The "Dwarven" Quest for the Rod of Seven Parts: a Summary
This background summary is adapted from the first and last modules in the R7-10 series, and recounts the exploits of successful PCs through the challenges and encounters of R7-10. The PCs start with one part of the Rod of Seven Parts, and recover one part per round of the tourney (if successful; each tourney round presumes that the players have succeeded, and resets each PC hp, magic items, etc., based on success in the previous round).
R7-10 Adventures Summary
R7 is broken down into two separate modules, "Igex Pass/The Fiery Fortress" (used for the opening round) and "Thor's Fountain" (for the semi-final round). The first is a tactical exercise of combat and knowing when to run away (I think it would be a perfect “culling the herd” opening round!), the second a dungeon round, set in a pretty cool dungeon, with a lot of vertical elements to challenge the players.
R8 Yog's Dessert is the second episode of "The 'Dwarven' Quest for the Rod of Seven Parts", and consists of a large castle with 3 dungeon levels, 2 main castle levels, and a 10-level tower. Fun stuff!
R9 Tinker's Canyon is the third episode of "The 'Dwarven' Quest for the Rod of Seven Parts", and was broken down into two separate rounds, "Tinker's Canyon" and "Tinker's Canyon Part II". Part 1 concludes with battling a family of red dragons, while part 2 is a wilderness journey and the exploration of some caves that transition directly to R10.
R10 Air Plane! is the fourth and final episode of "The 'Dwarven' Quest for the Rod of Seven Parts", and is set in the Elemental Plane of Air (not the 1970s Airplane series of films, fortunately).
The town of Cleft nestles at the foot of the Great Cliff – an impressive mile-high formation of unknown origin. Atop the Cliff is the Lost Plateau, a prehistoric area with thousands of lakes, dinosaurs, and dangers. Khartoun is the only known town on the entire Plateau, and is little more than a huddling place for barbarians to practice their primitive ways.
Thought once a small human settlement in some caves, the town of Cleft has been overrun by hundreds of dwarves (due to an odd chain of circumstances too lengthy to explain here). Cleft is now a 24-hour “boom town”, a roaring mélange of dwarven revels. It is there that our adventure begins
The dwarf Balandor once found a Rod. Not just any Rod, however; the
wand-sized metal stick that he stubbornly kept, despite the warnings
of friends, was the first piece of the fabled Rod of Seven Parts, a long-lost
The noted dwarven Cleric/Fighter Kurin was the first to be recruited. His experience with magic (rare among dwarves) drew him to the adventure; his sense of History, strong within many dwarves, seemed to tell him that an Epic contribution to Dwarven Lore might result from the trek with this Balandor.Player Objectives: Gain each portion of the Rod of Seven Parts. Keep all party members alive through the process. Return to Home Base. Demonstrate your abilities at (a) role playing, (b) knowledge of the system rules, and (c) cooperation.
To make a long story short, the group of 5 excited dwarves and one grump human mage set off on their journey, along with 288 other dwarves as observers (stimulating many rude comments form Maynard, like “two gross for wards”). They found the Secret Stair leading from the Caves of Cleft up to the Lost Plateau; they crossed the plains and slew many dinosaurs, leaving the Trail of Bones (which is there to this day); and they finally arrived, weeks later, in Khartoun (having lost 63 dwarves in the process).
The 255 “extras” were easily dumped, and the party of six continued quietly on, heading north from Khartoun (as the Rod indicated). They had become fairly good at avoiding dinosaurs.
Amid the lakes they found a small mountain ruled by a Brass Dragon by the name of Aristotle Igex. He had made apartments of the mountain caves, and the party rented a duplex for 5 (plus separate rooms for Maynard) as their base of operations.
The group rested, re-equipped and continued north (module R7). In Igex Pass they were set upon by fearsome creatures, and narrowly escaped with their lives. Upon trudging on into the Old North Desert, they found a tower of flame rising upward from a round stone building; after fighting their way through opponents in the dungeon below it, they found the second part of the Rod being used to power a sort of generator, holding open a Gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire.
Upon returning to Khartoun, they found that their dwarven comrades had departed in search of adventure, and that the town had reverted to its usual barbaric ways. The dwarves left in such haste that a sizeable bill was left unpaid, for damages and so forth; it took some quick thinking and a display of magical power to convince the town guardsmen that THESE dwarves were not involved. The party departed quickly.
The third part of the Rod was discovered in the limestone caves beneath Thor’s Fountain, a large geyser at the southwest corner of the Plateau. There were a few near-calamitous experiences as the group maneuvered about in the rounded, narrow corridors, fighting their way through all manner of monsters to finally confront the strange Guardian of the Rod; but all survived to return to Home base once again, back at Ari’s apartments.
The Rod’s fourth part was found to phase in and out, disappearing each day from a sinister island in “Yog’s Dessert”, the lake by Khartoun (module R8). Though the great dangers therein (including hobgoblins, flinds, ogre magi, and their terrible leaders) nearly cost everyone’s lives, a daring raid on the black Tower resulted in success.
The fifth part was found to be in the huge Tinker’s Canyon, a rift located at the bottom of the southern cliff of the Lost Plateau. The party found their missing comrades finishing their self-appointed task of carving a stairway down, and descending thereby to the base of Thor’s Falls (the overflow from the Fountain). After passing behind the falls through a small series of caves, they proceeded down into the mist along a narrow Trail. After a minor ambush and a strange meeting with an unknown being, the party found themselves looking down at the scorched cave entrance to an obvious dragon lair, wherein the next part of the Rod was kept. The next morning saw an incredible battle, which the party survived only due to a Cube of Force given them by the unknown being on the Trail.
The sixth part was, luckily, also in the Canyon. taking the only reasonable route and following the river’s course, the group met a group of cavemen; after some negotiations and hospitality, they arranged to be flown to their destination by some friends of the savages, a group of Giant Eagles. Though expensive, it was an easy trip, and they were warmly greeted by another tribe of cavemen. A cave dungeon nearby seemed to house the next part of the Rod. The terrain was too shaky to dig through, so into the caves they went.
You have coped with the dangers of the three-level cave dungeon, and (wisely avoiding a nasty maze) proceeded to a corridor leading to your destination. The very columns lining the hall came alive when the doors were touched, and a fierce battle ensued; after defeating the strange guardian maidens who sprang from the columns, you opened the door to find a lone figure with a metal staff. It was soon found to be a very dangerous Flesh Golem, desperately clinging to its electrical recharger. Finally knocking it loose, you slew it and broke open the metal staff to gain the Sixth Part of the Rod.
As soon as the Rod was touched, however, a strange mist appeared, engulfing each character. Each of you has remained isolated by the gray fog for about a turn. The players began R10 in mid-adventure, depleted in spells and items, damaged, battle-weary, and confused, and in the middle of their arrival to the Elemental Plane of Air.
R10 concludes the players facing a series of encounters with aerial creatures, a trip to a donut-shaped city of djinn. The vizier of that city owns the final piece of the Rod, and he will freely grant it to the players if they will defeat the lich Tlazeel that has been plaguing the city. A complicated series of encounters result in the PCs trying to capture a noble djinni to use their three wishes to avoid fighting the lich, but Tlazeel has been spying on the PCs and uses a wish of his own to change the effect of their final wish (to go home from the Elemental Plane of Air), to confront them. Battle ensues, winner take all.
What summary of R7-10 could fail to mention the Rod itself? Certainly not mine :D There have been a few different versions of this artifact published, and I recommend reading up on them at your leisure (in particular, see Skip Williams’ “A History of the Rod of Seven Parts” in Dragon 224/December 1995) . Frank’s Ro7P could also be useful for keeping Age of Worms 3.x players on their toes, since some pieces of the Rod appear in that campaign…. The version Frank Mentzer wrote for R10 differs from all of the previous and subsequent versions, so here it is in all of its glory, for comparison:
All effects are cumulative. If anyone (including wielder) attempts to disassemble th e Rod, he or she must save vs. Death with a -5 penalty to the roll; if failed, instant death occurs.
COMPLETED ROD effects
R7-10 The "Dwarven" Quest for the Rod of Seven Parts, written by Frank Mentzer for RPGA tournaments ran stating in 1982:
Role Playing Game Association Bulletin, written by Frank Mentzer in Dragon Magazine 65 (September 1982), p 31.