One thing I really enjoy in my games is recurring locations and characters – something that helps tie the game world together by having different groups adventure in the same places. Ember Crag is one of these locations that has three different tie-ins. It first appears as a low level dungeon where the characters have to be very careful to not go off track and get in over their heads. There is a “path of least resistance” to this dungeon, and with the right map the party can follow it to get the plot coupon they need without ever having to fight the fire giants and their half-giant elemental kin. In the recent campaign that came here, the part was level 3 when they came through it in this way.
However, five levels later they returned to Ember Crag, this time to confront the fire giant lord of the mountain. A much higher level adventure that the players said was very memorable precisely because they had been to Ember Crag before, skulking through the ancient halls and steam vents instead of marching through kicking ass and taking names.
Finally, Ember Crag contains a secret that is part of the greater backstory of my game world. There is a chamber within the volcano where the Champions of the End of Time await – powerful forces of evil who will awaken at the end of time for the great battle. The players found the chamber where the five champions await the sixth to join them and then await the end of time.
There are four ways to enter Ember Crag – through the mouth of the volcano itself (not recommended), through the old lava flow tunnel marked by (1), the gates to the Half Giant Elementals in area (b) and the steam vent to the north of the northernmost (a) chamber (although this last steam vent is not known to any but those who have discovered it from within Ember Crag.
For the first adventure in Ember Crag, a map telling the characters how to get from (1) to (g) is essential, along with notice that they should watch out about the Fire Giant lord and his kin. In our game the map had them follow the lava tube to the caldera, but then climb the stairs along the fire pit to the eastern steam vent. However, the presence of a Fire Giant on the (g) overlook over the fire pit tossing rocks at them had them instead running up the western steam vent and thus having to cross through (e) en route to (g).
(a) – These rooms have low hit die hellhounds living in them. Feral pets of the fire giants.
(b) – This complex is home to the Half Giant elemental kin. They are treated as Hill Giants instead of Fire Giants, but take no damage from fire and have the stature of giant dwarves instead of humans. The guards in the easternmost room are somewhat friendly to the adventurers and point them on their way instead of slaughtering them should the adventurers wander off their paths this way. There are stairs to further levels in this area if you wish to expand Ember Crag.
(c) – This was once a temple to a god of volcanoes, once the patron of the Fire Giants, now long forgotten since he stopped concerning himself with local events after the fall of the Kale civilization. A good place to put some odd critters, a lava elemental (see the Elemental Lore article for one), and maybe another treasure the party is seeking.
(d) – Way over the low-level party’s head – this is the domain of the Fire Giants.
(e) – Chamber of the Champions of the End of Time. Six huge (and invincible) crystal sarcophagi are kept in this magically preserved room. Five contain evil champions from the lore of history, and the sixth awaits a very evil PC who will find this as the last task in his quest to bring about the end of the world (ie: a great way to retire a high level evil PC).
(f) – Crystal Grotto. A half-dozen crystal living statues form out of the crystal of the cave walls. However, they can be a source of some pretty sweet treasure – a few thousand gp worth of crystal shards.
(g) – Fire Troglodytes. These chambers are home to a tribe of fire troglodytes (treat as regular trogs, but they are surrounded by a foul smoke, not just stink) and the treasure the party is seeking the first time they venture into the crag.
And yes, that’s a map that I scanned. The scanner is back in action! So those of you who have been banging down my door for the past few weeks because I owe you a map or two, I’ll be emailing those out over the next two days or so.
This month I’m hosting the RPG Blog Carnival, and RPG Cartography is our theme. This is also entry 5 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – E is for Ember Crag.