Ironguard by Angrymog
Part OneOriginal SA post
As there was a request to see more Ed Greenwood fuckwittery, here is part one of Ironguard, a short adventure published in Dungeon #18, and suggested as a followup to the Haunted Halls.
Written by Ed Greenwood and published in July/August 1989, Ironguard is a mini dungeoncrawl for 4-6 characters of levels 1-3, or about 10 total character levels.
The adventure opens in a market square where the characters notice a scraggly old man sitting on a worn leather pack. The man suddenly notices the party, mutters angrily and vanishes. A few moments later he re-appears and accuses one of the PCs of having tried to mess with his stuff (whether they have or not). He ignores any protestations of innocence, yells about the PCs having to suffer "THE CURSE!", lurches forwards and then tries to grab one of the player casters. The module helpfully suggests that the GM can fudge his attack roll.
The old man is Mad Meerim, a level 12 wizard with ridiculous stats (S 17, D 16, C 16, I 18, W 6, C 7, hp40), He only has two teleport spells and the curse left, but is protected by a plethora of defensive spells plus a contingency spell that teleports him away on low HP. The GM is advised that he can be immune to even more attack types if he wants to make the old man even more mysterious and use him in other encounters.
No. No thank you. I don't think we will.
Anyway, once Meerim has cursed the caster he teleports off, but his bag has split and he leaves behind a box containing 4 healing potions which have the side effect of making the imbiber glow blue (as per faerie fire) for 2-8 turns (20 to 80 minutes. Enjoy enemies having a +1 or +2 to hit you for the duration of the crawl if you drink one)
The curse makes the affected caster forget a memorised spell, and be unable to rememorise it, at a rate of one spell per 10 days. The Curse of forgetfulness can't be cured with Remove Curse.
Consulting a Sage about the curse will inform the characters that the spell was created by a notoriously reclusive and less than sane mage called Iyarim. He had claimed an ancient tomb in the Ironlands as his home, and was survived by his three apprentices, one of them being Meerim. We're given the names of the other two but they don't matter to the scenario. The implication being that since Remove Curse didn't work, and Alter Reality, Wish or Limited Wish are going to be out of the character's budget, the best hope for a cure would be to raid the wizard's former home and hope to find a way to reverse the spell.
Assuming the characters take on this quest (which I imagine they will, though possibly with grumbling thanks to the :choo: :choo: ) we arrive at the tomb.
It's a five room affair, starting with the entrance. An 11' tall black stone statue of a warrior stands guard over the entrance of the tomb - a slab set into the ground that requires a combined Strength of 22 to move. Once the slab is moved, the party see a set of spiral stairs winding into the earth.
The stairs are steep and sharply twisted. It takes three rounds to go down them at a normal walking pace. But wait! Ed Greenwood's love of Pratfall Stairs strikes again! These ones are magical - stairs will randomly grow to a foot high then revert to normal. The game effect is that each round characters on the stairs must pass a Dexterity check or fall and take 1-2 points of damage. The stairs can be shut down temporarily with Dispel magic.
Next… the bullshit continues!
Any guesses on where the Stirge is, and what state it's in before it attacks?
(Yes, I probably could have fitted it all into one post, but I'm writting these before work in the morning)
Part TwoOriginal SA post
It's time to play Hunt the Stirge, as we continue our exploration of Ironguard.
Sadly, your suggestions about where the stirge is are all far more imaginative than the actual answer.
Last update the characters were railroaded into exploring the tomb known as Ironguard. They traversed some pratfall stairs, and find themselves in the Outer Chamber.
This room is 20' by 30, with a 20' high ceiling. A corridor opens in the southern wall. The entire room is made of blocks of dressed stone, and there's an amber light emanating from the end of the corridor, about 60' away.
In front of the corridor entrance is a massive, high-backed, stone chair on which sits a skeleton wearing a tattered robe with a staff resting across its knees.
These are the remains of Ilarim. The module notes that he was quite mad when he died, so Speak with dead isn't going to get anything useful out of him.
When the PCs examine the corpse, a Flying Dagger zooms out of a hole high in the eastern wall and attacks. This dagger will chase the PCs all around the dungeon, but will not chase them past the top of the spiral stairs.
There's a second flying dagger deep in the hole this one came from, but it'll only activate if disturbed.
There are apparently many variants of Flying Dagger, dependent on the mage who made them. These have AC 5, ThAC0 17, HP 9, Move 24 (manoeuvrability class A (used in the flying combat subsystem)), do 1d4 damage on a hit, and have a party trick.
If they only just miss the target - i.e. they miss by 1, 2 or 3 points, they're assumed to have hit something metal on the target.
They act as a rust monster.
Flying rust monsters.
Fuck you, Greenwood.
On the bright side, they're not hungry, so they don't go seeking out metal like a Rust Monster would.
On the western wall of the room are a row of wooden cloak hooks on which hand a variety of rotten scarves and cloaks, and an untarnished metal helm.
The helmet confers a +1 bonus to all saving throws, and a -1 per dice reduction on incoming fire damage. It can only be worn by clerics and fighters. If worn by any other class it stops them casting spells or using magic items effectively by growing a plate across the eyes anytime they try to cast or activate an item.
Guess it came from a party where they fighter or cleric was tired of the wizard or rogue borrowing their stuff. Note that Paladins and Rangers aren't exempt from the effect - they're in the Warrior class group, but aren't specifically Fighters.
The throne is totally non-magical and very heavy, which makes it unlikely that the party would try to move it until after they've explored everything else. Which is a shame, because once they've amassed the 30 str required to shift it they can find a cavity containing three scroll cases. One has a scroll of Write, one a scroll of the Curse of Forgetfulness (and its reverse variant), and the third has a few nonsense words written on it, which are actually the activation words for wands found in one of the deeper rooms.
So, what should I cover next?
Seriously though, there's no clue that the throne is moveable, so they probably won’t think to try and move in until everything else has been searched. Worst case they never think to at all, and get annoyed at the GM and Ed for wasting their time. A kind GM would allow them to notice some damage to the stones around the throne when they examine it and the skeleton.
Let's assume the party doesn't think to try moving the throne, and so they venture into area 3, the Corridor
10' wide, 60' long and 20' high. At the far end is a stone door adorned with a relief of a laughing human face. Its eyes and mouth are dark holes (nothing magical about them - no sphere of annihilation lurking here - they're just spyholes from the room behind the door), but the surface of the door glows with an amber faerie fire spell.
There's a hand sized hole 10' up and 10' along the eastern wall. It contains another flying dagger that only activates once the stone door has been touched, and will chase people leaving the tomb, but not into the two innermost chambers.
Behind the door is the Inner Chamber.
A heavy curtain hangs diagonally across the south-west corner of the room. On the western wall is the shattered frame of a full length mirror. The glass shards still radiate a faint magic, but the former Gate is beyond repair.
Clustered in the south-east corner is a table, a footstool and an easy chair, made of Shadowtop wood. Of which we may find out more by reading the thrilling sounding 'Woodlands of the realms' from Dragon #125
Shadowtop trees are the soaring giants of the forests of the Realms. These trees grow very rapidly (up to 2' a year, if the weather is warm and damp enough), allowing some shadowtops to reach 90' or more in height. Trees of this size often have massive, pleat-ridged trunks flaring up to 20' in diameter at the base. The tree gets its name from the dense clusters of feather leaves which adorn its limbs. A shadowtop's leaves have frilled edges like those of an oak, with an irregular number of small fingers. These leaves are copper coloured on the underside all year round and deep green on the upper surface. The tops of these leaves fade to match the underside in the fall. The leaves cluster from spreading branches that make up the top 12' or so of the tree, which has few or no lower branches.
Shadowtop wood ('shadow wood') is fibrous and tough, but unsuitable for carving or structural work, as it has a tendency to split down its length under stress into a splayed mass of fibres. The fibres themselves are valued in rope-making; a few are added to the twist when a rope is being made, increasing the strength and durability of the coil when it is complete. Shadowtop wood burns slowly
(it must be ignited by a leaping fire composed of other woods) but very cleanly, with little smoke. The resultant flames generate an hot fire. Shadow-top wood is thus favoured for cooking.
If more than four wagonloads of wood are felled, cut up, and carried off for sale in a city, there will be a large remainder, which is usually left behind for later trips. By custom, travellers can usually cut enough from this pile for a night's fire without evoking anyone's ire.
Isn't that nice?
On the table are a large locked iron chest and a book. A battered pair of walking boots are by the stool.
The chest radiates a faint dweomer. It is locked and the key lost. When its finally opened, the magic within (Phezult's sleep of the ages spell, see the DM's sourcebook of the realms) is discharged, releasing a hungry Stirge which then attacks. Nothing else in the chest.
Yep! Stirge in stasis! WTF, Ed?
The book is an inventory if weird alchemical components which are stored somewhere else (if they even still exist). The boots have a oneshot magic toeblade installed in them - when touched to metal it acts as a rust monster antennae. But once only. The underside of the chair has a wand of illumination with 6 charges left.
Finally, we draw the curtain back on the Innermost chamber.
Beyond the curtain is a room that contains a massive stone casket. It's really heavy and requires a combined 17 str to open. When touched, a magic mouth screams threats from Iyarim at the players. Up to the DM if those threats mean anything, a suggestion is that another apprentice of Iyarim starts hounding the PCs in other adventures. Casket contains another flying dagger, clothes, and a selection of magical trinkets - 4 potions of healing, 1 potion of gaseous form, wand of wonder with 17 charges, and a staff that grants the bearer the effects of feather fall and can emit light. If the casket is moved, the there's a wand of negation with 4 charges underneath it.
Exit Player Characters, chased by one or more flying daggers.
I only hope that the non-dungeon crawling segments of Ed's games were better than his dungeons, because my god, this is creatively bankrupt - two tricks we've already seen in the Haunted Halls, the actually target of the quest being both near the front and easily missable, and a total Fuck you! railroad to get the characters into the quest in the first place. The location doesn't even work as a tomb converted into a wizard's home - my guess is that the broken gate mirror led to his actual home, and this was basically an antechamber. On the bright side, no scantily-clad sorceresses in peril.