Two: Beyond the Pale
Miguel Durans The Hallowed Hills a
party of low-level adventurers must explore a system of underground
caverns recently discovered beneath the Monastery of the Risen Star.
But this is more than just a casual dungeon crawl the group must
locate and, if possible, rescue the three members of the Order who went
down before them and never returned.
four-part adventure is designed for four to six 3rd-level adventurers,
though DMs should be able to modify it for parties of varying sizes
and/or levels fairly easily. For larger parties, simply increase the
number of monsters until the Encounter Levels are appropriate. Alternatively,
if your group comprises especially potent player characters, you can
change the monster types to something more challenging that is,
use ghasts rather than ghouls, bugbears rather than orcs, and so forth.
The Hallowed Hills is adaptable for use in the World of Greyhawk,
another D&D campaign setting, or a world of your own creation.
Story So Far
of The Hallowed Hills, we presented an introduction to the adventure,
several plot hooks the DM could use to bring the characters into the
action, and the entryway to the cavern complex.
Those Who Remain -- EL 4
No one knew there
was a cavern complex beneath the Monastery of the Risen Star until
an earthquake opened a passage to it. In the last episode, the adventurers
made their way into the first of the caverns. The story resumes as
they begin the first leg of their search for the Order's missing brothers.
Read the following
aloud to the players:
of this roughly circular cavern is extremely uneven. Jagged chunks
of rock raise some areas several feet in elevation, while other
sections are pockmarked with deep craters. The remnants of several
smashed coffins lie strewn across the chamber.
The cave is about 80 feet in diameter, and its only exit is a tight
passage leading out from the east wall to Area 3. Two dozen coffins
tumbled through the breach that the earthquake created. The remains
of these as well as the burial effects of their occupants (wraps, ceremonial
urns, and a good selection of material goods) lie scattered throughout
this room. There are two items of note among the debris -- a single
shattered lantern and, beside it, a silver holy symbol, the back of
which bears the inscription, "To Brother Durham, for Faithful Service."
Because of the
uneven surface of this cavern, anyone who attempts to traverse it
quickly or perform any sort of acrobatic maneuvers must make a Balance
Check (DC 15). Failure by a margin of less than 5 means that the character
has stumbled and is incapable of movement for 1 round. Failure by
5 or more indicates that the character has lost his or her footing
and fallen prone.
Some of the more malevolent spirits from the tomb above have taken
on unlife, now that the accident has freed them from the restrictions
imposed by their funeral rites. Four ghouls lie in wait behind a rocky
outcropping near the southern face of the cavern. Although they are
perfectly hidden, one or more of the adventurers may hear their movements.
A successful Listen check (DC 22) reveals the ambush before it occurs.
hp 20, 18, 14, 9.
ghouls wait until the party is particularly vulnerable, preferentially
attacking either a lone character or a small group. Splitting the
party to explore the debris or entering the cavern one-by-one from
the crypt above incites an immediate attack; otherwise, the ghouls
wait until the characters have either spread out a bit or are about
to leave before striking.
attack in an intelligent, coordinated fashion, singling out a non-elf
opponent first if possible and attacking as a group, flanking when
feasible. Once their victim is paralyzed, they move on to the next
target. Only after all the party members are paralyzed or unconscious
will they try to finish off any characters.
Beyond the recoverable coinage, which totals out to 47 gp, 146 sp,
and 257 cp, the only items of note are a religious statuette of pure
silver (worth 105 gp) and a gold ring with a jade inset (worth 90
gp). The remaining goods are of standard quality; the DM should choose
appropriate items from the equipment list in the Players Handbook.
Though this passageway
through the rock is only 5 feet wide, its walls seemingly extend upward
forever. In fact, however, they come to a halt at the cavern's top,
some 60 feet overhead. The characters must make their way through
these cramped quarters single-file for 110 feet before the tunnel
opens into Area 4.
A swarm of stirges is perched near the top of the tunnel. These creatures
descend upon the characters from overhead as soon as the party reaches
the midway point of the passage.
hp 7, 6, 5, 5, 4, 2.
the following aloud to the players when they enter Area 4:
|A wave of
torrid humidity washes over you as you step into this cavern.
The floor is soft and covered with thick, damp moss. Immense,
rootlike, brown-and-gray tendrils of vegetation dangle down from
the ceiling overhead, lightly brushing the tops of the varied
fungi that fill most of this circular chamber.
Although the fungi cluttering the center of the room and the roots
hanging from above tend to obscure vision in the cavern, the PCs
may still notice something peculiar as they enter this room. Have
each player make a Spot check (DC 21). Success reveals two bodies
lying facedown near the center of the cluster. Their simple black
robes mark them as members of the Order. . . .
Duran endured a great deal of pain and humiliation in Skip Williams
after-work game when he first arrived at WotC several months ago. He
insists that this adventure is a by-product of the fond memories those
nights carved into his subconscious. By day, Miguel is the Promotions
Coordinator for the Dungeons & Dragons Game.
By night, he practices writing and consistently forgets to call his
mom and dad. (Hi Mom! Hi Dad!)