The dwarves digging in Dragard were quite surprised to discover an ancient temple within the gold-bearing mines. However, their lust for wealth urged them forward, and instead of retreating as they should have, they placed themselves in even greater danger. The body of a long-dead demi-goddess rests in the ancient prison, and there are many who hope to bring her back to the world. Such an event could cast darkness over the entire land.
The Battle of Dragard Mine is intended for a party of 4-6 11th-level characters. It uses the mass combat rules detailed in this issue of BroadSword Magazine.
Before Dragard was a gold mining operation for one of the Southern Kingdoms, it was a lucrative resource for an ancient people that occupied the land long ago. They worshipped a creature with devastating power; the Medusa Queen. For many years, the chieftains of the ancient people sacrificed their own to the Medusa Queen and made her beautiful treasures from the nearby mine. Eventually, the people became tired of the monster’s demands, tired of living in fear and pain.
They rebelled against her, sealed her behind the halls she forced them to build. They did not kill her, for they still held a place of reverence for their former queen. When they were done, the chieftain ordered a long, pillared, decorative hall made so they could remember their history and their mistake. When that chieftain died, his body was interred in a chamber hidden behind a statue of the Queen in the hall. His tomb was then sealed. The people collapsed the mine and abandoned it, leaving only carvings to warn off visitors.
Eventually, the monster queen was forgotten. A new mine was opened after the old tunnels were rediscovered. However, continued mining revealed the sealed tomb and prison of the monster queen. Once rumors got out that the ancient temple was discovered, all manner of dark forces turned their attention to the small mining town. In fact, the horrid beastmen of the north have sent a sizeable army south to forcibly take the mine.
The dwarves and the troops defending the mine estimate that the beastman force will arrive at the mine within the next 48 hours. And since they are beastmen, they suspect that the force will attack at night. Thanks to dwarven ingenuity (and paranoia) Dragard Mine is fairly well-defended. And it quickly becomes obvious that standing ground at the Mine is a better bet than meeting them in the forests.
While the militia prepares for the coming battle, the characters are free to assist or explore the surrounding area. They may even attempt to enter the temple and discover the Medusa Queen’s petrified remains.
On the second day, the beastmen attack. Joined by only five units of trained soldiers and six units of dwarven miners armed with pickaxes, the characters must fend off the beastmen. If they succeed, the beastmen retreat to the hills. But should they fail, the resurrected demi-goddess could spell doom for all of mankind.
Mass Combat Rules
This adventure uses the mass combat rules described in this issue of BroadSword
Magazine. You will need to learn the rules before running this campaign in order to teach it to your players and run the adventure as it is intended.
Once word that the beastmen were marching on Dragard Mine, the dwarves sent out their fastest runners to secure help. This adventure assumes that the characters are in a large town or small city roughly 25 miles from Dragard Mine when the runners arrive. A call to arms mobilizes roughly 40 troops, enough to help defend the mine until additional reinforcements can arrive.
The Fight Against Evil
The leader of the mobilized militia, Omar Goldwind (LN male human veteran), approaches the characters and asks them for assistance. He tries to appeal to their better natures. Should that fail, he offers an official favor to the characters within what’s possible, perhaps information on a future quest, the rites to land near the city, or some other manageable request.
Thar’s Gold In Them Hills
In addition, the dwarven runners are offering every person that can help 500 gp worth of nuggets taken directly from the lode. If the characters present themselves as particularly useful, the dwarves may offer even more gold for them to fill their bags with.
Dragard Mine is a well-fortified mining town. Its defenses were further improved by the dwarves once they took possession of it. They rebuilt its towers and walls and established new buildings necessary for the operation.
Traveling to the Mine
The mine is just a day’s ride from where the characters were approached. The terrain surrounding the mine is quiet, lacking settlements and farmsteads. While traveling, the characters might engage Omar and his troops in conversation to learn a little more about them.
Eventually, felled trees and wagon tracks offer the first clues to the mine’s presence in the hills. Soon, the tall walls and babbling moat surrounding most of the mine come into view.
The dwarves did an exceptional job returning the old mining site to its former glory. The 60-foot stone walls are fully repaired. At the eastern edge of the mining town, a watermill churns the water pouring from the falls down the face of the mountain, powering the grain mill. From there, the river splits away into a wide creek heading east, then around the front of the mine acting as a moat.
Normally, the mine would be alive with the sounds of the dwarven workers toiling inside. However, the coming beastmen forces have cast an aura of gloom over the town. Now, the dwarves wait for outside assistance, hoping they can hold onto their tenuous stake in the gold mine.
A 50-foot wide moat surrounds the entirety of the mine save for the cliff face at the northern end. The moat is 20-feet deep at its lowest point. Two drawbridges offer the only way over the moat, one at the western edge of Dragard and another at the south. Any dangerous creatures that once swam in its waters are long gone.
When the characters arrive, the drawbridges descend to allow them and the troops access, then quickly rise once they’re through.
The massive stone walls surrounding half the operation are close to 60-feet high all the way around, providing ample views of the valley before the mine. Each tower has enough room to support a full unit of archers or manned ballistas.
The most vulnerable side of the mine is the eastern approach near Dragard Pond. Although the moat provides plenty of coverage, a determined assault would undoubtedly approach from that angle. On arrival, Goldwind instructs the troops to assist the dwarves in planting sharpened wooden spikes in the water and on the moats banks.
Like the walls, the town itself is in exceptional condition. Most of the brick buildings were in ruins when the dwarves reclaimed Dragard Mine. Then, they quickly rebuilt the town, using stone pulled from the mine itself. There is barely any hint at the mine’s age save for a few foundation stones and ancient markings on the cliff face.
The town’s garrison houses 10 guards lead by Tanner Faze (NE male human veteran). Faze took the job as the town’s garrison captain in hopes of eventually overpowering the dwarves once the lode was clear. Then the dwarves discovered the Medusa Queen. Faze now waits for the beastmen to arrive in Dragard so he can turn the tables on the dwarves and their allies in exchange for ownership of the mine and its gold.
Golden Flask Inn
The Golden Flask’s owners–a pair of halfling brothers named Nobin and Hoevar (both N commoners)–are in a bit of a bad spot with their fellow townsmen and women. To drum up business, the brothers got the word out about the gold discovered in the mine. Naturally, a rush followed. Annoyed, Rogar brushed off the majority of the opportunists looking for jobs in the tunnels, although a few were given employment. Of course, that wasn’t the issue. The real issue stemmed from the pair bragging about the “ancient snake statue” the dwarves found in the sealed prison. Now, everyone in Dragard blames them for attracting the beastmen forces.
Glad to see business come through, the brothers will jump at the opportunity to cater to Omar, the troops, and the characters.
The headman’s office acts both as a home to the headman, Rogar Knockskull (LG male dwarf noble), and the administrative offices for the mine. Rogar is an amiable enough fellow, despite being somewhat short-tempered and grouchy, and is known for always chewing on tobacco leaves. He eagerly assists Omar and the characters. While the mine is important to him, he’s more concerned about the livelihoods of his fellow miners. Before the mine, many of the dwarves were unemployed. Dragard gave them purpose.
After the dwarves cleared the mine, they stored their findings in the headman’s office. 320 pounds (16,000 gp) of gold nuggets are stored there for safe keeping in the headman’s vault. The vault itself is made of solid steel with an AC of 19 and 200 hp. A character can pick the lock with a successful DC 23 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools.
All 65 miners who work the mine live in the barracks at the mouth of the tunnels. While mostly clean, the unmistakable smell of ale, body odor, and dust from the tunnels cling to the bunks like shadows. The quarters’ majordomo Hollee (NG female dwarf veteran) ensures that the miners have everything they need. Hollee is friendly but sensible–if she believes the characters have no real business at the barracks, she’ll shoo them off.
Sister Grindstone (LG female dwarf priestess) manages a non-denominational temple in town. Many of the miners come from different backgrounds, therefore, it only made sense to keep things loose. She assists with the anxiety, stress, and other issues brought on from the toil. Grindstone is eager to help with healing and care when its needed.
An elven merchant named Danick (N male elf noble) runs the trade shop. His business opens its doors two days out of the week, offering the dwarves essentials imported from the south. Just his luck that he arrived in Dragard right as the beastmen forces were approaching. Now he’s trapped there like everyone else.
Danick is nervous and talkative, but not a complete coward. He is assisted by a half-hobgoblin bodyguard named Brock (CN male hobgoblin) who normally protects Danick on his supply runs. The bodyguard’s thoughts are always with his family who lives to the east. Despite his considerable pay, Brock has no issue ditching Danick if the going gets tough.
Danick’s trading post has most of the items detailed in the PHB (25 gp or less) available for purchase but does not trade in arms or armor.
Before the battle, the entrance to the mine is guarded by 5 of the garrison’s guards. They are all loyal to Faze, but otherwise, remain impartial. They are under instructions not to let anyone into the tunnels. However, the characters should have no trouble convincing the guards that they should be allowed entry into the mine. Most are seasoned warriors who know trouble when they see it.
The dwarves did an exceptional job reestablishing the old tunnels. Once they learned of the approaching beastmen forces, the miners stopped production immediately. They removed the gold they had retrieved from the mountain, but a few bits and pieces still remain, locking it in Rogar’s office. Regardless, a successful DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the presence of roughly 1,000 gp worth of gold nuggets littering the main lode at the northwestern corner of the mine.
The entrance to the Medusa’s Prison is a short, narrow tunnel pushing into the eastern rock. The tunnel is low. Any character that is Medium or larger and not a dwarf will have to crawl on his or her hands and knees.
The Medusa’s Prison
The long-dormant Medusa Queen rests in the hidden prison at Dragard. In addition to the hidden entrance, the creators of the prison placed dangerous traps and immortal sentries to prevent anyone from ever finding her.
The Prison is grand in its design, demonstrating the respect its creators had for the Medusa Queen. Stonework decorated with inlaid mother of pearl, gold, and silver depicts the history of the people who came before the dwarves. Frescoes dominate the floors and ceilings, and all of the columns are carved in the form of great heroes of a long-forgotten age.
Ceilings in the halls and chambers are 20 feet high. All of the doors are made of heavy stone balanced on thick stone hinges. Most are barred from the side that the characters will approach. It should be clear by this design that there are things within that were not meant to be let out.
Below is a summary of the locations keyed to the Medusa’s Prison map. The prison has no light sources, so it is assumed the characters have darkvision or another means of seeing in the dark.
1 – Landing
Finally, after crawling for a hundred feet or so, the tunnel opens into a large cavern. Here is where the dwarves discovered the old temple. The temple’s facade juts from the stone wall; its antique architecture betrays its age. A massive stone door, likely opened by the dwarves, reveals stone stairs descending into darkness.
Written above the door are glyphs in an unrecognizable language.
A successful DC 15 Intelligence (History) check reveals the language to be Old Common. If the characters have a way of deciphering the glyphs, they read: “Turn Away Now and Let The Queen Sleep.”
2 – Main Temple
Over a dozen columns carved to look like great warriors, mages, and priests lift the detailed frescoed ceilings 20-feet above you. Inlaid mother-of-pearl, gold, and silver streak the walls. At the northern end, atop a stone dais, stands a huge, marble statue of a woman with snakes for hair offering a sword with both hands.
Her eyes appear to be made of green gems.
The statue is of the Medusa Queen. Behind the statue is a secret door leading further into the Prison. Beyond the main entrance, there are no other obvious exits.
A successful DC 17 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the presence of the secret door. Then, a DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) shows how exactly to access the door. The sword the medusa holds works as a counterweight. Should it be removed, nothing happens. However, if the gems in the Medusa Queen’s eyes are placed in her hands, it opens the secret door. If a character makes an Intelligence (Investigation) check and rolls a 15-19, they can tell that the puzzle has something to do with the sword and her arms, but not the gems.
Trap. If the gems are removed from the statue’s eyes but not placed into her hands, all of the doors into and out of the chamber seal shut (DC 25 Strength check to break open) and a petrifying gas pours from the empty eye sockets. Have the characters roll initiative. On initiative count 20, each character in the temple must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the character begins to turn to stone and is restrained. On the next initiative count 20, the restrained character must repeat the saving throw, becoming petrified on a failure or ending the effect on a success. The petrification lasts until the character is freed by the greater restoration spell or other magic.
Replacing the emeralds or stuffing the sockets with fabric, rocks, or something else will stop the gas from pouring out. Alternatively, the characters can remove the sword from her hands and place the gems in her hands. Doing this stops the trap and causes the statue and dais to rotate 90 degrees counterclockwise, revealing the entry to Area #2. The sealed doors also open.
The characters can attempt to open the secret door without using the statue. Doing so requires a successful DC 25 Strength check to rotate it.
Treasure. The emeralds are worth 1,000 gp each.
3 – Guardian’s Tomb
Once the characters enter the guardian’s tomb from the secret entrance in the temple, read the following.
A sarcophagus rests atop a simple, stone dais. To your right is a door barred from this side. Judging by the musty smell of the air and undisturbed, dust, no creature has set foot in this tomb for a very long time.
The second line of defense in the Medusa’s Prison rests here in the guardian’s tomb. It is the restless spirit of the chieftain.
Creature. The guardian is a greater specter (see its stats in the Appendix) and rises from its tomb the moment the characters enter. It first attempts to frighten the characters off, but then attacks should they try to remove the bar to the door leading deeper into the prison. Once activated, it fights until destroyed.
Treasure. Removing the lid to the sarcophagus requires a DC 16 Strength check. Within, lies the bones of the guardian and in its skeletal clutches is an ancient sword of sharpness.
4 – Prison
At the base of the stairs is the old prison. Here, the medusa’s minions were stored and locked away (in areas 5, 6, 7, and 8). Two stone golems carved to resemble the Medusa Queen stand guard in the two alcoves in the southern wall. Entering the Prison Hallway without speaking the Old Common phrase “regina velim visos” engages the golems and seals all exits into and out of the hall.
Creatures & Trap. The stone golems are programmed for one thing: destroy all who enter. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only danger in the hallway. Once the doors are sealed, vents in the floors and ceilings begin to suck the breathable air out of the hallway. A successful DC 16 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools disables the trap. Until disabled, however, the character must hold their breath or begin to suffocate.
Even if the golems are destroyed, the hall remains sealed. The doors are difficult to open, requiring a DC 25 Strength check to break the deadbolts holding them in place. A character can make a successful DC 21 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools to unlock the doors as well. Once the door leading back to Area 3 is reopened, the room once again fills with breathable air.
5 – Gorgon’s Cell
This large room lacks the decorations present in the other parts of this underground temple. In fact, it almost looks like a prison cell. At the center of the room, lying motionless, is what appears to be a bull made of armored plates.
Once the Medusa Queen’s beloved pet, the gorgon in this chamber is long dead. However, its exoskeleton gives it a false semblance of life. A successful DC 13 Wisdom (Medicine) check reveals that it is dead.
6 – Anzerak’s Cell
As you open the door to this room, a whimpering, growling voice calls out in the darkness in a language you don’t understand. Suddenly, something leaps out at you!
Anzerak was the Medusa Queen’s greatest general. An immortal vampire, Anzerak stayed cruelly locked away in this cell for over a thousand years as the creators of the prison made it impossible for him to escape using his mist form. Eventually, the internment drove Anzerak insane.
Lacking a proper meal for all that time, Anzerak wastes no time attacking. He appears emaciated and ghoulish due to his long imprisonment. In fact, it may not be immediately obvious that he is a vampire.
Creature. Anzerak wants to draw blood as quickly as possible. Once he feeds, he attempts to revert to his mist form and escape. Should Anzerak find himself cornered, he will try to make a deal with the characters, promising them anything they want. He explains all he knows about the prison, its creators, and the Medusa Queen. He is desperate to leave and will fight to the death if threatened with reinternment.
7 – Nola’s Cell
A humanoid skeleton with the head of a wolf rests against the far wall. It looks like it may have been a prison cell at some point.
The Medusa Queen’s werewolf handmaiden, Nola died shortly after her imprisonment.
8 – Skeleton Room
Hundreds of bones litter the floor. Judging by their size and shape, these were the remains of humanoids.
The remaining humanoids working for the Medusa Queen were imprisoned in this room. Most died at the hands of the others, slain, cannibalized, and discarded.
9 – The Medusa Queen’s Final Resting Place
The door leading into this area from Area 4 isn’t just locked, it’s been completely sealed. Only by completely destroying it can the characters enter. The vault door has an AC of 17 with 100 hp and a damage threshold of 5; it is immune to psychic and poison damage. In addition, the entire area and sealed door have a magic ward placed upon it. Divination spells do not work in the room, nor do spells or powers that allow characters to teleport or gate into or out of the chamber. In addition, the walls, door, columns, and other features have resistance to damage from spells and other magical effects.
Once they enter, read the following:
This massive chamber is quite the sight to behold. Much like the first temple at the head of this underground fortress, frescoes, reliefs, and carved statues decorate the entirety of the room. At the far side of the chamber atop a stone dais sits a stone figure. It looks similar to the first statue of the snake-haired woman in the temple but humanoid-sized… almost as if it had once been a real woman that was turned to stone. She holds a golden harp in her hands.
Knowing she had no way to escape, the Queen went into a dormant state, voluntarily turning herself to stone. Should a greater restoration spell or similar magic be cast upon her, the Medusa Queen immediately returns to life.
The Medusa Queen is an incredibly powerful creature. Hopefully, the warnings all throughout the temple dissuade the characters from reviving her. However, if they do revive her, she first tries to convince the characters to worship her as the goddess she considers herself. Failing that, she attacks and escape. See the Appendix for her statistics.
Treasure. The only possession the Medusa Queen had to keep her mind occupied was a small magic harp called the Medusa’s Melody. Her stone form still clutches the harp. See the “Medusa’s Melody” sidebar for details.
The Battle of Dragard Mine
The beastman forces attacks the second night that the characters are there. Scouts detect the presence of the beastmen an hour before they arrive. This will give the characters and Omar plenty of time to get the troops into position.
Many of the NPCs mentioned in this adventure assist with the PCs including Omar, Tanner Fade, Sister Grindstone, Rogar, Danick, Hollee, and Brock. The Golden Flask Inn’s brothers stay out of the combat. The characters have the following troops at their disposal (see the Mass Combat Rules section for statistics):
- 3 guard units
- 2 archers units
- 6 miners units
Unless a confrontation occurs between Omar and the characters beforehand, Omar trusts the characters with the battlefield strategies and tactics. The character may place Omar’s units anywhere they like.
Once the characters and the troops are in position, the beastmen forces arrive.
War horns disrupt the night sky. Hoots, howls, and growls pour from the woods to the south. With what little light is available to you, you see the beastmen emerge from the trees. They each stand 6-7 feet tall, and have the heads of goats, bulls, antelope, and other horned creatures. And there appears to be nearly two hundred of them of them, all armed and slavering.
The beastmen forces consists of:
- 15 beastmen hordes
- 4 ogre units
- 2 hill giants
- 4 minotaurs
The beastmen forces are 200 feet away from the south moat when they appear, taking only a single round to test the mettle of the dwarves and soldiers within the mine. Then, they charge, moving at their full speed and taking the Dash action until they reach the water.
Tactics. The beastman forces lacs any form of strategy or tactics, nor do they use any ranged weapons. Only the hill giants have their rocks. However, the force does have superior numbers which they hope to whelm the mine’s inhabitants with. One-quarter of the force attacks the western drawbridge, another quarter attacks the southern draw bridge and the remaining units attempt to cross the water to the east.
Once a beastman horde is within 40 feet of a raised drawbridge, they use their action to toss grappling hooks at it. On their next turn, they attempt to pull the drawbridge down. Doing so requires two successful DC 21 Strength checks. If a beastman horde rolls a 20 on the check, they get two successes. Forcing the drawbridge down breaks its gears, making it impossible to retract. While the beastmen attack the drawbridges, hill giants provide cover by tossing rocks at archers, spellcasters, and any others who could stop their progress.
With the drawbridges down, the beastmen and their companions are free to enter the mine and kill anything they come across.
Swimming across the moat is a dangerous affair for the remaining beastmen force. Each round a unit or creature is in the water, it must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 7 (3d6) piercing damage on a failed saving throw or half as much damage on a successful one. If a unit has half its hit points or more, it makes this saving throw with disadvantage.
Morale Checks. The beastmen are terrified of their superiors (the minotaurs) and automatically pass morale checks as long as at least one minotaur is within 30 feet of them.
Special Events. During the battle, special events can occur to spice things up a little. At the start of each round, you can choose one of the events or roll 1d10 to see what happens.
Brock retreats from combat, leaving Danick to fend for himself.
|6||In the excitement, a fire breaks out in one of the buildings. At the start of each round of combat, it spreads, catching additional buildings on fire. A creature can use its action to put out a 5 x 5 square of fire, or a unit can use its action to put out a 15 x 15 area of fire.|
A previously unseen minotaur sneaks into the mine and heads for the lode. One of the miners notices it and alerts the others.
Tanner Fade and a unit of guards turn on the inhabitants of the mine. They head for the headman’s offices, hoping to steal the gold stored there.
2 beastmen hordes emerge from the forest to join the beastman forces.
|10||1 frost giant emerges from the forest to join the beastmen.|
If the characters successfully defeat the beastman forces, the next day, the miners celebrate and hold a feast in their honor at the town’s moot hall. There and then, the characters are given the awards they were promised by the dwarves and/or Omar and his troops.
If Fade and his men turned on the miners, they are arrested by Omar and locked in the garrison until reinforcements arrive. Omar may seek the counsel of the characters what to do with the traitors.
In the off chance that the characters revived the Medusa Queen or the beastmen secured the mine, the Medusa Queen returns to wreak havoc on the world. She may even become a recurring villain for the characters, recruiting dark creatures–such as the beastmen–to do her bidding.
Even if the Medusa Queen didn’t return from her slumber, the character may consider holing up in Dragard Mine until the place can be properly secured.
After all, the beastmen were just the beginning…