Episode Two: Shadow Boxing
By Will McDermott
Lorin's Chasm is a short adventure for four 5th-level characters that takes place in the caves beneath a remote monastery devoted to the sun god, Pelor. The monastery sits atop a mountain range and has a large complex of caves beneath, most of which are used as tombs for the priests who have died there over the centuries. The monastery and the adventure can be placed easily on almost any D&D world.
The cave that the PCs travel through are mostly natural, though the priests and monks did add their own touches, such as creating recesses within the walls, even within any sarcophagi chambers. Once inside the chasm, the air grows damper and mustier than before, though it still retains enough freshness that the PCs need not worry for their lives. All construction was created from stone, so the dampness has not deteriorated anything but the corpses of the long-dead priests and monks.
Light: When the monastery door closes behind the PCs, they are in pitch darkness until they reach the first sarcophagi chamber. Once they enter the chasm, there is enough light for low-light vision to work.
Ceiling Height: Unless otherwise noted, the ceiling of the caves stands at about 5 feet, which will make some of the taller PCs need to hunch over to walk without bumping their heads.
Doors: There are no doors to speak of in the caves or the chasm.
The Journals of Lorin
After destroying two huge, shadowy bats, the characters have noticed the entrance to a chasm that descends even further down into the mountain beneath the monastery. Just inside the entrance, they have a chance to discover, with a Search check (DC 15) the next journal that Lorin kept. Though it is moldering away into nothingness and several pages are stuck together, the PCs can get the following details.
Lorin had followed Manafae into this same chasm decades earlier. Worried that Manafae might corrupt the entire monastery with his death worship, Lorin decided to expel the cleric from the order. So, Lorin went down into the tombs to confront Manafae and found him lowering himself into a crack in the floor in a secluded corner of the caves. Lorin decided to follow Manafae to determine what he'd been doing in the dark all these months. What he found down below was a large chasm that sloped down into still, scummy water.
Lorin also found a small, circular room at the end of a passage that sloped up from the water at the far end of the chasm. There he found Manafae, a shrine to Wee Jas, and something even more sinister -- a stone gateway. Manafae was in the middle of performing some ritual when Lorin came upon them. The two argued and fought, but Manafae opened the gateway and disappeared before Lorin could defeat him.
The PCs can easily notice that several pages are missing from the end of the journal.
Shadow Boxing (CR 5)
The bottom of the chasm is 50 feet below the floor of the caves above. The rotting remains of a ladder are leaning against the wall of the chasm. Any character attempting to use the ladder falls 40 feet when the rungs give way, taking 4d6 falling damage.
The first character to reach the bottom of the chasm sees the light the group had noticed earlier floating far in the distance. But before the rest of the characters can make it to the bottom of the chasm so they can investigate further, the shadows near the first character begin to move and the dusk beasts attack from hiding. Read or paraphrase the following passage to your characters:
|The shadows coalesce into what appears to be two human-sized, two-headed lizards made entirely of shadow. Their legs trail off into the blackness, but their heads and barbed tails are sharply defined silhouettes.|
To join the melee, characters still descending the wall have to continue to the bottom on their initiative or jump from where they are, taking the requisite falling damage.
Dusk Beast: CR 3; Medium-size outsider; HD 8d8+8; hp 44; Init +6; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (touch 12, flat-footed 13); Atk +10 melee (1d8+2, 2 bites) and +8 melee (1d4+1, tail barb); Face/Reach 5 ft. x 5 ft./10 ft.; SQ Outsider traits; AL N; SV Fort +7, Ref +8, Will +8; Str 14, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 8, Wis 15, Cha 13.
Skills and Feats: Climb +11, Hide +17, Intuit Direction +9, Listen +9, Move Silently +13, Spot +13; Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Multiattack.
Outsider Traits: Darkvision 60 ft.; cannot be raised or resurrected (though a wish or miracle spell can restore life).
Tactics: After their initial surprise attack, the dusk beasts separate and move off to attack from 10 feet away, extending their shadowy necks and tails to attack with reach and using their Combat Reflexes to get extra attacks of opportunity if the characters try to flank them.
After the battle, the characters might notice that the dancing light they had seen in the distance has disappeared. A successful Listen check (DC 15) allows a character to hear the lapping of water. If a character surpasses DC 20 on a listen check, he or she can determine that the noise is coming from something moving slowly through the water toward the group.