Over the Edge
Four: Into the Inky Blackness
By Will McDermott
is a short adventure for four 9th-level characters set in a mountain pass.
After fighting bandits attacking a merchant caravan (Episode One),
overcoming hill giants at the edge of a chasm (Episode Two),
and facing manticores while descending the wall of the chasm (Episode
heroes have reached the manticore cave entrance with their guide, a rogue
named Finglos. However, Finglos has just disappeared into the darkness
after drinking an unidentified potion. . . .
Finglos drank a
potion of darkvision, allowing him to see 60 feet into the darkness
of the cave. He moves at double speed every round unless it looks like
the characters will catch up to him, in which case he ducks into one
of the side chambers and attempts to hide. If the PCs do catch up to
Finglos, he points ahead and says, "Quickly, the ambush spot is
just around the corner!" Finglos then waits for the heroes to take
the lead going down the passage.
The cave itself
is fairly straightforward. The main passage is roughly 20 feet wide
and about 25 feet high. It extends roughly straight back into cliff
face for 120 feet and then turns to the left. Three passages off the
main tunnel (two to the right and one to the left) open almost immediately
into small caverns (each about 50 feet across). Should the characters
explore these side caverns, they find single manticore nests in each
of the first two. The third has two such nests. A successful spot check
(DC 20) enables PCs to notice that one of the two nests is much newer
than any of the others. No treasure lies in any of these side caverns.
4: Down the Shaft
At the bend in the
corridor awaits a 20-foot wide pit trap that engulfs the entire floor
in that section of the passage. If the heroes have dispelled the charm
person cast on Finglos, he warns them about the pit trap, which
Kardrako forced him to construct during the past four weeks. The trap
can be avoided by jumping (DC 10) across a 5-foot gap at the corner.
Any character failing the Jump check automatically falls into the pit.
Spiked Pit Trap:
CR 4; 60 ft. deep, no attack roll necessary (6d6); +10 melee (1d4 spikes
for 1d4+5 points of damage per successful hit); Reflex save avoids (DC
20); Search (DC 20); Disable Device (DC 20).
The trap can be
disabled only from the other side of the pit (around the corner). If
one of the characters jumps across and attempts to disable the trap,
immediately proceed to the cliffhanger section. Should all members of
the party jump across the pit at the corner, complete this encounter
before proceeding to the cliffhanger.
Finglos knows of
an underground passage at the bottom of the pit but has not yet explored
the passage. Finglos does not know that a black pudding recently found
its way into the bottom of the pit. It now covers the entire floor of
the pit (having reformed itself around the spikes), and immediately
attacks any character who falls in.
CR 7, 115 hp; see the Monster
The black pudding
suffers damage from the falling character as described in the Falling
Objects section on page 89 of the Dungeon
Master Guide: 6d6
points if the PC's body and gear weighs more than 200 pounds; 3d6 if
the total weight is 101-200 pounds. However, as soon as a character
lands on the black pudding, his or her armor must succeed at a Reflex
save (DC 19) or dissolve due to the pudding's acid. Weapons dropped
on (or used against) the black pudding must also make a Reflex save
(DC 19) or dissolve.
The black pudding tries to slam opponents, dealing both slam and acid
damage. After a successful slam, the pudding makes an improved grab
attempt as a free action. On subsequent rounds, the pudding attempts
to constrict a grabbed opponent, dealing automatic slam and acid damage.
Weapons do not deal damage to a black pudding; they merely split the
pudding in two (each half has one-half of the original's hit points).
The passage continues
another 60 feet , but beyond that lies pitch blackness. Characters who
make it past the pit and succeed at a Spot check (DC 5) notice an acrid,
sulfur smell wafting down the tunnel. Anyone making a Spot check (DC
20) also notices that the tunnel seems slightly warmer on this side
of the pit. Should a hero Listen (DC 15) for noises coming from the
blackness ahead, he or she detects the sound of wings flapping.
moving to the Online Media department at Wizards of the Coast, Will
McDermott was editor in chief of TopDeck magazine and, before
that, The Duelist. Will has written strategy guides for both
Magic: The Gathering and the Pokémon TCGs, and is currently
writing a Magic: The Gathering novel.