Dragon Peak: Trial Of Air (Level 3)

Trial Of Air Level Map

The stairs up from the Trial of Water end on a familiar-looking landing with white onyx inlaid in the floor spelling out "Trial Of Air" in Draconic. The archway opens onto empty air with wind whipping upward at terminal velocity. Five stones float level with the arch, free falling through an endless vista of blue sky. Each stone holds a different object: a platinum brooch, a fine dagger, a pair of stout gauntlets, a delicate hourglass, and a black wand with a tiny skull tip. Clouds fly past, sometimes discharging bolts of lightning, and blue dragons circle the stones at some distance, unleashing their lightning breath weapons across the scene. A mind flayer floats calmly above and behind the arch, not visible unless looking from within the chamber, calmly watching the scene to see what unfolds.

Inspection of the arch will uncover the words "Choose One Wisely" faintly scratched into the stone of the arch, in Common. Sticking a head into the chamber will literally take one's breath away. The lack of a ground to fall toward may cause vertigo (Wisdom save DC 14 to avoid disadvantage on all skill checks for 1 minute). Everything falls through the air so quickly, and the air pressure is so low that breathing doesn't supply sufficient oxygen. Suffocation rules apply while inside the chamber.

Moving around the chamber easily requires some way to glide or fly. Using a cloak as an improvised wing will require Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks every round for half movement. The rocks are each roughly 5 feet in diameter, just enough to stand on, but they wobble in the wind. Characters standing on the rocks must make a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (DC 13) every round or fall 5 feet in a random direction. Feel free to reward inventive thinking in dealing with both the navigation and suffocation hazards here.

Characters in the room will be subject to lightning attacks (+7 for 2d6 lightning damage, Dexterity save DC 14 for half). Theoretically the room can damage the entire party in a single round, but for practical purposes, limit attacks to one per character with a maximum of 3 attacks per round. Lightning prefers characters touching the falling rocks, and any character touching a rock suffers disadvantage on saves to reduce the room's lightning damage.

Each item has a normal-sized item resting on it. Characters will need to determine which item to claim to end the trial and suspend the illusion concealing the walls and exit door. A wrong choice will cause the character claiming the item (and any other character in the room) to pass out and drop from from the ceiling of the landing in front of the arch (taking 2d6 bludgeoning damage from the fall). Anyone watching from the arch will be knocked back from the arch for 2d6 bludgeoning damage, and land in a prone position (Strength save DC 15 to resist). The archway closes with a very solid-feeling fog for one minute before the trial resets itself.

The items appear randomly every time the trial starts, one per rock. Use of detect magic or other divination magic may reveal some clues about what each one will do. All items except the hourglass require attunement and are cursed. If the PCs seem really stuck, the mind flayer may offer an opinion. It might be intentionally wrong just to torture the party. The items are:

  • Brooch (Abjuration) - Acts as a brooch of shielding once, then will attract all missiles. The wearer suffers a -2 to armor class against ranged attacks and disadvantage on all saves involving targeted missile-like spells (use your judgement on interpreting this).
  • Dagger (Evocation) - When held, acid drips from the blade of this dagger. It appears to be a +1 dagger that causes an additional 1d6 acid damage on every hit. After its first hit, it adheres to the wielder's hand and causes 1d6 acid damage per round to the wielder (Constitution save DC 13 to resist), and its bonus drops to -1 to hit and damage.
  • Gauntlet (Transformation) - They act as gauntlets of ogre power until the wearer lifts something heavy over their head, then their strength immediately fails, crushing them with whatever they lifted. Thereafter the gauntlets are cursed and impose a -2 to Strength when worn.
  • Hourglass (Conjuration) - The sand comes from both Dragon Peak and the plane containing the dragons on the far side of the gate. It can be used as a focus for the plane shift spell in either direction.
  • Wand (Necromancy) - This wand has 7 charges and regains 1d6+1 charges every day at sunrise. It allows the wielder to cast animate dead for 1 charge per casting, but the created undead are immediately hostile to the wielder.

Choosing the hourglass and declaring "I choose this!" (or something similar) will successfully end the trial. Choosing another item will eject the party and reset the trial. The character who chose the item will find it equipped (and attuned if possible) and quite impossible to take off without a remove curse, which will cause the item to fade like an illusion. A copy of the item will reappear in the trial once it resets. Choosing multiple items simultaneously will subject each character to the cursed item they chose, but the hourglass will disappear and appear on one of the rocks when the trial resets. Each item chosen beyond the first will cause an additional 1d6 damage, so choosing all 5 items at once will cause a total of 6d6 falling and wind damage.

My original notes for this chamber:

Five stones in freefall each hold an item to investigate with “Choose One Wisely” scrawled in the floor at the chamber’s entrance. The wind howls upward in a cloudy sky as blue dragons shoot lightning across the space and a mind flayer watches. The air pressure is so low that suffocation rules apply. Items: Brooch, Dagger, Gauntlet, Hourglass, Wand.

Things that evolved during play:

  • The mind flayer may respond to telepathic contact (mine didn't). It may offer some questionable advice (mine didn't). It may be one of the representatives that will show up after solving all five trials (mine totally is).
  • One of my PCs is a psionic with psychometry. I allowed him to burn extra psi points to do a group reading quickly and get one quick mental scene for each item. Yes, I designed this trial with him in mind, but anyone who "From objects takes profound advice" will work just fine.
  • The misty step spell saved a bunch of time and Dexterity rolls, just barely allowing access to the farthest stone from the archway with a leap of faith.
  • One character has a cloak of billowing that he's been training to do more tricks (and it may gain limited sentience at some point if he keeps working with it, similar to Dr. Strange's Cloak of Levitation). I gave him advantage on Dexterity checks to fly around, but even then he kept rolling 4s and 8s.
  • I allowed the Leomund's tiny hut spell to alleviate the suffocation effect, though barely. It also nerfed the ambient lightning hazard. I figured that was worth burning a 3rd level spell slot, since a ritual casting would take 11 minutes instead of just 1, far beyond the survival limit of most PCs.

Part of T.W.Wombat's Lore 24 project, detailing the world around Fellport.
For all city posts, see the Fellport Index. For posts about the wider world, see the Beneterra Index.

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