My Books, Let Me Sell You Them

Starting February 25 and running through March 3, the d20pfsrd store is have a “GM’s Day warmup sale“, with a bunch of player-oriented supplements on sale at 30% off. This ends when the GM’s Day sale starts and runs until March 11, focusing on GM-oriented supplements at 40% off.

All of the Echelon Reference Series PDFs released so far are on sale at 30% off during the warmup, but that ends March 4.

But not to worry! That’s when the sales start at DriveThruRPG (and RPGNow) and Paizo, so you’ve still got an opportunity to get the PDFs at a discount.

Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians

Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians

Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians (3pp+PRD)

Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians (PRD-only)

Echelon Reference Series: Clerics

Echelon Reference Series: Clerics

Echelon Reference Series: Clerics (3pp+PRD)

Echelon Reference Series: Clerics (PRD-only)

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 7 (The Pyramid)

Dolmar's Pyramid, level A

(click to embiggen)

Entrance

The approach to the pyramid of Dolmar is flanked by two rows of inscribed obelisks, which I already described previously. The entrance itself is up a flight of steps, and is barred by enormous double stone doors. Pushing them open is easy thanks to a delicate counterweight, but doing so triggers a spear trap to spring up in the porch. A grid of holes is visible in the stone floor of the porch, through which the spears will emerge.

Clues: Obelisk engravings SelectShow

A1: Corridor

Along the corridor, the stone floor slabs are cracked and dented in one spot. Above, the ceiling tiles are interrupted by a single large block of granite. Stepping on the slab immediately before the cracked section triggers the falling-block trap after a second’s delay. The trap resets itself automatically.

Just before the entrance into the Scarab Chamber, the corridor is flanked by two pairs of muscular statues, each holding a greatsword upright. A gauzy veil in front of each pair of statues hides the tripwire which activates the trap, bringing the statues’ greatswords down violently on the hapless victim.

A2: Scarab Chamber

The Scarab Chamber is shaped like the beetle for which it is named. Rows of carved columns mark the edge lines of its carapace, with a very wide central column where the lines meet. This central column is of brick. Six side passages branch off like legs, leading to various side chambers. At the head end of the chamber is a great door, made from a single colossal block of granite rigged to a clever mechanism. Above the lintel of the doorway, a column of six circular sockets is edged in brass.

Written on the great door is the following:

Text: Great Door Inscription SelectShow

The door can be opened by placing the stone tokens in the correct order in the sockets (from the top: pendant, book, crown, river, dagger, jewel).

A3: Model Room

In the first side-room is a model of the city, carved from stone. The pyramid and the temple are clearly visible, as is a dry channel depicting the river.
If the river channel is filled with water, the pyramid model will split open to reveal a circular stone token marked with a river symbol.

A4: Astronomical Room

In the second room, a thin shaft brings a beam of bright sunlight inside, where it strikes a brass mirror on a turntable. The ceiling is decorated with images of the constellations, the moon, and the sun. The mirror is faded with the years, but with some polishing it will soon give a bright reflection again. The mirror is currently oriented to reflect the light towards the ceiling image of the moon. Pointing it at the sun instead will cause the turntable to rise up, revealing a cavity containing a stone token marked with a crown symbol.

A5: Choice Room

In the third room, the floor has several circular holes the approximate width of a human arm. Peering inside the hole, one can see a lever which can be pulled to activate something. On the floor around each hole are decorations. One hole is painted around with golden coins and jewels. Another is decorated with skulls, wicked blades, broken bones, and drops of blood. A third hole has images of idyllic scenery and relaxing figures. A fourth hole is surrounded by depictions of succulent fruit of every kind. The fifth hole depicts attractive couples fawning over each other and presenting gifts. The sixth and final hole shows crowns, sceptres, and thrones. Pulling the lever in the second hole (skulls, blood, etc) causes a pedestal to rise from the centre of the floor bearing a stone token with a dagger symbol. Activating any other hole will trigger spring-loaded blades inside the hole itself.

A6: Double Maze

The fourth room appears to contain a waist-high maze of low walls, at the other end of which is a chest. In fact, the walls are illusory and can be walked through. The real maze is composed of invisible walls (see map below), and these span from the ceiling to the floor. The chest, once opened, appears to be empty. Its contents are actually merely concealed by illusion: within is a stone token with a jewel symbol.

Map: Real maze SelectShow

A7: Grandiose Room

The fifth room has a glorious throne decorated in gold and gems, two imposing muscular statues, grandiosely-carved walls, and inscriptions just above head height. The inscriptions are various prideful and self-congratulatory messages; see examples below.

Text: Prideful messages SelectShow

Low down, partway along the base of one wall and cunningly integrated into the carvings, is a low entrance into room A7b. The entrance is easily missed if one is looking only at the inscriptions.

A7b: Humble Room

This plain undecorated chamber contains only a small plinth holding a stone token with the symbol of a pendant.

A8: Alphabet Room

The third room’s floor consists of a grid of tiles, each marked with a letter. On the wall are painted depictions of every kind of precious gem and piece of jewellery. If you spell the name of the king, Dolmar, by pressing firmly on the tiles, one of the gem pictures will swing open to reveal a stone token marked with a book symbol.

A9: Stairs up

Beyond the great door of the Scarab Chamber, a staircase curves upwards.

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 7 (The City)

On the sands near the great river Daiphrit stands the imposing pyramid-tomb of the ancient king Dolmar, a beloved ruler of the kingdom who was killed by a villainous minister. The tomb’s construction took many years, and necessitated the existence of a temporary town to support all the labourers and artisans. After the tomb was completed, many of these people elected to stay in the town to be close to the resting-place of their king. Over time, others joined them, and the town grew into a small city. But, one by one, the king’s loyal subjects grew old and died, and were themselves buried in the city’s districts. In modern times, the city of Dolmar’s Rest lies silent and empty, home only to the dead.

But it is silent no longer. A strange corona of red and gold light surrounds the pyramid, and those loyal to the ancient king have woken from their graves. Slowly the skeletal citizens are rebuilding their ruined city, restoring it to its former glory. A few brave scouts have visited the city and returned unmolested, reporting the undead populace to be generally peaceful and industrious. But King Dolmar himself has returned, and the city recognises him alone as the rightful ruler of the entire kingdom.

Rumours are spreading through the capital like wildfire. Many expect this is some trick: the dead may indeed walk, but surely the good king Dolmar of legend would have no part in such necromancy? Others wonder if perhaps the old legends have been subject to whitewashing, or just suffer from a rose-tinted view of history. Alternatively, maybe the whole thing is just an illusion thrown up as cover for an invasion by the Blueskins.

The Queen and her advisers need hard information about what’s really going on. A team of courageous adventurers might be able to enter the city and collect intelligence to determine if there is an immediate threat, and to track down the source of this strange magic. That’s where the characters come in.

Map: Dolmar's Rest SelectShow

The citizens are skeletal in nature, with red-and-gold pinpoints of light burning in their eye-sockets. Generally, the populace is busy working day and night to rebuild the various structures and create new equipment to replace items worn down over the centuries. Despite their condition, the citizens still feel the need to eat, drink, and sleep, so much of the infrastructure of a normal city is needed. The outlying farms have, of course, gone to wilderness over the centuries, leading to some difficulty with food supplies. None of the citizens are completely comfortable to meet a living human; it’s an unpleasant reminder of their own undead status. They try to remain polite, however.

The citizens don’t know the source of their condition, or what the king’s long-term plans are, although plenty of the more egotistical ones will be happy to make assumptions or to pretend to know important secrets. The nobles are particularly prone to such theorising. King Dolmar hasn’t been seen since a single public appearance after the great awakening, preferring to keep himself shut up in the pyramid. Only the royal guard are allowed in, and then only by direct order. The priests manage the everyday aspects of authority in the meantime. The royal guard sometimes receive telepathic orders from the king, and many citizens have started to grow wary of them.

Drop a die on the below tables to generate random encounters. Each district has its own table (in outline shaped like the district itself), which you can combine to get a whole-city table. For entries marked with “[*]”, the encountered person is interacting with a third party: drop a die on the whole-city table to find out who!

Encounters: Temple District SelectShow
Encounters: Commercial District SelectShow
Encounters: Artisans' District SelectShow
Encounters: Nobles' District SelectShow

The sacred pendant, symbol of the king’s authority, is a big topic of discussion amongst the skeletons. The king wasn’t wearing it at his public appearance, and its whereabouts are unknown. Some speculate that this is a sign the king is an imposter, while others wonder if it was stolen by tomb raiders during the city’s long sleep. The royal guard quash discussion of the subject if they should hear any.

The avenues leading to the temple and the pyramid are bordered by obelisks: both sets of obelisks are identical, six in number and inscribed with the following lines of text:

Clues: Obelisk engravings SelectShow

The high priestess prefers to stay in the temple. She knows the pendant was hidden in the temple by one of her predecessors, but doesn’t know exactly where. She has received a telepathic instruction from the king to deliver the pendant to the pyramid, but is unsure if he is the real king or not. If the delivery is to be made, having the artefact carried in the hands of armed adventurers might seem like a prudent move. The king’s instruction mentioned the pendant being “hidden in the heavens”, although since it was secured after his death he doesn’t know the specifics.

Stats: High Priestess Vernat SelectShow
Map: Temple SelectShow

Sitting atop a dais, the altar of the temple is a table covered with a fine silk cloth that almost reaches the ground. On the floor underneath the altar, one of the floor tiles is marked with a miniature pendant symbol; it’s quite visible if kneeling in front of the altar. Pressing this tile causes the entire dais to swiftly rise up on a stone column, ascending into the interior of the temple spire. From here one can easily reach a stone casket on a ledge at the tip of the spire, within which glows the pure light of the sacred pendant.

Artefact: Pendant of Divine Light SelectShow

If the characters don’t go out of their way to conceal the pendant, news of its discovery will spread swiftly. Some of the populace will want it delivered to the pyramid immediately, while others think the king is an imposter and that it should be kept away. Some citizens may consider it borderline blasphemous for the characters to be carrying around the king’s symbol, particularly if they are wearing it. These high tensions are stoked by the fact that none of the skeletons can touch the holy pendant directly without being burned, so the various groups must try to convince the characters of the “correct” course of action.

If the royal guard hear the news, they will be instructed by the king to try and seize it from the adventurers. Those citizens who don’t trust the royal guard may help the characters escape or hide if needs be.

An Account of the Gadolim: The Beginning

Previously, I mentioned the hook for this series of adventures: the sage Ladan hires the player characters to search the ruins of lost Acadus for ancient texts.

What I didn’t mention was that the characters are the second group Ladan hired for this purpose. You see, he had previously enlisted the services of Edward and William, two adventurers who successfully located the Hall of Sages.

Unfortunately, only William returned from the expedition, reporting that Edward had accidentally fallen to his doom shortly after they found a magical-looking tome. Ladan was upset to learn that Edward had been carrying the book when he fell into the chasm. Nevertheless, Edward received his due pay, and went off to deliver William’s share to his next-of-kin.

Now, Ladan has finished brooding over the matter and has decided to hire a new group of adventurers to examine the Hall of Sages again, more carefully. He hopes that perhaps the chasm was not as bottomless as it seemed and that the book can yet be found.

The directions to the Hall, left by Edward, are quite vague and consist of just a small number of landmarks. While the characters are wandering the ruins trying to find the correct place, use the die-drop table below to select random encounters.

Hall of Sages: Level A SelectShow
Hall of Sages: Level B SelectShow
Hall of Sages: Level C SelectShow
Die-Drop Table: Acadus Ruins Encounters SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 6

The capital is clean and beautiful. Money flows in the markets, and comfortable housing lines the streets. It is a good place for a respectable person to be seen! Official palace statistics report that the poor are well-provided for, and numbers of homeless people living on the streets are lower than they have ever been. Many noble-sponsored charitable organisations exist to help the needy, with fanciful names such as The Guild of the Golden Cup, The Great Hand of Plenty, and The Porcelain Heart.

One of the homeless people in the city is David, who is known to one of the characters’ contacts. He has been visiting The Silvered Cloud‘s charitable hostel lately to get somewhere to sleep at night, in exchange for which he does some simple manual labour. The organisation’s leader is a well-known industrialist with a large canned food business, who makes weekly visits to the hostel in the Harbour Quarter to give encouraging speeches.

Nobody has seen David for the past week; the hostel state that he has “graduated from the programme”, but otherwise offer no information. Those who live on the lowest rungs of society can relate other stories of homeless people going missing, stretching back over several months. Shortly after the characters’ contact enlists their help in trying to locate David, the contact succumbs to a sudden and mysterious death in their own bedroom, having apparently just finished a dinner of canned sausage. The body is shrivelled and desiccated, the jaw is dislocated, and the vocal cords severed.

Stats: Hostel enforcer SelectShow

The Anchor Canned Goods factory in the Merchants’ Quarter is a busy place, with a complicated production line and a huge shipping department packing tins for distribution to all parts of the kingdom. Somehow the production line doesn’t seem quite big enough to produce cans at the rate they are shipped out. Their canned food is quite popular and the characters will have encountered it on shopping expeditions: especially the popular canned beans, beef, sausages, tomatoes, sardines, and strawberries.

A number of people, from all walks of life, have fallen prey to the same mysterious death that affected the character’s contact, but it is being kept under wraps by the authorities for fear of panic. In each case the condition of the body is the same, but there is rarely much sign of a struggle. Some of the victims died in locked rooms with nobody else present. Observation of the scenes will reveal that each had recently had a meal of delicious canned food.

Stats: Baroness Joanna SelectShow

In the hostel’s main office there towers a huge ornate glass clock, whose shimmering dial tracks some rhythm of unearthly origin. The ticking sound of the clock echoes strangely. A glass door on the front of the clock (which is an Arcanum) opens to reveal a passage to a spectral world adjoining the mundane one. Time flows differently here: a day in the spectral world passes in only an hour’s worth of mundane time. In the sandy ground of the spectral world, missing homeless people labour to dig new tunnels in the nest of the native phase insects; the tunnels are lined with multi-coloured glass by the insects themselves.

Also in the spectral world is an extension of the Baroness’ canning industry. Taking advantage of the different rates of temporal flow, she compels the homeless slaves to labour hard at the canning production line when they aren’t tending to the needs of the flitting phase insects, or catching a scant few hours’ sleep. The factory’s machinery is steel, of human make, but the structure itself is mostly the glittering glass excreted by the insects.

The phase insects themselves are two feet long and of beautiful aspect, with shimmering dragonfly wings and iridescent bodies. Their eyes sparkle with entrancing rainbow hues, and a faintly metallic scent accompanies them. They are habitually airborne, landing only to rest or lay eggs, and their wings emit a harmonious droning hum which is hypnotically pleasant to listen to. They prefer to congregate in large numbers and dislike being alone.

Slaves who dissent or become too weak to work are chained down and implanted with a phase insect egg. This egg grows to maturity very rapidly, draining the vitality and mass from the host’s body to leave a shrivelled ruin. At length, the juvenile insect forces its way up through the host’s throat, tearing the vocal cords and cracking open the jaw.

As part of her business arrangement with the phase insects, the Baroness has arranged for a certain number of eggs to be introduced into cans of food. Most of the insects which hatch in the normal world instinctively make their way to the glass clock to return to the nest, although some may seek out new nesting sites in the normal world. Mostly the deadly cans are included randomly in regular shipments, although the Baroness isn’t above ensuring that specific enemies receive such a “special” can.

Stats: Phase insect SelectShow

Stats: Phase insect, juvenile SelectShow

The immediate area around the factory and the nest is a sandy place filled only with the glass sculptures of the phase insects. Should the characters decide to explore further afield in the spectral world, feel free to get creative!

The Baroness has a safe place to hole up in the spectral world, a comfortable office in the slaves’ factory. Her secret records and anything else incriminating are kept here, along with a stash of other paperwork she would prefer to keep out of others’ reach. The spectral world office is in the same relative location as her office in the normal world’s factory, and hence her glass bangle allows her to move between them. Included in the document safe is a scroll case holding the sixth page of the Cadian document.

Cadian Document: Page 6 SelectShow

Stats: Graciaon SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 5

The coastal town of Cacheto-on-sea is a generally peaceful place with a long history of solid industry. The town’s salt mines have brought prosperity to the area, and many of the townspeople are quite well-off. Lately there have been strange happenings, however. A series of unusually aggressive diseases has struck randomly throughout the population — never the same disease twice, and never anything previously known to medicine. In the past few days there have also been one or two accounts of people going suddenly missing, all of them quite young and all of them completely healthy.

The diseases progress quickly and often fatally, so the town’s elderly priest is struggling to keep up with demand for his healing powers. He doesn’t know the source of the problems, but is starting to suspect that something has been stirred up by the work in the mines. The missing young people are a new mystery which he is baffled by.

Stats: Father Martin SelectShow

A malevolent earth-spirit, disturbed by the mines, is abroad in the town. When it was first awoken, it intended to bring about the town’s complete destruction, tearing the earth and sending the whole place tumbling into the shadowy depths. However, a high-class woman who secretly practices dark magics has bound the spirit and prevents it from doing so. The spirit is compelled to serve the witch’s goals by helping her pull magical power from the roots of the world. Her seal on its mind is not perfect however, and the earth-spirit exacts what revenge it can by calling up terrible diseases throughout the populace.

The town’s missing young people have in common that they had recently spoken to the witch (in her public upper-class persona). They have been kidnapped and are chained up in her secret underground chambers, where she uses them to experiment with her new powers. One in particular, a shy young lady named Genevieve, has the dubious honour of being clamped to a wooden chair and forced to wear a magical armlet that protects the witch from physical harm.

The underground chambers are accessible from the mansion’s library by pulling a switch inside a hollow marble bust (a sculpture of the witch herself). The house servants have sometimes seen their mistress go into the library and then “disappear” without coming out again.

Stats: Ulthogg SelectShow

Stats: Constance SelectShow

Smashing the great wall mirror in the witch’s hilltop mansion will break her hold over the earth-spirit. If it has not already been placated or otherwise controlled, it will immediately start rending open a huge chasm to sink the entire town, although this will take several minutes to accomplish. If it succeeds in doing this, it will collapse the hill under the witch’s mansion in a final gesture of contempt. It will then return to the deep earth to sleep.

The earth-spirit is not very deceitful and will make no secret of its loathing for mortals (especially the witch), if the players should speak to it. It is quite open about its desire to demolish the entire town, the better to ensure that its sleep is never disturbed ever again. If offered suitable guarantees about the mines staying away from its home, it might be talked into leaving the town intact. It is unlikely to stretch to sparing the life of the witch, whom it especially hates, but it will mention the existence of the kidnapped young people if the characters have failed to locate them.

The witch made a few unusual visits to the mine works shortly before the disease outbreaks began. Neither she nor any of her servants have been affected by any of the diseases, nor does she seem afraid of falling victim to any. Ever since the start of the outbreaks, occasional minor earth tremors have been noticed by people passing near her mansion.

Among the magical texts and enciphered notes in the witch’s hidden chambers is the fifth page of the Cadian text. Many other riches and luxuries can be found in the mansion.

Cadian Document: Page 5 SelectShow

Stats: Medellon SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 4

Sean, an aged widower who sells alchemical and herbal mixtures in the town of Jadeborough, has been sad lately since his wife Mary died. His only daughter Fiona left town many years ago, having abandoned her studies and fallen in with a bad crowd. The last he heard she was rumoured to be part of a bandit gang in the north, near Ferleigh. He doesn’t know what has become of her.

The bandits’ hideout is known to the Ferleigh villagers, although they aren’t keen on revealing it for fear of reprisals. The hideout is within a huge hollow petrified tree in the forest. It’s been furnished quite comfortably, with living space for the entire bandit gang and a private office for the bandit leader. They keep a careful lookout and will try to draw adventuring parties away from the tree.

Stats: Idrina SelectShow

Stats: Bandit SelectShow

The bandits’ hoard consists mostly of coins and jewellery, and is kept in a secret chamber dug out between the tree’s roots. A trapdoor under a rug in the dining-hall grants access, but one of the steps down is rigged to a slicing blade trap.

Fiona tried to leave the bandits some time ago, to settle down with a baker in Nettford and raise a family. The gang’s rule is that nobody leaves except in a box, and so she was tracked to that village and killed. This is clearly documented in the gang roster and in the leader’s diaries; those bandits that were in the gang back then also remember the event personally if questioned. Each source of information also mentions in passing that the husband and child were left alive.

In the village of Nettford, the baker and his son — Thomas and Brian, respectively — are well-known; the father is caring and hardworking, while the boy is now three years old and loves to be helpful. Thomas relates that Fiona rarely talked about her family and was too ashamed to return and visit them.

If the two can be united with Fiona’s father, Thomas will in gratitude show the characters the space under his floorboards where some of Fiona’s belongings were hidden when the bandits came to exact revenge. This cache consists of her weapon, a map with ciphered notes, and some scroll cases. Thomas can’t read any of the esoteric writings in the cases but believes them to be valuable. One of them is the fourth page of the Cadian text regarding the Gadolim.

Cadian Document: Page 4 SelectShow

Stats: Fiduciaon SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 3

The lake known as Merus has always been the abode of certain moon-spirits who, at their whim, bestow mystical blessings on mortals. Lately the lake has been invaded by a wicked naga — a serpent with the head of a woman — which has polluted the waters with mind-twisting poison. At night, the laments of the moon-spirits can be heard for miles around.

The people of the nearby village of Perdeeco, which relies on the river Perdie bringing water from the lake, have had many of their number succumb to madness. These poor souls hide in the wilderness during the day, coming out at night to try and catch food, including humans. Beware: the victims are fast and agile despite their zombie-like mentality.

So far, many brave warriors have tried to best the naga, but her vicious trickeries have been the undoing of them all.

Stats: Poison Victim SelectShow

Stats: Hessen-Isha SelectShow

The moon-spirits will be effusively grateful if the naga is driven off, and will use their magic to purge the waters, and to heal both the villagers and the characters. Raising the dead, however, is beyond them: any poisoned villagers slain while in their zombie-like state remain dead.

The spirits will offer to show the characters the way to the naga’s secret hoard. This is stored in a chest submerged in the muck around one of the lake’s tiny islands: the moon-spirits, being insubstantial, cannot dig it out. Among the treasure (much of it looted by the naga from previous challengers) is the third page of the Cadian text regarding the Gadolim.

Cadian Document: Page 3 SelectShow

Stats: Castisson SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 2

Outside the town of Sullaham, a grand pavilion has been set up near the bridge into town; two banners, orange and red, flutter in the breeze. A pair of sibling dark knights set upon any travellers, demanding tribute before the travellers will be allowed to either pass the bridge or return the way they came. They have built up a nice stash of riches using this stunt, and the townsfolk will use that as an incentive to try and talk adventurers into driving the two sisters away (or killing them, the townsfolk are past caring by now).

Stats: Anna SelectShow

Stats: Beatrix SelectShow

Among their stash, in the most securely-locked chest, is a scroll case containing the second page of the Cadian text regarding the Gadolim. Apart from this and a few other arcane texts, the treasure consists mostly of mundane riches; the knights have sold most of the Arcana they have stolen, retaining only a few useful ones which they keep on their person.

Cadian Document: Page 2 SelectShow

Stats: Aequiton SelectShow

An Account of the Gadolim: Page 1

Some weeks ago, you undertook to explore the ruins of the ancient city-state of Acadus for the sage Ladan, and retrieved several books and pages of arcane interest. Ladan has been poring over them for all that time, and now he has recalled you for another task; he seems rather excited about it. The job is simple but the pay is good: you are to deliver a packet to the Tower of Glory in the capital.

Sneaking a peek, the packet contains a letter:

Ladan's letter SelectShow

Also enclosed in the packet is a copy of one of the pages of ancient Cadian text you retrieved from the ruins, with a curious illustration. Translated, it reads as follows:

Cadian Document: Page 1 SelectShow

In addition to your fee, rations are provided and fresh horses have been placed at your disposal. Any reasonable expenses will be covered.

Stats: Veredicton SelectShow

Stats: Ladan SelectShow