You’ll be able to explore this area, more or less, along the way to your destination. From Tuskdale, heed the following directions:
- East (cross the river)
- East (to empty node north of the Bridge Over the Gudrin River area)
You’ll find yourself in a proper interior structure clearly constructed by beings of intelligence. From the western edge of this barrow (where you entered) make your way into an empty room to the northeast, unnoteworthy save for the soot-covered pillar [Perception 21] within. Turn down a tunnel to the southeast and loot an empty basin on the wall before the stairs to score a Token of the Dryad.
Bandits in the Barrow
Continue down some stairs to the southeast to reach another chamber, where some ne’er-do-wells can be found casually looting the body of their employer. If you pick the dialogue option “Who are you and what are you doing here?”, you’ll learn their poorly-veiled version of the story, laced with blunt innuendo and open threats. Depending on which allies you have (and hence, how they respond afterward) they might pick a fight on your behalf after the bandits get done talking. If you say “Forget this, I’m leaving.” you’ll ensure you end the conversation without anybody picking a fight.
Alternatively, you can succeed at an [Intimidate 22] check to chase the bandits off. If you ended the conversation without a fight, you’ll be able to respond with a [Diplomacy 28] check ([Neutral Evil]) as well, and if you say “What is this place?” you’ll also get access to a [Bluff 22] check. If you want to kill them, but you want more control over the battle before picking a fight, you can always just say “Forget this. I’m leaving.”, then spell buff and arrange your party however you wish before talking to the Bandit Leader again and starting a fight. Honestly, however, they’re probably not strong enough to warrant serious consideration.
Kill them if you wish, then loot the leader for a Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds and Scroll of Haste. On the body of their benefactor you’ll find a Torn Book and a Melted Shard of a Ring.
Note the door to the northeast, which is also sealed. No way of getting it open, but fortunately if you look at the eastern corner of the room you’ll find a blue diamond pattern on the floor. Examine it and you’ll open another door to the southeast. Tread carefully, however, as there’s a trap [Perception 25] [Trickery 25] just beyond the door.
Continue southwest to reach another chamber, in the center of which is a free-standing pillar. Find [Perception 25] and disarm [Trickery 25] another trap just northeast of the pillar, then investigate the pillar and pass a [Knowledge (World) 22] check to interpret the designs as depicting some cyclops building a tomb. Quite a feat considering their likely ah, impaired, depth perception.
Continue northeast to reach yet another chamber, this one housing a proper sarcophagus and everything. That’s not all you’ll find here, however, as there’s a trap [Perception 25] [Trickery 25] in the southern corner of the room, along with several containers near the sarcophagus. The ones to the southeast freely yield their treasures, including a Potion of Cat’s Grace, a Potion of Eagle’s Splendor, two Scrolls of Bless and a variety of other, minor treasures. The northwestern one, however, is trapped [Perception 22] [Trickery 22] and contains a Scroll of Haste, a Potion of Enlarge Person, a Scroll of Cure Light Wounds a Potion of Shield of Faith and some baubles.
Finally turn your attention to the sarcophagus itself, which will give you a variety of checks when you interact with it. A [Knowledge (World) 28] check that’ll provide more lore about an “ancient cyclopean empire” capable and willing to brutally suppress humankind. A [Perception 28] check will allow you to notice that the lid has been moved recently, while a [Perception 22] check reveals that somebody has been here recently. Finish up by passing an [Athletics 22] check to provoke several Skeleton Champions into attacking. They’re not the threats they used to be, just send your squishy characters to the southeast to keep them out of combat, as two spawn to the northwest, while three arrive from the southwest.
Explore the Southern Crypt
With that, you’re done exploring this tomb, right? Well… not quite. Backtrack southwest, then northwest to the room where you fought (or scared off) the bandits. Along the way, keep your eye out for a hidden [Perception 20] compartment in the hallway linking the aforementioned bandit room and the room with the cyclopean pillar in it. If you find it, loot it for a Scroll of Haste, two Potions of Shield of Faith, a Scroll of Cure Light Wounds, a Potion of Enlarge Person, a Scroll of Bless and a Potion of Cure Light Wounds.
Back in the bandit chamber you’ll notice that things have… changed since your last visit. The door back to the beginning of the tomb is now sealed, but two new doors have opened to the southwest. A more immediate concern, however, are the trio of Skeleton Champions and the Skeleton Champion Archer that now guard this chamber.
Put these undead down, then head through the southern of the doors to the southwest, turning southeast down some stairs. At the bottom of these stairs you’ll find another trap [Perception 25] [Trickery 25], beyond which a second trap with identical traps can be found in the center of a small chamber, surrounding a floor rune.
Disarm the traps, then loot a sarcophagus to the northeast, and another to the southeast, both of which will yield a Ancient Scrap of Script-Covered Leather. If you’re perceptive enough you’ll also notice a hidden floor tile [Perception 22] which is locked [Trickery 20]. Pass these two checks, however, and you’ll leave richer one Scroll of Scorching Ray, one Scroll of Hold Person, one Scroll of Acid Arrow, one Scroll of Cure Light Wounds, and one Potion of Shield of Faith. For the last bit of loot, plunder a container northwest of the floor tile to secure a Scroll of Cure Light Wounds, a Scroll of Fireball and a Scroll of Bless. Finally, interact with the floor rune to disturb the slumber of four Skeleton Champions. Put them down, then leave the chamber and return to where you encountered the bandits earlier. It’s time to explore the northern of the two passages to the southwest.
Explore the Southern Crypt
As you make your way through the northern of the two doors to the southwest, you’ll find another development waiting for you in the hallway beyond - a Ferocious Skeleton Champion. Its stats aren’t nearly high enough to be truly threatening - not alone, at least - but you should still be wary of its higher HP and superior offensive capacity. It’ll be joined in combat by a Skeleton Champion Archer, who will merrily shoot at you from beyond the fog of war to the west.
Exorcise the undead, then proceed into another chamber with a floor rune surrounded by a trap [Perception 25] [Trickery 25]. There’s also a second pillar in here you can notice with a successful [Perception 25] check, this one showing signs of acid damage. Loot two containers to the north to find a suit of Chainmail +2 and a cache of 364 GP, then spot [Perception 25] a hidden floor tile, which will open a secret door to the northwest. Beyond this secret door you’ll find another two containers, one of which holds a pair of Potion of Enlarge Person, a Potion of Scroll of Faith, two Scrolls of Cure Light Wounds, a Scroll of Bless a Scroll of Scorching Ray and some other, minor treasures. The other container holds a Belt of Mighty Constitution +4.
Now that the area has been well and truly plundered, make your way back to the larger chamber to the southeast and interact with the rune in the middle to open the previously-sealed door along the northeastern end of the bandit chamber.
Golem Guardians of the Dead
Return back to the bandit chamber, along the way hopefully noticing another secret [Perception 22] wall panel that hides a Scroll of Cure Light Wounds, two Scrolls of Bless, a Scroll of Scorching Ray, a Potion of Shield of Faith, a Potion of Enlarge Person and a Potion of Owl’s Wisdom.
Beyond the newly-opened door you’ll be immediately met with a pair of traps [Perception 25] [Trickery 25] beyond which you’ll find a Skeleton Champion and three Skeleton Champion Archers guarding a rare fork in the path. Punish the undead for not respecting the boundaries of mortality, then turn down the southeastern fork, heading up some stairs at the top of which waits yet another trap [Perception 25] [Trickery 25].
An even more dire threat awaits in a chamber beyond these stairs, wherein you’ll find two Ancient Golems. These Clay Golems have DR 10/adamantine and bludgeoning (there’s no way you’re bypassing this right now) and decent - but not insurmountable - Armor Classes. While their HP are only moderate, their other defenses are enough to keep them in the fight longer than you’d like. They’ll also start out by using Haste on themselves. They can’t be Slowed, so you’ll just have to counter with a Haste of your own and focus on other means of improving your survivability, such as Stoneskin, Bless, Prayer, Blur and Shield of Faith.
On top of all this, Clay Golems have the ability to inflict Cursed Wounds, which do not heal naturally and can only be healed magically if the caster succeeds at a DC 26 Caster Level check. While you can save/load through this nuisance when you’re not in combat, it’s still a complication you don’t need. That being the case, making use of summon spells here to draw the attention of the Golems may be a better idea than just hoping you don’t take any hits, especially since a cure for this affliction is out of the means of a reasonably-leveled party at this point in the game. Worse comes to worse, you can just ignore these Golems and their room - they’re not guarding anything terribly valuable, nor is this diversion required to complete this dungeon.
Deal with the golems if you can, then loot them for a variety of gems, unfortunately mostly low-quality ones. Oh well. Turn your attention to more mundane dangers, like a trap [Perception 25] [Trickery 25] to the northeast. After that’s been disarmed, search a bas-relief to the northwest and pass a [Knowledge (Arcana) 28] check to decipher its depiction of ancient cyclopean magical might. Finally, loot a container to the north to score a Potion of Shield of Faith and a Potion of Owl’s Wisdom.
With the Golem Guardians defeated, you can turn your attention to the stone pillars in the centre of the room. The central pillar is just for show, but the four pillars surrounding it are part of an optional elemental puzzle. Each pillar represents a specific element, which can be used to deactivate it. Note that the northernmost (fire) pillar has no swirling magic above it. This is because it has already been deactivated.
The remaining pillars are as follows (see below for image representation):
- Northeastern (Electricity)
- Southern (Frost)
- Southwestern (Acid)
To deactivate each pillar, you will need to use a spell or device which emits the relevant element. This can come in the form of basic spells such as Jolt, Ray of Frost, and Acid Splash. If you don’t have a spellcaster who has access to these spells, you can also purchase the scroll equivalents and aim them at the respective pillars. Once all pillars have been deactivated, the door to the northeast will open, providing access to some rather underwhelming loot.
Battle: Greater Skeletal Champion Berserker
When you’re done in the golem chamber, return northwest to the fork and head down the previously neglected path to the northwest. As you go, keep an eye out for a hidden wall panel [Perception 22], inside of which you’ll find a Potion of Blur, a Potion of Shield of Faith, a Scroll of Cure Light Wounds and a variety of gold and gems. Loot this hidden cache, then follow the passage ahead north, then northwest, stopping to disarm another trap [Perception 25] [Trickery 25] before you reach another door. Interact with a glowing square on the floor to open the door, then pass on through.
Tread carefully, as there’s no fewer than two traps [Perception 25] [Trickery 25] immediately past the door. Other than the traps, there’s little to see in here, so turn southwest to find another trap [Perception 25] [Trickery 25] waiting for you at the entrance to another, larger room.
Disarm the trap, make sure you’re healed up as much as possible, then spell-buff your tank and send them into the room alone. As you pass near the center of the chamber a variety of foes will pop up, including a Greater Skeletal Champion Berserker. Unlike the Ferocious Skeleton Champion you faced earlier, this foe is a significant threat on its own, having a high enough Attack bonus to threaten your tanks even when spell-buffed, a high supply of HP and a good Armor Class.
Haste and Slow will make this fight much easier, but keep in mind that the Greater Skeletal Champion Berserker will not remain alone for long, being joined by three Skeletal Champions and three Ferocious Skeletal Champion Archers, two of which will spawn behind you to the northeast. Despite the trouble this might put your archers and mages in, don’t give into the temptation to divert focus away from the Greater Skeletal Champion Berserker, whether that means holding a warrior back in anticipation of these archers or delaying your Slow spell to include some of the other skeletal champions. The Greater Skeletal Champion Berserker is the key threat and deserves all your attention, just consider moving your archers and mages to the southwestern end of the larger room when the lesser skeletal champions appear to keep them out of trouble.
When your foes are all smote, grab the weapons the lesser skeletal champions carried (if you’ve still got a mind for the slow accumulation of wealth via the sale of mundane weaponry). The Greater Skeletal Champion Berserker will be somewhat more generous, yielding a Frost Greatsword +1 and a suit of Full Plate Mail armor.
Fortunately, you’re nowhere near done gathering loot, as this area is filthy with containers to plunder. Two containers along the northeastern end of the chamber are filled with low-level scrolls, potions and the odd gem and handful of gold. The containers along the western end of the chamber are more lucrative, but may prove trickier to get into. The northernmost container is both trapped [Perception 22] [Trickery 22] and locked [Trickery 22], which is more protection than its contents - low level scrolls, potions, and a bit of gold - demands.
Finally, turn your attention to the westernmost containers and unlock the square one [Trickery 28] to find the Greataxe Second Execution, a Greataxe +1 that gives a +3 Attack bonus and deals 2d6 extra damage against undead. Would have been nice to have earlier. If you have Amiri using Trollreaper, equipping Second Execution alongside it is a fine idea. Just switch it out whenever you encounter pesky deaders that need a… Second Execution. The round container nearby may not be locked, but that doesn’t stop it from holding a Ring of Luck and a Taldan Stirrup, another set of items your antiquarian would love to take a gander at.
Pillage the room for all its considerable treasures, then investigate a pillar in the middle of the chamber and pass a [Knowledge (World) 25] check to piece together this place’s story. With that, you’re finally done in this wretched barrow, just head up the stairs to the southwest to return to the chamber you first arrived in, from which you can easily access the exit.