Beating Bloody Bones Beasts
Head down the stairs to the northwest to reach the first room in the second level, where you’ll find three Spectres waiting. If you have Death Ward prepared, now’s a good time to apply it, then send your warriors on ahead to lure the Spectres to you. They’re rather spread out, but try to get them to come after you, then cut them down one at a time. Banish them, then search a chest in the northern corner of the room where you’ll find treasures including 363 GP.
A passage to the northeast beckons, but another diversion awaits. If your Perception is up to the task, you can spot [Perception 35] a secret door along the northwestern wall. Behind this wall you’ll find a group of unusual foes, including a Bloody Bones Beast, a Greater Skeletal Champion and a Greater Earth Elemental. The former is your biggest threat, having a high Attack Bonus, a high Armor Class, Damage Reduction and a hefty supply of HP. While it’s the critter to watch out for, the Greater Earth Elemental will complicate matters by attempting to use Sunder Armor on you, and without their armor, your warriors are going to get chewed up by the Bloody Bones Beast… not that it likely will have much trouble hitting them, anyways. By comparison, the Greater Skeletal Champion is just a minor nuisance.
Spellbuff considerably, as you have no business tangling with these foes without Stoneskin, Haste and Greater Invisibility (or some other form of concealment). Anything that boosts your Attack or damage (like Bless, Prayer, or Bull’s Strength) will also help tip the odds in your favor. It’s also worth noting that the Bloody Bones Beast doesn’t have Spell Resistance, so while its stats are similar to the Devourer’s, it’s far more receptive to magic damage, be it a humble Magic Missile Spell or a Heal spell cast with ill-intent. Focus on the Bloody Bones Beast first, perhaps using summons to clog things up and distract your other opponents, then cut down the Greater Earth Elemental.
Should you emerge victorious, loot the Bloody Bones Beast for a Belt of Giant Strength +4, then plunder two chests in the room for less notable treasures.
You should now notice a hallway to the northeast, which really just allows you to bypass an encounter to the northeast of the first room of this floor. All things considered, going through this secret door is probably easier than the alternative.
If you want to double up on experience and clear both rooms, or if you can’t find the secret door due to a low Perception score, head northeast from the first room you entered into. If you were hoping to avoid a fight between Bloody Bones Beasts… well, you’re not in luck, as another one awaits in this room, and it’s not alone. In this case it’s accompanied by two Skeletal Champion Berserkers and two Spectres, making this another fight you’ll want to spellbuff for.
You can make this fight somewhat easier by casting Web in the middle of the room (amazing how this spell is still so useful, eh?) which should at least slow down a few of the enemies. There’s no chance it’ll slow down the Bloody Bones Beast, but that just mean you can lure it away from its allies and hopefully cut it down alone. If you want more protection, retreat into the room to the southwest to fight the Bloody Bones Beast and summon some pets in the hallway to the northeast to delay reinforcements even further.
Defeat these foes and loot the Bloody Bones Beast for a Kellid Tribal Fetish and a Belt of Giant Strength +4. Once done, loot two chests (including a hidden chest [Perception 35]), then venture into the room to the northwest.
Trial by Pain
However you reach this room - either by going northeast from the secret room with the Bloody Bones Beast or northwest from the not-so-secret room with the Blood Bones Beast - when you enter you’ll be greeted with another Illustrated Book Event.
This is a somewhat odd Illustrated Book Event in that there’s no ideal "route" by which to resolve it. You have three plates you need to depress, and each one promises a different sort of elemental pain for attempting it. The first plate (top three options) will deal cold damage, the second panel (options 4-6) will deal electrical damage, while the third panel (option 7-9) will deal fire damage.
You have three ways of dealing with each panel: pass a [Mobility 25] check to push the panel while mitigating the damage you take, pass a [Trickery 35] check to press the panel without taking any damage, or throw all caution to the wind and punch the panel as hard as you can. In the third event, you have to pick a character who ostensibly performs a [Strength] check… but the result doesn’t seem to matter. You’ll take significant damage by doing this, but you’ll guarantee progress. As with the previous trial, you have to complete the entire thing in one go. Stopping mid-way will reset the panels.
The ideal solution is to pass all three [Trickery 35] checks, as it results in the least damage and most experience - over 10,000 experience, in fact. If you want extra insurance against the damage, you can use spells like Protection from Energy and/or Resist Energy. Yes, with the proper spell preparations you can grit your teeth and punch your way through this trial gracelessly without suffering too much, making it far more generous than the last one. This isn’t the only elemental trial in this dungeon, however, so you may want to try a more sophisticated approach, first.
Before you advance, be sure to loot the room for two chests, including a hidden [Perception 35] check in the northern corner.
Elemental Fury Trap
Venture down a hallway to the northwest until you find another tunnel running to the southwest. Don’t be cavalier about running down this new tunnel, however, as it houses some of the nastiest traps you’ve seen this game, including Lightning Bolt and Burning Hands traps. Simply put, any character running down that hallways unprotected is going to get obliterated.
There are two ways through the hellish section of the dungeon, but one requirement is clear: you’ll need to cast two different instances of Resist Energy and Protection from Energy, one to resist fire damage, and one for electrical damage. With this protection, you should make it through each section more or less alive, albeit possibly needing some spot-healing (potions will help greatly here). Prayer might also help to boost your Saving Throws and hence reduce damage - every little bit helps, after all.
First, let’s assume the worst and go through the trapped area in the least efficient way. Pick the character with the highest Reflex Save - specially if they have Evasion - (the traps have a DC of 20) and protect them with the aforementioned spells and send them up the tunnel to the southwest, hopefully enduring the traps until they reach a fork. At this fork, turn southeast to find a brazier that can be interacted with. Be sure to heal up if necessary, and when you’re ready to move on and endure more punishment, activate the brazier.
After activating the brazier, immediately head down the hallway to the northwest until you reach a wall. Keep an eye on this wall, because it’ll lower eventually, and when it does you’ll need to pass through quickly. It’s timed, but on a delay. Once you’re through, continue down the hallway beyond to the northwest, but stay clear of the fork ahead of you. At this intersection is a multi-Fireball trap that’ll spew Fireballs in a cone. It does have a dormant period, however, so watch it to get used to the pattern, and when the last Fireball shoots, run across to the northwest to find a second brazier.
Heal if necessary, loot a grate near the brazier to score a Kellid Tribal Fetish, and when you’re ready, hit this brazier. Same rules as before, it’s on a delay, and it’s timed, so you’ll need to get to your destination, wait for the wall to lower, and when it does, pass through quickly. The wall influenced by this brazier is down the unexplored branch (northeastern hallway) of the Fireball trap intersection. Head down that hallway, and when you reach the northeastern end of the hallway wait for the door to the northwest to lower. Unfortunately, there’s another multi-Fireball trap at the end of this tunnel, which you’ll just have to weather. Once the wall lowers and you cross the threshold the traps will mercifully disarm, allowing you to safely bring the rest of your characters through.
As for the option route, if you’ve got an insanely high Perception skill (and a bit of luck) you may find a secret door [Perception 40] along the northwestern wall of the first trap-bellowing tunnel. This secret door opens up to the northeastern end of the multi-Fireball tunnel, hence allowing you to bypass the Lightning Bolt/Burning Hands tunnel entirely. In this case, just protect yourself from fire, wait for an opportune time to head down the tunnel to the southwest, hit the brazier, then move the rest of your party (who should have been left behind, between the secret door and the northeastern multi-Fireball trap) go through the wall the brazier lowers when possible. There’s still plenty of danger involved, but it’s a much shorter route.
Either way, consider looting the bodies of some less fortunate barbarians at the southwestern end of the Lightning Bolt/Burning Hands hallway. One of them yields an Ancient Kellid Sword Shard, and there’s other trinkets to be had as well.
Fire Elemental Secret Chamber
Once you’re past the elemental traps, take some time to heal up, if necessary. When you’re ready, continue venturing northwest until the path turns northeast. At this bend you may also find [Perception 35] a secret door to the southwest. Beyond this secret door you’ll find a small chamber occupied by a Greater Fire Elemental, a Spectre and a Greater Skeletal Champion. None of these foes should be terribly concerning compared to what you’ve faced thus far, so cut them down and loot two chests in the chamber (one of which is hidden [Perception 35]).
Spectres and Skeletons
When you’re done with (or if you can’t find) the secret chamber, head down the hallway to the northeast to reach a chamber occupied by two Spectres (still got that Death Ward active?) and two Greater Skeletal Champions. Put them down, then loot two crates to the northwest to find a Kellid Tribal Fetish as well as a hidden [Perception 35] check in the eastern corner.
Two hallways lead off from this room, one to the northeast and one to the southeast. Both loop around to connect eventually, so it doesn’t really matter which one you take, but the northeastern route is arguably easier, if your Perception is up to the task of finding secret routes. If you want to explore everything and get as much experience as possible, the northeastern route is still ideal, being longer and leaving you in a more advantageous position to deal with one encounter, at least.
With that decided, let’s go northeast first. You’ll reach another room of surprisingly weak deaders, including three Greater Skeletal Champions and a Spectre. Smite them, then loot a chest in the northern corner of the room. While not full of any terribly interesting treasure, you can find a secret door [Perception 35] along the southeastern wall. If you can’t find it, never fear - you’ll be able to reach this room by less skill-intensive means, although there’s more fighting involved.
The Golem Chamber
This secret door leads to a large, statue-lined chamber with a single guardian to the southeast - an Iron Golem. With a high Armor Class and Attack Bonus, it’s another foe that calls for some buffs to gain an edge over. Its Armor Class may not be as high as the Devourers you’ve encountered thus far, but it makes up for it with a deep Hit Point pool and Damage Reduction. Unless you brought an adamantine weapon to the fray, expect to lose fifteen damage per hit. It’s also outright immune to most forms of magic, so keep your casters in the business of spellbuffing your characters and healing.
Defeat the golem and loot some chests (one hidden [Trickery 35]) in the eastern corner of the chamber. The unhidden chest contains an Ancient Kellid Clothing Bag while the hidden one will bestow upon you a pair of Manticore Skin Boots. These wonderful boots will bestow upon their wearer a +10 bonus to Speed and a +4 bonus to Natural Armor, making them absolutely wonderful items to put on whatever warrior you want to get into the fight first. Another hidden chest [Perception 35] can be found in the southern corner of the chamber, but this one’s contents really don’t justify the trouble it is to spot.
If you want to continue deeper into the dungeon, continue southeast past where the golem stood guard. On the other hand, there’s still chambers to explore to the northeast and southwest, which will be covered first.
Korgath’s Shackled Fury
Assuming you want to explore this part of the dungeon more thoroughly (or if you couldn’t spot the secret door to the golem chamber) head northeast from the second chamber full of skeletons and spectres. Continue northeast down a hallway until the passage turns southeast. At this junction you’ll find another secret door [Perception 35] to the northeast. No enemies await within, but you’ll find a trap in the center of the chamber. Disarm it and loot a chest to find Korgath’s Shackled Fury, which gives its wearer +6 Strength, +5 to Intimidate checks and a -3 penalty to Diplomacy checks. The wearer can also Rage for eight rounds per day, but its use is limited to Lawful characters… which makes Valerie a prime recipient.
Northeastern Cleric Chamber
From the aforementioned secret room head down a hallway to the southeast to find another chamber, which is just northeast of the golem chamber. In this room you’ll find a Greater Skeletal Champion and two Spectres, but they’re merely distractions for the Cleric of Gorum along the southeastern end of the chamber.
If left to their own devices, this Cleric will summon some pets, cast multiple rounds of Hold Person before casting some spellbuffs and finally wading into combat. You’ll do yourself a favor by rushing this Cleric and cutting them down before they can get up to too much mischief, a feat which is easier to achieve when approaching from the golem chamber to the southwest. After the Cleric, the Spectres are the next most dangerous foe, but if you have Death Ward on your warriors, you should be able to safely ignore them and charge the Cleric. Just keep your ranged characters back so they don’t draw any attention to themselves.
After the room is cleared, loot a grate [Perception 9] behind a pillar to the northeast to score a Skymetal Cogwheel. Now make your way southwest through the golem room and clear it out if you haven’t already (see the section under the head "The Golem Room" above for more detail on this) then continue down a hallway to the southwest to reach another chamber.
Southwestern Cleric Chamber
In this chamber you’ll find another Cleric of Gorum, this time guarded by four Greater Skeletal Champions. As with the previous room, he’ll cast similar spells, meaning he’s the target of interest in this chamber, while the Greater Skeletal Champions are just distractions. You might be even more inclined to rush this Cleric, since there aren’t any Spectres around, but be wary, as the Cleric of Gorum stands on a tramp. If you’re attacking from the golem chamber (northeast) you should be safe enough, but if you’re attacking from the northwest you may need to show more restraint.
For clearing out this room you’ll find a single chest in the southern corner, which contains little of especial interest. Now that the areas around the golem chamber have been cleared, return to the golem chamber and head down the previously unexplored passage to the southeast.
Southeast of the Sarcophagi Chamber
In the chamber southeast of the golem chamber you’ll find four sarcophagi, two passages leading deeper into the tomb (one to the northeast and one to the southeast), and a grate in the western corner of the room containing a Leather Scrap Covered in Ancient Runes.
Now turn your attention to the two hallways leading out of the sarcophagi room. In the southeastern passage you’ll find a trap, which you should disarm. Once that’s done, move your party into the hallway connecting the sarcophagi room and the golem chamber, and send your fastest character into the room to the southeast of the sarcophagi chamber. In this chamber you’ll find three Greater Skeletal Champions and a Spectre, which aren’t so rough of a fight, but there’s complications to this particular battle.
A fourth Greater Skeletal Champion lurks further back, and if you venture too far into the room this archer skeleton may be joined by another pair of Greater Skeletal Champions and a Spectre, in effect making two groups of these undead. Worse still, two Spectres will spawn in the room northeast of the sarcophagi room and make their way through the sarcophagi room and into the room to the southeast of the sarcophagi room, which can cause havoc if you’re engaged with the aforementioned undead.
Hence why you left your party in the passage you were told to. Provoke the undead in the room southeast of the sarcophagi room, then retreat back to the rest of your party and engage the undead in the narrow hallway. This way you can at least protect your ranged characters, and better yet, you can avoid getting flanked by the two Spectres who will show up eventually. In fact, these oblivious undead may run right past you! Once all the undead that pursue you are smote, enter the room to the southeast of the sarcophagi room and finish off any stragglers.
Air Elemental Secret Chamber
From the sarcophagi room, head down a hallway to the southwest until the hallway bends to the southeast. Examine the northwestern wall at this bend and, with any luck you’ll find a secret door [Perception 35]. Behind this secret door you’ll find a chamber occupied by a Greater Air Elemental, two Spectres and a Greater Skeletal Undead. The Greater Air Elemental has the highest Armor Class of the elementals you’ve fought in here, but otherwise it’s not a terribly noteworthy foe. If you have Death Ward still active, this should be little more than a standard slug-fest, which you should win with enough spellbuffs.
Defeat your foes, then loot a chest to find Leather Scrap Covered in Ancient Runes and Executioner, a Heavy Mace +2 with the "Human Bane" property, which causes it to act as a +4 weapon and dealing 2d6 extra damage against its target foe.
Warpainted Skull of Duthica
From the bend in the hallway outside the Air Elemental Secret Chamber head southeast to find another chamber. This one is thankfully devoid of opposition, just be wary of one trap in the room. Disarm it, then loot two chests, one of which is hidden [Perception 35] to find a Warpainted Skull of Duthica. This helmet allows its wearer to Rage as if they were a barbarian, and also summon two Barbarian Spirits to aid them in combat for up to twenty rounds per day. It can only be worn by characters with 15 Strength or more, which shouldn’t exclude any of your warriors. At the very least it’s useful as a source of fodder you can summon. Finally, before you leave loot a pile of skulls to find another Leather Scrap Covered in Ancient Runes.
Northeast of the Sarcophagi Chamber
Return to the sarcophagi chamber and from there head up the previously unexplored hallway to the northeast. In the chamber beyond you’ll find four Greater Skeletal Champions, although if you were hoping to head off the Spectres that spawn up here… well, they don’t appear until you head into the southeastern chamber. Kill the undead, loot a chest, then head down a hallway to the southeast.
In the next chamber you’ll find some troublesome opposition, including two Spectres, a Greater Skeletal Champion, a Bloody Bones Beast and a Cleric of Gorum. Ignoring the Bloody Bones Beast to target the Cleric is just folly at this point. Your old friend Web may just come in handy again here, as your foes have pathetically low Reflex Saves. Target the spell towards the center of the room, making sure the edge of the spell covers the entrance of the hallway you’re in, then retreat back to the northwest. If you’re lucky, the Bloody Bones Beast may be the only creature that’s capable of chasing you, which should allow a properly spell-buffed party to cut it down. Once it’s gone, deal with the stragglers as they break free, but don’t be afraid to take potshots at the afflicted enemies should the opportunity arise.
Crush your enemies and loot the Bloody Bones Beast for another Belt of Giant Strength +4, then search a chest for… well, mostly junk.
With that treasure apprehended, head down a hallway to the southeast and follow it when it bends southwest into a small chamber. In this chamber you’ll find a hidden chest to the northwest [Perception 35] out of which you can pluck the Cloak of the Bear, which grants its wearer a +4 bonus to Saving Throws and a +4 bonus to Combat Maneuver Defense. You can also loot a sack in the room, which is somewhat less generous.
Before heading on up the stairs to the southeast, inspect a point of interest to note that the barbarians you’re chasing set up camp here… perhaps resting up for a fight ahead? You should take the suggestion and get some rest yourself, although there’s no reason you can’t head back out to the world map to preserve your rations. When you’re ready to continue on, ascend the stairs.