In Gothic Brunch a few weeks ago, the group determined they wanted to go do some research at a library. Now, what kind of a game would I be running if the library didn’t have a secret basement with forbidden tomes and unspeakable secrets?
Note that my dungeon notes here are available freely, not for any sort of monetary compensation, both in compliance with the map license and more generally with the spirit of sharing with other Dragon Managers. These notes reproduce almost exactly my own. Remember: prepare situations, not plots!
- Entrance: Small bookcase, desk, spiral staircase. Extremely dry, cool air.
- Historian Stone: Bookcase with volumes on secret history of Krevborna. The stone is a magic item (see below). Entrance requires 3 runestones, found in rooms 5, 6, and 10.
- Reading Room: Desks only. One of the desks has a locked drawer (DC 15) containing a luckstone (see below). 3 random scrolls at uncommon rarity.
- Reading Room: 2 desks, small bookcase. Mundane tomes; one has pages cut out, holding a ring of truth telling (see below). 3 random scrolls at uncommon rarity.
- Shelves: Tomes from mundane to medium (see below for examples). Roll d6: 1-3 mundane, 4-5 minor, 6 medium. No scrolls. On the desk is a book with glyph (fear effect); DC 16 to notice. This book has pages cut out to conceal a runestone (odal)
- Main tower: Cogwork librarian (see below) unfolds in center area. If the group carries any tomes from other rooms, it attacks. Controlled by amulet on statue in room 7. Stone slabs in the repositoria also trigger the librarian. These contain basic info on each Archfey, Elder Evil, Demon Lord, & Archdevil in the Krevborna setting, plus undeciphered runes at the bottom of each slab. 4 random scrolls at uncommon rarity and 4 more at rare rarity. One repositorium contains only a runestone (ansuz).
- Entryway: Wears control amulet for librarian. Statue looks like a vampire or Lilituan; stats as Tomb Guardian (see below). Owner is Padric Wolfstan.
- Sleeping quarters: Bed is old, mildewed, rotted. Room is otherwise empty.
- Sleeping quarters: Bed is old, mildewed, rotted. Ghost (allip, see below) of a scholar named Trevelyan Shaw resides here, driven mad by proximity to the prison under room 10 and cursed to remain in this room due to infidelity. Treasure: 6000 sp, 1500 gp, 80 pp, 5x 100gp gems
- Cave access: Bones scattered across the floor will knit together into a Bolstered Skeletal Swam, empowered by the runestone (eihwaz). The hole leads to Wolfstan’s sanctum where he communes with the Elder Scholar, his patron.
I’m not generally reproducing the entire stat block here, mostly because that’s tiresome. Instead, I’ll note any modifications and notes about how I’d run them.
- Allip: Anyone who fails the saving throw against the whispers of madness by 5 or more also marks one level of madness (as in “Out of the Abyss”) and roll on the Short-Term Madness table in the Dungeon Masters Guide, assuming they have no prior levels of madness.
- Cogwork Librarian: This monster is basically a reskin of the Clockwork Abomination from the “Tome of Beasts” by Kobold Press inspired by the Magic the Gathering card. I renamed it, changed the “Infernal Power Source” to “Eldritch Battery” and the “Breath Weapon” to an “Arc Weapon”. I also gave it Lair Actions, as listed on D&D Beyond. ((I ended up forgetting to use these during the fight, which washed out because the players forgot about a lot of their abilities as well.)) In accordance with the Open Game License, my modifications are also Open Game Content.
- Skeletal Swarm (Bolstered): I modified the Skeletal Swarm from “Ghosts of Saltmarsh” to have double the hit points, double the damage on a hit, and an extra +2 to the attack bonus based on the higher CR. You can do the math – literally…
- Tomb Guardian: For the purposes of the berserk feature, treat Padric Wolfstan (dean of the University) as the creator / owner.
This dungeon has no wandering monsters.
I created a custom magic item, the Historian Stone, based on the Stonespeaker Crystal from Out of the Abyss. The basic idea is to improve the party’s ability to carry out historical research, especially around hidden information. (Sadly, my group never got to this item.)
The ring of truth telling from “Waterdeep Dragon Heist” basically just gives advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks to tell if someone is lying. In room 3, that item is actually a cursed luckstone also comes from “Ghosts of Saltmarsh”. Because the player in question does not yet know what the item doesn’t, I won’t discuss it too much here in case they scour these notes. (I expect they’ve forgotten they have the item, however, because that’s how my groups roll!)
For various reasons, my group never got the third runestone because they never reached room 10. I’d considered moving it to room 9, but the allip drove them off so that became a moot point in any case. When they returned later, the dean was waiting for them and ordered them to leave the city forever. Surprisingly, they have (thus far) decided to comply. I have a custom statblock for him as well, but since they might face him later, that remains unpublished for now.
Next week, I think they’re headed back to the Di Rosalba Manor, so that’s going to be undoubtedly interesting.