The group has been contacted by a local merchant, Brea Castswallow, who is worried about his twin daughters. The local lord has shown a disturbing amount of interest in the young ladies. The girls just turned 14 and their parents feel it would be much safer if the children were sent to stay with their Uncle and Aunt up in Tricaster. Uncle Ref Castswallow and his wife Koh live in a large home inside the protective walls of the small community.
Phlandish is a large community (Pop: 820). A busy community that revels in industry and commerce. They’re a crossroads town, and much of their business relies on that trade. Count Merleche is a cruel and greedy man who demands hard taxes. Rumour has it that he plucks attractive or interesting people from his communities and sells them into slavery.
- Brea Castswallow owns the local Beer Company (Calamity Beers & Ales). He’s successful, but crushing taxes have left him scrambling. The Count has been to his establishment twice in the last month, and while he claims it is just to sample the beer, Brea feels as if there is something more insidious to his visits.
- Brea will have the meeting in his brewery. It is large, loud and hard to be spied upon.
Brea wants the party to escort his daughters to Tricaster, roughly two full days of travel. The Uncle of the girls is expecting them to arrive within three days.
- The girls’ names are Zarra, Suzo. They are fraternal twins. Both are tall and lean, Zarra has long brown hair, while Suzo has midnight black hair cut to shoulder length.
- The girl’s nanny, Dee Hista, will be accompanying the twins.
- The party is provided with two guards, Shell and Gill, whose job is to help the young ladies. They are loyal to Ref Castswallow, and may not be inclined to follow the orders of the party. Ref could not provide more help, and Brea felt more protection was needed.
- Each party member is offered 8 gp/day. He will pay no more than 24 gp each. They are prepaid 8 gp each.
- The twins will be in a camper carriage, with a non-combatant, Toni, is the driver.
Tricaster is a Greyhawk garrison town. It is more fortress than a town, there are several hundred soldiers that live here year ground. A small town has grown up on the east side of the fort, also called Tricaster. The local landowner is Sir Kuiper Stranlick, Order of the Many Oaks, who seems just as greedy as the other nobles of the region; he hesitates to push his luck with the local army officer and her staff.
- Ref Castswallow is a Lieutenant in the army. He, his wife Koh, and their sons live in a good-sized house inside the fortified walls. They understand the problem with Count Merlache and have no issue taking in the young ladies.
- The local Captain is also aware of the problem and while wishing to help, could spare no more than two soldiers.
- Ref will pay the group the remaining funds upon completion. If the girls are safe he will pay the remaining 16 gp each.
- He will thank the party and send them on their way.
The Open Road
The land is rolling and lovely, the road is well-managed and maintained. Although not steady, there will be a flow of traffic passing the group as they move along. There should be no interruptions on the first day of travel.
The camp is attacked in the middle of the night by an undead horde appearing out of a wooded area to the east of the camp. The king’s guard easily cut them down as they are slow and easy to take down, but the numbers seem to be endless and the men start to become exhausted. (First, combat for the players. They will face low-level undead zombies that are easy to hit and will not hit them very often, keep it simple.)
Loot: A few minutes of digging around will produce 13 sp.
There will be at least two waves. A wave of 5 Skeletons. If there is a need a second wave will come along, another 2.
EXP: Each PC gets 45 exp.
Near the end of the fight, the party will hear screaming coming from the Twin’s tent.
Upon investigation, the men guarding the tent have both been put to sleep and the twins are gone. Their attendant, Dee Hista, is also asleep. The guards, Shell and Gill, can be woken up with a couple of sharp slaps. Harming the soldiers may cause issues later on.
The guards are visibly shaken. Their eyes flick around and fear shows on their faces. Gill eventually tells the tale.
“A form came out of the trees” he points at a location to the left of the tents, ”and this strange face, white with a coal-black cloak wisping all around. The face looked like a lady, yea know? But like no lady I’d ever seen, it looked like she was wearing a mask…” he struggles with the description as if fighting not to remember, “sharp empty holes for eyes, blood-red lips, and that’s it. There weren’t any other bits of a face on her besides that, like the rest of her face was blank.” the memory seems to cause him to shake his head. Both guards are scared and superstitious.
Once the undead is dealt with, an old woman comes out of the bushes. Human, she greets the party with a sad smile. Locals know her as Old Wise Woman Shai. She has lived in this area for decades, helping travellers, and farmers. If the party is local (and Human), she probably helped in their births.
- Shai is a level 9 Druid of the Land (Forest).
- She will heal any wounds the members of the group have.
- She has lived in the area for most of her life, and many are familiar with her. Most hold her in high regard, as she’s helped birth most of the children around while also healing many of the sick and wounded.
“There’s a darkness that’s gathered near a cave.” she gives rough directions, “I’ve felt its presence grow for many nights now. The undead walk my woods, animals are slaughtered for the sake of slaughter, and now your wards have been taken. Time is short, I fear for those young half-elves. I sense ill omens should you not hurry.”
Shai will give the players two ointments:
- The first, in a blue clay jar, is an ointment of healing. Its contents are creamy pink. It will heal 1d6+1. There are four uses.
- The second is a black jar, its contents are a deep green with gold flecks floating within. It has 6 uses and is treated as the level 2 Transmutation spell Magic Weapon. Treat as a level 2 spell, all weapons coated in this get a +1 to hit and damage and overcome resistances. It lasts 1 hour.
She will hand the black jar to the best archer and say “I have dreamt of an ill omen, a dark and evil stone. I feel as if I must stress the need to save some of the oil in this container, and use it to destroy the stone should you find it. You must destroy it at all costs.” If pressed, she will only say that her visions are shadowy and the sense of evil is strong.
The guards will stay with the camp and wait for the players to return, hopefully with the twins. Dee Hista is in tears and will plead with the group to save the girls.
Encounter 1: The Hobgoblins. Two Hobgoblins are in the thick of the forest working on their kill.
This encounter may happen in a couple of different ways.
- If the party has a ranger, they may surprise the Hobgoblins or slip by.
- If they have no ranger, there is a good chance the party will stumble upon these monsters.
The hobgoblins are working over a dead deer. If the party stumbles upon them, they will be ready and there will be no surprise round. If the ranger organizes an ambush the party will get one free round.
EXP: 4 x PCs/5 x PCs = 200 each.
Loot: Combined the Hobgoblins have 6 gp, 8 ep.
Encounter 2: As the party walk, 4 skeletons explode from the ground before them. Roll initiative.
EXP: Each PC gets 45 exp. Loot: 4 sp.
A. At the Cave
As the party moves towards the cave, they can take a worn walking path or creep along the woods. As they get closer to their destination they will note that the area has been cleaned up. Broken branches are laying on the ground, and low bushes, shrubs, and small trees have all been removed.
- If the party follows the path, they can creep along tree by tree, it will take a bit longer but they can manage to stay unseen.
- Going by the forest, a successful steal must be made. A ranger can quickly clean up an area to help with stealth rolls.
As the party moves in, they will smell oil and pitch/tar. A quick investigation will show that someone has been ranging the area and strategically burning the forest. The second thing they will see are two large orcs pacing the area. They grunt and snarl at each other, anyone that can speak Orc will understand they are bored. In front of what is likely the cave entrance is a barrack made of reclaimed wood. If the orcs see anyone they will attack. If they survive the first ranged salvo, they will hide behind the barricade and wait for the party or they will move inside the cave and support the undead.
Two battle-scarred orcs pace the area. They are alert and ready for a fight.
- Stealthed characters can not work their way into the clearing. The orcs have burned away all cover. The orcs make sure to not get to the forest.
- The Orc have thinned out the bush and brush from the forest around them to make it harder to hide as the groups move in.
- There is a single clear path that leads to the camp. Other avenues of egress are hampered by trees blocking the path.
- Ranged sneak attacks are an excellent way to start this fight, the orcs can and will move in OR simply hide in the cave.
EXP: Each PC gets 200 exp. Loot 24 gp.
1. Darkness’s Lair
The entrance of the cave is narrow, strong characters with heavy armour will have to use a full action to get through or give up 20 movements to get through. A warm sour smell comes from the entrance.
The group enters a large open area, bolted to the ground are manacles and even a few cages line the wall to the right. Currently, there are no prisons. The feeling of despair and the smell of human waste fills the air.
- The Undead
Four undead will move toward the characters. Unlike many of the previous undead, these all wear a mixture of armour and uniform. Their weapons and shields are also in better shape.
The necromancer will do his best to hide in his room
The skeletons will rise after a minute. Anyone with a successful Arcana/Religion/History roll DC 12 will know this is not normal. Arcana/Religion success will tell the player that this can only happen if there is some unholy device that restores them.
To the left is a pool of water, to the north of that is a set of stairs leading to a slightly raised landing. There are the looks of a dark shrine.
EXP: Each PC gets 45 exp. Loot: None.
3. The Pond
The water here is surprisingly fresh and sweet. Anyone watching long enough will note that the pond has an ebb and flow to it. Beyond being refreshing, there is nothing of value to the water.
4. Craven Shrine
This room smells of incense and blood. Delicate noses may even detect a hint of sage. There are three altars, each with a different stone carving of a god. The area will fill the players with a sense of dread and impending doom.
The central shrine is the most detailed and shows the most use. A successful Religion/History DC 14 will tell the characters this shrine is dedicated to Nerull. The God of Death, Murder and the Underworld. It is a cruel demanding god that many Necromancers follow. Each altar has exactly 80 sp (240 sp total). The statues may be worth some money to a collector.
To the back and about 4 meters off the ground, embedded into the wall is a red glowing stone, its surface scrawled with spidery runes. Anyone that looks at it for more than a few heartbeats feels shivers go down his spine as if someone has walked across their grave. The Stone is immune to normal weapons, only magical weapons can break it. It has 6 HP. Once broken the stone will stop glowing all the undead will drop into pieces. Wizards and the like may be interested in it for research.
5. The Portal Room
Hidden behind a clever canvas sheet is a portal. It is oval, slightly pinched at the top and bottom. Its outer border seems to be black, with a pink radiance that pulls to the centre. About halfway to the centre ripples begin to appear, similar to a lake, with the centre clear. This way leads to a dark hall, currently showing two lit torches. Clean walls and clear floor show in the ruddy light. A black hallway shows further beyond.
There are hints that people are sent through this portal. You can see a path in the dust and dirt that even hints it was used recently.
If the party steps through this portal, jump to the Crimson Fortress.
6/7. The Landing
This large open space looks well-maintained and clean. To the left are stores; boxes and barrels of foodstuffs, water and decent wine. There is a long box with 3 bolts of silk, each worth 30 gp. Close inspection will reveal that someone uses this space to pace.
8. The Necro Room
The Necromancer, Kollun Jurvas, is a sad little human. He is pot-bellied, sagging and tired-looking. Heavy black bags give his eyes a wild look. His complexion is waxy yellow with very little pigment to offer anything that looks healthy. He wears a dirty black robe embroidered with silver symbols. He will be found pacing and ranting in his living space. His words are disjointed, the keywords are – slavers, master, twins, sacrifice and deserve their pain!
Kollun will use what spells he can, and when pressed, will attack with his dagger. He may get a few good shots off but he should also be an easy target.
When the fight is over the players can search his room. In a chest under his desk, they find 3 Citrin (50 gp ea.), 21 sp, 50 cp, 9 gp.
Bookshelves: There are dozens of books here but many are just scribbled in, mostly obscene pictures, some violent. A number of the books along the bottom shelves are damaged beyond repair.
- Book of Feather Fall (Feather Fall Spell)
- Book of Identity (Identify spell)
- 5 potions of Healing (2d4+2)
On the desk is a ledger, it is listed with all the people he has sent through the Portal to the Crimson Fortress. He has listed 2 boys, 1 adult male, 3 young girls, 2 old women, and a pair of twins. The ink for the pair of twins is still wet. Further digging (Investigation 12/Perception 14) )will find a map, it has a very detailed path through what is described as a treacherous trap ladened nightmare. The map speaks of a Crimson Fortress, it shows a secret passage along a hillside a bit away from the fortress. If the players use the Portal they will be transported to the entrance.
If the party does not use the map or the portal they will never find their way to the Crimson Fortress.
The Crimson Fortress
The portal pops the characters safely into a larger space, roughly 20×20, and 4 torches are sitting in sconces. The ceiling is about 15ft high. To the south is a dark hallway going up. To the north is a bridge over a great chasm. Looking down PCs will see a tiny river some distance down. Periodically there is a strange colour on the descending rocks.
The bridge is 10 ft wide and maybe 200 ft long, there are no handrails or supports. Sections of the path have broken away. On the other side are a large well-lit doorway and a large statue of a cat-like creature with a human head. A DC 10 Dex Save is required to cross without issue, if a roll fails the person will stumble a bit but not fall off.
The bridge ends upon a wide landing, the floor is covered with deep green stone tiles. Swirls dance across the surface with the many flickering torches. As the party nears the doorway, it violently closes with a resounding boom. The statue cracks as a layer of stone and dusk crumble to the floor. Brilliant green eyes twinkle in the light, it begins to lick its paw and preen itself, similar to a cat.
“You are unknown to me.” the sultry feminine voice says in an audible whisper. “So we will play a game. If you wish entrance into the sacrificial hall you must answer one of my riddles. At least that will let you try to pick the lock on the door.” The large creatures’ gaze will fall upon any rogues. “If you answer all my riddles, I will bestow a gift upon you that will help save the people suffering within.” The sphinx eyes will dance across the party.
If asked about the Twins she will say “Yes, the pair came through not even an hour ago.”
I asked what this place is or leads to, she will say, “I am forbidden to answer that question, this tragic path is the way to the murder of innocence.”
The Sphinx will not give a history lesson or discuss itself, as it is forbidden too.
“Are you ready for my Riddles?” She will give the party a chance to ready themselves. “Remember; answer one riddle and I will let you try to get through the door, answer two riddles and I will open the door, answer all my riddles and I will aid you in your coming battle.”
Riddles On the Bridge
Q: What do you break before you use it?
A: An egg!
Q: The man who made it doesn’t want it. The man who bought it doesn’t need it. The man who needs it doesn’t know it. What is it?
A: A coffin.
Q: He has married many women, but has never been married. Who is he?
A: A priest.
Q: The more you take, the more you leave behind.
The Sphinx will be good to its word.
- Answer one and the door is yours to try and pick DC 14.
- Answer two and she will open the door.
- Answer all of them, and the Party will be Blessed for the next hour.
She will inform the party that there are no traps on the stairs.
The Crimson Fortress: Blood Hall
As the party moves up the stone stairwell, the group comes upon a stark change. You come to a landing, it is finished with fine marble flooring and expensive-looking wood walls. The wall is all decorated with pictures. Each picture shows distinguished-looking Males and females, mostly humans there are a few elves, and even a dwarf. Their clothes change drastically, but the quality of the painting is consistent. There are no names.
Before the party is a long hallway. It speaks of decadence and wealth. Halfway down the hall, the group can hear faint rhythmic chanting. As the party moves to the door they hear a deep booming voice “Bring the Pair!” it demands. Several raised voices cheer in unison. Time is short!
At the end of the hall, it is heartbreaking a metal door sits slightly ajar. Red light radiates and the smell of incense, sweat, and urine wafts in.
The Darkest Door
The door opens into the central left of the Blood Hall opening into a massive hall, easily 80 feet high and at least 60 feet wide. A dozen great glowing bulbs hang from heavy chains, easily 20 feet off the ground. Eight huge pillars, evenly spaced, four on each side, span from the tiled floors to the inky blackness of the ceilings. A lush red rug runs up the centre.
To the east is a wall with wooden double doors. To the west is a heartbreaking podium. Inside a cage are a dozen humans, despair has taken hold. Merged with the red rug is a set of fancy wooden stairs that lead to the top of the prison. A black stone table dominates the landing, and a man in a red cloak his face covered in a mask, stands, preaching gibbering madness. His hands wave madly above his head, a dagger leaving a trail of blood in its wake. He seems enraptured by his activities and does not notice the party right away.
On the ground, before the podium’s stairs are a pack of red-robed figures. In an unnerving unison, they will turn towards the party. They draw scimitars! Roll Initiative. They will attack in a pack.
As the party fights, they will see two cultists that run to the prison and drag the twins out. They will move at half speed due to the forced movement.
When the party has finished with the pack of cultists they can charge the podium and tangle with the guards to rescue the twins. The head priest will help his people.
The High Priest: He looks more like a noble than a priest. When the party sees him they have no clue who he is, he will be dressed in fine clothing and basic gear. He was not expecting visitors.
First Wave: If the party gets the Blessing from the Sphinx, 8 cultists will attack. If NO Blessing, only 6 will charge the party.
Second Wave: These two Cultists will work with the Noble to fight. The Noble will try to escape out a secret door back and behind the podium. If he can, he will jump off the back and escape. Leaving the final cultists to sacrifice themselves.
The Noble will do his best to escape, once he gets to the secret door he will lock it behind him and bar it, If the party can stop him they can try to interrogate him or kill him or even let him go.
One of the cultists has the key to the cage. If not, the DC is 14 to pick.
The keep will start to shimmy and shake, eventually, chunks will fall from the ceiling, and even one of the pillars fall.
The party will look to the wooden doors to the west, they will see an armoured figure with the symbol of Nerull. It watches the party for a moment, and quickly ducks into the doorway as chunks of mortar fall, blocking the doorway. If the party tries to go down the secret door it will also be blocked. Taking the survivors to the bridge and out of the Portal seems to be the only way. The party will successfully take everyone back to the Necromancer’s cave.
The party has killed all the dangerous things in the woods and can easily return to the guards.
Cultist x 8 or x12
Medium humanoid (any race), Any Non-good Alignment
- Armour Class 12 (Leather Armor)
- Hit Points 9 (2d8)
- Speed 30 ft.
STR 11 (+0), DEX 12 (+1), CON 10 (+0), INT 10 (+0), WIS 11 (+0), CHA 10 (+0)
- Skills Deception +2, Religion +2
- Senses passive Perception 10
- Languages Any One Language (Usually Common)
- Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
- Dark Devotion. The cultist has an advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened.
- Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: (1d4 + 1) slashing damage.
Noble x 1
Medium humanoid (any race), Any Alignment
- Armor Class 15 (Breastplate)
- Hit Points 9 (2d8)
- Speed 30 ft.
STR: 11 (+0), DEX: 12 (+1), CON: 11 (+0), INT: 12 (+1), WIS: 14 (+2), CHA: 16 (+3),
Skills Deception +5, Insight +4, Persuasion +5
- Senses passive Perception 12
- Languages Any Two Languages
- Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
- Rapier. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.
- Parry. The noble adds 2 to its AC against one melee attack that would hit it. To do so, the noble must see the attacker and be wielding a melee weapon.
The End At the Crimson Fortress
The Blood Hall is collapsing, the reasons are unclear. Once everyone is free, the party will be forced to backtrack down the hall, and to the bridge. When they do, it is assumed that the party killed all the monsters so it should be clear sailing.
The Sphinx is gone. The bridge is in danger but the group can make it.
The portal is active. The party can safely return to the necromancer’s cave. It should also be an easy run back to the camp.