Vance Adventures #3: Lair of the Rat-men


"Sage Philanthropist NOCALI BARNABUS offers FREE WISDOM!!! for the curious and unenlightened!" says a sign hung outside the cave. Entering the darkness, the party is ambushed by sleep darts from the walls, net traps on the floor, and 2d10 kobolds, who bind them and drag them down into a tiny cell containing Nocali the Sage. Any man who can get two to take his place will be set free, whisper the Kobolds in the walls, but all in the cave will be eaten after two weeks. Nocali himself will then be released, laughing with exhausted relief.

There are slots in the walls which kobolds will observe the party through, and a single locked door. Weak gruel will be passed through a slot in the door every two days. The kobolds will allow party members to walk to the front of the cave to get more men to replace them, but will blindfold them for the journey there and spear chained stakes through their feet to prevent escape.

The Kobold Warren is pitch black, and meanders crazily in all directions. Adventurers feeling their way through it will be at the mercy of the following traps. Roll 1d4 for how many passages there are branching off the PC's current room, and a d20 for what's in each. Add +2 every time the adventurers go through a passage.

  1. Sudden violent water splashes from walls, floor and roof extinguish lanterns. Kobolds then emerge from murder-holes to attack night-blind party.
  2. Big circular room with convex floor. When the party gets on, the floors at both entrances fall away and the floor reveals itself to be a massive ball. Ball rotates faster and faster and party must run to avoid falling off to impalement.
  3. Passage that must be crawled through single file, too small to carry bulky items. It is a dead end: when someone reaches far enough in, a rock will slam over the entrance and the tunnel will start filling with water.
  4. A sloped passage, filled with slippery oil. Empties into a 50' oil pit which will then be set on fire.
  5. Cramped, single-file passage. Kobolds with spears in the walls.
  6. Passage with no floor.
  7. Ladder upwards. Massive rocks dropped from above.
  8. Passage fills with choking smoke.
  9. Floor littered with rusty bear-traps
  10. Storage room, holding weapons and the scrolls of Nocali the sage.
  11. Flight of stairs. Water floods down them, kobolds with bows on top.
  12. Fake door, opening it sets the room on fire.
  13. A thin ledge over a massive, bottomless cavern filled with hanging cages. Each cage contains a horrible animal/person, and has a thin platform around it's edge, which the party must walk on to progress. A hidden ladder on the side leads to a kobold control room. The kobold inside will open the cages and move them around at the most inconvenient time possible.
  14. A golden idol, surrounded by candles on a pedestal. Removing it triggers a rolling boulder.
  15. Thin ledge over chasm. Kobold's will swing from ledges above to knock the party off once it's on the ledge.
  16. A normal stone hallway.
  17. A cramped passageway, humans must stoop. Roof lowers imperceptibly until crushing.
  18. A vast underground lake, surrounded by mushrooms. If disturbed, the mushrooms will puff hallucinogenic gas. At the center of the lake is a giant, vibrating mushroom that gives off a high-pitched note. A lady sits on top, puffing on a pipe.
  19. Fake kobold food storage, containing the very best poisoned food and wine. The slow-acting poison will disorient PC's or knock them unconscious.
  20. Room fills with hallucinogenic gas that makes PC's believe they are being attacked by a massive, ruby-eyed snake. Vision wears off to reveal they have been attacking captured companion.
  21. Passage with a high ceiling. Corpses and skeletons are flung onto the PC's from a great height - former companions, if possible. 
  22. Sewage tunnel, rot-grubs lurk in the shit.
  23. Sewage tunnel. Floor too deep to walk, PC's must swim. Prone to sudden flooding. Kobolds come in boats, with spears.
  24. Room with 5X5 tiles. Every tile falls off five seconds after PC's stand on it. Each door has levers to open it on the other side of the room.
  25. Spider cave, full of bulbous eggs. Humans with massive eggs growing out of them kneel everywhere - docile, but they explode into venomous bugs if hit. Cave leads to Quelag, spider witch queen.
  26. Spider-webs shoot from walls, Kobolds spit poison darts at PC's from above.
  27. Cramped passage, must be crawled through single-file. A single kobold attacks the rear of party once they're all inside - turning around is impossible.
  28. Light is visible coming from this tunnel! The light is caused by a massive gathering of glowflies hanging over a spiked pit. The edge of the pit suddenly falls away to the sound of kobold laughter.
  29. Ladder leading up 200 foot wall to daylight. Rungs retract when the PC is a good way up.
  30. The Exit!
Some notes after playtesting this: My lone PC had a great time, until he went down the sewer and was instantly infested and killed by rot-grubs, before he could have known they were there or done anything to stop them. What the fuck did your players do to you, Gary Gygax?

Things you probably already knew, but which I am only just discovering: Feeling around in the dark is fun, but only for a small while - give them a room with lanterns and stuff pretty soon. Also, wow, only being able to see 30 feet ahead of you is brilliant! So mysterious. Also, forced captures are lame; start the game with them prisoners in the kobold mound.

See http://themachination.net/blog/category/vance-adventures/ for past vance adventures.