Prelude to the Avisarr Campaign


In the prelude, the characters stumble upon ancient buried ruins in the Snowy Timber forest near Kitar. They venture in and explore. They find deep within these ruins, on the lowest level a huge hall. The Banishing Hall. They also recover  the map, the gem, the box and miscellaneous pile of books and notes. These four things are the clues that lead the characters on to the next section.

How To Get The Characters In The Ruins - Option 1

Two years ago, a wizard and a historian, from the Rukemian Empire, united in an effort to find the lost fortress. The historian, referencing a variety of old maps, has narrowed down the location to a 5 mile radius. The wizard, using several spells of his own creation, has been drilling shafts into the magic impervious rock based on the historians best guesses. It has been a slow and frustrating process. Finally, after two years, they penetrated a corridor of the old fortress. They found the lost fortress  of the Conclave. The empire was immediately notified and a regiment of troops, along with a variety of wizards and scholars, was sent out. 

A massive excavation has begun. Hundreds of guards and workers are brought out to the site. The excavation is a long-term project and will go for many months. 

The initial shaft drilled down opened the way to a small corridor, but that corridor is partially collapsed and ends up being a dead end. Diggers are divided up into small digging teams and scattered around the initial opening. Man power is not a problem, so the empire just starts digging up the whole area. Remember, magic doesn't work because of the peculiar mineral content of the stone. Most of the excavation is being done by hand.

A lot of people are involved in this excavation. The characters could be  any of them:

  1. Mercenary soldiers hired to guard the excavation
  2. Scholars, historians or archeologists hired to help with translation, etc.
  3. Hired workers to haul stone away
  4. Slaves hired to dig.
  5. Caravan merchants and guards to bring supplies out to the excavation site
  6. Trespassers trying to find out what the empire has found

If you use the excavation idea, the player characters stumble upon the huge banishing chamber. In my experience, the player characters always look at the treasures they recover rather than turn it over to the authorities. Once they look at the map, hopefully, they will follow it into adventure. Either way, the characters must venture into the ruins, find the Hall of Banishing, recover the treasures within and make it out. These key events start the whole campaign.

After they have escaped, the Empire will discover that the characters beat them to the central chambers and have made off with several artifacts and relics. This is a good excuse to have bounty hunters following the characters throughout the campaign.

How To Get The Characters In The Ruins - Option 2

One cold winter day, while the player characters are traveling through the Snowy Timber, a severe quake rocks the ground and splits the land open. Shortly after the quake, the characters come upon a large fissure in the ground. Heat is emanating from the fissure. When the characters venture in, they find that the fissure opens into a hewn corridor deep in the ground. This is, of course, the lost fortress.

As with Option 1, it is likely that the Empire will eventually find the old fortress. Although with Option 2, the characters have more of a head start. Even so, once the Empire knows about the ruins, the massive excavation project will begin. Also, the Empire will discover that others have already plundered certain key artifacts and will send out soldiers and bounty hunters to pursue.

General Notes about the Buried Ruins

Everything in these buried ruins is 150 years old and has been completely untouched for that time. Most organic material (food, cloth, wood, leather, etc) is rotten or decayed. Stone work is crumbling. Everything metal is tarnished and rusting. 

Several sections of the dungeon are filled with a lightweight, black rock (originally lava, but now cooled) or fine grey ash. Several areas show evidence of earthquakes (collapsed corridors and large cracks in the stone).

All corpses here are a mix of human and humanoid. All are warriors, armed for battle and all died amidst combat. There were hundreds of warriors battling through the fortress and its subterranean levels. In the middle of these great battle, the volcano exploded and the area was hit with lava and ash. The surface fortress was completely obliterated. The subterranean levels were damaged. Some warriors died of exposure to lava and burned to death. Others choked on ash. Most died in battle with the enemy. When the rumblings ceased and the ash settled, everyone who was trapped in the ruins was already dead.  

Also, a recent earthquake has connected a part of this fortress with a deeper underground cave system which is inhabited by a group of skrell. So a small group of skrell can be a good wandering encounter any time you want to spice things up and throw another variable at your players. 

The Chambers of the Buried Ruins

1- Stairway
Fifty stone hewn stairs down. Cold and musty. Torches flicker. Players brush cobwebs aside. Large, bloated white spiders scurry out of the way to avoid the flickering torchlight. No encounters.

2 Gate House/Security Post
Two skeletons on floor, face down. Both skeletons are orcish and wearing chainmail armor.

3 - Common Hall
Large clean hall. Tapestries and marble walls. The floor is littered with at least a dozen skeletal corpses. While the characters are exploring this room, a long tendril of vaporous green mist will enter from the north entrance. The misty form then forms an eye at its tip and examines the party. If the party attacks this odd apparition, their weapons pass through it harmlessly. After a moment or so of examining the group, the eye dissipates and the misty tendril sinks down to the floor and spreads out. The green mist spreads and thickens quickly to engulf the entire floor. Seconds later, all twelve skeletal corpses animate and attack. At the same time, all other corpses throughout the ruins are being animated in the same way. This is Draxorith, exercising some control from the Hall of Banishment. Even trapped, he has some magical ability and is using it to attack the party.

4 - Guard Room 1
This room contains a wooden table, 4 wooden chairs, 1 skeletal corpse (orcish), face down. Nothing of value.

5 - Guard Room 2
This room is identical to room 4. It has 4 corpses. Two human and two ogre.

6 - Wizard's Laboratory
Several large books are open on the main table. These books are filled with hand written notes of strange symbols, runes, diagrams, charts, numbers and lists. Spell components, acids, alchemical equipment, dried herbs, jar of soot, jar of sand, 1 50 gold piece ruby, a jar with several dead insects.

7 - Library & Den
This room is very quiet. Its floor is padded with a moldy, but plush carpet. All walls are lined with darkly stained wooden book cases. At the center of the room is a small table, about which sit four chairs. One chair is tipped over. Several dozen books are strewn about the room. A skeleton in robes lies face down on the floor. The room is lit by a soft bluish light that emanates from a sphere set in a mount on the table. This room is virtually dust free. A thorough search reveals: Scroll - Detect Magic, Scroll - Identify, Scroll - Water Breathing

8 - Stone & Metal Workshop
Solid iron door. Key hole and lock. This room is a cluttered with miscellaneous metal junk, half finished suits of armor and weapons in need of repair. A large table stands in the center of the room. On the table are several books, dozens of small metallic tools, a large hammer, an anvil and several dozen small metal locks in various stages of repair or disassembly. Several books can be seen on a book shelf and on the main central table. In the east wall is a fireplace and bellows. The books cover subjects like engineering, mechanics and architecture.

9 - Dungeon
This small dungeon has four stone and iron bar cells, each 10'x10'. In each cell are three orcish skeletal corpses.

10 - Crypt
Six sarcophagi, 3 sealed, 3 open and empty. The three sealed sarcophagi, if opened, reveal 3 mummified corpses, 2 dressed in moldy, but well cut, expensive looking robes. The third dressed in chainmail, with long sword and shield.

11 - Armory
This room has racks of weapons along the walls. Several suits of thick, padded armor are hung on the walls as well. Several tall thin tapestries. Most of the weapons are armor are strewn about in disarray. This room contains: 4 barrels of Greek Fire, 27 sheaf arrows, 1 two-handed sword, 1 Bastard sword, 1 broken long sword, 1 war hammer, 2 clubs, 3 short swords, 1 heavy crossbow, 1 unstrung long bow, 13 heavy crossbow bolts, 1 12' length of chain,

12 - Main Storage Room
Empty barrels, boxes, blankets, clothing, boots, cloaks, tunics, gloves, belts, bolts of coarse cloth, pots, pans, cutlery, clay pottery, glasses, mugs, bags, pouches, backpack, rope, chain, saddle, stirrup, bucket, mop, broom, rags, shovel

13 - Cold Food Storage
This entire chamber is freezing. Your breath is visible. This room is 33 degrees Fahrenheit, held constant by magic. This spell is still running. One skrell present.

14 - Water and Wine Storage
Twenty two barrels, 1 large wine rack with 47 intact bottles and several broken ones. Bottle of blue pills. Blue pills are "purify water" pills.

15 - Mess Hall
Four wall cressets send smoky light through this room. The walls are plastered, the floor covered with mosaic tiles. The paintings on the walls displays scenes indicating that this room was meant for drinking and debauchery. Two long tables flanked with benches fill the room. Cloaks hang on pegs. One chest and one barrel stand in the corner. Two skeletal figures lie on the floor. A deck of cards are scattered about the table and floor. A huge fireplace is in the west wall. The barrel contains lamp oil, about 200 turns worth. The chest is unlocked and holds 10 torches and two hooded lanterns.

16 - Kitchen
This large room is obviously a kitchen. A large fireplace dominates the east wall. Long tables fill the center running the length of the room. Pots and pans hang from the ceiling. Bread ovens line the west wall. Barrels, boxes, bowls and bags are littered about the room. Stained plates are stacked in the corner on a small table. A huge black cauldron sits in one corner. 1 skrell is in this room searching. A thorough search will reveal a barrel of thick dried glue like substance, various intact bottles with colored liquids, a jar of herbs.

17 - Officer’s Dining Hall
This room appears to have once been a formal dining hall. The table is set with crystal goblets, silver dining cutlery and china plates. Two skrell are in this room.

18 - Pool Chamber
A large oval pool dominates this room. It is filled with warm, bubbling scented water. Hot coals rest in a bed along one corner sprinkled continually with cold water from a fountain. The walls, ceiling and floor are composed of blue green marble. Strange light distortions play along the walls making the room appear as if it were entirely underwater. A large barrel sits in a stand on a table to the southeast. One rotting body in pool - been dead about 1 week, skrell bite marks on corpse, all spell functions here have failed. The large barrel contains a foul smelling black substance, apparently vegetation of some kind, but very rotted.

19 - Barracks
Ten bunks, moldy blankets. Three skeletal corpses that will attack.

20 - Conference Room
Long oak table, 8 plush leather, high backed chairs. Nothing of value.

21 - Commander's Personal Quarters
A large room that seems to be part bed chamber and part office. A large woven rug dominates the central floor. Deep plush comfortable chair. Fireplace set in wall. Crossed swords hang above fireplace.

22 - Captain's Quarters
Very clean, organized and plush bedroom. Small table, chair, bed, chest, book shelf, tall wooden cabinet. Hidden under pillow, large knife.

23 - The Hall Of History
Pictures of the Bone War.

24 - The Hall of Heroes
This hall is filled with statues on pedestals, all facing the center of the room.

  1. 1 - Adult Male Elven Archer
  2. 2 - A grum in leather armor
  3. 3 - A dwarf in robes holding forth a symbol in his upheld hand
  4. 4 - A human female wielding a blade
  5. 5 - A heavily armored knight

25 - The Hall Of Glory
This hall is beautifully crafted. The floor is white marble with blue veins. Royal blue tapestries hand down at intervals along the wall. It is very quiet here. The floor is clean, but slightly dusty. No junk here as in other rooms. In between the tapestries are large stone plaques set in the walls which depict detailed carvings.

Each tapestry and each carving are magically enchanted. As soon as a living being (or group of living beings) enters the room, the tapestries and stone plaques instantly altar their designs. One tapestry and one carving will magically "bond" with each person who enters the room. Each stone carving depicts a scene from the characters past. Typically, the single most defining moment of that characters life so far. And each tapestry depicts a scene from the characters future. A significant, perhaps life altering moment, which is yet to come.

This entire room is enchanted. It was created by the wizards long ago. It was used to entertain and impress nobles. It was also used to scry the future, to a limited degree. Sometimes ceremonies were held here. In any case, the characters won't know what the room is for or why it was created. They will, however, figure out what the carvings and tapestries depict. The past and future. Note that the past is set in stone, the future is not.

This chamber can be a lot of fun. I won't list examples. You should create images which fit the characters. The past is easy enough. The future however, should be something that you will eventually actually set up. It's a great challenge. But with enough time and patience, you can subtly engineer events such that the characters will stumble into their "scene". If you can pull this off during the campaign, the characters will be impressed. If you don't get a chance to do it before the characters finish the quest, it can be something for the character to look forward to in the next campaign.

26 - The Throne Room
This magnificent chamber is dark and quiet. Your footsteps are muffled by a thick layer of dust. You see a huge raised dais to the north upon which is a throne. Seated on the throne is a a skeletal figure wearing a crown. He is pinned to the throne by an arrow through his chest. Lying about the floor are dozens of corpses. All apparently died battling each other. The skeleton upon the throne is wearing faded robes that imply he was a noble of some sort. Upon his finger is a ring... a magnificent onyx, gold and diamond ring... the Death Wish Ring.

27 - The Hall Of Banishment
This is the most important chamber in the ruins. The characters must make it to this chamber and take some time to explore and pick up the Avisarr, the map and book. 

The Hall of Banishing

The stairs lead down into a vast chamber which is oddly rhythmical flickering of light. This magnificent chamber is adorned with the fine marble, silver inlay and intricate carvings in the stone. The entire chamber is built around a large circular pit in the floor (25 feet diameter). The symbol of Ynthar is built around the pit into the tiles of the floor. Odd runes and glyphs the perimeter of the pit and almost every inch of the walls. The runes and glyphs are glowing and fading in seemingly random patterns. An eerie greenish mist churns about in the pit, illuminated from within as if by lightning. Several dead skeletal corpses lie about the chamber, apparently having died fighting each other. Humans vs. orcs and ogres. Several dead rats lie about in various stages of decomposition.

If the players try to penetrate the pit by sticking a hand in it or throwing something in, they are blocked by some sort of force field. The mist churns as if agitated.

A wizard can determine that the glowing and fading runes are a multiple sections of a VERY powerful spell that is currently running (like a computer program).

The corpses littering the floor seem to be of two opposed groups. The corpses are listed below - the good guys (human and elves) are blue, the bad guys (orcs and ogres) are red: 

  1. A warrior with a broken blade thrust through his body. A shield lies next to him. A bronze sphere lies five feet from his body.
  2. A robed skeleton face down with a dagger in his back.
  3. Short skeletal body - charred black. Carbon burns on floor around it. Fanged skull, possibly a goblin or other humanoid race. Tattered chain mail.
  4. Warrior in black scale armor, jeweled amulet on chain around neck.
  5. Skeleton in chainmail. Sword through rib-cage, clutching scroll. (The sword is a magnificent, jeweled saber, +1 to hit due to perfect balance and weight).
  6. Large mummified corpse, ugly humanoid, in chainmail and tunic. War hammer next to him. Silk glove on left hand. Slashes all over his body. Duthelm badge. (A flat steel and stained black oak brooch bearing a skull impaled on sword).
  7. Human skeleton. Fighter
  8. Elven skeleton. Studded leather.
  9. Upper half of orcish skeleton. Lower half some 20 yards away.
  10. Elven skeleton. Robes. Non-magical silver ring on one hand. Mage
  11. Human skeleton. Studded leather armor. Fighter
  12. Twelve foot tall monstrosity. Appears to be a black skeleton with great claws, protruding spikes and bat-like wings. Appears to have been suffered massive damage. (Torn wing, cracked skull, broken claw, broken arm). Pieces of dismembered human bodies all around it.
  13. Elven skeleton. Fine chain armor..
  14. Human skeleton. Plate mail armor.
  15. Ogre skeleton with broken leg. Massive hammer beside him. Remnants of cloak and studded armor. Duthelm badge

Other important items found in the room amongst the bodies.

  1. A large, heavy, locked metal box with intricate carvings. The box contains a gemstone and a folded map. The gemstone is a fist-sized emerald colored translucent stone which glows brightly and bears the symbol of Ynthar inscribed upon it. (Pictured at the top of this page). This gem is an artifact and is the central object of the entire campaign.
  2. A massive leather bound book. Open and face down on floor as if thrown there. Thick gilded vellum pages filled with the scribble of magical words. 

This room is filled with clues that will be referenced later. If they don't think to do it, you might suggest to any spell casting player characters that they make note of the glowing runes on the walls. Copying the runes into a book or onto a few blank pieces of parchment will allow the characters to study them later at their leisure.

28 - Transport Pad
Large raised stone platform, 18" thick, on the floor, covered with glyphs cut in it. A large crystal sphere on a pedestal rests before the platform. Spell craft roll reveals teleport function. This pad is functional. Stepping on the pad causes the sphere to light up. The sphere depicts the excavation of the ruins above. An armed patrol walks by the "camera". By merely concentrating, the camera will move about. This is a short range, but powerful teleport spell - like a dimension door. Everything on the platform, up to one ton, will transport to whatever location is displayed in the crystal ball. The "camera" and teleport function have a maximum range of about 1000 meters. The teleport pad does have enough range to get the characters outside of the perimeter.

Concluding The Prelude Session

First of all, don't let the players leave the ruins without first having obtained the box, the gem, the map and some of the magical notes left behind by the wizards who built the inter-dimensional gateway.

There are two ways for the players to leave - by the entrance they walked in or via the teleport pad (which might be useful if they are being pursued perhaps). A lot of it depends on the background story you have put together to get the characters into the ruins. Also, don't be  afraid to guide them a bit. It is possible that another land quake could collapse the entrance by which the characters walked in. This would require the characters to venture deep into the ruins, exploring every chamber and then use the teleport pad to leave.

FAQ The Anchor Glyphs Prelude Skull

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

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