It’s time for part seven of the prison for dragons series! If you’ve been following these posts than you know that the dungeon I’m building in each entry is inspired by last month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme, “Unusual Dungeons,” which was chosen by Nils Jeppe of Enderra.
The dungeon I’m creating is a prison made to hold dragons built by aberrations. Here’s all the blog posts I’ve written about the subject so far.
- Part I – A general overview of dragon prisons
- Part II – The historical background and character hooks of a specific dragon prison, Shuzal
- Part III – A description of the area surrounding Shuzal and a table of random encounters
- Part IV – The surface level of Shuzal’s ruined entrance citadel
- Part V – The lower level of Shuzal’s ruined entrance citadel
- Part VI – The upper level of Shuzal prison
So now it’s time to tackle Part VII – The lower level of Shuzal.
In this post I’ll be showing off the final level of Shuzal. The lower levels of the prison hold undead and insane dragons digging their way out of prison, hoping to wreak havoc on the outside world.
Shuzal Prison Upper Level
Shuzal’s cell block holds a group of metallic dragons trying to escape from the prison. Kerrinalastraya, the silver dragon dracolich, leads the escape thanks to a huge drill she forged from magic weapons found in the prison’s vault. The magic which turned Kerrinalastraya into a dracolich has warped her mind and she cannot stand living things. She believes undeath is the next evolution of all intelligent beings.
Maxathaltros, Kerrinalastraya’s brother and one Shuzal’s prisoners, is still alive and abhors what his sister has become. She keeps him locked in his cell, hoping he will come around once her increased power allows them to escape Shuzal. She still loves her brother and wants him to join her in dracolichdom.
When Kerrinalastraya transformed as a side effect of Sepora’s tampering with the magic of Shuzal, she went to every cell in the prison and gave the dragons a choice – swear allegiance to her, gain freedom, and join her in dracolichdom once freed, or refuse and be killed and brought back as a zombie. Many joined her, but others refused and she has made good on her promises. Now the prison creeps with undead and insane dragons, desiring freedom above all, carrying Kerrinalastraya’s hatred for the living in their hearts.
Features of the Area
Illumination. The walls of Shuzal’s lower level gives off a soft blue glow which bathes the entire lower level in bright light.
Ceilings. Perfectly circular tunnels with a 20-foot diameter connect the nexus (D1) to the cells. The cells have a 50-foot-high ceiling and the nexus has a 100-foot-high ceiling, unless otherwise noted in an area’s description.
D1 – The Nexus
The walls of this entire complex are covered in a soft moss which gives off a blue light, giving all you survey a deep blue twinge, as if you were viewing it underwater. Halfway up the chamber that light mixes with the red light of the above world to create something almost akin to sunlight. Tunnels with perfectly carved 20-foot diameters travel off in many directions from this chamber.
Far down two separate hallways, Fearagaxal and Reganavia, a pair of young bronze dragons watch the adventurers. These two appear calm and collected at first, but their minds have been warped by their long imprisonment. They desire violence and crave the chance to hurt something living in the name of Kerrinsalastraya. One of them might approach the PCs from a safe distance to learn their intent in coming there, and then attack. The dragons are fanatically loyal to Kerrinsalastraya and try to leave at least one of the PCs alive to be questioned by her.
If either of the dragons is reduced to half its hit points, it retreats back to area D16 and warns Kerrinsalastraya of powerful intruders.
Net. A net of psychic energy can be created and dropped from the ceiling in the nexus by a creature attuned to the Shuzal monolith in area C9. The net covers the entire area of the room and drops from the highest point in the ceiling to the ground. Creatures in the room must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw. Creatures who fail take 44 (8d10) psychic damage and are restrained. A flying creature who fails this saving throw falls to the ground and is prone, taking any fall damage as normal. Creatures who fail take half damage and are not restrained.
The net remains on the ground as long as the creature who activated the net remains adjacent to the Shuzal monolith or until that creature uses its action to dismiss the net. Creatures restrained by the net can use their action to make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw followed by a DC 20 Strength saving throw to break free. The creature must succeed on both saving throws to free itself. A creature who moves more than half its speed over the ground where the net is must succeed on a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw or it takes 44 (8d10) psychic damage and is restrained.
D2 – Wyxilcotalises’s Cell Hall
Mixed with the blue light coming from the walls, a red light glows on the floor halfway down this hall.
The long hall to this cell contains a glyph which deals psychic damage to any non-aberration who reads it. The dragons know to avoid reading this glyph, which lets out a loud scream when activated. If the PCs read the glyph, Wyxilcotalises is prepared for them. Her initial instinct is to wait by the cell’s door and determine the PCs motives and capabilities. If she thinks they would be willing to help free her and kill Kerrinsalastraya, then she waits patiently for them, trying to appear non-threatening. If she thinks them incompetent or unwilling to negotiate, she strikes with her breath weapon as soon as they are in range.
Psychic Glyph Trap. Any PC who is within 20 feet of the 10-foot by 10-foot glyph in the middle of the hall and who can see it must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. A creature who fails takes 11 (2d10) psychic damage and on its turn must draw its most easily reached melee weapons and use its action to make a melee attack with advantage against itself. That creature must repeat the attack as its action on its turn for 1 minute as long as it is conscious and able to make attacks. That creature can repeat the saving throw on the end of its turn ending the effect if it succeeds. A creature who succeeds on the initial saving throw takes half damage and does not have to attack itself.
A creature who remains within 20 feet of the glyph after making a saving throw against its effects, must repeat this saving throw if it continues to look at the glyph.
A creature who knows the nature of the glyph is easily able to avoid looking at it. A character trained in Arcana can make a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check to determine the nature of the trap from afar by identifying the red glow coming from the trapped glyph.
D3 – Wyxilcotalises’s Cell
The smashed bars of this cell seem to be damaged from the outside in. The cell itself opens into a wide chamber with organized towers of metal scrap, mostly from the bodies of broken construct guardians, piled around the room. Amongst the scrap, a massive dragon with scales of brass sits breathing fire onto a pile of metal to meld it together while the beast works it with her claws.
Wyxilcotalises, an adult brass dragon, uses the scrap metal in her room to forge tools for Kerrinsalastraya’s escape plan. When the PCs enter she’s crafting a large container to hold the adamantine dust created by the massive drill to more easily transport it to area D13.
Metal piles. A creature can adjacent to a metal pile can use one of its attacks as part of the attack action to push it over onto another creature adjacent to the pile. The creature pushing the pile must make a Strength check contested by the target’s Dexterity check. If the creature pushing wins the contest, the target takes 11 (2d10) piercing and 11 (2d10) slashing damage and is knocked prone. If the target wins the contest, the target dodges the pile of falling metal and nothing happens. Either way the pile of metal cannot be knocked over again and the area where the pile was is now difficult terrain.
A creature can push a creature adjacent to a metal pile into the pile with a successful push attack. The target takes 11 (2d10) piercing damage and 11 (2d10) slashing damage and is knocked prone. The pile cannot be knocked over again and the area where the pile was is now difficult terrain.
Treasure. Amongst the piles there are 100 pounds of copper, 100 pounds of silver, and 40 pounds of gold. Each pound of material is worth 50 coins of its type. The pile of metal scraps in the far back of the room holds a radiant heart which requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot. The DC to spot the radiant heart is reduced to 15 if the pile is knocked over.
Wyxilcotalises. Wyxilcotalises has pledged her alliegance to Kerrinsalastraya, but mostly out of self-preservation and a desire to leave. The brass dragon believes the dracolich is insane, but would not dare contest the cell block’s defacto leader lest she be turned into a zombie. If she believes the PCs to be capable of killing Kerrinsalastraya and they agree to free her from the prison, she will aid them by giving them the radiant heart she found in the vault and hid in one of the piles of scraps and she’ll tell them the location of Kerrinsalastraya’s phylactery.
If Wyxilcotalises thinks the PCs aren’t capable of killing Kerrinsalastraya or they don’t agree to free her, she attacks them, attempting to keep at least one of them alive for questioning. If she’s on the fence about their capabilities, she will attack them as a test. If the dragon is reduced to half her hit points, she tries to bargain with the PCs for her life by telling them the location of Kerrinsalastraya’s phylactery.
Wyxilcotalises does not wish to face Kerrinsalastraya in combat and will not join the PCs in a direct attack on the dracolich. She wants to keep her options open in case the PCs fail.
D4 – The Zombification Lab Hall
When the PCs head down the hall, read:
This hall is masked in an orange haze which dances through the tunnel and glitters like fire.
The haze which covers this entire length of hall is mind-affecting poison Kerrinsalastraya activated long ago. The mists still remain because they do not bother the unbreathing undead inhabitants of Shuzal’s cell block and the few living inhabitants have learned to avoid this hall.
Mind-bending Mists. Any non-aberration, non-undead creature who enters or starts its turn in the mists must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 16 (3d10) poison damage and gain a random form of short-term madness.
A creature trained in Arcana or who has proficiency with a poisoner’s kit can make a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check to determine the nature of the trap. A creature holding its breath when navigating the mists has advantage on its saving throw. A strong wind dissipates the mists for 1 hour, after which time they return.
D5 – The Zombification Lab
The smashed cell door to this chamber does nothing to hold back the unpleasant odor coming from this room. Lumps of twisted steel bound together by the power of raw fire form a huge table in the middle of the room. Around the room, rotting dragon tails and limbs line the wall and a crystal in the ceiling pulses deep purple. The most obvious feature of the room are its guardians, of course. One massive undead gold dragon with torn flesh and exposed bone gives a low moans to two smaller undead gold dragons as you enter the chamber.
This cell used to be Kerrinsalastraya’s cell, which she transformed into a lab where she experiments with the bodies of her dragon victims. Sepora’s tampering with the aberrant magic of Shuzal warped the large crystal in the center of this chamber’s ceiling, which was designed to create an antimagic field in the cell in case a dragon got any ideas about spellcasting. The connection of the magic from the Shuzal monolith to the antimagic crystals was severed in one of Sepora’s experiments and this crystal absorbed a healthy dose of necrotic magic. That crystal turned Kerrinsalastraya into a dracolich and now serves as her phylactery.
One ancient dragon zombie and two young dragon zombies guard this room and attack any living creature who enters.
Dragon Body Parts. The dragon body parts in this room are mostly rotted through and through, however the tips of many of their claws remain intact. A creature proficient with smith’s tools can cut off the tips to make dragon bone arrows. These function as +1 arrows and there is enough bone material to make 50. It takes 1 hour to harvest all the material and 1 hour for the person crafting to make 10 arrows.
Kerrinsalastraya’s Phylactery. Any time a living creature enters this room, Kerrinsalastraya’s phylactery can sense its presence and location. If the zombies in the room attack, the crystal tries to defend its creations. At the end of a round of combat, the crystal casts bestow curse (save DC 18) on a random living target in the cell. The phylactery stops doing this once all the zombies in the room are dead.
Once per round as a reaction the phylactery can cast blight (save DC 18) on a creature which deals damage to it. The phylactery has AC 20, 100 hit points, and a damage threshold of 15.
If the phylactery is destroyed, all creatures within the room must make a DC 15 Reflex saving throw as the crystal explodes in a burst of necrotic energy. Creatures who fail take 44 (8d10) necrotic damage and 11 (2d10) piercing damage. Creatures who succeed take half damage.
Undead Rising. The crystal causes undead dragons to rise in a matter of days and affects non-dragon creatures in minutes. Any non-construct, non-dragon, non-undead creature who dies in this chamber rises as a zombie 1d4 rounds after it died.
D6 – The Vault Hall
The hall here is marred and marked, as if a creature with massive claws has scratched every surface.
Magic glyphs used to guard this hall. Slowly but surely they were scratched out by Kerrinsalastraya. She has put her own security measures in this hall leading to the old weapons vault. Eight wyrmling dragon zombies stand watch over the vault door at end of the hall which leads to the vault.
D7 – The Vault
Before the smashed, solid adamantine door multiple burn marks scar the floor, a sign that this entrance was once heavily trapped. Inside the massive vault seems empty.
Almost everything of value was taken from the vault to make Kerrinsalastraya’s massive drill. Yet, the adventurers could still find some things of use in the chamber, particularly a crystal embedded in the floor hidden by a pile of rubble.
Inventory Crystal. A successful DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check determines the piles rubble in this room was actually placed where it is by a creature because the pattern of dust suggests the rubble was swept from the place it fell into a pile. A successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check catches a glint of orange somewhere at the bottom of the pile.
The orange inventory crystal is embedded in the floor and it takes 1 hour of work for one creature to clear the area of rubble. For every creature that helps, the time is cut in half. So it takes 2 creatures 30 minutes, 3 creatures 15 minutes, etc.
A creature who touches the crystal and makes a successful DC 12 Intelligence (Arcana) check is telepathically given a list of the items which were in the room before the aberrations left Shuzal. Most of the list is low-level magic weapons (like +1 longswords), however the name of importance which comes up is Servitor.
Treasure. Amongst the rubble is a small pouch containing potions Kerrinsalastraya clearly did not care about. A successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the bag in the rubble which contains three potions of greater healing, two potions of flight, and three potions of firebreathing.
D8 – Collapsed Hall
This hall is blocked by a wall of adamantine rubble.
The hall here is blocked because Kerrinsalastraya intentionally triggered a falling ceiling trap the aberrations placed in the hall to shut Maxathaltros up. Their last meeting came about because Maxathaltros was filling the entire cell block of the prison with tremendous roars to annoy Kerrinsalastraya. His plan worked too well, for his sister tortured him to the point of near death and then set off the trap to seal off the sounds coming from her brother’s cell.
A successful DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check made near the wall allows a character to hear Maxathaltros’ renewed and now muffled screams of rage. A DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check allows a character to determine the pieces of rubble in the collapse are a little too perfectly shaped to be the result of a simple accident.
It takes 1 hour of work for one creature to clear the area of rubble. For every creature that helps, the time is cut in half. So it takes 2 creatures 30 minutes, 3 creatures 15 minutes, etc. If the rubble is cleared while Maxathaltros continues bellowing (instead of say, waiting for him to go to sleep), it could attract some attention. Four of the young dragon zombies come from area D10 to investigate.
D9 – Maxathaltros’ Cell
The locked cell door before you is the first you’ve seen intact. Thick bars run up and down and side to side to make up this cell door. Staring back at you with disbelief and wild eyes is a massive silver dragon who can’t seem to decide if he’s happy, confused, or terrified to see you. The dragon’s body is covered in wounds and its breathing is ragged and uneven.
Maxathaltros, the adult silver dragon, is the only dragon still held in a cell in Shuzal. He would rather die than join his sister in undeath and gain freedom. When the PCs arrive he hopes they could be his ticket out of Shuzal, but also fears they could just be his sister’s latest victims.
Cell Door. Maxathaltros’ cell has the only remaining intact door in the entire Shuzal cell block. The door is immune to all damage dealt to it from inside the cell. Outside the cell, the door is still tough, it is resistant to acid, cold, fire, lighting, and thunder damage and immune to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons. The adamantine door has AC 23 and 300 hit points. Long ago these doors were locked and unlocked by the Shuzal monolith in area C9, but Sepora’s tampering with the prison’s magic has severed that connection.
Maxathaltros. The silver dragon is in no condition to have a full on confrontation with his sister, nor does he desire to be the one to kill his kin. Still, he knows it must be done and implores the adventurers to do so. He explains that his sister’s mind has been warped and she is no longer the Kerrinsalastraya he knew before their imprisonment. He knows how bad it would be for the area around Shuzal if Kerrinsalastraya and her undead dragons managed to escaped. He tells the PCs that should they kill Kerrinsalastraya and then free him, he will lead them to his sister’s treasure hoard and let them take it all.
D10 – Wyrmling Cell Hall
Small cell doors lie in ruins all over this hall. A series of smaller cells line the halls here.
This is where the aberrations would keep any wyrmling dragons captured in battle, usually to be ransomed back to their parents for information or concessions. Kerrinsalastraya broke into the cells here and turned all the captives into zombies.
Each of the four cells at the end of the hall hold a young dragon zombie. The four zombies come out into the hall and attack as soon as they hear any creatures coming down the hall they don’t recognize.
Ceiling. The ceiling of the tiny cells here is only 10 feet high.
Kerrinsalastraya’s Scroll Stock. A cell at the end of the hall holds a small chest built into the floor. This was once a miniature vault. If Kerrinsalastraya finds herself in a situation where she might need to take refuge because the aberrations return in full force or powerful intruders try to take Shuzal back from her she is prepared. She can retreat to this hall and grab her collection of scrolls looted from the vaults.
The adamantine (AC 23, 100 HP) chest is locked. The lock can be picked with a successful DC 15 Dexterity check made with thieves’ tools. Note that a flame jet trap is built into the floor in front of the chest.
Inside the chest is one scroll of wall of stone, one scroll of antimagic field, one scroll of hold monster, and two scrolls of delayed blast fireball. The spell saving throw DC for these spells is 15.
Flame Jet Trap. The trap is triggered by a hidden pressure plate directly in front of the chest. Any weight of more than 20 pounds placed on the pressure plate triggers the trap. The pressure plate can be spotted with a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check and the nozzle can be spotted with a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. A character studying the area can determine the pressure plate is a slightly different color than the rest of the floor with a DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check. Wedging an iron spike or other object under the pressure plate prevents the trap from activating.
A creature who steps on the pressure plate must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to avoid the sudden burst of flame which rises up from the floor. A creature who fails takes 22 (4d10) fire damage. A creature who succeeds takes half damage.
D11 – Young Dragon Cell Hall
Smashed cell doors line this hall. It seems that this hall held cells for dragons larger than wyrmlings, but not much bigger than horses. A strange, soft lullaby melody comes from somewhere within the hall.
After liberating the young dragons from this hall, Kerrinsalastraya has avoided this hall because of the music box trap.
Malicious Music Box.This self-operating music box is hidden within a panel in the ceiling at the center of the hall and plays hauntingly enchanting music. Any creature within 40 feet of the music box who can hear it must make a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw at the start of its turn. A creature who fails falls prone and must use its action to engage in a violent dance, throwing itself against the floor repeatedly, dealing 11 (2d10) bludgeoning damage to itself. The creature cannot move from the space it occupies under its own power and is under this effect until it can no longer hear the music box. On a successful save the creature is immune to the effects of the malicious music box for 24 hours.
The secret panel holding the music box is expertly crafted and requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot, though a character can pinpoint where the sound is coming from with a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. The ceiling is 20 feet high in the hall tunnel.
The music box is made of a magically treated wood and much tougher than it looks. It has AC 21 and 100 hit points.
Treasure. One of the young gold dragons Kerrinsalastraya murdered and turned into a zombie has managed to smuggle some pearls into Shuzal through its stomach (gold dragons love to eat gems and precious stones). In the cell at the end of the hall, there is a small hole (DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot) the dragon carved into the adamantine slowly with its claws where it deposited the pearls and was rationing them as treats. There are still 18 pearls worth 100 gp each in the small hole.
D12 – Collapsed Hall
This entire hall collapsed when one of the dragon zombies set off a massive trap. It used to lead to a cell that was the home an ancient gold dragon, whose corpse now guards Kerrinsalastraya’s phylactery.
D13 – Druggulolo’s Cell Hall
A large shadow looms at the end of this hall. You can see a hulking zombie dragon, its silver skin hanging off as it patrols the hall.
The tight quarters make the fight with this adult dragon zombie brutal, as it blocks the hall with its form, using its bulk to stop adventurers from getting to the door and breathing necrotic breath as often as possible. A fight in the hall alerts Druggulolo the PCs are coming, who happily flies as high as he can and prepares a breath weapon.
D14 – Druggulolo’s Cell
The floor in this room is covered in waist-deep adamantine dust. Flying above is a cackling, gleeful dragon. Its scales shine with the greenish tint of copper coins. “Finally. Something to kill! Something to eat!” Drool falls from the dragon’s mouth into the pile of adamantine grit.
Druggulolo, an adult copper dragon, is one of the more fanatical and certainly the most insane followers of Kerrinsalastraya. He desires to be let free so he can unleash his fury upon his former tiefling allies who never came to free him. He misses the taste of food so the chance to eat some adventurers before turning into a dracolich is very appealing to him.
Adamantine Dust. The cell floor is covered in adamantine dust from Kerrinsalastraya’s drilling operation. She leaves it in Druggulolo’s cell since he doesn’t seem to mind. The dust counts as difficult terrain. Medium and smaller creatures have the potential to sink into the dust. When such a creature ends its turn on the dust without moving from the spot where it started its turn, that creature is restrained. As an action a restrained creature can attempt to free itself and end the restrained condition with a DC 12 Strength saving throw.
D15 – Kerrinsalastraya’s Chamber Hall
The long hall here is eerily quiet at first. As you travel further down it you can here a whirring noise coming from the end of the hall.
Kerrinsalastraya is in this cell, which used to belong to the adult silver dragon guarding Druggulolo. She spends most of her time in this chamber working the drill, which is the noise the characters hear.
D16 – Kerrinsalastraya’s Chamber
A massive dragon made of bone and silver scales turns glowing red eyes toward you as you enter the chamber. Its massive head seems twisted in some sort of sick smile. Behind the dracolich a large pole extends from the ground into a massive hole in the ceiling. The dragon let’s loose a mighty roar. “You will not stop me. The hour of our escape is near. The world will learn – undeath is the future.”
Kerrinsalastraya is hellbent on getting out of Shuzal. Her drill is close to the surface and so she fights until the bitter end (especially if her phylactery is intact). She is arrogant and believes fully in her mission to turn the world into an undead paradise.
Earthquake. Kerrinsalastraya’s drilling has caused the magic of the demiplane to be unstable in the cell. At the end of each round, roll a d10. On a roll of 1-3 an earthquake occurs. Every creature standing on the ground must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
Kerrinsalastraya’s Drill. Kerrinsalastraya’s drill in this chamber is operated by any creature attuned to the object. To become attuned to the drill a creature must spend one hour touching the drill and communing with the magical energies of the former weapons now melded together.
A creature attuned to the drill can make the drill extend upwards or downwards at a rate of 20 feet per round. The drill’s maximum height is 100 feet and its minimum height it 10 feet. When the drill hits adamantine it begins to drill through it at a rate of 1 inch per day. At the start of the adventure, Kerrinsalastraya’s hole is 30 inches from the surface or Shuzal. Except for Servitor, all the weapons used to craft the drill are now useless. The drill is 10 feet around and weighs 10,000 pounds.
Servitor. The tip of Kerrinsalastraya’s drill is made with the artifact Servitor. It can be pulled from the top of the drill with a successful DC 20 Strength check.
…I’ll show off the unique creatures in this adventure.
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