The Tomb of Thorvald Skaalslammer

For 4 or more heroes

By Chris Aylott


Type: Cushion Encounter

Hook: The Underground


About the author:

Chris Aylott is a co-owner of the Space-Crime Continuum (, a bookstore where people play Rune a lot. He is also the author of Crouching Wizard, SMASHING HAMMER!, an encounter sequence to be published by Atlas Games in August 2001.


Event #1: Tomb Doom

For the last hour or two, the ground has been shaking beneath you, and you’ve had to dodge rocks the size of your head. Up on the surface, a volcano is probably giving some villagers a tough time. So you’re not too surprised when the tunnel you’ve been following turns out to be blocked by a recent rock fall.

After some searching, you find a new crack in the rock and follow it downwards into a cavern. There’s a promising exit on the far side – and something else. A carved stone door lies in front of you, decorated with leaping fish, wolves, and mighty runes of protection and warning.

Gain – Who’s Buried in Thorvald’s Tomb?

The heroes may make a Runes roll to decipher the writing on the tomb.

Freestanding roll, Singular: No-Fault; roll Runes vs. Difficulty 6 to read the following message:

Closer Inspection: “Here lies Thorvald Skaalslammer, gold giver and god friend, ship sailor and wolf slayer.  A thousand terrors will beset those who trifle with his body.”

Points Earned: -10 (Freestanding roll, Difficulty 6)

As you puzzle over the words, the ground begins to shake again. Look out – this is a big one!


Trap – Watch for Falling Rocks

Gigantic rocks begin falling all over the cavern, and the heroes must run to and fro trying to dodge them.

Standard roll; roll Dodge vs. Difficulty 11, failed heroes suffer Dam rating 25

Points Spent: 50 (Difficulty 11); 35 (Dam rating 25)

The dust clears, and you see that the exit to the cavern has collapsed. On the other hand, the big stone door has been broken open. It looks like your only way out is through whatever is in that tomb.



Event #2: Unwelcome Visitors

You creep into the tomb. The air smells stale, but a small light glows in the first chamber. There seems to be some kind of shrine on the far wall.

Before you can get closer to see what it is, a gigantic voice booms out, “WHO DARES INVADE THE TOMB OF THORVALD SKAALSLAMMER, BELOVED OF THOR!”

Trap – Get out the Spare Breeches

The heroes must make a Bravery roll or flee the tomb screaming like outlanders. The voice speaks only once, so the heroes are safe when they dare to return.

Standard roll; roll Bravery vs. Difficulty 12, all heroes must apply their Divine Connection to Thor as an increase to the difficulty of the roll, any hero who fails subtracts 20 from his victory point tally.

Points Spent: 60 (Difficulty 12); 25 (In Defiance of the Gods, Thor); 20 (-20 victory points)

Narration: As you peer around the chamber, you see polished stone walls and an elaborate floor mosaic. You also see a Shrine to Thor glowing faintly on the far wall. What you don’t see is an exit.

Gain – Healing Opportunity

There’s no rush here – the Vikings can take as long as they like to heal.

Points Earned: -30 (Healing Opportunity, no limit)

Gain – Shrine to Thor

This is a fairly ordinary Shrine to Thor. If the characters examine the shrine, they will find a Category A Treasure and the entrance to the next passage hidden behind it.

Points Earned: -25 (Shrine to Thor); -10 (Category A Treasure)


Event #3: Step Lively, Now!

This passage is dark, narrow and cold. As you straggle forward, shivering a little, there is a soft but distinct “click” beneath one of your boots.

One of you has just armed a trap, which will probably go off when you move. Who’s standing on certain death? And why did it suddenly get colder in here?

Trap – You’ll Catch Your Death, You Know

The passage is dangerously cold. To avoid damage, each pillager must succeed at a Stamina roll for each combat round that she remains in the passage. It takes one round of movement to leave the passage, whether the heroes go forward or back.

Due to the fire and ice trap below, it is important the heroes specify what order they are moving in during any combat round. Disputes over who moves first can be resolved with an engagement roll.

Standard roll; roll Stamina vs. Difficulty 10, heroes who fail suffer escalating damage of Dam rating 4 until they leave the passage.

Points spent: 40 (Difficulty 10); 20 (Exotic roll, Stamina); 25 (Dam rating 4, escalating damage)

Trap – Fire and Ice

One of the pillagers – determine randomly which one – is standing on a trigger. As soon as the hero moves off the trigger, a fiery explosion will roar through the passage.

It is possible to disable the mechanism by jamming the trigger, but any mistake will set off the trap. The heroes must know which foot the trap is under before attempting to disarm it.

Once the trap is set off or jammed, neither it nor the chilly passage poses any further danger to the party. The pillagers may continue to the burial chamber.

Standard, conditionally avoidable roll; roll Dodge vs. Difficulty 10, failed heroes suffer Dam rating 15. Alternate method: Singular: Rush roll, roll Traps vs. Difficulty 8

Points spent: 40 (Dodge Difficulty 10); 15  (Dam Rating 15); 20 (Traps Difficulty 7)

Points Earned: -15 (Conditionally avoidable: Don’t be in the passage, First Exposure Only), -10 (one Alternate Method)

Gain – Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?

There are two ways for the party to determine who is standing on the trigger. Each Viking can take a couple of steps – if the room doesn’t blow up, then that Viking isn’t standing on the trigger!

Some parties may prefer a less dangerous method of finding out. Each Viking may spend a combat round making a Freestanding Awareness roll to determine whether or not she feels the slight pressure of the trigger under the sole of one of her boots.

Singular: Freestanding roll; roll Awareness vs. Difficulty 6, each hero that succeeds learns whether or not he is standing on the trigger mechanism

Points Earned: -10 (Freestanding roll, Difficulty 6)

Event #4: The Burial Chamber

The passage finally opens out again. You’ve reached Thorvald’s burial chamber, and it is magnificent. A longship has been carved out of the rock, and a stone casket rests on its deck. Scattered around the longship are statues of animals that Thorvald must have hunted. There are bears, wolves, harp seals, and even a couple of small dragons.

The chamber has suffered some damage from the earthquakes. There’s a crack in the far wall that you can use to escape from the tomb. Getting there may be a problem, though.

Two brightly glowing broadswords are suspended above the casket. As you look at them, a voice shouts, “GRAVE ROBBERS! WE KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THE LIKES OF YOU!”

A stone wall slides down over the entrance to the passage behind you. Then the swords fly at you and attack!

Event 4 Combat Opponents: Magic Swords

These magical broadswords move like lightning, and are determined to cut the pillagers to pieces. Their threat value is set for a party of six, but they can be downgraded for smaller parties. They do not use missiles, and are not crafty.

Once the swords are reduced to zero hit points, they simply fall to the ground. They may be pillaged as normal for additional weapons or armor. Just you never mind that this makes no sense.

Slice and Dice, the Magic Broadswords

Type: Magic Sword

Mix: 0

Move: 15

Threat Category: Exceptional

Adjusts: INIT +6, ATK +2, DFN –3, Soak –3, Res +6


Points Spent: 0

The Combat Map – Text Description

The chamber is 30 paces by 30 paces. The characters enter on the east side, and the crack in the wall is on the west side. A pile of rubble covering an area of 6 paces long and 3 paces wide is near the crack.

The longship is about 18 paces long and 6 paces wide, oriented north-south. The platform it rests on is 12 paces square, which means the ship hangs a few feet over the edge of the platform on each end. The casket rests at the center of the ship, which is placed at the center of the room.

Terrain – Limited Exits

The crack on the far wall is a limited exit, and only one hero per round can escape through it.

Points Earned: -20 (Limited Exit)

Terrain – Multiple Levels

The stone ship and the platform it rests upon are two additional levels. The pile of rubble near the far side of the map is another level.

Points Earned: -15 (3 additional levels)

Terrain – Barriers

There are 15 statues of animals scattered around the main floor of the cavern. Each statue constitutes a barrier.

Points Earned: -12 (4 barriers count for points at 3 points each)

Gain – Treasure

If the characters search the casket, they find 8 silver, 2 Category B Treasures, 1 Category E Treasure, and 1 Category F Treasure. They have a choice – they may take the treasure, or they may choose to honor Thorvald’s tomb and leave it behind.

Gain – Honoring the Dead

If the characters choose to leave Thorvald’s treasures untouched, they gain a mutual award of 20 victory points.

Points Earned: -20 (20 victory points)

“The Tomb of Thorvald” Cost Table

Watch for Falling Rocks
Who’s Buried in Thorvald’s Tomb?
Get out the Spare Breeches
Healing Opportunity
You’ll Catch Your Death, You Know
Shrine to Thor
Fire and Ice
Avoid: Fire and Ice
Alternate Method: Fire and Ice
Category A Treasure
Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?
Terrain: Limited Exit
Terrain: Multiple Levels
Terrain: Barriers
Treasure: 8 Silver
2 Category B Treasures
1 Category E Treasure
1 Category F Treasure
Honoring the Dead
Total Points Spent:
Total Points Earned:


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