710 Cracking the Vault – Lv3 Shadowdark Adventure

I bequeath my wealth no to one. It was hard to amass it in life and none shall benefit from my hard work. Let this gold stay with me perpetually in death.

From Lord Sasktell’s Will and Testament

The inequalities of life become a struggle, an obstacle that can be surpassed when people understand that a better life can be arranged for one’s children through hard work and per­severance. Social mobility during townsfolk’s lifespans is hardly an attainable goal but children can be set up for better opportunities through inheritance. As such, hard-working families grow richer after generations. Alas, a minute group of individuals suffers such greed that they cannot ever part with their earthly belongings.

Lord Sasktell’s Estate

A man who came from money, Lord Bruno Sasktell en­joyed a lavish life and never wanted for anything. He in­herited a considerable estate comprised of mining sites and jewelry shops. Throughout his life, he amassed even more wealth but grew paranoid of ever being parted with his monetary possessions. He had four children but his psychotic thoughts led him to believe that they too plot­ted his demise. He saw assassination and poisoning at­tempts in mundane gestures and conversations.

Despite his offspring’s reassurances, Lord Sasktell was determined to keep his material possessions safe, even from them. He hired the best architects, masons, and mages to create the most secure vault his money could buy, but it was all done in secrecy. When Lord Sasktell eventually perished from natural causes, his heirs found the mansion’s vault empty. All of the Sasktell’s fortune had been moved to a new vault under the tycoon’s home. The four Sasktell heirs, without access to the family gold, eventually squandered properties, lost their station, and were reduced to poverty after two generations.

Adventure Hooks

  • Lost Grandeur. The characters are summoned by Amanda Sasktell, a descendant of Lord Bruno Sasktell. She wants to break into the King’s Library, formerly the Sasktell mansion, to access Lord Sasktell’s vault and re­trieve the treasure that is hers by blood-right. She offers the party a reward for escorting her but she intends to keep all other valuables found therein (1,200 gp, 10 XP).
  • For Wealth. The characters learn of Lord Sasktell’s treasure hidden in what is now the King’s Library. There are rumors of dauntless warriors who lost their lives try­ing to recover this treasure; none succeeded. The party can break into the library to access the dungeon illegally. Or request a Letter of Marque from the crown and later pay a tithe of 15% of anything they retrieve (0 XP).

Level 3 Adventure

  • Danger. Risky. Check for a Random Event every 2 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
  • Light. Some areas have large braziers; the rest are in pitch darkness. The denizens are dark-adapted.
  • Secret Doors. Pulling hidden bricks on the walls causes sections of the wall to slide inward and reveal pathways to hidden areas. (DC 14 WIS to find).
  • Traps. All devices are maintained by spells. All traps reset after 3 crawling rounds once triggered. Disabled or destroyed traps magically reset and reform at dawn.
  • Stasis Field. Spells that cause instantaneous move­ment or teleportation fail unless they are cast on any of the two teleportation circles in the vault (see map).
1 The presence of life attracts the attention of a cave creeper in a nearby cave. The monster bursts through a wall and attacks.
2 The characters witness a ball of necrotic energy turn a near-sized area dangerously cold. Creatures in the area may jump out of the way to avoid taking 2d6 damage as skin and blood freeze in contact with the cold area (DC 13 DEX check).
3 A wight leads a shambling patrol of 2d12 skeletons. The undead are branded with the mage’s sigil.
4 An unnatural gust of air traverses the entire dungeon. This noxious gas causes food to rot unless it is protected.
5 A tripwire lies ahead (DC 14 WIS to spot). If a creature walks through it and triggers it, several mounted axes swing from the ceiling, potentially striking up to three creatures and dealing 2d6 damage (DC 13 DEX to duck out of their reach).
6 The party experiences a vision of Lord Sasktell insanely guarding his wealth from his friends and relatives.

1. Entrance Hall

The entrance to Lord Sasktell’s vault is hidden under a lavish, embroidered rug; in a storage room filled with an­cient scrolls. The trapdoor under the rug leads here.

  • The Circle. A wizard can transcribe the runes of the teleportation circle for later use. Careful study reveals that his magic circle has never been used (DC 14 INT).
  • Inscriptions. The door to area 2 bears an engraved in­scription that reads: “Turn back with your lives. Attempt­ing to retrieve my treasure shall cost you everything. It is not worthwhile for the likes of you.” A scratched reply in Elvish underneath reads: “Aerendil was here, the trea­sure is no more.” Alas, the famous elf explorer perished in area 3 before reaching the vault (DC 16 INT).

2. Automated Crossbows

Two magical, clockwork shooting devices stand by the east wall, next to the first spiked pit of area 3.

  • The Crossbows. Each device is a repeating crossbow capable of shooting five bolts before reloading. When a creature crosses the door’s threshold, both crossbows start shooting once per round (ATK +3, 1d6). Reload­ing takes 1 round. The devices can be disabled with fine tools (DC 13 DEX) or destroyed (10 HP).
  • The Bypass. The secret passage to area 5 (see Dun­geon Features) provides the means to bypass area 3 en­tirely, arguably the most dangerous, and reach area 4.

3. Trial of Pain

This section encompasses a 70-foot-long hallway dot­ted with deadly traps. There are three 20-foot-deep pits, spear-throwing traps, and flame-generating machines.

  • Spiked Pits. Jumping across the pits requires a DC 14 STR check. Failure by 5 or more causes the crea­ture to fall and be impaled. They take 2d6 damage. The corpse of Aerendil lies impaled in the easternmost pit.
  • Spear Throwers. Creatures that stand in between the clockwork devices in the alcoves (see map) are tar­geted by volleys of sharp spears (ATK +2, 1d8).
  • Flame Engines. When a creature stands in between the engines (see map), jets of fire emerge from the appa­ratuses. They deal 2d6 damage (DC 12 DEX).

4. Room of Meditation

Two statues of masked blood-letters stand proud, flanking a multi-leveled pond of brackish water.

  • The Effigies. They are portrayals of a forgotten heal­er saint. Characters that meditate for 1 crawling round before them gain 1 luck token or recover one lost spell.
  • The Pond. It was once holy water (DC 12 WIS). Now the water is poisonous and causes retching if drunk.
  • The Pit. The 60-foot-long corridor has a 20-foot-deep spiked pit. It cannot be jumped across. Falling creatures become impaled on the spikes and take 2d6 damage.

5. Hidden Passage

If the secret door is found in area 2, the characters can use this passage to bypass the multiple traps in area 3.

  • Treasure (5 XP). There are three shortswords, three daggers, and one greataxe on the wooden tables. The chest contains 650 gp and a potion of healing.

6. Lord Sasktell’s Archive

A glimmering aura surrounds all scrolls and tomes in this chamber. All surfaces are uncannily pristine.

  • Aura of Conservation. An abjuration enchantment guards all documents from the passage of time.
  • The Documents. The archive contains Lord Sask­tell’s literary collection of classics and some journals of his authoring. Perusing the archive for 1 crawling round unearths a journal that enumerates 484 alleged assas­sination attempts on Lord Bruno Sasktell. All of them were thwarted due to Lord Sasktell’s great insight, pre­cautions, and sometimes, as per him, sheer luck.
7. The Great Hall of Guardians

Rows of tall pillars and ornate sarcophagi flank the central path to an intricate clockwork device by the far wall. The vault door is polished and pristine.

  • Depictions of Greatness. The domed ceiling fea­tures detailed fresco paintings that portray Lord Bruno Sasktell as a person of power who commands the re­spect of those beneath him. In some paintings, he fights dragons with a longsword; an artistic depiction of him.
  • The Guardians. When living creatures come within 30 feet of the vault door, the sarcophagi open and spit out five ghouls and one ghast. If defeated, these guard­ians reform at dawn, after the vault door is closed again.
  • The Vault Door. This type of door requires a com­mand word to open (DC 15 INT). Lord Sasktell never shared it in life so it is unknowable. A character must use fine tools to breach the door (DC 18 DEX). It takes an hour to crack the vault. Each failed attempt decreas­es the DC by 1 but increases 4 hours to the cracking time, potentially allowing the guardians to reform. After the door is bypassed, a wizard can designate a new com­mand word for the vault with the use of the alarm

8. The Vault

This chamber contains several chests, a stone bookshelf, a large stone coffer, and a rune-scribed circle.

  • The Circle. This teleportation circle features a differ­ent rune sequence than the one in area 1.
  • Treasure (8 XP). The chamber contains 4,600 gp, 14,600 sp, a set of plate armor, a set of mithral chain mail, two potions of healing, and a collection of fifteen random, wizard spell scrolls of tier 1 and tier 2.

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