DM Tools - Adventures

The Last Gate

Overview

The basic adventure is this… a group of saurians living in the ruins of Doth have recently managed to activate an ancient teleportation network. One of the “remote” teleport gates of this network is now “on” and active. The players are going to go through the teleport gate without knowing anything about what it is. There are various ways you can lure them to the gate (discussed below). Regardless of how you get them through the gate, the end result is the same… they will suddenly find themselves teleported several hundred miles and dumped into the middle of a lair of dangerous saurians. Ill-equipped and with no preparation for such an adventure, it becomes a game of survival. The players will have to figure out how to reactivate the teleport gate and get home without running afoul of the saurians and getting killed.


Background

Ancient History
In the seventh and eighth centuries, the Traxx Legion, the only remaining great nation in the lands, began to suffer internal conflicts and was poised on the brink of civil war. It was during these turbulent times that many splinter factions broke away from the main military. A great deal of fighting occurred between different legions of the army.

One group, a small unit of war wizards united with a leaderless militia and formed a new guild that called themselves the Iron Wolves. The Iron Wolves made their home in a small stone citadel a few miles from the capital city of Doth. It was connected to the capital city by a road, but afforded them the seclusion they desired.

Unknown to anyone at the time, this group began working on the construction of a teleport network. This network would involve a great central chamber with twelve gates and a series of twelve matching teleport gates scattered throughout the region. Once built, it would allow instantaneous movement between any gate in this central chamber and its corresponding gate in the network. The great central chamber and its twelve gates were built on the top level of their citadel.

The Iron Wolves hoped that this network of teleport gates would allow them to quickly reunite and rebuild the Traxx Legion to its former glory. For eight years, the Iron Wolves worked on this project in secret. They worked to amass wealth and power to fuel the project. They sent small covert teams out into the lands to build the other gates and keep them safe.

However, when the Traxxian civil war erupted in 771 CY, the Iron Wolves were wiped out. Their citadel was ransacked and their mages fled or were put to death. At the time, the network was only half complete.

The partially completed (and only partially functioning) teleport gate network was lost to history. The various gates scattered about the region remained dormant for centuries. Seeming to be nothing more than a simple stone archway, they have been ignored. Some were mistaken for shrines, others were destroyed. Some were disassembled and used for construction. In fact, after 2000 years, there is only one gate remaining intact. The last gate. It has stood for centuries, dormant and quiet… until now.


Recent History
Over the many centuries, the city of Doth fell to ruins and the great Barakose swamp reclaimed it. For countless years, this tremendous city was overrun by encroaching vines and wildlife.

Some years ago, a group of saurians arrived and claimed the ruins of Doth. They are led by a saurian who calls himself King Sasithul. He is served by a myren saurian who is a powerful spellcaster.

This saurian wizard, named Amrazi, has claimed the ruins of the Iron Wolf Citadel as his own. The fact that this ruined Citadel is several miles from the main city affords him some seclusion that he enjoys. Although the Citadel is in a state of disrepair, the structure is mostly intact. When Amrazi first came here, he found the great central chamber on the top floor and he found the 12 gates, cold and silent. He also found the writings of the wizards who lived in the citadel centuries ago. Although all of their books and scrolls had rotted to nothing centuries ago, the runes of the spells that made the gates function are inscribed in the stone walls about the gates.

For several years now, he has been studying the ruins of Doth and the mystical glyphs inscribed in the stone. He has spent much time studying and researching and translating. Over the past few years he has learned to read Traxxian and has deciphered much of the magical glyphs in the citadel.

One month ago, he managed to activate one of the teleport gates. He does not fully understand the complex spells involved in the nature of the teleport gate. But he has deciphered enough of the runes to know what the gates are. He knows about the twelve gates scattered through the lands and where they are. He has only been able to get one gate to activate, though he does not know why.

Despite his incomplete understanding, Amrazi has begun experimenting. Through weeks of trial and error and endless patience, he has managed to send small groups of saurian warriors through the gate and return them safely. He has also managed to turn on the last “remote” gate that correspond to the “local” gate that he has activated.

The remote gate is now fully functional and currently it will automatically teleport any creature that walks through it.

Where Does This Adventure Take Place?

The beauty of this adventure is that it could take place almost anywhere. The exact location of the “last gate” doesn’t really matter. It could be placed almost anywhere across the lands.

If you are running this adventure in Khoras, then it is assumed that the "last gate" is somewhere within a few hundred miles of the Barakose Swamp. You can place the last gate anywhere along the southern half of Ithria, from Ormek to Kalimura. The only requirement is that the gate is deep in a forest, out of the way and off the beaten track, where it has stood undisturbed for many centuries, either unknown or ignored.

This flexibility with regards to the location of the last gate may help you integrate it into an existing storyline.

Getting the Player Characters Involved

The real adventure starts when you get the players to walk through the gate. There are several ways you can get them to that point. Below are a few suggestions on how you set up the plot.

Employed by the Wizard Madrigul
This is the adventure hook I used when I ran the adventure. The players are all employed by a local wizard named Madrigul. He lives in a large stone tower on a small estate. Madrigul isn’t a tremendously powerful wizard. However, he is old and has amassed a fortune, built his tower and has used his magic to help many of the local towns and villages in the area. He is known as a kind and decent wizard who helps those in need. He dwells in his tower and employs about a dozen servants and guards including the player characters. All of his employees live in the tower with him.

When I ran this adventure it was just a single evening event, so I was just able to tell the players "you work for a wizard... here's why". If you are running this as part of a larger storyline, you may have to work a bit more to integrate it into the storyline. Why do they work for this wizard? Well, here are a few suggestions based on character type:

bulletClerics – A player running a cleric or priest could be a spiritual guide for the local peasants. He could be helping set up a church or small shrine in the area. He could be assisting Madrigul in the translation of ancient documents or even assisting in the research of some spell that has a divine component.
bulletWizard – A player running a low level wizard could be an apprentice to Madrigul. He could be a visiting wizard come to learn from a superior mage. He could be delivering something to Madrigul on orders of a wizard's guild and has been invited to stay for a few days.
bulletRogue – A thief trying to burgle the wizard’s home might have been caught by Madrigul. Rather than turn him into the authorities or turn him into a toad, Madrigul decides to put him to work. Perhaps the thief is using his expert knowledge to help Madrigul plug the holes in his security. After all, who better to advise on the weakness of your defenses than someone who has beaten them?
bulletWarriors – A player running a warrior might simply be employed as a guard or security chief. The wizard’s needs a few guards and such for the tower. He might also need some extra hired muscle to replace a recently lost guard, or he might want a “security chief” or a new caravan guard or whatever.
bulletOther - Other characters could be employed based on their skills - stone mason, black smith, gardener, linguist, historian, etc. Whatever skills a player character possesses might be enough for them to work for the wizard, even if only for a short time.

 

The Mission

In any case, the player characters are employed by the wizard Madrigul. For this adventure he sends the player characters on a special errand. It really doesn’t matter what the mission is… it’s a red herring. It just needs to be something that will have the characters away from the tower for a few days. It could be that they are guarding a wagon that is traveling north delivering an item to a noble. Or perhaps some documents need to be signed. Whatever. The mission can be whatever you want. You can make the players think that this journey is the actual mission. To really sell it, you could have something significant happen on the journey. Perhaps they are given an important message to bring back to Madrigul. Or they discover something that they must tell Madrigul.

In any case, their mission goes smoothly and the return a few days later.

However, when they return, they find the wizard’s tower is on fire. (they might even see the smoke a few miles away). It’s obvious that the place has been attacked and judging by the extent of the fire, the attack happened very recently (like within the last hour or two).

 

Searching the Tower

The players should quickly search the tower. After all, Madrigul lives in there with several servants… there could be people in there, trapped and in need of help.

It should be noted that if a player were to search the ground right now, they would find tracks, however, they should not be looking for tracks at this moment. Make it clear that the tower is burning. Anyone inside will die. Since the tower is on fire and will be completely gutted by fire within an hour, searching it should be top priority and they have no time to waste. Assuming the players search the tower quickly before it burns down, they find evidence of a battle and blood stains, but no bodies. It seems that everyone has been captured and taken away.

They also find that anything of obvious value has been taken, but perhaps some things whose value isn’t apparent were left behind. So, the players could deduce that whoever attacked the tower wanted prisoners AND also came for plunder and treasure.

It’s possible that the players could find some useful magic scrolls in Madrigul’s library, some potions in the alchemy lab and some other useful magic items in the main lab. Perhaps most of the potions from the alchemy lab were taken by the attackers, but something was missed. It’s also possible that a magic potion that was brewing in a cauldron was spilled – but there’s still enough of it in the cauldron that you could get one dose.

This is the time for them to pick up some new weapons or bits of gear that will help them later on. It’s even possible that they could grab some new magic items – perhaps something that Madrigul was building. Have fun with it. Let them get a couple of new toys. They’re going to need it.

Keep in mind that the entire search will have to be done quickly. The tower is, literally, burning down around them. They have less than 30 minutes to do the entire search. To heighten the drama, you can have burning ceilings and walls collapsing on them as the players try to search the rooms or try to recover items from the lab, etc. They might even have to make some hard choices – in one room they have to choose between the leather bound book and or the scroll case – both of which are seconds away from burning. Only one can be recovered in time… Or they might have to decide how much something is worth. Do I plunge my hand into the fire to grab that bubbling red potion? Do I leap through the flames to in order to grab that nifty red cloak before it burns up? Is it worth it?

At some point, they are going to have to abandon their search of the tower. They probably will be able to recover some magic and treasure from the tower, but soon they run out of time and they simply must leave or they will die.



The Tracks

After they are done with the tower, the players will find tracks outside. The tracks seem like a large group of people left the citadel and headed into the nearby forest. If the players have a ranger, then the tracks are faint and he is needed to follow them (make the ranger feel useful). If they’ve got no one who can track well, then the tracks are obvious and in plain sight. It should be obvious to whoever is tracking that it’s a large group of people – possible everyone from the tower. If they have a ranger tracking for them, he can probably tell that there are saurian tracks and that the humans were shackled or perhaps dragged.

What really happened is that the saurian wizard, Amrazi, feels confident enough now in his control of the teleport gate to start using it for his advantage. He has sent a large group of his saurian warriors through the gate to pillage and plunder the human settlement. Madrigul’s tower was the first target they chose. This is the first of many. Amrazi plans on using this gate to launch many attacks into human lands without having to worry about being tracked back to the ruins at Doth. Amrazi does not know that the remote gate is on and it will transport anyone back to Doth. He thinks he has control of it and is turning it “off” when his saurians return. Amrazi wants prisoners to sacrifice to some dark deity. He also wants to present the prisoners to King Sasithul as a show of strength. He has not yet told Sasithul about the teleport gate and wants to make a big show of strength in front of the other saurians.

 

The Gate

The tracks lead the players into the forest and to the gate. It’s obvious that the tracks go right through the stone gate and they vanish, in mid step. You can also have the place humming and crackling with magical energy if you think that will entice them to step through.

If you have cautious players, there’s a way around that to. This last gate is ancient, it was part of a network that was never completed properly and has been recently activated by someone who doesn’t really understand its operation. It’s entirely possible that this gate is malfunctioning. It could be suffering weird energy surges where it randomly activates and teleports everyone within 30 feet as if they had stepped through the gate. So, if you’ve got a bunch of cautious players who are standing around the gate debating whether or not to go through, have the gate malfunction and teleport them anyway.

Other Ways To Get the Player Characters Involved

If the above “employed by the wizard” hook doesn’t work for you, there are many other ways to get the players involved.

Discovering the Gate By Accident
It’s possible that the players stumble upon the gate by accident. They could be traveling through a rarely used trail in the forest. They could be hunting or foraging. They come across a small crumbling ruin with a stone arch. The whole thing is ancient and covered in vines. The party wizard deciphers the runes on the gate and realizes it is a teleport gate. They could also sense the magic around it, hear the hum of power, etc. Remember, this thing has only been “on” for a few days. This adventure hook only would work if you KNOW your players will go through a teleport gate out of curiosity.


Tracking or Being Tracked
Another option is to integrate the gate into an ongoing adventure… the party could be tracking a wounded orc after a battle or searching for a lost little girl or pursuing a criminal (and the tracks go through the stone arch of the gate and vanish). Or the party could be fleeing a larger group and they find themselves surrounded. The party wizard deciphers the runes on the gate, realizes it has something to do with teleport, and they decide any place is better than here. (Keep in mind that whoever is chasing them could come through the gate after them further into the adventure).

 

The rest of this adventure is written assuming that you used the "employed by the wizard" adventure hook. If you use another method to get the player characters into the plot, make the appropriate adjustments to the material that follows to suit your storyline.

Through the Teleport Gate

Regardless of how the characters get there, the gate activates, there is a sudden flash of light and the characters are teleported. The characters feel their stomachs drop as they are yanked through a dimensional vortex. They feel their ears pop as they go through a sudden pressure change. There is a split second of disorientation and then it fades.

It takes them a couple of seconds to recover.
 

The Citadel

The characters find themselves standing in a large circular room, about fifty feet across. There are twelve stone arches arranged in a large circle around the perimeter of the room. Square, open holes in the walls let light in. Looking out through these openings, the characters see a vast ocean of tree trunks and green foliage outside. The air is damp and foul. Judging by the trees outside, it seems that the room they are in is above the ground by at least 40 feet.

Distantly the characters hear drums in the distance and an animal roar. Suddenly they hear the scream of a human female. It sounds much closer than the drops.

The players have teleported into the top of the ruined citadel. It is squat, round tower three stories tall. The entire top floor is the central teleport chamber with the twelve teleport gates (each appears a stone arch). The lower two levels are being used as a lair by the saurian wizard Amrazi and his servants and guards. It is filled with crude beds, chests, some equipment, some food, some treasure, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Amrazi and most of his minions have left to take the prisoners to King Sasithul. There are only a handful of guards left at the citadel. The citadel currently has two saurians and six boglings. (Feel free to adjust the exact number and strength of opponents to fit your player characters).

Two of the saurians have hidden one of the prisoners from Amrazi, a young human woman. They have her on the lowest level of the Citadel. They are entertaining themselves by whipping her and may have far worse things in store for her.

The First Battle

When the gate activated and the players teleported into the top level, the two saurians heard the gate activation. They send up a few boglings to check it out. The saurians are reluctant to leave their plaything.

In general, the opponents that the party will face during this adventure will be saurians and boglings. However, you can throw a few goblins, ogres and orcs into the mix for variety. Any of those humanoid races could be working in cooperation with the saurians.

Generally, the saurians bully the weaker boglings and use them to run errands and do most of the work.


Oosa the Housekeeper

If the players defeat the boglings and saurians and rescue the girl, she is a wealth of information. Assuming the player characters work for Madrigul, then they would likely recognize her and know her. Her name is Oosa and she is the housekeeper and maid for Madrigul.

Oosa can tell them exactly what happened. She says the saurians came in force, about 20 of them, and captured everyone in the tower. She describes one particular saurian with two great horns who wielded magic (this saurian is Amrazi himself). Even Madrigul, with his spells, was no match for the horned saurian and all of the warriors. He too was taken prisoner.

After pillaging the tower and taking everything of value, they set it on fire and dragged their captives and stolen treasure into the forest and through the stone arch.

After they arrived here in the swamp, Oosa was separated from the other captives. She doesn’t know what happened to them except they were taken to the south.

Oosa is scared and not trained in combat. If given a weapon and told to follow him, she will do her best to help, but she has no skills. If they leave her behind, she will wait at the top of the tower next to the stone arch for them to return.

The Scope of the Adventure

Depending on how tough your player characters are and how big you want to make this adventure, you can custom tailor the rest of the adventure and make it as easy or hard as you want to…

Keeping It Small
If you want to keep the scope of this adventure small, then the rest of the captives, including Madrigul, are being kept nearby in another building guarded by only a few saurians and boglings. The players could sneak in, kill the guards and free the captives. They could then take the captives back to the citadel, back up to the third level and just walk through the stone arch again. [You could say that Amrazi left both ends of the gate active, either intentionally or unknowingly]. If this is the case, then they could have simply sent Oosa back through the stone arch when they first rescued her.

Expanding the Adventure
If you want to expand this adventure, then you could have the captives being kept deeper in the main complex of ruins… the ancient capital city. The captives are being kept in an old prison house there (the saurians are simply taking advantage of the cells).

In this expanded version, there are at least a dozen or more saurian guards, including a few bogling servants and an immensely fat, hulking ogre jailor are wields a tremendous spiked club. Also, Amrazi himself is here with two saurian bodyguards. They are preparing the captives for sacrifice – stripping them naked, washing them, dressing them in ceremonial robes and decorating them with body paint.

You could have the player characters either do a frontal assault on this prison and risk all. Or they could sneak into the prison complex by going through a waterfall into the city’s sewer system. The waterfall entrance into the sewer system can provide strength and dex checks on slippery wet rock and fighting the current, total immersion in water (to douse flames and slow the party down), a fight with a giant rat, etc. Sewers are always fun.

The fight with Amrazi can be short or long depending on how tough you make him. He’s got two bodyguards and some potent magic spells, so he’s not a push over. It’s also possible that he has some vital magical “key” needed to activate the teleport gate. The player characters will need to get that key if they want to get themselves and the captives home.

Further Expansion

If you really want to expand the adventure, you could change things so that Amrazi has already taken Madrigul and some of the other prisoners before King Sasithul in the heart of the ruined city.

The ruins of Doth are home to more than 400 saurians along with boglings and others. The further into the center of the ruins that captives are, the more difficult a rescue will be. Also, if the players’ rescue attempt is discovered, they could quickly become overwhelmed by dozens of saurian warriors and worse.

It’s possible the player characters could be captured themselves. If that happens they could be sacrificed to a dark deity or even forced to fight in the arena against some monster for the amusement of King Sasithul. The adventure could change from a rescue attempt to an escape-the-dungeon adventure.

A further complication could be that Amrazi is the only one who knows the spell to reactivate the teleport gate. If that’s the case, then the player characters will have to either

a. capture him and force him to open the gate
b. decipher the runes and figure out how to open the gate themselves
c. fight their way out of the swamp themselves and head back to civilized lands on foot.

You can take this as far as you want to go. Have fun with it.

This page last updated Wednesday, December 24, 2008. Copyright 1990-2009 David M. Roomes.

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