A Mission to Steal

Mission : Vol (3A 1640)

The riches of Khazad-chum are beyond mea­sure. It is by far the richest city in Endor. So it is that, over the years, many have under­ta­ken secret sor­ties into the Dwar­ven halls. Most fail, the par­ti­ci­pants disap­pea­ring alto­ge­ther in quiet igno­miny. Only a notable (and legen­dary) few of these expe­di­tions have actually, suc­cee­ded, the deeds hailed by pro­fes­sio­nal thieves. Any Khazad, of course, vehe­mently curse such plun­de­ring.

Word has come to the adven­tu­rers via a repu­table source that cer­tain disaf­fec­ted Dwarf-guards covet a spe­cial share of Hadhodrond’s vast wealth. Should mem­bers of a thie­ving expe­di­tion pro­vide them with a por­tion of the plun­der, they appear willing to look the other way. Their source also assures the PCs that he can make any arran­ge­ments neces­sary for a safe, silent entry into Khazad-dûm

Adventure summary

Requi­re­ments: The cou­rage and tena­city of a lion, or mad­ness in the blood. Only expe­rien­ced, well-armed cha­rac­ters should even consi­der attemp­ting this nearly sui­ci­dal mis­sion.

Aids: Sketches or know­ledge of the Levels and Deeps is essen­tial. Such can be pro­vi­ded through the PCs’ contact (Heol). Even so, without inside help from trai­to­rous Dwarves, the task would be impos­sible.

Rewards: 10% of eve­ry­thing the adven­tu­rers can lay their hands on. Of course, if they get greedy, they can always try for more.

The tale

Gain, a cap­tain of the Khazad guards, has spent too many years pro­tec­ting Moria’s glo­rious trea­sures. He now thinks of the wealth as his own. After many decades of foi­ling plots aimed at par­ting the Dwarves from their trea­sures, he has hat­ched one of his own.

He has made a contact with an outsider—Heol of Maethelburg—whom he has reluc­tantly deci­ded to trust. (It is Heol who contacts the PCs about the job.) Gain hopes to com­mis­sion a strong and brave party to enter the city and steal one of the kingdom’s grea­test prizes : the Three Axes of Aza­ghal. The trio of axes lies hidden in a shal­low lake on the Second Level, in a room aptly called the Cham­ber of Axes (cf. #27).

Gain also wants a share of any­thing else the PCs manage to find. This might trans­late into quite a for­tune, given that trea­sure is scat­te­red throu­ghout Moria. The grea­test concen­tra­tion of this wealth can be found in the Kings bedroom (cf. #54c) and the royal armory (cf. #54d #54e #54f). Extre­mely well guar­ded, no one has ever pil­fe­red these cham­bers.

Gain believes that, with his assis­tance, the PCs might suc­ceed where all others have failed. He speaks of an arran­ge­ment with the guards, who will remain occu­pied while the PCs make their assault on the heart of the Dwar­ven stron­ghold. All he wants in return is 90% of the booty.

The characters

Although only two cha­rac­ters are listed below, there is very good chance that the adven­tu­rers will also encoun­ter seve­ral others during the course of their raid—especially mem­bers of the court of the First House of the Nau­grim. See Cha­pitre 17–1 – The Embassy to the Dwar­ven King
for a des­crip­tion of the King and Queen Under the Moun­tain, as well as notes about their court).


Gain is an old, pale-skin­ned Dwarf who hails from a long line of trus­ted guards. These war­ders tra­di­tio­nally keep Khazad-dûm’s valuables safe from any out­si­ders. Wrink­led and wize­ned, Gain wears his long beard forked and brai­ded. He tucks the ends into both his belt and the tops of his boots. He is also noted for the long, dis­tinct scar over his left eye, an almost-white mark he sus­tai­ned long ago in the King’s ser­vice.

This wound appa­rently rat­tled Gain’s brain, for he has never been the same since the day of that battle. Because he was inju­red in a noble pur­suit, he was pro­mo­ted to a Guard-warden’s rank and char­ged with an hono­rable task : the kee­ping of the King’s trea­sures.

Having slowly become unba­lan­ced, Gain now counts the trea­sures that he has guar­ded for so many long nights as his own. He resents the fact that the King treats these objects as royal pro­perty. After all, Gain has long since earned them all and more through his valo­rous ser­vice. One dark night, while stan­ding watch over the trea­sure horde, an idea came unbid­den to Gain’s mind, and ever since it has remai­ned upper­most in his thoughts.

Gain enter­tai­ned a plan to make the vast trea­sures of Khazad-dûm his own. He is par­ti­cu­larly fond of the Three Axes of Aza­ghal, a valiant Dwarf from ancient times from whom (for no reason besides his mad­ness) he believes he is des­cen­ded. He has deter­mi­ned that the wea­pons shall belong to him and no other.

To that end, he has contac­ted a person on the out­side who has arran­ged for a band of thieves (the PCs) to break into the halls of Moria and spirit the axes away, along with wha­te­ver else they can carry. Although Gain is asking for 90% of what the PCs acquire, he feels it is only just, since he is taking a tre­men­dous risk in betraying his King. He has no doubt that Dwar­ven blood will be spilled by the inva­ders in the course of their mis­sion, but that is an even­tua­lity that cannot be pre­ven­ted, sad as it might be.


Fruin is the youn­gest of Gain’s grand­chil­dren. His beard barely reaches the top of his belt, and then only if he hunches over. He makes up for his youth, though, by being utterly dupli­ci­tous.

A greedy crea­ture, Fruin walks around with the glint of gold in his eyes. Two years ago, his grand­fa­ther arran­ged for the lad to work beside him as a guard of the Khazad’s trea­sures. Since then, his only thought has been making off with as much of the col­lec­ted wealth as he can pos­si­bly gather.

While much youn­ger than Gain, Fruin is more than his grandfather’s equal in trea­chery and devious­ness. Although Gain believes that the idea to rob the Dwar­ven horde is his own, it was plan­ted in his head by his grand­son. Fruin is more than happy to allow the old warder to believe he is the mas­ter­mind behind the plot. That way, if some­thing unto­ward should occur during the raid, Fruin can deny all know­ledge of the scheme. He plans to blame the entire affair upon a delu­ded old Dwarfs feve­red dreams.

Whe­ne­ver he gets his way, Fruin is a plea­sant, almost oily Dwarf ; howe­ver, when mat­ters turn against him, his manner turns surly and hos­tile. He has little or no sense of honor. Fruin always pushes any advan­tage he has to its outer limit, and he is not above using hor­rible and cruel means to satisfy his ends. This amo­ra­lity enables him to hatch his nefa­rious conspi­ra­cies. It is a trait that becomes pain­fully obvious whe­ne­ver he manages to get an upper hand.

Gain also wants a share of any­thing else the PCs manage to find. This might trans­late into quite a for­tune, given that trea­sure is scat­te­red throu­ghout Moria. The grea­test concen­tra­tion of this wealth can be found in the Kings bedroom (cf. #54c) and the royal armory (cf. #54d #54e #54f).

The places

This adven­ture focuses on the West-gate (cf. #1), the Cham­ber of Axes (cf. #27) and the King’s bedroom and the royal armory (cf. #54d #54e #54f). Natu­rally, as the PCs wander, they may visit other sites—especially along their east­ward des­cent. Here again, a fami­lia­rity with the layout of Moria will reap bene­fits in time saved during a game ses­sion.

The task

The adven­tu­rers hope to sneak into Moria via the West-gate. There, Gain and Fruin wait to greet them. (By the time of this ini­tial ren­dez­vous, the Dwarves have disa­bled any guards.) From there, the party pro­ceeds through the tun­nels to the Cham­ber of the Axes. Once they have the axes in their pos­ses­sion, they can seize any addi­tio­nal trea­sures they can carry. If they wish, their trai­to­rous Dwar­ven com­pa­nions lead them down to the King’s cham­bers where the grea­test of the Dwar­ven riches are stored.

Along the way, they risk dis­co­very by loyal Dwarves at nearly every turn. They must be ready to kill any and all that find them as qui­ckly and as quietly as pos­sible. Other­wise, they will surely bring the col­lec­tive rage of a moun­tain full of Khazad down upon their heads. If this hap­pens, their chances of escape are next to nothing.

The hazards are many, but the poten­tial rewards are phe­no­me­nal. Even the meager 10% share pro­mi­sed by Gain equate to wealth beyond the PCs’ wil­dest dreams. If they are caught, howe­ver, they face awful sanc­tion. Punish­ment is inva­ria­bly swift and ter­rible.

The encounters

Assu­ming the PCs choose to accept this most dan­ge­rous of mis­sions, they may expe­rience a rela­ti­vely fixed chain of encoun­ters. These ren­dez­vous may occur in a dif­ferent sequence, and the GM should feel free to add any new encoun­ters sug­ges­ted by pre­fe­rence or hap­pens­tance.

As always, you should use the Master Encoun­ter Chart to deter­mine if the PCs expe­rience a random encoun­ter while mar­ching through the halls of Khazad-dûm. Use the listed per­cen­tages for encoun­ters during the day. Halve the per­cen­tages for travel at night, when most of the Dwarves are fast asleep. If neces­sary, Gain should be able to pro­vide the PCs with a safe loca­tion in which to hide during the day ; if the PCs are dis­co­ve­red, such a hide-out will be of little bene­fit to them. When a roll indi­cates that the PCs have an encoun­ter, roll on the table as usual. Treat any trap results nor­mally.

If Gain or Fruin accom­pa­nies the PCs, though, they should be able to cir­cum­na­vi­gate mecha­ni­cal hazards with ease. Results that list an Orc Patrol should be inter­pre­ted as an equi­va­lent patrol of Dwarves. If the result indi­cates the Balrog, the PCs have stum­bled across the King him­self ; along with his royal reti­nue of cour­tiers. Any other result means that the PCs have encoun­te­red 1–3 Dwarves tra­ver­sing the halls or busy at work.

With cun­ning, Gain and Fruin may be able to double talk their way through most encoun­ters unless the PCs do some­thing unwise. Gain is not skilled at making excuses, and there is a good chance (01–30) that a group of encoun­te­red Dwarves will not believe any story he tells them. Fruin, on the other hand, is a consum­mate liar. There is only a light (01–05) chance that a random Dwarf will dis­cern the untruth.

The West-Gate

Gain pro­vides the adven­tu­rers with a rough map of Moria, along with the answer to the Ithil­din-inlaid riddle on outer sur­face of the West-gate. The PCs should approach the door on a moon­lit night. If so, they can read the ins­crip­tion on the door. (See Sec­tion 10.1 for more about Moria’s Outer Doors.) Should the PCs then say « Mellon, » the door will open and they will be able to pass through it into the halls of Khazad-dûm.

Once inside, they are met by Gain and Fruin. Gain is excee­din­gly ner­vous, but he covers his tre­pi­da­tion with a gruff demea­nor. Fruin is as friendly as can be expec­ted under such cir­cum­stances. He seems to regard the entire affair as a rather casual endea­vor.

As they lead them the way from the gate into the Wes­tern Entry Hall (cf. #2), the two Dwarves cau­tion the PCs to be silent. The party then begins the long march across through the base of the moun­tain.

The trai­tors walk in the lead to guide the PCs around any traps in their path. If the party encoun­ters any other Dwarves in the tun­nels, Fruin steps for­ward to talk with the new­co­mers while Gain hustles his charges into a nearby hidden alcove or along a secon­dary path. Eventually—probably some­time in the early morning—the group should reach an area out­side the West Gathe­ring Hall (cf. #6). At that point, the trai­tors guide the PCs to a nearby hidea­way where they are to remain until the fol­lo­wing eve­ning

Gain and Fruin leave the PCs to wait in the secret room, sea­ling the door behind them. As long as the PCs remain hidden, nothing threa­tens them : the place of concealment is well hidden and off the beaten track. If they decide to set out on their own, their intru­sion will be dis­co­ve­red before long.

The Chamber of Axes

The huge Cham­ber of Axes (cf. #27) is a spec­ta­cu­lar hall. Although usually vacant throu­ghout the night, it is grand and beau­ti­ful. A long, shal­low lake domi­nates the cavern. Its depth never exceeds twenty feet. The wide Axe Bridge that crosses the sub­ter­ra­nean mere stands only five feet above the water’s sur­face. This mar­ve­lous cau­se­way is over thou­sand feet in length. Unfor­tu­na­tely for the PCs, Gain informs them that their quest for the three axes requires them to halt in the middle of the bridge, where the party will be most vul­ne­rable.

A raised, sub­ma­rine ridge lies directly beneath the bridge ; beneath the cau­se­way, Axe Lake is barely four­teen feet deep. At the midway point of the Axe Bridge, one or more of the PCs must strip down and dive into the frigid waters to search for the trea­sures hidden beneath the lake’s sil­very sur­face. While the PCs can dive into the water from the bridge, get­ting out is ano­ther story. The pylons that sup­port the causeway’s weight are hard and smooth and cove­red with a slip­pery slime that makes them nearly un-clim­bable. The PCs’ best bet is to send one or two divers into the water while the others wait to haul them up with a length of rope.

Although Gain has a gene­ral idea of where the axes rest, he has never seen them him­self. In fact, no one has seen the wea­pons in seve­ral life­times. Still, he is cer­tain they are still there. It’s just a matter of patient sear­ching.

Each time a diver goes into the water, he or she has a slim (01–02) chance of fin­ding the stone chest in which the axes are stored. Magi­cal means of detec­ting magic and pre­cious metals can increase the pro­ba­bi­lity (to 01–10) of fin­ding the cache. The whole exer­cise may take hours. A single dive takes about ten or fif­teen minutes, and the water is so cold that a diver can only spend a half hour in the water before hypo­ther­mia begins to take its toll.

If this seems exces­si­vely dif­fi­cult, remem­ber that no one has ever found the three Axes of Aza­ghal Then again, until tonight no one had ever made much of an effort. Most folk res­pect the past, as well as the dan­gers invol­ved in fleeing Moria with such a prize.

Given enough time, the PCs will even­tually find the stone chest. It lies along the nor­thern face of the cham­ber (cf. #27)
, signi­fi­cantly far­ther from the bridge than Gain had gues­sed. Of course, once they find the repo­si­tory, their task has just begun.

The chest is sealed with mortar. It is too heavy to lift cut of the water, and it requires almost a half an hair to unseal. Beneath the seal, the PCs find that the chest is also locked. Picking the lock under­wa­ter in the dark is an Absurd (-70) maneu­ver. Luckily, the PCs can try as many times as they like.

Ope­ning the lock should only be a matter of time. Of course, time is what the PCs are figh­ting here. Even­tually, someone may enter the cham­ber and wonder why a group of out­si­ders is swim­ming in the lake.

Assu­ming the adven­tu­rers suc­ceed in ope­ning the chest, they unco­ver three of the Khazad’s most valued treasures—the Long, Night, and Stone Axes—as well as a large bundle of gold wool worth over 50 gp.

The King’s Chambers

Once they have acqui­red the axes, the PCs may be incli­ned to take an even more insane risk and attempt to rob the King him­self. Although attemp­ting such a feat bor­ders on lunacy, the poten­tial rewards are unbe­lie­vable. Adven­tu­rers embol­de­ned by a suc­cess­ful cap­ture of the Three Axes of Aza­ghal may find such a target temp­ting. After all, eve­ryone always said the har­dest part of the job would be get­ting into Moria. Now that they are in, they might as well make the most of it.

See the des­crip­tion of the King’s cham­bers for details about the loca­tions of his valuables. If the PCs decide to make their assault at night, the King is asleep. His cham­bers, howe­ver, are always well guar­ded, and not only by the listed traps.

A full unit of Dwar­ven guards (enough to be a pro­blem for the party) stands vigi­lantly at the doors to the Kings bedroom. Simi­larly, sen­tries are sta­tio­ned in the throne room, as well as each of the rooms of the royal armory.

It’s up to the PCs to fashion a plan of attack. If they are wily, swift, and lucky enough, they may actually escape with some of the grea­ter trea­sures. Of course, if even one Dwarf starts yel­ling and cal­ling an alarm, the PCs will be in for the race of their lives. The odds of get­ting out of Khazad-dûm before being cap­tu­red or slain sud­denly shrink.


There is an excellent chance that the PCs will even­tually be spot­ted by someone who refuses to be per­sua­ded by Gain’s and Fruin’s lies. If the PCs do not kill or disable these skep­ti­cal Dwarves right away, the Nau­grim will call a gene­ral alarm. Then, five bells sound, and the for­merly quiet halls of Khazad-dûm resound with the stom­ping of Dwar­ven boots. The Outer Doors close and the hunt for the intru­ders begins.

Word spreads qui­ckly through Hadho­drond. Within minutes, the slee­ping Dwarves throw off their drow­si­ness and hurl them­selves into action. They embark on a room to room search, and rest not until they have cap­tu­red the intru­ders and brought them to jus­tice.

Can the PCs figure a way out of the moun­tain ? Without the alarm, Gain and Fruin could have smug­gled them through the West-gate without any pro­blems, but now the trai­tors can do the PCs little good. Unless they feel confi­dent about assaul­ting an entire unit (or more) of elite Dwar­ven war­riors, the adven­tu­rers should start consi­de­ring more des­pe­rate mea­sures.

If the PCs are lucky, the trai­tors will be able to ensure that the gates to the PCs’ chosen escape route are not closed by zea­lous Dwarves. If not, they might think to dash to the east side of one of the Levels in an effort to find a window or a cis­tern through which they might escape. This in itself is no mean feat, for the narrow aper­tures are desi­gned to prevent pas­sage. (See Sec. 9.2.)

Of course, lea­ving the moun­tain via one of these alter­na­tive methods will likely drop the adven­tu­rers from the frying pan into the fire. Once out­side, they will have to scale the side of the moun­tain to get to the valley floor far below. Doing so may involve run­ning into hos­tile beasts, and, if they take too long or choose the wrong way, they may encoun­ter even more hos­tile Dwar­ven patrols hun­ting for them high and low.

The betrayal

If at all pos­sible, Fruin sticks with the PCs to the bitter end. He might even leave his grand­fa­ther behind, to cover the rear while the adven­tu­rers make their escape. Before allo­wing their flight, though, Gain insists on set­ting up a ren­dez­vous point. Selec­ting a place to meet at as soon as they can all get free, Fruin chooses a little cave in the hills west of the mighty Red­horn (cf. Cha­pitre 03 – La région et le climat).

Should the party escape Khazad-dûm, Fruin takes the first oppor­tu­nity to steal as much of the booty as pos­sible and sneak off in the night. He has no inten­tion of let­ting the PCs get away with even a small por­tion of the Khazad wealth. Fruin might even knife them all in their sleep, so that they cannot track him down At the very least, he does his best to hamper their efforts to follow him (e.g., by stea­ling their boots).

Fruin plans to head into the hills and make his way south toward Dun­fea­ren (Dun­land). He hopes to earn fame and for­tune with the mighty wea­pons he now pos­sesses.

Meanw­hile, if the PCs so desire, they can try to find the cave where Gain is wai­ting. There, Gain imme­dia­tely demands to know what they have done with his grand­son The old Dwarf-warder had no know­ledge of Fruin’s plans, and he pre­fers to believe the PCs have killed him rather than accept the truth. He rea­lizes he cannot defeat them all, though, so he tries to escape as soon as pos­sible.


Whe­ther the adven­tu­rers suc­ceed or fail, they face a peat deal of trouble. Assu­ming the adven­tu­rers attempts any­thing other than stea­ling the Three Axes of Aza­ghal and lea­ving without being noti­ced, their actions attract Bain’s atten­tion. The Dwarf-king offers a tre­men­dous reward for the thieves’ heads. Bain takes spe­cial care, howe­ver, to issue his call quietly and diplo­ma­ti­cally. Only Dwar­ven bounty hun­ters will under­take the quest for revenge, for the Nau­grim must obs­cure the fact that Khazad-dûm proved vul­ne­rable to a rob­bery.

For the rest of their lives, then, the PCs face the Khazad as foes. If their faces were never spot­ted, it may be a long time before they are caught ; other­wise (par­ti­cu­larly if they let Gain get away to tell the King that the adven­tu­rers had put him under a spell) they should be afraid to show their faces anyw­here Dwarves might appear or enjoy influence, After all, if word gets back to Bain that the thieves have been loca­ted somew­here or that the trea­sure has turned up in someone’s pos­ses­sion, he’ll send forth Dwar­ven assas­sins. These able Nau­grim will try to make an example of any PC they can find.

The flip side of all this is that the PCs may be rich (unless, of course, Fruin got away with all the loot—but that is ano­ther story). In such case, they can enjoy their wealth. It may only be a matter of time until the Dwarves find them, but they can bide that time in splen­dor.


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