Gloamhold: The Splintered Stair

This rarely explored sub-level connects Rivengate’s upper level to the extensive cellars buried below the Shard. Following a great, rambling fissure in the Mottled Spire’s living rock, the Splintered Stair is aptly named.

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Exploring this level is exhausting and perilous. Whereas most dungeon levels are basically horizontal, the Splintered Stair’s upper reaches stand hundred of feet above its base. The Splintered Stair’s main feature of note is a steep, time worn and pitted staircase cut into the fissure’s wall. The stair follows the natural undulatations of the rock wall and takes a circuitous, rambling course. Wide and broad at its base, other stretches are so narrow explorers must proceed cautiously in single file. In several places, the stair is entirely missing—the victim of rockfalls, collapses or collateral damage in some ancient, forgotten battle—and explorers must either turn back or employ magic or pitons and ropes to reach the next undamaged section.

At several points along the Splintered Stair lie small complexes of rooms and chambers. Previously serving as guard rooms, holding cells, waiting areas and suchlike these complexes are mostly now abandoned. Littered with bones and deep in the dust of fallen ages, they are rarely explored by adventurers these days—such folk are easily distracted by the wealth said to lie yet unclaimed in the Twilight City and its environs. This state of affairs make these isolated complexes perfect for those desirous of privacy. Renegades from the various warring factions infesting the Twilight City, along with blackhearted wizards obsessed with Gloamhold’s ancient legacy and other more dangerous, elder folk have all claimed small dominions on the Splintered Stair. For adventurers wishing to establish a camp in Gloamhold, these small complexes are attractive locales; most have but one entrance and are thus easily guarded.

For adventurers wanting to enter Gloamhold unobserved, the Splintered Stair is a good choice of route. Bypassing the watching eyes of the smugglers lurking in Rivengate and the perils of navigating the turbulent Murkwater, the Splintered Stair is relatively untravelled. Not only does it link the Shard’s cellars to Rivengate, but it is also rumoured to connect with Greystone’s subterranean tunnels through some hidden, torturous route. Some believe other routes exist linking the Splintered Stair to an isolated area in the Twisted Warrens. Believers in this route point to the occasssional appearance of derro and troglodytes on the Splintered Stair as evidence of this unknown passage.

 

Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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