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Dungeon 23: An Interlude

Dungeon 23: An Interlude

Throughout 2023, a roster of Kobold Press superstars are working together to create a full dungeon for the Dungeon23 project. Each installment contains a few areas that will stack up to a full delve! Catch up on previous articles here.

Dungeon 23 Community Highlight

It should be no secret that the Kobolds are huge fans of Dyson Logos maps. The dungeons, caverns, and towns he draws and provides on his blog are great inspiration in the warrens—including the maps we chose for our Dungeon 23 project.

Unsurprisingly, Dyson is drawing multiple Dungeon 23 projects. Check them out on his blog. (And if you want to support more artisanal, gluten-free maps, visit his Patreon.)

The Story Thus Far

It’s been wild! The PCs started at the summit of a lonely tor before fighting all manner of kobolds, from shadow cultists to alchemists to failed physicians. In between, the PCs befriended a shadow, awoke a slumbering golem, and balanced precariously over a lake of acid.

Having defeated Crepuscyr, the elder shadow drake, the PCs scattered what remained of its kobold servants. The threat posed by the kobolds has abated, and the PCs can pursue new adventuring opportunities far away from this forgotten dungeon.

In the Meantime

But where to go next? Luckily, you can peruse numerous Kobold Press adventures by using the Adventure Search tool on the website. Our team picked out a couple of adventures to help bridge the gap between dungeon levels 1–2 and an eventual return.

  • In The Void Walker (see Prepared! Expended Collection), PCs fight a group of ghouls who have taken control of a massive leviathan that threatens to trample a nearby settlement.
  • In The Griffin Hatchling Heist (see Tales of the Old Margreve), PCs recover a clutch of griffin eggs back from thieving ogres on behalf of a peculiar feline quest giver.
  • The Redoubt of the Perfidious Guru (see Tome of Beasts 3 Lairs) sees the PCs square off against an infernal imposter who has taken over a mountain abbey. This may serve as a harbinger for events to come.

Around the time that the PCs reach 7th level, new rumblings emanate from this dungeon, and they are tasked with handling a more serious threat than mere koboldry amok.

The Smell of Sulfur

From beneath the lonely tor, a new threat emerges. Marauders with fiery weapons are raiding in the nighttime hours. Since the PCs were known to have resolved the prior threat, ducal authorities seek them out to hire them for the job of eliminating these new foes as well.

The new occupants are hellforged derro (see Tome of Beasts 3), ordered to occupy the dungeon upon learning of Crepuscyr’s death. The derro spent time remodeling the dungeon to their needs before beginning raids on the surface, dragging unlucky caravan guards to the Eleven Hells.

They have also summoned a number of local cults loyal to their cause. You might consider adapting elements of the Night Cauldron of Chernobog for this purpose (see Demon Cults and Secret Societies).

In the second level of the dungeon, the derro added sulfur to the acid lake, filling the air with the discomforting scent of rotten eggs. The rank and file derro have etched runes onto the dungeon walls. While most are inert, some contain alarm spells and other wards to deter intruders from gaining access to the third dungeon level at the end of Area 10.

Most troubling is the changes made to the first dungeon level. In the First Descent article, you might recall the metal door marked with an arcane symbol that couldn’t be opened by the PCs at that time. Not only has the derro leader on the third floor of the dungeon managed to open that door, he opened it onto a portal from the Eleven Hells. Now, devils stalk the halls alongside the derro, their cultist allies, and whatever creatures they mold to their needs.

The Dungeon Map

map by Dyson Logos

The new map of level 3 will debut next time, but here is the level 1 map again, with the (formerly) hidden part revealed. These two area are mostly empty, but the walls are inscribed with derro runes.

Some of them contains alarms that ring out. By damaging the rune, the PCs can turn off the alarm. The rune is AC 10, 20 hp, is immune to fire, poison and psychic damage, and is vulnerable to cold damage. It is destroyed if subject to the dispel magic spell.

Restocking the Dungeon and Wandering Encounters

The derro occupied all four levels of our dungeon before venturing to the surface, and they are invested in their new home. Due to their sunlight sensitivity, the derro rely on their cultist allies to guard the dungeon during daylight hours, and they can summon a total of CR 8 of devils from the Eleven Hells each day. (For example, two spine devils and one bearded devil would be a total of CR 7 [2+2+3]).

The third dungeon level is where the fun is. Random encounters on the first two levels should keep PCs on their toes, but don’t let it slow them down much. For advice on restocking dungeons, Steve Winter covered it in detail in The Scarlet Citadel.

Use these random encounters when the PCs are traversing the first and second dungeon levels, or create ones of your own.

d6Random Encounters
1Two bearded devils accompany one hellforged derro (see Tome of Beasts 3) through the corridors, taking stock of the contents of each room.
2Three mud golems (see Creature Codex), risen from the mud pit in the first chamber and now roaming around, observe the PCs from a safe distance.
3A hellforged derro raiding party returns to the dungeon. Two derro stay to count the loot, while the other two derro drag captives further into the dungeon.
4One of the derro runes is trapped! The rune targets the closest PC with scorching ray, and an alarm rings out. By damaging the rune, the PCs can turn off the alarm. The rune is AC 10, 20 hp, is immune to fire, poison and psychic damage, and is vulnerable to cold damage. It is destroyed if subject to the dispel magic spell.
5The dead body of a caravan guard is pinned to the wall by the tail spines from two spine devils. Nearby, a half-elf journey mage and her two human graduate mage assistants (for both, see Bigger Bads) work on transforming the body into a chain golem (see Tome of Beasts 3).
6Due to his bargain with infernal powers, the elder shadow drake Crepuscyr cannot truly die; he resurrects weekly in his lair. The drake doesn’t wish to follow the new derro leadership but is bound to serve by his pact. Clever PCs can avoid a clash with the drake and may even glean information about the dungeon by showing him mercy.

Adventures with Teeth

Hopefully you backed the Tales of the Valiant Kickstarter, which successfully funded last Friday with more than 10,000 backers and $1.1 million!

If you missed it, we’ll open up Backerkit for the afterparty in a few weeks. Watch this space for details!

While our Dungeon23 project won’t lose its 5E focus, we will take the opportunity to highlight new options from Tales of the Valiant as they become available.

Delving Deeper

In two weeks, we descend into the third dungeon level.

If you’re looking for a notebook to jot down your Dungeon 23 ideas, check out the Kobold Press TeePublic page!

About Benjamin Eastman

Benjamin L. Eastman was introduced to D&D by his four closest friends—who immediately betrayed his trust by sacrificing his first character to a demonic artifact. Undeterred, he’s played all manner of RPGs in the intervening years. In addition to writing Warlock Lairs and monsters for Kobold Press, he’s contributed to the Stargate RPG and Americana, and co-authored DMs Guild adventures including Baby Tarrasque. He is perhaps proudest of the bar brawl—his first published monster in the Creature Codex

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