Year Zero World Building creates campaign settings using Free League’s RPGs. This month covers an adventure set in Middle-earth using The One Ring Second Edition. As a follow-up to last month’s column on vampires, here is a lair of vampires that Player-heroes may need to face to rescue prisoners or claim a magic treasure after a harrowing Journey and necessary Council.
Thanks to Free League for sending me RPGs to help in writing these articles. As a frequent customer of their kickstarters, pre-orders, and webstore I really appreciate their customer service and attention to detail coupled with amazingly written and supported RPGs.
Ruins of the Lost Realm is now available, and one of the landmarks can be expanded into a full adventure featuring the lair of vampires. As discussed last month, vampires are great monsters to use to challenge more powerful Player-heroes. Powerful magic items can make those heroes hard to challenge. Vampires, however, are not only skilled in hand-to-hand combat but also wield dark sorcery.
The Old Dwarf-Mines for Ruins of the Lost Realm is a landmark perfect to expand into a vampire lair. The mines are located far to the north in the Blue Mountains deep inside Dark Lands territory.
The Player-heroes may launch a Journey to the old Dwarf-Mines perhaps from the Halls of the Dwarves or Mithelond. Balin is a Patron that would certainly have an interest in the mines. Círdan is an interesting Patron choice as well. He may have seen the dangers of the vampires in the seeing stone and want them vanquished. Perhaps he even sees the Men of Stone, the Galeb Duhr, and hopes to obtain some lost lore from them. The Galeb Duhr are folk of living stone with long lives and long memories.
During the Journey, if the PCs have a Journey Event that can Wound or inflict Shadow Points, they may come across the aftermath of a vampire attack. Maybe an isolated cabin with the inhabitants all murdered and Dark magic still lingering. Or a trap meant to hurt or kill unwary travelers.
On the other hand, a Chance-meeting might bring them in contact with a Dwarf merchant. He might be willing to sell fireworks to the Player-heroes which they can in turn use to reduce the power of their foes as described below.
A Joyful Sight might be Eagles flying overhead, with brilliant sunlight coming out from behind the clouds. These sights of grandeur and brilliant light will give the entire Company courage and the Hope to continue onwards.
This Journey will be quite dangerous, especially at the end. Once the Dwarf-Mines are reached, the adventure really kicks off. A Council can bring much needed intelligence and combat is sure to follow once the mines are entered.
To allow the Player-heroes to encounter a vampire for the first time, tunnels leading to these lost mines could be guarded by one vampire and a handful of stone trolls. They may be close to the entrance to the mines and clever Player-heroes may be able to stage an ambush or even bring sunlight to bear against their foes.
The winding tunnel entrance leads towards the mines deeper in the mountains. One option is to have the men of stone, the Galeb Duhr, be found beyond this entrance and before mine itself. Galeb Duhr are living rock folk and they may have lore the Player-heroes need. If a Council goes well, they Galeb Duhr may be willing to share what they know. But their Duhrlings are prisoners of more vampires and they need the help of the Player-heroes to rescue their children.
Two monsters already prowl the mines: the Beast, terror of Angmar and Snow-wights. I repurposed the Scowle Gate of the original mines and turned that caved in area into the entrance to the vampires’ lair. A cave entrance is blocked by lava and a flooded tunnel. Runes mark the entrance with indentations for an icy blade and a large fang. If a frost blade and the fang a large beast are placed in the indentations beneath the runes, a bridge of stone will extend across the lava and the water filled tunnel will drain exposing the entrance to the lair of the vampires.
The vampires may be guarding a magic treasure the Player-heroes are questing for or may have taken prisoners the heroes need to free as mentioned above. Whatever the reason, the Player-heroes need to activate these runes to face the vampires. To do that, they have to take a sword from the Snow-wraiths and a fang from the Beast. The vampires have the cooperation of these monsters, but the heroes do not and will have to take what they need by force.
As an option, replace Malanteth’s Sword with six fireworks. These pyrotechnics can be set off in combat and negate the vampire’s use of Dark Mist and Denizen of Dark. The vampires themselves can be guarding a magic treasure to replace the sword.
Vampires do not have to drink blood to survive; they are dangerous fighters and accomplished sorcerers. In addition to their spells inflicting Shadow points, they have a variety of other possible effects. Depending on how well they rolled, the Player-heroes will have to choose to either reduce Shadow points gained or reduce these other negative effects. Exposure to sunlight turns vampires to stone just as it does stone trolls. It is unlikely the Player-heroes will be able to bring sunlight to bear in these lost mines, however.
There should be more than one vampire in the final encounter to make the combat especially challenging and interesting. If the Player-heroes faced one vampire in the first combat and now face more than one, that should ratchet up the stakes and the fear.
An adventure quest to reclaim lost magic, learn new lore or free prisoners, all set in a lost Dwarf-Mine found in Ruins of the Lost Realm, will make for a grand adventure. Couple that quest with a challenging Journey and a Council to gain lore before the action begins and the Player-heroes will be filled with purpose and knowledge. A puzzle to unlock, monsters to overcome, and vampires waiting at the end will make for a fine evening or two of Middle-earth adventuring.
Picture credit: Pixabay
Thanks for reading! Why not leave a comment below? Alternatively, if you're feeling restless you can teleport to a random article with this link!