One-shot Adventure #1: Jesus’ Device
This is the first in what I hope to be a continuing series of one-shot adventures which I have created and DMed for DnD 3.5. My targets for character creation might change from adventure to adventure, and they are (for the most part) not to be played by the same characters. You’ll see what I mean when I publish the second one. I’m aiming for these adventures to be fairly serious, but with a ridiculous underpinning. The ending of this adventure should reveal what I mean by this.
This adventure surrounds an adventuring party infiltrating a mad scientist’s chalet in order to put an end to his devious plotting. Let me say right now that I did not come up with the enemy’s name; you can blame my friends on IRC for that one!
Please note that if you intend to play this adventure as opposed to DMing it, please do not read past the spoiler tags I will be putting after character creation details. This adventure, like most out there, relies on the players not knowing the exact details of the situation they’re in.
Please note that in order to avoid issues with violating WotC’s copyright on the content of their rulebooks, I will not be posting information not in the SRD. I will post book names and page numbers as needed. That being said, the only books you should need (beyond core books) are MM3, the Ebberon Campaign Setting book, and a certain Dragon Magazine (the exact number revealed here might give more away than I want to 😉 )
- This adventure is intended for a party with a Party Level of five (use this tool to calculate party level, if you don’t know how), so be sure to adjust character levels as needed.
- Characters should be created using a 22 point buy (DMG 169)
- Gold/equipment should be level-appropriate (DMG 135).
- Any official, relevant source books are allowed (ie DnD 3.5 books/mags), though as always this is subject to DM caveat/Rule 0.
- Alignments should tend toward Lawful or Good, though this is not a requirement.
- One flaw and one trait are allowed.
- Any combination of classes, races, and templates should be fine, so long as normal rules concerning racial HD and LA affecting ECL are followed.
As a general suggestion, this adventure is aimed a little higher than normal difficulty for a fifth level party, so having healing or superior strategy in mind during character creation might be smart.
As noted above, I will not be directly copy/pasting monster entries for you, so please refer to the relevant source books/mags. I will be typing exposition text in italics, and other details in normal font. I will be posting screenshots of rooms created using Gametable (a very useful tool when playing tabletop games online) to give you a suggested layout. If you do have Gametable, here‘s the map file for ease of use.
Terror has gripped the city of Siloportem. Atop his hillside chalet, nicknamed by the locals “The Clockwork Chalet”, Jesus Tarentino has been concocting something devious. Many townspeople have attempted to confront him; none have returned. Mayor Royam has enlisted the services of your adventuring party, Team Sea Slug, to put an end to the mysterious exploits of Jesus for good.
The path to the Clockwork Chalet is dark. Statues in various stages of disarray line the pathway, their blank, lifeless eyes boring into your very souls. The statues all seem to be regal-looking men and women, most who seem to at one point or another been holding small instruments in their hands.
Pause here for roleplaying. The players can, with a DC 25 spot check, notice the eyes of the statues following their movements. These statues are of local lords and ladies, though most of their identities have been more or less lost to time. The instruments they held in their hands are not of any consequence, just some flavour text.
As you approach the chalet, lightning flashes, giving you a brief glimpse of the imposing structure. It stands many stories high, most of which is a crooked, spiralling tower, dominated by a massive clock face. Its twisted dials spin slowly, but far too fast to be keeping track of time in any world you know of. Drawing close enough to see the main entrance, your party gives pause, hiding in some nearby bushes. In front of you stands four mechanical, humanoid beings. They seem to be standing guard; thankfully, they don’t seem to have noticed you yet.
Pause here for roleplaying and battle. The four figures are warforged scouts (MM3 193). Recessed into one of the walls, there is an alarm box (indicated by the star). Due to Jesus’ constant tinkering with technology, it isn’t instantly recognizable, but a keen eye will be able to discern its use (Spot or Knowledge: Architecture and engineering DC 20). When combat starts, one scout will move to activate the box. Four move actions spent interacting with the alarm box (provoking AoO) will trigger an alarm, adding monsters to the next room.
Two traps are hidden within the entranceway:
Swinging Block Trap
CR 1; mechanical; touch trigger; manual reset; Atk +5 melee (4d6, stone block); Search DC 20; Disable Device DC 20. Market Price: 500 gp.
Wall Blade Trap
CR 1; mechanical; touch trigger; automatic reset; hidden switch bypass (Search DC 25); Atk +10 melee (2d4/×4, scythe); Search DC 22; Disable Device DC 22. Market Price: 2,500 gp.
The room ahead is stark and bare. The walls are smooth and uninterrupted, beyond glowing balls which hang in regular intervals along the walls. An exit leads off to the West. As you enter the room, the clanking, molded faces of [three/five] creatures look up at you. They draw their weapons, their joints clicking unnaturally with each movement. The largest creature tilts what seem to be eye-stalks toward the party, regarding you from five lifeless eyes.
This room is filled with Modrons (You might feel a tinge of nostalgia at the mention of that race. Unfortunately for you, they’re not their usual selves here). ( DR354 35 on) Guaranteed to be in this room are one Pentadrone and two Monodrones. If the PCs triggered the alarm, two Duodrones will be present as well. The wall in the North of the room is an illusionary wall (DC 18 Will for disbelief). Take this into account if one of your characters is using projectile attacks that miss. There are tracks leading off to the North, though they are faded. A character can notice these tracks with a DC 20 Track application, or a DC 25 spot check. The characters may also hear noises seemingly coming through the wall from the next room with a DC 25 listen check.
Should the PCs decide to take the West hallway, or should they not find the hidden wall to the North, they will encounter a trap-filled, punishing hallway. Feel free to tone these down in number or intensity if really needed.
CR 2; mechanical, location trigger; manual reset; DC 20 Reflex save avoids; 40 ft. deep (4d6, fall); Search DC 20; Disable Device DC 20. Market Price: 2,000 gp.
CR 2; mechanical; location trigger; automatic reset; multiple traps (tripping and melee attack); Atk +15 melee touch (trip), Atk +15 melee (2d4+2, spiked chain); Search DC 15; Disable Device DC 18. Market Price: 3,800 gp. Note: This trap is really one CR 1 trap that trips and a second CR 1 trap that attacks with a spiked chain. If the tripping attack succeeds, a +4 bonus applies to the spiked chain attack because the opponent is prone.
Hail of Needles
CR 3; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; Atk +20 ranged (2d4); Search DC 22; Disable Device DC 22. Market Price: 5,400 gp.
CR 3; spell; spell trigger; no reset; spell effect (fire trap, 3rd-level druid, 1d4+3 fire, DC 13 Reflex save half damage); Search DC 27; Disable Device DC 27. Cost: 85 gp to hire NPC spellcaster.
A long corridor greets your party in the next room. It is as featureless as the last room, though the roof is ordained with interweaving geometric shapes and patterns. You realize you do not have much time to admire the artwork, as a growl from the end of the hallway rips your attention away. Meeting your eyes is a large, ape-like construct. It is flanked by two hazy blotches. Steam and energy hiss off the ape’s carapace. It flexes its legs, and makes to charge your party!
This room contains one Warforged Charger (MM3 191) and two Living Burning Hands (Eb 293). It might be funny to keep in mind that the monsters in this room are fully aware of the illusionary nature of the South wall, and will pass through it without hesitation.
There is a locked wooden door leading out of this room to the North:
Strong Locked Wooden Door: 2 in. thick, 5 hardness, 20 hp, 25 break DC, 25 Open Lock DC
Behind the door is a wooden portcullis. Opening the door should start the events listed in the next section:
Wooden Portcullis: 3 in. thick, 5 hardness, 30 hp, 25 break DC, 25 lift DC
There is an anti-magic field beyond this portcullis as well. See the next section for details.
Upon prying the door open, you are met with a portcullis made of iron. Through its bars, you see the next room. It’s a massive space, littered with desks and papers. Along one wall rests a massive machine. It towers almost to the roof of the 30 foot high ceiling, and looks needlessly complex. Upon hearing the door opening, someone you can only assume is Jesus walks around the far corner of the machine, a viscous beast following him. He frowns in frustration as he regards you.
“So this is how it ends, is it? A band of adventurers coming to interrupt my work once again. You’ve wrecked my creations, you’ve disrupted my work, and for what? Glory? What glory is there in disturbing the work of a genius mind? You cannot even comprehend the things I have done to get to where I am, nor where the world will be once my plan comes to fruition. Minds such as yours cannot grasp what I have created here, just the same as the rest of the rabble the town has sent after me. You will NOT best me here, however. This is where your efforts fall short.” He commands his beast toward your group, and moves back to his machine, beginning to flip switches and tinker with the machinery. (OOC: You have 7 rounds until Jesus is finished configuring his machine. You have no idea what will happen when he’s done this process.)
The only enemies in this room are Jesus and his beast, a Chimera. This battle is a race against time between the party members and Jesus’ trickery and foresight. Whenever possible, Jesus will tinker with his machine out of sight, so that the party cannot attack him through physical means. The Chimera is primarily present to slow the party members down and keep them away from Jesus and his machine. Should the party break through the portcullis extremely quickly (Say, when Jesus still has four or more turns left to activate his machine), a wooden cage can be triggered to fall and trap the party as well (use a a slightly weaker version of the above portcullis). Jesus provokes an AoO when tinkering with his machine, and partial actions (only a move/standard action spent at the controls) will move the counter down by only one half instead of one. Jesus will try to not fight unless he is forced to, in which case he will focus on using defensive enchantments, in order to try and finish starting his machine up.
As mentioned earlier, there is an anti-magic field directly after the portcullis. It is uniquely shaped, in that it is not a sphere with a radius, but fits, as if a sheet, over the portcullis. This is essentially a DM storytelling anti-magic field, so effects that can normally not be affected by an anti-magic field might be cancelled, if you consider it useful enough to do so. Projectile attacks will still work, and once the party passes through the field, they will be able to use magic normally.
Jesus should act pretty crazy, to help support the whole “mad scientist” angle. For example, in my playthroughs of this adventure, I had him constantly yelling that he had planned for “EVERY EVENTUALITY!!!”, especially whenever the PCs were slowed in some regard. He will talk with the party, though he shouldn’t really reveal any specific details about himself or his machine.
Jesus’ Machine: Hardness 10, 50 HP
Chimera: Either the custom stunted version listed below, or the one in the SRD, depending on how well the party is doing.
Size/Type: Large Magical Beast
Hit Dice: 5d10+15 (43 hp)
Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares), fly 50 ft. (poor)
Armor Class: 16 (-1 size, +1 Dex, +6 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple: +9/+17
Attack: Bite +12 melee (2d6+4)
Full Attack: Bite +12 melee (1d8+4) and claw +10 melee (1d6+2)
Space/Reach: 10 ft./5 ft.
Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent
Saves: Fort +9, Ref +7, Will +6
Abilities: Str 19, Dex 13, Con 17, Int 4, Wis 13, Cha 10
Skills: Hide +1, Listen +9, Spot +9
Feats: Alertness, Hover, Iron Will, Multiattack
Long story short, the character sheet for Jesus was lost the first time I created it. Thankfully, The Dancing Banana made me a replacement sheet, which can be seen here. It’s up to the DM to give him scrolls and wands that you think would be a good match for your party. If you think that he might be too easy to dispose of, I suggest raising his level to 7 or 8 by yourself. If you do end up doing this, please give me a copy in some way, and I’ll be sure to note it here.
If Jesus is killed before activating the machine
Jesus slumps to the ground. His eyes rise to meet yours, and he sputters weakly, “fools…” before he takes his last breath. The moment seems to stretch out. The machine has fallen silent now, and the only sounds that can be heard are the scuffing of your boots against the ground. A sweet scent briefly wafts away from the machine, leaving its enticing scent lingering in your nostrils as it dissipates. You take your leave of the Chalet, and report back to Royam that you have completed your task. The celebrations that night are loud and long, yet somber, as no trace of the missing townspeople could be found. The next day, however, spirits are lifted in Siloportem, as the missing villagers begin trickling back into the town, down the winding pathways and into the loving embrace of relieved loved ones.
If Jesus is able to activate the machine
Jesus spends a moment that seems to stretch into minutes staring at the party, a triumphant grin spreading slowly across his face. The machine whirs and hums louder and louder, eventually reaching a crescendo. As the fervour of the machine reaches its peak, it stops suddenly, accompanied by a single ring of a bell, which pierces through the now silent room. A few seconds later, a tray extends from the machine. It is supporting a cylindrical object of unimposing height. As you approach the object, Jesus’ laughter begins to fill your ears as an enticing scent fills your nostrils. He reaches the tray before your party, and draws a knife from his belt. In a single, decisive slice, he halves the object, and a liquid oozes from its core. He continues to cut it into nearly triangular pieces, finally turning to the party, holding a single piece in his hands. “Perhaps now, you will understand…” He says as he raises his hand, and offers the piece to the nearest party member. The smell is almost an embodiment of ecstasy, and you cannot help but taste it. It is beyond anything you have ever experienced; it almost feels as if a wizard has cast a spell to drown your senses in pleasure. Breaking the silence, Jesus speaks one simple sentence: “I call it… pie.”
Ending Exposition – Valid after either ending
Eventually, the full story came to light. Jesus’ machine was indeed the source of the disturbance in Siloportem, but not nearly for the reason that everyone assumed. Jesus, ever an active inventor, had created a new type of confection which he called “pie.” The villagers who had disappeared weeks before recounted with pleasure that they had stayed behind of their own free will, wanting to help Jesus perfect his creation before unleashing it on the world. Knowing that there is no further danger to the people of Siloportem, your party takes its leave, wondering what, if anything, will come of the strange machine in the Clockwork Chalet.
There you have it. I apologize that this isn’t as original as it could be, but it exists to help tell a story in its entirety; one which I think you will all find delectable. I have not yet started writing the details of the next adventure, so the next one-shot update might take a while to come through.
SRD – System Resource Document
DMG – Dungeon Master’s Guide
MM(1-5) – Monster Manual (1-5)
DR(#) – Dragon Magazine (#)
Eb – Ebberon Campaign Setting