Cliffhangers Adventures

Nest of Corruption
Episode Two: To the Crumbling Tower
By Andy Collins

"Nest of Corruption" is a short D&D adventure for four 7th-level characters. The party may consist of any mix of classes. The adventure is a reasonable challenge for 6th- to 8th-level characters and may be set in any campaign world.

The adventure uses the "Old Tower" map found in the October section of the Map-A-Week archive.

Adventure Background

People have been disappearing from the town of Brindinford. At first, no one noticed or gave it any thought. But lately, the disappearances have grown more noticeable. Indeed, only a few days ago the eldest son of a wealthy merchant family went missing.

The disappearances are the work of a small band of yuan-ti led by a most unusual creature: a vampiric medusa named Kalivilya. This baneful monster "adopted" the yuan-ti that now serve her, treating them as wayward children despite their differing origins. For their part, the yuan-ti see Kalivilya as a kindred serpent soul and powerful ally.

In the first episode, the PCs tracked down a yuan-ti responsible for many disappearances and found out that she was bringing her kidnapped victims to a location called the Crumbling Tower, a few miles southwest of the town.

There is no known road or path through the forest to the tower, though the trail made by the yuan-ti can be found and followed with a Wilderness Lore check (DC 18 plus 1 per day the PCs spent in Brindinford) by a PC with the Track feat.

Even without this trail, the tower isn't hard to find.

5. Approaching the Tower

As the PCs come out of the woods, they get a good view of the old stone building. As described, they see a two-story round stone tower, its battlements deteriorating with age. No activity is visible anywhere in the vicinity, and the tower's second-floor windows are boarded up. A Spot check (DC 10) notices the small, attached structure behind the main tower.

A character with the Track feat might find two different trails in this area. The first (Wilderness Lore DC 18 plus 1 per day the PCs spent in Brindinford) was left by yuan-ti moving back and forth to Brindinford. It leads to area 2. The second (DC 14) was made by the guardians of the tower (currently at area 3), and makes a wide ring around the tower.

If the PCs remain in this area for more than 10 minutes, the vampire spawn and shadow mastiff at area 3 will emerge from the woods and cross the clearing toward the PCs' position.

4. Stony Remains

If the characters approach this area, a Spot check (DC 20) notices a bunch of rocks partially concealed in the underbrush.

This is where the yuan-ti dump the remains of those potential meals that fail to resist Kalivilya's petrification gaze. At first glance, it appears to be nothing more than a pile of rubble, but a Search check (DC 10) reveals that the "rubble" is actually composed of broken "statues" (three humans, an elf, and a halfling, all in common garb). If the PCs are searching for a missing friend, they might find their comrade's remains here (particularly if that character's Fortitude save is worse than his or her Will save).

If the PCs remain in this area for more than 30 minutes, the vampire spawn and shadow mastiff at area 3 will emerge from the woods at 5 (having circled from 3 to 5) and cross the clearing toward the PCs' position.

3. Tower Guardians (EL 7)

Creatures: A trio of guardians -- two vampire spawn and a shadow mastiff -- walk a circular path counter-clockwise around the Crumbling Tower during all non-daylight hours, with the aim of scaring off potential intruders. They keep to the shadows when possible (Hide +10 for the vampire spawn, 90% concealment for the shadow mastiff). Should they come across any recent trail (Wilderness Lore +11 for the shadow mastiff when tracking by scent), they immediately attempt to hunt down whatever made the trail (though they won't venture more than a half-mile from the tower).

Vampire Spawn (2): hp 28, 25; see Monster Manual.

Shadow Mastiff: hp 30; see Monster Manual.

Tactics: If they spot intruders, the shadow mastiff immediately bays, alerting the yuan-ti at area 6. The vampire spawn, who are immune to this mind-affecting effect, attempt to slay anyone not panicked by this effect. During daylight hours, the vampire spawn stay in their coffins (in area 7) and the shadow mastiff keeps guard alone.

Development: If the yuan-ti at area 6 hear the mastiff's baying, they essentially can't be surprised by the PCs for at least the next hour (since they prepare themselves for potential intruders).

2. North Door

The yuan-ti keep this door barred (DC 25 Strength check to break down) whenever any of them are inside the building. The window around the corner is boarded up (though someone inside could peer out between the boards).

1. South Door

The yuan-ti keep this door unlocked and unbarred, though they block it with a heavy table if they fear intruders. The windows next to the door are boarded up (though someone inside could peer out between the boards).

The Cliffhanger

The PCs stand at the base of the tower, in front of one of the two doors into area 6. If they encountered the guards from area 3, they have reason to believe that anyone inside the tower knows they're coming.

Things might be about to get a little rough.

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