Warning! May contain spoilers if you are playing the Sunless Citadel module from the Tales of the Yawning Portal book.

We are playing this module and the party is still level 1 (cleric, paladin, barbarian, wizard and rogue).

In one of the early areas (26), there is a locked door which can only be opened with the knock spell or with an effect that turns Undead. As described, I don't think that thieves' tools would do it.

How can the PCs open this door at level 1? Should they come back later when they are level 2?

I am also interested in how this was in the original version of the module.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the door (not the lock) indestructible? Doesn't the book say: "given enough time, the PC can break down almost any barrier..." (or something to that effect). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 14:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ True, it is a stone door, so it can probably be destroyed somehow. Good advice ! \$\endgroup\$
    – Yotus
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 7:25

3 Answers 3


Spoilers ahead

There is a room further into the campaign that has a caged gnome acolyte (Erky) who has access to the turn undead feature, who offers to join the party. Alternatively there is a Scroll of Knock on the alter by the Kobold Queen which you could steal, or take as a reward for getting the dragon back. Finally as I see you have a cleric, you can return at a higher level and use channel divinity to turn undead.

Source: Currently DMing this campaign

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a really good answer, thank you ! I read the information about the further areas when I started the module, but I missed these two, thank you ! \$\endgroup\$
    – Yotus
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 7:35

The PCs are supposed to level up throughout the Citadel

They might not be able to open the door at level 1 if they find it at the earliest possible state - but they can open the door once they cleared some other parts of the Citadel. Basically they can open it on their way back out if they want to do it.

Using this as a hook if your PCs ignore it or don't have the required abilities (yet)

You can of course also use this door as a little hook for getting the PCs to return at a later time, especially if they choose not to check the door on their way out or simply forget about the special door they couldn't open in the beginning. This is in line with the adventure providing you with

two entrances to the Underdark - one on the upper level and one on the lower level. These are explicitly not fleshed out so that you may use them at a later time if you choose to do so.

How you do this is up to you and your imagination. For example you might choose to:

hide these entrances in some way, or block them and use a special quest item found in the parts that follow the door you mentioned that acts as a special magical key. Or you could let NPCs tell your players some lore about what awaits them past this door. These are just two quick examples - the adventure provides you with opportunities to make this a location your PCs want to revisit at a later time if that's in line with what you want for your campaign. Imagine you wouldn't have anyone in your party who could turn undead or use the Knock spell on level 2 - they wouldn't have a chance to open the door. But maybe an NPC is willing to help them in exchange for some loot and in need of an escort. Or some noble is willing to pay handsomely for information and evidence of what lies in these corners of the citadel because of some old story his father and his grandfather told him when he was a child. Endless possibilities...


If it is the one with the Sarcophagus at the end then there is a key that they may aquire later on in the Dungeon. Rather from combat or scratching the backs of one of the NPC's.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is not the one, it is the sanctuary area, containing 5 sarcophagi \$\endgroup\$
    – Yotus
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 10:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's been a couple weeks since I looked at the first floor in detail. \$\endgroup\$
    – Twiggy
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 10:54

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