The only thing greater than a man’s arrogance is his ambition. Both the leader and the bum shall find their demise when if their dreams surpass their reality.
Old Popular Saying
Mages, wizards, and priests are capable of wonderful feats. Even the abilities of a simple apprentice are impressive enough to mesmerize the masses. Thus, becoming a powerful mage user comes with great responsibility. In the wrong hands, the ancient spells’ magic, divine or arcane, has the power to change the world as we know it.
But there is something stronger than fire, and more elusive than wind. Time. It cannot be stopped or defeated. Many have tried to understand time better and some few even attempted to travel to the past or the future helped by magic. Some may call their findings “great revelations” but in the end, they all perished in the process and gained nothing. But perhaps not all is lost.
Cadmus Athan’s Door
It was about three months ago when a lightly severe earthquake caused a couple of landslides in the mountain range next to Harrington, a small northern settlement. A cavern’s entrance was revealed and a strong magical aura was unleashed. In just two weeks, acolytes, apprentices, adventurers, and whatnot came asking for a certain Cadmus Athan, a door, and great treasures.
It is a small town and gossip travels quickly. Soon, everyone learned the story of Cadmus, a mage of yore who built a door that has the power to take you back or further in time, show you the future, and make you filthy rich. Whoever wants to know more ought to gear up and travel to the recently-unearthed cave entrance.
Reasons to Leave Home
Opportunity. The people of Harrington cannot believe their eyes and ears. The foreigners in their home ask about riches and treasures that, as per them, are located nearby. If this Cadmus mage’s treasure is real, why should the folk of Harrington leave it all to foreign hands?
Offer They Can’t Refuse. A mysterious man approaches a group of villagers that gossip about the recent events. The man offers each 5 gp if they can search the cave and retrieve a golden key. (This is more money than any of the peasants have ever had). They can keep anything else they find there. He shall wait for their safe return.
- Danger. Unsafe. Check for a Random Event every 3 crawling rounds and after loud noises (4-in-6 chance).
- Light. Some areas of the dungeon feature braziers with permanent magical fire. The rest of the rooms are bathed in darkness. All denizens are dark-adapted.
- Time. The Door of Ages has true power. Beyond the magical threshold, time does not work naturally. The east side of the dungeon (areas 11 and 12) are in a constant shift to the past and the present. Hence, they remain impeccable (see map). On the other hand, areas 9 and 10, the western side of the dungeon, are in the distant future. Cave-ins and the passage of time have destroyed most of these chambers. This magic is beyond the peasants’ comprehension. The characters have no means or resources to stop this from happening.
- Aging. The characters shall experience the same when they cross either of the corridors (area 8), Their bodies shall age or rejuvenate, depending on which side they walk on (read area 8 for more details).
|RANDOM EVENTS d8
|A sudden burst of magical energy hits two characters at random (DC 10 WIS). On a fail, they rejuvenate 90% of their current age. They become babies permanently.
|The peasants stumble upon a man that looks 100 years old. He crumbles and dies before they can do anything.
|A random character triggers a trap after stepping on a pressure-sensitive plate. A boulder falls from above, crushing to death whoever is below (DC 11 DEX).
|Two skeletons come out of their enclosures in area 5. They smell the living flesh of the characters and chase them. The undead monsters fight until slain.
|The peasants stumble upon an evil knight. The armored man does not wish to share the treasure here and wants to rob whatever they have. He cannot be reasoned with.
|The characters are struck by a current of magical air. All of them randomly rejuvenate or age 5 years. No save.
|A strong wind current blows through the caverns and halls, snuffing out fires and any uncovered light sources.
|The peasants stumble upon a sad and confused 7-year-old girl, Sasha Hills. She claims that she is an explorer and that she is not a child. She begs the group of adults to find a way to help her go back to normal.
1. Caverns and Tunnel
The recent cave-ins revealed a cave in the mountains. And today may be the characters’ lucky day, for their journey toward the Door of Ages is calm and uneventful.
- Vermin. A swarm of spiders attacks intruders. However, the arachnids do not pursue. They stay in the tunnel and bite whoever is fool enough to fight them. The insect swarm flees when reduced to half their hit points, or if a torch is thrown at the swarm’s core (thrown torches are destroyed regardless of if they hit or not).
2. Fungi Cave
A bed of bones litters the far end of this cave. A dangerous kind of fungus grows here. Any interaction with it makes the fungi release lethal gas spores.
- Poison. Whoever touches a mushroom triggers the release of spores from all of them. All creatures within area 2 are intoxicated and start coughing blood. They take 1d4 damage (DC 12 CON for half).
3. Gnawed Bones
One of the characters may identify the marks on the bones as rat bites (DC 12 WIS). A swarm of rats inhabits the walls of this cave and attacks intruders. They flee and hide when reduced to half their hit points.
- Treasure. If the rats are scared away, the characters find a backpack with the following items: a shortsword, a rope 60’, a crowbar, a mirror, and four torches.
4. Main Cavern
A massive gate blocks the way. A rug embroidered with symmetrical patterns presents the Door of Ages.
Two braziers flanking the door illuminate the cavern. Roll once for a Random Event when the characters reach this area. Roll for a second time if they investigate the Door of Ages. The magical gate cannot be opened by ordinary means. The characters fail if they try to open it by force, or by using thieves’ tools. The wondrous key located in area 6 is the only means to open it.
5. Immortal Guardians
Cadmus did not create this place alone. He had the help of colleagues and close friends. Obsessed with his work and objectives, he did not care when some of them lost their lives to his cause. And he did not bother to return the bodies to their families. Instead, Cadmus created immortal guardians with the corpses of his former friends.
Each plinth contains the bones, remains, or ashes of one of Cadmus’s helpers. A skeleton forms from the bones in each plinth when they are tampered with. The first two plinths are ready to be looted if Random Event number 4 has already occurred (see below for details).
- Treasure. Each plinth has better loot than the last, as long as the characters want to keep fighting. The first has a small gem (3 gp), and the second a lantern. The third has a leather armor, while the fourth has a grappling hook and 10 iron spikes. If the characters defeat the fifth skeleton, they find a bastard sword. And they get a crawling kit if they search the sixth and last plinth.
6. Key of Ages
This magical key opens the Door of Ages. But the key’s surface is imbued with powerful energy. The key must be manipulated with gloves or a piece of cloth. Otherwise, whoever touches the key rejuvenates to the first hour of his life, or ages to the last hour of his life. No save.
7. Corridor of Fate
The characters open the door. Treasures and wealth beyond their wildest dreams are waiting for them. There is a pressure-sensitive plate that triggers the crossbows at the end of the corridor (DC 13 WIS). If the characters fail to see it, two bolts (2d8 damage) hit the first of the characters. The trap resets after one minute.
8. Chambers of Time
This is where one may witness the true power of the Door of Ages. The golden jugs contain arcane ether, the purest form of magical energy. The elder effigies at the far end of each chamber are infused with the essence of Ord, the god of magic and knowledge. And the central tiles feature a universal sign that represents time.
- East. Living creatures that walk toward the east effigy rejuvenate 20% of their lives for each pair of golden jugs reached. For instance, a 48-year-old man would be 9 years old when they reach the end of the room.
- West. Living creatures that walk toward the east effigy get older by 20% of their current age for each pair of golden jugs reached. For instance, a 48-year-old man would be 86 years old when they reach the effigy. Panic may get the best of the characters and make them flee. Touching the elder effigy infused with the essence of Ord brings them back to normal.
- Jugs. Each jug is valuable (250 gp) but dangerous when touched (DC 13 CHA). On a failure, characters suffer the same fate as with the Key of Ages (see area 6).
9. Studio (Future)
This area used to be similar to area 12. But magic causes these chambers to advance in time, more and more each day. There is nothing of value here.
10. Cavern (Future)
Cave-ins and earthquakes that were still not supposed to occur for hundreds of years created this cave. Three darkmantles extinguish all light sources and attempt to ambush the characters from the dark if they approach.
11. Studio (Past)
Cadmus’s documents, books, and research is here. None of the characters understand anything, but this may be the basis to begin a wizardry or clerical career.
12. Library (Past)
The books and scrolls in here are valuable to any mage and researcher. The secret vault (DC 14 WIS) contains enough wealth and gear to fund an adventuring life.
Some died, but a few of the peasants make it out of the dungeon alive. However, Harrington looks different, smaller. After some confusion, the characters learn that they find themselves 100 years in the past. How to go back? They must stay in this time, become stronger, and find a way. But that is an adventure for another day…