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ooze “Horror Swimming Deep”. Pelor and his celestial allies drove the primordial far beneath the surface of the earth, where they imprisoned it in darkness behind a great door. When that same door was accidentally reopened aeons later, the ghastliness it unleashed dragged the kingdom of the minotaurs to its knees. Yet before final oblivion struck, Horror Swimming Deep was recaptured by a cabal of minotaur sages, who resealed the door to its prison and carved a great maze around it. This was Saruun Khel - now called “Thunderspire Labyrinth”. Wards weaken in time, and civilization tumbles before tides of conquest. Ruined by civil war, the minotaurs abandoned the labyrinth to dust, and only now, in the twilight of a new age, have newcomers trodden its silent paths once more…
Lost in the Labyrinth is an alternate storyline for module H2: THUNDERSPIRE LABYRINTH. It uses the same locations, but weaves a different tale throughout. The final enemy – Lady Allande de Markelhay – is presented at the end of the article.
The Mages of Saruun
Twenty years ago, an order of questing Vecnite cultists uncovered Thunderspire Labyrinth and established themselves as the “Mages of Saruun”; overseers of the SevenPillared Hall. Under their stewardship, trade kindled between the surface settlements and those who live deep below. Today, with a safe haven at its heart, the mysterious labyrinth swells with adventurers in search of plunder. Hidden away in their tower, the Mages of Saruun harness lost minotaur magic to spy on these dungeoneers. A vast projection of the labyrinth hovers inside their secret map chamber, woven in intricate detail from the smoke rising from magical incense sticks. This moving map reveals everything that takes place inside the maze, and day and night the wizards slowly pace through it, peering down at the tiny figures moving about them. When it serves their purpose, the Mages invoke their magic to move the labyrinth’s corridors: channeling unwitting pawns into unexplored areas. For though they’ve learned much about their new home, the Mages of Saruun don’t yet know what lies behind the great door. For
years they’ve speculated that a key is lost somewhere in the labyrinth, and have been spying on the dungeoneers in the hope one of them uncovers it. Only now, after two long decades, have they found reason to celebrate.
The Mages of Saruun knew just the person to provide to the Blackfangs. Lord Marhelhay’s wife, Lady Allande de Markelhay, is secretly one of their number; a corrupted powerbehind-the-throne who has manipulated events in the Nentir Vale for many years. Lady Markelhay is stepmother to Sonette, her husband’s daughter by his first wife: a beautiful teenage noblewoman betrothed to Etheran, heir to the Barony of Therund. With the help of the corrupt Lord Kamroth, Lady Markelhay arranged for Sonette to be kidnapped by the Bloodreavers – a group of Iron Hill brigands who sell slaves to the Grimmerzhuls. Sonette’s carriage was ambushed just outside Fallcrest, and she and her servants were captured.
The Lost Key
In recent months, the Mages have witnessed a dramatic expansion of Blackfang territory: a local tribe of gnolls whose warrens extend deep into the maze. When the Blackfangs began amassing around a large, unexplored chamber, the Mages promptly diverted a party of dungeoneers to investigate. Only one of them stumbled back to the Hall alive. From this poor soul, the Mages learned that the Blackfangs are sacrificing captives to consecrate their “Well of Demons”, led by a demonic gnoll with a large silver key hung around her neck. When they dispatched one of their envoys to bargain for this key, the message they received back was simple: “Demon lord Yeenoghu demands tribute from the world above. Maldrick Scarmaker shall only hand over her holy key in exchange for a virgin maiden, pure of spirit, pure of blood.”
The Mage’s Plan
Sonette and her servants have been taken to the Chamber of Eyes: the Bloodreaver’s hideout within the labyrinth. They will soon be sold on to the Grimmerzhuls, and led down to their Horned Hold. From there, a trusted duergar agent will break Sonette out of captivity and deliver her to the Well of Demons, where the exchange for the key will
take place. Once they have it in their hands, the Mages will use the key to open the great door and unleash the primordial. This will not be a good outcome for anyone.
RUNNING THE ADVENTURE
1: Involving the PCs
The adventures are summoned by a distraught Lord Markelhay, who promises them positions of great power within Fallcrest if they can bring back his lost daughter. Make sure to introduce the grieving wife at his side (of course, she smugly thinks the PCs efforts are doomed - but makes sure to keep a close eye on them none-the-less). Either through sorcery (divination rituals) or through simple tracking, the PCs follow the Bloodreaver’s trail to Thunderspire Labyrinth. Skip encounter A1-1, and lead them straight to the Chamber of Eyes.
confirming a recent purchase of slaves (as in the adventure). The second is an anonymous letter (actually penned by Lord Kamroth) that reveals to the Bloodreavers when Sonette will be passing by in her carriage. Also add Rendil Halfmoon to the Chamber of Eyes as a captive. As in A1-1, he serves to lead the PCs to the Seven-Pillared Hall.
Make sure you drop in the rumor that the Mages have the power to spy upon and even move the labyrinth. Of course, nobody really believes this, but hearing the rumor now will foreshadow important events later.
4: The Grimmerzhul Trading Post
Throughout their stay, the PCs’ overriding goal within the Hall is to uncover how the Grimmerzhuls are involved in Sonette’s kidnapping. Don’t make a break-in their only option though – instead, the PCs could pose as slave traders, tail the duergar into the labyrinth, or kidnap one of them. It’s a great opportunity for group planning, so try to encourage it. In any event, you’ll only need to impart one lead – Sonette and the other Fallcrest captives were moved from the Chamber of Eyes to the Horned Hold. This could be revealed during interrogation, found as a letter, or even learned through a ritual.
3: The Seven-Pillared Hall
Here the PCs learn of the various power groups at work in the labyrinth, and possibly face the Mages of Saruun for the first time. Any attempt to plead Sonette’s case to the Mages is doomed to failure: the PCs will have to go through Brugg first, and then the Ordinator Arcanis. Play him cold and distant, a faceless figure who cares nothing for captives, only trade. Players should soon learn this is a dangerous, heartless place. The Hall is a great opportunity for roleplay, allowing players to pick up minor quests, and meet colorful NPCs like Darkseeker or Surina. Really play up the “Moss Eisley” weirdness of the Hall: its strange customs, alien inhabitants, and dangers. After all, this is a place where gnolls, orcs, and drow drink alongside humans and dwarves.
2: The Chamber of Eyes
The PCs arrive at the Chamber of Eyes just too late to rescue the Fallcrest captives – they’ve already been moved on to the Horned Hold. However, two important clues are discovered amongst Krand’s gear. The first is a bill of trade from Murkelmor Grimmerzhul
5: The Horned Hold
Run this mostly as presented, changing only the ending. When they find the captives in H7, they learn that one of the duergar has just made off with Sonette (perhaps slaying a
couple of his comrades during the escape). They should uncover this by speaking to the other captives (Sonette’s servants), interrogating one of the guards, or – at a push - by finding a hastily-penned warning from Murkelmor.
The PCs are now hot on Sonette’s trail. Perhaps she pricks her finger to squeeze a drop of blood at every turn, or unravels a single thread from her dress? Whatever, it’s important that your players understand they’re literally minutes behind her. Then the corridors start to shift. A strange wind whistles through the labyrinth, and they see passages sliding closed ahead, stairways appearing from nowhere, and doorways opening in the walls. The Mages are using the magic of the Labyrinth to delay them! Now play the Interlude 2 ambush encounter, but swap out the tieflings for some Mages of Saruun (use the Bronze Warder and 2 Underdark Adepts from MONSTER VAULT: THREATS TO THE NENTIR VALE, and level them down to make this an 8th level encounter). Assuming they survive, they should be under no illusion that it is the Mages who are
responsible for Sonette’s kidnapping. If they manage to capture one alive, don’t shy from making them spill the beans. The more the PCs know now, the better (although it’s probably best to keep Lady Allande’s involvement a secret). Importantly, the PCs should recover the slain mages’ staffs and masks. The staffs can be identified as portal triggers: simply rap the base onto a specially-keyed magic circle to trigger it. The masks, when worn, allow the PCs to see a faint, ghostly projection of the labyrinth around them, and hear the whispered words of the Mages. If the Mages try to turn the maze against them again – which they most certainly will do, even though it drains their powers - the PCs may at least have some forewarning. By donning the masks, the PCs can recover Sonette’s trail and will shortly arrive at the Well of Demons.
7: The Well of Demons
The minotaurs kept the key to their terrible prison hidden inside these chambers, knowing that one day the primordial could perhaps be used as a weapon. Over time, the traps they laid to deter intruders became a
proving ground for those wishing to join their order of guardians. As the PCs explore, they discover basreliefs depicting the discovery of the great door, the wrath of primordial, its imprisonment inside what is clearly the Tower of Silence, and the construction of the labyrinth around it. A final relief stands as a warning – if the key is used to release the primordial, the world above shall burn. The PCs should overcome the Well of Demon’s trials just in time to save Sonette from sacrifice, and learn from her that she was traded for Maldrick’s key – clearly the same key that appears on the walls. Your players now have a dilemma. They’ve rescued Sonette, but it’s clear the Mages are about to release something terrible upon the world. With the staffs, they can break into the Tower of Saruun. They can stop the Mages. But are they brave enough to do so? At this final stage, the players may need some prompting. Others in the Seven-Pillared Hall may agree to help, or Sonette herself may plead for their assistance in defending the Vale. In my game, a group of minotaur pilgrims appeared, driven here by prophecy. Spurred
into action by their warnings, the PCs rallied support amongst those in the Hall, and ignited a revolution.
8: The Tower of Saruun
The Tower of Silence works as a good basis for the mage’s tower, but perhaps needs a few living quarters added – and, of course, a few Mages. Swap out some of the enemies listed in the adventure for leveled-down Mages of Saruun (although the Enigmas still work well here). Paldemar himself makes for a good Ordinator Arcanis. Make his lair the great Map Room, so the PCs fight their final battle in the middle of the moving map, just in front of the great door. As the PCs arrive, the Ordinator Arcanis holds them back while another masked mage – perhaps their true leader? – turns away and leaves the chamber. As she swishes off, the PCs catch a glimpse of a serpent tattoo on her calf. Unless stopped, she’ll head to the window at the top of the tower and abseil down into the Hall. This is Lady Allende de Markelhay. It’s great if she escapes here, but if the players make every effort to stop her, don’t force it. Have her attempt a fighting retreat: she’s a
solo, so the PCs may have bitten off more than they can chew anyhow. The secret of operating the moving map dies with the Mages. Once they’ve have been dealt with, the PCs have little left to do but leave the Hall and return to Fallcrest.
Lady Allande de Markelhay
Level 10 Solo Skirmisher
9: A Final Twist
At long last, the PCs reunite Sonette with her delighted father. The day has been won! Play up the mood of success, and let your players revel in their victory. Then, (assuming she’s still alive), have Sonette embrace her stepmother. Lady Markelhay’s skirt accidentally rides up her calf, and the PCs see her serpent tattoo. Seeing their faces, Lady Markelhey mutters a curse under her breath. She pulls out a wand and snaps a command word in Draconic. The guards tumble to the ground in a magical stupor. Sonette clings to her shocked father as dark magic boils in her stepmother’s palms. Now the true final battle begins!
Medium natural humanoid (human) XP 2,500 HP 400; Bloodied 200 Initiative +10 AC 24; Fortitude 21; Reflex 23; Will 22 Perception +9 Speed 6 Resist 10 fire or cold (see Icefire Halo) Saving Throws +5; Action Points 2 Traits Icefire Halo This magical halo is attuned to either fire or cold. The halo is dispelled if Lady Markelhay receives damage of the opposite energy type (e.g. fire dispels cold). It returns again at the start of Lady Markelhay’s next turn. Action Recovery Whenever Lady Markelhay ends her turn, any dazing, stunning or dominating effects on her end. Standard Actions m Spellfire Touch (cold or fire) • At-Will Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +15 versus AC Hit: 2d8+9 force damage +2d6 cold or fire damage (see Icefire Halo) Haste • At-Will Effect: Lady Markelhay shifts her speed and makes up to three melee basic attacks during the move. C Mistress of Puppets (charm, gaze) • Recharge 56 Attack: Close blast 3 (enemies in blast); +14 versus Will Hit: The enemy is dominated (save ends) A Spellfire Blast (cold or fire) • Encounter Requirement: Lady Markelhay’s Icefire Halo must be active. Attack: Area burst 1 with 10 (creatures in burst); +14 versus Reflex Hit: 2d6+6 cold or fire damage plus ongoing 10 cold or fire damage (see Icefire Halo). Miss: Half damage plus ongoing 5 cold or fire damage. Triggered Actions Mystic Disarm • At-Will Trigger: An enemy hits Lady Markelhay with a weapon or implement attack that deals damage. Effect (Immediate Reaction): The enemy makes a save. If they fail, their weapon or implement is snatched from their hands and lands 1d6 squares in a random direction.
A Fury of Ice and Fire (cold or fire) • Encounter Trigger: Lady Markelhay is first bloodied Effect (Free Action): Spellfire Blast recharges, and Lady Markelhay uses it. Thereafter, Spellfire Blast is counted as an at-will power with recharge 56 Skills Arcana +15, Bluff +14 Str 12 (+6) Dex 16 (+8) Wis 18 (+9) Con 12 (+6) Int 20 (+10) Cha 18 (+9) Alignment evil Languages Common Equipment fine clothing, mask, wand
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