"Rats!...or how one cleric almost roused the worm at worlds end..."
The basement of the Dark Chateau held many secrets, some of which our brave party were want to find. The curtain to the NE/NW held a couple clues, but a wondering Hook Horror (which almost slayed one of the Midnight Green clothed monks) started the nights gaming session in style. Then, one of the clerics in the party decided to examine the golden pentagram to the North, and decided to sprinkle some of the black salt laying on the floor. Instantly, a swarm of ravenous rats popped into being, wisps of black smoke rolling off their boil-covered, larvae encased bodies. The party was quickly covered by the small sharp-toothed vermin, and 5 (five) members of the party were diseased in the ensuing combat.
Then, they discovered not 1, but 3 serpent wrapped, silver filigree mirrors hidden in a secret alcove. 1 mirror turned out to be empty, a second contained a goblin, while the third held a elven warrior. 2 of the mirrors faced each other, while the 3rd faced outward - and the party was smart enough to use the decapitated head of the hook horror to see what would happen when its reflection was seen in all 3 mirrors at once.
Saxon, a fighter of epic mutton-eating proportion decided to solve the issue by swinging with a downward strike into the mirror holding the elf. His blade stuck in the mirror for a moment, then a fine hairline crack began to expand outward. In an instant the mirror exploded with hundreds of tiny shards, and the elf - Lorien Otolui lay at the party's feet. When the party looked back up, the mirror was once again intact.
The same tactic was used on the goblin-holding mirror, the promise being big treasure for the goblin chief's rescue. The chief kept his promise, tossing a alembic into the air and yelling catch at the same time while running away. The party has yet to fully investigate the alembic which was caught by the alchemist, Azcalaban. After solving a riddle with the crypts to the NE, each with its own color scheme, and matching votive candles - the party was rewarded with a heart shaped pendant - found in the tomb of one of the ex-owners of the chateau.
From there, one not-so-smart elf decided to take off down the southern passageway - only to come face to face with the illusion of a hydra. The 9 heads all spoke at once - warning that only family or one whom has been granted access may pass. Never has an elf turned and hightailed it back through an archway faster in the annuls of Isolde-Delta history. The chosen one (wearing pendant) was able to search the room that contained 9 alembics in a perfect circle (each with it's own color liquid) that surrounded a wooden inlaid sarcophagus.
A small niche was discovered - opened only when the stone was placed in the recess of the properly-colored alembic. In this case, a ancient magical parchment that needed to be covered with wisps of smoke from the matching color led to deciphering it - and a treasure was discovered, a word of safe passage, written on the parchment also showed in vibrant detail a cave entrance at the Mouths of Madness.
The Dark Chateau, written by Rob Kuntz is one adventure that really draws the player into the mystery. Troll Lord Games had originally published this module as part of the Castle Zagyg line, then lost the license after the passing of E. Gary Gygax. One thing that should be made clear is there are plenty of places within the module that a DM may expand descriptions, and even add in his own nuances/encounters. In my case, the single mirror with filigrees became 3, while the sarcophagus room was a perfect spot to add a hidden niche, which contained the parchment.
When last our party saw daylight, they had left the Dark Chateau, traveled North-West to the Castle of Zagyg, and found the opening that matched the gnome illusionists memories. The doors swung wide when the command word was spoken, and into the darkness they traversed.
More to come as they begin their descent into the Storeroom levels - and deeper (if they are found to be fortunate and lucky) into the Castle of the Mad Archmage's dungeon levels.