#15 – Berlstrum’s Belly Dungeon Overview

THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST IS PART 15 OF THE DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS 5TH EDITION CAMPAIGN, DREADSTORMS LOST. THESE BLOGS ARE INTENDED FOR OTHER GAME MASTERS WHO MIGHT WANT TO USE THIS CAMPAIGN SETTING AND THE SCENARIOS TO INSPIRE THEIR OWN ROLE PLAYING GAMES. (FREE FOR NONCOMMERCIAL REUSE.)

Notes:

It’s time for a dungeon crawl! A classic in any Dungeons and Dragons adventure … searching for traps … getting lost in the labyrinth of tunnels … slogging through monsters to find a treasure or save the kingdom. Ah, good times! 

The original dungeon was generated by donjon Random Dungeon Generator, but modified for my own nefarious purposes. I confess to having a great time just making the random dungeons with this generator. I find it inspires me with ideas, a lot like my hand-drawn ones without the doodling.  


Searching for the Champions

Some of the following depends on what the players have discovered and discussed with Mayor Cobblekeep. If the group has been playing it close to the chest and not told him anything, he will have no reason to trust them nor give them aid. If they’ve been open with their information and shown him that they are actively trying to save the city and find the champions, then he will tell them …

Berlstrum has a hidden labyrinth of tunnels below the town, called Berlstrum’s Belly. It is a deadly place, full of monsters and traps. Only a few know where all of the secret doors are to the belly (including the mayor, council members, and the champions). The mayor suspects something may have happened to the champions down there and asks the adventurers if they would be willing search the Belly for them?

If they are agreeable, the mayor will provide them with:

  • a map of Berlstrum’s Belly (see below)
  • 4 bullseye lanterns
  • A teleport stone (small, red pebble), which will bring the person holding the stone and anyone touching the user back to Berlstrum’s Town Hall. It’s a single use item. He only has one.
  • 2d4+1 Potions of Healing (common)

Map for the Players

Game master map is at the bottom of the page.

Players' Map of Berlstrum's Belly
Map of Berlstrum’s Belly provided to players by Mayor Cobblekeep; Cartography accuracy is not accuracy.

Getting there – hidden doors

The Mayor will direct the adventurers to go enter via the hidden door in the cellar of the Champion’s Manor (Room I on the Champions’ Manor map)

Kitchen

ChampionsManor-Kitchen
(I) Champions’ Manor Kitchen

The kitchen has cupboards and prep surfaces along most of the walls. Under the window to the east is a heavy slab cutting table. Much of the kitchen was trashed by the looters; doors hanging of the cupboards, foodstuffs tossed onto the floor, shelves emptied, broken jars, cookware, and plates mixed in with the rotting food.

To find the trap door from the kitchen down into the cellar without aid from the Mayor is an Investigation DC 12 if actively looking for it. With the Mayors guidance, the group is directed to move the cutting table to the middle of the room, find the rope inside the cupboard next to the other window, and pull on the rope.

Like the rest of the ground floor of the manor, the floor of the kitchen is made up of large, smooth gray stone. The trap door proves to be a false cover matching the gray stone, but made of lighter material. Pulling the rope inside one of the cupboards causes the trap door to open upward (unless someone happens to be standing it). The hinge is well oiled and opens soundlessly. A ladder leads down into the cellar.

Cellar

Dreadstorms Mansion-cellar-cropped
The Cellar underneath the Kitchen in the Champions’ Manor

The cellar is 15 ft x 15 ft with a 10 ft high ceiling. It seems mostly undisturbed and not used in a while. It’s dusty and smells of damp mildew. Old boxes and barrels take up much of the space.

A compulsive search of the boxes and barrels (Because what adventurer can resist searching boxes and barrels?) will find:

  • 1d4 glass jars of pickled mixed vegetables
  • 1d4 glass jars containing weird clumps of hair floating in pickling fluid
  • 1d4 glass vials filled with nail clippings floating in liquid (Not potions of Giant Strength)
  • A small bag full of animal teeth of varying sizes
  • A silver spoon with an “S” engraved on the handle
  • A bottle of cheap red wine
  • A petrified rat
  • A glass jar containing lard with a label that read, “Goblin Go-Go Grease”

See Dungeon Master’s Guide pgs 160-161 for other random trinkets ideas.

Trap Door to the Belly

Spotting the trap door in the floor of the cellar  is a DC 20 Perception. If a successful Perception spots the outline of the trap door, it still won’t budge without hitting the trigger mechanism.

It is an Investigation DC 20 to find the hidden mechanism to opens the trap door in the cellar without directions from the mayor. If the mayor told you where to look, but is not present, it’s an Investigation DC 10.  If the mayor is there, he’ll point directly to the spot.

The trigger looks like a smudge of dirt amidst other smudges of dirt in the ceiling o (which is 10 ft high), but the smudge is shaped like a skull.  Pushing on the spot reveals a well-hidden trap door on the floor that lifts up and out, revealing stairs down into the dark, dark tunnels.

The stairs descend about 15 feet before leveling out to the floor of the tunnel. At the bottom of the stairs in a lever that closes/opens the door to the cellar.

Do the players leave the door from the kitchen to the pantry open?

Do they leave the door down from the cellar open.

Down into the belly

After 20 feet, there is no light source. It’s very dark.

The narrow tunnel of rough conglomerate stone twists and turns, doubling back upon itself many times, always at a slight downward slop. The width of the tunnel varies from 6 feet to 2 feet. The height is usually around 8 feet, but occasionally goes down to under 5, slowing down the larger party members. There are no side passages or hidden doors are found. The air grows moist the longer they hike down.

The rough stone becomes interlaced with ribbons of the sharp briarstone rock the farther down you go. After 30 minutes of walking, the walls and ceilings are completely composed of briarstone. The floor becomes smooth like black glass.

Briarstone, the Rock

Briarstone is an opaque black rock formation with small, jagged crystal protrusions resembling thorns. When the brittle rock shatters, it creates more jagged protrusions.

At one point it becomes necessary to squeeze through a narrow section of the tunnel. It’s a DEX DC 11 to avoid getting cut by the briarstone. On a failed roll, take 1d6 piercing damage.

It takes an hour of walking before you come to a “entrance” shown on the map. The entrance from the Champions’ Manor is the higher one on the left side of the map.

Berlstrum Belly Overview

Dungeon Walls: Sharp briarstone rock make up the walls and ceiling. The crystals are so sharp that one has to be cautious not to cut themselves on the walls. 1d6 piercing damage if pushed/knocked into the wall or ceiling.

Dungeon Floor: Consists of smooth, black shiny stone. When running on the surface, there’s a chance of falling prone (DEX DC 11) due to the slippery surface. Pushes and slides go twice normal distance.

Illumination: Dark. No natural light available.

 Map for the Game Master

BerlstrumBelly_GM
Map for the Game Master with encounter numbers and trap locations.

 

There’s a lot of information to parse out for this dungeon (cavern/labyrinth/whatever you want to call it). So like any proper evil overlord, I’ll provide that information on the next installment.


Up next: What sort of monsters and traps are in this dungeon? And treasure?! 

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