Once more unto the breach, my friends.
In this month’s installment of the Dungeon World series, we’ll be taking a journey to the northeastern edge of the Grimspur Mountains, where a nefarious sorcerer (known locally as “The Mad Magus”) and his humanoid raiders have set up shop in an abandoned mine. Whether the characters delve into the Mad Magus’ lair to stop his depredation of the local communities, to free his unfortunate hostages, or simply to line their money pouches with a few more gold pieces, it’s sure to be a heck of a ride.
Break out the chips and dip, grab your favorite dice, roll up some characters, and get ready for a good, ol’ fashioned dungeon crawl.
(For a map of this dungeon, click here.)
Mines of the Mad Magus
1 – Entry Chamber
The iron-barred gate to this chamber is wizard locked. (The Mad Magus uses his knock spell to open it when needed.) The walls of this chamber are covered in graffiti – warnings against intruders in a multitude of languages. For those who cannot read, the message is conveyed via a dozen poles scattered about the chamber, each adorned with several heads of past victims in various states of decomposition.
Lurking at the edges of the chamber are 2d6 giant rats. If the chamber is flooded with light, the rats will attempt to flee via the mine entrance. If they cannot flee, or if they are undiscovered and half the party or more has descended into the shaft (see below), the rats will attack any characters in the chamber.
At the center of the chamber is a 10′-wide circular opening to a shaft that drops 30′ to the floor of the passage below. The sides of the shaft are too smooth for it to be climbed. (The Mad Magus uses his boots of levitation to ascend/descend the shaft. The orcs and the giant use a heavy ladder that is raised when needed and stored in the passage below when not in use.)
There is nothing of value in this chamber.
2 – The Chasm
The center of this 35′-high chamber is occupied by a 65′-deep chasm that descends to the center of chamber 1 of the Lower Mines. A trio of orc guards, each with a trained blink dog at its side, watches over the chamber from the landing at point ‘a’. If intruders are spotted, the orcs release the blink dogs to harry them; two orcs then pepper the intruders with arrows while the third runs to chamber 5 to raise the alarm.
Any character taking damage while fighting on the ledge of the chasm must make a successful save vs. dragon breath or fall into the chasm (for only 3d6 damage because of the refuse found below, but there’s a 20% chance of the character suffering an additional 2d6 damage for being impaled on a stalagmite).
Aside from any coin on the orcs’ persons, there is nothing of value in this chamber.
3 – Prisoners
This chamber is where the Mad Magus keeps the victims he plans to ransom, or otherwise feels may be of some later use. The prisoners are gagged and chained to the walls, with manacles around their wrists and ankles. The keys to their manacles are on a ring that is held in the closed fist of one of a pair of green granite statues of barbarian warriors that stand in the center of the chamber. These statues are actually living statues (rock) commanded to guard this chamber. If any character attempts to free the prisoners or remove the key ring, the statues will animate and attack. They will continue to attack until they are destroyed or until the characters leave the chamber. They will not pursue the characters beyond the entrance to this chamber.
Aside from the prisoners (DM’s discretion as to who they are), there is nothing of value in this chamber.
4 – Radgob’s Chamber
This is the private chamber of the orc’s leader, a bugbear named Radgob. If the alarm has not been raised, he can be found here torturing a human female (DM’s discretion as to her identity) who is chained to the wall (with a single manacle around her ankle); otherwise, he will move to render aid against the intruders. (The prisoner, however, will remain chained to the wall.)
The chamber is guarded at all times by Radgob’s pet dire wolf that sleeps on an owlbear pelt in the northwestern nook.
The chamber holds a bed frame with a straw mattress covered by several layers of animal pelts, a table and a pair of poorly constructed wooden chairs, a rack holding several rusty but useable two-handed weapons, and a large, iron-bound wooden trunk. The trunk is locked with a large elaborate padlock (obviously of dwarf construction), the key to which can be found on a leather string around Radgob’s neck – next to the key to his prisoner’s chains. The lock also hides a small needle trap; if it’s not disarmed, anyone attempting to open the lock without the key must make a successful save vs. poison roll or become instantly ill and die in 1d4+2 rounds.
Inside the trunk is a folded bearskin – home to a pair of giant centipedes that will immediately attack anybody attempting to move the bearskin. (Only Radgob knows how to grab the bearskin so that the centipedes cannot get out of it.) Below the bearskin can be found the following: 3,686 cp and 1,728 gp.
5 – Orcs’ Chamber
This chamber houses the Mad Magus’ orc raiders. If the alarm hasn’t been raised by the guards in chamber 2, there will be 3d8+8 orcs here; if the alarm has been raised, two-thirds of that number will go to defend against the intruders and the rest will remain here. This chamber is littered with straw mats and wormy wool blankets. The air is hazy with smoke from a fire pit in the northwestern nook over which hangs a pot containing a foul-smelling stew (with large chunks of rotting flesh floating in it). Two large casks, each half-full of rancid ale, lean against the south wall.
Aside from any coin on the orcs’ persons, there is nothing of value in this chamber.
6 – Sealed Chamber
This chamber lies behind a 10′ caved in section of passage. The chamber was sealed by the Mad Magus in order to prevent the gray ooze that dwells within from escaping.
There is nothing of value in this chamber.
7 – Baldrac’s Chamber
Baldrac the hill giant makes his home in this chamber. On the north side of the chamber is a worm-eaten, reeking pile of animal furs Baldrac uses as his bed. If Baldrac hears sounds of combat from chamber 2, he will move to investigate; otherwise, he will be here (with a 30% chance of being asleep). Not-so-cleverly hidden in a hole in the floor under a boulder in the western nook of the chamber is Baldrac’s payment for his services to the Mad Magus: a worn leather bag containing 1,000 gp, 4 gems (1,000 gp, 500 gp, 250 gp, and 100 gp), potion (control animal), potion (growth), scroll (cursed), and a ring of protection +1.
8 – Chamber of the Mad Magus
The Mad Magus makes his lair here; in area ‘b’ can be found his workbench, bookshelves, reading chair, and bed. The area is warmed by a fire pit and several 6′-tall poles with continual light cast on their tips provide light. (The poles are wholly or partially covered with heavy canvas to control the light level in the chamber. It is normally just enough to allow the Mad Magus to work or read.) This side of the chamber is 7′ higher than the eastern side, with a sheer rock face rising from the stream that divides the chamber. Unless the Mad Magus has been alerted to intruders elsewhere in the mines, he can be found here working (85% chance) or sleeping (15% chance).
The double gates to this room are locked with a normal lock, but they are also wizard locked. The Mad Magus does not use them – he uses his boots of levitation to rise to the concealed ledge at area ‘c’. It’s unlikely that characters will locate the concealed opening 11′ above them unless they specifically state that they’re examining the upper walls and ceiling of this portion of the eastern passage.
The pit in the eastern passage will be triggered by any character crossing it on a 1 or 2 on a d6 roll. It is 10′ deep, resulting in 1d6 damage to those falling in. It has a patch of yellow mold at the bottom, which has an 85% chance of releasing its spores when a character falls in.
A waterfall feeds a large pool (‘b’) that is almost 15′ deep at its central point. A cleft behind the waterfall hides the lair of 7 troglodytes that the Mad Magus pays (with human captives) to act as his personal bodyguards. If the Mad Magus discovers intruders in his chamber, he will immediately summon these creatures (who will arrive in 1d3 rounds to protect him, rising from the stream at the point closest to the intruders and automatically surprising them). Within the tight confines of their lair can be found the bone fragments and torn clothes of their human victims, as well as the following items: 454 sp, 489 ep, 3 gems (500 gp, 100 gp. And 50 gp), and a sword +2.
The stream is only about 3′ deep, but is fairly swift and the rocks at its bottom are loose and slippery. Any character attempting to cross must make a successful save vs. dragon breath or be swept downstream (southward). A character moving up or downstream must attempt such a save every 30′ or suffer the same fate. A character being swept downstream will suffer 1d6 points of damage (from a combination of being battered on the rocky walls and drowning) every 30′, plus an additional 2d6 damage if swept over the falls between this level and the Forgotten Vault. After the falls, the stream becomes calmer and no more saving throws must be made. (The Mad Magus also uses his boots of levitation to rise to the ceiling and pull himself along until he has crossed the stream.)
The Mad Magus is a 7th-level human magic-user. The DM should construct him as desired, but among his spells are: knock, wizard lock, continual light, and dimension door. He wears boots of levitation and a displacer cloak; he wields a staff of power (with 11 charges remaining). If he feels he’s in danger of being defeated, he will use dimension door to teleport to chamber 1 and flee.
1 – The Singing Chamber
Wind rushing through cracks and shafts in the spurs of this chamber create a noise that sounds like many voices singing loudly in a strange tongue. The central portion of the chamber is littered with stalagmites – and the refuse from the humanoids above. Any character surviving a fall into the chamber from above and taking damage must make a successful save vs. poison roll or suffer a -3 penalty to his or her CON score for 2d8 days as the wounds become infected. At the end of that period of time, he or she must make another save – failure indicates that the character has succumbed to infection and died.
Buried in the debris are 13 skeletons that will rise and attack starting the round after the first character sets foot in the chamber.
Under a pile of rubble in an eastern spur (area ‘a’) is a long-forgotten bandits’ stash: a crushed wooden chest from which is spilling: 970 sp and 420 gp.
Lurking in one of the southern spurs (area ‘b’) is an ochre jelly. Normally content to feed on rats and other vermin that rummage for food in the chamber’s refuse pile, it will not attack the party unless a character enters its spur.
The Forgotten Vault
This forgotten tomb of an ancient warrior king has been undisturbed for hundreds of years. It was constructed long before the mines were dug, and has remained untouched since.
1 – Antechamber
This chamber holds many crumbled clay jars and urns – the remnants of the tribute of grain and herbs the dead king was buried with, which was intended to travel with him to the afterlife. Also meant to travel with him to the afterlife were eight of his most trusted bodyguards, who now serve him in undeath as mummies. They stand motionless in their ancient leather armor, spears held at their sides. They appear simply as well-preserved corpses, oblivious to all intruders until a character tries to open the eastern gate or attempts to harm one of their number in any way. At that point they will attempt to eliminate all intruders, not stopping until they’ve done so or until the intruders leave the chambers of the Vault.
The eastern gate is not locked but it is sunken into the floor. It will require three successful open doors rolls to open it wide enough to allow entry. (One successful roll is enough to allow a slim halfling or similarly sized character to enter.)
The floor of this chamber has been eroded by the stream, which flows 6′ below the floor level of the chamber. The stream flows out of the chamber to the south through a passageway that is too choked with rubble to move through.
2 – Main Vault
The gate to this chamber is not locked, but it is so old that it must be forced open. At the center of the chamber lies a 10′-long, 4′-high sarcophagus. The relief of a warrior in ancient armor adorns the lid.
This chamber is guarded by the essence of its late occupant – in the form of a spectre. The spectre lurks unseen in the shadows and will attack any group that disturbs (read as: touches) the sarcophagus. It will not pursue characters who leave the chamber, however.
The sarcophagus is protected by magical wards. Any character removing the lid (which requires a successful open doors roll) will trigger a fireball trap (for 6d6 damage). This trap may be deactivated before it is triggered if dispel magic is cast on the sarcophagus.
Within the sarcophagus lie the skeletal remains of the aforementioned warrior king. He wears a bejeweled silver crown worth 4,200 gp, silver chain mail armor (treat as -1 to the normal chain mail AC due to the armor’s excessive weight and the metal’s softness; it’s worth 1,300 sp), a girdle of giant strength, and gauntlets of ogre power. His arms are crossed, and his bony fingers are wrapped around the hilt of a two-handed sword +1 (+2 v. spell users). In an ivory scroll case on the dead king’s belt is a tattered map. The location does not look familiar to the characters; there is faded writing on the map written in Low Eggian. If one of the characters reads this language, or if the characters have the writing translated, it purports to be written by “Grundel the Grim, King of Grundaria, and former sword-friend of Rolgar, Lord of War, High King of the Northlands.” The author claims to have been given that legendary figure’s Adventurer’s Codex for safe-keeping (as a reward for his trustworthiness). The map, the author states, points the way to the tome’s secret hiding place. (Stay tuned for a future dungeon, located deep in the Frostwolds, to which this map leads.)
Chris Brackett is a web monkey by trade, but in real life he’s a veteran gamer and author of several tabletop miniatures games. He spends far too much of his time working on his RPG-focused game blog, A Rust Monster Ate My Sword.