Keying the ancient copper mine (short B/X dungeon for level 1-2 characters)

I mentioned earlier that by rolling randomly in the Moldvay book (with some help from the Dungeon Alphabet and Kelri’s Old School Encounter Reference), I got a set of encounters for this mine map (the second one in this thread — the first one looks even better but when I printed it out is was a little too faint to use), and then came up with a rationalization for why these monsters were all in the same dungeon. The party cleared out the dungeon last night so I finally publish the key.


1. The entrance has an old stature, crafted finely of stone, showing a man and a dwarf shaking hands. The eyes of the two figures seem to follow the party. (see area 7)

2. Three spider crabs (AC 13, 2 HD, d8+poison, 120/40′, save F1, Ml7) hide on the ceiling here. They may ambush adventurers who are investigating the mines between here and area 1. Those tunnels are mostly empty, but one is filled with webs and small harmless spiders.

3. Among the debris here is a cask filled with sleep-inducing gas. If it is opened, gas fills a 20′ radius area and all breathing it must save vs. Poison or sleep as if affected by a Sleep spell. The gas takes 1 turn to dissipate.

4. The passage to 4 is filled with water, and slopes toward the middle so that the central part is completely underwater. Five gnomes are here mining, and they are crazed with Gold Fever (see below). (AC14, 1 HD, wpn., 60/20′, D1, Ml8)

5. The pool in this room is magical and will teleport any who enter to area 10. If two characters enter at the same time, they will teleport on top of each other (Save or die — Telefrag!). If a character does not move from where they appeared before the next character enters, this also causes a telefrag check.

6. These tunnels are also filled with webs and the egg sack of the Crab spiders from 2.

7. There is a puddle on the floor which shows whatever the statues in area 1 see. One kobold from area13 will be on duty here to watch for intruders.

8. Kobold guard room. Four kobolds from area 13 are stationed here. They will send one of their number to rouse the remaining kobolds to ward off intruders. (AC 13, 1/2 HD, wpn., 120/40′, NM, Ml6)

9. Dwarf camp. Five dwarves will be gorging themselves on Goldbug Shrooms here. They will challenge any intruders and attack if they don’t immediately leave, calling them “claim-jumpers.” (AC 15, 1 HD, wpn, 60/20′, D1, Ml8) 600 platinum pieces (and two cobras (AC13, HD1, d3+poison, 90/30′, F1, Ml7) are in a locked chest. The dwarves are irrational and if subdued will lead the party into ambushes if possible, heading toward areas 13 and 14. There is also a small smelting set-up for casting metal into coins here in one corner.

10. This chamber has a throne set between the two pillars. Sitting on the throne casts a curse (save vs. Spell) which makes the recipient unable to lie. This effect will not be apparent until the character actually tries to tell a lie. It also creates a shiny, sparkly halo around whoever is seated on the throne, whether or not they make their save.

11. A living statue (iron) in the shape of a giant black cat sits here. It will demand that each human or demihuman who enters the room answer a riddle. After four riddles are missed it will attack.

12. Heaps of human bones litter the tunnels here. Six skeletons will emerge from the side tunnels, rising from the bone heaps, when a living creature passes. (AC13, 1 HD, wpn., 60/20′, F1, Ml12). A sack under another bone heap contains 300 SP and 30 GP.

13. Kobold quarters. Fifteen kobolds in all live here, but some are on guard duty in areas 7 and 8. The kobolds here will always hide if given warning and spring out from their hiding places (there is an old dining table and fireplace in here for cover) to ambush intruders. They will retreat through the hall to area 10 hoping to lead the party into the skeletons and escape by doubling back through area 9, if possible. Alternately they may call on the dwarves in 14 for help. They have convinced the dwarves and gnomes in the mine that they are actually gnomes too, and the party is actually goblins. The Gold Fever has addled their sense enough to make this possible!

14. Six dwarves are noisily mining here, looking for gold. They have the Gold Fever.

15. This chamber has a large (10×10′) open shaft dropping 20 feet.

16. Three cobras nest in the tunnel.


So how can dwarves and gnome be in the same mine with kobolds? The easy answer is they are at war, but with these small numbers and the small size of the mine, that doesn’t make a lot of sense. And what the hell are the gnomes doing in a room blocked off by water?

I decided the gnomes and dwarves must be deluded or crazy, and are actually working for the kobolds, mining whatever precious metal still can be gotten out of the mine. The kobolds are taking advantage of the fact that the special mushrooms which grow in the area cause both “Gold Fever” (an obsession with finding precious metals) and hallucinations. So, the gnomes and dwarves believe that the kobolds are gnomes, and willingly hand over the gold they find because the kobolds say they are taking it to a safe vault. When the dwarves and gnomes meet the adventurers, they are very suspicious and the slightest provocation will convince them that the party are “claim jumpers” and they will attack. Their high morale makes surrender unlikely and they will get a +1 to checks since they are so obsessed with protecting their gold.

Most of the mine will have strange yellow & orange mushrooms growing on the floors and walls.

Goldbug Shrooms: These large, yellow and orange mushrooms are edible, but eaters must save vs. spell each time they eat it. A failed save inflicts Gold Fever. The sufferer will want to search for veins of precious metals, and work tirelessly on mining. Soon their life will consist of little more than eating more mushrooms, mining, and sleeping in fitful snatches. They will also hallucinate, confusing humans, humanoids, and demihumans (believing that humans are orcs or that kobolds are gnomes, etc.). The mushrooms are addictive, and withdrawal from a diet of them requires the addict to roll under his or her CON on 3d6 each day for a full week. At the end of a week, if all rolls are made, the addiction is broken. Otherwise the addict loses 1 CON per day until death (0 CON) or more mushrooms are consumed. Exposure to sunlight will negate the obsession and hallucinations but does not cure the addiction. It is rumored that a cure for the addiction may be found among the hidden scrolls and potions of the Alabaster Tower.

The skeletons are obviously the remains of human miners, and possibly guards or soldiers. When I rolled that the statue in area 1 would be a pair of creatures, I decided to make it a man and a dwarf, since the mining operations of Telengard were historically run by humans but presumably they would take help from dwarves if available. Because the odd effect for the statue was “eyes follow the party,” I decided to make it a spying device, and the kobolds watch the entrance of the mine with it. The back story is that humans and dwarves mined here together but the Goldbug Shrooms drove them mad and they killed each other off. 150 years later a few gnomes decided to see if any gold was still in the mines. When they did not return for some time, a band of dwarves went to search for their cousins, but obviously they did not return either. The kobolds have effectively enslaved all the dwarves and gnomes with Goldbug Shrooms, and they take the mined gold away to the pay tribute to a large band of humanoids in a local dungeon (the kobolds need to hand over a lot more loot before their tiny band will be allowed to enter the relative safety of the dungeon!) The dwarves stumbled across a small platinumvein and have finished exploiting it; this will pay off the rest of the kobold’s debt.


I used a bunch of riddles I found online; in hindsight I should have selected the better ones to use rather than rolling. A few were really too hard, and the different styles (modern and Anglo-Saxon) threw the players off. A two-minute timer worked very well to add tension to the riddle-solving though.

There was a trap in a room with a pool (so I took the obvious route and rolled on the pools table in Dungeon Alphabet to get a teleporter, and to make it a trap, I decided it will teleport everyone who enters to exactly the same spot, so that they will teleport on top of each other, save or die!).

A special in another room I decided to make a throne, to foreshadow the many magical thrones in Telengard.

The throne and pool and statue are not explained at all. Dungeons are weird places.

Published in: on November 4, 2010 at 8:54 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This is really cool – and would make a nice ‘intro’ adventure in a boxed set.

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