I have put together a map that I feel will be quite fun, and while filled with puzzles and danger, won't be terribly taxing on the players. The basic premise is that this map is of the secret cave-keep of a long-gone wizard who created devious devices to manipulate life and time. In true Appendix N style,things that make appearances include Conan-esque ape-men which have been subtly altered by a machine, ancient and forgotten technology in a mining machine that floods minds with schematics, and even androids.
The basic hook is that ape-men, having been granted cunning and robbed of emotions by an ancient mining machine, have been terrorizing the area lately. Of course, the PCs may ignore that, but they could also find a map to this place somewhere else. In any case, the machine is unrelated to the true secrets of the area, which have been virtually undisturbed for hundreds of years.
One interesting experiment-puzzle that I found myself creating was that of the window with lozenge-shaped panes. If triangle-pieces are arranged and placed within the panes into the shape of an animal, and supernatural illumination (provided by one of the treasures later in the module) shined through the window, then the shadow of the animal shape will transform those whom it falls upon.
The true treasure of this adventure is the pendant guarded by The Observer (the creature illustrated with eyes on its back in the original map fragment you provided). The pendant gives one the ability to travel back in time (in a rather Ebenezer Scrooge-type fashion), but the beast's eyes can see across time, and its bite hurts no matter when you are. Here are its stats:
The Observer: Init+4; Atk charge and gore +2 and a d5 action die melee (1d6+action die; if action die is 3 or more the target is gored or pinned on a horn for 1d4 more damage); AC 17; HD 5d6+2; MV 40’ (can walk on walls); Act 2d16; SV Fort+3; Ref+3; Will +1; AL N. The observer’s eyes can see across time, and its attacks will hurt even time-traveling shades!
You will find attached a map for these scenes, secret and treacherous passages, as well as a conception of a vault-guarding monster. Because the adventure has a time-travel device, players can explore the dungeon in more than one state. Ancient books, paths, and residents will be restored. For instance, one could conceivably talk to a skull thanks to the magic dais in the room with columns and then travel back in time to actually observe the owner of that skull as a living being.
To seed the adventure with mystery and paradox, the ancient remains of some of the adventurers could even be found! Imagine the horror of talking to your own skull. Can you avoid your fate? Only the Judge knows!
I’ve actually started stocking the rooms. Each one has basic information on the attached document. If this disqualifies me from the contest, so be it. But I feel it’s worth the risk as a mere elevator pitch can’t convey the simple truth: this is a good dungeon, even in draft form. That’s how I feel, at least. In any case, the map is at the top of the attached document, and I trust that you will at least look that over.
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