Deadly Dungeons 9: Staircase of Hunger

Stairway of HungerSomewhere, perhaps beneath the false bottom of a mysterious sarcophagus, the adventurers discover a twisting staircase. It’s width of 7ft would seem safe, if not for the dizzying drop to the ground below, and the complete lack of a railing. The steps are broad, and wind lazily around the edge of the massive cylindrical chamber. The outside edge of the staircase, where it drops off into open air, has become strangely worn. The stone slopes downward sharply, almost as though the stone had been eroded by decades of flowing water. The rest of the stairs show no sign of such wear, only the edge.

In the center of the chamber is a tall pillar which rises roughly half as high as the staircase does. Atop the pillar is a statue of a man, twice life sized. He is depicted as emaciated, starving, and in great pain. His arms are spread wide as if beseeching the gods to end his suffering, and his head is tilted back in a silent, eternal moan. At his feet is a stone feast: a roast bird, a cask of wine, numerous styles of fruit and fish which are so masterfully carved that they actually look appetizing. Like the stairway, the outside edge of the pillar is worn around the edges, sloping sharply down in a way which appears as though it might be erosion.

If the players position themselves on the stairs so they can look within the statue’s mouth, they will be able to see a glint of gold. Closer inspection will reveal that the statue has a tongue of gold within its mouth.

If an amount of gold equal to at least one gold piece is placed within the statues mouth, it will immediately melt and fuse with the golden tongue. When this happens, a click will be heard from the stone bird. If the players pull on the roast bird’s leg after they feed the statue, they will find that it twists off, revealing the fowl to be hollow. Within are are twenty brilliantly green emeralds, each worth no less than 50 gold pieces.

Unfortunately, the tasks of feeding the starving statue and reaching its pillar, are not so simple. The room is under a strange enchantment. With the exception of the stairs and the pillar of the starving statue, the chamber is affected by ten times the normal force of gravity. Any item tossed or held over the edge of the stairs will suddenly become ten times heavier, and any character who falls from the stairs will suffer damage as though they had fallen ten times further than they had. (ex. In Pathfinder every 10ft fallen results in 1d6 damage, thus in this room, 10ft fallen would result in 10d6 damage). Note that the floor at the base of the chamber is not affected by this enchantment, and characters can walk on the floor there normally.

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5 thoughts on “Deadly Dungeons 9: Staircase of Hunger”

  1. This has me tempted to run an LS-esqué dungeon in a Pathfinder game. It’s nice, and a very interesting way to give treasure.

    1. Glad you like it, this is easily one of my favorite posts from recently.

      I’d be immensely curious to know how you define LS-esque.

      1. I’d just find a way to combine all the single-room Deadly Dungeons into one dungeon. Maybe throw in some beetlefolk (can’t remember their real name right now). It would fit very well in Osirion (Golarion Egypt).

  2. Gah, this is pretty awesome! (and pretty deadly, but that falls under awesome as well!)

    I think I’d open it with someone kicking a loose stone off by accident, which plummets sharply into the ground below WAY faster/harder than it otherwise would have. Heck, this seems almost as if it might have religious significance in-game, perhaps it’s a statue of a long forgotten pilgrim who thought to fast talk his way through the trials of some godling or another and was punished for his hubris.

    The gold tongue gives it a Midas Touch-like vibe, as well. I wonder how my players would circumvent it and, if they ‘cheated’ the pilgrim, would they inherit his curse? Which of course turns the cursed slowly (painfully) into a statue, leaving nothing but their hungry mind trapped within, the hunger only abating for a short time when gold is placed upon their tongue.

    Or, y’know, the PCs will just fall to their deaths.

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