Late last year, Paizo Kickstarted a superdungeon called “The Emerald Spire“. Along with the characteristicly beautiful production value and stunning art, each of the 16 levels of this detailed module has its own fold-out map in the style of Paizo’s other excellent flip-maps, making it a very easy crawl to run.
I recently decide to host a series of all-day “Retro 80s” Game Days for my players who never had the opportunity to come home from school on Friday afternoons and game non-stop until Sunday night, fueled on little more than Mountain Dew and Cheetos. Since I had backed the Kickstarter at a level where I received all eight double-sided maps as well as the campaign cards, I decided to convert “The Emerald Spire” to 5th edition to use as my old-school dungeon crawl.
The module’s base of operations, Fort Inevitable, requires little conversion as most of the conflicts there are political rather than physical. The dungeon’s levels are designed to equal the PC levels, meaning at 1st level the characters should be able to take on level 1, and by 8th level they should be able to handle level 8. As my players started at level 3, I needed to increase the power of each level a bit.
Below you will find some of my conversions for Level 3, “The Splinterden”. You will not find detailed information on the Emerald Spire. If you aren’t running “The Emerald Spire”, you may still find these new monsters and traps helpful for your personal campaign.
Level 1 “The Tower Ruins”
Level 2 “The Cellar”
Level 3 “The Splinterden”
Level 4 “Godhome”: The majority of this level is roleplaying oriented. Should combat break out, the stats for the associated monsters from the 5th ed Monster Manual work well.
Level 5 “The Drowned Level”
Level 6 “The Clockwork Maze”
New Monsters and Traps
Splinterden Poisoner (CR 4)
Giant Scorpion (CR 3)
Statue Gas Trap
Jade Automaton (CR4)
The Grey Cleric (CR4)
General Conversions and DCs
Parlay: The party may attempt to talk the guards into letting them through the gate and proceed downstairs. A DC 20 Persuasion check, an opposed Deception check, or a bribe of 100gp or more will allow passage. An excellent speech by the player grants advantage on the checks, while an obvious deception imposes disadvantage.
Arrow Slits: Arrow slits provide three-quarter cover (+5 AC and Dexterity saves) while giving full view of any room on the other side of them.
Locked Doors: DC 15 Lockpick, DC 15 Strength to break open; AC 15, HP 10.
Gates: DC 22 Strength check to break the mechanism and lift the gate, DC 22 Strength check to bend them enough to allow a medium creature to pass; AC 19, HP 20.
Secret Doors: Most secret doors require a DC 20 Perception or Investigation check to notice.
Use the scouts from the Monster Manual pg 349, but replace their longbows with heavy crossbows. Each scout also carries 1 dose of carrion crawler mucus (DMG) that can poison 3 pieces of ranged ammunition or one melee weapon.
General Tactics: There are several rooms on this level that have arrow slits and guard rooms. Two scouts will fire their heavy crossbows while two others reload the weapons. This allows the first two scouts to fire 2 bolts each on their rounds. 6 bolts are poisoned with carrion crawler mucus. The scouts will target unarmored spell casters with the poisoned bolts first, then armored spellcasters, then any other ranged threat. If they manage to paralyze the party, they will drag them to the barracks to be interrogated by their boss.
Statue Gas Trap
The statues marked will release a poison gas into a 10′ x 10′ area nearby.
DCs to Detect
DC 20 Perception check do hear the subtle release of gas, or feel the light breeze from the trap. The gas is odorless and colorless.
The gas releases as soon as anyone steps on the triggering mechanism. The gas fills the marked area for 1 minute.
Synesthesia gas: Delayed Onset: 10 minutes. DC 15 Constitution save against poison. On a failed save, the target “sees” sound, “hears” touch, “tastes” light, etc. The targets gain the poisoned condition for 1 hour; they find it difficult to focus and become easily distractible. The target can repeat the saving throw every 15 minutes to negate the effect.
Note: To make things easier, you may simply have the players reroll their save at key moments, such as after rolling Initiative, during dramatic non-combat scenes, etc.
The splinterden poisoner is based on the poisoner alchemist class, though he was originally a transmuter wizard.
Armor Class 16 (mage armor)
Hit Points 43 (6d8+12)
Str 8 (-1) Dex 14 (+2) Con 14 (+2) Int 17 (+3) Wis 12 (+1) Cha 10 (+0)
Saving Throws Con +5, Int +6
Damage Resistances: poison
Condition Immunities: poisoned
Skills Arcane +6; Perception +3; Sleight of Hand +5; Stealth +5
Tools: Alchemist supplies +6, herbalist kits +6
Senses Passive Perception 13
Languages Common, Dwarven, Goblin, Undercommon
Challenge 4 (1100xp)
Spellcasting. The splinterden poisoner is a 5th level caster. His spell casting ability is Intelligence. He has the following spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): acid splash, mending, poison spray, prestidigitation
1st Level (4 slots): mage armor, ray of sickness, tasha’s hideous laughter
2nd Level (3 slots): protection from poison, ray of enfeeblement
3rd Level (2 slots): fear, slow
The majority of the poisoner’s spells have the poison descriptor as noted. His slow spell is a grenade-like gas attack that he, his giant scorpion, and up to 4 other allies have been inoculated against (a way to represent the caster’s ability to choose targets). His fear spell is a cone of fear gas sprayed from a wand-like device. His mage armor is a regenerative potion he has taken that numbs pain and heals minor wounds (if the attack roll is 12-15, describe the hit as a glancing blow that seals quickly and that the poisoner ignores. A 16 or higher is too solid a hit to ignore or regenerate).
Multiattack: When the poisoner makes an attack with either poison spray or acid splash, he may also make one attack with his shortsword.
Shortsword. +5 to hit, range 5’, one target, 1d6+2 (6) piercing damage, plus 2d6 (9) poison damage (DC 13 Con save for half damage).
Poison Spray. DC 14 Constitution save, range 10’, one target, 2d12 (13) poison damage.
Acid Splash. DC 14 Dexterity save, range 60’, one or two targets, 2d6 (7) poison damage.
Fear (poison). DC 14 Wisdom save, range 30’ cone, drops items, frightened, may only take the Dash action, save again when the poisoner is out of sight.
Ray of Sickness. +6 to hit, range 60’, one target, 2d8 (9) poison damage plus DC 14 Constitution save or poisoned for 1 round.
Ray of Enfeeblement (poison). +6 to hit, reach 5’, one target, target deals 1/2 damage on weapon attacks. DC 14 Con save every round to end the effect.
Slow (poison). DC 14 Wisdom save vs poison, 40’ cube, 6 targets, 1/2 speed, -2 Dex saves, -2 AC, no reactions. 1 action or 1 bonus action only. 1 attack only using an action. Spells have 50% chance to delay 1 round. Wisdom save every round to end the effect.
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter (poison). DC 14 Wisdom save, range 30’, one target, target falls prone and is incapacitated and unable to stand for 1 minute. DC 13 Wisdom save every round to end the effect.
Giant Scorpion (the poisoner’s pet)
Armor Class 15 (natural)
Hit Points 57 (7d10+14)
Str 15 (+2) Dex 13 (+1) Con 15 (+2) Int 1 (-5) Wis 9 (-1) Cha 3 (-4)
Skills Athletics (+5)
Senses Blindsight 60’; Passive Perception 9
Challenge 3 (700xp)
Multiattack. The scorpion makes three attacks: two with its claws and one with its sting.
Claw. +4 to hit, reach 5’, one target, 1d8+2 (7) slashing, and the target is grappled (DC 12 Athletics or Acrobatics to escape). Each claw may grapple a target.
Sting. +4 to hit, reach 10’, one target, 1d8+2 (7) piercing, plus DC 12 Constitution save or take 22 (4d10) poison damage (half on successful save). Advantage against grappled opponents.
I use a range of miniatures in my game, and for the automatons in Emerald Spire I chose to pull out some of my favorite plastic pre-paints from over the years. The Jade Automaton for this chapter was inspired by a Mage Knight figure from many years ago.
Automaton, Large, Unaligned
Armor Class 16 (natural, adamantine)
Hit Points 54 (6d8+24)
Str 18 (+4) Dex 9 (-1) Con 16 (+3) Int 4 (-3) Wis 7 (-2) Cha 1 (-5)
Damage Immunities critical hits, poison, psychic
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Skills Perception +0
Senses Blindsight 60’ (blind beyond this distance); Passive Perception 10
Languages Understands Draconic
Challenge 4 (1100xp)
Electrical Explosion. Upon reaching 0 hit points, the automaton arcs electricity from its power core. Any creatures within 5 feet must make a DC 12 Dex save at the end of their turn or take 2d10 (10) electrical damage (half damage on a successful save; creatures wearing metal armor or wearing a metal shield make the save at disadvantage). The automaton fights for one additional round and then explodes, forcing a DC 14 Dex save to all creatures within 10 feet or take 4d10 (20) electrical damage (half damage on successful save).
Antimagic Susceptibility. The automaton is incapacitated while in the area of an antimagic field. If targeted by a dispel magic spell, the automaton must succeed on a Constitution save against the caster’s spell DC or become unconscious for 1 minute.
Multiattack. The automaton can make two attacks when it takes an action. It makes ranged attacks normally even if within 5’ of an opponent. It will refrain from making ranged attacks within the library, temple, or the grey cleric’s quarters.
Axehand. +7 to hit, reach 10’, one target, 2d12+4 (18) slashing
Arm cannon. +2 to hit, range 60’/150’, one target, 3d10 (18) bludgeoning, crits on 18-20.
The Grey Cleric
Human cleric of the Grey Master
Armor Class 18 (+1 chain shirt, shield of faith)
Hit Points 52 (7d8+14)
Str 8 (-1) Dex 14 (+2) Con 14 (+2) Int 10 (+0) Wis 17 (+3) Cha 12 (+1)
Saving Throws Dex +5, Wis +6
Skills Deception +4; Perception +6; Persuasion +4, Religion +6; Stealth +5
Senses Passive Perception 16
Challenge 4 (1,100xp)
Invoke Duplicity. The grey cleric turns invisible and creates an illusory duplicate of herself that lasts 1 minute. As a bonus action she can move the duplicate 30’. She may also cast spells from the duplicate.
Vanish. The grey cleri may turn invisible until the end of her next turn as a bonus action. She may not use this ability again until she takes a short rest.
Sneak Attack. If attacking a target that is within 5’ of one of her allies, or if she attacks with advantage, the grey cleric deals an additional 2d6 (7) damage with her rapier.
Spellcasting. The grey cleric is a 5th level caster. Her spellcasting ability is Wisdom. She has the following spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): guidance, mending, poison spray, thaumaturgy
1st Level (4 slots): charm person, cure wounds (1d8+3), guiding bolt, disguise self, shield of faith
2nd Level (3 slots): hold person, mirror image, pass without trace, spiritual weapon (rapier)
3rd Level (2 slots): blink, dispel magic, mass healing word (bonus action, 1d4+3)
Multiattack. When the grey cleric attacks with poison spray, she may also make an attack with her rapier.
+1 Rapier of Wounding. +5 to hit, reach 5’, one target, 1d6+2 (7) piercing/slashing, plus 1 wound. A wounded target takes 1d4 necrotic damage per round per wound they have. At the end of the target’s round they may make a DC 15 Constitution save to end all wounding effects on them. Damage inflicted by this weapon can only be healed by natural means (Hit Dice or full night’s rest).
Poison Spray. DC 14 Constitution save, range 10’, one target, 2d12 (13) poison damage
Guiding Bolt. +6 to hit, range 60’, one target, 4d6 (14) radiant, next attack against the target has advantage.
Light Crossbow. +5 to hit, range 80’/320’, one target, 1d8+2 (9) piercing, plus 1d8 (5) poison damage (3 bolts)
Spiritual Weapon (rapier). Bonus action (move 20’ up to 60’, attack); +6 to hit, one target, 1d8+4 (8) force (+5 dmg if cast at 3rd level)