It was time for another release, and so I created 20 Encounters in the Ruins of the Elder Beings. So, what is this pay-what-you-want title all about?
After I finished H.P. Lovecraft´s story “At the Mountains of Madness” the GM in me dreamed about an adventure that would take place in some (other) subterranean ruins of the Elder Beings. Another city or outpost, perhaps smaller, or just the caverns that would lead to its entrance. An adventure about the strange creatures that could have developed there, based on some breeding stock the Elder Beings once kept. I thought about the Elder Beings attempt to slowly retake the places they left as they moved back into the oceans so long ago. I thought about a renewal of their conflict with the Mi-Go, one that is only at the beginning as Mi-Go recon parties try to locate and gauge the erstwhile settlements and strongholds of their rivals. And about what could happen when a party of (demi-)human adventurers would stumble upon all of this, on their search for riches or ancient wisdom.
As I was not able to create a full-blown adventure out of my ideas, I rather created a set of 20 structured encounters. The difference to (completely) random encounters is that some of them are preliminary encounters that will trigger certain other encounters as a follow-up (or will be triggered instead of their follow-ups). In addition, a simple frame was given for the encounters and stats for six creatures and two strange items [all of whom are compatible with Lamentations of the Flame Princess(tm)].
I will share the encounters with you here in this blog post. If you want the stats and everything else, please get yourself a copy of the PDF (see the link above).
01# Marks on the Wall
The characters will notice crude marks that have been scratched into the walls. Obviously, another explorer has been here before them and left those for orientation.
If the characters try to follow the markings, the third encounter from now on will be 14# A Lost Soul
02# A Moaning Breeze
A gust of air moves through the subterranean place and blows into the faces of the PC.. It is accompanied by low, moaning noise. After about a minute the phenomena repeats itself, just like it would be the slow breath of chthonian titan. In truth, it is just a subterranean air-movement, but the very next turn there is 1 out of 6 chance that a torch a character wear is blown out (4 out of 6 in case of a candle, a lantern is not effected).
03# Slime Trail
The ground in front of the characters is coated by a thin layer of milky, translucent slime that forms a trail, about two feet wide.
If the characters don´t head back where they came from, the next encounter is going to be 09# Pale Slugs
04# The Buzzing of Insects
As strange as it seems, the characters begin to hear the faint buzz of an insect in flight. Soon afterwards they will note tiny, pale mouth-like creatures that dance around them, seemingly attracted by their light source. After about a turn a small cloud of those will have gathered around them, and will follow them where-ever they go.
The next encounter is going to be 06# Albino Cave Bats.
05# A Patch of Lichen
The majority of the place the character enter is covered by a slimy lichen that grows in large patches. It makes the ground slippery and drops from the ceiling. Numerous small insects swirl about in the air and a multitude of small slugs crawl over the ground. In addition to that, the characters may encounter both Pale Giant Slugs and Albino Cave Bats here (1d6-3 slugs and 2d6-6 cave bats. Any result of zero or lower means that the creature type is not encountered).
06# Albino Cave Bats
1d3 Albino Cave Bats have been attracted by the light source of the characters and the noise they make. The will flutter around them and get pretty close, but unless the characters strike after them they will not attack but fly away after a while.
07# Unstable Area
The area the characters currently move through is unstable and any loud noise (like weapons fire) might result in a cave-in. A character may learn this with a successful Architect skill check (and as a exception to the rules, the GM should allow a passive skill roll this time or drop some hints, like lots of rubble on the ground). If there is any loud noise the GM rolls a d8. On a result of 2-8 each character must pass a Saving Throw vs. Breath Weapons or will suffer [2-8] points of damage from falling rocks. On a result of 1 a large part of the ceiling comes down and any character that does not pass the Saving Throw is is buried under falling debris. It takes a skill check vs Open Doors to move the rocks, and only after that the buried character may roll a Saving Throw vs. Death. On a success the character is still alive with 1 hit point left, on a failure all help comes to late. This rules apply for the next encounter as well!
08# Chthonic Mist
A strange, thick white mist wafts through the area. It is moist, cold and reflects the light so that the characters will be unable to see further than 5´ while in the mist. If the PC keep firearms at the ready there is a 1 out of 8 chance that the powder becomes damp. If so, the weapon will not fire until prepared again. This rules apply for the next encounter as well!
09# Pale Slugs
1d3 Pale Slug creatures, each the size of a rottweiler, crawl over the ground. They seem harmless enough with their seemingly eyeless stalks moving this way and that while they shove their slimy bodies over the ground. But they react to vibration, air movement around them and sense living beings by their warmth. If any character gets to close the creatures will attack (0 HD, 1d4 hit points and 1d4 damage).
10# Albino Stinger
The characters will hear the buzzing of an insect. It will remind them of a hornet, but much louder. When they look around for its source they will not find it a first (see Albino Stinger).
11# A Colony of Albino Cave Bats
If encounter 06# Ablino Cave Bats has not happened till now, run 06# now and 11# as the next encounter.
The ground the characters walk over is covered in guano and when they look up they will find a whole colony of Albino Cave Bats hanging from the ceiling high above them. There are dozens of these creatures and as the PC look up the first drop down from their resting places like dive bombers. Loud noises and the presence of light brighter than a candle will have a small swarm of the Cave Bats harass and even attack the characters till they leave the place. If a PC with a Dexterity below 12 tries to move quickly over the guano covered ground, there is a 1 out of 6 chance that the character will slip and fall prone.
12# Unnerving Relief
One wall is covered from floor to ceiling in a relief that shows something hard to grasp. It looks like hundreds of writhing forms, dotted with tiny stone marbles and engraved with irregular cavities, that snake and wind along and above another, that swallow each other… or regurgitate another. While the forms and patterns are highly complex the work itself looks shoddy and somehow unfinished and unpolished. A character that studies the relief must pass a Saving Throw vs. Devices or will become the victim of a Level 5 Chaos spell. Those who pass the Saving Throw will gain a re-roll on the Saving Throw against the Cause Fear Ability of the Shoggoth (if encountered within the next 24 hours).
13# Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!
From ahead of them the characters perceive a strange sound, like a group of ghost pipers playing wailing tunes interrupted by sudden shrieks of their instruments.
If the characters do not avoid the direction they were heading to (where the sound comes from), roll a d6: A result of 1-3 means that the next encounter is going to be 17# The Owners Returned, otherwise it is going to be 19# A Shoggoth
14# A Lost Soul
Somebody or something runs towards the characters in the dark. After a moment a tall and lanky man comes into sight who wears dirty but sturdy clothes. His eyes are bloodshot and he storms towards the nearest character (no matter what) and tries to grab him with his huge hands. If the characters do not slay him outright the maddened adventurer, whose name is Henry, will grab the character with shaky hands and hoarsely yell “we must flee! WE MUST FLEEEE!!” and try to drag him or her along. Henry is a Level 1 Fighter with 8 hit points, but unarmed and scared beyond reason. If he cannot convince the characters to flee with him (or drag one of them along) he will just run off into the darkness. He belonged to a small group of adventurers, not unlike that of the characters, who encountered a Rogue Shoggoth. He was the only one who was able to flee, and dropped everything he had with him while doing so. Everything he says is “all are dead!” and “we must flee!” and this behaviour will only change 2d6 hours after he left this place. If the characters search him (after they restrained killed him) they will find 2d6 sp, the empty scabbard of a saber, a length of rope slung around his torso, two metal keys and a small blade in his left boot.
If the character head into the direction Henry came from, use 15# A Carcass in the Darkness (The bodies of adventurers) as the overnext encounter.
15# A Carcass in the Darkness
The characters will find one or more dead bodies (d6).
1 The half-dissolved mass of a Rogue Shoggoth lies in a pool of its own, foul liquids. The stench is horrible and it is impossible to get closer to the carcass or to cross the area/ the room unless a Saving Throw vs. Devices is passed.
2-3 The bodies of [2-3] Elder Beings, which look strangely withered. The heads are missing, and closer inspection reveals that they must have been torn or chewed off. Some of their limbs are missing as well, but those can be found in the area. Everything is splattered in a strange, purple-black slime. Characters that look around might find an Ether Scepter with a successful Search skill check.
4-5 The bodies of [4-5] adventurers, or what is left of them. They have literally been torn asunder, body parts and chunks of meat are strewn all over the place that is not only splattered with blood and gore but also with a strange, purple- black slime. If the characters look around for loot they will find a lot of adventurer gear (rope, torches, medium melee weapons, etc.) but most will be useless due to battle damage or the slime that covers it. It takes a successful Search skill check to
find anything that is still of value (GM´s choice).
6 The rotting carcass of a Cave Bat. 1d6 Strange yellow, maggot-like larva eat away at the carcass (the larva of an Albino Stinger, which are harmless to the characters).
16# Lurkers in the Dark
The characters gain the attention of a group of 1d3+2 Mi-Go, all of whom are armed with Ray-Discs. They were able to locate and spot the PC in the dark long before those had any chance to become aware of them. A Reaction Roll determines how the Mi-Go will respond to their presence. If the characters are accompanied by the Elder Beings any result of Talkative/Helpful is re-rolled.
Hostile/Unfriendly: the Mi-Go will ambush them out of the dark (check for Surprise) in order to get rid of them before they can interfere with their plans. If the reaction was Hostile they will chase them if they flee, if the reaction way Unfriendly they won´t.
Indifferent: the Mi-Go will try to avoid and evade them. Allow the characters to check for Surprise to see if they note them before they retreat. If the characters note them (and their reaction shows it) or if the Mi-Go encounter them again a new reaction is determined and a new result of Indifferent means that the Mi-Go will tail them until they either encounter the Passage or the Elder Beings.
Talkative/Helpful: one of the Mi-Go reveals its presence and approaches the characters while the other try to stay out of sight (check for “Surprise” if the characters try to figure out if there are more of them in the dark). It will try to question the characters, but will reveal very little about itself or feed the PC some simple lies. If the characters answer its questions and seem cooperative it will offer to join them (while the others follow behind). If the characters are uncooperative the Mi-Go will order them to leave this place for “you don´t belong here.” If the characters don´t, the other attack out of the dark (see above).
17# The Owners Returned
If encounter 13# Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li! has not happened till now, run 13# now and then 17# as the following encounter.
The characters first here a number of melodic whistling noises before 1d6+1 Elder Beings come into their sight. Their bodies sway as they move over the ground and their tentacles wave and whip about while their ocular stalks twist and turn to look at the characters from different angles. Every second of them holds an Ether Scepter, but they do not wear any other equipment.
If the characters do not attack immediately a Reaction Roll determines the response of the Elder Beings. They consider themselves to be completely superior to the characters (and perhaps not without reason). If the PC put away their weapons and act calmly they receive a (+2) bonus to the Reaction Roll, but if they act threateningly they receive a (-2) penalty. If they are accompanied by a Mi-Go, they will receive a (further) (-2) penalty
Hostile: the Elder Beings attack the characters and try to chase them if they flee.
Unfriendly: the Elder Beings will act threateningly and try to scarce the characters off. If it does not work they will attack them, but will not give chase when they flee.
Indifferent/Talkative: the Elder Beings are just curious and will inspect the characters from afar. If they act in a calm way, the Elder Beings even might try to touch the PC and their gear or to take some of it away to have a look at it. At some point, they will just turn and leave. If the PC follow them they won´t be bothered by it unless the characters try to attack or interact with them (in the latter case the Reaction is re-rolled and any result of Indifferent is ignored).
Helpful: see above, but the Elder Beings will signal the PC to follow them and will even tolerate it if the characters touch and inspect them as long as it is done carefully (just like a human would treat a seemingly friendly stray cat).
18# A Miasma of Foul Stenches
A disgusting stench none of the PC have ever smelled before* is noted by the characters, and it grows stronger the further the characters go (and will not leave them from now on).
*(unless they have encountered a Shoggoth before).
If the characters do not avoid the direction they were heading to (where the smell comes from), roll a d6: A result of 1-3 means that the next encounter is going to be 15# A Carcass in the Darkness (with the dead Shoggoth), otherwise it is going to be 19# A Shoggoth
19# A Shoggoth
If the encounter encounter 18#A Miasma of Foul Stenches has not happened till now, run 18# now and then 19# as the following encounter.
Out of the darkness a Rogue Shoggoth rolls forth. The abominable creature begins to form eyes, mouths and tentacles while it comes for the PC. Its “limbs” extend, move around without reason and sometimes dissolve back into the boiling violet-black mass that spawned it or just pop open before shriveling away. Numerous unseen organs whistle a many-voiced, baleful tune of melodic sounds and short, shrieking calls while a multitude of lidless, greenish glowing eyes stare at the PC.
If the characters are accompanied by the Mi-Go, they will flee and leave the characters behind. If the characters are accompanied by the Elder Beings, they will stay and fight even if the characters flee.
20# The Passage
If encounter 19# A Shoggoth has not happened till now, run 19# now and then 20# as the following encounter.
The ground ahead is smooth and actually paved with large stone slabs. In the center of the room is a pentagonal opening, about five meters from one side to the next. The corner of it is bordered by rectangular slabs of greenish soapstone that are engraved with a mysterious hole pattern. The masonry works on one of the soapstone indicates that there may once have been a set of stairs leading down, but no other trace of it can be seen. The opening leads into a shaft with walls covered in green soapstone slabl, but after a yard nothing can be seen but pitch black darkness.
The characters will be unable to gauge the depth of this duct as any item they drop down will simply disappear from view and no sound will be heard from below. No matter how long the rope the characters brought with them is, it will not reach the ground. If a character is roped down, this PC will still not be able to discern the ground below …or if there is any.
If the characters are accompanied by the Mi-Go when they reach this place, the alien creatures will simply unfold their wings and fly back the way they came, without a discharge or a word. If the characters were tailed by the Mi-Go, they will launch a surprise attack and try to kill them all. If the characters are accompanied by the Elder Beings, they will turn to them and make a strange gesture with three of their five tentacle limbs and give a low series of whistles. Then, they will unfold their wings and glide down the duct and disappear in the darkness below.