After spending the best part of a year exploring Zanzer’s Dungeon, it was refreshing to explore a much smaller dungeon. As was mentioned previously, the Crypt of the Smoke Dragon is a stand alone Fast Play adventure that was released as part of the silver anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons. It is a simple dungeon crawl that the players can explore in a session or two – perfect to fill in the gap before Christmas and the New Year before we dig into the Vale itself.
The Crypt of the Smoke Dragon provides four pre-generated characters – Greywulf the Human Fighter, Stardancer the Elf Rogue, Develan the Dwarf Cleric, and Zanthar Rex the Human Wizard. Not exactly inspiringly unique characters, but enough to round out a balanced party for a taster of what Advanced Dungeons and Dragons has to offer.
A Simple Party
Interestingly enough, Crypt of the Smoke Dragon preferred to focus on playing Dungeons and Dragons, without using the full system. This means armour was ignored, no saves required, and simplified abilities. This made them easy to convert, although I decided not to give the character’s armour, so they would be relying entirely on their own Dexterity modifier to protect themselves.
Another feature that was ignored was the idea of ranged attacks. All four characters only used melee attacks, so players didn’t need to make many decisions about what they wanted to do in combat. Spellcasting was also severely limited, as Zanthar Rex the Wizard had two magic missile spells memorised, whilst Develan the Cleric had two cure light wounds spells prepared. Zanthar Rex also had a scroll of knock, whilst Stardancer the Rogue had a spare potion of healing.
With the party pre-prepared, the only real decision needed before diving right in with the adventure was who was playing who. In the end, Sian went with Greywulf and Stardancer, whilst Ouro went with Develan and Zanthar Rex. With that, the party approached the Crypt of the Smoke Dragon.
Entering the Crypt
The first obstacle that the part faced was a big stone plug that served as the doorway into the crypt. Cautiously, the party examine the doorway, with Stardancer being able to read the mystic writing on the door:
“Power resides in the vessel of mist. Sunder the chalice and rend the beast.”
Would this be an important clue that the party will remember in their time of need?
Both Greywulf and Zanthar Rex proceeded to open the stone plug and open the crypt. Beyond, in the near darkness, five zombies stood in an ancient antechamber, guarding a chest and a load of rusted armour and weaponry. The fight was brief, and the zombies were swiftly dispatched, leaving the party to loot the chest of a bag of ancient gold coins.
Stardancer checked the iron door leading further into the mountain. She discovered that the door was locked and trapped, although it seemed like the complex ancient mechanism was beyond her ability to deal with. Not wanting to risk the trap that was sure to be triggered if the door was physically forced open, Zanthar Rex decided that this was a good time to use his knock scroll, opening the door with powerful magic.
Bridge of Doom
Beyond the door, the sound of rushing water could he heard thundering ahead. The soon discovered the source, a raging river rushed through the cavern at the bottom of a deep chasm that blocked the way ahead. A rickety wooden rope bridge crossed the chasm, beyond which two skeleton warriors blocked the way.
The party decided not to risk crossing the bridge in combat, and waited for the skeletons to cross towards them. Fighting on more solid ground, the skeletons were defeated in a violently graphic manner, as Greywulf used his skull-headed warhammer to shatter their bones and ancient armour, sending the debris flying into the chasm beyond.
With the way ahead now clear, the party headed on, encountered a junction. To the left, the passageway turned to the right, further into the darkness. To the right, the passageway ended in a solid door. Whilst debating which way to go, Stardancer’s heard a pitiful whining from beyond the door. Without hesitation, Stardancer opened the door into a small room.
Beyond the door, the source of the whining was discovered to be a small dog. The dog appeared to be guarding the body of a fallen adventurer that seemed to have been killed by an explosively trapped chest lying nearby. Another, more intact, chest was suspiciously unopened next to the scorched chest and the body.
Stardancer first examined the chest, but failed to spot the poison dust within the lock. Luckily, the potency of the dust had clearly weakened with age, and after an intense coughing spasm, the elven rogue didn’t seem to have any other ill effects. Within the chest, a small ring was found, which Zanther Rex asked to study. Stardancer handed over the ring, but if it was indeed magical, Zanthar Rex lacked the ability to identify it. Frustrated, Zanther quietly pocketed the ring.
Stardancer didn’t complain, as she was far too distracted by the small dog. The dog was a spaniel, and quickly took to Stardancer, who was able to lead the dog away from the fallen adventurer. Develan took the opportunity to explore the remains of the fallen adventurer, discovering an unidentified liquid and a mace. Stardancer found that the dog was wearing a collar, which gave the name Maxie.
Encountering the Smoke Dragon
With their new found companion, the party travelled back to the junction and headed further into the dungeon. Around the corner, the passage opened up into a large room with a fairly solid brazier. As the party approached, smoke from the brazier billowed out and formed into the shape of a large dragon. A voice thundered from the shape:
“Fools! You have found only death in the lair of the Smoke Dragon! Soon you will join my undead legions!”
This served as a suitable cliffhanger on which to end the session, as the party (and Maxie) prepare to face off against the target of their quest from the Patrician of Haven…