Monthly Archives: May 2015

Alabaster Palace of the Dao – Rooms 3 to 5

Chapter 1 of the Genie Palace Heist

The Alabaster Palace of the Dao, Room 3.

The Alabaster Palace of the Dao, Room 3.

3. North Receiving Room. 

Beyond the arched iron doors is a cavernous sandstone chamber. Much of the sandstone is unworked, left in an aesthetically pleasing natural state. A vein of white alabaster bisects the cavern at an angle. A long, asymmetrically shaped table of highly polished hematite levitates above the floor. Wrought-iron chairs of various heights and sizes surround the table. Stairs carved into the sandstone lead up to balconies on the east and west sides of the hall, a trio of iron doors on each side. Twin gilded chandeliers light the room with flickering magical radiance. At the far end of the hall is a huge relief sculpture of a princely genie riding a winged serpent, vanquishing frog-like enemies. A half dozen small ambulatory mushroom servants go about their chores of sweeping and polishing without taking notice of you.

Occupants of this room vary.  Roll d%: 

01-25 Dao (Kiana), mind flayer arcanist (Icthymbros); 11100 xp (medium). 
26-50 Dao (Kiana), drow mage (Ioelena); 11100 xp (medium).
51-75 Dao (Negeen) and dao (Kiana); 14400 xp (medium).
76-00 empty, except for myconid slaves.


The Alabaster Palace of the Dao, Room 4.

The Alabaster Palace of the Dao, Room 4.

4. East Garden.

Bright light shines through wide panes of mica set into the ceiling and upper third of the walls of a rough rectangular room; the lower two thirds of the walls are swallowed up in all manner of green vegetation: trees, shrubs, vines, and ground-covers. The air is warm and humid. Water falls from a rough hewn rock wall into a small pond. A large humanoid creature made of moss-covered rock tends this garden.

Occupants of this room include a treant (5000 xp), 2 shambling mounds (1800 xp), earth elemental (1800 xp). 15600 xp. Note the treant can awaken 1-2 trees around it. The creatures here are not hostile unless they act in a manner destructive to the ecosystem.

The Alabaster Palace of the Dao, Room 5.

The Alabaster Palace of the Dao, Room 5.

5. West Statuary. 

Through the arched iron doors, you enter a rotunda, its walls fenestrated by many high, small, round windows, its domed ceiling leafed in gold. The floor is littered with blocks and fragments of marble and other stone in various stages and subjects of sculpture. 

[If applicable:] Posing on a low, well-illuminated dais is a fair-skinned angel, male, with silver hair and feathery white wings, naked save for tastefully placed gray silk drapery. Nearby, a giant woman in violet garb is sculpting the likeness of the angel from a block of white stone with her bare hands. Her flesh appears to be gold-flecked red marble; her eyes and mouth gleam with ruby light.

Occupants of this room 
vary.  Roll d%: 01-50 dao sculptor (Negeen), vain deva subject (Shaviel), in pose; 13100 xp (medium); otherwise, they are in 3 or 6. Negeen has a key to her jewelry box in room 6.

Alabaster Palace of the Dao – Rooms 1 and 2

Chapter 1 of The Great Genie Palace Heist

The Alabaster Palace of the Dao, Rooms 1 and 2.

The Alabaster Palace of the Dao, Rooms 1 and 2.

1. Grand Entrance. 

You appear on a precipice jutting out from a mountain of tan sandstone. Before you in a cleft of rock stands a wide portico of translucent alabaster, its columns and causeway constructed from a single vein of the pale rock that extends through the mountain itself. Everything is illuminated with a soft yellow light; this luminescence suffuses the air itself. In the middle of the portico from four strong iron chains hangs an 8 foot tall hollow cylinder of iron, and perpendicular to it supported by two chains is a thick iron rod. Beyond that, on two low dais stand two large iron statues of bulls facing each other. And beyond that, steps climb up to a pair of double iron doors wide enough to allow four men abreast to pass through them, were they opened. In the center of each door is a small shuttered and barred window. Just above the doors perch four alabaster angels in shallow alcoves. It is quiet; neither an insect hums nor a small breeze stirs.

The statues perched on the dais are 2 gorgon guardians and the four statues perched in the alcoves are 4 gargoyle guardians. Apparent intruders and those whose names are not already in the guest book cause the gargoyles and gorgons to attack.

The iron cylinder and rod are a bell and clapper. If the bell is rung, Azarakhsh and Negeen will answer, accompanied by two earth elementals. If the PCs have no convincingly legitimate business with the dao, they will shut them out; if they prove hostile, they will forcibly remove them.

The doors are solid iron (20 feet wide, locked, DC 25 Dexterity check to pick lock, DC 25 Strength check to break) with two small shuttered and barred windows 8 feet up (DC 25 Strength check to bend bars; then DC 15 Dexterity check for medium creature to squeeze through).

Climbers may find tiny windows leading into the foyer 40 feet up (DC 15 Strength check to climb, DC 10 with secured rope, fall 10 to 40 feet on failure), if they can squeeze through (DC 15 Dexterity check for medium creatures to squeeze in), or the small rotunda windows (same DC), or the large mica windows into the garden (same DC), or the balcony of Negeen (DC 20 Strength check to climb, fall 10 to 80 feet on failure).

8100 xp (easy). Treasure: none.

2. Foyer.

Beyond the iron doors, yellow light streams in from behind you and from high windows to dimly illuminate a vaulted and columned cross-shaped hall. The walls and ceiling are covered in blue and white rhomboid tiles arranged in intricate repeating geometric patterns. The columns are made of polished blue marble, their capitals and pedestals carved from alabaster. The floor is sandstone, its polish worn and scoured apparently by heavy foot traffic. From the center of the vaulted ceiling hangs an unlit gilded candelabra adorned with large crystal shards. The north end of the hall leads to an arched iron door; the east and west ends are each occupied by large white marble sculpture of athletic humanoid figures, one male and one female. Beyond each statue is another arched iron door. Low stone benches line the walls, and a low stone desk lies not far from the entrance.

2 stone golem guardian (statue). 10800 xp (medium). Apparent intruders and those whose names are not in the guest book are subject to attack. Treasure: 4 scrolls of greater restoration inside the desk.

Alabaster Palace of the Dao – Map Layout Sketch

Chapter 1 of the Genie Palace Heist

When preparing an adventure map in 4th edition, typically I would use Photoshop to create realistic top-down maps that scaled to 1″ = 1 square.  This map would be presented to the players on our digital gaming table as our combat grid.  Since combat in 4th edition is grid-based, this saved time setting up encounters.

In the spirit of 5th edition, I’ve stepped back from digital tools for mapping and taken up ye old pen and paper approach.  Here is a rough sketch of the Alabaster Palace of the Dao map.  Each square is a room or location, to be detailed later, and its relationship to other locations.

Alabaster Palace of the Dao map (rough layout sketch)

A rough layout map of the Alabaster Palace of the Dao.

This approach frees up a lot of time for me to write interesting room descriptions which lend themselves to the Theater of the Mind playstyle encouraged in 5th edition.

Alabaster Palace of the Dao – DM Intro

Chapter 1 of The Great Genie Palace Heist

Dungeon Master Introduction

The Alabaster Palace was built in the Elemental Chaos as a genie sanctuary and neutral meeting place away from the Great Dismal Delve.  Visitors arrive here using a portal key, usually a small topaz gemstone, or by the plane shift spell. The Elemental Chaos makes physical travel to the location impossible except to natives and skilled chaos shapers (“archons”).

Inhabitants: Four dao currently reside here: Kiana, Negeen, Azarakhsh, and Zarrin. Azarakhsh and Zarrin keep their personal treasury here; among their treasures is the Topaz of which Vibaxana spoke. Another dao resident, Kiana, often invites clients here to discuss plans; the last dao resident, Negeen, engages in more aesthetic pursuits, such as architecture, gardening, and sculpting.

Current visitors to the palace include a fallen deva, a mind flayer slaver and his duergar bodyguards, and a drow mage slaver and his elite warrior guard. The medusa lover of Zarrin and a corrupted copper dragon are permanent residents of the palace, as are a few sentient plants in the garden.  The dao, their guests, and other residents are served by myconid slaves who live in tunnels beneath the palace.

All dao have characteristic appearances: they are around 9 feet tall, with skin like polished stone, and eyes like sparkling jewels. When they fly, their lower torso is engulfed in a whirlwind of dust. They wield massive stone mauls in combat. They usually adorn themselves with expensive gold jewelry and fine but sturdy garments.

It is a common dao tactic to summon earth elementals to assist its defense; with a casting time 1 minute, they will do this only if they have advance warning of danger. The drow mage visitor is also capable of summoning a shadow demon.

The doors and many pieces of furniture in the palace were fashioned from iron by duergar slaves in the Great Dismal Delve and imported here.  Individual room descriptions detail the palace furnishings.

Experience Budget: 15000 xp total budget per PC, 8 encounters (~1875 xp per encounter), for seven 11th level characters. Completing the adventure will result in advancement to 12th level.

Resting: There is potential for a short rest if PCs only enter rooms 1, 2, 4, and 5, but once they encounter anything from 3 and beyond, it is likely that a short rest will not be possible.

Random Encounters

For each hour the PCs linger outside the palace, there is a 10% chance that they attract the notice of a slaadi raiding party, who attack them immediately. For each hour the PCs hide among the myconids, there is a 10% chance of a purple worm attack.

  • Red, Blue, Greed Slaadi raiding party (12900 xp); no treasure.
  • Purple Worm (13000 xp); no treasure.

Genie Palace Heist

I’m running a series of four short adventures for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, designed for seven characters from levels 11 to 14. The adventures are set after the (relative) destruction of the multiverse, in an Elemental Chaos or Limbo-like state.

Here is the introduction:

You are dead. But something has stirred your consciousness.

A tall figure cloaked in red walks on the wind. He has the body of a man and the head of a tiger, white furred with faint gold stripes. He is odd-eyed, with one blue eye and one yellow. The palms of his hands are inverted; in his left hand he clutches a splinter of ash-wood; in his right hand he cradles a handful of dust. His odd eyes survey the remnants of reality, formless and void, hurtling earth, roiling fire, violent storms, churning waves. His eyes search the cosmic flotsam until he finds what he is looking for: a certain gray stone no bigger than a grave marker. He walks on the wind until his feet rest upon the tiny hovering island of rock.

He incants a spell, and the stone expands, stretching out beneath his feet into a disk of stone and earth and green turf. He casts down the splinter, and it grows into planks and beams and a roof overhead. He casts down the dust and it whirls into the likeness of beings made flesh again. It is you. You don’t remember much. Your name. Your particular talents and skills. Endless cycles of war and rebirth. A vague recollection of who you were.

“Welcome,” he purrs, “to what I believe you once called Asgard. There is not much left of it. There is not much of anything left, I’m afraid. What my people called Armageddon, or the Calamity, or perhaps yours called Ragnarok, has come to pass. Now only this remains.” He gestures through the wide doorway to the vast chaotic expanse outside.

“Please, sit down and eat.” Benches appear along the walls of the great hall, and a fire pit appears in the center. A table prepared with rich food and drink appears nearby. “It has been an immeasurable amount of time since your last meal. I am Vibixana, your host. You may be wondering why I have brought you back from oblivion. I have heard tales of your past glory and exploits. I have need of your talents, and so I offer you this opportunity. I seek four stones: a ruby, a sapphire, an emerald, and a topaz, each quite large and beautiful. They are held in the palaces of powerful elemental spirits. I need you to bring these gems here, and I will transform them into the Diamondheart. The Diamondheart is the seed that will restore your worlds, something beyond the limits of my talent, which you see expressed around you.”