XDMC #1 : Open a Campaign

The Lost City of Sharvalu

1. Burning Building (Level 1, 300xp)

Setup: The PCs begin the game in a city doing whatever task is appropriate for the characters. During the night a building catches fire. The PCs can be sleeping nearby, walking down the street, or even in the building. To prevent other buildings from catching fire, they need to help contain the blaze and deal with the injured.

For those adventurers sleeping nearby read:
The screaming outside awakens you. A bright glow comes through the window but it is not the typical sunlight. Looking outside you see a nearby building engulfed in flames. As you reach the streets, you see a man and woman collapsed near the entrance of the burning home. Several people are standing around shocked. A handful are bringing water to calm the blaze. Despite the noise, you hear some pleas for help from inside the building.

Complexity: 3 (requires 8 successes before 4 failures).

Primary Skills: Diplomacy, Endurance, Heal, Streetwise
Diplomacy (moderate DCs): You organize the able bodied to work together to put out the fire.
Endurance (moderate DCs): You enter the burning building and pull out anyone left inside.
Heal (moderate DCs): You assess the injured and patch them up as best you can.
Streetwise (moderate DCs): You know where to get water to help put out the blaze.

2. The Hidden Circle

For all adventurers read:
When you awaken in the morning, you discover a note slipped under the door to your room. On the note is a circle that starts as a thick line on the top left of the page and slowly fades out in the bottom left. It is the symbol of the Hidden Circle mage guild. The note invites each of you by name to the guildhall today at noon.

The guildhall for the Hidden Circle is a rather plain tower. After knocking at the door a young apprentice opens the door and asks you to follow him. He leads you to the receiving room and promises his master will be with you soon.

Players can introduce each other here if they didn't talk after the burning building.

Once everyone has arrived an old man dressed in a blue robe enters. He is bald and has a thick white beard.

For adventurers who successful completed the burning building skill challenge read:

He is carrying a red staff with symbols engraved in it. He gives the staff to the party's wizard. It feels warm to the touch. "I'm Therageess. The Hidden Circle heard about the assistance you gave in containing the blaze last night." He pauses looking over the group. "That staff was found in some recently uncovered ruins. Undoubtedly the ruins contain many secrets. We are in need of fearless explorers to investigate the ruins. Would you be interested?"

The staff is a Staff of Fiery Might +1.

For adventurers who failed to complete the burning building skill challenge read:

"I'm Therageess." He pauses to assess the group. "We heard of your attempt to aid in the fire last night. Your courage is admirable but it takes more than courage to be a hero." Again he pauses. "The Hidden Circle is organizing an expedition to some recently uncovered ruins. Would you be interested?"

Additional Information
Therageess is not willing to divulge too much information of the expedition. He explains that the expedition is be kept as quiet as possible for reason that will be obvious when they arrive. That is why they are being hired instead of better know adventurers. For reward he assures them there will be sufficient to satisfy their wants. They will provide provisions and other supplies need for the trip. Sinar, a member of the Hidden Circle, will be travelling with the party. Sinar will be waiting by the north gate tomorrow shortly after dawn.

3. North Gate

As the adventurers approach the north gate read:
As you approach the north gate you notice a man standing by a cart. His clothes are unremarkable except for the black cloak pulled up over his head. Once close enough to get a good look, the dark skin of drow becomes apparent. He looks over the adventurers. He points to the cleric. "Can you manage to control a horse and cart?" He does not wait for a response before settling into the back of the cart. The cart is loaded with supplies.

Additional Information
Sinar is a drow 19th level wizard with an orb arcane implement. He has a black cloak that is usually up to hide his drow heritage. His knowledge of the underdark creatures is extensive which is why he is going. Being a drow, people have a tendency to be suspicious of him. He sees no reason to dissuade people of their prejudice. Instead he treats everyone as insignificant until their skills are proven. He will not talk to the PCs except as required initially. In combat he will not directly help the PCs unless they are in grave danger. He will give suggestions on tactics. If they follow his advice, he will think they are lack creative thinking. If they ignore his advice and do poorly, he will think they are incompetent. If they follow some advice but deviate intelligent, he sees potential in them.

4. Forest Path (Level 1, 500xp)

Setup:While travelling north, the path travels through a section of forest. Kobolds live in this forest. The dire rats are not well controlled by the kobolds and attack earlier than they planned. They haven't set any traps or gotten reinforcements yet. They do not have any treasure on them.

This encounter includes the following creatures.
2 kobold slingers (level 1 artillery)
4 kobold minions (level 1 minion)
2 dire rats (level 1 brute)

As the adventurers travel read:
On the second day the path cuts through a forest. The trail is mostly straight and clear. Around mid-morning two enormous rats come charging from the bushes. A group of kobolds follow shortly after them.

If anyone understands draconic read:
You hear one of the kobold swearing about the stupid rodents.

5. Last Settlement

The weather has turned bitter cold for several days. You enter the last settlement to the north. Snow and ice are the dominant feature of the terrain. Sinar directs you to the inn. As you approach the inn you see a man run inside. The man soon reappears with a dwarf at his side. The young man is dressed in leather armor with bow on his back and a couple blades on his belt. The dwarf carries a wand on his belt. He scowls a bit on seeing Sinar.

"I'm Gattdor and this in Enthur," explains the dwarf. He removes his glove, spits in his hand and offers to shake the hand of the nearest party member.

If no one offers to shake his hand he scoffs and leaves. If someone shakes the dwarf's hand but doesn't remove his glove and spit into his hand, the dwarf again scowls.

"From here we will need to travel on foot. Rest well for we leave at dawn."

6. The Ruins

After one week of walking through the cold, you arrive at the ruins. The ruins must have been magnificent in their prime. The ice and snow cover many of the buildings but numerous spires pierce the surface. A small town worth of people seem to have setup camp here. Word quickly spreads of your arrival. A woman comes running out of a building. Enthur rushes up to meet and embrace her.

"Allow me to introduce my betrothed, Denytia. This is ..."

"Trivialities can wait," interrupts Sinar. "Show me the frozen abomination."

The dwarf glares at Sinar. "This way." He leads you to the central building of the ruins. It is a large dome building. Inside numerous people work to copy the glyphs and pictures on the wall but your gaze is immediate drawn to the frozen beast in the center. The creature looks like a 20 foot long fish with four long tentacles. The three red eyes of the monster at set vertically. It's entire body in encased in ice.

Additional Information
It is believed that this is the ancient lost city of Sharvalu. It was the center of magical power in it's time. Many of the great magical items and artifacts were created by the Sharvalu wizards. The fact that a frozen aboleth sits in the center of the city is of grave concern to the Hidden Circle.

7. Earthquake (Level 1, 500xp)

Setup: Several people are hurt or trapped or otherwise in need of assistance

There is a buzz of activity when you awake in the morning. At'mor has agreed to marry Enthur and Denytia. The conservative priest is requiring the tradition ceremony including the outdoor service despite the freezing temperatures.

Enthur could ask a PC to be a binder. Binders hold a ribbon that encircles the couple with the priest at the opening.

The ceremony begins as normal. Denytia is escorted by Gattdor into the ribbon circle where Enthur waits. As At'mor begins speaking, the ground begins shaking. The earth rips apart. Loud crashes fill the air as objects tumble to the ground. After a few moments the shaking slows and finally stops. A few people have fallen into some crevices. Some are injured from falling debris. A handful of structures didn't survive the quakes and could have trapped someone inside.

Complexity: 5 (requires 12 successes before 6 failures).

Primary Skills: Athletics, Diplomacy, Heal, Perception
Athletics (moderate DCs): You climb down to help those trapped to get out.
Diplomacy (moderate DCs): You organize the able bodied to work together to rescue others.
Heal (moderate DCs): You assess the injured and patch them up as best you can.
Perception (easy DCs): You find people in need assistance by looking through the rumble or listening for their pleas. Using this skill doesn't count as a success or failure for the challenge, but provides a +2 bonus or a -2 penalty to the next character's skill check.

Success: The expedition is indebted to the PCs and will render assistance within their means.

Failure: The bungling PCs are considered good hearted but ultimately incompetent.

8. Gone Fishing (Level 2, 675xp)

Setup: Kui-akus have emerged and are attempting to gain access to a building. Unfortunately the magic key they were given has lost it's enchantment and cannot open the door.

This encounter includes the following creatures.
3 Kui-akus (level 2 brute)
2 Kui-aku pearls (level 3 artillery)

Every one in the immediate area has been accounted for. Gattdor calls you over. "Sinar and a few others are over at the frozen calamari. Could you go over there and make sure everyone is alright?"

On route to the dome building read:
About halfway there you see a large crevice in the ground. There are fresh footprints leading out of the crevice. The webbed prints are clearly not from a member of the expedition.

If they investigate, read:
The trail leads to a large building with large pillars and a set of double doors. The building is mostly frozen over but a path has been cleared to the doors. One of the doors remains slightly open.

When the look inside, read:
You see two humanoid fish people standing near a wall with another set of double doors. Three bigger fishmen are loitering around. The fishmen give off a slight yellow-green glow.

Ending the Encounter
After defeating the kui-aku, they discover an amulet and a map on one of the kui-aku pearls. The amulet has three ovals organized in vertical fashion like the eyes of the aboleth. The map is a copy of the map made by the initial exploration team. Written in deep speech on the back of the map is "For the eternal deep one."

The kui-aku are deep sea fish people. They resemble humanoid fish. They have green spots on there front and yellow spots right by the eyes that emit as much light as a candle.

Kui-aku Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Nature Check.

DC 20: Kui-aku live deep underwater. Very few ever travel to the surface. Those found on the surface are often working in service of an aboleth.

Kui-aku                                  Level 2 Brute
Medium natural humanoid (aquatic)               XP 125
Initiative +2   Senses Perception +0; low-light vision
Hit points 44; Bloodied 22
AC 14; Fortitude 14, Reflex 13, Will 13
Speed 6, swim 6

Basic Melee; Spear (standard; at-will) * Weapon
+4 vs. AC; 2d6+3 damage.

Melee; Blinding flash (immediate reaction, when first bloodied;
encounter) * Radiant
+2 vs. Reflex; the target is dazed until the end of the
kui-aku's next turn.

Alignment Evil                   Languages Deep Speech
Str 14 (+3)           Dex 12 (+2)          Wis 9 (+0)
Con 14 (+3)           Int 7 (-1)           Cha 13 (+2)
Equipment spear

Kui-aku Pearl               Level 3 Artillery (Leader)
Medium natural humanoid (aquatic)               XP 150
Initiative +2   Senses Perception +0; low-light vision
Hit points 38; Bloodied 19
AC 15; Fortitude 15, Reflex 15, Will 14
Speed 6, swim 6

Basic Melee; Rusty Dagger (standard; at-will) * Poison, Weapon
+8 vs. AC; 1d4 damage, and ongoing 2 poison damage (save ends).

Ranged; Frost Orb (standard; at-will) * Cold
Ranged 10; +8 vs Reflex; 1d10+3 cold damage.

Close; Coordinate Strike (minor; encounter)
Close burst 10; kui-aku allies in the burst deals an extra 1d6
damage on the next attack if it has combat advantage.  The
bonus must be applied before the kui-aku pearl's next turn.

Ranged; Snow Burst (standard; encounter) * Cold
Area burst 1 within 10; +8 vs. Fortitude; 1d10+3 cold damage,
and the target is dazed until the end of the kui-aku pearl's
next turn.

Melee; Blinding flash (immediate reaction, when first bloodied;
encounter) * Radiant
+7 vs. Reflex; the target is dazed until the end of the
kui-aku's next turn.

Alignment Evil           Languages Common, Deep Speech
Skills Arcana +10
Str 10 (+1)           Dex 12 (+2)          Wis 9 (+0)
Con 14 (+3)           Int 15 (+3)          Cha 13 (+2)
Equipment orb, rusty dagger

Continuing the Adventure

At'mor has forbidden Enthur and Denytia from marrying because he sees the earthquake as a bad omen. They will approach the party's cleric to perform the marriage. Doing so will alienate At'mor while not doing so will cause the couple to seek another way or perhaps run off. There is obviously a spy which gave a copy of the map to the aboleth. Could be someone in the expedition or someone at the Hidden Circle who learned of it. If your world contains the warforged, the technology could have been developed by the city of Sharvalu or refined there. The warforged could contain some hidden function yet to be activated by the aboleths. The players may need to track down magical items/artifacts produced by the city for fear of some corrupting effect. The adventure could also be expanded by adding additional encounters on route to the ruins.

For the record, the frozen aboleth is intended to be dead and not rise as some undead beast. Of course nothing says you have to follow that if you use the intro.

Optional Elements
3. The intended recurring ally is not of a race described in the Players Handbook. (Sinar, the drow wizard, is intended to be the recurring ally.)
4. The intended recurring antagonist will be known to the characters by the end of the scenario without them having met the antagonist. (The eternal deep one is an aboleth attempting to get the secrets of the lost city.)
6. The scenario ends more than 100 miles from, or on a different plane than, where it begins.
9. The scenario is intended for a party beginning at 1st level, and provides some ideas that allow a DM to run the campaign (barring character death or party dissolution) through 30th level.