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.
Seven words were created to help inspire this set of dungeon rooms:
The author can use any or all of them. See if you can spot where and how these ideas get used!
The Dungeon Map
This level of the dungeon, uses Dyson Logos’ map, The Eleint Passages: The Ruined Fane (use this link for a player version without area numbers).
This installment of the dungeon covers Areas 19–21.
Area 19: Portal Room
|Silver and copper pieces from the shrine obscure the steps that descend into this equilateral chamber. At its center, an onyx pillar holds up a decrepit ceiling. Three mirrors are affixed to the southern wall.|
The hellbound derro in this dungeon aren’t fools—they summoned reinforcements from their home of Sooledeed in the Mirror Hell of Lies.
Unfortunately, the reinforcements went to the wrong dungeon level. The derro who might have fled to the fourth level through the arcane portals on the southern wall of this area died fighting the PCs, awaiting help that didn’t arrive. However, the inbound reinforcements make for an excellent two-phase fight using the Boss Battles rules.
The leader of the reinforcements, the high vindicator of Sooledeed (see stats at the end of the article), arrives in the dungeon with a bright flash as the last PC enters Area 19. Any PC within 15 feet of a mirror must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the end of their next turn. PCs who fail this check by 5 or more also drop any items held in their hands.
The high vindicator uses its Awe-Inspiring Presence to target PCs who make regular use of bonus actions and reactions. It typically uses its three Divine Burst attacks, although it uses its Blinding Rod attack should a lightly armored PC blunder into melee reach.
If the high vindicator starts its turn with fewer than 50 hp, it uses its Healing Hands feature if available. If it starts its turn with fewer than 20 hp, it also casts cure wounds, recovering 27 hp with this 5th level spell.
The high vindicator fights to the death, trusting that it will be avenged in phase 2 of this battle. When the high vindicator dies, a vengeful aspect of Yskarakta erupts from the corpse. For this this second battle, use Yskarakta (see Tome of Beasts 2) with the following changes:
- The aspect only has 100 hp.
- The aspect can’t use its Eternally Reborn or Unraveling the World features or its Words of Destruction legendary action.
- While the portal is open, the aspect can use its bonus action to summon one satarre lackey (use the satarre destroyer stat block from Tome of Beasts 2 with 20 hp).
- The aspect is CR 7 (2,900 XP).
PCs who make successful DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) checks notice a rod fall out of the high vindicator’s cloak. While holding this rod, a creature can use its action to close the portal. (A creature who wishes to reopen the portal must make a successful DC 15 Intelligence [Arcana] check.)
The aspect and its lackeys focus their attacks on the same PC until it’s reduced to 0 hp. They fight to the death, confident that they will be reborn in the Eleven Hells.
|Designer Insights: Boss Fights|
When designing phased boss fights, I often focus on ways that a single boss will fight in different scenarios. Players need only slightly modify their tactics to correspond to the new threat. In this instance, the second phase of the fight pivots to something entirely different, which provides a new, different challenge for players without rolling initiative again.
Area 20: Runes Galore
|A litany of derro runes have been carved onto all four walls of this room.|
PCs who make successful DC 10 Intelligence (Arcana or Religion) checks discern that the runes have not been sanctified and are therefore inert. On the eastern wall, an icon of Yskarakta is crudely painted in red and black ink. Otherwise, the room is empty.
|Designer Insights: Blank Space|
Especially after a big battle or scene, it is just fine to put in a room without any challenge.
Area 21: Bunk Room
|Unmade bunk beds line the northern wall of this room, which smells of unwashed dwarf with a slight tang of sulfur.|
This area is the room is where the hellbound derro slept. PCs who make a successful DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check while searching this room find a bag of holding containing one magic item for each player. Choose rewards or roll on the table below for items from Vault of Magic.
|3||Ring of spell storing|
|4||Berserker’s Kilt: Bear FurVOM|
|6||Spell Disruptor HornVOM|
|7||Scarab of RebirthVOM|
|Designer Insights: Rewards|
The PCs just had a deadly fight! Make sure to reward them with rare or very rare magic items. (They’ll need them where they’re going.)
In two weeks, we will discuss the connection between Yskarakta, the satarre, and the hellbound derro in Sooleleed.
High Vindicator of Sooleleed
Small Humanoid (Derro), Lawful Evil
Armor Class 17 (Armor of Foresight)
Hit Points 84 (13d6 + 39)
Speed 25 ft.
|12 (+1)||15 (+2)||16 (+3)||15 (+2)||20 (+5)||16 (+3)|
Saving Throws Con +7, Wis +9, Cha +7
Skills History +6, Insight +9, Perception +9, Religion +6
Senses Darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 19
Languages Common, Dwarvish, Undercommon
Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)
Proficiency Bonus +4
Armor of Foresight. While the high vindicator is wearing no armor and wielding no shield, its AC includes both its Dexterity and Wisdom modifiers (included above).
Divine Weapons. The high vindicator’s weapon attacks are magical. When the high vindicator hits with any weapon, the weapon deals an extra 3d8 necrotic or radiant damage (included in the attack), the high vindicator’s choice.
Eldritch Resilience. The high vindicator has advantage on Constitution saving throws against spells.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the high vindicator has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception, Survival) checks that rely on sight.
Revealed Alliance. When reduced to 0 hit points or fewer, the high vindicator can’t use reactions or concentrate on spells. At the start of its next turn, the high vindicator transforms an aspect of Yskarakta.
Multiattack. The high vindicator uses its Awe-Inspiring Presence. It then makes three Divine Burst attacks or one Blinding Rod attack and two Divine Burst attacks. It can replace one attack with a use of Spellcasting.
Blinding Rod. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d6 + 1) bludgeoning damage plus 13 (3d8) necrotic or radiant damage (high vindicator’s choice), and the target must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or be blinded and deafened until the end of its next turn.
Divine Burst. Melee or Ranged Spell Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 120 ft., one target. Hit: 23 (4d8 + 5) necrotic or radiant damage (high vindicator’s choice).
Awe-Inspiring Presence. Each creature of the high vindicator’s choice that is within 30 feet of the high vindicator and aware of it must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or be unable to use bonus actions or reactions until the start of the high vindicator’s next turn.
Spellcasting. The high vindicator casts one of the following spells, using Wisdom as the spellcasting ability (spell save DC 17):
- At will: bane, protection from evil and good, spare the dying, thaumaturgy
- 3/day each: cure wounds (as a 5th-level spell), dispel evil and good, divination, speak with dead
- 1/day each: commune (as an action), resurrection
Healing Hands (Recharge 5–6). The high vindicator touches a creature within 5 feet of it, and the creature regains 14 (4d6) hp.
On initiative count 20 (losing ties), the high vindicator can take one of the following lair actions:
Fiendish Winds. The high vindicator draws a hellish wind from the open portal to Sooledeed and directs it at a target creature, who must make a successful DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, all speeds are reduced to 0 feet until the start of the next lair action. On a success, its walking speed is reduced by 10 feet.
Hellish Mirror. The high vindicator targets one creature within 30 feet that it can see, forcing it to review its failures. The creature must make a DC 17 Charisma saving throw or have disadvantage on all attack rolls and saving throws until the start of the next lair action.
Summon Support. The high vindicator summons 1 lackey (use shadow antipaladin derro with 20 hp and without the Insanity or Infectious Insanity features).
If you’re looking for a notebook to jot down your Dungeon 23 ideas, check out the Kobold Press TeePublic page!