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Dungeons of Midgard: Academiae Caustiz

Dungeons of Midgard: Academiae Caustiz

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For 4th-level characters

All the children are tucked away in their dormitories as Headmistress Galentha Kavezhen makes her final rounds about the quiet castle of Academiae Caustiz.

The blood sister of the Order of Rosy Salvation pauses outside the doorway of the chapel to Marena—formerly the castle’s sanctuary to Wotan—and tries to shed the unease swirling within herself. Her task was straightforward, maintain this boarding school on the outskirts of Tannenbirg, indoctrinating the students as Princess Hristina prescribes.

Straightforward, that is, until her review of the school’s records showed that one of the children was enrolled under an alias to protect his identity. A wise choice even before Krakova fell to Hristina and her Ghost Knights. Had Kavezhen been in the same position as the child’s parents, she would have done the same.

Kavezhen sighs. Tola—Kritorov Walerska, she corrects herself—is such a bright boy, one adjusting to the new routine and curriculum imposed by the blood sisters. The ethical conundrum over what to do next confounds her. Each of her roles in their society of blood and death—headmistress, priestess, vampire lord’s subject—are in conflict.

Her rounds take her to the colonnaded courtyard. She looks out over the fog-enshrouded hedge maze. One thing is for certain: they will come for the boy. Again, it’s what she would do. And she must prepare to repel them. Because it is what she must do.

Location: Chateau Caustiz, on the outskirts of Tannenbirg, Krakovar.

Lore: Queen Urzula, living in exile with her court in neighboring Dornig, has learned that a young cousin of the royal family survived the ghoul invasion and resides under an assumed name at the boarding school. She employs adventurers to mount a rescue, destroy the school’s admission records, if possible, and help other children to escape too.

Objective: Roll d20 for Kritorov’s location at time of the raid: Day, 1–3 arithmetic and geometry lecture hall, 4–6 chapel for philosophy and theology, 7–9 grammar and rhetoric, 9–12 music, 13–15 etiquette and manners, 16–17 library, 18–20 dining hall-commons; Night, 1–4 dining hall-commons, 5–8 physical fitness (maze), 9–20 boys’ dormitory.

Castle grounds: Rhodimir, a ghost knight (Tome of Beasts), patrols the perimeter; determine location with a d8 compass roll. A swarm of ravens roosts near the maze, constructed over a former cemetery. A wormhearted suffragan (Tome of Beasts) wanders the maze at night seeking worthy souls to corrupt.

Entrances to the Chateau. Each entrance has a skeleton guardian, two if it is a double door. They attack anyone who does not speak a password, which is a mantra of obedience to the goddess Marena (DC 15 Intelligence/Religion check). All outer doors are unlocked.

North tower: Four floors built around a central tower stair. The ground floor has a human guard, the second floor is the dormitory for staff (two cooks, a secretary and a custodian, all commoners*), the third floor is the dormitory for 40 boys, and the fourth floor is an astronomy observation deck.

South tower: Four floors built around a central tower stair. The ground floor is a lounge for the faculty and has a human guard. The second floor is faculty dorms, the third floor is the dorm for 40 girls, and the fourth floor is the headmistress’ room.

Common room/dining hall: Flue, an ash drake (Tome of Beasts), is the school mascot and resides in the hall’s fireplace. He mostly scolds students whom he finds breaking curfew, but will defend his home against intruders.

Library: In addition to a red sister serving as archivist, there are two library automatons maintaining the stacks that will defense the premises.

Hallways: Baristow, a black knight commander (Tome of Beasts), patrols the halls. In addition to himself, there are four veterans on patrol within the castle.

Chapel: Sashidra, a cult fanatic, teaches philosophy and theology and, as chaplain, conducts services.

Classrooms: A red sister each teaches mathematics, grammar and rhetoric, music, and etiquette and manners, to in classrooms of 20 students during the day. Each red sister is a cultist.

Administration: Yezineski, a darakhul (Tome of Beasts), performs the duties of dean during the day, then roams the hallways restlessly at night. Kavezhen, a priest**, is headmistress. Her admission records are in a wall safe (DC 15 Dexterity check). She keeps the key on her.

Vampire option: As the PCs conduct their raid, a contingent arrives from the fortress at Tannenbirg. The authorities learned from spies that a member of Krakovar’s royal line is in residence. The leader of the force of 12 guards, the vampire spawn Dobromira, commands that the child be produced immediately (Dobromira doesn’t know its gender nor its name—the bluff is a test of Kavezhen’s loyalty).

Kavezhen’s reaction could determine the course of the encounter for the PCs. Her devotion to her god and her vocation might win out over her loyalty to her vampire masters.

She makes a Wisdom check (her bonus is +3) on a d20.

With a result of 3–14, she asserts her authority as headmistress and demands the vampire spawn remove itself from the premises, calling upon her red sisters as reinforcements. She must then win an opposed Wisdom check against the vampire spawn. If Kavezhen wins, the vampire spawn leaves to get more instruction from her masters, if the vampire spawn wins, they fight.

On 15–16, Kavezhen feigns ignorance of this matter, but steps aside to allow the vampire spawn to search the premises. Kavezhen convincingly suggests they start in the girls dormitory, then secretly sends an ally to fetch the boy, escort him outside the castle and release him, praying he can make a break for the border.

On a 17–18, she also feigns ignorance but agrees to help the vampire spawn search.

On a 19, she gives herself away, standing helplessly as the vampire spawn brushes past, swearing she will deal with such disloyalty later.

On a 20, she gives herself away and attacks.

If a battle ensues, the red sisters come to Kavezhen’s aid. The darakhul Yezineski makes himself scarce. The ghost knight sides with the vampire. The black knight commander and his veterans will side with whomever seems to have the upper hand.

*For flavor, use the Haunted Villager background charts on Pages 110–111 of Midgard Heroes Handbook to determine each of the NPC commoners’ personality, ideals, bonds or flaws, if the PCs have the occasion to interact with them.

**Kavezhen is a priest of the Red Goddess, Marena. Her spell list: Cantrips (0 slots) resistance, sacred flame, thaumaturgy; 1st (4 slots), longstrider, thorn whip, command, inflict wounds; 2nd (3 slots) hold person, silence, zone of truth; 3rd (2 slots) blood of wrath (from Midgard Heroes Handbook), see invisibility.



Troy E. Taylor writes about dungeon mastering for GnomeStew and his blog The Dungeon Delver. He lives in central Illinois with his wife, a motorcycle-riding librarian, and their three children.

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