This last Saturday was Man Day. Our regular DM was in Las Vegas with his wife for Valentine’s Day weekend. Yes, I know: total lack of priorities. So, I donned the DM hat and ran Gorgoldand’s Gauntlet, converted for use with Pathfinder and Fencing & Firearms.
First, as to the conversion, it was quite easy. I cut-and-pasted stats for the pseudodragon, Medium animated object, goblin, and rust monster directly from d20pfsrd.org. I applied the Advanced Creature template to the pseudodragon and the Young Create template to the goblin. In the latter case, this created a Tiny goblinoid creature I named the snicken, describing them to the PCs cowardly trapbuilders both dirtier and weaker than kobolds. I converted attack bonuses, saves, and combat maneuver bonuses to F&F-style DCs since I have the players roll all the dice. I also fiddled with Medium animated object stat block, lowering HD and tweaking it a bit to make it look like the final encounter monster in the dungeon.
Pathfinder‘s monster creation rules were an enormous help here to keep the creature at the desired CR. All in all, this was probably about forty-five minutes worth of work, with the modifications to the final Medium animated object taking the most time.
The party consisted of Grom, duergar psion; Mel, gnome sorcerer; Ackbar, human fighter; and Rovarf, dwarf ranger. We were missing two players, including the cleric. The adventure started as the heroes, all member of the town guard in Hadler’s Gap, were returning from dealing with kobolds in a dungeon near a trade route. They heard children crying and investigated, finding two halfling children, Jimmy and Janie, dirty and forlorn. The tots explained that they had a treasure map and had gone adventuring. Timmy climbed down a rope to a cave. They heard him scream and then nothing else. They got scared and fled.
The PCs whose players were missing escorted Jimmy and Janie back to town while the other four went to rescue Timmy. They found the rope tied to a metal hook lodged in the rock just as the children had said. The rope led down about forty feet to a cave opening that itself was about thirty feet above the river. One by one, the heroes descended. Mel sent dancing lights into the tunnel and then he, Rovarf, and Grom stealthed forward. (As if to emphasize how compatible Pathfinder and 3.5 are, Grom was built with 3.5/Fencing & Firearms rules, whereas Mel and Rovarf are Pathfinder/F&F PCs. There was no noteworthy difference between the way they played.)
The entry tunnel led to a cavern. Mel and Grom moved in. Suddenly, a Large spider dropped from the ceiling to land between them. Rovarf rushed forward and flailed clumsily with his waraxe. Mel fired his matchlock pistol, puncturing the spider’s hide and releasing a cloud of sneeze and choke inducing powder. Rovarf and Mel both suffered Constitution damage. Grom was outside the powder’s radius. He spotted something moving along the ceiling and fired, picking off a retreating snicken. Rovarf and Mel exited the cloud. Further investigation revealed that the spider had been long dead. It was now just a dessicated husk that could raised or dropped from the ceiling via fibers woven from hair.
Somewhat weakened, the party continued forward. Half way down the next hall, they saw a snare trap on the floor. Inside the snare was written, “Put fut heer.” The party tossed the dead sniken into the snare, and nothing happened. Mel, an experienced goblin trapper, examined the snare and determined it was nonfunctional. Reasoning it might be a diversion, he carefully examined the floor just ahead of the snare. Since Pathfinder lets anyone use Perception to find a trap, Mel managed to detect the pit trap on the other side of the fake snare. It wasn’t large — only a 5-ft. square — and so the heroes started jumping over it. Mel made it, and moved ahead. Grom made it, and moved ahead. Rovarf stumbled rather than jumped, hit the cover of the pit, and triggered it, falling 10 feet onto a bed of mold-covered debris. He took some damage and the irritating juices of the mold caused horrible itching (and Dexterity damage).
About this time, Mel was ambushed by sniken crossbow fire. He avoided one shot, but not the other. Having broken cover, the snikens dropped their crossbows, snatched up hooked staves, and rushed toward the chasm bisecting the next cavern. Mel rushed forward to be entangled in a net woven from hair. The snickens used their hooked staves to slide down ziplines to holes in the opposite wall of the chasm. Mel disentangled himself. The heroes fished Rovarf out of the pit. No one felt confident enough to attempt the leap over the chasm. It wasn’t deep, but there was water of unknown depth and currents below. The ziplines that carried the snikens would not support the weight of any of the heroes.
Grom enlarged himself to giant size and sort of lobbed the others across the chasm. He then looped a rope around his waist and got a running start. The other party members pulled, and the force added to Grom’s jump carried him across the chasm as well. Down a tunnel the heroes found a well-built wooden wall about eight-feet tall blocking the passage. The wall did not, however, go all the way up to the ceiling. Grom helped Mel scramble up to the top. He discovered a ledge built on the top of the wall. On the other side was a cave. The only way out of the cave was blocked by a wooden door on which could be seen some writing.
Grom joined Mel atop the wall and studied the cave beyond with the aid of Mel’s dancing lights. Mel’s keen powers of perception noticed the entrance to a den of sorts. Within the den were found two rust monsters. Armed with this knowledge, the party took the time to tightly bundle up their metal objects. Rovarf and Ackbar took off their armor as well. While Grom distracted the aberrations with tasty coins, the rest of the party slipped by to the door to discover the first of several riddles:
Spelled front to back, it’s a person’s name
Or a protective guard, for certain.
Spelled back to front, it’s what you do
with a bow, blank page, or curtain.
There were four wheels on the door, each wheel marked with four letters. After some studying, the heroes figured out the riddle and set the wheels to spell out the answer. With the door unlocked, the party quickly moved through, leaving the rust monsters behind. They found themselves at one end of a long cavern with a smooth floor tiled by two-foot square metal plates. A voice spoke to them in their minds, saying, “Many of the squares ahead are trapped. I will not tell you where the traps are located, but as you stand upon a square, I will tell you how many trapped squares are adjacent to that one. The rest is up to you.”
With Grom in the lead acting as “minesweeper,” the party slowly navigated their way across the tiled floor. Only once or twice did they choose a trapped tile, leading to Grom suffering some mild electrical shocks. At the far end of the “minefield” was another door which opened to reveal a long flight of stone stairs leading deeper into the earth. At the top of the stairs was another riddle:
It seems every second or third time I step away,
Fate is there, without a doubt, to trap my course.
The heroes reasoned that, if the steps were numbered, then any step divisible by two or three must be trapped. Grom took the lead again, trying to hopscotch down the steps. He had made it more than half way down when he stumbled onto the thirty-ninth step. Immediately, a curtain of flame roared up. When it cleared, Grom was gone!
Ackbar, Rovarf, and Mel made it down the steps, seeing no sign of Grom or any clue as to his fate. Unknown to the three, Grom had been teleported into a holding pit which also held Timmy. Ackbar, Rovarf, and Mel continued forward, coming into a square chamber with a metal door at the far end. Three plaques mounted on the walls held different weapons along with captions. Mel tried to open the door and was told by a magic mouth, “Not without the password, you don’t. What’s the password?”
The heroes examined the weapons: a falchion, a pair of sianghams, and a spiked gauntlet. Their respective captions read:
Pa’s Sword: Islet’s Laughter
Pa’s Hand Weapons: Gutstickers
Pa’s Gauntlet: Fist of Pain
Mel’s detect magic revealed all of the weapons and the door were magical. Rovarf took the gauntlet and put it on. The trio then set down to the task of figuring out the password based on the meager clues available in the room.
While this went on, Grom made friends with Timmy. The halfling lad explained that a “really big spider” had fallen on him and then he’d been captured by snickens, who put him down into the pit. Grom called up an astral construct to fly up and force open the cover on the pit. He then used a second astral construct to carry Timmy out of the pit. The plucky halfling lad found a nearby rope, tied it off, and tossed the other end down to Grom.
Meanwhile, the quick-witted Ackbar finally figured out the password. Upon saying it, the door opened. Beyond was a short passage that led to largish room lit by continual flame spells. Flanking a mirror mounted on the farthest wall were four skeletons bearing short swords. Letter were carved into the wall above the mirror. Closer inspection revealed the skeletons were actually carved from stone and painted white. Their “skull” were eyeless, smooth where the eye sockets should’ve been. The reflection in the mirror showed the room as it was, but also showed a cache of coins, gems, and weapons. Carved above the mirror was this strange word:
Ackbar quickly deduced the command phrase from the strange word. Upon speaking it aloud, the party was teleported through the mirror into a nearly identical room. This one actually contained the treasure shown by the mirror in the skeleton room. As Ackbar, Rovarf, and Mel considerd their good fortune, the piles of coins swirled together, taking the form of a dragon made of treasure.
About the same time, Grom and Timmy were out of the pit and in a large cavern, the walls of ceiling of which were riddled with snicken holes. Sure enough, Grom soon saw signs of movement and heard noises coming from several of the holes. In an instant, he was dodging snicken crossbow bolts while he and Timmy retreated to the only visible exit of suitable size. Unfortunately, they quickly discovered the way out was a dead end. As snickens massed, Grom unlimbered his shield for Timmy to hide behind. Grom then readied his crossbow and prepared to face the first wave of attackers.
The other heroes did battle with the coin dragon. It breathed a cone of treasure at Ackbar and Mel. The coin dragon became smaller and weaker as a result, but the heroes noticed the expelled treasure quickly whirling back into the creature itself. The battle was brief but furious. Rovarf was badly battered, and the other two suffered injuries as well, but in the end the heroes triumphed. The coin dragon fell apart, becoming a pile of loot.
Back in the dead end, things looked grim for Grom and Timmy. There were more snickens than Grom could hope to face alone. Then, from out of the shadows, a dragon-like creature about the size of a small dog appeared between Grom and Timmy and the snicken mob. The dragon-creature hissed at the snicken, and they cowered back.
“Don’t worry,” it said via telepathy. “They’ll not attack now. There’s a secret door behind you.”
Grom thanked the dragon-creature and found the secret door. On the other side was the entry cave in which the party had encountered the dead giant spider. The other adventurers collected the loot, including a fancy magical longsword, and repeated the magical phrase from above the mirror. This time they were teleported to the entry cave. Ackbar, Rovarf, and Mel traded tales with Grom and Timmy. With the halfling lad found and rescued, the heroes set off for Hadler’s Gap. Along the way, Timmy explained that he hadn’t meant to cause any harm, but that he just wanted to be an adventurer, and when the “strange old man” gave him and his friends the treasure map, it seemed like a good idea.
And thus ended Man Day.