The Plain People of Gaming: Keepers of the Dungeon

STONECOVER

Eyes of the Stone Thief, the megadungeon campaign for 13th Age Roleplaying Game, is out now!

Some of the many monsters trapped in the living dungeon are the Custodians – a group of earth elementals forced to serve the animating spirit of the dungeon. Ever since the Stone Thief was blinded when the Prince of Shadows stole its eyes, the Custodians have maintained and monitored the upper levels. They manifest as gigantic stone heads that emerge from the walls of the dungeon.

Eyes of the Stone Thief describes seven of these Custodians – the Doorkeeper, the Butcher, the Gravekeeper, the Pearlkeeper, the Architect, the Vizier and the Curator. However, there might be more Custodians in the dungeon that aren’t tied to specific levels.

The same rules apply to these Custodians as to the others. They can appear anywhere in the upper parts of the dungeon. They can restructure the rooms around them, moving traps or monsters into the path of the adventurers. They can be killed, but will usually flee by sinking back into the wall rather than risk destruction – unless the Stone Thief forces them to stand and fight, because the Custodians fear the hunger of the living dungeon more than annihilation at the hands of adventurers.

 

The Dungeon Master

Four brave adventurers… and a bard! Welcome, one and all. Please proceed down the corridor to your right, where an owlbear pack will disembowel you. Oh… oh, you’re going left. Well, you can go left if you want. I’m sure left is perfectly nice.

Now that I think of it, I always have trouble telling left from right. I don’t have hands, you see, so it’s hard for me to remember. Look, one of these corridors leads to horrible hungry owlbears… why don’t you use the bard as bait?”

Part tour guide, part running commentator, the Dungeon Master follows the adventures through the dungeon, offering “helpful” suggestions and the occasional warning of certain doom. It’s the flightiest of the Custodians, so it was never trusted with a level of its own to manage. Instead, it’s sent to guide and protect pilgrims from the dungeon-worshipping Cult of the Devourer through the upper levels, by showing them the right path to take and sliding especially dangerous areas out of their path, until they reach the Maddening Stair that leads to the temples in the depths. The Dungeon Master is also dispatched to keep track of the most troublesome intruders, and is expected to move more hazards towards them if they get too deep into the dungeon.

The trouble is that the Dungeon Master has a soft spot for successful adventurers. It would never actually help intruders who win its admiration– if it did, the Stone Thief would destroy it – but it can nudge them with a hint or let slip a little too much information when taunting them.

 

The Dungeon Master

Oooh. Nasty.

Double-strength 5th level caster [Construct]

Initiative: +8

C: Wall Spikes +9 vs. PD (all engaged foes) – 25 damage

R: Trapsmith + 9 vs. PD (1 nearby or far away enemy) – 20 damage, and choose one of the following:

Natural roll higher than target’s Strength: A portcullis slams down, pinning the target. The target is stuck and takes 10 ongoing damage (save ends)

Natural roll higher than target’s Dexterity: The target falls into a pit trap, taking another 15 damage. Climbing out requires a DC20 skill check.

Natural 14+: 5 ongoing poison damage (save ends)

Think Fast, Adventurer: As a free action once per encounter, increase the escalation die by 1. For the rest of this round, monsters may add the value of the escalation die to their attacks.

Load Bearing Boss: Increase the submergence die by 1 if the Dungeon Master is destroyed.

AC 20

PD 17 HP 144

MD 17

The Turnkey

No food, you can last a ten-day. No water, maybe three or four days. How will you fare, though, with no air?”

When the Stone Thief submerges back into the ground, sinking into the Underworld like a whale dives into the ocean, the dungeon contracts and collapses, folding in on itself. Those trapped within the dungeon are crushed to death by the closing walls – unless they are denizens of the dungeon, or unless they find a Sanctuary.

Denizens are part of the dungeon, monsters who slumber cocooned in stone. The dungeon adds to its menagerie over time, turning creatures from outside the Stone Thief into denizens. The Custodian called the Turnkey is the master of this process. It acts like a grumbling jailor, or perhaps a zookeeper, muttering about how hard it is to convince manticores or hunched giants to accept their new roles as soul-bound extensions of the living dungeon. Sometimes, if an adventuring party becomes trapped in the dungeon, the Turnkey offers them a chance to become part of the dungeon instead of being crushed or starving to death.

The Turnkey is rarely encountered when the dungeon at the surface, unless it is called up by its brethren to secure a particular dangerous monster and turn it into a denizen. (See Giant Monster, on page 345 of Eyes of the Stone Thief.)

 

The Turnkey

Dungeon means a prison, you know.

Double-strength 5th level caster [Construct]

Initiative: +8

C: Word of Deprivation +9 vs PD (1d3 nearby enemies) – 25 damage

Natural roll higher than target’s Constitution: Lose a recovery. If the target has no recoveries remaining, deal 3d6 damage instead.

R: Word of Torture +9 vs. MD (1 nearby or far away enemy) – 20 damage

Natural roll higher than target’s Wisdom: Either take 20 extra damage, or allow the Stone Thief to steal the benefit of your next successful relationship roll

Load Bearing Boss: Increase the submergence die by 1 if the Turnkey is destroyed.

AC 20

PD 17 HP 144

MD 17

 

The Earthsprite

We are creatures of wild earth and unhewn rock – to be shaped and named like this is torture for us. Free me, and I will free you from the curse of the Stone Thief!”

Before the dungeon half-consumed and enslaved them, the Custodians were nameless earth elementals. The Earthsprite yearns to return to that primal state, and has managed to avoid being instantly destroyed by the dungeon by allying itself with one of the Icons. Perhaps:

  • It made contact with the High Druid through the stolen druid circle in the Grove (p. 150). The High Druid can restore the Earthsprite to its original elemental form – but only if the dungeon is lured deep into the Wild Wood, to where the druid is strong enough to wrench the elemental from the Stone Thief’s maw.
  • The Dwarf King and the elementals are ancient foes – but the thought of recovering the stolen Treasury of the Dwarves (p. 216) would be enough to convince the King that aiding one foe against the Living Dungeon is worth the gamble.
  • The Archmage is a master of manipulating elemental forces, so if anyone can rescue the Earthsprite and restore its original form, he can. Once liberated from the Stone Thief, the Earthsprite could provide vital information about ways to destroy the living dungeon before it endangers the whole Empire.
  • The Lich King is an even more accomplished spellcaster than the Archmage, and has his own sinister plans for the dungeon. As for the Earthsprite, a body made of grave dirt and tombstones is better than nothing…

 

13th Age answers the question, “What if Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet, lead designers of the 3rd and 4th editions of the World’s Oldest RPG, had free rein to make the d20-rolling game they most wanted to play?” Create truly unique characters with rich backgrounds, prepare adventures in minutes, easily build your own custom monsters, and enjoy fast, freewheeling battles full of unexpected twists. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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