History of the Oakmist elves:
Amoenthas was the subterranean home of Keltharrem’s elves, whom left 300 years ago following an ideological disagreement. Their brethren had become obsessed with mortality, going to almost any length to increase their lifespan. The band of migrants formed a new home in the treetops to the south, but kept a watchful eye on the area.
Experiments went awry, and the residents lost their minds; a frenzied inhabitant was found wandering the area, incinerating anything that moved. Desperate to contain the horrors but unwilling to put down their kin, the elves of Keltharrem sealed their old dwellings. An immense cover-stone was rolled into place, inscribed with potent sigils. The entrance was covered with earth, and the elves returned home to mourn the fate of their brothers and sisters.
140 years later, human settlers established a logging camp to meet the growing construction needs of the area. Thriving for decades, they eventually discovered the concealed doorway. Before the elves realised that Amoenthas had been unearthed, the residents were infected by whatever foul experiment had seeped through the stones. Being of a weaker constitution than the elves, the humans could not endure the rigour; the tale of terrible pestilence was the only survivor.
With the village now being actively avoided, and the elves not wishing to face exposure, the area has been left for nature to reclaim.
The unfortunate elves of Amoenthas have been left simple and savage, existing in a torpid state. Their arcane abilities are heavily ingrained into their being, and will be utilised to their fullest upon being disturbed. Feral laboratory animals are the only other residents.
Discovery and entry:
The exposed entrance sits within the bounds of the old lumber camp of Gressfall. The tunnel exposing the stonework is fairly long, so there must have been some sort of indicator on the surface for the residents to find. Evenly-spaced wooden beams keep the earth at bay, whilst eerily glowing threads illuminate the end of the passage.
A party might come upon the doorway when clearing out skeletons for the forest sprites; it could be moved into the path of another woodland side-quest, such as Savage Centipedes. Inscriptions and circumvention are detailed at the end of the Gressfall entry, should things go as planned. If the entrance explodes, a haze of dust will persist for some time.
The doorway opens into a wide, tall gallery stretching a good 50 metres; impressive statues of elves furnish each side – none bearing any semblance of emotion. Luminescent tendrils cover the walls, floor, and ceiling; this fills the room with a dim, green, shadowless light.
For the purposes of this dungeon, assume the mass of glowing filaments persists throughout. My party decided to immediately cast Purify Food and Drink on the network, which I allowed; the dungeon was thenceforth in darkness.
A small dark form sits in at the far end of the room – it’s blinking green eyes piercing the darkness, before hopping down a northern corridor.
1) Entrance and gallery.
2) The library.
3) Temple to Gallbrentor.
5) The baths.
6) Store room.
8) The pens.
North of the gallery lays a room lined with tomes; wooden shelves fit to burst tower up over the entrance. Three rows of stout bookcases stretch down the length of the library, ending at cluster of writing desks. The same faint light is present, as is the small creature – motionless in the middle of an aisle.
The creature is a rabbit, but does not flee upon approach. Further sets of green eyes appear on shelves around the party in a classic ambush scenario. I used cats, rabbits and rats as escapees from the laboratory, with a cat launching itself at the closest party member’s face. There’s no reason the creatures need attack at all, I’d just prefer a bit of combat to a petting zoo. My party struggled with this fight more than anticipated due to ridiculous dice rolls.
An assortment of interesting scrolls lay on the desks: Sanctuary, Inflict Light Wounds, Cure Light Wounds, and Entropic Shield.
Temple to Gallbrentor:
A domed ceiling bears a bold black mural of a ram’s head, the sign of Gallbrentor. Three tiers of stone benches line the south wall, facing a raised altar of simple design. A complete lack of artefacts and barren side-room indicate that this area has long-since fallen into disuse.
A series of doors stretch down the west side of the southern corridor, each leading to obvious private living quarters. Most feature a large bed, wardrobes, chests, and scattered personal effects; combs, paintings, vases, and other trinkets.
In the room first entered stands a woman, motionlessly facing the far wall. DC15 Perception check for anyone with low-light or Darkvision (otherwise 20) to notice that the figure is covered in a layer of dust. Should anyone attempt communication or enter her field of vision, she will shriek loudly before attacking. Naturally, this alerts every other elf in the immediate area.
I used four slightly different elves for a bit of spice, one of which had a summoned beetle. After the initial outburst, the elves in the baths, passageway, and bedchambers launched themselves in the direction of the clamour. Where the party heads first will dictate the battle’s origin – it could be the baths or north passage. There’s no reason the poor buggers couldn’t be picked off one by one in a stealthy fashion. The others will be found in equally indolent positions, just as in bed, or sitting at a desk.
A spacious tiled room with two large recesses in the floor, amongst the other expected amenities. The baths are dry, but not empty – a male elf sits silently on one of the seats, unless already disturbed.
Walls of natural rock are loaded with dressers and drawers containing an assortment of containers. Powdery piles represent what’s left of the dry goods, but several rolls of fabric seem to be in reasonable condition. A large oak chest sits against one of the dressers on the West wall; this chest trapped. DC15 Disable Device to notice that the heft of the chest lid is the only thing supporting the dilapidated, jar-laden dresser. 1d6 bludgeoning damage to anyone within 5 feet of the chest, if they fail a DC16 Acrobatics or Agility check.
The chest is full of silk swatches (40 yards) and a pouch of gemstones (35g)! Be mean, and consider that if the dresser collapsed, half the silk has been ruined by smashed pickles.
I don’t like traps unless they have a good reason for existing; most dwellers wouldn’t want to risk forgetting that they planted an IED in their laundry basket. Flavoured as natural hazards, they’re more believable, interesting, and still give the rogue something to do.
The corridors open into a vast cavernous area, swathed in brilliant light from the chamber’s glowing, undulating ceiling – clearly an enchantment. Carpeted by a beautifully manicured lawn, and dotted with shrubs and trees; nothing is out of place in this garden. A crystal-clear pond flanked by wooden benches sits against the north corner. In the event that players look more closely, this subterranean oasis harbours no insect life.
This room contains a range of small cages, all of which are clasped shut, but most have had their sides gnawed through. The few intact enclosures house the skeletal remains of small creatures.
Locked doors cover the northern corridor and eastern pens, these could be picked or broken with a DC15 Disable Device/Strength check. A female elf sits bound to a chair, chest pinned open and scalpel still in place; another stands idly muttering. Broken jars and upturned tables are scattered throughout the room, and a broken plant pot sits in a pool of fluorescent green liquid. The plant’s luminous roots spread out across and beyond the room.
A floor-to-ceiling mirror spans the southern wall, and on a DC17 perception check, one might note that the reflection of the room differs from reality. Three jars on a shelf are in the wrong order; arranging them to match the mirror’s image causes the glass to ripple, and become permeable. Casting Detect Magic might cause the mirror to glow.
If the door was picked, the players will probably get a surprise round. The elf will get a free shot if the first attempt at forcing the door was not successful. The lady bound to the chair will break free whenever is appropriate after combat is initiated.
I flavoured Channel Negative Energy as a roar from the alchemist, and Spiritual Weapon as a thrown, spinning, spectral scythe. The lady was simply a copy of one of the earlier elves.
Loot, glorious loot:
Aside from the trivial delights already mentioned, and the items listed on the NPC cards, there are a few noteworthy prizes. Each of the elves wore a golden serpentine bracelet with a small pair of red gemstone eyes. The gemstones will glow when equipped, and the wearer will feel sturdier, with one extra HP per level.
The finely-crafted scalpel embedded in the ill-fated elf has as blur to its edge, and functions as a +1 dagger.
Through the looking glass are an assortment of alchemical tools and notes, as well as ornate vials totalling:
1 x Cure Medium Wounds.
3 x Cure Light Wounds
1 x Mage Armour
1 x Masterwork Healer’s Kit.
Amongst the research volumes is a diary, of which the last two pages read:
Extracts from the personal diary of Forthenlar Celevan:
The modified crystal bore no fruit, but there is promise in the flora trials.
The imbued lichen seems to have remarkable properties; the treated animals heal noticeably faster, and the infirm specimens are invigorated.
Mereven injected herself with the compound, and it didn’t take long for the rest to join her. After several days, I followed suit.
Something is wrong with trial creatures; half went feral, destroyed their enclosures, and escaped – but not before savaging the control group. Mereven is overwrought, and has come down with a fever.
Much like the research animals, Mereven has succumbed to the madness and I have restrained her in the lab. The lichen is pervasive, covering every organ; I will attempt to counteract its progress.
I’ve barred the doors; I hear the others wailing.