Before starting the adventure, each player should have the Players Handbook, a set of dice, and his or her character. Unearthed Arcana will also be helpful for the players, not only for new spells and classes, but for understanding some of the beings and encounters in this adventure. The DM should have his copy of the Dungeon Masters Guide, and Monster Manual. The Fiend Folio Tome and Monster Manual II will prove valuable as well for full descriptions of some of the monsters the players will encounter. If the DM desires to expand the realms of the underearth beyond the scope presented in this text, the Dungeoneer’s Survival Guide is highly recommended.
For ease of play, the adventure is divided into parts with each part lasting about an evening of adventuring (some evenings may entail covering two parts, while some, like the parts involving challenging Lolth on her home plane, may take several evenings to play). The DM should carefully read the part (or two) to be covered in that evening, highlighting or marking any sections in the text to serve as reminders of specific details of encounters.
Refereeing the Adventure
The ultimate success of this adventure in your campaign rests upon you, the DM. It is your skill and knowledge, not only of the adventure and the AD&D™ rule system, but of your players as well, that determine how enjoyable your games with this adventure are. There is no “right” way to run any encounter. There is only your way of running encounters. You may add or delete from the story as you see fit. What is contained within is only a skeleton; it is your input that makes it a worthwhile adventure.
The adventure begins with getting the characters to Sterich, where strange doings are afoot. If the characters in your campaign have played through A 1 – 4, begin play with the Prologue Section that follows. Characters gathered together for this adventure begin on the borders of Sterich in the Introduction.
Upon discovering malign forces afoot in the nations bordering the Crystalmist Mountains, the players are directed to the first of their staging bases, the Steading of the Hill Giants. What the characters find there leads deeper into the mountains to the south, to the Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl (Part 3), and finally to the Halls of the Fire Giant King (Part 4).
Deep in the bowels of the Fire Giants’ halls, the players should discover something of the nature of the creatures that have urged the giants to attack human lands — the drow. The drow are known to most of humanity, at least by legend, but an organized force that is powerful enough to manipulate the giants into war with mankind is unheard of!
The trail of the drow leads deep within the earth, through the realms of other evil creatures unseen by mortal eyes for centuries, terminating finally in the Vaults of the Drow, and the city of Erelhei-Cinlu, where the dark elves rule.
Yet the trail does not end there, but leads off the Prime Material Plane entirely, for the truly malevolent force behind the ills of Sterich is the Demonic Queen of Spiders, Lolth! Only by confronting her will the PCs be able to free the land of her dread curse.
As can be seen, the adventure begins simply and quickly snowballs into an epic adventure where the fate of the world may rest firmly in the hands of the PCs. This is the nature of the adventure, that as one foe falls before flashing swords and flaming spells, another is discerned behind it, one more powerful than the first, which must in turn be defeated.
This adventure is designed for use with the World of Greyhawk’ Fantasy setting. It may be adapted for use in your own campaign either by locating it in a similar area in your own game world (another mountain-bordering state suddenly beset by gigantic invaders and demonic citadel-stealing would be ideal), or by a gate or teleport that places the adventurers on the borders of Sterich as all the Abyss breaks loose, and the only way home is through the lair of the Queen of the Spiders.
Finally, the demoness’ statistics and abilities, though they have appeared elsewhere, are summarized in Appendix 1 for use with this adventure. Appendix 2 contains a complete list of new magical items that appear in this series. Appendix 3 summarizes further adventures in the maze-like realm beneath the Hellfurnaces, and Appendix 4 suggests further adventures for the Demonweb Pits.
The statistics for all creatures encountered are collected for your easy reference. The complex details of the drow, kuo-toa, svirfneblin, and other-planar creatures (demons and daemons) are collected in Appendix 3. Study these (especially the drow) before you begin the adventure; many of the details will be needed regularly.
The less complex details for all other creatures are summarized in the map booklet, in a central section. When you start any part of the adventure, remove the campaign maps and collected creature statistics from the map booklet, and keep them handy; they will be needed for every encounter.
Most creatures have valuables of some sort. Whenever gems are noted, the base values are given in the text.
Use standard procedures to check for variance, rolling 1d10 for each gem (or for lots of 5 or 10 gems, as you choose), applying the following results:
|1||Increase to next higher value, and roll again using 1d8. No stone may increase more than 7 times.|
|2||Double value: do not roll again.|
|3||10%-60% (1d6) greater value; do not roll again.|
|4 – 8||No change.|
|9||10 – 40% (1d4) less value; do not roll again.|
|10||Decrease to next lower value, and roll again using 1d8+2\. No stone may decrease more than 5 times.|
Gem Value Categories
|1,000,000 gp||10,000 gp||10 gp|
|500,000 gp||5,000 gp||5 gp|
|250,000 gp||1,000 gp||1 gp|
|100,000 gp||500 gp||10 sp|
|50,000 gp||100 gp||5 sp|
|25,000 gp||50 gp||1 sp|
The Schemes of the Drow
There dwells a race deep within the recesses of the earth, a race that shuns the light of day and worship fell beings such as spider-demon Lolth. This is the race of the dark elves, also called the drow.
This adventure revolves around the machinations and plots of the largest drow community in the Crystalmist Mountains, the city of Erelhei-Cinlu. This great drow city, the hugest of its type, is located in the beneath the Hellfurnaces, but the plots spun within its walls threaten to draw in all the overworld nations and their peoples.
In Erelhei-Cinlu, the chaotic drow have a semblance of order in that they are ruled by eight great noble families who preside over 16 merchant clans. The city maintains male and female fighting societies to keep rivalries between families and clans in check. A separate clerical organization, worshipping the spider-demoness Lolth, maintains a loose control over all of the above.
Such has been the way things have been in Erelhei-Cinlu for centuries. The drow clergy have encouraged the worship of the spider-demoness Lolth, and the demoness gained great power in this plane as a result.
Recently, however, there has been a split in the noble families of Erelhei-Cinlu. Two noble families, House Eilserv and the lesser House Tormtor, have sought to extend their power over the surface world through actively encouraging evil agents in the lands above. It is house Eilserv that provided the support for the slave-lords of the Pomarj, and have been rallying the giants of the Crystalmist Mountains to raid the human lands.
This sudden increase in activity (with the equal increase in power for the houses involved), brought those two houses into conflict with the other noble houses of the vault. The other six houses felt that Eilserv and Tormtor were acting in an unseemly fashion and appealed to the clerical followers of Lolth. The priests attempted to bring Eilserv and its ally back into line, but the houses (led by Eilserv’s ruler Eclavdra) pulled away from the worship of Lolth entirely, instead offering their veneration to a nameless Elder Elemental God, and encouraging his worship among their servants in the surface world.
The situation among the drow houses is critical. The other nobles are as yet unwilling to strike against the rebel houses in the open, but an uneasy peace exists. Both factions maintain an uneasy truce in the subterranean city of Erelhei-Cinlu, but each side is watching the other. The Merchant clans continue their trade in the underground depths, each relying on a noble house for protection. Only the existence of the fighting societies prevents open warfare.
While the Noble houses of the dark elves feud, the demoness Lolth spins her own webs. She has been growing in power over the years, despite the defection of Eclavdra and her ilk. Using the power she has gained, she is ready to make her next step: the invasion of a world!
Lolth draws worlds into her web, worlds to be conquered. She intends to add the World of Greyhawk to her collection.
Lolth controls one of the 666 layers of the Abyss, and uses her power as ruler of that realm to attack realms in the Prime Material Plane. She has many under her sway already, and is attempting to subdue others through her servants on those plains. Her next target is the Oerth, home of the player characters. She intends to suck the dimension in, a bit at a time, and place it within her realm. Once she has done this, she will crush the population and enslave them to her will.
The drow are unaware of Lolth’s exact plans, only that she has great interest in Oerth. Eclavdra, leader of House Eilserv, is concerned that any plan by Lolth will reduce her own temporal power, and so is encouraging the giants to step up their attacks on the lands of the Yeomanry and Sterich.
Lolth, in her own way, sees Eclavdra’s forces as softening up the area for her main attack. She does not, however, wish Eclavdra to become truly powerful on the planet she is about to conquer, nor does she wish houses Eilserv and Tormtor to become the supreme ruling houses in her new world.
This is how the player characters first come to Lolth’s attention. The demoness is aware that a band of hearty adventurers has already foiled one of Eclavdra’s plots in the Pomarj, such that Eclavdra has approved the removal of these characters. Lolth sees these characters as a potential threat to her own plans, and so is setting one against the other. If Eclavdra’s agents slay the characters, they will be out of position when she begins her operation. If the PCs defeat the agents, Lolth will arrange to send the players after Eclavdra’s giant allies, so as to weaken Eilserv and Tormtor and reward the loyal houses of Erelhei-Cinlu. If the player characters defeat Eclavdra and discover the demoness’ own hand in the matter, Lolth “rewards” the characters by permitting them to come into her web and die at her hands.
Each side sees the player characters as a resource, a cat’s-paw to be used against a rival without risking their own hides. Neither side considers the player characters to be a true threat to their plans, and this may result in the overturn of all their schemes.
The Factions of Erelhei-Cinlu
The following information is an overview of the drow society for the Judge. In general, the drow are untrustworthy toward non-drow, and will band together against a common threat. This material is represented in the section on the Vault of the Drow, and is included here so the DM is not confused by the early appearance of letters from Eclavdra, and brooches bearing the motto Despana.
Worshippers of Lolth
- House Kilsek
- Clan Hook (Allied with Puffball)
- Clan Puffball (Allied with Hook, Gem)
- House Despana
- Clan Gem (Allied with Puffball, Fungi)
- Clan Shelf Fungi (Allied with Gem)
- House Noquar
- Clan Mushrooms (Lozenge, Crescent)
- Clan Horsetail (Lozenge)
- House Everhate
- Clan Lozenge (Mushroom, Horsetail, Crescent)
- House Godeep
- Clan Morel (Crescent)
- House Aleval
- Clan Crescent (Morel, Mushrooms, Lozenge)
Worshippers of the Elder Elemental God
- House Eilserv (Eclavdra)
- Clan Coiled Whip (Prism)
- Clan Bars (Bone)
- Clan Bone (Bar)
- House Tormtor
- Clan Chain (Prism)
- Clan Prism (Chain, Coiled Whip)
There are two outstanding merchant clans. Clan Urn is neutral to all other houses and clans. Clan Star is similar, but favors Eilserv.
Most NPC drow encountered are Chaotic Evil in the extreme. They are cruel, corrupt, and contemptuous of “lesser” races. All others exist to serve them in attaining their particular goal, primarily, and secondarily, the goals of the drow as a people. They have seen the benefits of banding together, and will not betray their people for a handful of coins, though they agree to help if it help advances their own schemes. Afterward, of course, their non-drow allies may be fed to the spiders while they laugh and applaud. Drow are always looking for their “angle,” and how they can benefit to the greatest degree in any particular situation.
Darkness over Sterich
Read the following to new characters starting this adventure, or to characters who have played the Prologue and have reached the eastern borders of Sterich.
Your party crosses the last of the low hillocks, and you see spread before you the wide, muddy flow of the Javan River, the longest in this part of the world. The normally rich banks are crowded with a city of dirty tents and hastily-built shelters, as if an entire city had decided to go adventuring. A similar collection of muddy colors dots the far shore. Between the shores is a steady line of rafts and small craft, hauling people from the far side to the near.
The tents are refugees from Istivin and from the more remote towns that have been plagued by giant raids. The people have fled with all they could easily carry, though some of that has been taken by the ferrymen as the cost of transport to Keoland and safety. As a vassal state of Keoland, those who are able to flee are doing so.
Should the PCs inquire among the refugees about the reasons for flight, they get various responses. Those from the areas bordering the mountains tell of raids by huge giants, hill, frost, and others, wielding great powers and in alliance with evil troops and powerful monsters. Those from Istivin tell a different story; the Earl’s citadel has fallen under an evil curse, a blackness that threatens to eat the world.
The PCs’ questions are interrupted by a rider bearing a shield with the image of a black lion on red, the symbol of the royal house of Keoland. The rider asks the PCs if they are adventurers, but regardless of the answer, he unrolls a scroll and reads the following:
“To all who hear this proclamation who are good and strong fighters, mighty and knowledgeable wizards, proverbially wise sages and clerics, masterly thieves who use their abilities in the service of goodness and justice, heed the words of the His peerless Majesty, Kimbertos Skotti, King of Keoland, Lord of the Gran March, Plar of Sterich, and Protector of the South, through this humble spokesman.
“The land of Sterich has been placed in dire danger that exceeds the abilities of ordinary levies and mercenary troops to contain. Foul witcheries and great malign magicks have conspired to destroy this noble state. It is therefore my wish and thus my will that all such goodly men and women and those of demi-human standing hie with all due haste to Istivin to aid in the repelling of this great danger.
“Those who choose to come to the aid of this land in its time of need shall be rewarded with the treasure of the creatures they defeat, without tax or surcharge by the crown. Those who choose to abandon this land in its time of need, or to flee or aid the forces of darkness, will be cursed in the eyes of the kingdom, and held as traitors.
“By my hand, my wish and will and with the stamp of the signet ring that is the seal of my power…
Kimbertos Skotti, King of Keoland. Lord of the Gran March, Plar of Sterich and Protector of the South.”
The call of a nation in danger (and the chance for easy money without having to worry about giving some of it to the crown) should intrigue the characters to move toward Istivin, even if the clues of the slave lord in the Prologue did not point that way earlier. Adventure (and a little cash on the side) awaits!
Those characters from the Prologue who wish to follow the trail of the slave lord’s accomplice in Flen find the following. The Inn at which the accomplice was supposed to be staying is boarded up and empty. Those in the area tell tales of dark shadows moving through the night, and hideous inhuman screams, but no one living (nor any body or evidence of a fight) was found the next morning.
Random Encounters in Sterich
Use the following encounter key for random encounters in Sterich, both on the way to Istivin and when traveling to or from the Jotens. Check for encounters once every eight game hours. If all three special encounters have been used, re-roll any result of 87 or above.
|01 – 05||Dwarves, mountain (11−20)|
|06 – 10||Giant, fire (1) with bugbears|
|11 – 20||Giants, hill (1−4)|
|21 – 25||Patrol, Keoland|
|26 – 35||Patrol, Sterich|
|36 – 40||Patrol, false|
|41 – 45||Raiders, goblins (10−80)|
|46 – 50||Raiders, hobgoblins (10−80)|
|51 – 60||Raiders, human bandits (10−80)|
|61 – 65||Raiders, ogres (10−80)|
|66 – 70||Raiders, orcs (10−80)|
|71||Raiders, trolls (1−4)|
|72 – 86||Refugees (10−60)|
|87 – 00||Special encounter|
- Dwarves, mountain: This hardy race is taking a bartering in their mountain homes by the onslaught of the giants and their allies. They are found acting as additional support in Sterich to maintain the peace, transporting valuable items (either for trade or to safety), or looking for non-human raiding parties. There is a 4 in 10 chance that someone in a given band of dwarves knows the location of the origin of these giant raids (Part 2).
- Hill Giants: This is a raiding party from the steading of the hill giant chief (Part 2). There is a 10% chance that one has a map locating the steading, so they can find their way back later.
- Fire giant with bugbears: This is another raiding party under the giants’ controls. The fire giant, one Garoof by name (hp 65), has been assigned the task of reporting back success to his King through the hill giant chief. If interrogated, Garoof may admit that the main headquarters for controlling the raiders is in the hill giant’s steading (which is a lie, but there is no love lost between the tribes of giantkind).
- Patrol, Keoland: This group of 26 – 33 soldiers (see following details) is mounted on light horse, and equipped with lance, javelin and longsword. They bear the shield device of Keoland, the black lion on red.
These troops have been sent across the Javan to help the Sterich natives keep order, hunt down bands of non-human raiders, and be a mobile strike force to react to specific raids. Their base is in Istivin, and they are aware of the situation there (q. v.). The patrolmen from Keoland resent being sent from their relatively secure patrols into this hill country that is leaderless and overrun with foul creatures and greedy adventurers. They have instructions to allow human adventurers to head toward Istivin and not to molest them, but they ask for the destination of all other groups.
Each is on a light horse (HD 2; MV 24”) and armed with lance (Dmg 1 – 6, ranges 1” / 2” /3”), 4 javelins (Dmg 1 – 6, ranges 2” /4” / 6”) and a longsword (Dmg 1 – 8).
- 1 Officer (Level 5; AC 4; hp 30)
- 2 Subalterns (Level 3; AC 4; hp 18 each)
- 6 Sergeants (Level 2, AC 5; hp 12 each)
- 17 – 24 Regulars (Level 0: AC 5: hp 6 each)
- Patrol, Sterich: These patrolmen are on foot, recruited from the local area. They bear the shield device of Sterich, the black and red lion on red and black shield. They try to stop everyone they meet and ask of their business in the area. They do not harass any adventurers heading toward Istivin, but ask for papers and identification of those that seem to be departing. They are always polite, though strongly suspicious of strangers.
Each is armed with dagger (Dmg 1 – 4) and longsword (Dmg 1 – 8), and leader types have missile weapons as well.
- 1 Captain (Level 7; AC 4; hp 42)
- 2 Lieutenants (Level 4; AC 4; hp 24 each)
- 4 Sergeants (Level 3; AC 5; hp 18 each)
- 8 Veterans (Level 2; AC 5; hp 10 each)
- 41 – 50 Levies (Level 0; AC 7; hp 3 each)
- Patrol, false: These are human raiders (bandits) that have defeated a patrol and taken its guise. Refer to the type of patrol (either) for numbers, colors, and equipment, though only one of the group is a leader, commanding first-level bandit troops. If they encounter a superior force, the false patrolmen try to bluff their way through, but the PCs may notice discrepancies —ill-fitting uniforms or lack of decorum.
- Raiders: None of these independent raiding groups is directly associated with the giants. An agent of the giants has traveled and spread word that the pickings are easy in Sterich, and humanity will be in flight therein. These groups are merely drawn in like vultures to a fresh kill. They know nothing of the location of the hill giant’s headquarters.
Use standard details for all raiding monsters.
- Refugees: These are 10 – 60 unarmed zero-level humans, either fleeing their farms for fear of the giants or fleeing Istivin in fear of the dark sorceries.
- Special Encounters: Choose one of the following, as seems most appropriate. When all three have been used, re-roll all random encounter result of 87 or more.
The Special encounters are Big Johann, Trap-door Giants, and Stone Giants Return.
1. Big Johann
This special encounter should occur just as night begins to fall. The characters see in the distance a small town, a comfortable place to spend the evening and more inviting than the cold ground.
To the villagers it is obvious that the PCs are important and powerful adventurers. Normally their arrival would be a point of interest, but here the characters are greeted with fearful looks and sullen glowers. No one approaches them or talks cheerfully to them. Women protectively hustle their children away from them. Men stop their work and stare at the player characters as they pass.
The characters have no trouble finding the village inn; it is a bright and gaudy place. Outside, in the shade of an old elm, a group of rough-looking men drink and bowl. Several ne’er-do-wells lounge on the benches scattered about the yard. Inside, the inn is lively and gay. A sassy serving wench whisks through the tables, countering indelicate compliments and suggestions with biting wit. A game of bones is played at one table with furious zeal. The innkeeper has just finished tapping another barrel of ale when the characters enter. The common room quiets for a second as the crowd surveys the new arrivals, and then falls back into its noisy habits.
The party can find a table without any trouble. Surveying the room, they see a typical collection of villagers, with a few apparent hard cases here and there. Still, things don’t seem unusual, especially considering that an honest working day has just ended.
While the PCs are getting settled, a small scene erupts at an adjacent table. A rough-looking fellow, none too handsome and a bit done in for drink, is getting a little too forward with the serving wench. She makes it clear with a slap across his face that she wants nothing to do with him, but he only gets meaner and more demanding. This is obviously not the way a gentleman should treat a lady! And no one in the place is doing anything. All the other customers make pained efforts not to notice what is happening.
Ife none of the PCs decide to step in, the drunk trips while getting up to chase the lady. Jumping up, he glares at the party, furious, and loudly blames them for his accident. On the other hand, if anyone does the chivalrous thing, the cad is easily faced down.
Though tough-looking, he is craven and gutless, the type who considers a quick stab from behind a fair fight. Any strong-looking character who acts tough and isn’t bluffed by the drunken bully’s words can get him to show his true colors. Muttering imprecations and unfinished threats, he slinks out of the inn. During the confrontation, the entire inn falls silent, except for the clink of the innkeeper’s cups. Everyone pretends not to notice what is going on while watching the scene out of the corners of their eyes. When it is all over, there is a strained attempt to regain the gaiety and cheer of the inn. However, it is never quite the same. A strained forced edge creeps into everything.
But there is at least one person who has not forgotten the gallantry of the player characters. The serving wench, having slid away during the confrontation, returns to the table with a bottle of wine for her rescuers. “This one is on me, good sirs, though I fear your kindness will here be poorly repaid”. With that she pours drinks for the group.
If the PCs choose to ignore the whole event, she stares at them, mystified. Finally she speaks. “Sirs, you do not understand, do you? You’re not leaving town. I appreciate what you have done, but you have earned no friends here. They,” she says with a nod toward the others, “they would just as soon you let me alone. Look at them; they’re all scared out of their wits. You stood up to Albere, one of Big Johann’s band. You can bet that he is going to come back.”
A man at a nearby table leans over and says, “Indeed, it is so. You, meddling strangers, have more than likely doomed us all. When Big Johann and his men hear what has happened, they’ll come for their revenge! And they’ll take it out on us!” By now you can hear voices of bitterness and discontent throughout the inn. To the minds of the locals the outcome is certain. Big Johann (apparently some local bandit or warlord) and his men are going to return and punish the town. And it is all the fault of the player characters. They even heat outcries that the townspeople turn the party over to these villains and possibly avoid any retaliation! In no time at all the word is out all over town.
If the characters wish, they can take the cad’s choice and leave town. None of the townspeople try to stop them, although they are pelted with some garbage and a few stones. The townspeople are more than happy to inform on the group, hoping to divert the wrath of Big Johann. Otherwise, the PCs can own up to their actions and await his arrival. It should be very clear to the characters that they are not going to get any shelter or assistance from the townsfolk. The only person who has the slightest feeling for them is the wench they rescued.
An hour after Albert leaves town, Big Johann arrives. With him are Albere and the rest of his men. In a booming voice Big Johann announces himself — a frost giant riding on the back of a wooly mastodon! With him are an assortment of other giants and creatures, his “men.” They make no secret that they intend to smash this town and the player characters flat. It is up to the party to stop them!
Big Johann carries a giant-sized axe and a saddlebag containing three boulders for tossing. Johann swears fealty to the Frost Giant Jarl in Chapter 4, but has never visited that leader’s glacial home nor does he know its exact location.
Big Johann [Frost Giant]
Ogres “Big Johann’s Boys” 
Albere [6th Level Fighter]
2. Trap Door Giants
This encounter should occur any time the player characters are traveling through open plains, either in the wilderness or on the edge of farming lands.
The party is riding through the middle of a grassy plain, past what may be natural formations or perhaps ruins even older than antiquity. Dotted throughout the tall weeds are rings of large stones. Nature and accident may account for them, but they might also be the foundations of some ancient primitive village.
When the characters are in the midst of this area, have the party roll for surprise with a –1 penalty. Suddenly, five huge trap doors fly open in the area around the party. Rising up out of each is a hill giant with a massive club. They waste no time in attempting to pound the player characters.
These giants, while not brilliant, have cleverly devised this trap to ambush travelers and caravans. Each has dug a pit deep enough to conceal himself comfortably. They watch the trail through small peepholes. If three or more of the giants are slain, the survivors scramble out of their pits and flee.
Stacked in huge bags in the bottom of the various pits are 7,000 sp, 2,000 ep, a sword + 1, and 24 light quarrels + 1.
Encounter: Hill Giants 
3. The Stone Giants Return
This encounter can occur in any deserted or sparsely populated area. If the PCs have played adventure A 1 – 4, they have met the stone giants once before. If they have done so, take pains to ensure that the party does not rush out and slaughter everything in sight before talking.
As the PCs top a rise, they can make out a band of figures marching in the distance. Though they are far off, the figures are clear and distinct. Solemn and perhaps even grim, they march across the landscape. Several are pulling handcarts and most have bags and packs. They seem to be headed in the party’s general direction.
This group is a band of stone giants, leaving their ancient homeland for distant lands. If the characters approach them, the giants halt while still some distance away. The band of 17 includes females and children, most carrying huge packs or bags slung over their shoulders. Several are pulling gigantic carts with wheels taller than a man. These are piled high with their goods.
The leader of the giants comes forward under a flag of peace. He wishes to parley with the player characters. If this is agreeable, he sits in the middle of the field and talks. He looks tired and haggard and his speech is slow as he carefully picks out his words in common. “Greetings, little folk,” he rumbles. “I am Thane Ogier of the Stone Folk, once of the lands of the Oberulsprulheim, or that which you call the Crystalmist. Who might you be?”
Upon hearing the names of the player characters, the giant will recognize them (if they have adventured in A 1 – 4), having heard their names “through the stones.” He explains that his band is leaving the Crystalmist. “The stones say that evil times are coming. Our lesser brothers burn and destroy the lands of the Little Folk. And behind them there are darker energies. Their power we can feel in the rocks. It is time for you, Little Folk, to arise.” Beyond this he will say nothing more.
If the player characters offer any gift or show any particular kindness to the stone giant, he gives them a gift in return. Going to his band, he returns with a round of cheese the size of a wagon wheel. Made from the milk of the mountain sheep, it is of exceptional quality and rarity. While not magical, it is quite nourishing. A single wedge will serve to adequately sustain a man through the most trying of activities.
If attacked, the giants use their loaded wains as boulders.
Encounter: Stone Giants 
As the characters approach Istivin, they feel like they are walking into an approaching storm. An electric tingle causes the hairs to rise of the backs of their necks, and the very air tastes sharp and acrid.
The PCs see what has happened to Istivin from several miles away. Where the towers of the Earl’s citadel should rise, there is instead a large, ebony sphere, as if a god had taken the city and left in its place a huge black pearl. As the characters approach, they see that the hemisphere cuts through the city around the citadel like a knife, and buildings are literally cut in two by the perimeter of the black bubble.
About a half mile from the city, the party encounters a Keolandish patrol (see details above). The leader of this group says that the area is under the King’s protection and no looters or trespassers are permitted without express consent of the King’s Agent. Further, any adventurers seeking to aid in repelling the evil that has befallen the area should report to the King’s Agent.
The King’s Agent can be found in his temporary headquarters at the Manor of Algorthas the seer. This agent is Lashton, a 15th level wizard who has been entrusted to oversee the situation, in particular the strange bubble that has swallowed the city. Lashton is eager to prove his worth to his lord, in hopes of receiving a grant of land from his Majesty. He is also interested in attaining for himself the credit for the rescue of Istivin, and to that end normally assigns newly arriving adventurers tasks of lesser importance (and lesser status). Lashton is not an evil man, but an unwitting ally of evil in that his attempts at personal advancement only play into the hands of the evil powers that threaten the land. When portraying Lashton, present the image of a petty bureaucrat more interested in the proper forms being filled out and in personal status than in doing anything about the problem at hand.
The King of Keoland is aware of his agent’s shortcomings, and to that end has assigned the Prefect Randos as an aid. Randos is a stocky cleric who tries to moderate his lord’s actions and more foolish orders and, just in case, has been given a scroll with three resurrection spells, just in case.
The characters are ushered into Lashton’s chambers, which are filled with ornate pieces of art and other objects “rescued” from the city. Lashton is there with Randos and Algorthas the Sage, and is bellowing something about an error in one of the Seer’s books. (Lashton has appropriated the seer’s house as a base, but is spending a good deal of his time going through his host’s library, hoping to increase his own magical power with any arcane lore found within.)
Lashton demands that the characters identify themselves and their mission. He tells them that if they are interested in aiding the cause, they will have to follow orders, and recognize the authority given to him (by the seal of the King of Keoland, a ring he wears of his left hand) and if necessary, to obey the leaders of several patrols of Keoland troops that are based on the manor grounds. (Such an attitude alone should guarantee an instant dislike of the man). Lashton then orders Algorthas to summarize the situation for the newcomers. Read the following to the players:
“The nation of Sterich has always had to deal with the dangers of the non-human population of the Crystalmist mountains which make up our western border. These mountains are the home of a large number of hostile races, including the various breeds of giantkind. These giants have been conducting small raids against our western farms and towns for years, and a sizable portion of our militia has been devoted to protecting that portion of the realm.
“Recently, however, the number and size of these raids has increased dramatically, and worse yet, they appear to be more coordinated than is normal for such dull brutes. It has been confirmed that several giant leaders have emerged, and these leaders are rallying their people in a genocidal war against humankind.
“In normal times, the nation would be hard-pressed, and aid was requested from Keoland.
The player characters will be assigned another task — that of finding and destroying the headquarters of the giants, and dealing with whomever is responsible for gathering their forces together.
Randos has some ideas. The giant headquarters is probably located in the Jotens to the south, since that is where many of the attacks originate. The exact location is unknown as yet. Randos points out that whoever defeats the giants will receive the treasure they have taken as reward, and Lashton (reluctantly) agrees. Lashton announces that the party may now set out without delay. They cannot decline, as they know too much. If they refuse to help, they will be imprisoned, for the good of the realm.
If the characters want to talk with Algorthas, Lashton permit it, but only for five minutes, saying the sage has been drafted into aiding the King’s Agent in more mighty matters, and his time is therefore valuable. He will note on the map the general location (the hex row on the map) in which the steading may be found. This is information that he has received from Sterich patrols that Lashton, the King’s agent, has not yet thought to examine.
Lashton, the King’s Agent
Level 15 Magic-User; hp 36; MV 12”; AC 2; THACO 14; #AT 1; Dmg l-4 or by spell; bracers of defense AC 2; AL LN
- First Level: Comprehend Languages, Erase, Identify, Magic Missile, Read Magic
- Second Level: Detect Evil, Detect Invisibility, ESP, Forget, Shatter
- Third Level: Clairvoyance, Detect Illusion, Dispel Magic, Protection From Evil, Protection From Normal Missiles
- Fourth Level: Confusion, Magic Mirror, Minor Globe of Invulnerability, Ultra Vision, Wizard Eye
- Fifth Level: Conjure Elemental, Contact Other Plane, Feeblemind, Leomund’s Lamentable Belaborment, Passwall
- Sixth Level: Disintegrate, Legend Lore
- Seventh Level: Limited Wish
Randos, the King’s Agent’s Assistant
Level 5 Cleric; hp 25: MV 9”; AC 5; THACO 18; #AT 1; Dmg 2 – 5 (mace) or by spell; AL LN
- First Level: Bless, Penetrate Disguise, Portent
- Second Level: Augury, Find Traps, Slow Poison
- Third Level: Speak With Dead
Note: Should the characters return to Istivin after defeating the hill giants, they will then discover the black bubble.
Note: Should the characters return to Istivin after defeating the hill, frost, or fire giants, Lashton will have the party explain their adventure and their reasons for taking each and every action, in detail. He demands that the characters write all this down. If none are literate (or if none admit to it), he orders Randos to take their dictated testimonies. Lashton then takes the notes and secretly adds a few modifications, so that the only way the party survived was through the kind aid and wise counsel of his august self. He then sends the report it to Keoland.
Lashton then indicates the next target for the party’s explorations (and admits surprise that they did not think of it themselves). If the characters have defeated the hill giants, he notes that new information leads him to believe that a frost giant Jarl of incredible strength has taken on the mantle of rulership of the tribes. If the characters have defeated the frost giants, he points out that careful research has pinned the leadership on a fire giant named Snurre Iron Belly. If the characters return from fighting the fire giants without investigating the Drow, he is amazed by their lack of patriotism, and quickly orders them back to the halls of the defeated King to investigate further. He may even wish to speed their journey by magic.
In each case, Lashton himself will have made no further progress on the bubble, except to determine that it is not from the Prime Material Plane. News of the party’s successes will then (with careful rewording) please the King with Lashton’s success, as he tries to figure out how to banish Lolth’s present to Sterich.
The Road to Sterich
Random Encounter Chart (Overland Journeys)
|Creatures||Pomarj||Ulek** (all)||Silver Wood||Keoland||Good Hills||Sterich||Jotens|
|Bugbears||01 – 02||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Demi-humans*||—||01 – 05||—||—||01 – 05||01 – 03||—|
|Dwarves, hill||—||06-10c||—||01||06 – 20||—||—|
|Dwarves, mtn||—||11-15c||—||—||—||04 – 07||01 – 04|
|Elves, Sylvan||—||23-25b||01 – 30||03 – 10||—||—||—|
|Giant, frost||—||—||—||—||—||—||06 – 09|
|Giant, hill||—||—||—||—||—||08||10 – 15|
|Giant, mtn||—||—||—||—||—||09||16 – 20|
|Giant, stone||—||—||—||—||—||—||21 – 24|
|Gnolls||03 – 05||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Gnomes||—||26 – 30||31 – 35||11 – 15||21 – 40||10 – 13||—|
|Goblins||07 – 12||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Goblin mix||13 – 15||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Halflings (H)||—||31-33a||—||16||—||14 – 15||—|
|Halflings (S)||—||34-36ac||—||17 – 18||41 – 50||16 – 18||—|
|Halflings (T)||—||37-39a||36 – 38||19 – 20||—||—||—|
|Hobgoblins||16 – 17||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Humanoids*||—||40-41c||—||21 – 25||—||19 – 24||25 – 35|
|Kobolds||19 – 20||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Bandits||21 – 25||42 – 46||—||26 – 29||51 – 55||25 – 29||—|
|Brigands||26 – 28||—||—||30 – 31||—||30 – 32||—|
|Cavemen||—||—||—||—||—||33 – 34||36 – 38|
|Merchants||—||47 – 50||—||32 – 43||—||35 – 43||—|
|Patrol, light||—||51-54ac||39 – 40||44 – 50||—||—||—|
|Pilgrims||—||55-57bc||—||51 – 52||—||—||—|
|Raiders||—||—||—||—||—||44 – 45||—|
|Norkers||31 – 32||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Ogres||33||—||—||—||—||48 – 52||43 – 47|
|Orcs||34 – 41||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Orc mix||42 – 44||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Treants||—||—||43 – 50||—||—||—||—|
|Trolls||45||—||—||—||—||53||48 – 50|
|Unicorns||—||—||51 – 55||—||—||—||—|
|Standard||46 – 00||61 – 00||56 – 00||56 – 00||76 – 00||54 – 00||51 – 00|
* See the appropriate sub-table below.
** Use for all lands of Ulek unless noted otherwise (county, b = duchy, c= principality)
a = Halflings: H = Hairfeet, S = Stouts, T = Tallfellows
Tribesmen: d = hillmen, e = woodsmen, f = 50% hillmen and 50 % marshmen
Mixed groups (60% normal number appearing for each type): Gnoll mix = gnolls and finds; goblin mix= goblins and xvarts; hobgoblin mix = hogoblins and norkers; orc mix = ores and ogrillons
Subtable #1: Demi-Humans
|Encounter Type||County of Ulek||Duchy of Ulek||Princ. of Ulek||Good Hills||Sterich|
|Dwarves, hill||01 – 02||01||01 – 60||01 – 40||01 – 15|
|Dwarves, mtn||03||02||61 – 90||41 – 43||16 – 55|
|Elves, gray||04||03 – 05||91||—||56|
|Elves, high||05 – 06||06 – 65||92||44 – 45||57 – 58|
|Elves, sylvan||07 – 08||66 – 85||93||46||59 – 60|
|Gnomes||09 – 60||88 – 92||94 – 96||47 – 80||63 – 82|
|Half-elves||61||93 – 95||97||81||83 – 85|
|Halflings (H)||62 – 75||96 – 97||98||82 – 85||86 – 88|
|Halflings (S)||76 – 90||98 – 99||99||86 – 95||89 – 97|
|Halflings (T)||91 – 00||00||00||96 – 00||98 – 00|
Subtable #2: Humanoids
|Encounter Type||Ulek (all)||Keoland||Sterich||Jotens|
|Flinds||01 – 15||01 – 07||—||—|
|Gnolls||16 – 40||08 – 20||01 – 06||01 – 05|
|Goblins||41 – 70||21 – 70||07 – 25||06 – 40|
|Hobgoblins||71 – 75||71 – 72||26 – 40||41 – 45|
|Kobolds||76 – 90||73 – 85||41 – 75||46 – 70|
|Orcs||91 – 00||86 – 00||76 – 00||71 – 00|
Into the Mountains
Use the encounter charts provided below when the characters are adventuring in the Jotens, the Crystalmists and the Hellfurnaces. For the purposes of this adventure, these areas have been broken into separate regions on the map. Players may find the secret escape passages from the hill giant’s steading (or the jarl’s glacier), and so avoid large sections of further outdoor encounters. But should they not, use the following encounter charts.
The Joten range is a spur to the south of Sterich, separating that land from the Yeomanry further to the south. The Jotens are the most accessible of the three ranges through which the party may journey, as all but the tops of the highest peaks are below the timber line. Pine forests are the norm in this region, with thick dumping of maple, usk, and other northern broadleaf trees in the valleys.
The Crystalmist Mountains, the parent range of the Jotens, dwarfs its child with its heights. Most of the peaks in this range are snowcapped, and glaciers are common throughout its length. The greatest of these glaciers forms the headwaters of the Davish River. Travel is perilous in this region due to the ever-present snow and sheer icy drops.
The Hellfurnaces, just south of Crystalmists, are barren of snow and ice, though an occasional peak will show white through the steam. The Hellfurnaces are still active, and the traveler is always in sight of some smoke plume, hot spring or eruption when traveling through the area. The heat of the land negates the coldness of the altitude to a great degree and this land is the home of warmth-loving creatures that relish the heat. Sages propose that the incredible activity in the Hellfurnaces indicate some sort of gateway into the elemental plane of fire, but this has yet to be proven.
Check once each 12 game hours by rolling 1d6. An encounter occurs if the result is a 1. Refer to the appropriate chart, and roll 1d100 to determine the creature type.
All creatures randomly encountered have standard chances of being found in lair. Treasure types are given, but the exact details are left to the DM’s discretion.
|1d100||# Appearing||Creature Type|
|01 – 05||1||Bear, Cave|
|06 – 10||1 – 10||Bugbears|
|11 – 20||10 – 40||Cavemen|
|21 – 30||2 – 12||Dogs, wild|
|31 – 35||11 – 20||Dwarves, mountain|
|37 – 51||1 – 6||Giants, hill|
|52 – 56||1 – 2||Giants, mountain|
|57 – 61||1 – 2||Giants, stone|
|62 – 64||1 – 2||Lions, mountain|
|66 – 80||1 – 10||Ogres|
|81 – 85||10 – 40||Orcs|
|86 – 90||1||Prospector|
|91 – 95||10 – 40||Tribesmen|
|96 – 00||1 – 4||Trolls|
|1d100||# Appearing||Creature Type|
|01 – 05||1 – 3||Bears, Cave|
|06 – 10||11 – 20||Bugbears|
|11 – 15||11 – 20||Cavemen|
|16||1||Dragon, adult white|
|17 – 21||10 – 40||Dwarves, mountain|
|22 – 31||1 – 6||Giants, frost|
|32 – 41||1 – 4||Giants, hill|
|42 – 51||1 – 3||Giants, mountain|
|53 – 57||10 – 40||Goblins|
|58 – 62||1 – 4||Lions, mountain|
|63 – 67||1 – 4||Mammoths|
|68 – 77||1 – 10||Ogres|
|78 – 82||10 – 40||Orcs|
|83 – 87||1 – 3||Rhinoceros, woolly|
|88 – 92||1 – 8||Trolls|
|93 – 97||1 – 6||Trolls, Ice|
|98 – 00||1 – 2||Wolverines, giant|
|1d100||# Appearing||Creature Type|
|01 – 10||11 – 20||Bugbears|
|11 – 15||11 – 20||Cavemen|
|16 – 20||1||Chimera|
|21 – 23||1||Dragon, young red|
|34 – 33||1 – 4||Firedrakes|
|34 – 38||1 – 6||Firenewts|
|39 – 43||1 – 6||Fire toads|
|44 – 53||1 – 6||Giants, fire|
|54 – 55||1||Giant, storm|
|56 – 60||10 – 40||Goblins|
|61 – 65||2 – 12||Hell hounds|
|66 – 70||1 – 10||Ogres|
|71 – 75||10 – 40||Ores|
|76 – 85||1||Pyrolisk|
|86 – 90||1 – 4||Trolls|
|91 – 00||1 – 2||Trolls, giant|
Use standard details for most creatures, except as detailed below.
- Bugbear: IL 25%; TT JKL or M (B). These creatures have joined the giants in their plunder of the land. If any are encountered within 30 miles of one of the giants’ headquarters (the steading, the glacial rift, or the hall of the fire giant king), there is a 20% chance that one bugbear knows the exact location.
- Caveman: IL 40%; TT Variable.
- Chimera: IL 40%; TT F.
- Dragon, Red: HD 10; hp 20; no spells: IL 60%; TT HST.
- Dragon, White: HD 6; hp 30; no spells; IL 20%; TT EOS.
- Mountain Dwarf: IL 50%: TT Mx5 + Qx20 + GR, Patrols of mountain dwarves are hunting for giant raiders. There is a 60% chance that any such party encountered within 2 hexes of a giant headquarters will know its location, though they will not aid the PCs in attacking it.
- Firedrake: IL 80%; TT Nil.
- Firenewt: IL 75%; TT KMF.
- Firetoad: IL 20%; TT C.
- Cloud giant: IL 40%; TT E Qx5. Cloud giants of good alignment will not attack the party unless attacked themselves. If approached, they offer general directions and possibly aid against their more malicious kin. Evil cloud giants attack the party, or if faced with powerful opponents offer aid with the intention of later betrayal.
- Fire giant: IL 35%; TT E. All fire giants in the Hellfurnaces know the location of the hall of their King and Liege, Snurri Iron Belly. Those encountered in other mountainous areas have only a general idea (within 2 map hexes) of the locations of any giant headquarters.
- Frost giant: IL 30%; TT E. All frost giants found in the Crystalmist Mountains know the location of the glacial rift of their Jarl. Those encountered in other mountainous areas have only a general idea (within 2 map hexes) of the locations of any giant headquarters.
- Hill giant: IL 25%; TT D. All hill giants found in the Jotens know the location of their chiefs steading. Those encountered in other mountainous areas have only a general idea (within 2 map hexes) of the locations of any giant headquarters.
- Mountain giant: IL 90%; TT E. These giants have yet to join the other types in the attack on Sterich and humanity. Due to the activity in the area, they have only a 10% chance of success if they summon aid (ogres, trolls, or hill giants). They will attack any group of Little Folk who may provide treasure and a good meal.
- Stone giant: IL 30%; TT D. These giants are, as a group, undecided about the growing war with humankind. They do not attack unless attacked first, nor will they aid the party in any way, save to hint at dark forces pulling the strings of the leaders of the other giant types.
- Storm giant: IL 55%; TT ES+ Qx10. The storm giants have little to do with the dealings of their lesser brothers, although they occasional meet with them. If encountered in a friendly fashion before the PCs reach the Jarl’s glacier (Chapter 4), the storm giant will relate a problem of his own — a missing companion known as Olgani. Unbeknownst to her kin, Olgani is being held prisoner by the Jarl.
- Goblin: IL 40%; TT K (C).
- Hell hound: IL 30%; TT C.
- Mountain lion: IL 10%; TT Nil.
- Manticore: IL 20%; TT E.
- Ogre: IL 20%; TT BSQ+ Mx10. Many of these brutish creatures have been used as fodder for the giant invasion. There is a 10% chance that one of the ogres knows the location of any one un-plundered giant headquarters.
- Orc: IL 35%; TT I (COS+ Qx10).
- Pyrolisk: IL 30%; TT D.
- Prospector (Mad Amos, 5th Level Fighter): AC 4; hp 38; MV 9”; #AT 1; Dmg 1 – 8 (long-sword) or 1 – 3 (knife, in bolt); THACO 16; AL CG; TT Q; IL 10%; XPV 280. Mad Amos was a captain of the guard in the Yeomanry before taking to the Jotens to search for gems. He is a little bit eccentric as the result of being alone so long, but has finely-honed survival skills and knows the Jotens like the back of his hand. For a sizeable fee, he will gladly take the PCs to the valley of the hill giants’ steading. He will not accompany them into the steading itself. (One of his finely-honed survival skills is staying away from, or directly behind, all hostile creatures, especially large ones.)
- Troll: IL 40%; TT D.
- Troll, giant: IL 30%; TT C.
- Troll, ice: IL 10%; TT D.
- Wolverine, giant: IL 15%; TT Nil.
Right-click and choose "Save link target as" for the .markdown files.