H2: Thunderspire Labyrinth has been the best adventure so far for my group. I loved the Seven-Pillared Hall, its characters, the labyrinth that surrounded it, and the clash of cultures it suggested. This said, the adventure itself does require some tweaking.
"Lost in the Labyrinth" will be a short series of columns about improving the adventure. I'm going to take a closer look at some of the NPCs, examine the Seven-Pillared Hall in more detail, maybe even have a go at suggesting an alternate plot arc for the adventure.
We'll see what happens.
COMPANION CHARACTER: TERRLEN DARKSEEKER
Nobody knows Saruun Khel better than Terrlen Darkseeker. For decades, this hard-faced hunter has earned his keep as a guide, leading caravans down to Silvershield hold, to the dark city of the Grimmerzhul, or anywhere between. His prices may be steep, but he's renowned. Those who travel beyond the safety of the Seven-Pillared Hall are always advised to speak to him first.
For 200 gold, Darkseeker can lead the PCs anywhere within the Labyrinth – even fight
alongside them. In keeping with the Companion Character rules from Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Emporium, he should be controlled by one of the players during combat. Outside of combat, he remains under DM control.
Good luck getting more from him than business, though. Darkseeker comes across as a cold soul, always on edge, with a fire in his eyes. Before hiring him, players must swear to obey his rules: be silent, be alert, and never stray from his path. Defy him, and they’ll quickly find themselves alone in the dark...
Those who follow Darkseeker risk more than they know. Two years ago, while exploring one of the labyrinth's many lost vaults, the hunter was subjected to a terrible curse. Darkseeker didn't know what had happened at first: all he knew is that for days afterwards he would awaken with blood on his hands, and hazy memories of violence. Now, at last, he understands.
Whenever Darkseeker ventures too close to the chamber, or the full moon shines upon the land above, he transforms into a frenzied werewolf (use the stat block from the Monster Vault). Over time, he's learned to control the curse as best he can, even exploit it. The turnskin venom that poisons his bolts is in fact his own saliva, and when he wishes, he can even force his own transformation. If he knows he's going to change beyond his will, Darkseeker wraps himself in silver chains until the fever has passed.
To uncover the curse, PCs may hear one too many stories about caravans lost in his care, or witness him surreptitiously licking his bolt-heads. He may refuse to work on the full moon, or refuse to venture anywhere near the chamber that cursed him. At worse, he may even transform in their presence.
If they prise the truth from him, Darkseeker will beg the PCs for help (see Echoes of Thunderspire Labyrinth, from Dungeon 156). Succeed in lifting the curse, and they'll have earned an ally for life.