Zhuultar’s Laboratory

For a generation, the strange wizard Zhuultar has tormented the surrounding countryside with his mutagen experiments. Recently, screams can be heard echoing from Zhuultar’s dungeon laboratory as men and women are dissolved in the belly of Zhuultar’s mechanical nightmare. Rumors of a sentient slime that hungers for the blood of mankind being created by Zhuultar to exact his plans of a great crusade against the good are floating through your town. Some say there are great treasures and wonders hidden away in the depths of Zhuultar’s lair. Will you be the hero that ends the twisted wizard’s evil scheme and plunders treasures unknown?

I wanted to share a map that I put together for a current Dungeon Crawl Classics (by Goodman Games) adventure that I am running on Roll20.net. This map was heavily influenced and inspired by Runehammer’s YouTube video So Much Molok! If you have not seen any of his videos for GMs, they are excellent and I highly recommend you take a look. I have included the relevant video below for your viewing pleasure.

The gist of the adventure is a dungeon delve into Zhuultar’s Laboratory. Zhuultar, the evil (and deranged) wizard is refining sentient slime into gelatinous cubes with plans to destroy the surrounding land. The dungeon consists of four primary rooms, one secret room, and a final escape passage. I ran this dungeon with four players at level 1, but you can easily scale this dungeon to fit your party. This little adventure can also be a short, one-shot adventure for any party of any size. Feel free to mod the adventure to fit any system (D&D, Pathfinder, etc.). Here is an overall view of the dungeon.

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A long, dark stairway leads to a tall iron door. The door is locked, but your key easily fits the lock. As you turn the key, you think to yourself, “I guess the old man was telling the truth after all.” The air behind the door is strangely warm and tainted with a sulfuric odor. The large Chamber before you is dimly lit by the faint glow of green slime at the bottom of a large cubic pit at the center of the room. Beyond the four stone pillars in each corner are strange runes of a foreign origin etched into the corner floor tiles. At the far end of the room, is an iron door. Before the door is a round portal of swirling mist.

As adventurers descend the first stairs into the dungeon they encounter a locked door. This door is easily overcome as a key to enter the dungeon was provided previously by the quest-giver. The first dimly-lit room is a large, 100′ x 100′ stone room supported by three pillars (the bottom-left pillar has collapsed long ago). The center of the room contains a 30′ deep pit with a slowly swirling thick green liquid at the bottom. Anything thrown in this pit sizzles and steams as it is slowly dissolved by the acidic liquid. The air is filled with an acidic, acrid smell that stings the nose. Four strange runes are carved into each corner of the floor. There is a strange circular misty portal at the far end of the room (on the floor) and two recently dead bodies strewn about the room (the bodies of two brothers who tried to infiltrate the laboratory and failed). If searched, the bodies contain 1d4 copper pieces and a large, oversized iron key (this key fits the oversized floor keyhole in the next room).

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The Guardian Gate

Once the door to the first room is unlocked and all party members are inside, the entrance door slams shut with a thunderous metal thud and locking clinking noise that echoes through the stone passageways and the players are trapped inside. There is a mechanical sound as gears begin to turn and grind and a war-forged-like guardian golem (Init -1; Atk energy beam +2 ranged (1d4); Atk slam +1 melee (1d6); AC 12; HD 2d10 16HP; Act 1d20; Special Actions: use portal runes (random 1d4 for location) and repair 1d4 damage; SP half damage from slicing and piercing weapons; SV Fort +6, Ref -5, Will -2, AL N) made of full-plate armor held together by magical binding materializes in the misty portal pool. Without warning the golem attacks the closest character with a ranged energy beam.

The guardian golem possesses a spherical stone that fits the door at the bottom of the room map and destroying the golem releases the stone for use by the players to unlock the door and advance to the next area. Should the golem be pushed into the pit, he re-materializes in the portal pool mist and continues to attack the party. Alternatively, the door can also be broken by a strength check (DC 20) or lock-picked by a thief (DC 15). However, the guardian golem will continue to attack until defeated. If a player falls into the center pit, she can make a REF check (DC 12) to act quickly to grab the ledge. If successful, a second player may pull her up as an action on their turn.

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The Landing

A warm cloying steam that chokes the breath rises from the churning ooze below the landing’s steps. Rusted pipes spew acidic ooze into a wide pool, blocking your path. A mechanized wooden bridge on a track is positioned across, at the opposite side, approximately 20 feet away. Below your feet an oversized keyhole has been crafted into the stone floor. This large 50′ x 50′ room is littered with crates and barrels, stored supplies for the operation taking place deeper within the laboratory. There is a large, rusted metal floor grate across the ooze to your right. At the far end of the room a stairway leads down to the horrors beneath.

The second room has no door. Players will first encounter a landing with five or six steps down to a pool of the same swirling thick green liquid contained in the bottom of the pit in the previous room. The same sulfuric smell-although, stronger-is present in the air. Across the pool of liquid is a wooden mechanical bridge on a sliding track rail. Various crates and barrels are stashed in the corners of the room and a metal grate, leading to a secret passage and hidden room, is at the bottom of the map.

Players standing on the initial landing will notice a large, oversized keyhole on the floor at their feet. Using the oversized key looted from the bodies of the previous room will activate the wooden mechanical bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge is damaged and only slides forward halfway before jamming, leaving the players with a choice: either attempt to make the eight or ten foot jump across the pool to the wooden mechanical bridge (DC 14 or suffer 1d6 acid damage) or attempt to run through the pool to the stairs at the opposite end (1d4-1 acid damage).

The churning ooze in this room creates a toxic steam that deals 1d3-1 poison damage every 1d4 rounds. Players must move with haste through this room to avoid slowly dying of toxic fumes.

The crates and barrels contain various bits of loot, including: a spiked net (1d3 melee damage, with a 50% chance to grapple your opponent), a health potion that heals 1d6 damage), an iron helm granting +1 AC to the wearer, and 1d4 glass vials (useful to collect samples of the sentient slime in the hidden room).

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Hidden Room

The secret passage is discovered by a successful intelligence check (DC 12). This room contains the bones of a dead wizard who died hiding from Zhuultar after being discovered infiltrating the laboratory. Among the bones, any player players will easily find a diary scribbled on torn parchment. This diary contains various notes about Zhuultar’s experiments, his strange mutagen magic, a weird glowing purple mutation crystal, and the refining of sentient ooze into dangerous weaponized acidic gelatinous cubes. The wizard explains that after being discovered he hid in this hidden room only to have the metal grate barred from the outside trapping him inside the stone room. As he slowly starved to death, he detailed his findings.

Notably, there is a passage about a seemingly harmless sentient ooze in the hidden chamber and the wizard’s frustrations related to him not having a means to collect a sample. This ooze lacks the acidic component of Zhuultar’s refined weaponized ooze and can be collected and kept as a small fist-sized friendly familiar. Also among the room, searching players will discover a spiked gauntlet (1d3 bludgeoning damage) and 1d6 arrows.

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The Refinery

The cacophony of discordant machinery, grinding gears, and whirring turbines is deafening. Four ghoul slaves fervently operate levers and dials affixed to strange machines on the refinery floor. Two large pipes pour ooze into a center trough with a center drain cutting off access to the far half of the room. Four large exhaust vents are positioned in each corner of this large, stone chamber. At the far end of the room, a massive gelatinous hulk of steaming ooze slowly rises from a cubic pit in the floor.

The third room is a loud, steaming chamber. The mechanical sound of grinding gears and liquid flowing from large pipes is deafening. The acrid smell in this 50′ x 50′ chamber is overwhelming. Four ghoul slaves (Init +1; Atk bite +3 melee (1d4 plus paralyzation) or claw +1 melee (1d3); AC 12; HD 2d6; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, paralyzation, infravision 100’; SV Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +0; AL C) (nerfed versions of the ghouls from page 416 of Core Rulebook) are manning refining machines in the corners of the room. The room is divided by a trench of flowing ooze draining into a 10′ x 10′ metal grate at the center of the room. Crossing this obstacle requires an AGI check (DC 12) to jump across or suffer 1d6 acid damage. At the far end of the room is a massive, 10′ x 10′ gelatinous cube (Init -1; 2x Atk pseudopods -1 melee (1d4); AC 10; HD 3d10 22HP; Act 1d20; SP immune to poison; SV Fort +6, Ref -6, Will -6, AL N) slowly rising from a pit of the same shape and size.

The ghouls will ignore the players and continue to operate the machines. If attacked, they immediately turn in unison and engage the players in melee combat. Once the machines are no longer manned, a cloud of poisonous exhaust fumes (REF DC 12 to escape or suffer 1d4 poison damage) will burst from the metal grates next to each ghoul’s station each round. Use a 1d4 to determine the quadrant that is engulfed in choking toxic fumes.

The giant gelatinous cube blocks the entrance (AGI DC 12 to jump the corner of the pit and squeeze by the cube or suffer 1d4 acid damage from touching the cube). The cube will take a free attack of opportunity against any player that attempts to squeeze by. If not defeated, the giant cube follows the players down the corridor to the next room, completely blocking the passage.

The entrance to the final room is blocked by a locked iron door. This door has a wrist-grabbing lock trap that is activated upon failure to pick or break the lock (DC 12 to pick the lock or smash the lock). Once activated, the lock will grab the infiltrator’s wrist and hold them in position (as the massive cube slowly approaches). A STR check of DC 12 will allow the trapped player to pull free or another player to smash the lock.

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Zhuultar’s Chamber

Zhuultar’s chamber is a dimly lit, foul menagerie of strange items. Two large braziers light the entrance. The smoke of burning coal and the smells exotic incense clouds the air. At the far end of the room, a hunched, worn wizard standing atop an ornate throne is startled by your entrance, “How dare you interrupt my creations!” The throne is flanked by two ghouls and two oversized glowing stone skulls. Four runed stone carvings mark the floor at each corner of the chamber and two round metal grates are positioned in the far rear corners. The left and right walls contain large wooden shelves, cluttered with various tools and items. At the center of the room, a large stone altar supports a large glowing purple crystal.

Roll for initiative! Zhuultar (Init +1; Atk staff strike +1 melee (1d4 plus ) or heat ray +3 melee (1d4); AC 12; HD 3d8; 18 HP; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP travel freely between portals, Blink as action to any space up to 30′, Kaleidoscope 1d4-1 holographic copies as action that are indiscernible from the original lasting 1d2 rounds or vanishing upon taking any damage, and heal 1d4 as action; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +4; AL C) and his two ghoul slave minions immediate attacks the party to defend his lair.

Every round, at the end of all initiative, there is a 50% chance that each skull will emit a heat ray beam straight out the length of the chamber. Any player in its way must make a REF save (DC 12) to jump out of the way or suffer 1d4 damage.

Upon defeat, Zhuultar will drop his staff. This knobby wooden staff has 1d4+4 charges (not rechargeable) dealing 1d4 heat damage with a 25% chance to stun the target for 1d2 rounds (WIL save DC 12).

Among the odds and ends, the shelves contain: a small leather pouching lunar moss (glow in the dark, if eaten has a hallucinogenic effect for 1d4 hours), a vial of ink, 2 fine quills, 1d8 pieces of parchment, 1d6 gold pieces, 1d8 silver pieces, 1d16 copper pieces, and a healing scroll that heals 1d8 HP when read aloud.

Any player inspecting the crystal must make a WIL save (DC 12) or be drawn and compelled to touch the glowing crystal. Touching the crystal will send a surge of mutagenic power through the character, causing 1d4 electricity damage and resulting in the following (1d6) mutation:

  1. Insectoid: +1 REF save and either (1d2 to determine) a mantis arm that deals 1d3 slashing melee damage or dragonfly eyes granting strange visionary sensory enhancements.
  2. Reptoid: +1 REF save, either (1d2 to determine) a lizard tail granting 1d3 whipping damage as melee Atk or a snake tongue and fangs granting a 1d3 poison damage as melee bite Atk, and a ravenous appetite for rodents.
  3. Phasic: +1 REF save, a Blink ability (10% chance to Blink as action up to 20′), and a 5% chance (natural 1 on a 1d20) upon successful Atk to enter a phasic state for one round (cannot perform actions, inflict damage, or be damaged).
  4. Specter: +1 WIL save, a Spirit Walk ability (10% chance to walk through walls or doors as action with a 1% chance of materializing inside the object and incurring 1d8 damage), and a 5% chance (natural 1 on a 1d20) upon successful Atk to enter a phantasmic state for one round (cannot perform actions, inflict damage, or be damaged). Additionally, the character hears the constant unintelligible broken the echoes of spirits.
  5. Dread: Gills (breathe underwater up to 10 minutes) and a grotesque tentacle arm granting a whip melee Atk 1d4 damage.
  6. Stoneskin: +1 FOR save, +1 AC, -1 INT
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Escape Tunnel

Pushing aside the metal grate reveals a wooden ladder leading to a long damp, musty tunnel dug into the earth below. The tunnel is lit by the light of the open air at the far end. Somewhere up ahead, the ground crawls and rolls before you.

Exting Zhuultar’s chamber via one of the two metal grates leads to a damp, earthen tunnel approximately 75′ long. This tunnel is blocked by a dead body covered in a swarm of rats (Init +4; Atk swarming bite +1 melee (1 plus disease); AC 9; HD 4d8; MV 40’ or climb 20’; Act special; SP bite all targets within 20’ x 20’ space, half damage from non-area attacks, disease (DC 5 Fort save or additional 1d3 damage); SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will -2; AL N) (page 424 of the Core Rulebook). Dispersing or defeating the rats reveals the decrepit body beneath. Looting the body grants 1d4 copper pieces, an iron dagger, and 1d2 torches. Further down the passage, a small sleep area contains various provisions: 1d4 days’ rations, one iron spear, 50′ of rope, and a strange fist-sized lizard skull.

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That’s all there is to it. I hope you enjoyed the way I utilized the amazing GM resources provided by Runehammer and the way I put this little adventure together inspired by his incredible creativity. Feel free to comment below how you would mod it, I would love to hear your thoughts and creativity. If you haven’t already check out @pawnsperspective and @thecraftingdm (me) on Instagram for more gaming inspiration. Thanks for tuning in and being a part of what we do here in this hobby space.

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