Following on from Part 6 harsh, environmental conditions persist under the black ice. The floors are icy, the ceilings of the ice tunnels are prone to collapse. Remorhaz fill the caves, one adult and with its eggs and hatchlings. This is a module for 4 level five characters. The adult remorhaz should be well beyond the ability of the party to defeat in a stand-up fight. Build up the monster as a serious issue so they know in advance that this is outside their ability. If possible, have the remorhaz incapacitate party members use them to feed it’s offspring.
In this encounter, I make use of a few existing monsters in place of the different lifecycle stages of the remorhaz. I’ll try and create new monsters and plug them in at a later date.
Items and creatures that can be found in D&D source-books are bolded. Flavor text is in italics. The numbered list below corresponds to the numbered locations on the map above. If the PCs attempt to take a long rest in an insecure location, or are too indecisive, move the adult Remorhaz towards their location
The air warms noticeably as you move down into the heart of the black ice. Round and irregularly shaped, they are the work of remorhaz. Perhaps they use their body heat to melt the black ice. It’s still freezing cold, but not the bitter, life-ripping cold from above. As you delve deeper, the sound of the whipping winds behind you fades, and is replaced with a crackling noise. If you can see in the darkness, you know that sounds is the clatter of thousands of chitinous legs on ice…
- The Outer Chambers – Both rooms labeled 1 are occupied by remorhaz larvae. Additionally, the cracked shells of hatched eggs litter the floors in these rooms. Use 15 reskinned insect swarms (hard encounter). The insect swarms are not aggressive unless the PCs attack them, or move within 5 feet of them. If insect swarm injured, it will release a cloud of pheromones that will attract juvenile remorhaz from the small caves around the side of the rooms. Use 4 adult kruthik (hard encounter), reskinned, for each room marked one. These monsters are dormant, but they are here to guard the larvae. Consequently, they will attack if the larvae are harmed, or if they detect a threat to the larvae. Killing one of the juveniles will cause the others will begin to screech, attracting the attention of the adult remorhaz
There are two ways out of this room: Firstly, the ice tunnel marked 2, connects both of these chambers and the brood chamber. Second, the ice tunnels marked 3 to the north slope steeply up to the brood chamber of the adult remorhaz. Due to the slope, ascending this tunnel is difficult terrain. Of course, the other way is a fun slide.
- Steep Ice tunnels – Difficult terrain.
- Easily-Passable Ice Tunnels
Into the Brood Chamber
- The Brood Chamber – An adult remorhaz (beyond deadly encounter) occupies this cavernous space surrounded by clutches of eggs. It is immediately hostile to any intruders. This monster is huge, and will have to squeeze into any of the other ice tunnels, halving its movement speed.
- A Magical Artifact – The adventurers find a giant, smooth-surfaced stone cube embedded in the wall of this tunnel. Any PC that touches it can hear whispers in their mind. Subsequently, with a successful (DC 10) arcana check, the PC will be able to understand the voice, which says, “What do you want?” If they think of a specific item with their hand pressed onto the cube, their hand sinks in, and when they pull it back out, the item they thought about, or a reasonably powered analog, will be in their grasp.
Onward Towards Freedom
- Twisting Ice Tunnels – These tunnels are easily traversable, but have many switchbacks and dead ends. Additionally, making loud noises in these tunnels will alert the remorhaz in the brood chamber (4), if it has not already been disturbed.
- The Chamber of Pillars – The twisting tunnel of the remorhaz pierces the wall of a long, rectangular hall. Lined with pillars, the room holds a 20 foot tall statue of a warrior on the other side of a lake of dark blue water. Due to an intense magical cold any PC that touches the water takes 2d6 of magical cold damage. The statue at the other end of the room stands on a pedestal, it’s feet apart in a wide stance. In the space between the legs a portal out of the place glows and ripples. Use a skill challenge (DC15, 3 successes before 3 failures) to determine whether or not the PCs can find a way across the water. If they fail, they make it across the water, but take 2d6 cold damage.
Getting Out From Under the Black Ice
This encounter is intended to mostly be about avoidance. The first group I put through this module immediately started killing (ok yeah, I gave one of them a cursed bow that constantly demanded death, but they could have resisted a little), and spend the rest of the time fleeing an enraged remorhaz. Perhaps a slightly less kill-crazed group could use the old egg shells as disguises to help them sneak past the adult remorhaz, or use the environment to trap it. Maybe I’ll see some more interesting solutions the next time I run it.