IntroductionThe party are lured into the Hotel Royale with promise of a warm bed, shelter from the rain outside and a decent, hot meal for the first time in days. They are soon to find out that things are not what they appear to be and this is just a trap. You can check out any time you want..... but you can never leave.... This adventure is written for a party of four level 10 characters using the Pathfinder 1st Edition ruleset. Set in the country of Soltzlandt, in the world of Darmoria. This one shot should aim to last approximately 5 to 6 hours. The PCs start by all knowing one another, on the road back from a successful mission.
Scene 1 - A Miserable JourneyStart by reading the following:
The raid at Sonnarfeldt was almost a week behind you now. The objective of holding the area against the orc raid and keeping the useless whelp of the Baron's son alive had been accomplished, quite whether that was a good or bad thing was still a matter of debate. The joy of success has now faded, replaced with the seemingly endless trudge back to Feldrigg to report to Baron Kraachtin on the completion of the mission, and more importantly getting paid. For days now it has been nothing but a chill, biting wind, a constant miserable rain that seemed to permeate through to your core and wet mud that made each footfall more effort than it should have been. Each of you are now tired, hungry, wet through and cold to the core. The daily ritual of finding a place to rest, setting up camp on soaked earth and the monotony of the same old field rations is now starting to grate on you. If any of you had to eat another ration again you would most likely scream! Oh, what you wouldn't give for a nice welcoming inn with a hot bath, comfy bed, a hot meal and dry clothes in the morning!Give the players a chance to role play a little at this point but only for a short time as the story is about to start. as they plod on a sight becomes visible in the distance, although they cannot quite make it out through the constant fine drizzle obscuring their vision. After they have had chance to role play read out the following:
Off in the distance you see the shadowy outline of a shape appear, although you cannot make it out through the constant drizzle obscuring your vision. As you tread closer you see it is a building of some sorts, the faint glow of lights soon become visible. Your mood improves only slightly, for now. As you trudge on a large building on a small hill comes into view and your eyes go wide as you see that it is an inn! Finally, you may be able to get in, out of this miserable climate and enjoy a respite from your journey. You step forward towards the entrance and a tall, human man dressed in very fine, expensive looking attire, complete with long overcoat and holding a cane, steps forward to greet you accompanied on either side by an attractive girl dressed in not much more than a few feathers, long boots and a fancy choker necklace each. As you get close enough the man greets you by saying "ahhh.... welcome weary travellers, come in and leave your troubles at the door. Rest your weary bodies, eat, drink and be merry. Welcome to the Hotel Royale....."Give chance for the party to role play a bit, engage in conversation. inside they will see a very lavish and large hall with a stage jutting out of the left hand wall, a bar along the right hand wall, a seating are and some gambling tables at the back. In total there are 5 showgirls in the place (although only 4 are visible to begin with), a DC 12 perception check will reveal that they are all wearing different coloured choker necklaces, each with a gem set in the centre matching the colour. Let them relax and do what they want for a while, dry off, get some hot food and good ale. After this they are invited to watch a show on the stage and given a round of drinks on the house while they watch. This show marks the beginning of the story although the characters are unaware of what is going on around them. The man that greeted them at the entrance is Darius La Vauchere and the girl's names are Jet, Ruby, Sapphire, Amber and Jade. Each name also matches the gems set in their chokers. These also denote the element of their magical powers but that will come later. As the show starts, read the following:
From somewhere backstage an unfamiliar and exotic music begins to play that immediately seems to envelop you all and sooth your weary bodies of the last few day's arduous journey. A faint, sweet aroma hangs in the air as the curtains part and out steps a girl, dressed much the same as the other girls you have seen, only this outfit is black and a little more decorative with a black choker bearing a jet black gem. She seems to glide forward with a grace unmatched in any person you've ever seen. Her mouth opens to sing a song of such beauty that you are seemingly entranced by the harmony. You sit an enjoy the music and forget about the weariness and the seemingly endless trudge of the last few days. With some hot food and a good drink before you, all seems good. After the show ends you are invited to take part in the games of chance being run on the tables at the back and are given a few tokens on the house to get you started. How would you like to enjoy the hospitality of the Hotel Royale?However, all is anything but good. This song in an spell to entrance the PCs while other ancient arcane magical powers start to work unnoticed in the background. The PCs can enjoy the hospitality unawares of what is really going on. If any of them should try to set outside one of the girls will come over and try to coax them away from the door without being too obvious, more inviting them to enjoy another drink or a game. A DC12 Will save is needed if the character tries to resist this. Should anyone pass this and venture outside they will see that everything is black. No, not just dark but black, although nothing is there. It seem to be that the whole rest of the world has just disappeared. If they try to move away they can but no matter how far anyone goes, the Hotel Royale will remain a matter of just ten feet behind them, even if they run in a straight line, they will in fact go nowhere. What has happened is that the whole place has been transported into another plane of existence and those grounds is all that exists. The world they know has vanished while they were occupied inside. If confronted the girl or Darius will just try to convince them to come back inside, playing the innocent but coming across as concerned for everyone's safety. This is a ruse however, the die was cast as the entertainer started to sing her entrancing melody. The girls will try and avoid hostility but if forced they will reveal their true nature. These are Sarpedons, a long forgotten race of thought extinct. If this happens then roll initiative and combat begins. But, if they take the time to pay attention inside first then some hints will show themselves. At first it looks like Darius La Vauchere is in charge, but this is not the case. He is in fact a slave trapped there by the 5 girls to do their bidding and he cannot leave. Darius La Vauchere want nothing more than to break the curse binding him to the place and leave. If the PCs approach him he will act guarded at first, scared of what would happen to him should he betray the girls. But a DC 10 Sense Motive check will reveal that all is not as it seems, a further DC12 Persuasion check will get him to talk, telling them the truth about what is going on. Darius La Vauchere will then inform them of a secret corridor that leads to a staircase down, but to where he does not know. They can try to slink off without the girls noticing if they wish. Allow them to role play this and come up with a plan for what they want to do. Although bear in mind they may not have too long to chat before one of the girls notice and come over to discretely investigate. If the party's disappearance is noticed at least one, if not all will give chase. There is a locked door to the back of the main hall, from here they go to the office. In there is a secret door leading to a spiral staircase. From here they see a small room with two doors, one leading to an almost empty room, with evidence of some people having slept here, the other leads to another room. As they enter read out the following:
The next room is sparse other than a table in the centre and a door on the far wall. On this table you come upon a sinister metal box with an iron lock built into each of its four sides. Each lock sports a keyhole with a sculpted image above it. Four iron keys hang from hooks on a nearby wall, and each key has a different number of teeth. Above the keys, the following verse has been etched into the wall: The spells on these locks are all the same. Though each possesses a unique name. Count on your answer to unlock the way, But use the wrong key to your dismay.This is the Skeleton Keys puzzle from the 5e book 'Tasha's Cauldron Of Everything' which goes as follows: All four locks must be opened before the box’s contents (whatever they might be) can be accessed. Puzzle Features Show the players puzzle handout 2 when their characters examine the keys. Each key has a different number of teeth: six, five, four, and three, respectively. Each lock has a creature molded in iron above it: a bat, snake, spider, or wolf, respectively. These locks can’t be picked. If anything other than the correct key is placed inside a lock, creatures corresponding to the image above the lock (1d4 giant bats, 1d4 giant poisonous snakes, 1d4 giant wolf spiders, or 1d4 wolves) are summoned into the room. Each summoned creature is hostile and disappears after 10 minutes or when reduced to 0 hit points. These beasts can’t be charmed or frightened.
SolutionOnce the characters identify the creature depicted above each lock, they should count the letters in each creature’s name. The number of letters in a creature’s name corresponds to the number of teeth on the correct key, as shown in the Skeleton Keys Solution table. Skeleton Keys Solution
Hint Checks Any character has the option of making these ability checks to receive a hint: Intelligence (Nature) DC 10. The character knows that “natural” knowledge about bats, snakes, spiders, and wolves in general won’t help here. Wisdom (Perception) DC 10. The character realizes that the keys’ skull-shaped heads are all the same and probably have no bearing on the puzzle’s solution.
Customizing the PuzzleThe focal parts of this puzzle are the locks and keys, not the chest. You could easily convert this puzzle to feature any types of locks, be they on doors, cells, books, or some more esoteric barrier. Beyond the form the locks and keys take, you might also consider adjusting the creatures depicted with each lock to suit your adventures. Just keep in mind that the number of teeth on each key must match the number of letters in your substitutions, and those substitutions should be things the characters can identify.
Raising the DifficultyRather than associating each lock with a particular image of a creature, consider presenting a riddle alongside each lock. The answer to each riddle should be the related creature’s name, allowing characters to match the riddles’ answers to the proper keys. Once the puzzle is solved the box will open and inside will be the key that opens the door on the other side of the room.
From here they enter a long corridor at the end of which is a large, ornate double door adorned with an image of snakes coiled around each other carved in to the stone. On this door are 5 round dials in a line, under each is a letter that together spell the word SNAKE. Carved around the door in a seemingly random fashion are six words, these are:
|Words||Letters Per Word|
What is to be solved is first to be broken
Ignore the whole, look at the single