A Vintage Blacker than a Necromancer’s Soul

I knocked together a draft for an adventure tonight, inspired by a map made by the inimitable Dyson Logos – support his Patreon if you dig awesome maps.

Quick Note – the patchwork woman and belle dame sans merci monsters are from the Tome of Monsters (for first edition Blood & Treasure) and the forthcoming Monsters II (for second edition Blood & Treasure).

When a war has ravaged a land, a once thriving community can become overgrown and wild. Such was the case with a little village of men in a broad and shadowy woodland. Outside that village there was once a fine temple that was abandoned when its village was abandoned. This became the home of the necromancer Joachim, who slowly broke down the protections on the bodies interred in the catacombs and graveyard and used them for his experiments.

Joachim was an odd necromancer, seeking to understand and thus cheat death, maybe even seduce it (he had a belief that Death was a woman, perhaps due to severe psychological trauma brought on by a cold and abusive mother) rather than wedding it as does a lich – a sensuous immortality rather than a bleak non-existence.

The tortured little necromancer hatched a plan that involved the conjuration of an angel. He then killed this angel with a jagged claw plucked from a demon’s severed hand and used the celestial’s ichor to brew a potion of immortality. The potion, once imbibed, did not work as he had planned, and the crime he committed against nature with the killing of an angel warped the catacombs beneath the temple. The forgotten temple was forgotten yet again, and lay dormant, its riddle waiting patiently to be unraveled.

Enter the adventurers …

The Catacombs

Beneath the aforementioned temple are catacombs, and these catacombs have been dimensionally twisted. The map included was drawn by the great Dyson Logos, and present a very interesting dungeon to explore. The arrows and letters on the map indicate where passages lead, but I’m introducing yet another wrinkle – a wrinkle in time.

Whenever the characters move from along an arrow or through a letter, they also travel in time. For our purposes, there are three time frames – Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow.

D6    Time Frame
1        Yesterday
2-4   Today
5-6   Tomorrow

You see, once the adventurers enter the catacombs, they alert the remnants of Joachim of their presence. The potion turned Joachim into a sort of ooze – a sentient ichor that seeped into the cracks of the floor. It is now bubbling up, appearing to adventurers as jellied tendrils of a deep burgundy color. In the present – Today – these investigations are tentative. In the future – Tomorrow – they will be more fervent, frequent and dangerous. In the past – Yesterday – there are no tendrils, but the catacombs are still dangerous.

Leaving the catacombs snaps people back through space and time. They awaken many hours later scattered around the woods that surround the church (1d6 x 100 yards away, random direction). They suffer complete memory loss about the catacombs if they leave without solving the adventure, but their memories return if they enter the catacombs again.

Random encounters in the catacombs vary based on the time frame. Roll 2d6 whenever somebody turns a corner, opens a door onto a corridor, makes a loud noise or casts a cleric or druid spell.

Encounters for Today

2. Tendrils (1d3)*
3. Giant Rat (1d4)
4-12. No encounter

Encounters for Yesterday

2. Patchwork Woman (1)**
3. Skeleton (1d4)
4. Giant Rat (1d6)
5-12. No encounter

Encounters for Tomorrow

2. Tendrils (2d6)***
3. Patchwork Woman (1)**
4. Jelly Ghoul (1d3)****
5. Skeleton (1d6)
6-12. No encounter

* Tendrils in Today come from the floor or walls. Each is 10 feet long, has AC 12 and dissipates if it suffers 5 points of damage. They attack as 2 HD monsters and deal 1d6 damage.

** The patchwork woman is a unique creature – she is the animated corpse of Joachim’s mother. If she is destroyed as a random encounter she does not appear elsewhere in the dungeon.

*** Tendrils in Tomorrow come from the floors or walls. Each is up to 30 feet long, has AC 15 and dissipates if it suffers 10 points of damage. They attack as 2 HD monsters and deal 1d6 damage. If they grapple an opponent, they suffer 1 point of Constitution damage each round until freed.

**** Normal ghoul stats, but they are composed of thick ooze. They suffer half normal damage from non-magical bludgeoning weapons and must engulf people (with a grapple attack) to paralyze people.

In addition, in Today there is always a 1 in 6 chance of a tendril encounter in each chamber. In Tomorrow, there is a 4 in 6 chance of a tendril encounter in each chamber.

Today Room Descriptions (Kept Simple to Save Space)

1. Nothing much – we start here. Dusty chamber, alcoves hold slabs with bones of dead high priests that remain protected from the evil of the catacombs; the tendrils and undead cannot enter the alcoves.

2. Small necromantic study. Owlbear rug, creaky mahogany chair, shelves with a few books.

3. Joachim’s living quarters. Sparse, bed with feather mattress with a zombie inside, painting of Mother on one wall, wooden chest (poisoned lock) holding three changes of clothes, a silver locket with a picture of Mother inside, a vial of blood and a silver dagger.

4. Empty.

5. Old temple. Dusty, evidence of blood spatters and bloody footprints, remnants of a marble idol – just the sandaled feet left.

6. Twelve casks of old, excellent wine. One cask is poisoned.

7. Workroom – flesh golem here is complete other than head, which is unattached and lying on a table.

8. Library of necromantic tomes.

9. Crypt – holds caskets for Mother and Father. Mother’s casket is empty save for her clothes and a locket holding a lock of Joachim’s hair. Father’s casket holds his cracked and trampled bones. When presented with the locket, the patchwork woman is treated as though affected by the hold monster spell.

10. Empty.

11. Empty.

12. Bones of Saint Hypatia in an iron-bound casket.

13. Bones of the Brother Umphal, a trio of crusader knights.

14. Ossuary of old priestly skulls.

15. A chapel of the Lawful faith turned into a chapel of Chaos. 1d4 ooze tendrils are always encountered here cradling a small wooden bust of Mother’s head.

16. Necromantic supplies such as weird solutions in vials and jars, bandages, embalming tools, hard chunks of wax and fresh smocks.

17. Bodies were once prepared here for internment and was used as a workroom for Joachim.

18. Room holds three vats, sealed. Inside are zombies with swollen heads.

19. Bodies of two women wrapped in leather straps and the patchwork woman – all three are in alcoves.

20. A casket in chains; inside is a vampire that is held in place by a silver sword of salvation. If the sword (+1 longsword, +3 vs. undead) is removed, the vampire can attack. It looks like a corpse until re-animated.

21. A dagger stained with burgundy ichor and a magic circle of silver dust that has been breached (probably by a human foot) and five white candles. The angel’s body has disappeared. 2d4 tendrils will always appear in this room from a crack in the floor.

22. Dancing dead (7 skeletons with iron crowns with a small sapphire that can fire a single blue ray that deals 1d6 points of cold damage) and three large ooze tendrils, one bearing Joachim’s face with crazy eyes. The goblet stained with ichor lies on the floor and radiates intense magic and good.

Tomorrow Room Descriptions (Kept Simple to Save Space)

1. As above plus three skeletons with jagged broken swords (save vs. disease).

2. As above, but trashed beyond all utility.

3. As above.

4. Two sallow zombies vomiting green slime.

5. As above, but swathed in magical darkness and guarded by two jelly ghouls.

6. As above.

7. As above, but the flesh golem’s head is alive and active, and can mess with people’s minds via telepathy; 1d6 tendrils will appear three rounds after people enter the room.

8. As above, but the books scream when opened.

9. As above.

10. Empty.

11. Empty.

12. Bones of Saint Hypatia in an iron-bound casket with two jelly ghouls pounding on it.

13. Bones of the Brother Umphal, a trio of crusader knights now animated as 3 HD skeletons with greatswords and burning eyes that can blind once per day – their chainmail armor is now gleaming black and +1 in enchantment. This enchantment does not last outside the catacombs, where the armor turns rusty and useless.

14. As above, plus the skulls weep with poisonous (Poison III) tears.

15. As above.

16. As above, but three zombies are here.

17. As above, but three skeletons are here.

18. Room holds three zombies with massive heads – so massive they must hold them up with their hands. They only attack by biting, and they can swallow small creatures.

19. Two belle dames sans merci and the patchwork woman.

20. As above.

21. As above, but the angel’s body has disappeared. 3d4 tendrils will always appear in this room from a crack in the floor.

22. As above.

Yesterday Room Descriptions (Kept Simple to Save Space)

1. As above, but four skeleton guards with shields and swords.

2. As above. A small table next to the chair holds a goblet of wine.

3. As above.

4. Empty.

5. As above.

6. As above.

7. Workroom – scraps of human flesh – a flesh golem that has not yet been sewn up. A head is in a jar of chemicals.

8. As above.

9. As above.

10. Empty.

11. Empty.

12. As above, but evil cannot enter this chamber.

13. As above, but evil cannot enter this chamber.

14. As above.

15. A chapel of the Lawful faith turned into a chapel of Chaos with a wooden bust of Mother on the altar with several candles.

16. As above.

17. As above; three corpses are on the slab prepped for animation.

18. Room holds three vats filled with bubbling chemicals that put off a foul-smelling cloud.

19. Two corpses of women who were beautiful in life and are preserved with only minor rotting with dark magic, plus the patchwork woman.

20. As above.

21. A smallish man with curly auburn hair and a pallid complexion is here, holding a +2 dagger and looking at a brilliantly illuminated humanoid with wings who is within a magic circle of silver dust. A golden goblet (200 gp) is on the floor near the magic circle. The angel appears concerned, but resigned to being a sacrifice – it is forgiving the man, who appears to be at least half-mad. If the angel can be saved from the necromancer (8th level), who is guarded by three zombies, the catacombs return to normal and the curse on the place is removed.

22. A simple tomb.