There are only two entries into the Moonlight Citadel:
The Main Gate (to the north)
The Dormitory Gate (to the south, hidden in the woods)
The Main Gate is currently sealed tight, so the party must find their way to the secret entrance at The Dormitory Gate.
The Main Gate
There is no possible way to enter through this Gate. The gates are sealed tight. Your goal here is to establish the atmosphere of unrest and guide the party towards the secret entrance at The Dormitory Gate.
When the players approach the Main Gate, read the following out loud:
The people crammed against the massive, elven-steel gate of the Citadel look frantic. Women scream for children, and men shout bribes or bargains. Members of the village who try to maintain order are jostled, sometimes pinned. One loses a hat. Temporary shanties and lanes show extra use and traffic—washing doubled on lines, streets coated with horse manure, large groups of the unwashed. There are clusters of tents. Market stalls are sparse, prices laughable, and nearly every exchange has an edge of violence.
descriptive text inspired by dScryb
If the players ask around, have NPCs discuss their fears and anxieties surrounding the mysterious withdrawl of the Priesthood. You should also sprinkle hints that there may be another way in near the Dormitories.
Someone heard a wild story they heard from Gawen Wood. Gawen claims to have spotted the Emerald Gatherer (a legendary monster) wandering the forest near his house by the Dormitory.
Someone swears they spotted lights at night near the Dormitory, even though no one really lives near there other than Gawen Wood.
Someone remembers a story about a “mischievous gate” into the Citadel. They forget the details, but they think Gawen Wood who lives by the Dormitory would remember more.
The Dormitory Gate
The Dormitory Gate is long forgotten, and well concealed in the woods near Gawen Wood’s house. Young acolytes who came to the Citadel would use it as a way in and out of their dormitories when they wanted to enjoy the frivolities of youth without being discovered.
Gawen Wood can lead the party to the hidden entrance, though he will first regale the party with a story of how he personally spotted the legendary Emerald Gatherer (a hook for a different quest).
When the players make their way through the woods to the hidden entrance to the Dormitory, read the following out loud:
Hidden among the foliage is a narrow path, just wide enough to enter single-file. The trail that Gawen leads you down is claustrophobic. Tree branches and gnarled weeds catch on your clothes, and the earthy smell of the forest intensifies in your nostrils. You forge ahead regardless; when you look back, Gawen’s house is obscured by the shadow of the trees.
Eventually, the path opens up. Someone has cleared the brush and fallen branches from this area to create a small clearing. The ground slopes down into a depression beside a small ridge with exposed rock. Vines crawl along the ridge, but are noticeably missing from a section of rock near the bottom of the slope.
The Hidden Door
To reveal the door, someone has to touch the rock with their bare hand and speak these words:
“By the pale light of Sel, I find my way through darkness.”
This is a common prayer used by the Priesthood.
For a greater challenge, you can expose the players to these words during your initial adventure seeding, either through an NPC or through the physical environment they explore. It would be written on tokens, books, stonework, etc.
For a simpler challenge, Gawen Wood can simply know the phrase himself or help the party figure it out.
When they successfully open the door, read the following out loud:
You hear a hiss and a pop, and a sliver of the rock wall before you catches your eye. There is a door built into the stone, pushed ever so slightly ajar. A gentle touch and the door opens smoothly—though, what’s on the other side is concealed in thick darkness.
descriptive text inspired by dScryb
The path through the rock to the Dormitory Tower is a series of narrow, connected caves with occasional small open areas.
In the first open area, a small crack in the ceiling guides a beam of natural light onto part of the rock wall. There is a crude drawing in charcoal of the lunar phases, arranged according to the image on the right. This is the solution to the Lunar Phases Puzzle described in Part II: The Spiral Stairway.
Just past the second area are two Suppurating Oozes. These necrotic oozes are starting to populate the lower levels of the Citadel. Mad Priests transformed a few of themselves using vile magic elixirs, and the population continues to increase by way of their Seeping Death disease.
When they successfully defeat or otherwise escape the Oozes, read the following out loud:
You continue down the dark, rocky tunnel twisting this way and that. Everyone is aware of gradual upward progress, and a light source emanating from somewhere ahead. Finally, you encounter a stone door standing open. You pass through it into some sort of antechamber with a staircase leading up.
The staircase leads to a massive central hall - some sort of common area for acolytes. At the center of the room stands a prominent dias in front of a miraculous spiral staircase made of bright polished stone.
The markings along the floor of the hall are evidence of countless gatherings within its walls, from festival meals to times of great celebration, ceremonies and lessons. Along the rear wall of the hall, a gallery stands above behind a rail, for minstrels to fill the hall with sonorous sounds aided by the acoustics of its vaulted ceiling.
At this moment, the hall stands utterly still and silent–the songs of those past minstrels at past celebrations nothing but a pale memory.
Back to Quest Overview
Continue to Part II: The Spiral Stairway