Death Heart (also known as Arduin Dungeon Number Four) was a standalone short story and gaming module written in 1980 by David A. Hargrave and published by Grimoire Games. It was the last of Hargrave’s officially released dungeon modules before his death in 1988 and was an extension of his Arduin Multiverse, which at the time of Death Heart’s publication was known as The Arduin Trilogy.
At twenty-four pages, Death Heart contained overland maps, regional descriptions, a short story, and historical overviews. The package also contained a set of sixteen unique creature and treasure cards, which could be detached and used in-game. There were also unique new traps in a matrix at the rear of the module.
From the Death Heart liner notes: “What turns a verdant green garden into lands black as death? Where once pristine lakes and silver spire towers sparkled in bright sunlight, now lies pitch and rubble, swallowed by the inky depths of a bleak waters. Deep, heaving sighs are heard throughout the trees as the tainted land murmurs a haunting pulse. Four entrances lead down into a hidden maze below the ruins. Above each portal, an enigmatic quote bellows a silent challenge to the world; its staunch call remains unanswered. Treasures and mysteries lie bound and locked within its dark realms. Dare you seek the mysteries of Death Heart?”
Death Heart was originally published by Grimoire Games and went out of print in 1984. In 2002 reprints of Death Heart were made available from Emperor's Choice Games and Miniatures, but were discontinued in August 2006. Since then, the company folded Death Heart and all other Arduin dungeon modules into a single publication called “Vaults of the Weaver.”
Death Heart concerns the story of Ardaemus. Hundreds of years ago, he was the most powerful of all known wizards, so powerful that kings and even dragons bowed before his might.
Ardaemus became obsessed with his studies and disappeared for a very long time. Years later he would appear in various cities and towns and always it was the same: He wanted to find “love.” What was this love that so many talked about? He was told it was impossible to find love that way and after a lengthy search he finally decided love was a lie and trick used by the weak minded.
Ardaemus retired to his tower, which was built on the small island of a beautiful remote lake in the middle of the greenest and most vivid forest in the realm. Hundreds of years later a party of adventurers was commissioned to go and find the vanished Ardaemus. After a long journey they found the forest where he lived but it was now swamps and decay. The beautiful lake was now inky black and the “tower that once rose to the stars” was only rubble.
Many died on their journey to the island and when they got there they found this inscription above each ruined entrance to the tower: “To gain my knowledge and treasure, brave men must need only to bring love into my heart of death.” — Ardaemus of the Silver Flame
This module was considered to be a certain doom for characters under level 5. Even higher level characters are quickly killed in this scenario. There were obvious references to H. P. Lovecraft in this module which is especially clear in the creature “Horragus.”
- Caliban: Arduin Dungeon Number One
- The Howling Tower: Arduin Dungeon Number Two
- The Citadel of Thunder: Arduin Dungeon Number Three
- ↑ Tome of Treasures :: View topic - Death Heart (1980)
- ↑ Emperors Choice Games and Miniatures Corp. - Vaults of the Weaver
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