Getting to Gristlegrim
Over the centuries many parties of intrepid adventurers have made their way to Gristlegrim's place, some of them involuntarily. Less than 1 in 5 of them have managed to come back, alive and sometimes wealthy. They brought back many strange stories about the place.
The god-wizard Gristlegrim
No one knows how old or how powerful the Dwarvish god-wizard Gristlegrim is, but his name has been shrouded with legends for thousands of years. Some say he fought in the great wizard wars of prehistory. Some say he started them. He has always been famed for his bizarre sense of humor and his lack of patience with ditherers. His wealth, in the huge dungeon complex, in terms of both treasure and magic artifacts, is beyond calculation. Nor is he ungenerous, although he certainly believes that delvers should earn the loot they hope to carry away. Brave (or cowardly) adventurers of any class or Kindred or character level are invited to enter Gristlegrim and try their luck.
The Gristlegrim dungeon is a gigantic floating cube of stone. It can be found anywhere at the whim of Gristlegrim, the god-wizard who controls it. However, it generally floats about a mile in the sky above a desert three days ride southeast of Khosht. It is not a particularly harsh desert, or a hot one, but vegetation is scant, and more often than not, poisonous. A few wandering tribes of Uruks are known to live in the area, and they sometimes come to Khosht on business, but generally the area is uninhabited.
When adventurers arrive at Gristlegrim, they see a gigantic cube floating in the sky about a mile above the ground. The walls are gray, but each is emblazoned with a G rune in bright green. At night, those runes can be seen glowing like beacons above Trollworld.
Below the dungeon is a mobile temple to the Dwarf god. It is made of wagons and tents. If Gristlegrim moves, the Dwarves who worship him will also move. Through this temple, delvers gain access to the dungeon in the sky.
There are seven priests in the temple, and usually a couple of hundred dwarven warriors lurking in the vicinity. These run various businesses, like a stable to take care of horses and other mounts that delvers use to arrive. There is a weapon shop, and a place to buy provisions, and a tent where people can watch the adventures of delvers inside Gristlegrim in real time. For a small fee.
When the delvers are ready to enter Gristlegrim they must enter the main temple tent and speak to the seven priests. They will each say something instructional.
"Enter with our blessings, and prepare for the adventure of your young life," says the High Priest in a growly voice, or maybe he's the Low Priest. He is the shortest of the Dwarves, though he has the fanciest robe.
"Let us tell you a few things that you may need to know," says the second shortest Dwarf. "Gristlegrim is a Dwarf. He likes to bargain. You may have to give things in order to gain things inside the Gristlegrim Dungeon. Gold is always good."
"Gristlegrim is a trickster," says the third priest. "What seems to be guarded may not be. What seems to be free for the taking may have the most ferocious guardian."
"Or maybe not," says the fourth.
"The way in is not always the way out," says the fifth priest. "It usually isn't. Forget about the idea of retracing your steps. Once you enter you will need to find a magical exit."
"Gristlegrim hates laggards," says the sixth priest. "If you try to remain in a room in order to rest up, the god will send a random monster after you once every ten minutes."
"And this is most important," warns the seventh priest. "If you think you are going to die, you will have one chance to save your life. You must cry out, 'O Great Gristlegrim, God of Dwarves, I take you as my savior and offer you my service forever.' If you make this prayer, and you have acquitted yourself well in Gristlegrim's Dungeon, the god may take mercy on you and save you. If he does, there will almost certainly be a great price to pay. Once you have made the declaration, you no longer control your own fate-it will be as the god wishes. (Note to the G.M.: this is really a great opportunity to have some fun with your players. Transform them into Dwarves. Make them sing a silly song for everyone. Let your imagination fly with this.)
"Knowing all this," says the High Priest, "you may now back out and none will ever think the less of you." He waits for your decision.
The Final Step
Players never back out, so it's now up to you to find some way to get them into Gristlegrim. You can insert them anywhere, but I like to put them on the first (and highest) level, and tell them that the exit is on level six.
- There is a Dwarven aviator who will take delvers up to the top of Gristlegrim in his hot air balloon for 100 gold pieces each.
- There is a wizard who will teleport the delvers to the entrance on the roof for 200 gold pieces each.
- There is a rope ladder dangling from the roof of Gristlegrim to the ground. It flutters in the wind, and in order to climb it successfully, the delver must make 100 consecutive L1SRs on STR. If he misses at any time, he loses his grip, and takes damage equal to the number of the roll he was trying to make times 1D6-that is, if he rolls a 3 and fails the saving roll on his 43rd try, he would 43D6 damage when hitting the ground. Ouch!
- Wizards with the ability to fly may take themselves to the top of Gristlegrim.
It doesn't really matter, except for local color, how they get to the first room in Gristlegrim-just get them there, and let the adventure begin.