Over the Edge
Episode Four: Into the Inky Blackness
By Will McDermott
Over the Edge 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 Three), the 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.
Encounter 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.
Black Pudding: CR 7, 115 hp; see the Monster Manual, page 145.
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.
Tactics: 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.
About the Author
Before 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.