One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
I'm looking for suggestions to help me design a special area as part of the climactic dungeon of a three-year campaign.
The location is an icy-locked underground cave complex beneath a fairy mound in a volcanic tarn on the Plane of Shadow—the lair of Tarsellis Meunniduin. Eons ago, Tarsellis was the beloved of Ehlenestra, but he betrayed her with Megwandir (who later became Lolth); when he realized what he had lost and what he had done, he tore out his own heart and retreated to the Plane of Shadow to become the Horned King of the Wild Hunt.
The PCs have recovered the heart and are soon to enter the lair of Tarsellis himself; his well-protected body rests in his lair within his reverie, while his consciousness hunts Oerth with the Wild Hunt.
Eons ago, when Tarsellis seized this mound from the previous Horned King of the Wild Hunt he discovered a chamber in which the ice of the walls had shaped itself into symbols or likenesses of all the members of the Seldarine, his former divine companions. These likenesses were in fact subtle manifestations of the deities themselves, promises that, someday, Tarsellis would be redeemed and return to the company of his sisters and brothers.
When he beheld this, Tarsellis intuited what these likenesses foretold, so he assaulted each symbol or image, defacing it to show his contempt.
What I'd like to do for this area is provide what Bryce from tenfootpole calls "Kuntzian depth"--strange rewards or dangers that only occur when a PC is dedicated to extensive or specific interaction with an object. The best example I can think of are the portraits of deities and demon lords on the "Greater Halls" level of Maure Castle (Dungeon #139). I'd like each symbol or likeness of the Seldarine to provide either a reward, information of some sort, or calamity if the PCs go to the trouble of restoring what was defaced, praying to the particular deity, or interacting in some detailed way with the representation.
The deities portrayed/represented (and what effects I've considered using) are as follows:
Erevan Ilesere (feeding his mouth magic potions or fine wine grants either a chime of hunger or chaotic elves +1lvl; anything else, confusion on whole room)
Hanali Celanil (if visage restored, kissing one truly loved or kissing the face grants +1CHR)
Labelas Enoreth ????
Corellon Larethian ????
Solonor Thelandira ????
Fenmarel Mestarine (casting divination to representation guarantees success & less cryptic response)
Rillifane Rallathil (praying to either grants Quaal's Feather Token (tree) for CG wood elves or a a blast of wind against party)
Rellavar Danuvien (prayer from N or NG creature & Rellavar's spear writes hint in the ice of the floor)
Sehanine Moonbow (restore moon symbol & then either sleep or enter trance before it removes all curses & negative effects from creature)
Deep Sashelas (prayer to Deep Sashelas either grants bubble to be used as crystal ball or bubble engulfs comely human or elven female and transports her to Deep Sashelas' realm for an assignation while his dolphin wife is away)
Aerdrie Faenya (resculpt visage or play hymn to her grants appropriate magic item; Lawfuls or Evils get a little thundercloud above head that follows them around shooting little lightning bolts)
My question for you. Does anyone have suggestions or better ideas than I have above? In particular, I've drawn a blank on Corellon, Labelas, and Solonor (the latter was once Tarsellis' subordinate), and would love some interesting interactions to bedevil or reward the PCs.
(One interesting idea I haven't used yet is that pieces of the icy visages/symbols are missing and found elsewhere in the dungeon.)
As I said above, this is the final dungeon of the campaign, so I want to go big with the consequences whenever possible. The PCs are 10th or 11th but they have so many NPCs along that the party is probably equivalent to 13th or 14th in terms of what they can tackle.
The only idea that popped into my head upon reading your list is that interacting with Corellon Larethian's visage may affect the PC as if s/he had donned a girdle of masculinity/feminity. Corellon wouldn't even consider that a curse - it would simply be his/her gift to give the PC new insight. 🙂
What I'd like to do for this area is provide what Bryce from tenfootpole calls "Kuntzian depth"--strange rewards or dangers that only occur when a PC is dedicated to extensive or specific interaction with an object. [snip] I'd like each symbol or likeness of the Seldarine to provide either a reward, information of some sort, or calamity if the PCs go to the trouble of restoring what was defaced, praying to the particular deity, or interacting in some detailed way with the representation.
Other RJK examples include boons and rewards from gods (both Greyhawk and Lovecraftian) in The Bottle City, and the various challenges from the magical picture galleries in MoZ1 The Maze of Zayene and Bottle City. RJK also personalized various gifts/bottles for the players too (see the very end of the adventure).
I definitely like the suggestions that you tie the rewards/effects to the gods' portfolios.
Thanks for the suggestions, Jason and Allen. There's something interesting about Labelas' gift being a double-edged blade and I'll certainly use that.
I'd pretty much forgotten about the similar areas in Bottle City and the Maze and will have to dig out both of them and see if I get any inspiration.
The Solonor one is still stymieing (spelling?) me: I think I'm unsure how Solonor would feel exactly about the party succeeding in their quest and Tarsellis rejoining the Seldarine, given that Solonor currently occupies Tarsellis' previous role there. So on one hand Solonor might want the PCs to fail; but on the other, their success would return to him a friend and mentor of old . . . I don't know.
Presumably any gift he might give would be arrow-related.
If Solonor IYC retains a grudge against Tarsellis for the latter's perceived betrayal of olven-kind, then he might prefer for the PCs to kill his old friend rather than restore him. This seems to go against the good aspect of Solonor's CG alignment, however, so it seems unlikely to me. Indeed, over the millennia, Solonor may have had a similar, if lesser, experience of split loyalty and betrayal and therefore be sympathetic to his old friend and mentor.
In terms of effects, perhaps casting mending or true strike or somesuch on the broken bow (or quiver?) of Solonor's statue would either grant the boon of an arrow of (greater) slaying (for a significant foe that will feature imminently) or a curse to break the strings of bows (and crossbows?).
That's an interesting idea . . . A restored Tarsellis might be able to reclaim his hunting domain from Solonor, but I agree that it feels too much for Solonor to want Tarsellis dead. I wonder if there's a way that Solonor could aid the quest while also getting a dig in at his old friend/mentor, maybe something in particular that would leave Tarsellis indebted to him.
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