Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Colossal Caves Part 1


The Colossal Caves is an adventure written for the B/X edition of the D&D rules. The adventure is meant for character levels 1-3. Large parties may fare better.

The Colossal Caves was originally written in 1982 and it was one of the first adventures I wrote. It is definitely a dungeon crawl and representative of many adventures written at the time. I believe I used the random dungeon generator tables in the back of the Dungeon Masters Guide to generate the basic structure of the dungeon and then free-handed in other areas as I saw fit.

For this version, I have cleaned things up a fair amount. For the most part, I have kept the same monsters in the same dungeon map but I have rewritten the room descriptions. The original version text was very basic. So be prepared for monsters, lots of monsters and an above average number of traps.

The Colossal Caves Setting and Background

The Colossal Caves are under Mount Vorhut in a low range of mountains. Vorhut is the highest of the range and is a long extinct volcanic cone. The dungeons beneath Vorhut or at least 200 years old but no one remembers who constructed them. Most rumors assume they are of dwarven construction or the result of some evil overlord with an army of goblinoids. Whatever their origin they have been repeatedly used over the years by bandits, orcs, and goblins. The most recent occupiers of the caves were bandits lead by one Reginald the Mumbler.

Recently, a wizard arrived at the Mount Vorhut accompanied by a black dragon. With the dragon’s backing the wizard Ikalis Blackflame convinced the bandits to accept him as their new leader. Once he moved in, Ikalis was joined by the Red Claw clan of orcs led by Tarak Bonebreaker.

The Colossal caves can be set in any wild lands area of your own campaign.  The village of Carlion is small enough to fit in practically anywhere.

Part 1: Carlion and the road to the caves.

The adventure starts with the heroes on the road north. On their map, there is a tiny village marked a few miles north where they should be able to rest and hopefully sleep under a roof. As the mountains are just becoming visible, they see smoke rising on the horizon in the direction of the village of Carlion.

As they continue toward the village, they see three horse-drawn carts loaded high with bundles of possessions. The carts are those of three families of villagers fleeing from Carlion. If the players stop the refugees to question them, they will hear that Carlion is burning. A dragon arrived early just before dawn and burned down most of the buildings and killed all of the local militia. Only a handful of people remain in Carlion. If the refugees are questioned carefully the players can learn that the dragon had very dark scales and was difficult to see. There also appears to have been orcs involved in the attack.

The attack was actually carried out by a black dragon known as Scatha. The burned buildings were from fires set by orcs but the dragon did knock over sections of the town palisade, damage buildings and kill the militia.

Leading the refugees is Rob Hegge who was the blacksmith in Carlion. He is in the lead wagon with his family. In the second wagon is the family of the carpenter Leiv Caspar. The last wagon has Hannah Voll with her three children.


The village sits astride the Darkrun stream. A wooden bridge crosses the stream and was not damaged in the attack. There are only 14 buildings in the village and the larger buildings are in ruins and still smoking from this morning’s fires. There is one stone building in the village, a sanctum dedicated to the nature god Eses. The palisade around the village has three large sections that have been knocked over on the west side of the river.

There are no guards blocking the way into the village and the village gates lie open. Ahead a few men can be seen gathering bodies and laying them on the main street in front of a stone building that appears to be a temple. The locals look up in concern at your approach.

The locals are in no condition to start a fight so they look about concerned until one bearded man wearing soot-covered clothes approaches. He introduces himself as Dragfinn Noss the leader of the village. Judging that they are adventurers he asks if they can take a message to the local Watchtower that is manned by soldiers of the realm. The watchtower is just visible on the horizon to the northwest on top of a hill. Noss is concerned that the soldiers did not come to the aid of Carlion so he suspects the worst but someone needs to check on the tower.

Noss will answer questions about the attack. He awoke to find his home (the provisioner shop) on fire. He got his family outside onto the street and saw a dragon fly overhead. Father Solberg, the town priest, cast a beam of light at the dragon which flew back over the priest and killed him in a blast of its breath. Noss believes the dragon breath was acidic. He also saw orcs carrying torches setting the buildings on fire. Noss suspects that the orcs came from the caves up in the mountains. There is an infamous dungeon up in the mountains rumored to be beneath Mount Vorhut called the Colossal Caves. He tells the heroes that they can get to the watchtower by following the road west out of Carlion. The Caves are at the headwaters of the Darkrun stream.

The Watchtower

The watchtower is located on a hill just over half a mile from the village of Carlion. The hill is 180 feet in diameter and 60 feet high at its peak. The watchtower is small, only 25 feet tall and 12 feet square. There are two floors. The ground floor is a storeroom and a stable. The second floor is a living area with a kitchen and six beds. There is also a roof with a low wall around it. The tower is entered through a wooden door across the ten-foot span of a drawbridge.

The drawbridge is currently down and the tower looks quiet and deserted. Heroes hailing the tower from a distance will get no response.  Once heroes reach the 30 foot in diameter top of the hill, they will come under fire from five orcs stationed atop the tower who are armed with short bows.

Orcs (5): AC 6, HD 1, hp 4 each, MV 120’ (40’), #AT 1 short bow, spear, Dmg 1-6, Save F1, ML 8, AL C, xp 10 each, THAC0 19, TT D.

The door to the tower is closed and barred but its hinges are damaged and the door can be bashed open (1-2 on 1d6). The orcs broke the hinges when they stormed the tower the previous evening. The ground floor is a shamble, broken crates, barrels and the stains of blood on the floor. A stone stair leads to the living area.

The living area is also, trashed. The beds have been knocked over and sheets piled on the floor. There is a stew pot over a cold fire. There is nothing in the pot. A wooden ladder leads to the roof.  There is nothing of interest on the roof but there is an excellent view of the mountains and the village in the distance.

The Watchtower

Ascent to the Caves

The main dirt road leads from Carlion to the watchtower and appears well- traveled. But there is another path, this one more recent, that leads along the Darkrun Stream up into the hills toward Mount Vorhut. The trail is easy to follow and leads directly to the entrance to the Caves. If the players indicate they are checking for tracks they will be able to see many booted feet going to and from the caves along the trail.

Adventurers advancing toward the caves along the trail will face two ambushes.

Ambush 1
As the heroes pass a grove of pine trees they come under attack by a pair of human bandits. The bandits will rush toward the heroes out of a position of concealment.

Bandits (2): AC 6, HD 1, hp 3 each, MV 120’ (40’), #AT 1 short sword, Dmg 1-6, Save T1, ML 7, AL C, xp 10 each, THAC0 19, TT U.

The two bandits were once a part of Reg’s band and lived here in the Caves. They know the rough layout of the entrance area of the caves but things have changed since they were evicted. They have become desperate since the change in ownership and have come as close as they dare to the Cave entrance waiting for an opportunity. If one of them is captured and questioned he can tell the heroes the story of their bandit leader Reg the Mumbler and how he was overthrown by a dark-cloaked wizard. They immediately made a run for it so they do not know much more. This all happened several months ago.

Ambush 2
The trail moves further up into the mountains and trees become infrequent. As the trail winds through a clump of several enormous boulders, a group of kobolds attacks the heroes from both sides of the trail.

Kobolds (6): AC 7, HD ½, hp 2 each, MV 60’ (20’), #AT 1 spear, Dmg 1d6-1, Save NM, ML 6, AL C, xp 5 each, THAC0 19, TT P.

These kobolds have come to the Caves to worship the dragon. The orcs have put them to work as scouts and guards.

The Entrance to the Caves

The trail leads up the side of the mountain following the Darkrun Stream. Eventually, the trail ends at a large pool of water, the source of the stream. Judging by the steady rate of outflow into the river, the pool has an underwater source. On the other side of the pool on a deep ledge is the entrance to the Colossal Caves. There is a rickety rope bridge with a wooden walk crossing the pool leading from the trail to the entrance to the caves. The bridge is 75 feet long and 6 feet wide. Wooden boards are fastened to ropes to form the bed of the bridge. It looks dangerous but aside from some ominous creaking and a lot of swaying it is safe.

The Cave entrance itself is a 10-foot square, rough stone block entrance that extends 20 feet into the mountain before descending 20 feet down stone steps in the dungeon.

There is a trip wire stretched across the entrance at the top of the stairs 6 inches above the floor. If adventurers are careful, they will find the trip wire (1-2 on 1d6). If they miss the trip wire the first to move to the stair will trip and tumble down the stairs into the dungeon taking 1 point of damage. They will also hear a bell ring from below.

The Cave and pool

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