106 THE YAWNING STAIR WELL. Warm air can be felt rising from this monstrous pit in gusts, giving the sensation that the pit is breathing slowly. Dozens of thick black metal chains dangle from the ceiling twenty feet above. Their ends fade away in the gloom, for the pit is obviously hundreds of feet deep. A five foot wide staircase is carved into the side walls and it winds down the side of the pit. There is no bannister or other safety measure present, making descending it a daunting task.
The staircase is relatively safe to descend for humans and the like as long as the person is not running, fighting, or otherwise being incautious. Wandering monster encounter checks should be made for the nearest level while on the stairs. While fighting on the stairs, the Dungeon Master should determine whether a monster or character has lost their footing and fallen based on the current situation.
Mules and other large quadrupeds may object to taking the stairs. If a fall does occur, a delver may try to cling to one of the chains to arrest their fall. The Dungeon Master should adjudicate the chances of grabbing and hanging on to chains in such a situation, keeping in mind there is a base 10% chance that the weight of an average man will pull the chain from its ancient mooring in the ceiling and send the victim once again plunging into the gloomy depths.
Most of these chains end suddenly, but a dozen terminate in cages resembling elaborate lantern heads or hanging lamps. Indeed these are lamps of a sort, for each holds a glow golem. These are located at irregular intervals along the depth of the massive pit, sometimes separated by hundreds of feet. These lamps provide enough light to navigate the stairs and when an adventurer is within twenty feet of the golem, there is even enough light to read by.
12 Glow Golems (AC 10; MV 12”; HD 6; hp 25; #AT 2 flaming hands; D 1-8/1-8; SD Limited spell immunity; XP 375)
These golems look like dwarf sized humanoids made of pale lumpy wax with flaming heads and hands. Still as death, they sit hunched over in their lamp-cages and will not react to monsters or adventurers passing by. It is possible that delvers will imagine them to prisoners of some sort. They will fight if someone tries to remove them, however.
There are landings at the corners. The way the stairs are carved in the walls is such that the pit does not become narrower as one descends, for the stairs are on shelf-like projections of stone extending out, so that the stair winds under itself as it descends. The next exit from the stairwell is eighty feet lower at Level Four. As the stairway is navigated, make sure to check to see if any adventurers (such as elves) notice the secret door at Area 26 on Level 3A Salt Mere.