This is the first in a series of short posts about possible derro lairs, guard posts, enclaves and other settlements, based on maps I’ve sourced.
I’ve modified this map using just Preview as I haven’t got the hang of GIMP and currently lack access to Photoshop – it’s based on the excellent Dyson style “Mountaintop Science Facility w/ Temple Facade” (link in image to original) from the guy over at Megadungeon. I’d originally intended to use unchanged but on reflection feel that splitting it into different themed sections works better as I’ll explain below.
I was actually attracted to the “hidden science lab” aspect behind the facade initially as it strongly suggested a very Shaverian style derro outpost where the captured slaves are experimented on.
IMO the original layout didn’t really have a practical connection to the depths below however (the stairs at the bottom actually climb upwards if you look closely, perhaps to a surface structure or monastery), so I focussed on the idea of the the idol in the main shrine room as I’d been reading the rules from Occult Realms and felt inspired to include it somehow as the driver behind the reason why the degenerates chose to settle their in the first place.
This abandoned contemplative shrine now acts as a raid outpost for a band of derro that discovered it’s deeper access a few weeks ago, led by an eccentric derro savant Xeerinka and her two male students. Using their magic, they’ve intimidated the local villagers into leaving sacrifices of precious items before the idol and forced them to entice at least one band of innocent travelers to be tempted by the accumulated “treasure” and thus into an ambush. Those surface dwellers fooled into seeking out the copper hoard have been captured to be traded as slaves or sent deeper into the tunnels for use by the derro in their bizarre experiments.
The Cliff Trail and Shrine Entrance
The abandoned shrine entrance is reached by climbing a switch-backed path cut into the eastern cliff-face that leads up 100 feet from the outskirts of the human village below. The road is narrow but the footing is secure, so no Climb check is necessary but combat could be disastrous.
Offering Chamber and the Idol
The large copper idol that dominates this large chamber was once the focus of a peaceful ascetic local cult, but with the dispersement of the monks by the local nobility and the cessation of regular offering, it quickly faded into inertness. The recent presence of the derro savants forcing the villagers to sacrifice before it has reawakened the latent deific force, but as intended this has twisted the formerly benign entity into a malign force.
At any one time 2-4 derro warriors with poisoned repeating light crossbows are posted within one of the four concealed alcoves indicated, alert for intruders or villagers leaving sacrifices of copper objects demanded by the savants using ventriloquism.
Over the years, the accumulated copper objects of various shapes, sizes and quality are now worth 3,000 gp in total but would require several mule loads to carry into town.
The Forgotten Idol
This object was once the representation of the local contemplative god, one suited to whichever religion dominates in the nearby surface lands (Xan Yae or Zuoken in Greyhawk, Irori in Golarion or perhaps Auppenser in the Forgotten Realms), but has been subverted to evil.
In the last few weeks, Xeerinka and her students performed an obscene ritual that reawakened the essence of the idol with a blood sacrifice, shifting the formerly neutral artifact irrevocably towards evil. As the idol was long dormant and has only recently been awakened, it still has the base statistics of an idol until further appropriate sacrifices have been made by the savant and her followers. More information on idols can be found here (derived from Occult Realms, pages 60-63 ).
Given their individualism and insanity, I think the role of idols (and also rituals for that matter) in derro “religion” is worth exploring further, based on an idea I had that may have it’s origin in the description of the “shattered idol” in the derro lair hit by the meteorite in UK4 “When a Star Falls”…
The small set of stairs behind the idol lead up to the ruins of the monastery built over the shrine complex but are blocked by rubble after ascending only 15 feet. The derro have not bothered to clear the accesss to create another exit from their new settlement..
Processional and Main Camp
This are houses the main company of 20 derro, bivouacked throughout the room across the split levels, with the majority encamped in the southwestern curve of the western raised area. A pair of guards lurk behind the sets of pillars at the northern and southern end of the chamber, although only the southern pair consistently pay attention to the entrance they are meant to be guarding.
The Shattered Altar
This room once held an altar and statue of the shrine’s patron. The hardwood statue has been partly damaged and defaced with vile derro runes, filth and other graffiti in Aklo but is still recognisable on a DC 15 Knowledge (religion) check. The stone altar has been desecrated and sundered during the ritual used by Xeerinka to subvert the idol in the main offering chamber and has no residual magical effect. The derro now use this area as a latrine and rubbish tip.
Further Adventures: the Road to Lemuria
The beginnings of a tunnel leading into the depths extends from the southern wall of the processional area. The derro accessed the abandoned shrine through this route, which leads through a series of small natural caves that acted as the ossuary for the former monks. Several months ago a tremor opened up a ravine leading down to the secondary tunnel that the derro once used as a highway to ferry slaves between their enclaves, allowing the current derro band to wander into the shrine complex only a few weeks ago…
This section does not appear on the original Megadungeon map – I’ve added this short corridor segment to middle of the southern wall of the processional chamber in an attempt to follow a “Dysonist” philosophy that amongst other ideas, promotes dungeons having more than one access. I think this makes sense as the derro must have been able to enter the shrine somehow and even though they’re insane, they’re probably not stupid enough to hole themselves up in a dead end position so close to the surface / Overburn.
This then provides a link to further adventures as required…