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Master of The Undersea
Author: Dominic A. Covey
System: D&D Oriental Adventures
Requirements: A group of 4-6 characters of levels 2-5
In recent weeks the Temple of Shou Wat on the eastern coast of Shou Lung was raided by a mysterious and horrifying force that stole from the peaceful guardian-monks the sacred Fire Jewel of Shou. This "force", calling itself the Master of The Undersea, has begun to wreak havoc on the sealanes for sheer mischief and malice, using this powerful artifact to sink ships and set fire to coastal villages. Something must soon be done to find this sea-demon and it's accursed abode, before word reaches the Imperial Seat that the monks of Shou Wat have failed to guard his precious Fire Jewel from minions of evil!
"This mountain rises in a knotted cluster in the midst of blurred blue. Galloping clouds, running straight up and reaching out ten thousands of miles, coil round this wild retreat. From its head pour great torrents, and all the other hills come to attend its levee - their aspect like that of stars showing reverence (to the pole star), in deceptive images of grey-green and halcyon-blue, strung in damask designs, interlaced in embroideries. Indeed it appears that Heaven has assembled its choicest blooms in this place ..."
- Liu Tsung-yuan, poet of the T'ang Dynasty
MASTER OF THE UNDERSEA is a scenario developed for Oriental Adventures, the Advanced Dungeons And Dragons supplement detailing adventure in the magical Orient. MASTER OF THE UNDERSEA is most suitable for a party of characters of levels 2-5 (or a total of 20 levels), who have little or no magic items; although obviously an abundantly magic-equipped party will certainly be able to win the scenario, it will reduce the effectiveness of some of the challenges found within.
In recent weeks the Temple of Shou Wat on the eastern coast of Shou Lung was raided by a mysterious and horrifying force – the temple walls, bordering on the cliffs of the treacherous sea, were all at once assaulted by the ravages of the sea; a storm, growing in thunderous anger by the hour, assailed the poor monks of the ancient temple as night fell. The stars in the sky vanished as dark clouds gathered overhead, and only the glimmering white heads of the storming seas could be seen as a great fog rolled in across the ocean.
The monks knew, however, what was to occur, for their temple was founded long ago by the warrior-monk, Shou (so named due to his endless and valued services to the empire), to house and protect a sacred artifact sanctioned to the third emperor of the empire, Guang Zho, to use in battling the Triple Black Dragons of Zhong. This great artifact, crafted by the thunderous chisels of the earth gods and polished by the fiery heat of the infernal spirits of fire, was known as the Fire Jewel, sent to earth in the care of twin Men Shen and delivered to the Third Emperor. Guang Zho used the jewel to destroy the Triple Dragons of Zhong, but knew it’s priceless value and had it stolen away to a temple far from the northern lands ravaged by the Zhong Dragons, which had built expressly for that purpose. The Emperor’s hero, Shou, vowed to defend the temple and raise an order of guardians to keep the artifact safe for a future time wen it might be needed again.
The monks did not know the true cause of the storm, however, instead fearing the wrath of Chich Sung-Tzu, lord of rains, or perhaps even Shan Hai Ching, the god of winds and sea. In their panic they sought to discern the nature of their transgression, employing atonement spells to divine a way to appease the spirits. Their prayers went unanswered. Despite recruiting villagers from the surrounding village to help shore the walls and place sandbags to prevent flooding, by midnight all seemed lost – a great and final wavehead, as tall as a house, crashed into the cliffslide tearing down the seaward wall. The bare temple pagoda stood naked against the angry black sky as lightning coursed evilly across the horizon, far at sea.
As the monks gathered in the storm-beaten yard, staffs and yari in hand, figures seemed to emerge from the frothy sea foam as it battered the cliffs. One, two, then three greenish spirit demons leapt from the waters, scaled the cliffs, and landed with a cacophany of delighted bellows. A short battle ensued, and great winds buffeted the monks and peasants, casting some into the rubble, others into the sea. The pagoda was scaled in minutes, and during the panic no one saw who it was that stole the Fire Jewel from it’s towering summit – but by night’s end, the jewel (which had been in the temple’s care for centuries) was gone.
Cho Bin, the monastery head, has alerted the local magistrate of the province, an obese prelate who is comfortable in his position in this otherwise quiet coastal province. Wisely (or slyly), he has hesitated in alerting the emperor to this event, for fear of punishment by the Imperial Seat for not only failing to guard this ancient artifact, but also for failing to know anything about the mysterious attackers. Instead, he has deigned to watch the byways and high roads into his province for suitable “adventurers” whom he can call upon (with whatever persuasion or strong-arming he may need) to investigate this matter. Success is crucial – failure is not an option.
The adventurers enter the scene as they travel the great north-south Shou highway leading from the interior of the country towards the coast and down to the south. Whether they originate in the north or in the south, and regardless of their destination, the characters have come to this peaceful yet ruggedly natural province through their wanderings. They have no idea they are about to be pressed into a most dangerous mission.
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS
The adventure begins as the characters arrive at a drinking establishment and rest stop along the Great North Road, at a small wind-swept village almost a score miles from the coast of the eastern sea. The fields here are all bare of crop, and peasants toil silently in the fields clearing stones for the next planting. Few, if any, merchants move by along the road, their mules and oxen appearing as dismal in mood as the greying sky above.
As they come to rest from their weary travels, the sound of riders can be heard outside, and a few shouts to the minyan’s stableboy. Retainers of some as yet unseen figure enter the establishment and look it over with hard, discerning eyes. These men are armed with swords and yari, metal hats and breastplates (ashigaru, soldiers of the local daimyo). Their gaze comes to fall on the PCs. After a brief and wordless moment, one of the half-dozen men leaves momentarily before issuing in a tired-looking official in armor – his black hair streaked with grey. The tall and strong figure of the older warrior strides over to a table secured by his men and sits, taking the sake at once and drinking quickly to warm his cold body. Only after he has satisfied himself do the other men partake of the meal placed before them by the skittish innkeeper.
One of the ashigaru does not eat, instead whispering something to the elderly armored figure, and motions in the party’s direction with a lifting of his chin. The older man does not look at once, instead finishing the warm wine. Exhaling deeply – like the groan of creaking steel plates, or the bending of a well-tempered blade – the honored bushi looks up at the group. For a moment he just seems to size the PCs up, before muttering an unintelligible command.
Two of the ashigaru stand at once with a nod, and come over to their table. Pointing with his spear, one of the ashigaru motions for the PC group to join them at their table at once. The remaining soldiers at the table only look up briefly at the party from their noisesome devouring before returning once again to their meager meals.
The bushi bids the party sit at the end of the table – his soldiers make room against nearby posts and pillars, sitting on mats. None take too much concern over the PC’s presence.
The bushi looks them up one more time before reaching to the same retainer and retrieving a scroll. He rolls his tongue about his mouth, fighting to dislodge a piece of rice stuck in his teeth. He hands the scroll to any scholarly character among them (whom he assumes can read).
The bushi relates in a tired tone that the daimyo of this province (Chinyo Province, or any province you wish to set this adventure in) is seeking “adventurers” to join his employ at once. The scroll relates the same, an order for his patrols to seek out adventuring types (soldiers and the like) travelling the high roads north and south – and to compact their service. A reward will be given to those who answer the call, in the form of a 100 tael packet (each), upon completion of their tour of service. The patrol that secures a party for this purpose is likewise promised a reward of 10 tael per soldier.
It may seem odd to shrewd players of oriental characters that a reward is promised for both the adventurers and the soldiers of the patrol discovering them – this seems to indicate that the local daimyo is desperate to secure the services of adventurers for one reason or another. Of course, don’t hint this to the group.
If the group accepts, the bushi orders his drink refilled from the innkeeper’s son. As he is refreshed, he tells the group that they are to travel to the secluded monastery of Shou Wat, located 20 miles east on the coast. He assures them that the journey will be a plain and uneventful one, as those lands are firmly under the agricultural grip of their lord, Tiro Chuang.
The distant roll of thunder can be heard in the distance.
At the monastery they will meet with the temple master, a revered and holy man named Cho Bin. Whatever task is to be done will be at the whim of the monastery master. The bushi can only guess as to the nature of this need (or why his lord has made any monastery’s affairs a matter of his own concern), but this is not his place to question in any case. Once this information is passed on he will ask the group to mention his own name – Chi Feng – and those of his patrol (make up names if relevant) when they arrive at the monastery, so that they may enjoy their promised reward for locating the group. They then bid the adventurers a safe journey. A 100 experience point group bonus should be awarded if the characters remember to mention the soldiers’ names when they arrive at Shou Wat.
THE TEMPLE OF SHOU WAT
As the bushi commander stated, the trek to the Temple of Shou Wat is not a difficult one, crossing vast barren rice paddies and rising into hilly crags and wind-swept clifflands. The weather turns bleaker as the journey rolls on, the sky overcast and dismal. The sound of gulls all at once assails the party’s ears as they round the next bend in the coastal road. Up ahead, a small village can be seen, ringing the grounds of a massive monastery perched at the edges of a great sea cliff. Oddly, even from afar one can see the walls seem badly weathered and eroded, and parts of the far wall (facing the sea) seem to have collapsed at some time in the past. Figures in saffron robes move about the beautiful gardens of the temple (visible from this height) like moving gems in a setting of the deepest emerald green, yet the most striking feature of the scene is by far the towering and elegant pagoda rising from the heart of the walled monastery. Ascending into the sky like the sheer steps of some deific stair to the Heavens, the pagoda seems like a glimmering beacon to the faithful.
In the distance, beyond the village and the monastery, spreads the great ocean, white caps riding on tenuous waves of bleak grey waters as far as the eye can see. Far out, on the horizon, the colorless sky deepens to a much more sinister black, hinting to a storm in the near future, perhaps in a few days or so should the sky spirits be in a fickle mood.
The ride through the village is uneventful, for the looks of purpose (or curiosity) on their faces keep the peasants from disturbing the PCs as the come through. They do notice, rather disturbingly, that the tired and mangy peasants – even the women among them (some carrying their shildren on their backs as they toil in the fields with hoes and picks) - stop their work to watch with wide eager eyes as they pass. Perhaps, just to liven things up with a bit of acting, a fat local merchant calls out to the characters (thinking them pilgrims) to sample his hot tea and rice cakes, if only they secure lodgings at his inn instead of his competitors. His voice trails off as he watches them ride by.
The PCs are admitted into the monastery by a group of girlish acolytes at once when they state their business. They are led through the shaded double doors and gatehouse of the fortified temple sanctuary, into a long pillared courtyard. Looking in all directions, they see carefully-tended gardens (suitable for the Emperor himself one might even suggest) with marble pools and fountains. Ornate pillars of black iron run the length of the creat courtyard, ending at the great dais of broad flat marble steps that rise to the great pagoda itself. Before each pillar stands the heavy stone statue of a roaring dog-like creature, some eighteen or twenty in all. Ivy and flowering buds rise around them in a cape of color.
Above the yawning entrance to the pagoda stands a massive stone statue of a great Shou warrior clad in armor and fierce helmet, grasping in one hand a great forked spear and in the other what appears to be a faceted stone. This stone he holds high over his head. At his feet coil and writhe three great worms – dragons – whose gross lolling tongues coil about his feet in almost as much a snake-like manner as their own twisting bodies. The stone all around both figures is carved and chiselled with the utmost skill to resemble the boiling flumes of some great conflagration, which appears to be consuming both in a fantastic aura. The sight of this great relief is stunning to behold, for it alone is nearly sixty feet high and thirty feet wide; the pagoda it is carved into must be three times that height, stretching to the sky as one of the most majestic things you have ever seen.
In the distance, just beyond the gardens, can be seen the arches of a second quarter of the temple, where some fifty or so acolytes in saffron robes can be seen sqatting with crossed legs in a great stone courtyard, murmuring in unison some sutra (prayer) that drones out like the humming of distant bees, accompanied by the bong of deep temple drums and the singing of chiming cymbals.
Yet to the sea wall, the characters see some two or three dozen young monks constructing scaffolds of bamboo and wood, rising ever-so steadily upwards to enact repairs on the fallen section of wall. A makeshift quarry of stone lies nearby; a stone merchant can be heard quietly haggling a price for nearly twenty tons of granite to an aging monk standing before him with a group of lesser followers – some of which appear to be doing mathematic calculations.
One of the skittish monks who brought the PCs in runs over to the aged monk speaking with the merchant and murmurs to him. The monks in unison turn to glimpse the party as they are issued forward. As they approach, the old bald monk, his eyes half-closed by drooping eyelids, turns from them and motions for them to follow as he walks. A few of the lesser monks follow, hands clasped in silent repose as they walk wordlessly behind, heads bowed in respect.
The old monk introduces himself to the group as Cho Bin, head of the Temple of Shou Wat. His followers have informed him of the group’s interest – response to the summons by the daimyo. At once Cho Bin strikes them as a canny individual despite his age (he must be at least 80 years of age), wise but with a sense of humor, shrewd but gentle with those he knows nothing of. He will answer their most mundane questions elusively and avoidingly (he will not yet speak of the matter, only referring to it as one of “great concern”), leading them through shaded arched halls and courtyards of fountains and humming monks.
Cho Bin is summing them up. He knows that the undertaking he is about to demand will require men of the greatest mettle and ones who cannot fail, for the honor of his temple, himself, and even his daimyo are at risk. The wrath of the gods (for losing their artifact) is certainly to be upon him if these men fail.
At long last Cho Bin leads the group into a courtyard like any other, except instead of wandering groups of acolytes or groups of men immersed in affairs of their own business, this one is filled with young shaved men in saffron robes who seem to be standing, sitting, and waiting. They stare at the PCs as they and Cho Bin enter the sunlit courtyard. The sound of the sea can be heard in the distance.
Cho Bin smiles a shrewd smile and informs the group that before they are to be taken into the temple’s service, they must pass “a few” tests. This should come as a great surprise to the group (assuming they are all low-level), as they are unprepared for any “test”. Before they begin, he cautions them that the names of the tests are often misleading...
The Test of Strength:
Any warrior-type caracter (samurai, kensai, bushi, etc) is stripped down to his loincloth and given a wooden sword (bokken). With a gesture of his hand, from the ranks of the waiting monks steps forward a young muscled candidated, who removes his robe to reveal similar attire, drawing a wooden sword as well, facing off against the PC.
Cho Bin says this is a test of strength and martial skill. To face the unknown requires intelligence and insight, but beyond all things a strong hand and ready blade have been the savior of many men. To this end he must judge the skill of the group’s warrior.
To this end, Cho Bin informs the PCs that they must pick their best warrior and send him into practice combat against the best sohei of the temple guard, Bao Ni. Bao Ni is a 9th level sohei - S 18/51, I 8, W 14, D 18, C 18, Ch 15; 90 hit points, AC 6 (unarmored), LN, spells (none of which he is sanctioned to use during this test); armed with a wooden sword (does 2 points of damage per hit, plus any damage bonus), he will fight tenaciously and vigorously against any opponent as directed by his master, Cho Bin. Bao Ni will fight until reduced to zero hit points; he receives a total of +3 to-hit and +4 damage due to abilities and strength, with two attacks per round (due to level).
Likewise, the warrior PC is expected to fight until reduced to zero hit points. These are, of course, “phantom” hit points, as the duellers are using non-lethal wooden swords (thus the damage is negated at the battle’s end). The weapon inflicts a flat two points of damage (plus any for strength bonus) each time a hit is scored. No armor may be worn during the test, and no magic used to aid either side.
If the PC is beaten in under three rounds, Cho Bin “mercifully” allows the defeated character to elect another of the group’s warriors to fight in a re-trial. The rules for this second battle are the same as for the first round.
Although it is likely the PC will be beaten by the superior Bao Ni, Cho Bin is not looking for victory, but rather the resolve to win and the humility to persist in a test even if the outcome appears to be unwinnable. This he will explain at the test’s end (never at the beginning, for that would ruin the test). Winner or loser is unimportant in this test. If the PC should win (and assuming he is recognized as being low-level), all monks present will be at the same time shocked and impressed!
The Test of Willpower And Agility:
For the next test (which he refers to as the “test of endurance, willpower, and agility”), Cho Bin moves to an area in the courtyard where a number of low wooden posts jut from the stone of the yard. Each post is roughly a foot high, less than six inches wide and square in shape. Except for the first two posts, which are flat-topped, the top end of each of the posts has been worn down by carving and sanding to form a four-sided pyramid – a rough but painful-looking spike (hardly lethal, but capable of some damage). Between each set of posts is some three feet distance. The posts are staggered as they run the length of the yard (some 120’), so that one might leap from one to another in a series of leaps down the elevated and spiky path. At one end stands a pair of monks with rolls of bandages and dressings.
Cho Bin smiles almost cruelly and says (to the most agile PC), “meet you at the other end”. He then walks down to the other end of the spiky path. The remaining monks watch eagerly.
This test is ostensibly about crossing those posts, which is achieved by leaping from one to the other as the tested makes his way down the 120’ length. The one to be tested may start by putting one foot on each of the flat posts and leaping to the next and so forth. Each time the character jumps from one post to another, as he lands he must make a Dexterity check at –1. If this is failed, he falls and the test is failed. If he makes this check, he has landed on the post but takes a point of damage from landing on the pointed post (but he has cleared the distance and is ready for the next leap). If the check is made by more than 5, however, no damage is incurred and the next leap can be made.
Each time a character leaps, 6’ are covered, so that a total of 20 checks must be made to cross the spiky pathway to the other end where Cho Bin awaits. If the character makes it, he passes the test.
There is a hidden meaning to this test. Cho Bin never once said that the character being tested had to jump from post to post. In fact, he is not required to. He could, conceivably, walk between the posts or walk right behind Cho Bin to the other end and the test would be a success. Cho Bin is testing the character not for agility (though he will of course honor the test as a success if the character foolishly makes the attempt and succeeds to everyone’s astonishment; imagine actually doing that), but rather to see if he pays attention. A wise character will listen to what he said and what was asked of him, and will avoid unnecessary dangers. Twofold, it is also a test of another kind; by presenting the spiked posts and the men at the far end with bandages and dressings, he is indirectly suggesting to the PC that he must cross by running the spikes, but this is actually not the case. A character who is not influenced by the sight of the doctoring monks at the far end and who sticks to the wording of the test will be able to recognize illusions for what they are and make progress where others will most certainly be misled.
Cudos to any players who successfully figures this one out! A 200 experience point bonus should be awarded to the character that figures out not to cross by leaping from post to post; 75 experience points if he does it the painful way and still succeeds.
The Test of Ambition:
For the final test, each member of the group is given a 2’ piece of wood (or 3’, or 4’, depending on how many party members there are, just so that the total combined length is 20’), shaped like a small stave and capable of being linked together to form a larger “weapon” (never refer to it as a “tool”; the PCs should be forced to come up with this themselves; let them assume it is a weapon with which they must fight each other). It can be used as a weapon, inflicting 1d6 points of subdual damage with each hit. They have among them a single metal hook (given to the weakest PC, hit point-wise), which can be attached to the end of one of the rods (with hook in place, the stave inflicts 2d6 points of lethal damage). Cho Bin motions to the zenith of one of the towering arches nearby, where the party notices a glimmering crystal ring hanging off a similar hook set into the stone. It jingles in the wind.
The final test, he says calmly, is the “test of ambition”. He says in the same calm voice that the ring they see is an enchanted amethyst circlet that has been in the possession of the temple for centuries, and never once has anyone been able to retrieve it. He knows that the circlet is an artifact of the ancient hero, Shou (to whom the temple is built partly to honor), though it’s exact powers are largely unknown. It is known, however, that the ring cannot be snatched from the wall by the bare hand (thus the metal hook they are given to snag it with) or else risk immediate disintegration, though once it is torn from the arch it can be handled normally and it’s powers – whatever they may be – invoked.
Cho Bin hesitates for a moment then continues. The circlet has long been a temptation to the monks and he desires it as a token of his deity. If any one of the PCs can retrieve it, he will reward that PC with no less than a magic item from the coffers of the monastery (or 1,000 ch’ien, or whatever motivates the PCs, and should be more than enough to motivate the group into action) if they hand it over to him once it is freed. He cannot give out more than one item should somehow two or more characters manage to have a claim to the freed ring.
Cho Bin is, of course, hiding the truth. This test is really the “test of teamwork”, but he does nothing to reveal this. The ring is non-magical, the stated reward only meant to tempt. He is trying to weed out the greed and motivations of the group, to see who if any of the group will attempt to snatch the ring for himself. With his part of the rod, any one of the group can attempt to beat the others up and take the hook, which will be required (or so they think) to claim it. Once the hook is taken, the PC should be made aware that the rod is much more deadly with hook in place. This further motivates the greedy to turn against his opponents, this time with a potentially deadly outcome.
Reaching the ring requires a staff 20’ long (no less, regardless of the PC’s height), which – rahter conveniently – all the rods combined will form. A character who has beaten up his comrades will thus be able to put the staves together neatly into a 20’ hooked pole and retrieve the crystal ring for himself.
Alternatively (and Cho Bin hopes this is so), the group may forsake the magic reward and work together to combine their parts of the pole and hook and retrieve the item to pass the test. This is what Cho Bin is hoping they will do, for it is a sign of not only teamwork, but a willingness to make sacrifice for a greater good.
If one PC should incapacitate or kill his comrades, Cho Bin will be disappointed but will say nothing. He will order his men to retrieve the reward – a potion of delusion! The test is considered failed, however. A 100 experience point group bonus should be awarded if the characters work together instead of fighting.
AND, FINALLY, THE MISSION
Once the tests are over (and assuming the characters passed the majority of the time), Cho Bin finally reveals to them the purpose of the summons, and as he relates to them the facts, walks with them to the gaping hole in the sea wall which overlooks the raging sea far below.
The story he tells them is related in the RECENT HISTORY section of this module (at the beginning of this book), the history of the hero, Shou, the Triple Black Dragons of Zhou, the creation of the Fire Jewel, it’s purpose, and it’s ultimate fate (it’s interment here, at the Temple of Shou Wat, for several centuries up until recently). He will also tell of the attack on the temple (as described under RECENT HISTORY, never exactly giving a good picture of the attackers) and ultimately of the loss of the Fire Jewel to these unknown spirit assailants. He can answer other questions as well:
As to the nature of the attackers, he says that it was a great storm in the midst of night, but that which was seen were a number (three or four) of tall (7’ or 8’) demons (oni, but don’t refer to them as that just yet), the color of the raging sea – silvery blue like rushing sea foam, blackish green like strangling seaweed, brilliant glimmering black like the gripping maw of a whirlpool – possessed with horns and triple eyes. They laughed maniacally and cruelly as they raided the monastery.
The creatures somehow wielded the force of the sea, for a great wave preceeded them in battering down the sea wall.
No other powers or abilities possessed by the demons are known by the monks of Shou Wat. If they were led by some person or being, or directed by the wrath of an angry sea god, is as yet unknown as well.
To find out more, Cho Bin explains that the characters are to sail to a small island (one of several in a coastal chain just out of sight of the mainland, to the east) out to sea, a place once visited by holy men and pilgrims seeking the blessings of Shan Hai Ching, a usually benevolent god of wind and sea. The voyage was treacherous, involving often stormy seas and hidden reefs near the island’s shores. But, according to old scrolls preserved in the monastery, this island hid a secret lagoon on one side which led to a cave where the shrine was built by island spirits many centuries ago. It was here that wise men and seekers of the god’s blessings came to make offerings and sacrifice. It is here they must go.
The aging monk explains that request spells and divinations to the god have had no effect. Apparently some evil curse overhangs the monastery and the coastal lands, for not even the gods will answer them. The group that they must find the island, make landfall, and locate the cave. Once they have found they are to make a suitable offering at the shrine, and petition Shan Hai Ching to tell them what has brought about his ire against them. He provides a packet of 100 tael, which should suffice for this purpose. There is no guarantee this will work, and Cho Bin will not dance around this fact; but it is their only hope. Find this ancient holy place, attempt to commune with the deity, and perform whatever service is needed to appease his wrath.
To this ultimate end the group is given a small but seaworthy fishing vessel, a junk. This simple vessel is made of wood and reeds, with a main top deck, a poop deck, stern castle (split into a storeroom and crew cabin), and a ship’s hold beneath. Alternatively, should the PCs possess their own means of transport, or purchase their own from the coastal fishermen in the village, they may use these vessels instead (or in addition). For purposes of damage incurred during their voyages through this adventure, the junk is considered to have 12 structural points.
There are a number of coastal islands in a small chain extending out from the peninsula of Chinyo Province to which the PCs will be travelling. Three of these islands appear large enough to harbor areas of interest. These are presented below in the most convenient order in which they should be encountered, though of course the players may choose to land on some and not others; adapt as needed.
The Island of Hing Lin:
This rather distinct horseshoe-shaped island shelters a natural cove, as is evident even from afar. The rough seas tear at the cliffs of the island (which is itself apparently heavily-forested with a rugged interior of cluffs and hills), but the entrance to a lagoon is apparent. The lagoon is a long but calm body of water, overseen by the beautiful semi-tropic forests of the island. The sound of monkeys can be heard even far from shore, testament to the life on the isle. Every so often a pinkish or orangish bird of paradise soars from the jungle canopy to disappear into the cloudy sky above.
At the end of the lagoon is a narrow slip of beach, where a dilapidated but sea-worthy junk sits at a makeshift reed dock. Barrels and sacks of provisions are piled on the dock and on the beach.
The cove is home to some 30 wako, human pirates and outcasts from various fishing villages in Wa and Shou Lung (AC 8; HD 1; hp 7 each; #AT 1; Dmg 1-8/1-12; SA +2 to-hit and +1 damage; SD immune to fear; MR nil; AL LE) who have been raiding the coast of Shou Lung for some time now. They dwell in a number of poorly-constructed reed huts on the sheltered beach and in the natural caves lining the lagoon. Some 3d4 will be present in the beach huts; the remainder dwell in the caves. Any vessel making the voyage down the lagoon’s length will be spotted by watchmen concealed in the jungle treetops. In this case, the wako will be armed and hiding in the jungles, waiting for a skiff to come ashore before attacking in an attempt to overpower and board the PC’s ship.
The wako are led by Hing Lin, a fierce 5th level bushi (AC 4; HD 5; hp 56; #AT 3/2; Dmg 1-8/1-12; SA +2 to-hit and +1 damage; SD immune to fear; MR nil; AL LE) armed with a katana, leather armor, and bracers of defense AC 4. He is known throughout the coastal region for never taking prisoners.
The pirate leader, if interrogated, will laugh at the PCs threats and accusations, unless they mention the supernatural (in specific, the “green sea demons” mentioned by Cho Bin, the head of the monastery of Shou Wat). At this point the leader, and his remaining wako, fall into fearful silence. It requires a Charisma check to make him speak any further. The wako have heard tales of supernatural sea creatures in the past few months, and will relate the following points:
A treasure ship sailing from Wa, which they had marked for piracy, vanished somewhere in the sea between the islands and Shou Lung. The pirates believe it to have been the victim of evil ocean creatures.
The pirates have been operating more freely along the coast in recent weeks; the pirates believe the good sea spirit folk (who normally harrass their operations) have left the area (in fact they have been driven away by Chang Tso’s evil).
Fishermen have been vanishing with their boats in recent weeks. The magistrate of the province is accusing pirate activity, but the pirates claim to have no involvement.
An ancient pirate legend about Huang Choi, an infamous pirate captain, who spent years raiding imperial and merchant vessels across the ocean. So vast was his wealth and so many his enemies that Choi was forced to bury it in parts on different islands – most uncharted. According to legend, Huang Choi met his fate burying one of these treasure hordes on a strange mystical island that rose from the sea. No further details of this island are known.
The pirates know nothing of the Fire Jewel or any legends pertaining to it. Detect lie or similar magic will reveal that this is, in fact, the truth.
The pirates admit that they know of the Island of The Shrine (the third island in the coastal chain), and that they were planning on using the shrine cave as their main hideout. As no pilgrims have made the dangerous voyage to the island in some time, the pirates considered it a perfect place for a hideout. However, the wako will relate, as they neared the island they saw the bodies of “sea spirits” washed ashore and took this as a bad omen, and have since shunned the island as haunted.
The pirates will fight to the death if their island hideout is discovered, being led by Hing Lin in battle. Thus, the above information will only be obtained if the pirates are somehow subdued – a sleep spell, for instance, or charm person on one or more of their number. Hing Lin, even if captured, will attempt to escape the PCs confinement and pursue them to the beach, where he will show exceptional brutality in enacting revenge. Only if he is killed publicly (i.e. in front of his men) will the other wako surrender.
The main cave occupied by the wako is located at the end of the lagoon, overlooking the entrance to the island. No signs of path or road exists to signify this cave as special, but it is here that Hing Lin and at least 10 wako reside at all times (unless the alarm is raised). A stash (kept mostly in plain burlap sacks, but some wooden chests as well) of treasure is also kept in the cool darkness of this cave, consisting of 6,000 fen, 6,000 ch’ao, a potion of healing, and noisome spirit chasers.
The Volcanic Island:
The larger of the islands in the chain is a barren black sandy isle, the entirety of which can be observed from a distance of a mile or so out to sea. Even a casual onlooker can see that the island is dominated by an active cinder cone, expelling ash and bits of super-hot flame at irregular intervals (20% chance they see one as they approach). Smoke tumbles out almost constantly, vanishing into the sky above.
The beaches are of dust-like black sand, as is the ash-strewn landscape of the small island. A few boulders lie strewn about the beach’s edge, but other than this the island is bare. No trees or vegetation is evident. Also, no caves nor lagoon can be spied from the deck of the boat. Apparently this island (though certainly possessed by a vigorous and angry mountain spirit) is not worth investigating.
As they sail past, there is a rumble from the island and the seas churn; waves roll unexpectedly against the hull of the ship as a gust of choking black smoke rises from the cinder cone into the sky. As they watch from deck, the party sees a reddish glow from the volcano illuminate the smoke plume, and within moments there is an even more thunderous rumble as the cone erupts in a geyser of red-hot stone and globs of molten magma!
As they stare in horror, the flying bits of magma and fiery ash soar across the island in balls of increasing smoke, while others scatter out across the beach and into the sea, turning into steam as they vanish into the water. Still more of the jettisoned ejecta cascades skyward from the fuming volcanic cone, coming down all around their vessel! Any character immediately making a Wisdom check notices (as he looks upwards) that the falling globs of magma have angry faces on them and cackle evilly as they arch downwards towards the ship, barking curses in Shou at the passing vessel for dessecrating their territory!
The rain of angry magma spirits are treated as magma mephits (AC 6; HD 3; hp 24 each; #AT 2; Dmg 1-8+1/1-8+1; SA breath lava up to 10’ for 1d6 once each three rounds; SD nil; MR nil; AL N), and though large numbers of them fall about the ship landing in the sea, 1d4 manage to land on the vessel’s deck during the eruption. For each mephit that lands on the wooden vessel, it takes 1 point of structural damage (up to 4 on the first round) as the magma eats away at the deck. The very same round the mephits on deck will begin attacking anyone in sight.
On every third round, all magma mephits still alive on the ship inflict another point of structural damage. They will continue to inflict this damage until killed or driven off, as their footprints burn holes in the fragile wooden hull. No more mephits will follow, and the vessel will be able to sail away unscathed.
The Island of The Shrine
The third and last island of the small chain lies under the tall shadow of the volcanic island, just a few miles away to the south and west. From a distance the waters of the chain seem to darken and turn a brilliant azure (obviously the reefs of the other islands diminish here, turning to deep sea instead); the island itself seems rough and hilly, it’s black sandy slopes covered in thick forests that rise from the very edge of the sea up to the barren heights above.
The island seems roughly circular in nature, and no harbors are evident. Boulders and rough rocky outcroppings make a landing at any location most difficult. Sailing around the island, however, the crew of the PCs boat suddenly discovers (on the north side) the narrow but deepwater opening of an ocean lagoon; as they near, the lagoon seems to stretch back under the cover of the high hills on either side. A secret lagoon! Heavy jungle trees and black rock boulders run right up to the water’s edge, defying attempts to look inland, but far down the lagoon can be seen a black sand beach.
As they come down the lagoon, those on deck can see, lying strewn about the beach, numerous bones and the remains of recently rotted creatures, their origins indeterminate. Some fish and eels seem to be here as well, baking under the sun. The smell is noxious, but will not deter the group from landing (a search of the rotted remains uncovers nothing noteworthy; although it is unlikely to ever be discerned, these are the remains of two spirit folk who came in search of the island in hopes of communing with Shan Hai Ching, but whom were washed roughly ashore and were killed in a sudden storm – unrelated to Chang Tso’s mischief in the Haunted Sea).
The black gravel sand of the beach is coarse and unwelcoming, the tall stands of palm trees blowing with a cold sea wind that almost seems to push the PCs away. No sound of jungle birds or primates reaches their ears, even as they press on along a cobblestone path winding it’s way from the azure lagoon into the black sandy hills. After a few minutes of walking, the path (and the PCs) vanish from the sight of anyone on the beach (or in the lagoon), as the jungle swallows the path almost entirely. The rest of the arduous trek up the path to the shrine cave is done under the cover of heavy foliage.
The shrine cave is located some two miles up the path from the shores of the lagoon, a meandering trail that winds up and over rough inclines and knotted boulders, beneath tall stands of palm trees and the rare hill pine. After 2d3 hours (reduced to 1d2 hours if a machete or parang is used to clear the brush), a dave is discovered high in the island’s central hills. From this height, the lagoon and the entire northern approaches to the island can be seen in a wondrous panorama from up high.
The cave is in fact the shrine they seek, one dedicated to Shan Hai Ching in times past. The entrance is rough an irregular (natural), though after only a few feet of passage inside, investigation reveals a large statue (15’ high) of a serene human head overlooking an old natural stone altar, worn by the tide, where a rusted bowl (itself 4’ across) still sits nestled in a hollowed-out depression in the rock. A bit of murky sea water floats in the great bowl. The shrine cave is cold and damp, almost dismal in it’s rustic exclusion from the world.
The player characters realize this is the shrine that they have been seeking. Old prayers have been inscribed into the rocks of the cave walls, and old prayer strips sit rotted in the bowl’s water and on the stony floor. Thick whitish moss clings to the surfaces of the great statue, as well as the lichen-covered floor.
Once positioned before the great bowl, an offering of 100 tael must be placed in the waters – at which time the glimmering coins seem to mysteriously vanish in a strange glowing aura. An omen, trance, dream sight, request, or other divination spell will have the same effect.
As an offering or divination is made, the waters of the grotto bowl seem to glow momentarily, as a whispered voice seems to emanate from the very rocks themselves. A watery image – a simple amorphous glow surrounded by an intense aura of calm and harmony – appears above the bowl, speaking to the group. This is an image of Shan Hai Ching, lord of the sea, who will answer the questions of the group. He has these points to relate:
The recent events taking place in the so-called “Haunted Sea” are not the deity’s doing – they are the work of a rogue oni, a servitor of the Celestial Bureaucracy, and a small collection of other oni and evil sea creatures he has tempted to his side.
This oni, Chang Tso, has played mischief across the coast against the fishermen and sailors. Acting much against his orders, the rebellious Tso chases away fish so that the men’s nets go empty, and uses magic to mislead the ships of sailors so they get lost for days at sea. His minions further confound the plight of the innocent by joining together under their lord to create great storms rivalling the tsunami of t’ien lung and their kind.
The Temple of Shou Wat was raided by Chang Tso and his minions, striking with all their power to snatch the Fire Jewel from it’s hiding place. At this, the image of Shan Hai Ching appears a little disappointed in the mortals (though he understands they are not related to the Emperor or his plan to conceal the jewel from their observation). He now possesses the artifact – what purpose he plans for it can only be malevolent, that is for sure.
This threat must be put right, either by forcing Chang Tso to heed the words of the Celestial Emperor or, if need be, vanquish him. To this end Shan Hai Ching tells the party that Chang Tso and his oni minions dwell on a magical island that lies forgotten beneath the sea, only rising every so often to plague a complacent and forgetful mankind (who often forget to pay attention to the gods in times of prosperity) at the behest of the Bureaucracy with storms and misfortune. Mysteriously, however, Chang Tso has kept his island on the surface beyond his alotted time, despite warnings by the Celestial Gods. He has titled himself “Master of The Undersea” and has claimed supreme dominance over the Haunted Sea region.
The gods have sent at least one envoy to curb the mischief of Chang Tso, but this envoy – a dragon – has failed to return. The gods were awaiting heroes to accomplish a task for them – to deal with the menace of Chang Tso.
To find Fuyu Hama – Chang Tso’s haunted island of coral – Shan Hai Ching imparts directions unto the group; sail east into the wind for three days, and yet east for three days more. On the seventh day the seas will turn grey and a storm will come upon them; lightning will flash and the seas will claw at their vessel in an attempt to claim it. Shan Hai Ching warns the group that they should never attempt to sail away, for this will only draw the attention of Chang Tso and his minions, who will certainly emerge to investigate and sink their vessel. Only if they persist, and sail straight into the storm (contrary to any good sense), will the fog rise and the storms part to reveal the Sunken Archipelago and Fuyu Hama – the Winter Blossom Palace, perched atop Chang Tso’s mighty island.
The image will relate nothing else besides these points, for it is aware of the PC’s purpose on the island. Whether the PCs recognize it for wat it is (a communication with a venerable sea deity) or not is irrelevant. Once the information is passed on the ghostly vision blurs and ultimately vanishes. It does not reappear, regardless of spells cast and offerings made (coins will not vanish; they will remain in the bowl, at the bottom of the murky water).
THE VOYAGE TO FUYU HAMA
The voyage to the Sunken Archipelago mentioned by the image of Chan Hai Ching involves a week of travel against the winds to the mystic coral paradise of Fuyu Hama. This voyage is, in fact, a magical one; for the DM’s reference, anywhere in the eastern seas, if a vessel sails straight east into the wind for seven days, they will actually encounter Fuyu Hama and the Master of the Undersea. This is a fact known to few beings (though spirit folk are quite aware of this menace, and the means to finding his magical submerging archipelago).
Although the crew protests to the sailing of such a strange course into the growing winds of the east, it soon becomes apparent that some headway is being made. By the third day, the land and it’s cloudy horizon can no longer be seen (and no more coastal islands will be encountered). The sky grows dark, and thunder is heard in the distance, far to the east – though still no island is sighted nor any approaching storm.
For the fourth and fifth days, the winds grow stronger, more fierce, straining against the vessel in some spectral attempt to hold it back. Fish throw themselves from the sea about the ship in protest, the waves race by at a height of more than three men high. The sailors and PCs must fight hard to keep the rigging from being torn from the ship.
On the sixth day, the storm comes upon the PC’s vessel. Almost at once the sky turns black, and angry lightning streaks across the sky. The wind howls now more than ever, and sky spirits can be visibly seen in a fierce aerial ballet far above, drawing with them torrents of wind and sheets of pounding rain. The seas rebel as one, pushing and pulling at their tiny vessel until it seems at last that they are to sink, taken by phantom hands to the bottom of this Haunted Sea.
Then, on the dawn of the seventh day (should they persist), the storms subside at once. A thick, mile-high fog sweeps across the roaring grey seas, calming it like the gentle hand of some peaceful goddess. The ship moves on, even against the wind (whipped about far above the fog), sailing straight into the mists.
Soon, in the silence, the waves return, and the fog thins to reveal an island up ahead. No, two islands. No, three. An archipelago of hauntingly-dark islets running a fractured ring around a roaring inner sea, the center of which is pierced by a single mountainous island of greenish-gray coral, rising from the depths of the Haunted Sea to the very sky like an anguished claw, rung with mist-enshrouded terraces and hidden gardens (sen ever from afar). The tops of this mystical haunt are closed from the sight of insignificant mortals by the great thundering clouds above, though it sure that something dwells far atop that place, away from peering eyes.
FUYU HAMA (THE WINTER BLOSSOM PALACE):
Named Fuyu Hama (the Winter Blossom Palace) because of the cold and lonely nature of the place, the great castle crowning the precarious lip of Chang Tso's coral mountain is nigh impossible to see from the ocean except by the eagle’s eye – it is hidden by crystalline clouds of mist and thunderheads (only it’s black pagoda-like spire is visible in any case). Fuyu Hama, and the whole archipelago in fact, is an entirely magical place – once every so often the rock islets can totally vanish beneath the waves in a storm of fog, mist, and steam, and roiling black waves. And just as suddenly and mysteriously, the Master of the Undersea can make his island palace rise from the depths of the ocean.
The Rocky Islets:
Various rock islets surround the island of Chang Tso's palace, some of which actually dwarf the main island in length and width - but none are higher. In any event, these islands are bare, lifeless rocks, home to only the sparsest sea vegetation and a few hearty nesting birds living in the near-constant mist that surrounds the mysterious archipelago.
A few of the islets are home to some of Chang Tso's servant creatures, as noted on the map of the archipelago. Most of these are the six ogre magi who control various "elements" of Chang Tso's sea domain - currents, sea foam, storms, etc. These are spirit oni just like Chang Tso, though in general they are less strong that their master in both physical prowess and magical inclination. None of them are quite as clever as Chang Tso either, and are easily bullied into submission and servitude. These oni have served to wreck mankind on the seas for centuries, and it should be noted that the archipelago is, to them, more than a smattering of rocky islands, but a mystical and magical paradise whose secrets they alone share. Each of these oni, from the lowest of his servants to the Master of The Undersea himself, will consider transgression by mere mortals as next to a slap in the face.
Although it is explained elsewhere as well, keep in mind the nature of the servants of Chang Tso. Each is an independent and prideful spirit creature, full of anger and spite against mankind. Each is likewise very mischievous and curious, and jealously guards it’s “domain” fiercely. Each spirit oni has it’s own “domain”, a certain aspect of the sea (in the case of Chang Tso’s minions) – sea foam, currents, whirlpools, storms, etc. Each considers itself the sole master of that given realm, and they even share some aspect of this realm in their own personailities (the oni of storms is full of rage and is easily brought to violence; the oni of seaweed is a master of obfuscation and shadowy obscurement; the oni of whirlpools waits to draw victims in, when it does doing so irrevocably and lethally; etc). These are very human yet comical entities, each with it’s own jealousies, pride, and sore points.
None of the spirit oni are “friends”, but all are allied. They often bicker and fight (but never to the death). Chang Tso is their master, but in fact he holds little control over them. They all serve together, and as you read this adventure you will realize that alone, even the great Chang Tso is none too difficult to defeat alone. It is together that they form a deadly fighting force, as will be revealed throughout the rest of the adventure.
Moving Undetected About The Archipelago:
The group will be able to sail straight into the Sunken Archipelago so long as they fail to encounter any of Chang Tso’s minions. As such, it may even be possible to sail straight to Chang Tso’s island and byass the others. This is actually fine, since none of the islands is of any real importance to the accomplishing of the task at hand (retrieving the Fire Jewel), and may serve to give them away.
Even if the party defeats one of Chang Tso’s minions, he will generally be unaware. Spirit oni, though, do not permanently die, but regardless it takes them a good deal of time to sail off to their master’s palace and inform him of what happened. This will give the group some 1-8 turns to act before Chang Tso can bring his wrath to bear.
If Chang Tso becomes alert to the party’s presence, he will instantly become aware of their movements (he can scry anywhere in the archipelago – above or below water - as a crystal ball), and will angrily attempt to bring harm across their path. To this end he can employ a number of low-key abilities, such as summoning his naga (area G) to harass their vessel, or one or more of the lesser spirit oni to attack them.
He can also cast spells at them anywhere in the archipelago (do not bother with memorization; consider him fully capable of rememorizing new spells before the final confrontation), though he cannot use innate ogre mage abilities (such as his cone of cold, for instance). Examples of spells he might cast include the casting of fog cloud as they pass down one of the few navigable channels into the inner sea (making sailing checks more difficult, giving a –2 penalty) in hopes they run aground; or animate water to push their vessel towards a whirlpool or shore. He may cast ghost light to attempt to mislead them or misdirect them, or conjure up an illusion of a giant specter of himself to rise from the sea like a storming ghost to attack their ship (phantasmal force). He may use whispering wind to cast frightening words, suggestions, or even mocking advice at them as they go about his domain. Or simply cloudburst to make their voyage as miserable as possible.
If Chang Tso summons any of his minions to harrass the group, they will take 2-8 rounds to arrive from anywhere in the archipelago. None of these minions will fight to the death (submerging or simply vanishing after reaching 10 or less hit points) unless it is their own lair that is threatened. They will let passerby through if seriously injured, hoping that Chang Tso is not aware of their failure!
A. Lair of Fu Shen:
Concealed among the coral and reefs clogging the entire western bank of the eastern rock islet is a series of winding, rough caves, the home of Fu Shen, an ogre mage (AC 4; HD 5+2; hp 24; #AT 1; Dmg 1-12; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL LE), lord of reefs. A servant of Chang Tso, Fu Shen oversees the reefs and coral seas of the ogre magi's domain, and within them he has almost utter control (he is capable of watching any person entering reefs or coral as if through a crystal ball, and can cast rock to mud on any coral stand, causing a cloud of murky mud to conceal all sight within the area of effect, allowing him to ambush prey). In the deepest of his caves, a grotto some 40' beneath the surface (and reachable only through swimming through 260' of twisting caves and undersea tunnels), Fu Shen makes his lair. Within are a few cooking utensils, a splendid sleeping mat of polished coral stones, and his treasure - two scrolls of protection vs. magic, a potion of fire resistance, a scroll of ghost light, 8,000 tael, and two gems (worth 500 tael and 100 tael respectively).
B. Lair of Ching Hoi:
One of two deepwater channels leading into the heart of the archipelago leads between two of the tall coral mountains, and it is at this narrow neck that Chang Tso has placed the lair of one of his lieutenants.
Constantly battered and ravaged by the tides, a tidal cave just beneath the surface of the water lies here, the home of Ching Hoi, an ogre mage (AC 4; HD 5+2; hp 22; #AT 1; Dmg 1-12; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL LE), lord of currents. Ching Hoi controls the currents and waters of Chang Tso's domain, causing great distress to fishermen, swimmers, and ships alike. He is also greatly responsible for preventing intruders from invading Chang Tso's domain, for his will alone controls the seas (he may create the effects of the spells animate water and still water at will, and tsunami once per month. In addition, he may duplicate a water elemental's ability to upset, slow, or stop waterborne craft, as if he were a member of that race. Lastly, he may view anyone or anything floating in his currents, as if through a crystal ball).
Within his cave, Ching Hoi has a trove consisting of an elixir of life, an oil of elemental invulnerability, an oil of disenchantment, two potions of growth, a potion of vitality, a potion of polymorph self, a potion of clairvoyance, a scroll of protection vs. possession, hide armor +2, a scroll of protection vs. demons, a katana +3 (intelligence 16, read languages, detect invisible 1", detect metals 2", detect traps 1", NG), 5,000 ch’ien, 12 gems, and three pieces of jewelry.
Ching Hoi will be aware of the presence of any vessel passing through the channel, for it is on his current that the vessel is pushed along. He will do his utmost to crash a vessel against the rocks of the surrounding cliffs. To determine if he is successful, take the lowest Dexterity score possessed by the crew, and make a seamanship test (at –2 if this is not possessed). Every other round Ching Hoi will cause the currents to revolt, raising this modifier to –4. Six checks must be made to successfully navigate the channel. If any check is failed, the vessel is thrown against the rocks, suffering 1d10 points of structural damage. For reference, a small boat can take 8 points, a small junk 12, a large galleon 20.
C. Lair of Chao Bet:
Chao Bet's lair is a coral structure of white rock, infested by deadly eels and morays, overlooking the northern approach to the archipelago. Chao Bet, an ogre mage (AC 4; HD 5+2; hp 23; #AT 1; Dmg 1-12; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL LE), is the lord of sea foam, and controls all areas affected by the foam of the sea within Chang Tso's realm. In this capacity, Chao Bet shares control of the shores with Ching Hoi (lord of currents), and has caused great distress to beachcombers, swimmers, and fishermen (he can duplicate the effects of animate water at will, and can cause foam to pervade any body of water so as to act like darkness, 15' radius; in addition, he may observe any area touched by sea foam as if through a crystal ball).
Chao Bet's lair is protected by a colony of giant eels (AC 6; HD 5; hp 27, 21, 21, and 17; #AT 1; Dmg 3-18; SA nil; SD nil; MR nil; AL N), who infest the coral pores and tunnels of the surrounding reefs, concealed by the foam that constantly swirls around the lair. Fighting in this swampy, obscured atmosphere counts as fighting in darkness. Within his lair, Chao bet conceals his treasures; his magic possessions comprise solely of a philter of persuasiveness, a potion of water breathing, and an oil of impact, while his monetary treasure consists of 6,000 ch’ien and four pieces of jewelry.
Because of the coral reef choking this channel into the archipelago, only a small boat can make the passage (any other vessel will become trapped on the reef, suffering 1d6 points of structural damage in the process). Even then, the swirling foam heads here allow Chao Bet to observe any would-be trespassers. He will start by sending his eels out to attack anyone fallen into the waves, or harass those securely on board a vessel himself. Also, Fu Shen (from area A) will be aware of trespassers in the reef (for he is lord of reefs), and may become involved (50%) by flying over in a cloud of icy fog and steam (arriving in 2d4 rounds).
D. Lair of Ling Pao:
The cliffs here, on this side of the westernmost rock islet, fall straight down into the turbulent sea, where the rock is ravaged by a permanent whirlpool spinning here. The whirlpool marks the lair of Ling Pao, an ogre mage (AC 4; HD 5+2; hp 20; #AT 1; Dmg 1-12; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL LE), lord of whirlpools (within Chang Tso's domain, Ling Pao may create a whirlpool once per week, which acts in a manner identical to an air elemental's whirlwind attack. In addition, wherever there is a whirlpool in activity, he may scry the vicinity as if through a crystal ball).
A dark cave at the bottom of the sea, where victims of his whirlpools (here and elswhere) are drawn, constitutes his lair. Anyone foolish enough to leap into the whirlpool (a vessel will not be dragged in) to investigate suffers 2-20 points of damage per round from the powerful current, and is drawn beneath the sea in 2d4 rounds to Ling Pao's cave. He conceals a treasure incluing an oil of timelessness, an oil of slipperiness, an oil of acid resistance, a philter of glibness, a philter of persuasiveness, an oil of sharpness, a philter of stammering and stuttering, and a potion of sweet water within.
Ling Pao is exceptionally lazy and will not harass passerby, though if they are foolish enough to enter his whirlpool that is another story ...
E. Lair of Mu Si:
The only cave above water in the whole archipelago, this appears to be a sea cave exposed by a low tide, though it is always so, regardless of the tide. This cave is the lair of Mu Si, an ogre mage (AC 4; HD 5+2; hp 23; #AT 1; Dmg 1-12; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL LE), the lord of storms. The cave acts as a perfect sound chamber, for Mu Si loves nothing more than to hear the sound of the soaring winds of the storms he creates. As lord of storms, Mu Si is one of the most powerful minions of Chang Tso, and he has caused the deaths of many men and vessels in the Haunted Sea (control weather, weather summoning, call lightning, and control winds are all his to command, one at a time, at will. In addition, once per week, he may call down a typhoon wind that acts identically as an air elemental, except at his control, from any distance away, and can generate the effects of power word stun, with the clap of his hands, which echoes with the sound of thunder, once per day. Lastly, he may view any area affected by one of his storms as if through a crystal ball).
Mu Si's lair is a large cave that seems empty, except deep within. The cave reverberates with the sound of the sea and of any storms in the sky, and this sound can be focused to act like a horn of blasting on any vessels approaching the southern approaches of the archipelago, or any who come near the cave, once per day. Mu Si keeps a treasure of potions and elixirs, amounting to a philter of love, a potion of vitality, a potion of dimunition, two oils of slipperiness, and a potion of climbing, in his cave. In addition, he keeps 4,000 tael and eight pieces of jewelry.
Mu Si will instantly answer the summons of his master, Chang Tso, arriving in 1d4 rounds regardless of where his master is, appearing in a mass of swirling thunderclouds lit by flashes of lightning. The angry Mu Si will always fight to the death.
F. Lair of Chang Li Teng:
Under the shadow of the pinnacle of the eastern rock islet, a huge underwater colony of reeds and seaweed exists, the home of Chang Li'Teng, an ogre mage (AC 4; HD 5+2; hp 23; #AT 1; Dmg 1-12; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL LE), lord of kelp and seaweed (through his control of seaweed, Li Teng is completely invisible when in a patch of kelp, can cause any patch of seaweed to animate and entangle an intruder, and can view any intruder passing through a bed of seaweed as if through a crystal ball).
Chang Li'Teng dwells in a grotto concealed by the forest of black seaweed stands. With him is a colony of 50 weed eels (AC 8; HD 1-1; hp 6 each; #AT 1; Dmg 1; SA poison; SD nil; MR nil; AL N), who emerge from their tunnels to strike at any passing through the kelp sea. A scroll of 5 spells, a scroll of 7 spells, a scroll of 3 spells, and a helm of comprehend languages and read magic comprise Chang Li'Teng's magical treasures. He also has 40 gems, 3,000 yuan, and 8,000 tael, all items brought to him as homage by the many weed eels and other kelp-bed denizens under his rulership.
Chang Li’Teng guards one of two deepwater channels leading into the heart of the archipelago, and he will observe any passing vessels, reporting telepathically to his master on the main island. He will not attack (and instead hide among the thick underwater weeds) unless his lair is exposed.
G. Lair of Mermaids:
Two oriental "mermaids", actually salt-water naga, act in the capacity of messengers for Chang Tso. The twin creatures were, decades ago, the young twin daughters of a coastal village lord who were sacrificed to the sea to appease the Storm God. Transformed into angry, vengeful sea spirits, they easily fell under Chang Tso’s persuasion and powers. The nagas dwell in the dark waters around the palace and surrounding rock islets, where light does not fall. The first mermaid (AC 5; HD 8; hp 24; #AT 1; Dmg 1-4; SA poison; spells; SD nil; MR nil; AL N) has the following spells at her command:
1st Level: Ghost Light, Hypnotism, Wall of Fog, Warp Wood
2nd Level: Phantasmal Force, Whispering Wind
3rd Level: Scry, Steam Breath
The second naga (AC 5; HD 8; hp 16; #AT 1; Dmg 1-4; SA poison; spells; SD nil; MR nil; AL N) has spell abilities of her own as well. They are as follows:
1st Level: Magic Missile (x3), Wall of Fog
2nd Level: ESP, Hypnotic Pattern
3rd Level: Steam Breath, Suggestion
In their lair, located in a dark notch beneath the waves under the shadow of the westernmost rock islet of the archipelago, they hold 11,000 tael, three 100 tael gems, a scroll of protection vs. elementals, a pair of bracers of defense (AC 3), and an oil of etherealness. If areas B, D, or C come under attack, the two naga will make their way from their cave to assist the ogre mage in battle.
The beach on the north side of the easternmost islet of the archipelago appears to have sand the color of peerless pearls. It is the only part of the archipelago that is not sheer cliff bordered by sea, and thus the most likely place inquisitive intruders might land to investigate.
The beach, however, is thoroughly infested by giant crabs (AC 3; HD 3; hp 19, 18, 13, 12, 12, 11, 10, 10, 9, 8, and 8; #AT 2; Dmg 2-8/2-8; SA nil; SD nil; MR nil; AL N), who come here to breed and hunt. Once intruders land on the beach, 1-4 of the giant crabs will emerge from their concealed holes to engage them. After two rounds of combat, the remainder emerge from their lairs to feed as well ...
The beach itself is otherwise barren and lifeless. The crabs feed on any and all life that comes here, from the smallest land crustaceans to larger prey, such as humans and their kind. Even Chang Tso and his minions avoid this part of the archipelago, due to the large number of crabs present. There is evidently no treasure to be found anywhere on the beach, but every 10-60 minutes spent beach-combing will uncover 1d100 fen scattered among the sands.
I. THE MAIN ISLAND (The Winter Blossom Palace):
The Winter Blossom Palace is aptly named. It is an impossibility. Like a winter blossom – a flower that blooms in the dead of winter (which surely cannot be) – so too does the palace “bloom” from the sea at the wish of it’s master. The island, which erupts from the stormy waves to rise like a mountain from the ocean, is truly magical.
Beneath the mountainous island of Fuyu Hama area a series of flooded sea caves, roaring like thunder with the wild ocean tides that scour the stone walls at all times, day and night. These caves are inhabited by animal companions of the Master of The Undersea, but is also used as a “prison” of sorts for vessels captured by the nasty oni and his minions.
A. Sea Cave Entrance:
This natural tidal cave in the side of the main rock islet (the one comprising the grounds of Chang Tso's gardens and palace) is the main entrance to the home of the Lord of the Undersea. The walls here are porous and dark, stretching up into darkness that no light can penetrate. Numerous caverns branch off from the main sea channel.
Any boat entering this area must do so with the permission of Ching Hoi, master of currents, one of Chang Tso's servant ogre magi. Without his consent (and ultimately, permission from Chang Tso himself), any vessel attempting to enter the sea cave will be battered by the currents surrounding the island. These waves will automatically capsize any small boat (dinghy-sized), or can be made to bash a larger vessel against the rocky walls just outside the sea cave for 1d4 structural points of damage every other round (or 1d6 inside the caves). In any case, no one dares enter the sea cave without permission, and Ching Hoi is always aware of who dares defy his master!
Several smaller sea caves branch off from the main sea cave, though these are dark and no light will penetrate much beyond their openings. Only the reflection of dark waters answer back to probings by torches and the like. These caves are home to giant saltwater crocodiles, who come here to the darkness to rest or feed on their long-dead prey. Persons who foolishly explore these caves with any kind of light source arouse the interest (and anger) of these creatures, who immediately emerge and attack. Chang Tso, if need be, can call upon these creatures to attack any boats entering the sea cave's harbor against his will.
There are six giant saltwater crocodiles (AC 4; HD 7; hp 37, 27, 26, 26, 24, and 21; #AT 2; Dmg 3-18/2-20; SA nil; SD nil; MR nil; AL N), one in each cave. If provoked to attack intruders (or if called upon to do so by Chang Tso), they suprise prey on 1-3 on 1d6; there is a 3 in 6 chance that each crocodile will attack the intruders' boat, instead of individuals inside the vessel. None of the crocodiles has any treasure.
B. The Stairwell:
Hewn from the rock of the sea cave, this winding stairwell of ancient design disappears up and up into the darkness of the rock islet. Two huge statues sit on either side of the stairwell, depicting Chang Tso, the great master of the seas, as a horned oni blowing on a conch-horn, while at his feet swirls the seas with dolphins, crabs, and sea demons.
Although the stairwell did once indeed lead up to Chang Tso's castle, the stairwell has collapsed some fifty feet up and thus has been long abandoned by Chang Tso and his minions. Anyone approaching will find the stairwell's alcove has been overgrown with a strange algae, ostensibly the product of the moisture and contact with the sea. The slime, however, is actually an aquatic version of green slime (AC 9; HD 2; hp 7 each; #AT 0; Dmg nil; SA special; SD special; MR special; AL N), and there are some 24 colonies clinging to the walls, statues, and stairs, preventing passage. Those who attempt to fly through the passage will find, at some point, that one or more colonies stretch from floor to ceiling (this may cause full effect to the person flying, especially if he or she flies through at a great speed)!
C. The Dragon Lift:
The only structure stretching out into the underground sea lake is a promontory of fanciful wood, the ends of which (and also the supports which keep it above the lapping water) are carved in the shape of rearing dragon heads – gilt in gold and painted with superior skill with angry visages. Golden chains stretch out from the posts and into the dark waters below, as if anchoring the dock to the sea ... or as if keeping the spirits of trapped dragons linked to the island.
This is, in all it’s simplicity, a dock. However, it is also magical. Any vessel, whether skiff or junk, that moves towards the docks at this point (i.e. comes within 20’), will suddenly be gripped by a magical force and slowly suspended in air. Every round that passes, the vessel will be lifted gently (without even so much as a sway to either side) into the air, 20’ at a time, rising high above the cave like some magical lift. The vessel will continue levitating up the cave’s height, until it reaches the Dragon Landing (see area 1), where it will remain suspended in the air, motionless, until boarded once more and commanded to return.
Nothing short of a limited wish can cause the levitation from occurring – once a ship attempts to dock, it will be drawn into the air. A dispel magic will cause the magic to waiver for a mere moment, causing the vessel to rock violently (dexterity checks may be called for to see if characters on board fall off and into the maws of the giant crocodiles below), before it stabilizes and resumes it’s slow flight upwards to the landing on the First Terrace (#1).
D. Ship Prison #1:
This sea cave is dark, but with illumination a strange sight is seen indeed – a small fishing vessel, complete with mast and nets strung along it’s sides, stands still in the water. A great metal chain (it’s links almost as large as a man’s head) tether the vessel to the great cavern walls, preventing it from drifting out into the channel!
This ship is in fact a small fishing boat, lashed of wood and reed bark – obviously not meant for anything but coastal fishing; it is a wonder how suh a vessel came to be in the middle of the ocean (in fact the small boat and it’s crew of fishermen was thought lost in a great typhoon that hit the coast of Shou Lung some months ago; it was, of course, brought here and the inhabitants are now prisoners of the Master of The Undersea). A search of the vessel uncovers several fishing nets, a boathook, but no sign of a struggle or fight. Unbeknownst to the group (unless they have some means of detecting magic), a blanket warmer in the small cabin is in fact a magic kotatsu (see NEW MAGIC ITEMS). The boat is otherwise empty.
E. Ship Prison #2:
This sea cave, like area D, is the resting place of a tethered sailing vessel, though oriental characters will not readily recognize it’s construction; unlike any junk or sampan they have seen, this ship appears to be very sea-worthy despite it’s somewhat diminutive size, with a forecastle and sterncastle and three masts. The sails of the ship lie in tatters, and a great stench pervades the cavern air.
A plaque at the fore of the sturdy vessel reads something in a foreign tongue (“Moonglow”, apparently the name of the hearty pocket ship). Climbing aboard, one finds the ship awash with stinking algae and weed that has come to glow dimly due to some strange natural process (it phospohoresces as it decays – and it also stinks). This weed covers most of the ship’s decks, but within a few minutes one finds the doorway down to the cabin below.
In the cabin one finds a great mess, as if the boat was ransacked. Metal sextants, telescopes (most broken or tossed about in disarray), and even a model orrery (showing the position of the heavens a month ago just north of the Doldrums, in the sea far, far to the east) lie strewn about. Various books, many soiled by sea water, others torn apart, clutter the floor and the shelves. Glass decanters and other strange apparatus lie ruined throughout. It is unsure who or what piloted this ship, and anything of value apparently no longer remains.
While searching, allow the PCs to check for noticing secret doors. Success uncovers a secret panel that slides back to reveal a concealed cubby hole, in which rests a small wooden chest. The chest is locked (but not trapped), and contains 1,000 gp, sixteen arrows +2, and four potions of healing.
Unknown to the group, this is the ship of one Breylor Moonglow, an eccentric boy-wizard from the West who desired to sale east and trade with the court of Kozakura. Breylor’s vessel, crewed mostly by unseen servants, came upon the misty archipelago just a week or so ago, and the curious and adventurous mage decided to take a look. He was promptly assaulted by the water naga and several of the ogre magi, his vessel drawn in and captured and himself made prisoner (more on Breylor Moonglow later, though).
F. Ship Prison #3:
This final sea cave appears even darker than the others, though the waters are relatively placid. A great chain, covered in weeds, stretches from the wall to the prow of a ruined vessel, the body of which vanishes below the water. Apparently whatever vessel was held captive here was holed and sank, leaving only the prow exposed above the black waters.
The evil magic of Chang Tso has warped this once-lovely garden into a place of dismal loneliness, despite it's outward appearance of haunting beauty. A garden-forest rivaling the finest in the courts of Shou Lung, the First Terrace is nonetheless a potentially-dangerous place ...
1. Dragon Lift Landing:
Any vessel levitating due to the magic of area C (see above) will inevitably be drawn slowly and steadily to this point, an area some one hundred and thirty feet above the roaring dark sea cave below.
This great dank chamber is possessed solely of darkness, save for two large braziers set into the walls on the northern side which provide dim illumination. A misty exit, from which filters through a dismal and hazy light (sunlight from outside, obscured by the fog layer hanging over the mountain), can be seen to the northeast. The landing itself is a great stone walkway extending out some thirty feet into mid-air, where it falls off (of course, a rising vessel will come just up to this point perfectly, allowing easy loading or off-loading). Great stone pillars rise at either end, and over the great landing is a delicate limestone roof, done in a peaked fashion like the roof of an oriental temple. Close inspection shows the minute images of leering oni and demons making awful faces down at those walking the landing, but no magical will be detected and no danger felt.
The entire natural cave wall on the north side of the great chamber has evidently been carved into an image, a great cross-legged oni. Here the normally dark coral and stone of the mountain seems to turn an elegant – almost sickly – greenish, giving the statue a strange dominance in the darkness of the place. Three large eyes mark the statue’s face; it’s tongue rolls grossly from it’s mouth, as if expecting to be fed. A great copper bowl rests between it’s arms and in it’s lap; it is apparently empty.
The great statue itself is not animate, nor magical, though the bowl held in it’s outstretched arms is. No manner of message or symbol exists to explain the nature of the statue, though a priestly character may draw the (accurate) conclusion that some kind of offering is expected. If the group does not put an offering in the bowl, nothing untoward seems to occur, and only silence (save for the sound of the waterfall in the caves to the south, and the rushing of water in the sea cave far, far below) meet their ears. They are free to go on their way.
Five rounds after they depart, however, if no offering is given to the bowl the magic of the Dragon Lift will cause any vessel currently docked to descend in a slow and deliberate manner back to the sea cave – without it’s crew! Nothing can stop this once the spell is in motion (save a levitation spell cast on the boat, though this will not be a permanent solution), and once the crewless ship reaches the caves it will be let free of the magic to be bashed to pieces against the rocks of the cave – ensuring it will sink in a manner of minutes.
An offering of no less than 500 tael is required to prevent this from occuring, and this must be paid in coin or gems and placed into the bowl itself. Any manner of magic item will be accepted as well. The bowl will not accept living creatures or organic offerings. All offerings placed in the bowl magically vanish after a mere moment and appear in the treasury of Chang Tso, though there is only a 25% chance that he any followers present will notice this, and then only if they are for some reason present in the treasury room.
2. Exit Cave:
Leaving the damp and thundering cave leaves one in awe – outside, instead of dark and treacherous sea caves, stands a beautiful forest guardian, silent and serene as if frozen in some artisan’s fantastic dream. Flowering buds flare from thick green brambles on either side of the white stone path, while a heavy mist obscures sight no more than twenty feet above – the treetops of many surrounding trees are obscured in this thick, eerie mist. A ruined building stands nearby.
This is simply the exit from the Dragon Landing at area 1. No alarms sound or monsters come to “greet”, even if a loud commotion is made. The forest is utterly silent, hauntingly so.
3. Old Temple:
This old structure of weathered stone as a heavy carpet of lichen and vines draped over it’s peaked roof, as shaggy willows sprouting from the earthy cliffside create a jungle of impenetrable vegetation in all directions. The doors to this place – apparently some ancient temple or shrine – are long gone, leaving only bits of debris barely visible within from outside. Oddly, no sound can be heard from any direction. It is deathly silent.
This place has long been abandoned, though sometimes less-important visitors (quite rare these days) are quartered here during their stay on the island. A search of the building reveals only that it is intact, safe from the elements outside, and the remains of a few straw goza are seen laying about – perhaps an ancient campsite? Nothing of any interest is found, however, though a number of old clay statues of cross-legged deities line the northwestern wall; these are large and small (man-sized to the size of a small jar) and otherwise nondescript. None of these are of any real value.
The earthy cobblestone path comes to a fork here, one passage meandering off to the west and another to the east. Each side seems equally well-used and swept clear of fallen leaves. The sound of rushing water, like a distant rumble of thunder, emanates from the east. Silence comes from the west. There is nothing special here.
This building, of faded and weatherbeaten scarlet-painted teak, overlooks a breathtaking view of the misty seas to the north and west. Posts of stone stand at the cardinal directions around the place (bearing no inscription of decoration, and standing no more than three feet above the ground), while a path of overgrown cobblestones extends from the forest footpath to the great double doors (shut) of the structure.
This place was once a playhouse of some kind, but is now home to woeful spirits trapped by the foul and eternal magic of the Master of The Undersea.
As the PCs enter, they find the place is largely deserted, a great open space with three great shuttered windows along the western wall (with a cloudy view of the seas, providing the only interior light other than torches carried by the group). Wooden pillars hold up the roof (some twenty-five feet above), while a stage occupies the north side of the place – apparently this was, at some time, a great playhouse for entertaining.
Only two rounds after living beings arrive in the place, there is a series of low, distant moans in the darkness. One round later, odd, distant balls of greenish light seem to fade into view (much like the effects of a dancing lights spell), accompanied by more easily audible moans, groans, and mournful weeping. On the following and final round thereafter, these glowing wisps take the form of vague men and women, dressed in hellish costumes (black horned demons, green-skinned maidens, fanged magistrates, etc), but always watery and somehow indistinct in nature.
These spirits are in fact the souls of innocent men and women drowned by the machinations of Chang Tso over time, enslaved and trapped here to perform eternal plays for his pleasure. The spirits, upon emerging (but always appearing ethereal, caught between worlds) will begin to perform in an alien performance, but their voices are always vague and distant, as if being heard from another world entirely. The play continues until one or more PCs try to communicate, use magic, or otherwise indicate to the spirits (who are near-blind) that they are not Chang Tso or his fellows, but rather living benevolent beings.
At this juncture the spirits, realizing the PCs for what they are, begin lamenting and reaching out to be saved, unaware that their mere composition is deadly to the group; any PC coming close enough to be touched will lose 1d4 points of Strength from the grasping spectres! This loss continues each round to each PC in the chamber, as the spirits have no sense of what effect they are having and are now desperate for release. Unless the PCs flee at once, they will find themselves totally drained of strength (and falling to zero means the PC becomes an insane wraith after only 1d4 rounds). Any bright light source (light spell, directed lantern, or torch thrust forward) or offensive spell cast at the mass of ghostly performers will cause them to flee, crying and screaming bitterly as they reutn to wisp form, then vanish altogether.
The ruins of the playhouse are entirely abandoned, and no treasure exists within.
6. Spirit Dogs:
The quiet floral beauty of the forest is suddenly broken as the path passes between two stone statues. Badly corroded, apparently from weather, the two statues depict attentive dogs – each has human-like eyes and lolling tongues, and huge smiles on their faces, almost human-like and comical. Despite this new discovery on the path, the pervasive silence of the forest remains.
These are simply statues, decorations placed here long ago. Allow the PCs to try to attempt to communicate or “activate” the statues, or to ponder their meaning and placement here of all places. The statues do not, of course, respond in any way.
The path here unfolds to reveal a hidden garden of rich green flora, at the center of which rises a simple yet masterful fountain. The fountain is of some strange pale stone (coral), and carved to resemble to coiled body of an oriental dragon, it’s neck rising up from the central pool (the water of the pool is retained by the coiling snake-like body of the beast) to spout water from it’s maw. A few lilypads float on the spring water; a glimmer of gold catches the eye in the murky depths.
The fountain is roughly three feet deep, the water slightly murky due to the algae within. Anyone brave enough to search the bottom of the pool uncovers 120 fen scattered about – coins thrown in by the passing oni as they make wishes for good fortune, glory, or bad weather to harry the innocents of Shou Lung.
8. Sea Cliff:
The path here opens out onto a sense-reeling cliff, skirting along it's treacherous edge. The path, at no time, threatens to go over the edge, but the view here is phenomenal. The storms and clouds surrounding the mountain swirl above, almost within reach, and pulses of lightning cause them to glow with an unearthly luminescence every few minutes or so.
Looking down, persons at the lip of the cliff can see the dark waves of the Haunted Sea below, lashing against the mountain's rocky base. It is sure death to fall from this height.
9. Tea House:
It is immediately obvious, from a distance, that this building, emerging from the mists as the PCs approach, was once a delicate tea house, it's structure as magnificent as any in Kozakura or Shou Lung. The walls, made of a delicate white paper painted with almost ethereal falling lily blossoms, seems beautifully fragile. For a moment the shrill note of some distant flute seems suspended in the air here, but fades into the wind as mere moments pass.
The tea house, though delicate, is widely spaced, allowing large groups (or perhaps large creatures?) to come within and shelter evening storms or morning drizzles. The floor, made of highly-polished teak, is adorned with large soft cushions surrounding a low central platform adorned with various utensils. A brazier sits here, along with a number of cups.
This place is Chang Tso’s tea house and retreat, and here he and some of his followers will sometimes be found relaxing before rousing a storm or after terrorizing a coastal village or two (thus the size of the arrangements). There are seven large cups situated in a neat semicircle on the table (the platform), each as fragile as an eggshell – though one of these is larger than the others. Each is a tea cup belonging to one of the seven ogre magi. The cups appear as follows:
A large delicate silver cup decorated with tumbling azure turtles and black sea dragons. Chang Tso.
A delicate red cup decorated with images of rosy coral formations and coiling water serpents. Fu Shen.
A delicate blue cup painted with flowing waves, among which can be seen a lost drifting skiff. Ching Hoi.
A delicate white cup adorned with swirling sea foam depictions. Chao Bet.
A delicate green cup painted with swirling designs and curled barracuda. Ling Pao.
A delicate grey cup painted with boiling clouds and angry blue demon faces blowing wind. Mu Si.
A delicate green cup painted with flowery designs of kelp and sea flowers. Chang Li Teng.
These items are great objects of beauty and valued as almost priceless by the ogre magi. They often argue over which is most beautiful, often leading to violence (though the cups are never harmed, as they are too beautiful), and are thus a great source of pride for each owner.
Should any of these cups be handled by the player characters, there is a 1 in 6 chance it will shatter in his or her clumsy hands (yes, the ogre magi, though powerful and strong, cherish their tea cups and thus handle them gently), rousing the anger of the ogre mage that owned it. This can only be avoided by a successful dexterity check. If the cup is broken, the ogre in question becomes enraged (even if not present; he can sense the loss of such a precious item), and will henceforth hound the player who did this, using his personal powers to haunt him/her (even past “death”, the ogre mage will return in quasi-ethereal form to torment the character).
Each cup, if packed away safely, will be found to be worth a grand sum, for they are rare and delicate works of art in themselves. Each is worth no less than 500 tael.
10. Overgrown Gardens:
The small delicate tea house at area 9 overlooks a small garden, once well-tended, now largely overgrown due to some lack of interest on the part of the inhabitants of this place. Old chysanthemum bushes have turned into coiling dragons which drape over the cobblestone path and climb up nearby tree branches. The path, which once led south from this point, appears largely overgrown with underbrush and can no longer be seen after only a few paces.
The garden and the footpath leading along the western and southern faces of the great mountain are, in fact, intact, though obscured by an illusion to appear overgrown and pathetic. Should one investigate to the south, it appears to get thicker and more dense, preventing much movement beyond 1” per ten minutes of hacking and crawling. Only if a save vs. spells is made while investigating will it become apparent that this maze of trees and broken stone is really a ruse, allowing clear passage to the areas beyond.
11. Giant Tree:
This gigantic tree is clearly visible from the exit of the caves (area 2) and the fork in the path (area 4), as well as the shores of the mountain lake (area 12) and the terraces above. Anyone making their way through the thick mist-shrouded forests may find their way here to a gigantic tree, it’s roots gnarled and twisted as they claw into the black forest floor. No sound reaches this distant place (which is odd), no matter how silent the party remains. Looking up, the lowest branch is within reach, but the top of the tree is obscured by mist.
Climbing the tree requires four successful Dexterity checks; failure of the first results in 1d6 damage; failure of ths second results in 2d6 damage; failure of the second results in 3d6 damage and a save vs. paralysis or be stunned for 2d4 rounds; failure of the fourth roll results in 4d6 damage and a save vs. paralysis or be killed from the fall! Once and if these checks are made, the agile little character who did it reaches the top of the tree, and is rewarded with a view of the entire terrace.
From this spot, the character(s) can see a number of features on this terrace, including the exit cave (area 2), the old temple (area 3), the playhouse (area 5), the distant top of the tea house (area 9), and of course the sprawling silvery mountain lake (12) and it’s waterfall – and vague silvery shapes moving beneath the waters. Looking up, a character perched here can even see the red autumnal forests of the Second Terrace (and hinting at the magical nature of the place), and the broken ruins of some once-magnificent temple, perched precariously on the lip of the cliff, nearly two hundred feet above (this ruin is in fact the lair of the “monkey-demons”, area 7 on the Second Terrace). Nothing else is to be gained from reaching this difficult height.
12. Silver Lake:
The most dominant feature of the first terrace is a deep silvery lake that has collected from the moisture in the constant clouds that surround the mountain, and from the near-constant storms. The lake itself is also inhabited by a school of large plump koi, the colors of which range from deep purple to azure blue. This creatures are very shy, darting from view whenever a living being comes near the shore.
The current in the lake draws the water south at a slow pace, falling off the edge of the natural cliff some three hundred feet to a larger lake on the side of the mountain, then splitting into several smaller, but more powerful, cascades into the sea. Only a truly careless person could be drawn over the edge by the water, as the current is not strong. There is no treasure concealed beneath the lake, but a large group of giant freshwater eels dwell here – feeding on the koi in the shallower water - pampered pets of the lord of the place, Chang Tso. There are eight eels total (AC 6; HD 5; hp 30, 29, 28, 25, 24, 22, 12, and 10; #AT 1; Dmg 3-18; SA nil; SD nil; MR nil; AL N), which will ravenously attack any who foolishly enter the lake’s murky and icy depths.
13. Old House:
A small minka stands here, made of stone and wood. The stone is overgrown with lichen, the wood matted in parts with a whitish-green mold. The mist here is very pervasive, extending deep into the surrounding forests. The path, however, apparently leads up to the side of the mountain ... and into a large cave.
This place was once the residence of a groundskeeper, though Chang Tso found it expedient to “release” him from service for he continued to aid the spirit folk by warning them of the oni’s plans by sending messages hidden in the mouths of trained carp.
A search of the old house uncovers nothing but ruins (some of the wood shoring has collapsed inside). After two rounds, however, there is a low moan – very muffled – but on the following round a spectral figure materializes in the center of the abode to frighten the PCs (this is actually a casting of ghost light by Li Chi, the former groundskeeper, who hides in the rafters above); if they do not flee at once the ghostly figure moves forward with arms outstretched, as if to attack.
The “specter” is actually the old groundskeeper, who fears they may be agents of his former master, Chang Tso. He will address any good-aligned PC or spirit folk first, only grudgingly speaking to others. He tells the group that he was once the groundskeeper of these lower gardens, and that they have come to a very dangerous island. If asked, he will relate that this is the home of Chang Tso, Master of the Undersea, who had him and many other imprisoned here for defying his tyranny. Chang Tso, he will relate, is a particuarly powerful and grumpy oni who has more than once before defied the charter of Heaven to pursue mischief against the men of the world. This has done through causing ravaging storms, flooding coastal regions, and even harassing traders and merchants at sea.
The groundskeeper, Li Chi, is a venerable little hermit and 3rd level wu-jen - S 7, I 17, W 18, D 16, C 8, Ch 9; 12 hit points, AC 8, LG, spells. He has no material possessions other than a simple grey robe and walking stick. His spells are as follows:
1st Level: Ghost Light, Hail of Stone, Read Magic
2nd Level: Invisibility, Magic Mouth
Li Chi will inform the PCs that Chang Tso is aided by six lesser oni, each a master in his own right of some aquatic element, and a number of evil marine entities as well. If asked how he came to work for such an evil master, the groundskeeper smiles wryly and explains that once upon a time Chang Tso was simply a servant of Heaven, doing the bidding of the Celestial Court by bringing storms and woe when ordained. Li Chi took delight in joining the oni in performing this task for the gods, using his magic to assist as he could. The groundskeeper explains that the island – and it’s mountaintop castle, known as the “Winter Blossom Palace” – emerges only once every hundred years to wreak havoc on the surface world. It (and Chang Tso) is allowed to remain for 365 days, after which time it must sink back into the sea for another one hundred years. Chang Tso has, through his treason, caused the island to remain aloft and threatens all sea life not paying him “due tribute”.
The groundskeeper explains that he sought to warn a colony of sea spirit folk in the area of Chang Tso’s movements, allowing them to plan ahead and avoid his wrath, and this he did by sending messages out in the mouths of trained carp he once kept in the forest fountain (area 7). He would enchant a pearl with a magic mouth spell telling of Chang Tso’s plans, setting the pearl and carp free by hand into the sea. Sadly, Chang Tso discovered this and had the groundskeeper locked in the old minka where he has been for the past year, sustained on accumlated dew and fungus growing on the inside support beams!
The groundskeeper is not aware of current events, and knows nothing of the magic Fire Jewel or anything of the upper terraces, other than to warn the group that those on the layers above are of a magical nature (and thus never needed a groundskeeper) and are filled with all manner of odd creatures. If the group seems sorely pressed, Li Chi may decide to accompany them (with or without their consent; if they refuse him, he will follow invisibly).
14. Pirate Cave:
A large cave irregular cave opening exists here leading into the side of the mountain, where the mist turns particularly cold and musty. The sound of dripping water and a distant subterranean waterfall echoes throughout. The entrance cave is composed almost entirely of a sand floor, littered with bleached bones and water-logged rags.
As the group enters, they are immediately attacked by ten skeletons (AC 7; HD 1; hp 6; #AT 1; Dmg 1-6; SA nil; SD half damage from edged weapons, immune to sleep, charm, hold, and cold-based spells; MR nil; AL N), who rise from the sand by leaping instantly into the air and landing expertly on their bony feet. These are the angry animated remains of a number of pirates (wako) who died here on the mountain many years ago. Sighting the island from afar, the pirates came here to hide their treasure, only to find the current inhabitants (Chang Tso and his oni) more than eager to slay them and make use of them as undead guardians. The skeletons will attack any living creature who comes into the cave, only ceasing if the party flees back to the tea house (area 9) or beyond.
Some special means must be devised for exploring the flooded caves beyond this beach, for no boats or even rafts are evident in the caves. A sandy path leads north to area 15, a side cave.
15. Treasure Cave:
This cave appears nondescript, but a light source reveals the presence of a number of sturdy chests and stone urns set up neatly against the north wall of the cavern. These appear to have been hastily concealed by palm fronds from the forest outside, but time has caused these to rot, revealing the hidden treasure.
A search of the chests and urns uncovers 6,000 fen, 2,000 yuan, and 1,800 tael. This was the treasure of the wako pirate Huang Choi, who came to the island to hide his treasure but was slain by Chang Tso. This rather large amount would certainly take more than one trip, as the chests and stone urns are quite heavy. Among the coins is a rolled-up piece of paper, which is revealed to be a treasure map – leading to another treasure hidden away on some uncharted island far, far to the east (the DM should feel free to have this lead to future adventures, for instance, or perhaps it is simply a ruse).
16. Dark Cave:
This is simply a save filled mostly with dark, still waters. A slight current can be detected moving east. Any commotion here upsetting the water has a 25% chance of luring the sea hag from area 19.
17. Haunted Waters:
The cave here echoes wih every splash, every drop of water falling from the vaulted ceiling above. A thin low fog covers the surface of the cavern lake, obscuring the black waters from vision.
Any swimmer or boat reaching the center of the cave hears a strange series of disembodied moans, emanating from all around, in this cavern and in distant side passages. This continues for three rounds, on the second and consecutive round becoming louder and more shrill, until al noise suddenly and abruptly ceases. There is no explanation for this odd phenomenon.
18. Sunken Shrine:
Only a boat may enter this cave, for the water is exceptionally cold (due to the proximity of the lake) and deep here. Should one manage to build a raft and explore, the group discovers a strange and eerie marvel here within this cavern.
Situated on the southern wall is a gigantic stone statue of a cross-legged oni or monstrous deity, it’s face leering menacingly into space. The statue was apparently carved from the very rock of the mountain, for it bears the same coruscating colors in it’s coral-like surface. It is very primitively done. Perhaps once an ancient temple to some sea deity (the Master of The Undersea), the cave has since flooded with lake water from area 12 and thus the temple floor is completely lost to the depths; only the upper portion of the statue remains above. Eerie dripping noises, and the distant roar of the waterfall at area 20, filter into this haunted sanctuary. Bits of rotted and wet paper float around the statue (strangely, however, they never seem to drift too far away), some even draped over the statue’s tall shoulders – apparently prayer strips left long ago, bearing the prayers and wishes of unknown visitors.
Of these strips, almost all are ruined by time and moisture, some few however still bearing the written wishes of fishermen and sailors who visited the island in times past hoping to appease the Master of The Undersea with their prayers. One of these is in fact an omikuji of wishes (see NEW MAGIC ITEMS), as yet unused. It is the only thing of interest in the cave.
19. Cavern Lake:
Here another cave opening is found, leading to the waters of the mountain lake (area 12). A thick coat of fog covers the lake waters, but it is noticably brighter outside than in. The water here is strangely calm, though the sound of a nearby waterfall thunders in the vault, echoing in all directions.
Dwelling in this cave, at the bottom of the black lake, is a sea hag (AC 7; HD 3; hp 24; #AT 1; Dmg 1-4; SA save vs. magic or lose half strength for 1-6 turns; death glance three times per day – save vs. poison or die; SD special; MR 50%; AL CE), trapped in the mountain lake when the island rose from the sea. She made her way here to the cold darkness of the underrgound lake, where she dwells pondering her current situation. She will attack anyone entering the cave, either swimming of by boat, for she is ravenous. She has no treasure.
20. Whirlpool Cave:
This side cave feeds the interior waterfall that pours into the Dragon Lift shaft and down to the sea caves. The current is steady and strong, creating a miniature waterfall in the center of the cave. Although a boat or raft will not be affected, anyone swimming in the water will be drawn inevitably toward the falls. On the first round there is a 10% chance, on the second a 20%, on the third 30%, etc. that anyone in the chamber is drawn under by the whirlpool and ejected with the waterfall – a certainly fatal experience to say the least.
21. Mystic Doors:
This gigantic doorway is obscured by a clever illusion of trees and branches, which obscure it entirely from the path. Chang Tso and his minions are aware of it’s exact location, and thus are not tricked.
Anyone discovering this niche is surprised to see a gigantic portcullis, apparently well-rusted from the near-constant fog in the air, behind which (several feet away) stands a pair of gigantic gilted golden doors. Massive knockers hang from the handles, while staring faces of scaled oni and gilled water snakes peer out from the fanciful metalwork. The doors are certainly large enough for the passage of giants.
Opening the portcullis and the doors require a bend bars/lift gates check, followed by an open doors check. Alternatively, a knock spell is required for both. No key is evident, though a keyhole can be seen in the doors (though only Chang Tso and his oni have keys).
The doors lead to a small damp cave that leads upward into the mountain; this leads to the Second Terrace.
This terrace, located far up on the mountain, is dominated by trees and vegetation of a lush red color. Being the terrace of fire, Chang Tso has deigned that all trees here be of a red color, and thus the plants that thrive here are all very rare, colorful, and haunting to behold. The second terrace is almost as barren of life as the first, but there are a few creatures living within the vegetation and forests.
1. Violet Fungus:
The intruders, upon reaching this area, stumble upon a stand of violet fungus (AC 7; HD 3; hp 16; #AT 1-4; Dmg special; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL N), camouflaged by the red vegetation surrounding them. There is only a 1 in 6 chance that the lead individual will spot the fungi before stumbling straight into it.
There are other such growths of violet fungus throughout the second terrace, thriving on a su-monster now and then, or on other smaller forest creatures. The DM should feel free to add encounters identical to this one for every two or three squares of forest.
At this point in the path, the lush red forest seems distantly quiet, the constant chittering seemingly very subdued and eerily silent. Sitting in the middle of the path is a strange looking monkey - it is dirt gray in coloration, with blood red paws. For a moment it seems to merely stare at the approaching group.
The creature is in fact a su-monster (AC 6; HD 5+5; hp 35, 33, 27, and 23; #AT 5; Dmg 1-4(x4)/2-8; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL CE), one of four males - the other three are hiding in the trees. The su-monster on the ground does not, at first, attack, but singles out any wizardly-looking members of the party, then attacks with a psychic crush. The other three su-monsters then begin random psionic attacks on the party, only entering melee if one character presents a serious threat. The su-monsters will retreat if two or more of their number are killed.
3. Spirit Columns:
The sight-obscuring mist, which conceals the view ahead to only a few feet, seems to dissipate as passerby approach two stone columns rising on either side of the forest path. The chittering of the strange jungle beasts seems to have faded completely, leaving the party in utter silence. The columns, upon further examination, seem to be made of a rock foreign to this archipelago, but the workmanship is nothing short of extraordinary. The columns seem to depict huge black demons, complete with tusks and beady eyes, staring down at observers with evil intent. Yet, one feels, there is a lack of evil here that seems very out of place.
The columns were, in fact, taken from other islands in the Haunted Sea. By mistake, Chang Tso took these rocks without permission from their island spirits, and now they remain as limited portals to the islands of these spirits. Any character casting commune with spirits on one of these columns is able to communicate, albeit shortly, with the spirits of the distant islands.
The spirits are very upset that Chang Tso took the rock without permission, and even moreso that he defaced the stone with depictions of his minions, two oni. If asked for practical advice, the spirits can relate only a warning to the group - that to stick to the path is their best option on the second terrace, for beyond the trees live evil monkey-demons and a race of giant frogs even more terrifying!
A small pavilion or gazebo of weathered stone stands here, on the lip of a great cliff swooping down into the ethereal mists below. It is largely open except for a few rose coral pillars, holding a fanciful oriental roof over the structure. The roar of a waterfall echoes from nearby, and looking over the ledge one can see a small meandering stream (originating in the forbidding Croaking Forest, area 5) emerge from the trees and spill over the cliff’s edge, cascading a hundred or so feet down into the silvery mountain lake on the First Terrace. The sight is breath-taking. There is nothing else of interest here.
5. The Croaking Forest:
The autumnal recesses of this part of the forest echo with a strange noise – a distant croaking, like the constant chatter of frogs. The tangle of brambles and willowy trees prevents sight beyond a few paces (and thus observation of any life that might dwell within), but the noise is certainly definite.
This part of the forest is the home of a colony of giant frogs, which all life on the island does well to avoid (especially the su-monsters, who have lost some of their younger members to these voracious eaters).
Walking through this part of the forest has a 10% chance, per 10’ traveled, of attracting 1d2 giant frogs from area 6. Note that any combat with frogs in the forest itself will not attract additional frogs to the area. All others will be found at the lost temple at area 6.
6. Lair of the Frog King:
A marble temple stands here, decayed by time. White stone pillars streaked with sky blue veins rise irregularly from the temple floor, the roof long collapsed except for a central pagoda. A tall white statue of some goddess (Kwannon) stands here, cracked and eroded, overlooking what was once a holy shrine to her name.
Living in these ruins is a large group of giant frogs; there is a 50% chance per round spent here that the group will encounter one of these toads (25% chance of 1d4). Any combat will draw the attention of the other ten after only 1d4 rounds (1d4 frogs arriving from the surrounding ruins per round). Again, there are ten giant frogs (AC 7; HD 3; hp 24, 24, 26, 26, 22, 22, 20, 19, 18, and 18; #AT 3; Dmg 1-3/1-6/2-8; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL N).
At the center of the ruined temple is a particularly obese specimen, the so-called “frog king” (AC 5; HD 6; hp 48; #AT 3; Dmg 1-3/1-6/2-8; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL N). This enormous toad spends it’s time overlooking a shallow round pool at the temple’s heart (below the statue of Kwannon), staring through the lilypads on the water’s surface, apparently to admire it’s own reflection! The creature never moves from it’s spot, but will attack with it’s tongue, swallowing whole (on a roll of 18 or better). However, due to it’s weight, a victim so swallowed has only two rounds to fight it’s way out before being crushed by the beast’s enormous girth!
Once the frogs are slain, it is found the “frog king” was admiring a collection of treasures littered across the floor of the pool. Diving in to retrieve them recovers 800 fen, 200 yuan, 100 tael, 5 ch’ien, a mask of wisdom (see NEW MAGIC ITEMS), and a suit of o-yoroi of blending.
7. Lair of The Monkey-Demons:
The constant chittering in the lush red jungle-forest seems to culminate here, beneath the tall stands of trees on this haunted, eerie terrace. There, standing beneath the shade of the trees, whose tops are concealed by a layer of cloud just meters above, and who seems to envelop and conceal the way you came like fingers of some forest demon, stands a ruined shrine.
The delicate columns of red teak are now fungus-covered and rotten, broken in places, and in a state of utter ruin. Statues, their heads broken-off or covered with reddish lichen, stand as mute testimony to the fact that this place is long-abandoned. As one stares, the chittering of monkeys grows louder from within the temple, their howls and hoots echoing eerily in the misty air.
A map of the temple is provided on a nearby page. The temple is actually the home of the su-monsters, who have taken it over as a kind of "lair". Here eight su-monsters dwell (AC 6; HD 5+5; hp 29, 28, 26, 23, 19, 18, 15, and 13; #AT 5; Dmg 1-4(x4)/2-8; SA special; SD nil; MR nil; AL CE), along with any survivors from area 2. The group consists of three females and four young, and the remainder constitute males. The entire group, centered in the sanctuary of the temple, fight to the death (fighting at double damage to protect their young and females) against any and all intruders.
The fungus overgrowing the wooden parts of temple are harmless. Amidst the ruins and the su-monster's nest, bits of treasure from the su-monster's past victims can be found, consisting of - 5,000 fen, 4,000 yuan, five gems, a clerical scroll of purify food and drink and cure serious wounds, and an old tarnished mirror – in fact a mirror of light (see NEW MAGIC ITEMS).
8. The Pool of Vitality:
Sheltered under the overhanging rock of the coral mountain, streaked in vibrant pinks, reds, and lilac purples, lies a calm glimmering pool that bubbles and burbles steadily – a fountain of bubbles can be seen rising from it’s glassy center. Stooped over the pool is a large oni-like creature, a gleeful smile of obedience on it’s face as it fills container upon container with the water of the pool. Each drop that falls from the lip of the next container glimmers like a priceless jewel, suggesting that perhaps the waters – being stored away by the being for some purpose – are magical in nature.
The creature is a common oni (AC 4; HD 8; hp 49; #AT 2; Dmg 3-10; SA spells; SD nil; MR nil; AL LE; polymorph self three times per day, fly three times per day, invisibility two times per day, cloud trapeze once per day, cause fear at will), serving Chang Tso, and filling the many gourds and receptacles with the magic waters of the pond. The creature, delightfully going about it’s ordained task, will automatically be surprised by the group unless they make a large and obvious commotion upon seeing it.
This pool has the marvelous ability to heal. The waters of the pool, if drunk, act to heal 1-8 points of damage per dose. This healing effect is permanent, and thus the water could conceivably be bottled and used as minor potions of healing so to speak. Unknown to Chang Tso, however, the water loses it’s potency in the employ of evil creatures. If any evil creature should bottle the water and save it for later use, the water lasts only for 1-6 days before turning into a mundane and powerless sour, saltwatery substance. All other beings, however, may keep the water indefinitely. Note that the magic pond can only generate 2-8 “potions” per week.
9. Stairs To Third Terrace:
The misty path leads here, up into the side of the mountain, where the clammy purplish coral rock is split by a seemingly-natural cave entrance. Investigation reveals a natural stone step leading into the darkness beyond. The sound of dripping water echoes out into the still forest mist.
The small cave is nondescript except for elaborate rock carvings marking the interior walls, flanking a short natural passage to a rough stairwell leading up and up into darkness. These carvings depict marching military figures, at first appearing like noble warriors in train (with halberds and spears) until close inspection reveals their faces to be horribly demonic with wild triple eyes and bristing moustaches and lolling forked tongues.
There is nothing of note in this cave. The stairs lead to the next terrace.
This is the “nightmare terrace”, where all things are perverted or held in a trance of evil. As the party enters this level of the mountain, they find everything steeped in blue – the trees, the leaves, all are a deep blue, as if suspended in an eternal midnight. A magical darkness hovers over this place, preventing vision more than 30’ distant. The forests also serve to prevent much sight in this place as well.
1. The Platform of Duels:
Standing in the center of the small silent glade is a platform of worked and polished ivory marble, veined with blue streaks. Six pillars stand at each corner of the hexagonal platform, but no roof is evident (nor the ruin of one either). Two statues, made of glistening black stone, stand at opposing ends of the platform. Each statue depicts a humanoid warrior, armed with a great sword, facing off against each other with terrible looks of anger on their faces.
This platform is a magical one, enchanted by the oni of the archipelago for a special purpose. If the PCs have defeated one or more of Chang Tso’s oni (any of his minions from the surrounding archipelago), a strange magical noise will be barely heard - like steam escaping from a bottle - as a misty shape takes form on one end (away from the group) of the platform. It is the “slain” oni, resummoned for revenge against the group.
The reformed oni will challenge whichever PC killed it (if more than one helped defeat it, it will call out the person who dealt the “killing” blow) to join him on the platform of duels and fight a rematch. If more than oni has been slain, the most powerful (i.e. most hit points) will assume form to challenge, not every one defeated.
The PCs are not obliged to accept, and if they do not, the oni will curse them for their cowardice, growing in anger. The blackness of the oni image soon turns a hellish red, and after 1d2 rounds it vanishes – but not before placing a curse on the opponent who failed to fight it in single combat. This person, unless a save vs. death magic is made, suffers a reduction of –2 to to-hit and initiative rolls for 1d3 years thereafter (though a remove curse cast by a cleric of 18th level or above will remove this)!
If the vengeful oni is bested once more, it howls hauntingly as it’s spirit changes into misty blackness and vanishes into the inky darkness of the midnight forest. Apparently, the oni has been permanently killed (not so, though it will be unable to take material form for 1d3 years). Although silence once more overcomes the glade, the victor notices something he has perhaps overlooked (actually, it just materialized there), a piece of treasure laying on the platform. This is the victor’s reward for providing entertainment for the rest of the island’s spirit oni (who were watching the duel in spirit form from the forest).
To determine the nature of Chang Tso’s reward, roll 1d12 and consult the following table:
1 A 100 tael gem
2 Two 75 tael pearls
3 A statue of rose coral made in the shape of a leering oni (250 tael)
4 A conch made of pure gold (500 tael)
5 A small silver figurine of a Chinese ship lost in a turbulent sea (750 tael)
6 A magical conch that summons 1d100 charmed fish (usable once per week) to be caught by the user
7 A katana of quality, it’s handle made of mother of pearl and decorated with gold sea shells (1,000 tael)
8 A night-shining pearl (see NEW MAGIC ITEMS)
9 A scroll of protection from water
10 A ring of swimming
11 A beautiful pearl necklace wrought with gold, garnered from the bottom of the sea (6,000 tael)
12 A pearl of power (specific spell level determined randomly)
As only one challenger will make an appearance, only one reward may be gained. Rewards will appear as rolled regardless of the class or abilities of the duellist. After the reward is taken, the platform apparently becomes inert.
2. Path of Pillars:
This curved path through the dark forest is lined with black metal pillars, some broken, others standing firm despite their obvious age. The blue darkness here is prevalent, and the leaves of the nearby trees block sight more than a few feet into the surrounding forest. A strange acid smell hangs heavy in the air.
The path appears empty and lifeless, but actually the metal of the pillars serve as a prison for a quasi-elemental lightning imprisoned here (AC 2; HD 6; hp 42; #AT 1; Dmg 1-6+6; SA create shocking globe for 1-4; SD only harmed by +1 weapons or better, inflicts 1-4 to attacker if weapon used is conductive; MR Nil; AL CN; immune to electricity, fire and acid do half damage, cold does full damage, water inflicts 1-8 per gallon or double full damage).
The elemental only appears when a significant source of metal (anyone in metal armor or equipped with a metallic weapon larger than a dagger) approaches – it will appear in a crackling flash some thirty feet down the path, bouncing between pillars as it shoots down the path (at a rate of 18”) towards the party. It will attack the character with the most amount of metal on his person (the most heavily-armored in metal, followed by whoever has the most amount of metal coin) until destroyed. It has no treasure.
3. The Coiled Dragon:
Resting here is a fantastic dragon, apparently deep in some hypnotic slumber, coiled around the base of a gigantic brass statue of a fierce oriental lion.
The dragon was enchanted by Chang Tso when it came to enact a powerful vengeance on the tyrant oni for stealing the Fire Jewel from the guardians of The Fire Temple of Shou Wat. Put to sleep by powerful enchantments (taking the effort of all the oni), the dragon now rests at the foot of a fierce evil statue that was gaining more tarnish by the day.
Since the dragon coiled about the statue, however, it has lost it’s tarnish, and it’s fiery golden color returned. Chang Tso, fearful of what magic this might be, has kept away from the dragon and the statue. Wisely, as it turns out, for as the dragon fell under the spell it grasped the statue, crying out for forgiveness from the Celestial Gods.
Unable to answer it’s call directly, a foo lion’s spirit was sent to inhabit the very statue it grasped. Now the foo lion stands watch over the sleeping dragon, ensuring that no creature attempts to slay the dragon in it’s sleep.
Any creature of a non-good alignment approaching the dragon will cause the statue to animate – all at once the brass metal comes alive, and a foo lion pounces and roars. If they persist, it will attack (AC -1; HD 11+11; hp 66; #AT 3; Dmg 2-8/2-8/2-16; SA +1 to-hit and damage to evil opponents; SD –1 to-hit and damage from evil opponents; MR 55%; AL CG; invisibility at will, astral travel).
Any good-aligned creature coming near will likewise cause the foo lion to appear, but it will not attack, instead petition the party for help. It will explain the dragon’s story, telling them that a magic focus claims it’s mind, located “somewhere on the terrace above”. Whether this is a jewel, a gem, or other magic item is unknown to the foo lion. If they should destroy this focus the dragon will be free to return and report to the gods. The foo lion was enraged that he was sent only as a protector, for he wished to trounce Chang Tso himself, but his superiors warned him that he had better not (that was the dragon’s duty, after all, not his) or suffer the consequences. He is to spend not more than “three blinks of an eye” after his task is done before returning.
If they manage to free the dragon, the foo lion is delighted. Rather mischievously, it offers to join the PCs in their final assault for “three blinks of an eye” (three rounds) against this terrible Master of the Undersea. Sadly, it cannot remain any longer than that; all they need do is call on him when they need him though.
4. The Judging Swamp:
The silence of this nightmarish terrace is broken as the darkness of the forest peels back to reveal a sinister sight up ahead – a foetid swamp, bubbling grossly with geysers of slime and muck, it’s brownish-blue surface choked by lilypads and strange vegetable growths. The path through the thick gnarled woods leads straight to the swamp’s shore, vanishing in the mire and reappearing on the other side, continuing into the forest. No means of crossing the swamp is evident, other than a few loose stones and boulders jutting from the muck at irregular intervals. Strangely, there is no life evident here, and other than the noise made by the mud bubbles, there is no sound at all.
Suddenly, from across the misty swamp, a deep bellowing voice echoes out. Much to the surprise of the PCs, the voice emanates from a large mossy boulder, perched half-submerged in the swamp muck at the opposite end of the marsh – barely visible in the darkness and fog. A sinister face sits on the rock’s surface – it is alive!
The rock is in fact the spirit of the swamp, a galeb duhr (AC -2; HD 8; 64 hp; #AT 2; Dmg 2-16; SA move earth, stone shape, passwall, transmute rock to mud, wall of stone; SD immune to lightning and normal fire, +4 to saves vs. magic fire; MR 20%; AL N; double damage from cold-based attacks and save at –4). Upon seeing the PCs at the other end of the swamp it announces to the group that “to attempt to cross the swamp is suicide for all but most virtuous of men”. It will not relate the details of this, however. If attacked from afar, the galeb duhr angrily uses it’s transmute rock to mud ability to turn the stepping stones into muck, thus preventing passage across the swamp. It will then animate 3d3 boulders (AC 0; HD 9; 45 hp each; #AT 1; Dmg 4-24; SA nil; SD nil; MR nil; AL N) to attack the group on the other side. It will continue this activity until slain or proper apologies are made to appease it’s anger.
Once the warning of the galeb duhr is heard, it still remains obvious that the group must somehow pass through this swamp for no other means is possible to skirt it. Unless some other means are used to cross the mire (creatures that can fly, hover, or otherwise skirt earthly obstacles will be able to do so unchecked), attempting to leap from rock to rock requires a Dexterity check for each leap – 1d8+3 leaps must be made to cross successfully. If a Dexterity check is ever failed, the character in question falls into the swamp. Note that unless the characters follow the same path across the rocks, roll the d8 roll individually for each character attempting to cross, as each finds his own path.
Anyone falling into the swamp is subjected to the harsh judgement of the swamp spirit. It will magically swallow up those falling into the muck at a rate and strength dependent on his virtue – those of clerical classes will sink slower than those of avaricious intent (such as yakuza or ninja). Consult the following chart for details:
Monk, Shukenja, Sohei 1’ per round; Open Doors at normal chance
Kensai, Samurai 2’ per round; Open Doors at –1
Bushi 3’ per round; Open Doors at –2
Wu-Jen 4’ per round; Open Doors at –3
Yakuza 5’ per round; Open Doors at –4
Ninja 6’ per round; Open Doors at –5
Other (Barbarian, Gaijin) 3’ per round; Open Doors at –2
For each round that passes, a character may attempt to pull himself free by making an Open Doors check (a modifier to this roll is also contingent on the class of the character in question, as the swamp pulls harder to claim those of shadier paths). Success indicates the character frees himself and can continue leaping from rock to rock as above.
Failure means the character sinks again the next round (the stated amount). Beyond five feet all humanoid characters (less for korobokuru and other diminutive folk) are swallowed up by the mire, but may still try to break free. Employ normal drowning rules as they descend.
The swamp is eighteen feet deep. Should the character fall this far, he is suddenly attacked by a pack of swamp rot grubs (20 in number), which will burrow into the flesh of the poor unfortunate character to feed (AC 9; HD 1 hp each; #AT 0; Dmg 0; SA kills in 1-3 turns; SD attacks against the grub also harm the victim; MR nil; AL N).
Each time a person falls into the mire, or vanishes beneath the marsh, the galeb duhr spirit laughs with amusement. Anyone falling into the mire cannot be helped out except by magical means (simply extending a branch or helping hand seems to have no effect, as the swamp deliberately shifts the affected character away from the source of escape), such as fly, levitate, etc.
Once the swamp is crossed, the galeb duhr may be spoken to. Unless they have attacked him, the animate rock will gladly converse with them. It will say the path to the next terrace is just beyond the corner. As they have made it this far, he is very impressed (and certainly they must be virtuous or at least able characters), and will complement them on their abilities. If they ask what lies beyond, on the next terrace (or above), the galeb duhr simply laughs and tells them greater dangers, and the haunted castle of Chang Tso, Master of The Undersea. He will have nothing else to say (he also has no treasure).
5. Stairs To Fourth Terrace:
Unlike the stairs to the lower levels of the mountain, these stairs ascend along the outside of the rock (not inside a cave). The stairs are rough-hewn and shaded by hanging trees and the ever-present fog of the clouds converging at this altitude. A slight (though only slight) cold is felt as intruders ascend the stairs, though again, no noise is heard. The stairs apparently are large enough to allow three or four men to walk abreast (large enough for an oni comfortably).
The entirety of the fourth terrace is covered in forest, stands of trees with white blossoms that fall to the cobblestone paths like a blanket of snow. It is not, however, exceptionally cold here, except for the chill from the constant fog surrounding the garden and summit.
As stated, the trees here are all white - the blossoms on the branches as white as midwinter snow. The silence hanging in the air is almost deafening, for at this elevation the sea can no longer be heard. Only up and up does the path go, leading to the precarious castle at the summit of the mountain-garden.
As stated before, this place is deadly silent. Something, however, pierces through the calm – a feeling of abandon, terror, and dread. The mist-enshrouded trees of white blossoms, the vanishing paths of winding white stone ... all attribute to a ghostly, almost phantasmal aura about the entire terrace, and a subtle sensation of fear and isolation.
1. The Stone Prison of Huang Choi:
The stairs leading from the terrace level below lead here, at the brink of the misty white forest, looking like a scene suspended in a silent, motionless winter. A high stone wall, made of polished white stone, stretches in both directions, leading off the path and into the forest, disappearing from sight. White statues of crouched men with bows, and standing men with weapons in hand, line the tops of the wall. Ahead, the white stones of the path pass through the wall at an open gateway (no door evident), flanked by two wonderfully-wrought and gleaming white marble statues of warriors.
Coming through the entrance, a small clearing is discovered just beyond. Here, all manner of man-sized statues stand in perfect silence, each made of solid white marble that almost glows in the unnerving whiteness of the place (any light source catches on the polished surface of each statue, making them glimmer unnaturally). All these statues appear to be that of cruel warriors (wako), all facing towards the center of the clearing where a podium or dais of oval marble stands magnificently. The statues to the rear, by the walls, stand with weapons ready, while those towards the center (and towards the dais) seem to be caught in the act of genuflecting, kneeling, and even laying prostrate on the ground before the dais.
Atop this dais stands a single statue, a vast contrast to the others for it is made of solid black stone, glistening against the white of everything else around – the other statues, the white stone walls, even the white cherry blossoms of the forest. This statue is a warrior, attired in perfect armor, a great sword in one hand. His face, however, is nothing beautiful to behold, but rather a mask of utter menace and hatred, staring eyelessly out towards your party.
The statue is, in fact, the trapped soul of Huang Choi, the infamous pirate captain that prowled the Haunted Sea. Slain here on the island by Chang Tso (on an excursion to bury some of his boundless treasures), his spirit inhabited this statue and now stands as an angry guardian to the final terrace of the mountain-gardens.
Huang Choi is now a special magic automaton (AC 0; HD 14; 60 hp; #AT 1; Dmg 1-8/2-16; SA nil; SD +2 or better weapon to hit; MR 100%; AL N), attacking with a giant stone sword. This sword attacks for 1-8 on the first strike, with no modifier to hit; on the following follow-up round, it hits for 2-16 (wow!) but with a modifier of –4 to-hit due to the clumsiness of the heavy blow. This attack routine continues throughout any melee (1-8/2-16/1-8/2-16 etc). Despite it’s size (8’ high) and stone construction, the statue receives a MV rate of 15” and attacks with +2 to initiative every round because it is otherwise blindingly (and surprisingly) agile. On follow-up rounds it fights at –2 initiative (again, it is slow on the second and sequential rounds of combat).
Although the statue of Huang Choi is immune to attacks by weapons under +2 enchantment, any to-hit roll of 18 or greater (natural), even by non-magical weapons, causes a fracture in it’s surface, reducing it’s armor class by 1 step for each hit. Once it’s armor class reaches 3 it can be hit by +1 weapons; at 5 or above it can be struck normally by non-magical weapons for full effect. If it’s armor class is ever reduced to 10, the statue shatters and is completely destroyed.
The statue attacks as soon as any unrecognized group or individual crosses through the gateway into the forest. It will pursue intruders with it’s incredible rate of movement, thus making escape nearly impossible. When it is finally destroyed (by whatever means) the statue will shatter into 1-100 black gems of 10 tael value each. Among these is a singularly large gem which causes a numbing sensation when touched (this is the prison for the dragon’s mind at area 3 on the Third Terrace; if smashed, the dragon will be freed). A 250 experience point group bonus should be awarded if the characters free the dragon.
2. The Four Pools of The Winter Terrace:
The forest parts, revealing a clearing as brilliant and white as a cloud – and in fact, thick misty white clouds, with glimmering crystals of ice suspended in them, swirl about high above, swallowing the entire terrace in fog. The trees, white as innocents, stretch in all directions, surrounding this small enclave where numerous weathered statues stand. At the center of the clearing rest four striking pools of water; each is colored differently, and from the center of each comes a steady fountain of crystalline waters.
Perched atop one of the stone statues is a bird-like creature, roughly man-sized (though a little smaller), a small black eboshi (cap) standing on it’s feathery head. A look of arrogance on it’s face seems to suggest that a parlay with the creature would be difficult at best. It seems to ignore the group even as they enter the forest clearing.
The bird-creature is, of course, a tengu (AC 4; HD 7; 56 hp; #AT 2; Dmg 1-6; SA spells; SD invisibility; MR nil; AL CN; polymorph self, shout, phantasmal force three times per day, invisibility at will, reward, ancient curse once per week, misdirection once per turn, ghost light once per round), whose arrogant pride has been hurt by his isolation here. The tengu was soaring above the coast, observing the fishermen of Chou Deh village with some amusement, when a strong wind came and blew it out to sea. It soon became caught in one of Chang Tso’s storms, and was drawn out to sea where it feared all was lost – lost, that is, until it made landfall here, on the fourth terrace, where it has remained since, unable to return home without the same winds that brought it here.
The tengu is armed with it’s special fan (see rules for details), but nothing else. It will ignore the group (even if they address it) until they either leave the clearing or attempt to sample the waters of the fountains. In the latter case, it’s beady black eyes turn and focus on them, and it mocks them, teasing them (“are you sure you want to drink that?”. It will not elaborate, however, though it will remain smug and stare off into space until they drink.
Regardless of the outcome, the tengu is amused by the PCs. If they ask, it will explain it’s story hesitantly (either a Charisma check or an offering of some valuables is required to draw it out).
The tengu will, if given at least 100 tael in offerings, will tell the group that it has sampled and observed the effects of each of the four pools. The blue pool, it relates, causes a dreamy sleep. The red pool, it says, is poison. The green pool has a strange effect the tengu cannot quite quantify – he is unsure as to the effect, while the yellow causes a great “discomfort” (diarrhea) – at this point the tengu becomes noticably embarassed, but will not explain. Actually, it’s assessment of the pools is accurate except for the red pool, which really cures wounds, but the tengu will lie to protect this secret – it would rather have the PCs pay it to heal them instead. The effects of the pools are as follows:
Blue A single drink from this enchanted water affects the drinker with magical sleep (no save), lasting for 4-16 hours.
Green After drinking from these waters, the drinker is surrounded by a greenish aura that causes the plusses of all
weapons and armor possessed to increase by +1 for 1d3 turns thereafter (the water impart this ability only once).
Yellow Save vs. magic or suffer extreme digestive discomfort, resulting in a reduction of –1 to initiative and to-hit rolls for
the duration of the adventure (a neutralize poison or cure disease spell will negate this).
Red Each drink from this pool cures 1-4 points of damage; the magical properties of the water can be employed but
four times per day
None of the waters can be bottled or retained, and must be drunk from the basins. The tengu will not prevent the group from sampling the waters, but will laugh if they suffer the effects of the blue or yellow water.
If the group looks injured, the tengu offers to cast some of it’s healing spells on them, at the price of 100 tael per casting, regardless of effect. If they accept, the tengu honors the bargain by casting cure light wounds. It has a total of four cure light wounds memorized.
If asked, the tengu cannot explain the mountain or it’s dangers, though it will say that as it fell to the forest it saw, above, a sinister-looking castle from which a brilliant reddish glow emanated, somewhere at the summit of it’s central tower. It will retain any money given it (and defend it if necessary) by the characters, but will refuse to join them. It will cast a mystic warning about the cave at 4C, referring to “sea nightmares” (but never elaborating). The tengu will be here, however, if they return (should they need further healing).
3. The Cave of Sea Nightmares:
The white path eventually leads to this final cave. The distant sound of water dripping can be heard echoing from within, and the mist outside seems to coil about here, almost snakelike and evil in it’s own way. The beautiful rocks, multi-colored in pinks, oranges, and scintillating greens, have been carved by some ancient or forgotten hands, making the entrance to the cave appear like the gateway to some fantastic palace or temple. Armored demons with flicking tongues and barbed spears dance about over the gate, holding in their free hands the chained leashes of fantastic lions and leopards. Dancing girls with three monstrous eyes tumble about down the sides, sprouting webbed wings as they fall. At the bottom, little armored men, diminutive in size compared to the figures above, scatter as if in panic of the approaching statues.
A vile smell rises from within, as does a subtle, monstrous moan, rumbling at a barely-perceptible volume. Eyes catch sight of bleached white bones caught in the dim light of torches. A skull sits at the foot of some of the rocks, a harbinger of what lies within...
Seven scrags (AC 2; HD 6+12; hp 60, 45, 42, 39, 36, 30, and 15; #AT 3; Dmg 1-4/1-4/9-16; SA special; SD regeneration; MR nil; AL CE), the strongmen of Chang Tso, reside in the rock islet as well, making their lair just below the palace of the master. This cave is their home, as they are guardians summoned by the watery call of the Master of The Undersea. Particularly strong, Chang Tso has laired them here so that none may pass uninvited into his palace (just above). Of course, the hungry beasts will attack any intruder on sight (they also delight in tormenting Chang Tso’s prisoners, who lie in a side cave; see below).
When the PCs enter, unless they somehow manage to take the foul beasts by surprise, the scrags will muster themselves from their soiled apartments to do battle. Five of the seven approach for melee, while a sixth seems to take out a great white conch and blow on it – a thunderous horn echoes through the air, seeming to penetrate even the coral walls in reverberating waves. The seventh and final scrag grabs onto a nearby lever and throws it’s entire weight into it, causing a distant rumble and the lever to snap – breaking it.
As battle commences, keep track of how many rounds pass. On the third round, one of Chang Tso’s spirit oni materializes to answer the crag summons (the conch blast); this will generally be Mu Si, Chang Tso’s favored seneschal, but if he has been bested already take the next strongest of the spirit oni. It will enter casting it’s most powerful spell (in Mu Si’s case, he will generate a call lightning spell; note that he can only do this indoors in this one exception), then directing the scrags in battle. Only if directly threatened by spells, missile fire, or direct melee attack will the oni engage in physical combat.
The scrags continue to fight regardless of the outcome, for they are stupid beasts and are cowed into submission by Chang Tso and his minions. The oni, likewise, will fight until slain to protect the gate to the Winter Blossom Palace.
The foul scrags maintain an impressive treasure consisting of 8,000 yuan, 9,000 ch’ao, 12,000 tael, 14 gems, and 18 pieces of jewelry (all of varying value), littered all about the cave. They have no magical treasure.
Located down a rough natural cave tunnel from the Cave of Scrags are a series of minute “cells”, used as a prison by Chang Tso. Any commotion from this area is 75% likely to attract the attention of the scrags; even quiet conversation has a 25% chance of drawing the trollish creatures back into the caves to investigate. The prison cells themselves, however, hold a number of destitute and desperate captives:
CELL a. Twelve prisoners – sickly men whose treasure-laden merchant vessel sank long ago under the assault of the “mermaids” under Chang Tso. The men have been here for nearly half a year, and are in poor spirits and health. They will be unable to help the party in any real fashion, and may even cause them detriment by calling out desperately to them and begging or food and escape. Unless the party disappears from sight, within 1d4 rounds the scrags will arrive to investigate the commotion (and in none too good a mood either). A 100 experience point group bonus should be awarded if the characters free these captives.
CELL b. Two men, an old man and his son, each wearing a straw jingasa and soiled peasant clothing. The older man is Sheng Yuan, his son Chou, both fishermen from a small coastal village in Shou Lung (as they will explain readily if asked). Sheng will explain that he and his son were out fishing within sight of the coast nearly a month ago when suddenly a great typhoon came from the sea. Although they tried desperately to return to land, they soon lost their way in the storm and found themselves, days later, in the middle of the grey ocean. It was then, Sheng says, they saw the great coral archipelago rise from the seas, and their ship magically drawn into the sea caves by an invisible “force”. Sheng and his son attest that their ship docked at an eerily-abandoned pier where they suddenly succumbed to a magical slumber – and awoke here, in this cell. They know nothing of their captor (Chang Tso), but will tell the characters that they are fed daily by scrags from “nearby”. If freed, they will gladly aid the PCs (though they are 0-level and have no real fighting ability). A 150 experience point group bonus should be awarded if the characters free these captives.
CELL c. The final cell holds a striking sight, a young man in flowing yellow robes that seem none the worse despite the wear and tear on the rest of him. He is (as is apparent at first sight) from some far-off land, for he is unlike any person the party has seen (unless they have had contact with westerners before, of course, which is unlikely). The man will leap up at the sight of strangers to introduce himself, only to fall over for he has been shackled to the stone wall. He rather embarassedly introduces himself as “Breylor Moonglow, magician extraordinaire”, and begs forgiveness from the PCs for his current state of being. He will explain, in a whisper, that he is a mage from “across the sea – to the east”, and that he was attempting to make passage to the “fabled lands of Shou Lung” where he sought to do trade with the people there, only to find himself lost in a storm and drawn to this island. Made captive by an “ugly demon-ogre”, he has been forced by the curious Chang Tso to tell 101 tales of his adventures and far-away homeland – or else be beheaded. Alas, though the boy-mage is full of stories, he is afraid he is running out of good ones and fears the ogre mage may soon tire of him ... If they ask for details on the castle, Breylor says he knows nothing of the gardens through which they came (he as never been outside the palace), but will relate that Chang Tso has some six oni minions who are seldom far from him, though he is unsure if they reside in the palace or elsewhere. He will also say, rather excitedly, that Chang Tso has a talking and flying spellbook (this is true, though it may cause the characters to think the boy-mage a loon)!
He will ask the group to allow him to escape, and he vows to aid them until their adventure is over if they need help. Breylor Moonglow is, in fact, a 13th level enchanter - S 9, I 19, W 7, D 18, C 15, Ch 16; 43 hit points, AC 1, NG, spells. Breylor generally only wears a ring of free action (now gone), and has concealed a drow ring of energy (fires an energy ray that inflicts 2D6 points of damage to one target in a round, no save, with a range of 120') on his person that Chang Tso has failed to uncover. Breylor, surprisingly handsome and youthful for a mage, is a compelling character despite his somewhat witless lack of common sense and his easily-manipulated naivety. A boy at heart, he is incredibly young for his station and takes some getting used to. Lacking wisdom, he often makes foolish decisions and is quick to partake of quack adventures on a whim. The DM should use Breylor as a rather comic NPC, providing ill-advised advice and pointing out the obvious as if it meant the world. He means well, though...
Sadly, Breylor (being absent-minded) neglected to bring his spellbook with him on his world-spanning voyage and thus will not be able to re-memorize spells at any time (even if he had, Chang Tso would have taken it). The only spells he retains are the following:
1st Level: Affect Normal Fires, Identify
2nd Level: Invisibility, Locate Object, Mirror Image
3rd Level: Dispel Magic, Haste, Wizard Sight
4th Level: Minor Globe of Invulnerability, Stoneskin
5th Level: -
6th Level: Legend Lore
If the party rescues Breylor, he will gleefully inform them that on his ship, the “Moonglow” (they may recognize this as the strange ship docked in the sea caves), he has some hidden magical items that he will give them when they arrive there. If they are already in possession of these items (and the money), he will certainly let them keep both items and coin as a reward for their service. He will also further proposition them to join him in returning to his homeland “across the sea” where they will be made his guests (this could be an excellent way for the PCs to visit the West, if they so desire, should the DM dream of such a wild turn of events in his campaign; Breylor is, in fact, held in some regard in his homeland and will incessantly speak of his adventures there). A 250 experience point group bonus should be awarded if the characters free this captive.
5. Dark Gate:
The cavern walls here lead to a great iron portcullis, barring the staircase leading up and up to the mountain’s ultimate summit. Beams of murky light dance down through the darkness to illuminate the stone steps and the bottom of the stairwell. Images of largish demons – gigantic figures with taloned claws and flaming nostrils, beady triple eyes and capes of crashing wave heads – dance across almost every surface.
This gate leads up to the Winter Blossom Palace grounds, but is currently closed (it’s operation is via the lever – just now broken – in the scrag cave). To open it, either the characters must force the gate (Bend Bars/Lift Gates) or cast knock. There is no other means of passing through the gate and beyond.
THE WINTER BLOSSOM PALACE:
The Palace itself rises above the palcid misty clouds congregating at the mountain’s summit, and as such is buffeted every now and then by strong winds. This place is far above the gulls and birds that might find their home elsewhere on the island; it is so far up that the sea is no longer audible, it’s tiny blue waves tossing and turning even in the highest seas like the shimmering of glass shards far, far below.
The stairs leading from the Fourth Terrace lead up through solid stone until they empty onto a ledge overlooking the sea. After a few feet the stairs pick up again, this time running up along the massive stones of a great castle wall. These steps lead up along the exterior of the castle to an overlook.
The overlook itself is a structure made of stone; from it’s height one can see for miles in every direction, overseeing the clouds that surround the pinnacle of the islet and the surrounding rocky islands as well.
Strange grooves run the length of the overlook in a long semi-circle, disappearing into the walls (towards the palace itself). These seem to serve no purpose. The sound of the sea is totally lost at this height, and thick mysterious fog clouds rise to this level at times in a strong wind, obscuring sight. A huge stone dais, certainly large enough for a magnificent throne (with space left over), sits at one end of the overlook, at the base of the palace.
The overlook is largely ornamental, serving only to allow Chang Tso another means of overseeing his domain or to hold audience with visitors/prisoners (as the case may be, it could be one or both). The dais is where Chang Tso will sit (thus making him higher than all present), cross-legged, to receive visitors or prisoners. If present, his ogre underlings will flank him, also cross-legged, creating a terrible “promenade” leading towards him. The glow from atop the palace (see area 8, Chamber of The Storm Gatherers), is visible as a distant glimmer here, a fire illuminating the mists far overhead.
If Chang Tso is not present, roll 1d4. This is the number of rounds that pass before the doors open mechanically and silently. Down the grooves comes a silent procession of clockwork warriors, complete with halberds and ornate armor – in effect, much like a clockwork train in a clock tower.
The “guards” proceed down the grooved path (20’ per round), and will swipe at anyone they pass within 10’. Note, however, that each will only get one attack as it passes by, for it must continue down the grooved path. Each attacks as a 5 HD monster, inflicting 3-18 points of damage per strike. There are a total of six clockwork warriors, and each will attack as it passes so long as at least one character remains within 10’ of them. Each warrior has an AC of 3, and can take 15 points of damage before it is destroyed. Once they attack, only one attack may be returned against them, before they pass on down the track.
Once the warriors make it to the end of the overlook, they turn around and come back, heading down the path. They will thus strike again at the characters if they are still in range. It is possible to stop all six warriors in their place, as well, by jamming something very strong and durable (a sword won’t do, though) into the grooved track. The DM should consider such a method of delaying the warriors as valid.
2. Inner Pool:
This large chamber is cold, like outside, but it is stooped in darkness. The humidity here is overbearing, for the entire place is taken up by a large pool of water, square in shape. At each corner of this cold dark pool sit small statues, sitting cross-legged. Each holds a sword at it’s side, while their monstrous and bestial faces – adorned with horned or winged helms – stare downwards towards the water. Squiggles of light, reflected from the torches and lanterns of intruders, run across their evil faces and catch on gem-encrusted faces – multi-faceted gems for eyes, and teeth of ivory. Round wooden pillars creak with a subtle moan as they hold up this massive place.
This place is simply an inner pool, a decorative retreat. The statues are not alive, and if investigated, prove to also be valueless – the gems are cut glass, the ivory merely painted wood. The water is drinkable, however.
3. Temple of Chang Tso:
This great hall is apparently a temple dedicated to some demonic entity, for a great statue of worked green stone stands nearly thirty feet over the place, grinning an evil and nightmarish smile – a maw filled with walrus-like tusks and no less than three eyes stare out from the gross depiction. Long robes, like some princely mandarin, adorn the portly figure as if it were a sage or holy man of more established faiths. Temple braziers burn at the base of this great statue (one by each mighty foot), while tapers of black and scarlet paper hang from the creaking teak rafters far, far above. In the center of the camber, some fifteen feet from the massive statue (and fifteen feet from where the characters enter), sits a small but ornate bejewelled offering box, laying carelessly (or so it seems) in the center of the floor. No sound but the sound of the groups padded footsteps echo back from the temple darkness.
As stated, sitting in the center of this eerily-silent place is a wondrous box, a beautiful and ornate container - covered in gilt gold metalwork, studded with semi-precious stones, all aspects of which seem to have been crafted by the greatest of craftsmen. The box, however, is cursed, and is in fact a cursed box of demons; when opened, the box is found to contain hungry demons (common oni), numbering some 4-16 (AC 4; HD 8; hp 40 each; #AT 2; Dmg 3-10; SA spells; SD nil; MR nil; AL LE; polymorph self three times per day, fly three times per day, invisibility two times per day, cloud trapeze once per day, cause fear at will), who will spring out magically from the tiny space within to kill and devour the opener(s)!
If they themselves are killed, or if the opener is killed, the oni vanish at once, the box disappearing along with them. A single 500 tael gem remains in it’s place (non-magical). There is no other worthy treasure in the temple besides the cursed box.
4. Library of The Codex:
This magnificent chamber echoes with the sound of thundering waves, even from such great a height. The walls of the far side are given way to slender teak pillars that open onto the ocean, allowing a wondrous view of the archipelago from a magnificent elevation. Statues of glossy black stone, done in the form of stooped-over hermits or perhaps holy men, seem to exist only on the limits of any illumination brought here with intruders. A few braziers sit y a great stone pedestal at the chamber’s center, but these are unlit. Atop the pedestal is a strange collection of ivory sticks?
The thing on the pedestal is in fact a magical codex. This appears as a collection of thin ivory and shell sticks, each less than a thumb’s width wide but almost two feet long, connected by minute hammered links to form a streaming scroll of unbreakable plaques. It is rolled up just like a scroll (the only difference is it is indestructible). Along each stick, from bottom to top, runs strange writing (only a read magic can read the spell contained on each stick).
The codex is, in effect, Chang Tso’s spellbook. However, to confound those who would filch his precious secrets, the codex has been enchanted to defend itself against intruders. As the characters enter, the codex springs up with life of it’s own, fanning itself open (just like a fan ready to be fanned). Immediately it will begin casting spells!
The codex contains every spell listed under Chang Tso (see below). It may cast any of these spells, once per round, each, at will. It does not require memorization (of course), and cannot be employed unless defending itself against being stolen by others. In general, the codex will begin the encounter casting steam breath or wind breath, followed by whispering wind to alert Chang Tso to the presence of the characters in Fuyu Hama. It will then employ magic missiles for the remainder of the battle. The codex is capable of some limited speech (limited to curses and shouts to frighten those who would snatch it) as well as flight (moving irregularly and clumsily through the air, flapping it’s plaques like bird wings as it goes, at a rate of 2” per round).
The codex can only be “defeated” by a dispel magic spell or similar negation-type magic (subduing it for 1d4 rounds), or if it is forcefully taken and shoved into a sack or other container from which it cannot attack. This solution should not be evident to the group, and in any case isn’t even permanent, for the codex will attempt to resume fighting when released. There is no other treasure in the room.
5. Side Chamber:
Small figurines of oni-like deities sit on small pedestals or peer from tiny niches all about this place, and every expanse is covered by these little statues; any bare stone is covered by black and green paper prayer strips. A strange adornment covers two of the chamber’s other walls; this appears to be a honeycomb of hexagonal wooden slots, in each of which is stored a tightly-bound scroll. There are dozens of these scrolls in the chamber.
This small chamber is used for the storage of sutras (prayers and scrolls) used by the oni in the temple (5C). Each oni contributes one scroll to the collection (and thus the scrolls here cannot simply be taken by Chang Tso; he must request permission from his underlings). Many of these scrolls are simply religious treatises (stolen from temples raided along the seashore), while others are in fact magical. Among the magical contents are a scroll of protection vs. spirits and a scroll of protection vs. elementals. A charm of protection vs. fire (in the form of a bright scarlet lantern hanging at the chamber’s vaulted apex) protects this sanctuary from any possible misfortune.
6. Elevated State Room:
This gigantic chamber is surprisingly civilized in decor. The marble floor, made of dark green stone streaked with lighter green and yellow whirls (like the waves of the sea), is mostly covered by a great reed mat, rectangular in shape, extending from the entrance to the far end. Six or seven pillars of black stone hold up the ceiling, which is lost in darkness above. Braziers burn scented wood chips at strategic points in the room, casting a very dim glow and pervading the air in a princely odor.
Along the edges of the mat sit a number of gigantic pillowy cushions (seats for the spirit oni), and a scattered collection of glass bottles, decanters, and goblets. At the far end is a huge stone platform – shaped like a squatting sea turtle, on it’s back rises a low-backed chair of marvellous satin make, it’s black cushions embroidered with yellow seahorses.
This chamber is where Chang Tso and his oni minions feast and meet interesting prisoners. Breylor Moonglow, if with the group, explains that this chamber is where he is taken nightly to weave tales for the amusement of the foul demons – who are often as not drunk beyond compare.
If the PCs are ever captured during the adventure, they are brought here into the audience of Chang Tso, observed (poked, examined, etc.) and mocked for their futility. Yes, Chang Tso will go into detail about his grandeur and “most significant power”, claiming that with the Fire Jewel he will forever rule the Haunted Sea, bringing “harsh tyranny to the coastal peoples” and demanding “great tribute from even the Emperor himself”. They will then be mocked by each of the other spirit oni in turn, before being thrown into the prisons (see the Fourth Terrace) and their possessions fought over by the squabbling spirit oni.
While none of the accoutrements in the chamber are magical, a collection of the goblets, dinnerware, and other mundane decorations would net some 250 tael if retrieved and taken back to the mainland for sale as curios. There is apparently no kitchen nor even a source of food, which might be a curious point to those investigating the palace.
7. Chambers of The Master of The Undersea:
This low-ceilinged chamber looks like the palatial quarters of some significant magistrate. Reed mats cover the marble floor; the teak panelled walls, of glistening sea green, are bespeckled with the depictions of red nautilus and eels. Columns of solid black porphyry rise to hold up the ceiling – a slab of solid gold-gilt stone. Overlooking the chamber is a great black statue of a soldier or warrior, while a large cushioned bed – large enough for a giant or ogre – occupies the great center of the place, held high on a marble dais. A teak chest sits at the foot of this majestic bed, itself large enough to hold perhaps two crouched men.
The statue of black stone depicts a muscled oni-like samurai warrior, complete with tusked maw and three demonic eyes, facing the grand double doors entering the chamber from atop a low (3’ high) pedestal of streaked marble stone. The statue is clad (almost like a mannequin) in a suit of ornate blue and gold armor, while in his outstretched arms he holds a two handed sword – pointed straight towards those who enter through the doors.
The statue is non-magical, though it is fantastically fashioned from a single block of black marble, and depicts some fantastic oriental demon. The armor, entirely separate from the figure, is in fact an enchanted suit o-yoroi +1. The sword is also unenchanted, and is too large to wield effectively in any event.
In the ornate teak chest is contained a cloudy glass bottle, a bottle filled with a swirling green liquid, and another bottle filled with a striking blue liquor. Several dozen strings of glimmering coin are neatly arrayed in the chest, as if placed there meticulously by some fastidious accountant. A few cut gems are also contained within, stacked tidily.
The cloudy glass decanter is a jar of ultimate solution, while the other bottles contain a potion of gaseous form and an oil of disenchantment respectively. The total cash value of the coins is 500 tael, and 1,000 ch’ien. There are also a total of ten gems of equal value, each worth 100 tael.
In addition to the obvious treasure, a search for secret doors (if successful) will reveal that the wonderful teak panelling of the western wall can be slid out and to the side (like a sliding door); when this done, the panel pulls back to reveal a small small and yet another door. This second door appears to be made of a lacquered wood, painted pink with scattered images of tiny golden seahorses and dragonturtles awash on it’s surface. A gold-gilt handle is evident on the door, large enough for a gigantic hand to grasp but narrow enough to be pulled by even a human.
Tugging on the door proves that it is locked; the handle needs some great pressure to force. The handle is in fact trapped with a special mechanism that will activate a poisoned needle to spring out and sting the hand of the grasper if less than 335 lbs. of pressure are put on it (i.e. anyone with a strength less than 18/00). This poison forces the opener to save vs. poison or suffer 2-12 points of damage and a reduction of –2 to-hit and damage for 3-12 turns due to drowsiness and delirium. If the save is made, only 1-4 points of damage are incurred (and no other reductions).
Inside, the place is found to be an even greater secret treasure trove. Chang Tso’s hidden treasury consists of 6,400 tael, 3,000 ch’ien, 22 gems, and six pieces of jewelry (worth 8,000 to 12,000 tael each). These jewels and gems are objects garnered from the bottom of the sea, from ravaged sea spirit folk communities, the hulls of sunken ships (many of whom Chang Tso and his minions are responsible for sinking), or offerings made to the sea gods - greedily snatched by the would-be "Master of The Undersea”. Each is a unique and priceless artifact of beauty, and the DM should feel encouraged to flesh out each jewelry piece with a description and perhaps even some significant history. Also kept here are a crystal ball, a staff of circles, and a kite of spying, the last of the onis lesser treasures.
8. Chamber of The Storm Gatherers:
This fantastic chamber sits at the summit of the Winter Blossom Palace, and it’s eight sides are entirely open to the fog and strong winds that batter the sea palace.
Pillars of mighty black teak support the arched roof overhead, each face of the six-sided pillars carved in the shape of a life-sized and fierce-visaged oriental warrior (each with the terrible face of some animal – roaring tiger, rearing elephant, fang-toothed fox, etc.) replete in fantastic stone armor. From the ceiling hang banners and slips of paper, colored in fantastic shades of pink, red, green, and black, covered in intricate and slender pictograms. The strong smell of the sea pervades the deathly silent air.
In the center of the mighty pagoda’s towertop, a single pedestal rises from the teak floor – atop which rests the fabulous source of fiery light that fills the place – a large eight-sided jewel, burning with an intense inner fire that sheds orangish-red illumination over every surface – filtering through the pillars and out the open towertop, shining out into the fog like the beacon of some fantastic lighthouse.
The jewel is, in fact, the legendary Fire Jewel, stolen by Chang Tso from the guardians of The Temple of Shou Wat. The Fire Jewel is a magical hand-sized jewel that shoots a jet of brilliant unerthly flame that inflicts 6-60 points of damage per strike, with a maximum range of 50 yards. The jewel can fire only once per turn when the correct command word is spoken, but has 10 charges remaining. When it runs out of charges (if ever), the Fire Jewel becomes an inert but beautiful piece of crystal, itself worth 1,000 tael.
Unless Chang Tso has been defeated prior to coming here, he will instantly become aware of the PCs transgression and will materialze between them and the Fire Jewel, taking it into his hands and turning to face them. Any remaining oni will also materialize with their master to confront the PCs. He will bellow at them for their “arrogance”, and proceed to engage in a final battle against these “upstarts”.
The appearance of Chang Tso (AC 3; HD 5+4; hp 44; #AT 1; Dmg 1-12; SA spells; SD nil; MR nil; AL CN) is one of both a comical and frightening nature. A massive three-eyed ogre some 10½' tall, with light green skin and green-blue hair, black nails and tusks, Chang Tso is a hideous being indeed. The fanciful and obviously expensive silk robes he wears are embroidered with illustrious designs of silver sea dragons on a field of emerald green, but they do little to take away from his obviously bestial nature. In one massive hand Chang Tso always carries a ceremonial fan, itself of a metallic silver decorated with autumnal leaves tumbling through the air – actually a fan of deflecting. In his other hand he carries another fan, depicting brilliant soaring canaries on a field of white – a fan of winds. Chang Tso will often use his fans in battle not only to deflect missiles and create winds but also as an aid in casting spells, fanning the air about him to create a fog cloud to confound attackers, or to propel his whispered words while casting whispering wind. He also carries with him a conch of fish command (20 charges).
As an spirit oni, Chang Tso has the following spell abilities - fly (for 12 turns), become invisible, cause darkness in a 1" radius, polymorph to human (or similar bipedal form from 4' to 12' size) form, and regenerate 1 hit point per melee round (lost members may be reattached to regenerate). Once per day he can also do any of the following - charm person, sleep, assume gaseous form, and create a ray of cold the same dimensions as that of a cold wand which does 8d8 (unless the appropriate saving throw is made). In addition, the fanciful garb he wears acts as a cloak of protection +1.
Spell List: (those spell listed in bold are commonly memorized)
1st Level: Wall of Fog, Magic Missile (x3), Ghost Light, Still Water
2nd Level: Misdirection, Phantasmal Force, Whispering Wind, Wind Breath, Animate
Water, Fog Cloud, Locate Object
3rd Level: Cloudburst, Commune with Lesser Spirit, Scry, Steam Breath
In addition to the abilities of regular ogre magi, Chang Tso and his minions are a very special breed, set apart from the others, as servants of the Celestial Bureaucracy. These are spirit oni, and as such their powers are greater. All spirit oni receive the normal power of the ogre mage, but also have a telepathic link with others of their kind (within 100 miles), allowing communication and coordination over great distances. In addition, all spirit oni may survey their specific “realm” in a mystic form of vision identical to that provided by a crystal ball (they cannot see invisible, ethereal, or otherwise magically concealed persons or objects, however); the area that can be scried is limited to their specific purpose (for instance, a spirit oni of reefs can see within the boundaries of reefs).
Spirit oni are never slain permanently unless by a spirit (lesser or greater), deity, or by a weapon specifically blessed for that purpose (a bless spell will suffice, and then only if the spirit oni is of evil alignment; other spirit oni are unaffected). In all other cases, the spirit oni is temporarily banished to spirit form, only able to reform in a quasi-ethereal state (like a ghost) to harrass, threaten, or frighten the living (no game effect, however). They remain unable to assume physical form (except in very rare cases) for 1d3 years.
If three or more spirit oni combine together their powers they are able to create even more spectacular effects, based on their element. Water oni may create a tsunami (as spell); air oni may generate a whirlwind; fire oni can produce one fireball for each oni present (inflicting damage in d6 equal to their individual HD); earth oni an earthquake (as li lung ability); astral oni can, by joining in power, construct a gate to conjure spirits and creatures from other planes.
Spirit oni are frightened of spirit folk and other kami, though this only serves to cause them to connive and conspire against their good-aligned cousins. If confronted by odds of 3:1 or greater spirit folk, a spirit oni will always flee in terror (only to return when the odds have lessened or if he has no other choice but to fight).
Particularly cunning and intelligent spirit oni often have abilities equivalent to 3rd to 8th level wu-jen. Almost all spells known and used will pertain to their element and “realm”. Some others may, at the DM’s discretion, have other unique abilities – no two spirit oni are completely alike.
Tactics of Chang Tso, Master of The Undersea:
On the first round of combat, Chang Tso will use his fan of winds to tie the party down. Next (if he has not done so already) he conjures a water elemental (actually the product of phantasmal force) to engage the group. On the following round he will cast steam breath (doing 5d6; save for half) against those trapped in the winds, or his innate ray of cold (if he has the Fire Jewel, he will use this instead) against anyone not affected by his winds. He will constantly employ his fan of deflecting to knock missiles from the air should the group assault him in such a manner. He will follow these attacks with magic missiles (three missiles per casting) against strong warrior-types until these are expended, at which time he will engage in melee.
Upon reaching ten hit points or less Chang Tso suddenly turns into a noxious blue gas, issuing quickly into the urn atop the black teak pedestal. Here he attempts to hide (hopefully they party will be too afraid to open it and pursue him), but if it is obvious the party is intent on doing him in he pokes his head out of the urn and begs – pitifully and tearfully – for mercy. It is obvious the oni is sorry for what he has done, and promises that if they harm him no more he will relinquish the Fire Jewel to their care at once. In addition, he vows to make ammends to the Temple of Shou Wat, by seeing to it that the monks catch twice their number of fish for the next four seasons. If this is not enough, Chang Tso will even promise to end his “reign” above the sea, and will call for his oni to gather and sink the island for one hundred years, never to bother the good people of Shou Lung again.
If the characters show mercy Chang Tso will honor his word and do as promised, releasing his stolen treasures and freeing the spirits of all enslaved here (this does not include his oni or other evil minions) and his prisoners. He will further honor his promise to issue the Winter Blossom Palace once more into the sea. His spirit vanishes at once into the urn, and the island – indeed the entire archipelago – begins to shake violently, the sound of the rushing sea echoing as thunder from the ocean surface below. The characters will have ten turns to return to their boat (which will be magically held at the First Terrace landing and returned to the sea caves when they are ready) and leave before the mystic island is swallowed up by a storm of violent surf and surging seafoam – not to return for a hundred years... A 1,000 experience point group bonus should be awarded if the characters preserve the oni’s life and allow him to strike a deal instead securing a lasting harmony in the sea.
NEW MAGIC ITEMS
Fan of Deflecting: This item appears to be a normal ornamental fan, but when opened, can be used to deflect incoming missiles. The fan automatically deflects all arrows, bolts, etc - the fan cannot, however, deflect boulders, catapult fire, or larger missiles. The fan may also deflect directed magic attacks (magic missiles, lightning bolts, etc.), with 100% effect. The fan can deflect as many attacks, per round, as the holder has attacks per round (thus a character with two attacks per round could deflect two missiles per round; note that magic missiles each count as a separate attack). XP VALUE: 1,000. GP VALUE: 8,000.
Fan of Winds: This is a magic fan, often made of bird feathers, and is not uncommonly found in the employ of mischievous tengu and other oriental fairies. The fan, when unfurled and whipped back and forth, creates rising winds. Winds blown from the fan are of such force as to require all in front of it to make a bend/bars check; those that succeed may advance, but those who fail are blown back, out of control, a total of 3d6 yards (suffering 1d6 points of damage per yard thrown). The fan blows for 1d4 rounds at a time, up to three times daily. XP VALUE: 1,000. GP VALUE: 7,500.
Magic Kite: There are various forms of these magical devices, usually made of light paper and wood, sometimes of silk with trailers and ribbons of marvellous colors. All such items are used in the same manner, drawn into the sky by natural winds (if there are no winds, the kite cannot be used).
Kite of Spying: This exceptional kite, light and airy, is decorated with large eyes, and when flown, allows the user to "see through it" as if the kite's eyes were his own. When viewing through the kite, the user enters a trance, only awakening with loud noise or direct attacks against his or her person. In general, the area that can be viewed from the kite is 100’ in every direction for every 10' above ground the kite is flying.
Kite of Whirling Winds: This kite, when flown in the air, raises up a wind of tremendous force and velocity that whips and rips at all but the flyer. This wind has the effect of lifting out of the air any creature under man-sized, whirling it about as if in a whirlwind. Creatures of man-size or larger suffer a reduction of 1/2 attacks per round, movement rate, etc. due to the high winds. Creatures picked up and whirled remain in the air (unable to act) for 2d4 rounds, after which they are thrown off. The creature must make roll 1d6, any result of 6 or more indicating it lands safely, but stunned, for 1d4 rounds. Any other roll results in the creature suffering 2d6 points of damage, and are stunned for twice the duration.
Kite of Spirit Luring: This magic kite, colorful and dainty and painted with great wide eyes, acts to lure and charm angry air spirits. The kite, when aloft, will lure any and all air spirits within a mile range; once the spirit reaches the kite, it will become transfixed by the sight for 2d4 rounds if it fails a saving throw vs. spells, unable to act except in self-defense (if attacked, it snaps out of the trance). At the end of this time, it must make a saving throw vs. spells at +2 or be dispelled to it’s home plane (e.g. effectively destroyed) permanently.
Kite of Dragon Luring: This type of kite, usually made in the form of a dragon, works exactly like a Kite of Spirit Luring (that is, it lures and mystifies all types of dragons, who must make a saving throw vs. spells to avoid this affect; after 2d4 rounds it saves at +2 or must return to it’s home plane).
All magic kites can only remain in the air for 4d12 rounds at a time, and can be called as many times a day as needed (but not more than the rolled amount of rounds in duration). A strong wind must be present to use any kite. XP VALUE: 1,750. GP VALUE: 7,500.
Magic Kotatsu: Though a kotatsu is a small bronze brazier that is commonly used in households to do little more than warm blankets, this magical item is an item of a curious nature. Made by a good goddess, it is a source of powerful magic. Any blanket heated over the kotatsu brazier will remain comfortably warm for 1-4 weeks. Any evil-aligned creatures attempting to employ the device will find that it explodes into a violent ball of flame (as a 6 HD fireball) and disappears forever. XP VALUE: 500. GP VALUE: 1,000.
Magic Mask: There are various forms of these magic items, which appear to be enchanted theatrical masks (the kind used in kabuki or Noh drama). Each mask has a unique set of powers, which are conveyed only when the mask is donned by the wearer.
Mask of Calm: This type of mask appears to be a pale paper or porcelain mask, made to reflect the image of a calm young woman. When worn, the mask instills magical calm (negating all forms of fear, magic or otherwise) on the wearer, and all friends within range of sight (i.e. all who can see the mask).
Mask of Wisdom: This type of wooden or porcelain mask is made in the intricate image of a kindly and joyful old man; horsehair bristles adorn the mask to mimic moustache and wispy beard. When worn, the mask makes the wearer immune to all mind-affecting magic as if he/she had a wisdom of 22.
Mask of Trickery: This type of mask, made of polished wood or porcelain, appears to reflect the image of a twisted and smiling demon, with long horns emerging from the forehead, eyes possessed with golden fire. The mask, when worn, grants the wearer the abilities of Detect Noise, Hide In Shadows, and Move Silently (the chances of success correspond to the character's level, as if a Yakuza or the same level; Yakuza and Ninja who wear the mask operate as if one level above their real level). These abilities are lost if the mask is removed.
Mask of Anger: This mask typically appears to reflect the image of an enraged warrior, with bristling moustache and beard of dark horsehair bristles, and enflamed red features - some, however, depict monstrous demonic creatures such as oni or war gods. The mask, when worn, increases the wearer's attacks per round by one step (1/1 becomes 3/2, 3/2 becomes 2/1, etc.), even for non-warrior types who don it.
Each mask has unlimited charges, and abilities remain so long as it is worn. XP VALUE: 1,500. GP VALUE: 5,000.
Mirror of Light: This type of magic item, typically fashioned by a master magician and artisan before the death of a great figure, is a beautiful bronze plate that glimmers with every ray it catches. The item serves to light the way for lost spirits; any spirit of a dead being (all forms of sentient undead) confronted by the mirror must make a saving throw vs. spells or be persuaded to go on to the next world, to bother mortal men no further. It can be used once per day. XP VALUE: 5,000. GP VALUE: 25,000.
Night-Shining Pearl: This appears to be a wondrous and lustrous pearl of marvellous beauty, one obviously favored by the spirits who cultured it. The pearl, when held in darkness and commanded, emits a beam of brilliant light that pierces the darkness and illuminates the way, much in the same manner as a lantern or light spell. The pearl's beam works in a cone that starts at the pearl, and extends up to 120', where the beam widens to roughly 30' wide. The pearl can be used up to five times per day. XP VALUE: 500. GP VALUE: 1,500.
Omikuji of Wishes: This is a magical strip of blank paper, of the kind traditionally used to inscribe with wishes of prosperity and luck (or to alleviate misfortune) and hung from trees for the prayers to catch the wind. These, however, are actually magical, and any request written on the omikuji will come true (as per a wish) 10% of the time. If the wish does not come true, the omikuji is wasted. XP VALUE: 100. GP VALUE: 500.
Staff of Circles: A magic weapon favored by Tengu, this appears to be a ring-tipped staff, and is a particularly useful item indeed. The staff protects against harmful enchantment-type spells (+2 to saves vs. such spells), and is also useful in exorcising demons (expending three charges from the staff casts a holy word). In addition to it's other magic abilities, the ring on the staff's end allows it to be used to snare and snap an enemy’s weapon on a natural to-hit roll of 18 or above (magical weapons are allowed a save to avoid breaking, though they are still torn from the wielder’s hand)! XP VALUE: 5,000. GP VALUE: 25,000.