Dungeon Crawl Classics #32: The Golden Palace of Zahadran (OGL) PDF

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An adventure for character levels 14–16.

While investigating rumors of a dangerous blue dragon wreaking havoc in the deep desert, the heroes tumble under the sands into the magically sealed dome of an ancient palace. The temporarily weakened dome reseals above them, and they are left to explore the golden palace of Zahadran, once seat of power for the legendary Caliph Ardishir the Magnificent. But the dome is weak because it has been assaulted by the mythical storm demon Azi Dahaka and his trapped minions, evil creatures that were sealed under the magical dome to keep them from ravaging an unsuspecting world. To escape from the golden palace, the heroes must defeat Azi Dahaka and his minions, uncover long-buried arcane secrets, and close a gateway to the otherworld!

  • A "city in a bottle" adventure where the heroes must use their wits and swords to escape
  • A Persian theme that adds exotic flavor to a classic adventure
  • Six new monsters keep the players on their toes

Writer: Greg Oppedisano
Cover Artist: Michael Edwards
Interior Artists: Jason Edwards, Cliff Kurowski
Cartographer: Jeremy Simmons
48 pages

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An RPG Resource Review


This is a high-level adventure involving the exploits of a party that is poking around a desert investigating the depredations of a blue dragon when the sand collapses under their feet depositing them into a long-buried palace. There's plenty to explore as they try to find their way back out.

It's all a dastardly plot, of course and all is explained for the DM in the introductory notes. Whether or not the party will ever find who took them for suckers is another matter... The DM is also provided with a list of monsters, scaling information, and some ideas on how to get the party involved in the adventure. Pick whichever seems most appropriate to the party you have, and run with it.

This adventure is billed as a classic variation on the 'exploration that leads to an unfolding history, which leads to rising action, which leads to the epic confrontation that saves or dooms the day' module... so no high stakes there. By the end the party ought to feel a true sense of accomplishment, or be plunged into despair and wondering where to hide as the case might be. There's a lot of background to set everything into context, and you'll have to decide what and how you want to share information with the party. Have fun, it literally goes back to the dawn of time (and is useful for mining for the ancient history of your campaign world if you haven't got much yet).

Depending on the way you get the party involved, there are different starting points for the adventure; but whichever you use eventually they are out in the desert getting that sinking feeling as the ground gives way beneath their feet and deposits them into the wonders below. As they prowl the halls there are plenty of opportunities to reveal bits of the backstory through artwork - complete with pictures to hand to your players to show them what their characters see - and other snippets. Sometimes the party will have to make appropriate checks to obtain the information, other bits are more clear to anyone who looks. There's plenty to look at as they explore, and some really unusual beings to fight, not to mention traps to avoid and puzzles to solve... and then there are the twisty little passages UNDER the palace.

The actual exploration is entertaining in itself, then add in trying to get back out while preventing ancient evils from coming with you and you have an adventure that verges on the epic.

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