The Thedron Barrows

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Cresting the northern peaks of the Thildish Highlands is a series of Barrows, forever enshrouded in mist.  Entombed within lie the remains of the Magearchs of Thedron, great sorcerers of a bygone age. For decades after its discovery the barrows served as one of Thild’s hottest adventuring destinations.  Songs are still sung of the riches of the mage lords.  What’s more, scholars and sages agree that Thedron was home to one of the great lost Demon-swords of old.  Interest in the Barrows, however, declined sharply after surrounding townships were hit with a plague of ghoul fever that transformed the citizenry into undead cannibals.  Of late the Barrows have become a place of interest for diabolists seeking to unearth forbidden knowledge, as well as a troupe of bandits hiding from the law.  Yet the lure of untold wealth and relics continues to draw the occasional stalwart adventuring party to this hilltop necropolis.

Hello everyone.  Here is a medium sized dungeoncrawl adventure I began designing several years back as a keyed location for my Isles of Mist hexcrawl adventure (hex 1104).  At the time I was running a group through the hexcrawl and they ended up delving into the Thedron Barrows.  However the game ended abruptly when our family relocated from New Zealand back to the Pacific North West.  Fast-forward several years and I am once again running another group through the Isles of Mist.  Given that there is a decent chance they too will embark upon a quest to the Barrows I decided to finish this half-completed module that’s been collecting dust on my hard-drive.

Some basic info about the adventure.  The Thedron Barrows is a system-neutral dungeoncrawl adventure appropriate for a party that has a few levels under its belt.  The module was designed to model  an earlier era of table-top role playing.  There is no overarching narrative plot directing the flow of events.  Rather the party is free to explore the dungeon and interact with (or avoid interactions with) its denizens as they see fit.  There are a multitude of possible paths for traversing the dungeon, including a series of magical portals.

The difficulty of the encounters tends to increase the deeper the party delves into the dungeon, but then so too do the magnitude of the rewards (although there are areas even in the upper levels where the difficulty level spikes).  While opportunities for combat abound, it is also possible to interact with the various factions of Thedron in a more diplomatic fashion.  There are puzzles and riddles to be solved, traps to be eluded, curiosities to be explored and treasures to be won.  Creative problem solving, caution, resource management, and attention to detail are all skills that tend to rewarded by the this module, while their reverse can easily lead to death of one or more party members.  In point of fact, the first time I ran this module half of the party were slain on the their third delve due in part to bad luck and in part to poor tactical decisions.

The dungeon key deserves special note here, since it will no doubt appear different to most viewers.  The key has been arranged in such a way as to highlight features of room locations which are immediately apparent to PCs upon initial entry, while at the same time offering a fuller description of these features elsewhere in the key should the players decide to investigate them further.  This is important since quite often clues about tricks, traps, treasure and other curiosities can be gleaned only by attending to these details.  Attention has been paid to making the key as useful as possible, through good organization and by striking the right balance between an economy of detail and providing enough information to make each entry complete.  I have Courtney Campbell to thank for inspiration for this dungeon key model and have written more extensively about its virtues here and here, if you are interested.

Given the rules-neutral nature of this module, and the fact that I designed it for my low-magic, silver-standard-economy campaign setting, you will likely have to do a little prep work before using this; running conversions for monsters, skill and saving-throw checks, and supplementing the treasure awards offered.

There’s a lot more I could say about the the lore, current occupants and other sundry details about the Therdon Barrows, but that’s all already included within the module itself.  If you are fond of well-balanced adventures with level-appropriate encounters then you may want to give this module a pass.  On the other hand, if classic exploration based dungeoncrawls is your thing, this may be for you.

Cheers, Tad.

The Thedron Barrows