Tuesday 15 March 2011

An Adventure for Every Monster - Basilisk

Some Tramp goodness

Frequency Uncommon
No appearing 1-4
AC 4
Move 6”
HD 6+1
% in lair 40%
Treasure type F
No of attacks 1
Damage per attack 1-10
Special attacks Gaze turns to stone
Special defences Nil
Magic resistance Standard
Intelligence Animal
Alignment Neutral
Size M (7’ long)
THAC0 13
XP value 1000 +8/hp

This adventure takes place in a strangely doorless section of the dungeon. It is accessed by means of a pit trap that will drop those unlucky enough to be caught by it down a 45-degree shaft and into another passageway, very like that from which the affected members were dropped. As they gather themselves together, a solid stone door will slide shut behind them closing off the shaft and anyone still left above. Beside the door is a keyhole.

The party (for so I am describing those who have fallen down the shaft) will not realise it but the passageways in which they now find themselves are an exact replica of the ones above their heads. These passageways, however, are dotted, here and there with statues of people, seemingly petrified in positions of horror or combat.

DM note – this area should be a warren of twisting and turning corridors but with two main routes, interconnected by passages. (see map)

Something like this, but of course done much better by your good self

There are no rooms until at the very far end of the area, furthest from the door to the shaft, the party come across a dimly-lit chamber, lined with columns. There are statues here as well, and a shrine or altar at its far end.

Hung over the shrine, from a hook in the wall is a shimmering golden key. As the party look at it, it seems to shift and change from one image to another.

DM note – this key is subject to an uncertainty field which means that when lifted from its hook it will unlock either Door A or Door B but not both and the door it will fit will be determined by a die roll by the DM, which is not communicated to the players.

There are two things to consider when entering this chamber. The first is the shadowy figure that lurks in the recesses of the room. It is man-sized and has waving serpentine tentacles attached to its head. Although it appears to be a medusa, it is in fact a Petrophage.

Frequency Rare
No appearing 1-3
AC 6
Move 9”
HD 5
% in lair 45%
Treasure type None
No of attacks 1
Damage per attack 1-4
Special attacks Phage spore spray
Special defences None
Magic resistance Standard
Intelligence Average
Alignment Neutral
Size M
THAC0 15
XP value 130 + 5/hp

The petrophage is to the medusa what the gas spore is to the beholder – an essentially harmless lookalike. In fact, in dark or dim environments, the petrophage is 90% likely to be taken for a medusa. However, it lives off stone, which it breaks down and digests through the use of its head tentacles. Although more or less harmless, it does have one defence which is to eject a cloud of phage spores at an attacker, which it can do once per day. The cloud is debilitating to those who breathe it in (save vs. poison or inhale it) and cripples their respiratory system for 1-12 hours, during which time their STR, CON and movement are reduced to 25%. However, at the end of this time, the victim will cough up 1-3 walnut-sized nuggets of a pumice-like material which, if dissolved in wine vinegar, will act as a one-shot potion which can restore a petrified person.

Does the party have any wine vinegar? Tsk, how very remiss of them!

Petrophages are often found near the lairs of medusas as they enjoy feeding off the petrified victims of the snake-haired ones, but they can also be found around other creatures that petrify as part of their attack.

The petrophage is nervous and will cower and skulk in the shadows, behaviour which will probably be interpreted by the party as menacing in the extreme.

In front of the shrine is a pressure pad that will move if trodden on or prodded by any party member. If they are trying to kill the petrophage, they are unlikely to realise it is there until they do tread on it. If this happens, it will seem to have no observable effect. They may conclude that it triggers a trap that has now been discharged.

Unfortunately, what it does is to open the doors to the cells where two basilisks are kept. They will emerge, hungry and irritable. There is a cell near Door A and a cell near Door B.

The party may well conclude that they are facing a medusa and, having finished off the harmless petrophage, they are now safe. They can recover the key and head back towards the door.

Should any of the party not plunge down the shaft into the lower passages, they may explore the upper passages and find little of interest. The shafts to Door A and Door B are the only methods of access from lower to upper passages. However, if the DM is feeling particularly nasty that day, there could be some kind of lever for the upper passage party to find. They may believe that this opens the doors but unfortunately, it actually triggers an elevator feature which will bring the basilisks to the upper level instead.

The basilisks are listed in the MM as having Treasure Type F. This is a medium-probability treasure type tending toward the gold and platinum end of the spectrum, with a possibility of magic items as well. It could be that the basilisks have hoarded the treasure of fallen victims since not everyone who faces them ends up petrified. Their main bite attack does respectable damage as well. If the DM decides to let them have the specified treasure type, it will be found in their cells, to which they may well drag victims that they have killed with their bite. Bones and rotting body parts may be found therein.


  1. Damn, when you said there were two doors I was hoping that opening one of them would reveal a lady and a tiger.

  2. I enjoyed reading this, a great deal. It was a lot of fun to read and I could see Tim's gaming buddies doing this. Great fun.

  3. Very well done, a really terrific series you've got going here. I can't wait until you reach "catoblepas."