The Ruined Mage School

A Golem and Bandits PNG image

Having now completed a tertiary education course I’m back to gaming again. Here is the latest instalment of the adventures of my Scarlet Heroes character, Du Renshu. He is a third level fighter with the following traits:

  • Forest Hermit: 2
  • Strong Constitution: 3
  • Once was a Peasant Rebel: 2

In the previous instalment, A Golem and Bandits, Renshu discovered a ruin in a valley of the Altgrimmr Mountains (hex 00.05 on the far left of the map). A few dice rolls determined that it was a dungeon with the following characteristics:

Type of Feature: dungeon

Dungeon type: academy (ruined mage school)

Locations: 23

Inhabitants: looters (first seven rooms), supremacists (next eight rooms), and undead from massacre (last eight rooms)

Threat: 2

Favoured colours of interior rooms: only natural hues

Entering the ruin Renshu tethers his horse to a pine tree. There is no sign of life in the ruin. He sees a large doorway nearby which appears to lead into some kind of hall.

Memorial hall

Hidden treasure: M2 worth of room contents – bronze mirror jewelled with amber worth 500 gp.

Hazard: environmental danger. Save or take 2d4 damage.

The hall is painted a fading sky blue and is well illuminated with windows. There are niches along the walls which once contained statues of stone and jade, but these have been thrown to floor as if by angry invaders. There are inscriptions in Low Imperial beneath the niches. Reading the inscriptions he learns that the ruin was once a school of magic called the Academy of Fa al-Tabari. The statues are of the most celebrated alumni of the Academy.

The walls have been scrawled with glyphs which remind him of the symbol on the gourd of Shou poison that he found in Wang Yuan’s house in Enping. Clearly Shou were responsible for the destruction of the Academy.

As he searches the hall the Shou glyphs start to glow with a pale green light and he begins to feel light-headed.

The difficulty of the saving throw to resist the Shou magic is 16. Renshu fails the saving throw and takes 1 point of damage.

He falls to floor and his head pounds as his vision is filled with images of Shou, pale-skinned orcs of the mountains. He sees them sacking the Academy and slaughtering the students. A Shou witch-priestess shoots green bolts of witchfire from her stave and kills the headmaster.

Hit points: 13

When the vision has faded he slowly gets to his feet and finds that the glyphs have stopped glowing. He continues to search the hall. All of the fallen statues are too heavy to carry easily.

The difficulty of the check to locate the hidden treasure is 13. Renshu fails the check.

He finds nothing of value in the hall.

First turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

He leaves the hall by a doorway in the south wall.

Divination room

Encounter: 6 hit dice worth of Minions/Civilians/Elites – one skilled freebooter (Elite statistics), three novice adventurers (Minion statistics) and one porter (Vermin statistics).

He enters a room that is also painted sky blue. The ceiling is supported by round stone columns inscribed in High Imperial, the script of scholars which he cannot read. A large bronze brazier, which was probably used for divination purposes, lies overturned in the centre of the room.

There are four men and a woman searching the room for anything of value. Their leader, a man of mixed Gadaal and Imperial or Kueh descent, wears a chain hauberk and carries a sword. The woman and two other men are dressed in leather armour and carry spears, and the last man is a porter dressed in leather armour and armed with a knife. He carries a backpack that bulges with adventuring gear. When they see Renshu they stop searching the room and approach.

The looters are rolled as unfriendly NPCs. They regard Renshu with qualified consent. Oracular word: wealth.

The leader asks Renshu if he suffered the effects of the Shou glyphs and Renshu replies that he got past them without too much trouble. The leader comments to the others that Renshu is brave to keep on exploring the ruins on his own. He tells Renshu that he and his fellow adventurers have already looted the ruins of most of their wealth. Renshu is welcome to search for what is left. He warns Renshu that there are other adventurers from his band elsewhere in the Academy and they may not be as tolerant as he is. Futhermore, he knows that there are Imperial supremacists hiding out somewhere in the Academy and they are dangerous people. There are even rumours of undead which resulted from the massacre of the Academy students by the Shou. He bids Renshu good day.

Second turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Renshu leaves the room by a doorway in the northwest corner.


Treasure: trove M1 in room contents – wall scroll worth 30 gp. Oracular word: disease.

He enters a stone chamber with a vaulted roof and unpainted walls. There are no windows and he lights a torch to explore the room. The vault was probably a strongroom for the storage of valuable or dangerous magical ingredients. The floor is strewn with decaying wood, the wooden chests used for storage having all been smashed open and their contents looted. There is only one item of interest, an Imperial wall scroll that shows a physician treating a man suffering from some disfiguring skin disease such as leprosy. He puts it in his backpack.

Third turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

He leaves the vault by a doorway in the south wall.

Servants’ chambers

Hidden treasure: one tenth of the C-type trove appropriate to the place (C5 – Major Ruin’s Wealth).

Hazard: Decrepit structure. Save or 2d6 damage and leave room.

He enters a corridor with seven doorways along each wall, beyond which are former servants’ quarters containing the decaying remains of beds and other small items of furniture. The remains of the plaster on the walls are painted a faded green.

The difficulty of the saving throw is 12. Renshu succeeds on the saving throw.

He enters one room and begins probing the floor and walls. He hears a creaking sound and then the roof of the chamber comes crashing down. He makes it out of the room just in time.

What’s the weather like (wet season)? A light drizzle.

Through the hole in the roof he can see that it is late afternoon outside and there is a light drizzle of rain.

The difficulty of the check to locate the hidden treasure is 14. Renshu succeeds on the check.

In another chamber he finds a hidden compartment under a flagstone which the looters failed to locate. Within the compartment there are hundreds of gold coins, an electrum finger ring set with a black opal, a purple garnet gemstone, a pair of gold earrings set with star rubies, a square, thumb-sized vial of white jade inscribed with High Imperial characters, and a gleaming sword with a leather grip and a hilt of gold. The blade of the sword is inscribed with characters of a non-Imperial script that he cannot read.

There are 700 gold coins in the hoard.

The finger ring is worth 3,000 gp.

The garnet gemstone is worth 1,000 gp.

The earrings are worth 5,000 gp.

The vial contains Ironhide potion.

The sword is a +3 dwarven sword.

The sword is obviously magical so he takes it, but he also keeps his existing magical sword. He stows all the coins and treasure in his backpack and finds that it is as much as he can carry. He carefully replaces the flagstone and places debris from the room over it.

Money: 715 gp, 4 sp and 3 cp

Delighted with his find, he decides to leave the ruin and return to Haicheng.

Fourth turn elapsed

Check for wandering inhabitants: five hit dice worth of Minions/Civilians/Elites – one skilled freebooter, two novice adventurers and one porter.

Four men enter the corridor from the part of the ruin that he has not yet explored. The leader is an Imperial man wearing a scale mail hauberk, two of the other men wear leather armour and carry spears, and the last man is another porter.

The looters are rolled as unfriendly NPCs. They are dismissive towards Renshu.

The men stride past Renshu. As they pass, the Imperial man says “Too late! We’ve already cleaned out this place.”

Renshu waits for the men to leave. He breathes a sigh of relief and then returns to the vault.


Fifth and sixth turns elapse

Check for wandering inhabitants: none

Seventh turn elapses

Check for wandering inhabitants: unusual foe – jiangshi

Memorial hall

In the divination room he hears the sounds of combat and a terrible snarling voice. Entering the memorial hall he sees that the Imperial man wearing a scale hauberk is dead on the floor along with one of his companions. The other two men have fled. A figure in ragged clothes is crouched over the Imperial man and when it looks up he sees that it is a living corpse. The monster gets to it’s feet and lurches stiffly towards him. Suddenly it leaps through the air and lands in front of him and he realises that it is a jiangshi.

The jiangshi has 8 HD. Renshu decides to fight with his dwarven sword.

Although he manages to wound the jiangshi with his sword, the monster bites him three times, inflicting three levels of energy drain on him. He is reduced to 0 level and must Defy Death (3d4) or perish. He takes 3 points of damage and the attempt to Defy Death is unsuccessful. Renshu dies and rises as a jiangshi himself.

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