Liminal Spaces are areas filled with flavor and intrigue that GMs can slot into their games to provide interesting backdrops for their PCs to pass through. Each Liminal Space presents new area features, unique aspects, and random encounters that GMs can use to fill the gaps in their prepared sessions.
As you crest the piles of debris and ruin, the air turns suddenly frigid, and the narrow route that you took through the ancient rubble opens into an immense chamber. Against the far wall, sitting on a massive austere throne, are the remains of a king. His giant’s frame, nothing more than bones and dust in the cruel aftermath of time’s passing, is still cloaked in his warrior’s garb. A sword sits at his side, a crown on his head, and a swirling white flame fills the cavity of his empty chest and illuminates his skeletal face with a sickly white glow.
Themes: Horror, haunted spaces, ancient past, unknown catastrophe, giants
Atmosphere: Musty air, dank cold, giants’ remains, whispering winds, echoing chambers
What is now referred to by passing dungeoneers and scrabbling underfolk as The Chamber of the Frostfire King was once the throne room of the warrior monarch Mearisgar. The sovereign of a grand civilization of giants that ruled the mountains above, no one is sure what drove the king and his people deep into the earth or what force put an end to their empire above, but what is clear is that whatever magics sealed his fate remain present in his final resting place. That is if whatever forces contributed to his fall allow him any form of rest.
The throne room that remains accessible to journeymen exploring worlds below is ice cold and filled with an ever-present breeze that seems to carry the whispers of a long-forgotten language on its chilling eddies. Shadows move through the dusty hall of their own accord, most far larger than any that could belong to explorers braving the chamber, and torchlight seems dulled and muted in the space. The corpse of Mearisgar sits atop his throne, an icy white flame swirling in his great chest and generating the endless cold that fills his audience room. Some say the flame is what ended his life and has since kept his bones from turning to the same dust as his peoples’. Others say that the frostfire has kept the king’s soul bound to this world, ready to defend an ancient treasure against those who would steal from his coffers. All agree that to touch the frostfire itself is to suffer a fate just as terrible as the king’s.
The Chamber of the Frostfire King is a sprawling throne room whose exits have long since been buried under crumbling rock and soil, leaving it to be the only area of the fortress explorable by adventurers. Given its great size and the supernatural forces that cling to the area, there are still many interesting features contained within this liminal space.
The Barred Oubliette
On the floor in the center of the room, under layers of grit and sediment, lies a massive brass plate. The surface of this dimpled slab is covered in esoteric runes and each of its sides has been secured to the surrounding stone with a curious number of large iron bolts. The sound of howling winds can be heard from somewhere far beneath the cover, which vibrates and hums when touched by living hands.
The Golden Harp
In the minstrel’s gallery, where groups of attendants would have once played for the pleasure of the gathered court, a giant, golden harp stands alone. Covered in dust and the grime of ages, its unearthly beauty still shines through as a testament to the masterful hands that crafted it long ago and its gilded strings are still taut and ready to play their haunting melody to soothe the king.
The Lord’s Trophies
Near a colossal marble pillar adjacent to the Throne is a heaping pile of bones. Humanoids of all sizes and types make up the grim collection, some as aged as the king himself and others fresh enough that bits of flesh and hair still cling to their grinning skulls. Torchlight glints off of the weapons, armor, and jewels that still remain on their owners’ bones as though begging to be brought back into the world of the light and the living.
The Silver Mirror
At the opposite end of the room, lying against the fallen wall and detritus that would have once contained the great doors to the chamber, is a towering silver mirror. Its ornate frame is composed of a collection of contorted and grimacing faces—some celestial, some demonic—and the spiderweb of cracks across its still-shining surface turn reflections and shadows into skewed multitudes.
Dominating the center of the chamber, this stone seat still commands the same power and respect that its owner’s living presence and position once required from those seeking an audience—and which still feels expected despite his current state. Excellently crafted but lacking any of the ornamentations of more ostentatious courts, the only adornment on this throne is the word “Mearisgar” carved deeply above the seated corpse’s head.
No matter what wonders or terrors may be discovered or encountered within The Chamber of the Frostfire King, nothing can compare to the vortex of ice and fire that forever burns in his chest.
A whirlpool of pure arcane magic that lies where the beating heart of Mearisgar was torn free, it is believed by some to be the source of all supernatural activity in the chamber.
Any creature that comes within 15 feet of the Frostfire Heart must make a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, they take 2d6 cold damage, 2d6 force damage, and their speed is reduced by 10 feet until they complete a short rest. On a success, they take half as much damage and their speed is not reduced.
A table of creatures, NPCs, or strange scenarios that can be randomly encountered in this liminal space.
The Chamber of the Frostfire King Encounters
|1||A traveling adventurer (use the deep gnome stat block) from the Underlands is searching the ruins for a legendary book of magic that was rumored to be a part of the Frostfire King’s ancient trove.|
|2||3d8 skeletons arise from The Lord’s Trophies and attack the party.|
|3||The party feels a sudden and severe drop in temperature and air pressure that causes their ears to pop and their heads to swim. Immediately and at the end of each hour for the next 8 hours while in The Chamber of the Frostfire King, creatures must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or gain one level of exhaustion.|
|4||1d4 hostile will-o’-wisps materialize around The Golden Harp.|
|5||The Frostfire Heart flares, affecting all creatures within 100 feet of The Throne.|
|6||2d4 howling specters emerge from beneath The Sealed Oubliette.|
|7||A friendly awakened slimeling is oozing around the chamber attempting to find its way out. If asked, it explains to the party that something in the chamber is making it impossible to “see” as it normally does, so it’s been trapped here for days.|
|8||1d6 doppelgangers slip through the cracks of The Silver Mirror and begin to stalk the party.|
|9||A wintery gale tears through The Chamber of the Frostfire King, leaving a coating of snow and ice in its path. For the next 24 hours, the entire area is considered difficult terrain.|
|10||The Frostfire King (use the frost giant stat block), his rest once again disturbed, rises from The Throne to destroy the party.|
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