start play in that way.

Alternatively, you may wish to replace the sword with some other item or person that the players seek. It could be treasure they want or an important item in your story. Simply run the adventure as written and replace all references to the Judge’s Tongue with the item they are questing after.

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