The Temple of Conrad the Crazed
After exiting the clock tower, we saw a a band of gold and rose light across the eastern horizon, twilight had given way to dawn and daylight was finally spreading across the valley.
The Temple of Conrad was some six or seven miles away, the Sun would have well and truly risen by the time we arrived.
The journey took us up some hills and to the edge of the valley.
When we arrived, we saw a structure of some sort ahead and positioned on the hill above us and somewhat out of sight. A large set of stone steps led upwards and towards the top.
From our position we could see several individuals on a landing above. They were wearing voluminous robes and likely looked to be followers, priests or cultists of Conrad.
No doubt amongst the folds of those robes were hidden 'wicked' daggers!
We could see that they were agitated or nervous and were heatedly discussing something or other.
One of the mages cast an invisibility spell on me and I clandestinely climbed the stairs. Now that I was closer, I could hear their words. They were worriedly discussing how the twilight had ended, what had happened to the protective barrier and what to do next? They were also talking about a ritual.
I was at the top of the stairs, I could see that the landing was actually a courtyard of sorts. At the far end there was a temple. The facade was as might be expected for a temple. The rear however, had been carved into the very side of the hill. The massive doors into the temple were both open, I quietly moved across the courtyard and into the temple.
Inside the temple
The temple was surprisingly empty of people.
There was a carpet that led to the altar ahead and beyond to a door in the fall wall. Both sides of the temple were decorated with massive ceiling to floor drapes that depicted a series of bloody murders and violence. Observing these drapes, I saw some of them occasionally flutter, the two closest to the main doors. Perhaps there was a breeze from some sort of passageway behind them?
Cautiously I investigated these two drapes. Looking behind them I saw... several robed individuals stand stationary, gripping 'wicked curved' daggers. I knew it! Wicked curved daggers can only mean one thing... cultists!
They must have been guards of some sort. An interesting view from their position they must have!
I went to the altar, it was a grisly affair, the entire area was smeared with blood and was clearly the site of gruesome sacrifices, human sacrifices from the looks of it.
Following the carpet, I reached door at the rear of the temple. Opening it slightly, I peered beyond and saw a corridor, there were numerous doors along either side. It all looked a bit mundane quite frankly and not the kind of place a lich might be found. I decided against exploring any further alone.
There were no other obvious exits from the temple, so I thought it best to return to my companions.
Crossing the courtyard and still invisible, I went past the cultists. They had laid their paraphernalia out across the courtyard, had congregated into a circle and were beginning to chant. A ritual was already under way, I hurried back.
With the situation explained to my friends. There was no time to lose, we had to disrupt the ritual. Charging up the steps we reached the landing. The cultists closest to us had their backs to us and were unaware of our approach. The cultists on the other side of the circle however, were facing us and we were spotted. They immediately grabbed their wicked curved daggers and ran at us screaming. Cultists!
Randulf in his usual manner, charged right back at them. In the ensuing melee, several cultists grappled Randulf to the ground and mobbed Egbert and Urham. I used my flying shield to keep them at a distance.
As all of this was occurring, a second band of cultist reinforcements came running out of the temple towards us; screaming and waving their wicked curved daggers as they did so. We fought hard, turned the tide of the battle and dealt with both the cultists and the reinforcements as well.
The courtyard was quiet now that we had put a stop to their ritual. There was only the temple to explore.
Upon entering we dispatched the guards hidden behind the drapes.
Searching the temple
Our search of the temple found that next to the altar was a black hole in the floor, also caked in blood. It appeared that the gory remains of the sacrifices were casually dumped down here. Not a place we wanted to look!
We went through the door at the back of the temple. The rooms along the corridor here were a variety of sleeping quarters, other functional rooms and nothing else.
Returning to temple, we searched it further and revealed that the altar could move. Pushing it to one side revealed a staircase descending into the darkness.
Descent into darkness
During out descent, we noted that the walls and ceiling of the passageway were roughly excavated. The stairs were worn and uneven. The stairs took us down into a rectangular room, as roughly hewn as the passageway.
Our eyes were immediately drawn to the six life-sized statues in the room. Four of the statues stood in the room, the remaining two were propped up against a wall. All six were incredibly detailed creations that fully captured the looks of shock and fear on their subjects' faces...
Seeing life-sized incredibly detailed statues instantly put us on edge, we knew something foul was somewhere down here.
There were three exits from here, east, west and north. We carefully peeked through the doors to see what lay beyond each one.
On the other side of the east door we saw a corridor filled with animated - although stationary skeletons.
Next; on the other side of the west door was another corridor, it was filled with... zombies. It looked like Conrad had definitely been busy!
Meanwhile, the northern door led to an empty corridor.
Our deliberation was brief, the northern way it was.
The northern way took us into an octagonal room, another roughly hewn room. Previously, we had received a note about an octagonal room, this included a hint about a secret room.
Unfortunately, we found more life-sized statues in this room, including two statues that looked in the process of trying to shut the northern door. Some of the statues here were broken.
Talking of doors, like the previous room, this had three, in the east, west and north walls.
The eastern door led to a corridor full of zombies. We could see the corridor turned north beyond the zombies.
The western door led to a corridor full of skeletons.
The statues were carefully moved from the northern door, so as to not damage them, then we looked through the door. The corridor continued north, but up ahead, we saw another corridor branching off to the west. The corridor continues north before turning east.
Neither the east or west exit was an option, so we ended up very, very cautiously moving through the northern corridor.
We paused when we reached the branching western corridor, at the end was a door. There was a noise from the other side, so we immediately retreated to the octagonal room.
We were sure that there was a gorgon or cockatrice beyond that door. Egbert cast a summon familiar spell and a rat came running up to him. Egbert commanded the rat to go north, then west to the door and investigate. Egbert would be 'connected' and be aware of whatever the rat sensed.
The rat went north, then west. As it closed in on the door, Egbert's connection abruptly ended! This was not good.
There was a quick confab and we came up with a plan. One of the mages would cast invisibility on either Randulf or I, then we would sneak forward with a sack. And when we encountered whatever the creature was, we would throw the sack over it's head and then the others would steam in and attack it.
It was decided that I would become invisible, since Randulf could hit hard very quickly.
After becoming invisible, I went into the north corridor. Then I saw it coming out of other corridor, half snake and half woman - with waving snakes for hair. Medusa
I tried sneaking forward, but scuffed my foot. She immediately turned to face me and stared directly at me, or should I say through me and I was unaffected by her terrible gaze.
The others deliberately made some noise from behind the door and she made her way towards it. I flattened myself against the wall. As she passed, I pounced, threw the sack over her head and frantically shouted for the others.
Randulf leapt forward and stuck her with all his strength. It was enough and his mighty blow decapitated her, spilling her burning blood all over the floor. Meanwhile I was left with a head in a sack!
Now that the gorgon was dead, we headed down the corridor that she had emerged from. Just before the door there was a statue of a rat, it was Egbert's little familiar!
Egbert tried casting a dispel magic spell on the statue... and it worked! His familiar was reverted to normal.
Beyond the door, there was some sort of boudoir. There was a bureau, with a mirror, jewellery and make up.
In the north wall was a door with an ornate lock, obviously locked. We tried casting a reversed lock spell on the door, but stronger magic than ours protected it.
Returning to the corridor, we followed it as it turned to the east.
This led to a square room with an exit to the south.
We scouted through the door and it led back to the zombies that we had seen from the octagonal room.
The rhyme that talked about an octagonal room also talked about a square room with a secret door. Duly, we searched the room and success! We had found a secret door.
The secret door led to a library. The library was a gutted ruin. Everything in the room had been wrecked or burnt to ash. There were clear signs that a violent battle had occurred here.
Amongst the blackened debris there was a desk of sorts. Searching it revealed a large key!
We returned to the boudoir and they key fitted, the door was opened. After going through the door, we stood at the top of a set of stairs that continued downwards. There was quite a change. No longer were the rooms and corridors roughly hewn and excavated. Now they were smooth, even and well made.
Before we had a chance to consider our next action; a booming, disembodied voice spoke out. It threatened and mocked us. Undeterred, we set off down the stairs. Which of course were trapped!
The steps folded down and became a smooth sloped surface. As we slid down, we saw that the bottom of the steps had opened up into some sort of pit. Luckily, between Urham and Egbert both casting fly spells and my shield of flying, we managed to avoid the deadly drop.
Conrad the Crazed
Continuing on, we came across a door. There had been inscribed on the door a large letter 'C', however at some point, someone had scratched the letter out. The 'C; must have stood for 'Conrad', or perhaps 'Crazed'? You can never tell with a lich.
We went through the door. On the other side we found some sort of machine that rattled and wheezed loudly. It was covered in all manner of dial and switches. Beyond the machine was a curtain that partitioned the other side of the room. We also saw the man operating the machine. He was weird looking, wore a crown and cackled, he turned to us as we entered and mocked us. It was the same voice that had earlier also mocked us; it was Conrad The Crazed.
Reacting quickly, Urham, Randulf and Egbert charged in and set about Conrad with all their most powerful attacks, none of which had any effect. Conrad them blasted us with spells.
Realising there was little to no chance of having any impact on Conrad, I needed to change tactics. So instead; I ran across the room and flung open the curtain.
Beyond the curtain was some sort of small and strange shrine. At its centre was a large green crystal, perhaps the size of a head. Cables ran from the shrine to the machine.
I was perplexed. But Randulf remembered that crystals are associated with lichs? It was then that we remembered something Milo had said: Lichs remove their souls and place them into crystals such as these. So long as the crystal is undamaged, the lich cannot be killed.
Randulf disengaged from Conrad, ran to the crystal and struck it a mighty blow, a thick and visible crack ran through the crystal. It was broken. The rest of us poured the attacks on Conrad and he was finally defeated.
We returned to the upper complex. Over the course of a day, we restored all the gorgon's victims that we were able to.
As we exited the temple, we left the Hand Of Brule at the entrance to the underground area to ensure that no undead could get out. Then we returned to Sister Devotia and explain where and why we had left the Hand Of Brule.
Finally, Milo appeared and invited us to his tower. He told us to go into his 'junk room' and take a couple of items as a reward.
Once this was done, Milo asked us where we wanted to go. We had made several attempt to reach Darkholme, but had been sidetracked every time. Milo instructed Percival to teleport us to Darkholme.
We arrived in the middle of a bustling market square amongst a great commotion, no doubt caused by the result of Percival's teleportion ability. There were a lot of people staring at us.
Well... at least we had finally arrived at Darkholme.
In Darkest Warrens, an explanation
In Darkest Warrens a very light RPG, condensed into 2 pages or so.
PCs have 4 stats, each with an associated value. All tasks are assigned to one of these 4 stats. To succeed, all a player needs to do is roll equal to or above the value (So lower values are better.).
There are 5 professions, each profession grants a player a special ability that they can use once per combat
Magic is equally as simple and elegant. Magic users can cast each spell they know once per combat, but if they fail to cast it, they don't lose the spell and can try to cast it again (Until they succeed at it.).
I could write more, but it would probably end up longer than the actual rules.
Suffice to say that these rules are designed for quick 'pick-up-and-play' fun and not long term play.
So on with adventure and exploration!
Because of lockdown we're playing over Skype, a new experience for us.
Player handout #3 A handwritten note
This is the first ever RPG clue I wrote. It accompanied my first ever dundeon, The Mansion of Mad Mage Milo, written in 1981.
It was fun to re-use some of my old ideas for these new adventures. As you've already seen, Milo appears here too. Less mad this time though.
My finely crafted map of Conrad's lair.
The Gorgon's head
Conrad the Crazed
Buy your own copy of In Darkest Warrens for not much money
These write-ups are taken from Three Spellcasters and a Dwarf