MARMOREAL TOMB MAP KEY
As alluded to earlier, the Marmoreal Tomb is a campaign starter, an introduction module that is based on the exploration of the Stone-cutter dwarves' settlement in order to teach some basics of tactics, players' agency, mapping the dungeon and the like. The encounters on the map are spaced out on purpose, for two main reasons: (1) if played as is, right out of the page, the space leaves the players deal with their exploration methods however they see fit and leaves some exit strategies open to them wherever they are in the dungeon (provided of course they realize that retreating and saving your life to fight another day IS an option in this game); (2) it allows for layers of customization, basically leaving the existing encounters as they are and just adding to the mix to just shift the feel of the place one way or another, up to the referee's preferences and campaign specifics.
We are going to take advantage of reason (2) here in order to get ourselves a game that feels like weird Swords & Sorcery from the Weird Tales era. Let's go and do this.
ENCOUNTERS INSIDE THE TOMB
These need to be checked once every other exploration turn, 1 in 6. The encounter table in the module is as simple as simple can be, in order to leave most of the breathing room to interpret results or bypass them entirely. In this example, we are going to follow that very stern guideline and include a few twists of our own. Therefore, if an encounter occurs in a particular turn, roll 1d8 on the following table:
1) Acskum's experiments have backfired. Kimmeri-Kelt and various manners of Ape and near-human men are animated in the players' characters vicinity, see AS&SH vol. 4, Zombies.
2) Stirges (cf. Module).
3-4) Bird-men or Ape-men from the outside.
5-6) Choose relevant inhabitant in the quadrant currently explored (per module, i.e. the 20-foot wide passages spreading from area 8 divide the entire map into four quadrants thereof).
7) A death scream or sound startles the PCs. The point here is to take the matter into your own hands as a referee role-playing the world. What does that scream mean? Where exactly are the PCs located when that occurs, and who or what could utter that scream? The choice is yours.
8) Tremors are heard from the players' characters. The Giants under the Keltic settlement are awakening. All sorts of horrors may be released on the first level of the tomb, including jellies, puddings, gibbering mouthers, undead and more.
As described in our previous post, the assumptions regarding the past events and population of the dungeon shift along with the game. The army of Krassus the Cambion was not constituted of giants, humanoids and gargoyles, but instead of Roman exiles, of indigenous Picts perverted by the fomorian secrets of their master, and of winged horrors that reached out from beyond the Void (Byakhees would be perfect for that purpose). The inhabitants of the Hyperborean Tomb were not dwarves, but Kimmeri-Kelt people who had helped Nester build Caer Caeladon, his Folly, the Hobby Shop Dungeon.
First, let us go through the key as published in Gygax Magazine Issue 3 and see how we can shift the tone and aesthetics to fit AS&SH. Then we will add a couple extra areas to make it more thematic, and a little tougher to survive, probably.
MAP KEY AS PUBLISHED IN GYGAX MAGAZINE
This section presumes the reader is familiar with the Marmoreal Tomb of Garn Patuul. If not, please refer to it or hold on for a bit and participate to our upcoming GP Adventures kickstarter: the campaign starter will be centered around an expanded Marmoreal Tomb including this first level presented in the magazine, along with entirely new art by Mark Allen, an additional level at the very least, extra encounters, and more.
1. The statues represent Kimmeri-Kelt warriors. All the other elements remain the same.
2. The mound obviously is constituted of human, Kimmeri-Kelt bones in our AS&SH game. They could have been crushed by boulders magically hurled at them, or they could have been eaten alive by worms summoned by the Cambion in his hour of triumph.
Perhaps the worms grew to a monstrous size due to the corruption of the Tomb (imagine constrictor-sized tape worms), and are lying under the surface of the waters by area 3, in wait for those who would disturb the pile of bones. If this is the case, then the creatures have formed a kind of symbiotic relationship with the Giant Water Silk Spider of area 3: The worms provide her with food, eating their way through their preys, leading them to the water, where the spider can then seize the victims and reproduce.
3. This area remains identical, but for the merman, which could be switched for an Atlantean man instead. His equipment would remain unchanged.
4. This place remains the same.
7. Idem, though it's up to the referee to decide whether he wants to keep the humorous wink at the original game and sand table of 330 Center Street included there. I would probably keep it.
8. Belenor's winged helmet is of Atlantean making. This shift could be reinforced with the use of a concentrated (laser) light beam erupting from the rune once per day for 3d6 damage in a line (half damage after each target hit). The crystal would then stop shedding light temporarily, recharging itself over the next few hours.
The Ogre is changed and becomes a Mountain Ape. If you want to make this area tougher (it would alter the map flow, but is suggested here as an example to beef up this entire area), add a really horribly ugly, hairy female at area 8A (the Barber, which here was a place for males, not females), and a few really beast-like, ravenous children throwing potteries and blocks of stones and cart wheels, everything they can get their paws on, for extra yuck factor.
9. The hammer's head here should be black as night, forged out of the backest meteoric metal to reflect the nature of Gol-Goroth, whose gift it was to Garn Patuul the Elder Fomorian.
Belenor's wife of course is of Kimmeri-Kelt descent.
The Stone Book should be shifted for a set of bronze disks that were found by the Kimmeri-Kelt and used to etch their own records on top of more ancient carvings. Use both records of clan feats and ancient writings as plugs to further adventuring, hand outs and the like. The text given in the area description talking about the relationship between the Stone Cutters, Nester and the Architect would have to be slightly tweaked to reflect the nature of the Kimmeri-Kelt wandering and fighting to survive on this hostile coast instead, but nothing too demanding.
10. Keep identical. This will work great in AS&SH, especially if the party mixes tribal type characters with more medieval-themed equipment and armor.
11. Rot grubs do not exist in AS&SH, if memory serves. The referee might either shift these for the occasional undead in the most grostesque postures and accoutrements imaginable, all spawned from Acskum's experiments (see Additional Key below), OR just use rot grubs as is, OR both. I would use both and mix things up a bit, for the fun of it. Maybe the rot grubs are what killed Belenor and his subjects on his last stand at area 2? Maybe these giant tape worms are in fact ancient, evolved rot grubs? That would have interesting repercussions on the spells available to the Cambion, the relationship between rot grubs and RE Howard's Worms of the Earth, and so on, so forth. Food for the imagination.
12. I would keep the area as it is. Just make sure the nature of Garn Patuul as an Elder Fomorian and the weirdness that supposes as far as rookie adventurers are concerned, comes across, instead of the Stone Giant default of the magazine version. Keep the syrinx the same.
13. Shift those for pot-bellied, drunken bird-men instead. They fight amongst themselves all the time, and fly out on occasion for the hunt. This makes them probably more dangerous for the party, because of their increased mobility, but this is counter-balanced by lower HD. Try to not over do it. This is but a taste of the Tomb at this point, not meant to result in a TPK outright.
14. Shift the denizens here for Vhuurmis specimens instead. Halve the number of individual creatures present here. Maybe they already are wounded after fighting with the Bird-men of area 12.
15. Obmar Nojh is now a Kimmeri-Kelt.
16. This place remains the same.
19. You could keep the dead mercenary here the same, as some type of exotic, eastern looking warrior. Where did he come from? How did he make it into Hyperborea? Is there a story behind this, perhaps an adventure hook, even? Alternately, you could make him one of the Roman exiles who followed Krassus on his crusade to retrieve Gol-Goroth's weapon here.
The same questions might apply to the hookah in this room. The visions it could induce would obviously be of a Lovecraftian nature. Maybe they could open a gate onto some sort of Dreamlands, or worse. That's for you to decide.
20. This place remains the same.
21. The servitors of Grosh the Great become Cave Men. They covered the marble of the quarry with their own primitive graffiti depicting hunting, cannibalism and much, much worse. Grosh's carriers are of course very old Kimmeri-Kelt warriors. I've toyed with the idea of keeping Grosh as some sort of humanoid, non-human character, but after giving it some thought I think it might be much more interesting to make it a human, a Roman, who may or may not have known Krassus himself. The impossibly huge, morbidly obese politician type. Really obnoxious, really perverted and evil. The kind of guy you want to hate. Maybe he even became a cannibal himself. Some really debased, Caligula-level stuff that should gross the players out and make them want to rid the world of his miserable existence, to play against the desire to keep the Kimmeri-Kelt alive.
22. This place remains the same.
23. Keep the Horla as-is. That is really fitting with the ambiance of the game, this is a nod to Guy de Maupassant who was an inspiration to HP Lovecraft in the first place, it's awesome in context, and will become even more awesome with the complete module we're going to kickstart soon.
24. This is one of those areas that are described in order to provide imaginary room for the referee. You can then add what you want on top of it, if you feel the need for it, just like you can do that for the areas around the Market Place at 8 and so on. Maybe some of the bovine bones here have been reanimated by Acskum. Or undead are feeding on flesh that keeps growing out the bovine carcasses in the area. That would add a level of creep factor to the dungeon.
25. Haunted children's playroom. Need I really say more? Just read the area description and imagine what you can do with a poltergeist type spirit, maybe the accumulation of the anger and fear and frustrations of the children of the Kimmeri-Kelt during the assault that took substance and stayed behind, even if the children made it away from this place (some of them did not)?
26. This place remains the same.
29. I'd keep the giant snapping turtles in. That would provide a break from the humanoids and the undead and the rest.
30. Keep the same. Very interesting area in an AS&SH context. I wonder if there could be a relation between the Achaean Firebirds and some Ancient Greek mystery at the mountain's core, or maybe something Ixian, Egyptian, related to the phoenix somehow. More fodder for the imagination.
31. Keep as is. Maybe the brewery isn't quite as “medieval” as it is presented there, but the principles are the same. Just give it a more rugged look to reflect the Kimmeri-Kelt vibe of the rest of the complex, and it'll be fine.
32. This place remains the same.
A. LAIR OF THE NECROMANCER. Acskum the Ixian Necromancer came to the Tomb long after the assault of Krassus the Cambion. If anything, Acskum is the human equivalent of a vulture, feeding on the remains left after war and mayhem accomplished their works of ruin. Ackscum is a Necromancer, and uses whatever is left behind to fuel his magical experiments. He is Neutral Evil through and through, a true example of the type, if there ever was one. He's also psychotic, necrophiliac, and all around insane, though he follows his own careful, if defiled, patterns of thought and logic. He's nesting here on borrowed time, having mostly kept to himself, giving the occasional bribe to the other denizens around him. Grosh despises the man, and would like in the short term to either enslave the necromancer, or feed him to his cave men.
If confronted here by an adventuring party, he might be willing to talk his way out of a fight, and might even use the party to further his plans of domination over this whole area. He might indicate some of the weaknesses of Grosh and the areas around him for instance, in the hopes of seeing the adventurers get rid of the fat pig for him once and for all. Consider making him a 5th level Necromancer right out of the gate, but a subtle one. He will try to flee from a direct confrontation and survive to take his revenge another day.
Acskum is always surrounded by a group of zombies just aware enough to carry things around and hold candles for him. He actually loves to be around festering corpses, but we've already been quite explicit about this. When the bones of the dead are reanimated anywhere in the dungeon due to the chaotic effects spawned from Acskum's experiments in this area, they fill themselves immediately with swelling protrusions covering the bones with fresh, exposed meat and tissue. These bleeding corpses are gruesome, and should be described as such by the referee, though they are nothing but zombies in terms of rules.
B. LAIR OF THE CREATURE. It could be interesting to include Acskum's very own monster, Frankenstein style, here. A very big zombie who is more conscious than the necromancer's other creations. He could be Neutral, though obviously animated by perverted, evil magic, and could provide an interesting role-playing experience for the party. Would they kill the creature out of mercy? Recruit it as some sort of horrible henchman-creature to carry their stuff around? Try to find a way to cure it? The possibilities are endless. Just consider the creature to be a plain, but very tough zombie to begin with. Note Obmar Nojh (area 15) might recognize the body of the creature as belonging to a friend who died before his eyes in Krassus's assault of the Tomb. That in itself could start an exchange with the creature, instead of just killing it outright.
And there you have it. A series of ideas to convert the Marmoreal Tomb to Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Note these are just ideas, how I would personally go about it in context, with the ideas and concepts we explored in our previous posts. This also provides a good example of the type of shifts possible to change the vibe of the Tomb, or the setting altogether.
Of course, the complete module we are going to launch on kickstarter will include an additional level, extra encounters around the dungeon and so on, at the very least, provided we fund just enough to print it. If we raise more funds well, the sky's the limit as they say. The more developed the GP Adventures module ends up being, the more potential fodder we will have for this thread in the future of course.
Here's hoping you find some inspiration and ideas in this thread. If you have other ideas, whether that'd be for an area, or another layer of modifications on this level of the Marmoreal Tomb, or you would just do something else differently, don't hesitate to post! I'd like to hear your ideas and feedback, if you feel like sharing.
Last edited by Benoist (4/10/2015 8:16 pm)