Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Encounter Key: Upper Dungeons Level 3A Salt Mere

This level lies forty feet below the western and central portion of Level 3 of the Upper Dungeons, and twenty feet below the eastern portion.

The most noteworthy portion of the level is the salt water lake (the salt mere) in a large central cavern. Legend has it that the salt mere was not always salty. It is said that Carlesimo, the great admiral of the Triskelion family, imported salt pukes and stocked the lake with marine monsters with the aid of his nephew Pelleas Triskelion. He built ships, hired pirates, and carried out naval battles and fights with sea monsters here. He once captured a powerful evil cleric and had him fight with his monsters and one of his pirate crews. The pirates were victorious and the cleric was killed, but in his dying breath he called upon his unclean deity and brought the curse of undeath down upon his slayers, who now exist as the living dead dread skulls at Area 87.

The ceiling in the large central cavern varies between twenty and thirty five feet. The large statue at Area 86 emits a bright red beacon that rotates sluggishly, like a light house, and can be dimly seen through the fog from almost everywhere in the great cavern. It allows denizens of the sublevel to always know where the are when in the main cavern, based upon the position of the light.

The shore of the mere is sandy and populated by salt pukes, whose secretions give the mere its salt content. Adventurers walking on the shore (not the many caves) will be hampered by dense fog which obstructs vision to ten feet despite light sources and which confounds infravision. It makes the red beacon hazy, ghostly, and indistinct and alters sounds so that different groups might pass near each other without noticing each others presence. The fog can be temporarily alleviated by a gust of wind spell or similar effect, but this will indicate an immediate wandering monsters roll to see if any creatures are exposed.

The salt mere itself varies in depth to perhaps fifty feet at its deepest. Strangely, the fog on the shore does not persist on the mere's surface. A separate chart is given for wandering monsters in the water.

The rooms and tunnels are natural caves or cut from bare rock. Ceiling height is generally eight feet in tunnels and smaller caves, up to thirty feet in larger caverns. The floors are sandy or muddy.

Level 3A directly connects to Level 3, Level 4, and Level 6.

The intelligent factions of monsters are the froglodytes, fangtooth fishmen, lizard men, mock lobsters, and dread skulls.

Froglodytes: The froglodytes are the most populous. They are led by wangateurs, holy leaders that have the respect of all froglodytes, even if their authority is not absolute. The wangateurs are deadly rivals and wish to eliminate each other. The froglodytes are also at war with the fangtooths and hope to eradicate them, but their lack of unity or focus makes this unlikely.

There are three main groups of froglodytes, each near the lair of a wangateur. The non-wangateur froglodytes are not partisan, they tend to travel at will between camps and to give respect to all three wangateurs. They are cold-blooded monsters, but can get along with each other tolerably well and cannibalism occurs but infrequently.

Fangtooth Fishmen: The fangtooth fishmen dominate the waters of the mere, being most at home in its salty waters. They regard all other lifeforms as their prey. A hybrid fishwoman has emerged as a leader in the caves of the fishmen and she is raising an army of hybrids built for conquest. This leader is Slackenslav, and she would welcome alliance if it meant an opportunity to lead her hybrid warriors out of the sublevel.

Lizard Men and Mock Lobsters: The mock lobsters and lizard men are largely content to let the froglodytes and fishmen fight it out while avoiding the brunt of the hostility. They are less aggressive than the other races and more likely to listen to reason or become allies during encounters.

Dread Skulls: Led by the horrible Captain Bonebeard, the dread skulls inhabit the sunken ship at Area 87. They press lacedons and regular skeletons into service as well and have no use for the living, but they are fond of rum...

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