Tag Archives: mirror crystal

Friday Forays – The Sunken Mineshaft

My last inaugural category post for the week. (Phew! Though, the day after tomorrow (which is next week), I’ll be debuting Society Sundays, so maybe this is my penultimate inaugural category post for now.) Welcome to Friday Forays. Friday Forays will be my chance to wrap it all up, everything I’ve covered in the week, into something more cohesive. (Though I make no promises that it will be cohesive – it could be off-the-wall.)

Friday Forays are going to go one of a few ways.

  • Sometimes, like today, I’ll offer you something akin to the Five Room Dungeon. Written descriptions of rooms and the threats you’ll find within, meant to be dropped into or in between your other adventures.
  • Other times, it’ll be a single encounter, but with the maps that come with it. I just bought myself Dundjinni for Christmas, so, give me a week or two to get familiar with it. I’m not used to having to share my encounter maps with the world, so I’ve got to figure that out.
  • Some combination of the above, plus more, as part of an over-arching adventure. That’s right – something resembling a complete module, over the course of a few weeks, here on The Consummate DM.

Hopefully, this’ll be the most fun, with the possible exception of Monster Mondays. I like bookending the week with awesomeness. Now all I have to do is make it awesome.

The Setup

Verbort Cairnsmasher, a dwarven prospector, has heard rumors that there’s an untapped node of mirror crystal down a certain fork in the Mirror Mines of Belness. He offers to PCs 100gp for verification of these rumors. He wants a shard of the crystal and a drawing of the room and the node.

The rumors are true, a tiny (but valuable to a solitary prospector like Verbort) node of mirror crystal. Unfortunately, it’s currently in use. The War Chieftain of the Bloodspear Goblins has sent a group of magic-users to tap into the mirror crystal in the hopes of opening a portal to Magdib (a ritual far beyond the pale of the goblins’ power, unbeknownst to them).

The PCs are given a map by Verbort, which only leads them as far into the mines as Encounter E1. The PCs must explore beyond that on their own.

(E1) Natural Guardians

The room here is home to XXX. The goblins get into the chamber by either sneaking by when the XXX are out hunting, or run past and dive into the water below (described in E2). Getting out is a matter of patience, waiting until the XXX are gone.

(E2) The Double Ambush

The mine goes from a tunnel in section E1, to a downward shaft, going about thirty feet down to a flooded tunnel, with a ladder along the wall. The water is about three feet deep and functions as difficult terrain. The lower chamber is about fifteen feet tall, and about twenty feet wide, and from the ladder to the other end is about sixty feet.

At the far end, there’s about ten feet of dry land. On that wall, there’s a door. The door appears to have been added later, along with the wall. The goblins have turned a retaining support into a full wall, with ten foot wide double doors. The doors are barred, but not well, and only require a DC 15 Strength Check to push open.
Hidden along one of the two long walls is a small alcove, within are X goblin archers (where X = party size – 2), who start shooting the PCs when they are about ten to fifteen feet away from the ladder. There’s no ladder or easy way up to the alcove. Getting up there requires a DC 15 Athletics or Acrobatics roll and a full round action. Using Athletics provokes attacks of opportunity from all the goblin archers, using Acrobatics only provokes an opportunity from one goblin.
Hidden in the wall behind the ladder (to the side of the ladder) is a small alcove, with a false wall made of woven grass and mud. Behind that are two GOBLIN LURKERS. They wait for the PCs to respond to the archers, then strike.

(E3) Goblin Warren

Unless the PCs somehow sneak past the goblins in (E2), the goblins behind the barred door are prepared. Three GOBLIN BRUTES, four GOBLIN RANGED MINIONS, and a GOBLIN SKIRMISHER wait within. They’re armed, and ready. The RANGED MINIONS have a called action against the first PC to cross through the door.
The room is a large circular room, about fifty feet in diameter. The room is smoky, though not enough to grant concealment – there is a deep fire pit in the center of the room (hazardous terrain), and the goblins haven’t thought much about ventilation. The floor is littered with sleeping bundles. From the warren are doors to two rooms, each with cheap goblin walls constructed.

(E4) The Blue Room

There is a second room here, where the blue goblins sent by the War Chieftain hide to get away from the gibbering mental voices of the other goblins. They are likely to hide (unless the PCs completely rout the goblins in encounter (E3), in which case the DM can have them come out and attack the PCs. The room is just another small warren, with some psionically oriented magic item that the DM wants the PCs to have. Inside are a three Blue Goblin Battleminds, a Blue Goblin Psion and a Blue Goblin Ardent (see Monday’s post).

(E5) Node to a Goblin Urn

Within this room are two Goblin Hexers, and Gibbergrin the Mad, the leader of this band of goblins. The room is quite large (sixty feet in diameter), and painted with runes in chalk and blood, with candles and bones arranged throughout. In the center of the room is the large node of which Verbort spoke. Ten feet tall and as big around, a giant shimmering piece of mirror crystal shooting out of the ground. There are other (much smaller) chunks of mirror crystal around the room – about five; these all function just like the mirror crystal described in the second DMG.


On Gibbergrin’s person is another magical item that the DM wants to give the PCs. I recommend FANCY MAGIC ITEM, but go with your gut. Verbort makes good on his promise if the PCs bring him a sketch of the node, though the PCs can probably leverage knowledge of that node to another miner for something else that they want more than 100 gp.

Art via: http://browse.deviantart.com/?qh=&section=&q=underground+crystal#/d24g7a3http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=goblin%20archer&order=9&offset=24#/d6w5cw


Travel Tuesday! – The Mirror Mines of Belness

Welcome to my inaugural Travel Tuesday post. These posts will provide vague and general descriptions of places, usable as sources of inspiration, or, with a little extra crunch (which will often be found in other posts of the week), a full location for adventuring. While in the future I intend to post a bit of the Countless Worlds campaign setting, for the first week (at least), I’m trying to offer things that are relatively suitable for the Nentir Vale, or whatever setting you want. Today, welcome to the Mirror Mines of Belness.


The village of Belness was once a tiny village of foresters. The River An’Bell flew down from the mountains towards the plainsfolk to the south, and the Belness people placed their lumber in the river and lived off the trade. Then, twelve years ago, came the great Storm of Wolfwinter, a torrential thunderstorm that lasted for three days and three nights. Some say that the storm was the repercussions of a druid’s duel, others say that a great storm titan had been slain, still others say that it was punishment for some wickedness of the mountain dwarves. Whatever caused the storm, the storm caused the slide.

Half a mile to the south of Belness, an entire cliff face disappeared in a night, washed away by the rain. Villagers soon discovered that under that hill lay deep, rich veins of mirror crystal*, powerful stones capable of warping space and time. Highly prized by wizards (and the kings who dealt with them), within months Belness was transformed into a mining town gripped by a powerful rush.

What was once a small village of hundreds was a camp-town of thousands by the end of the year. Thousands of miners, dwarven and human, descended on the town to eke out a fortune. The mirror crystal went deep into the mountain, and many, many people made their fortune their in the Mines. Hundreds of feet of tunnel were excavated every day, creating new hills to the south of Belness. The An’Bell River was diverted into the mines to wash away yet more earth (over the protests of some of the town elders). An entire industry of support for the miners cropped up in new tent cities around the mine. Wizards and whores, blacksmiths and outfitters, the Mirror Mines of Belness brought them all.

But like all mines, the ones beneath Belness dried up. It’s been three years since the last major lode of mirror crystal was found. The camp towns have dispersed, and Belness is slowly adjusting to life without the miners. The nearby forest were cleared for the shanties, and river was diverted. There’s talk of rerouting the river back to its old banks, but that would require a lot of resources the town doesn’t have – surprisingly, little of the wealth generated by the mines stayed in the town.

The miners haven’t completely left – there’s still plenty of mirror crystal down there. Just not enough to support the widespread mining operations that were there five years ago. And without the king’s soldiers, where there’s wealth there’s trouble. Not too mention that wild creatures have started to take up residence in the miles and miles of mineshaft beneath the village.

Belness is bigger than it was a decade ago. There are fewer loggers, but dozens of miners still make their way into the mines every day, and they need the infrastructure of Belness. Beginning adventurers can find all kinds of employ in Belness, from escorts to rescue. Just wandering around in the mines, the adventurers are likely to find both trouble and treasure.


Belness and the mines are home to a number of interesting characters.

Brarani, Elder of Belness

Brarani is the last original town elder in Belness. Though Belness has no official governing body (all laws are made by the King’s Magistrate, who passes through town once a season), the town elects elders who act as de facto leaders of the town. Brarani, an elderly man whose family has owned the town chandlery for generations. Brarani is almost blind, wearing enormous glass spectacles. He hobbles around town, passing judgment. He was once overlooked as a town elder, elected to the position almost exclusively out of respect for his family and his age. But Brarani was one of the few elders who objected to the diversion of the River An’Bell, feeling that the town was being robbed by the new immigrants. He was right, and now he is as close the a mayor as Belness has. Newcomers would be wise to treat him with deference.

Oulina, the Neophye Priestess

(Note: I’ll use Pelor as  a stand-in for whatever god of good you use in your campaign.)

Belness used to have a wise and distinguished priest. Then, when the mines opened, the need for shepherd’s grew, and tent-temples were opened around the village. Over a dozen priests of Pelor came to attend the faithful, and plans were even drawn up to erect a temple of stone. (For a while, there was even talk of a grand cathedral.) Then, the mines dried up, and the priests of Pelor were called elsewhere.

Oulina came to Belness as her first assignment, only recently ordained and given a position of apprenticeship to a more senior priest. Yet, when the rest of the priests moved on, Oulina was instructed to stay behind and administer the needs of the Belness parishioners.

Oulina is young, barely the age of majority, and many of the villagers view it as an insult that they have a priestess who is so young and inexperienced. But Oulina throws herself into her work, and for the last two years, has done a commendable job.

She is tall and a little round, with long red hair, freckles and dimples.

Iareic Gladhammer, the Horologist

Unusually short, even for a dwarf, Iaeric Gladhammer is the town’s horologist,** and resident alemaster. Iaeric came to town before the mines opened, for reasons unknown. He likes to wander in the forest and over the hills, with little interest in cities or subterranean travels. He has a loud laugh and is generally pleasant. When he plays, he drinks hard, but he takes great care in the production of his clocks and his ale.

Peruel, Belness Sheriff

A recent immigrant to Belness, Peruel has barely been here a year. Even so, she’s made fast friends with many in the community. A thick woman whose grace belies her size, Peruel is a hunter in the woods further away from town, bringing back deer and rabbits over her shoulders. She has a square face and short brown hair, and she’s not much to look at, but her eyes twinkle, and she’s a cunning prankster. Yet what has won over many in Belness is her innate sense of fairness – and it is this fairness that has led to the villagers to defer to her on judgments of the law and enforcement of punishment. Belness is a peaceful village, but occasionally someone gets to deep into their cups or too rough with their spouse, and it’s Peruel that the city calls to put an end to the commotion.

Jadede, the Hulking Wizard

Nobody’s entirely sure when Jadede showed up – some say in the last year or so, other’s say he’s been in Belness for a decade. The only thing people can agree upon is that Jadede only came here after the mines opened. The difference between Jadede and the other wizards that came during the rush is that Jadede stuck around.

That’s not the only difference. Jadede is a dragonborn, a dark grey with a blue mottling. He’s ancient for a dragonborn, and he stoops when he walks (though even with the hunch, he’s still almost seven feet tall). Jadede lives outside of Belness, and nobody’s entirely sure where, but he visits the town often enough that he’s made friends. He wears tiny little spectacles on the edge of his nose, though many believe it to be an affectation.


The Mirror Mines of Belness are home to many, many dangers that threaten those adventurers who are still green behind the ears. From miners to bandits, oozes to duergar, the Mirror Mines of Belness require caution in addition to courage.

Roll 1d12 (all monsters are from 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons)

  1. [Combat – Lvl 4] Duergar Mining Party: 3 Duergar Guards (MM2), 1 Duergar Scout (MM2), 4 Duergar Miners (Thunderspire Labyrinth)
  2. [Roleplay] Small group (3-5) of dwarven miners. They know the area, but are distrustful, especially of non-dwarves.
  3. [Combat – Lvl 3] Blue Slime (Keep on the Shadowfell)
  4. [Roleplay] Trapped miner. His lower legs are pinned beneath a cave-in, and the PCs are not strong enough to move him (though other, more drastic methods might work). If the PCs leave to get help, he’s dead by the time they get back.
  5. [Combat – Lvl 7] Bandits! 1 Human Knife Fighter (MM2), 2 Waterdeep Street Thugs (Dungeon Magazine 171), 1 Human Hexer (MM2)
  6. [Terrain] – Earthquake – The PCs are safe and their tunnel is stable, but there’s a cave-in back the way they came. Now, they’ll have to find a new way out.
  7. [Combat – Lvl 6] Pets of the Theurge! 2 Cave Bears (MM), and 1 Duergar Theurge (MM2)
  8. [Roleplay] The PCs stumble across an alchemist and his apparatus. The alchemist has set up shop and is manufacturing all kinds of potions (and will even sell some to the PCs!) The alchemist is non-threatening and generally friendly. An Arcana check, however, reveals that some of those potions are decidedly dastardly, the kind used only by the truly evil.
  9. [Combat – Lvl 9] Troll Bandits! 1 Bulette (MM) and 3 Trolls (MM)
  10. [Roleplay] A little girl is lost down in the mines. She’s looking for her lost dolly, and absolutely refuses to return to the surface without her.
  11. [Combat – Lvl 7] Troglodyte Scouting Party – 2 Troglodyte Impalers (MM), 3 Troglodyte Maulers (MM)
  12. [Terrain] Cave in! The characters are caught in a cave-in. Everybody takes about a healing surge worth of damage (roll the appropriate dice). An Acrobatics check allows for half-damage. Run a skill challenge. Options include Endurance and Athletics (dig their way out), Dungeoneering (notice which rocks are safe to move), History (stories of a group of cave-in survivors present inspiration regarding your current situation), and Healing (you notice one of the player’s injuries is far more serious than it looked – the rockfall was misleading and damaged them more than they thought – you save them from internal bleeding).

Building Encounters

Building encounters in the Mines of Belness is easy. Take your stereotypical mine-shaft, subterranean adventure design, and riddle it with mirror crystal. Have short range weapons suddenly reach far away changes everything, both for the players and the monsters. Rather than use mirror crystal abundantly throughout your campaign, just run five or six encounters here, where the mirror crystal makes sense and doesn’t feel contrived. Your PCs will get a chance to play with the new battlefield dynamic, and then they can move on.

* As seen in the Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 68.

** Clock and watchmaker.

Images courtesy of: http://zebz.cghub.com/images/hero-s-journey-concept-art-and-illustrations/view:stream/http://daveallsop.deviantart.com/art/Duergar-Hedge-Mage-174640411