Varmoriel: a six room dungeon

sean f. smith / he, him
4 min readNov 19, 2023
Photography by Gaius Cornelius licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Six days back, spelunker-entrepreneur Gerald Law claims to have discovered the location of a five centuries’ old mausoleum. Yesterday he returned to town, screaming and crying about the end of the world. You’re going to retrace his steps and deal with whatever in Malahg’s name scared him so.

greyscale dungeon map. doors are marked and rooms are numbered
map made with Dungeonscrawl ─ thanks @portablecity !

Four miles out of town, within an overgrown copse in the lee of some cliffs, there’s a small mausoleum. Its flowstone walls have been clad in terracotta, but the cladding has eroded in recent times, exposing a pair of doors that give access.

The copse is silent for dozens of yards around, but nearby there’s constant chirrupping of birds and the hum of lazy bees.

Wandering encounters

Roll D6 each turn or when players make a ruckus.

  • On 4+, the turn passes smoothly
  • On 2–3, there’s an unseasonable chill that settles on the room
  • On a 1, a BANSHEE looms through the southernmost wall

Room descriptions

1 — Mausoleum

Though heavy, the doors to the outside won’t stick. The room is 20FT square and adorned with simple geometric patterns on the walls. In the centre is a sarcophagus, though its lid has been moved aside and a staircase winds down within (to 2).

Naked flames burn bluer within these walls.

2 — Carousel

This circular room is 40FT in diameter and features bas reliefs of soldiers going about war. Imagine the sort of figures as on Greek pottery and you’re in the right sort of space. The whole thing looks as though it forms a complete cycle — the soldiers die, their bodies are wept over by family, the sons go on to war. The soldiers wear impressive platemail and carry long-bladed spears.

Scraps of paper on the floor feature charcoal rubbings of the reliefs (made by Gerald Law before he ventured further in, worth 4ŋ to a museum).

An tudor-arched tunnel leads 10FT south to 3.

3 — Partner arches

The corridor opens into a wide room 50FT * 20FT. North, east and west walls are bare flowstone. On the south, tudor-arches are set into the wall.

The eastern / left arch is made to resemble rose trees and there’s a brickwork pattern in the flowstone (whose visual complexity hides a secret door to 6).

The western / right arch is made to resemble yew trees and there’s a simple stone door set in a brickwork pattern (leading to 4).

4 — Cenotaph

A short corridor leads to another wide room 30FT * 20FT. In the westernmost half of the room a freestanding pillar resembling the blade of a spear. To the south, an oaken door (barred on the far side, leading to 5).

A haggard BANSHEE usually hides beneath the pillar. She won’t attack if the party bemoan the losses of war. She’s enraged if anyone says anything to the lines of “they died for a good cause”, surprising the party 4-in-6.

5 — Tools of warfare

This room is 30FT square and features four bonfire-style piles of weapons, organised by length of handle. One of the spears bears a golden gladius blade inscribed with the name “Wayfarer” in gnomad runes (it’s a +1 spear (+3 vs undead) worth 1200ŋ). All other weapons are military standard.

The oak door along the western corridor and barred this side (leads to 4). The stone door on the northern wall and not locked (leads to 6).

6 — Ringhoard

This room is 20FT square and features a single vast pile of rings (many are silver or gold and the valuable rings total 700ŋ). D6–3 BANSHEES are present, compulsively sorting through the pile of rings (though failing to do so on account of their insubstantiality).

A stone door leads south (to 5). The north wall has a brickwork pattern in the flowstone (hiding a secret door to 3).

Monster roster

Three BANSHEES are tied to this place. They can be permanently expelled only if the weapons and rings are reconsecrated or if their spirits are destroyed in combat.

  • One BANSHEE is small, frail, with large eyes and a small chin. She was called Cordelia but doesn’t remember that.
  • The next BANSHEE is fat, but especially so around the belly. (In fact she was pregnant when she died.) Her name was Elerel, but again she does not remember.
  • The final BANSHEE is tall and drawn with deep jowly cheeks. She gave up her name long ago.

BANSHEE : armour as plate, fights as hero (4HD), morale 11. Undead, so immune to poison and charm. Insubstantial, so moves through solid matter and takes less damage from mundane sources. Wails, so can cause fatal panic once per day (death saves).