Campaign of the Month: January 2013
DANgerous Kalamar 4
With the key in hand, the PCs are ready to depart the side room of the assembly hall and move to the next challenge – assuming they can find it. Zelaena offers no clues save for that the party must find the challenge in order to complete it, and that they have everything required.
With three rounds of observation, the key will be revealed as having two feint magical auras (ie, produced by spells of caster level 5 or lower). With the presence (and number) of auras revealed, the party may use the SPELLCRAFT skill [PHB-82] to identify the school of each aura, with details as below:
- Aura 1 (SPELLCRAFT – DC 15): This is the aura associated with the ‘magical rune’ or ARCANE MARK inscribed onto the key. It is a feint aura of Universal origin (not associated with any particular school), with a caster level of 3.
- Aura 2 (SPELLCRAFT – DC 17): This second aura is of feint power and associated with the Divination school of magic, with a caster level of 3 (LOCATE OBJECT [PHB-249]).
Having detected the magic of the key and (potentially) determined the number (and relative power) of its magical auras, the PCs must still do more if they wish to utilize it. At present, they do not know exactly what spells are enchanted onto the key (though they may have a few guesses), or if said spells require activation, and if so what those activations might be. Additionally, the glowing rune is the only clue of what (or where) the key goes to. The group must decide what to do from this point.
The PCs can scour the grounds of the Academy in search of people, objects or areas related to the key and its rune (or bearing the same marking). This includes asking around (GATHER INFORMATION skill [PHB-74]), searching the library for matching runes or writings (DECIPHER SCRIPT skill [PHB-71]), and looking around the halls and corridors (SEARCH skill [PHB-81]). This effectively works out to a Skill Challenge, as below:
Setup: The PCs need to determine to what or where the key they have acquired goes, in order to arrive at the next challenge in their quest to be named as the Academy’s investigators.
Complexity: 2 (requires 6 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Gather Information, Decipher Script, Search
- Gather Information (DC 10): The PCs seek out passerby and ask about the symbol or any sightings of it. Use of Aid Another is allowed for this check (1d4+1 Hours).
- Decipher Script (DC 10): The PCs look for books or texts in the Academy library that contain the symbol, or similar markings/writings. Only those trained in Decipher Script can assist in this check via Aid Another (1d6+1 Hours/Library).
- Search (DC 10): The party moves about the Academy looking for anything containing the symbol from the key or a similar marking (1d4+1 Hours).
Success: The PCs manage to find a fellow student who recognizes the symbol from a scroll in the library, further investigation reveals the meaning of the symbol and the group is able to follow the key to the ransacked room.
Failure: No one knows anything about the symbol – nor have they seen it anywhere on the grounds. Looking about the halls leads nowhere.
The PCs seek to cast the IDENTIFY spell [PHB-243] on the key in the hopes of learning all of its secrets. In order to accomplish this, the party will need to acquire the material components for the spell and have someone cast it (be it someone in the party or an NPC). A Spell Component Pouch will have the required Owl Feather (a Spell Component Pouch can be purchased for 5 gp if needed), but the 100 gp Pearl and the Bottle of Wine to mix the materials into and drink will need to be found and purchased. This will effectively work out to a Skill Challenge, as below:
Setup: The PCs need to assemble the materials for an IDENTIFY spell and line up someone to cast it on the key, in order to arrive at the next challenge in their quest to be named as the Academy’s investigators.
Complexity: 2 (requires 6 successes before 3 failures).
Primary Skills: Gather Information, Knowledge (Local), Appraise
- Gather Information (DC 10): The PCs leave the Academy grounds and ask around town for the location of jewelers or expensive pearls (1d4+1 Hours).
- Knowledge (Local) (DC 10): The PCs use their superior knowledge of the city and its citizens to locate a fine jeweler (1 Hour).
- Appraise (DC 10): The party examines potentially suitable pearls for the IDENTIFY spell in order to ensure they are of sufficient quality.
Success: The PCs successfully locate and purchase (or trade for) a suitable pearl to cast the IDENTIFY spell – as well as the other material components.
Failure: The party is unable to find a pearl that is of high enough quality to use for the spell and must purchase (or trade for) a scroll or hire someone to cast the spell for them.
Regardless of which path the players take, they should wind up at the ransacked room if their efforts are successful. A large glowing rune appears on the door. The closer the key is brought, the brighter both runes glow – this key certainly goes to this door.
Like the key leading to it, clearly has magic enchanted onto it. Using the DETECT MAGIC spell [PHB-219] will reveal the presence of two auras on the door. Using the SPELLCRAFT skill [PHB-82] will as before allow the PCs to determine the schools of the spells.
- Aura 1 (SPELLCRAFT – DC 15): This is the aura associated with the ‘magical rune’ or ARCANE MARK inscribed onto the door. It is a feint aura of Universal origin (not associated with any particular school), with a caster level of 3.
- Aura 2 (SPELLCRAFT – DC 15): The second aura is a feint aura associated with the Abjuration school of magic, with a caster level of 3 (ARCANE LOCK [PHB-200]).
The door is currently shut and held fast by the ARCANE LOCK spell. The players will need to magically remove (DISPEL MAGIC spell [PHB-223]) or suppress (KNOCK spell [PHB-246]) the spell, OR they will need to break the door down (via weapons or a break DC). The door has the following stats: HARDNESS 5, HIT POINTS 10, BREAK DC 23 (including spell modifier).
Additionally, the door is currently trapped. The doorknob is smeared with a contact poison and the first person who tries the door’s handle will be affected (the poison is used up after the first person). The trap on the door is as follows:
- Doorknob Smeared with Contact Poison: CR 1; mechanical; touch trigger (attached), manual reset; poison (carrion crawler brain juice, DC 13 Fortitude save resists, paralysis/0); Search DC 19; Disable Device DC 19. Paralysis Duration: 2d6 minutes.
Once the PCs have made their way through the door, they are greeted by a perfectly tidy, empty room. A successful LISTEN (DC 12) skill check [PHB-78] reveals strange noises, a sort of soft rustling and murmuring. Any attempt to look around or use the SEARCH skill results in a WILL SAVE DC 15, any player who passes the save realizes that the actual state of the room is being covered by an illusion.
In actuality, the room (a dormitory for a pair of students) has been thoroughly ransacked. Holes have been put into the walls, the bedding and chair padding has been slit open with a blade, footlockers and drawers have been overturned and clothing and personal items liter the floor. The most prominent ‘feature’ of this room is a bound man lying on the floor.
The man (Jiffar) is wounded, but only slightly. A single point of healing is sufficient to refill his lost hit points entirely. When released, he is initially INDIFFERENT towards the PCs, as he is wary of the party and what they might want. With a successful DIPLOMACY (DC 15) skill check [PHB-71] the party can change his attitude to FRIENDLY and he will then tell them his story.
Jiffar tells the group that as part of the challenge, armed individuals burst into the room and tied him up, taking his roommate Jaren hostage. They ransacked the room and cast the illusion so that anyone seeking them out would need to bypass the spell and speak to him first.