Episode Four: Descent
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.
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. In the second episode, they made their way to the tower and encountered the medusa's guardians and outer defenses. In the third, they penetrated the well-defended tower and opened a trap door in the floor. The smell of snakes rises from the floor.
8. Trap Door
Beneath the trap door (detailed in Episode Three) is an empty chamber with a five-foot-wide tunnel leading off to the east. If the PCs have alerted the denizens of this lower level, the snake that lives in the tunnel (area 9) will be here, ready to strike at any PC who shows his face above the opening. If it successfully grapples a character, it pulls the character down into the chamber below.
If the snake is here, it completely fills the room below the trap door. Thus, it can only be fought through the trap door (giving it significant cover).
9. Tunnel (EL 7)
Creature: A fiendish giant constrictor snake lives here. If it heard the PCs above, it has moved to area 8.
Fiendish Giant Constrictor Snake: Huge magical beast, hp 60; as giant constrictor snake plus smite good 1/day (+11 damage to good foe), darkvision 60 feet, cold and fire resistance 15, DR 5/+2, SR 22, Int 3; see Monster Manual.
10. Dark Nest (EL 10)
Creatures: Kalivilya, a vampiric medusa, lives here with her consort, a halfblood yuan-ti named Sevastrin. Sevastrin's halfblood features include a snake head (grants poisonous bite attack) and scales instead of skin (+4 to natural armor).
Sevastrin, Halfblood Yuan-ti Rog 3: hp 51; see below.
Kalivilya, Vampiric Medusa: hp 39; see below.
Tactics: If they have heard the sounds of fighting, the two denizens of this room ready for battle. Sevastrin hides in the southwest corner, attacking the second PC into the room (or the first if only one enters), while Kalivilya pulls an animal from her rust-colored bag of tricks and then stands in the northeast corner of the room, employing her gaze attacks against entering PCs.
Sevastrin's blindfold protects him from Kalivilya's petrification gaze, though it grants all targets 100% concealment (50% miss chance) against his attacks. However, his Blind-fight feat allows him to reroll his miss chance percentile roll one time to see if he actually hits (melee only), and those attacking him in melee don't get the normal +2 bonus to attacks granted to invisible creatures. Since he has uncanny dodge, he also retains his Dexterity bonus to AC even when attacked while blindfolded. If Kalivilya is slain, he immediately removes his blindfold (a move-equivalent action) to negate the penalties.
If either Sevastrin or Kalivilya is defeated, the other seeks to flee (either via the trapdoor or the escape tunnel at area 12).
11. Kalivilya's Resting Place
The bed in the corner of the map is actually a coffin used by Kalivilya. Note that the door between area 11 and area 12 is trapped (see below).
Treasure: In addition to their gear, the monsters here have a stash made up of various items taken from their victims. A large sack in the corner holds 238 cp, 188 sp, 57 gp, 12 pp, and four various small pieces of jewelry worth 25 gp each.
12. Escape Tunnel (CR 4)
This earthen tunnel winds into the forest to the east, coming out in a hollowed tree about 300 yards from the tower.
Trap: The door between area 11 and area 12 is trapped to guard against intruders from this side. When the door is opened, a pair of sharpened stakes coated in large scorpion venom juts up from the dirt floor on this side of the door.
Poisoned Stakes: CR 6; +5 melee (2 attacks for 1d6 plus poison); Search (DC 25); Disable Device (DC 25). Large scorpion venom: Type Injury DC 18, Damage 1d6 Str/1d6 Str.
Should the PCs trigger this trap from the other side, they may still step on the stakes, though a Spot check (DC 12) will allow the PC to notice the danger.
If you want this adventure to lead to more intrigue, perhaps the PCs find a clue among the stolen possessions of the kidnap victims suggesting that one of them was part of a crime ring in the city. Or maybe Kalivilya was in correspondence with other evil forces regarding a potential alliance, such as the illithids of the Underdark city of Ilkkool Rrem or even demons from the Abyss (perhaps the fiendish snake at area 9 was a gift from such potential allies).
Sevastrin: Male halfblood yuan-ti Rog3; CR 8; Medium-size monstrous humanoid; HD 7d8+7, 3d6+3; hp 51; Init +6; Spd 30 ft.; AC 22 (touch 12, flat-footed 22); Atk +13/+8 melee (1d6+3/1820, +1 scimitar) and +6 melee (1d6+1 plus poison, bite); or +13/+8 ranged (1d8+2/[TS]3, masterwork mighty (Str bonus +2) composite longbow with masterwork arrows); SA Poison, psionics, sneak attack (+1d6); SQ Blindfolded, darkvision 60 ft., evasion, spell resistance 16, uncanny dodge (Dex bonus to AC); AL CE; SV Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +10; Str 15, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 18, Wis 18, Cha 16.
Skills and Feats: Balance +2, Bluff +8, Concentration +11, Craft (bowmaking) +10, Craft (trapmaking) +10, Diplomacy +5, Hide +11, Intimidate +5, Jump +2, Listen +15, Move Silently +8, Search +8, Spot +15, Tumble +5, Wilderness Lore +8; Alertness, Blind-Fight, Dodge, Expertise, Improved Initiative, Track, Weapon Focus (scimitar).
Blindfolded: Whenever in the company of Kalivilya, Sevastrin wears a blindfold to protect himself from her petrification gaze. This grants all his targets 100% concealment, though his Blind-fight feat counteracts some of that.
Poison (Ex): Bite attack, DC 14, Damage 1d6 Con/1d6 Con.
Psionics (Sp): At will -- detect poison, alternate form, chameleon power, produce acid, aversion (as Sor6)
Possessions: +1 chain shirt, +1 scimitar, masterwork mighty composite longbow (Str bonus +2), masterwork arrows (20), potion of bull's strength, potion of cure serious wounds, gold ring (120 gp).
Kalivilya: Female vampiric medusa; CR 9; Medium-size Undead; HD 6d12; hp 39; Init +8, Speed 30 ft.; AC 23 (touch 14, flat-footed 19); Attacks +11/+6 ranged (1d8+3/[TS]3, mighty [Str 16] masterwork longbow) or +9 melee (1d6+3 plus energy drain, slam) and +5 melee (1d4+1 plus poison, snakes); SA blood drain, domination, energy drain, petrifying gaze, poison; SQ Alternate form, children of the night, create spawn, damage reduction 15/+1, fast healing 5, gaseous form, resistances, spider climb, turn resistance +4, undead traits; AL CE; SV Fort +2, Ref +11, Will +7; Str 16, Dex 19, Con -- , Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 19.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +21, Diplomacy +6, Disguise +13, Hide +12, Intimidate +8, Listen +12, Move Silently +19, Search +10, Sense Motive +10, Spot +21; Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Martial Weapon Proficiency (composite longbow), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Finesse (snakes).
Blood Drain (Ex): Can permanently drain 1d4 Con per round while pin is maintained.
Domination (Su): Gaze attack, 30 feet, Will save (DC 17); as dominate person.
Energy Drain (Su): Living creatures struck by Kalivilya's slam attack suffer 2 negative levels.
Petrifying Gaze (Su): Turn to stone permanently, 30 feet, Fortitude save (DC 13).
Poison (Ex): Snakes, Fortitude save (DC 13); Damage 1d6 Str/2d6 Str.
Alternate Form (Su): Can assume the shape of a bat, dire bat, wolf, or dire wolf as a standard action.
Children of the Night (Su): Can call forth 4d8 dire rats, 10d10 bats, or 3d6 wolves as standard action (1/day), arriving in 2d6 rounds and serving for 1 hour.
Create Spawn (Su): A humanoid or monstrous humanoid slain by Kalivilya's energy drain or blood drain attack rises as a vampire spawn or vampire.
Gaseous Form (Su): As a standard action, Kalivilya can assume gaseous form at will, as a Sor5.
Resistances (Ex): Cold and electricity resistance 20.
Spider Climb (Ex): Can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell.
Undead Traits: Immune to poision, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death, effects, necromantic effects, mind-influencing effects, and any effect requiring a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects; not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, ability drain, or energy drain; cannot heal damage if there is no Intelligence score, (though fast healing and regeneration work normally); negative energy heals; not at risk of death from massive damage, but destroyed at 0 hit points or less; darkvision 60 ft.; cannot be raised; resurrection works only if creature is willing.
Possessions: Masterwork mighty (Str bonus +3) longbow, bag of tricks (rust), potion of haste, potion of cure moderate wounds.