This encounter is intended for five player characters of 6th level
Back again for Part 2 of this linked double encounter! Last time, the players explored a mostly-abandoned temple to the elemental lord of fire, Imix. Having found a forgotten artifact of power crafted in praise tot he vile Primordial, they triggered the being’s anger, and its servants began a catastrophic release of lava into the chambers of the temple. Now the PCs must grab up their loot and make tracks out of the dungeon before they are swallowed up in molten rock!
I’m writing this up as two linked encounters: Part 1 is the exploration of the space prior to the eruption of lava, and Part 2 the flight to escape. Clearing out the dungeon thoroughly on the way in won’t make much difference when lava monsters begin pouring (literally, due to their viscosity) out of the ceiling!
These encounters presume the machinations of Imix, the Prince of Elemental Fire depicted in Monster Manual 3 (pg. 112). If the Primordials have no place in your campaign, sub Imix out for another powerful entity or deity tied to fire and/or chaos.
Many of the creatures now occupying this space are potent foes that are very challenging for a party of this level. That’s on purpose: the PCs are heavily encouraged to flee, rather than stay and fight all the monsters that have seeped into the temple. Besides, there is always a chance that a few of the magma beasts will pursue them to other areas o the dungeon.
The PCs are exploring a section of dungeon dangerously close to a volcano, lava flow, planar nexus of fire, or any other place in which pyroclastic material can burst through the walls. This section of the dungeon is more difficult to navigate now due to falling debris as seismic activity is triggered by the agitated lava. Magma beasts and lava flows are seeping through the walls to impede the player’s progress as well. It is now a race against time over obstacles, rubble, and newly arrived foes, to get back to the more secure chambers of the dungeon.
Ideally with that awesome weapon in hand, too!
This section of the dungeon was once the temple to a wrathful cult of Imix, a terrifying primordial consumed by ever-burning fire, endless rage and unbridled hatred. Despite being trapped outside the Material Plane by the Gods, Imix still carries out his deeds of wanton destruction through agents and cults in the world. This particular cult displeased him with repeated failures, and so he influenced a number of magma beasts to trigger a minor eruption, burning all the cultists to death.
What remained was their prized possession: a weapon that consumes with fire and sews chaos wherever it is wielded. Imix wants this weapon back in the hands of his servants but has failed to accomplish this thus far. His underlings slumber in the rock nearby, and if the object is disturbed, his wrath would be great indeed.
Features of the Area
•Chasm – This pit is 2 squares (10 feet) across and 8 squares (40 feet) deep (a 4d10 fall). Fortunately the sides of the pit are jagged, with frequent handholds, requiring only a DC 12 Athletics check to climb. Should lava begin to flow into the squares of this chasm, they fill both vertically and horizontally, meaning an unlucky adventurer might be climbing up out of the pit while molten rock licks his/her heels.
•Doors – These are all normal, wooden doors. Wear and tear has eaten away at the locks of all but one of the doors (indicated on the map)
•Secret Door (indicated by a red “S”) – This door swings easily on a rotating hinge if ample pressure is applied Hard Perception check to detect. Can be opened from either side.
•Rubble and Debris (Indicated by a square containing an “X”)- Rough Terrain
•Lava Flows – Origin squares for the lava that is seeping into the room are indicated on the map. For the lava’s behavior, see “Lava Flow” below.
•Statue of Imix – This statue stands almost as high as the dungeon’s ceiling and depicts Imix: the Primordial Lord of fire and rage. During the second phase of this linked encounter, a Magma Brute flows up through the ground and suffuses itself with the statue, giving the magma creature a solid form and appearing to animate this otherwise mundane if disturbing sculpture.
•Altar – This altar seems to be made of the petrified remains of several humanoids bound together and burned to death. Heat emanates from the altar. Upon it is an artifact weapon of great power (see the “Loot” section below). In addition to this, there are 200 gp worth of gems, coins, and valuables still littered around the altar. The PCs can swipe up 2d20 worth of valuables with a “move” action, and 2d10 with a “Minor.”
Once the PCs have disturbed the altar, this entire section of the dungeon threatens to fill with piping hot lava.
Hazard – Lava Flow
Attack: Any creature that starts its turn in or enters each square covered in lava takes 1d6 fire damage.
Countermeasures: It is possible to use spells with the “Cold” keyword to negate squares of lava flow (DM discretion).
Aftereffects: Squares continue to burn for up to five minutes, after which they begin hardening into stone (treat as rough or blocking terrain, DM’s discretion)
•Initiative 15: Each lava flow expands in Burst 1 from a square furthest from its origin (or at its origin if no other squares are available.) Squares already filled with lava or containing blocking terrain (walls, columns, etc.) are ignored.
•Initiative 10: Each lava flow expands in Burst 1 from a square furthest from its origin. Squares already filled with lava or containing blocking terrain (walls, columns, etc.) are ignored.
•Initiative 5: Rubble falls from the walls and ceilings as the chamber becomes unstable: Place three squares of rough terrain on the map adjacent to another square of rough terrain. If a PC occupies that square, make a +7 vs. REF (2d6+4 dmg) attack against them.
•Initiative 1: Each lava flow expands in Burst 1d2 from a square furthest from its origin. Squares already filled with lava or containing blocking terrain (walls, columns, etc.) are ignored.
These creatures are doing their best to stop the PCs and ensure they will drown in the endless flow of lava. They are more concerned with hampering the movement of the PCs as a group than doing damage or dropping any one PC. As such, feel free to have the creatures make trip attempts, close doors, block door, or destroy any makeshift bridges or other objects the characters may have aiding them in their escape.
While the Magma Claws and the towering Magma Brute simply pound their opponents, the Magma Strider will likely lie in wait for anyone passing through the secret door and charge back and forth through the party, daring a victim’s allies to attack it and risk burning. If the PCs opt for another route, the strider will wait to chase down any stragglers, hoping that dropping the last man/woman in the column will halt the group.
A few of the magma beasts are particularly potent against characters of this level (despite being “first generation” monsters). Remember that the goal here is to flee the crumbling temple, not to kill all the monsters as usual. Don’t be shy about giving full experience, even though the players might have never harmed a single beast. The challenge here is survival, and is best represented by just handing over the standard EXP for a not-so-standard encounter.
x1 Magma Brute (Monster Manual pg. 183)
x1 Magma Strider (Monster Manual pg. 182)
x2 Magma Hurler H (Monster Manual pg. 182)
x3 Magma Claw C (Monster Manual pg. 182)
x? Any creatures not destroyed when the PCs entered the dungeon remain