of Undeath Portals
By Ramon Arjona
Temple in the Forbidden Jungle
of Zzarka's strongholds is located deep in the Jungles of Chult. The jungle
here is nearly impenetrable. If characters aren't killed by wild beasts
or carnivorous plants, they'll almost certainly succumb to one of the
many tropical diseases that are endemic to the region. Once again, the
location benefits Zzarka because of her undead nature. She is immune to
the area's many contagions, and none of the jungle's many predators are
enticed by her long-dead flesh. She has even performed experiments on
some of the jungle's disease-causing agents and has created more deadly
strains of illness to deter the curious.
totems carved with grimacing, skeletal faces form a boundary around an
area of deep jungle approximately five square miles in size. Natives of
Chult know to avoid this part of the jungle, and they never speak of it
to outsiders. If pressed on the issue, a native makes signs to ward off
evil and mumbles about the "little things" before trying to
extract themselves from the conversation. Most Chultean natives would
rather fight to the death than be forced to enter the Forbidden Jungle.
who is brave or foolish enough to cross the boundary begins to suffer
the effects of Zzarka's disease right away. Each hour, they must make
a Fortitude save (DC 30) or be affected by a horrible, inhaled, extraordinary
disease called cacklefire. The disease combines the effect of cackle fever
with that of mindfire (see the Dungeon Master's Guide page
75), resulting in 1d4 points of temporary Intelligence damage and 1d6
points of temporary Wisdom damage. The onset of symptoms rapidly follows
infection: Cacklefire has an incubation period of 1d6 hours. Characters
continue to take damage until they are cured or until they reach 0 points
in either Intelligence or Wisdom. Because of the constant exposure to
the contagion, characters cannot make a saving throw to recover from cacklefire
while within the bounds of the forbidden jungle.
who succumb to cacklefire frequently sit stupefied and laugh uncontrollably,
making them easy prey for the carnivorous plants and animals in the forbidden
jungle. These creatures include dinosaurs, dire jaguars, and assassin
vines. If the many jungle predators don't finish the characters off, the
"little things" probably will.
Zzarka's more successful experiments, the "little things" are
all that remains of a tribe of wild halflings. Using powerful necromantic
magic of her own devising, Zzarka twisted these poor beings into undead
mockeries of themselves. They are now a unique variety of zombie that
possesses surprising speed, agility, and animal cunning.
things'" favorite strategy is to lurk in the trees and underbrush
and then attack already weakened characters with their blowguns. Once
a group has been reduced to a manageable state, the small undead horrors
overwhelm the hapless mortals with their numbers. Then, once the slaughter
is complete, the little things dismember their victims' bodies and carry
the pieces back to Zzarka's temple in the middle of the forbidden jungle.
14 (+1 size, +3 Dex), touch 14, flat-footed 11
Slam +1 melee or blowgun +4 ranged
Slam 1d4, blowgun 1d2 plus poison
ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
+0, Ref +3, Will +1
11, Dex 16, Con --, Int 8, Wis 8, Cha 5
+10, Hide +11, Move Silently +13, Search +3, Spot +9, Tumble
pair, or band (3-12)
undead created by the necromancer Zzarka Tuzarr, the "little
things" are found only in the jungle surrounding her temple.
Their creator ordered them to stay within the boundary markers of
the Forbidden Jungle and kill all humanoids that enter the area.
They have proven very effective at this task. They attack intruders
from the trees and underbrush with their blowguns, which have a
range of 20 feet. The darts do 1d2 points of damage by themselves
and are coated with deathblade poison (see Dungeon Master's
Guide page 80). Once characters are sufficiently weakened, the
"little things" swarm over them and finish them off.
outside of the few tribes unfortunate enough to dwell near the Forbidden
Jungle know of these undead creatures. These tribes dare not speak
of them, and they call them only the "little things."
Outsiders who enter the Forbidden Jungle and encounter these small
horrors almost never return.
Traits: A little thing is immune to poison, sleep, paralysis,
stunning, disease, death, effects, necromantic effects, mind-affecting
effects, and any effect requiring a Fortitude save unless it also
works on objects. The creature is not subject to critical hits,
subdual damage, ability damage, ability drain, or energy drain.
Negative energy heals it, and it is not at risk of death from massive
damage but is destroyed at 0 hit points or less. A little thing
has darkvision (60-foot range). A little thing cannot be raised,
and resurrection works only if it is willing.
A little thing receives a +6 racial bonus on Climb, Move Silently,
and Spot checks.
itself is a sandstone pyramid in a small clearing, and it stands approximately
40 feet tall. A single corridor leads from the front of the pyramid into
a central chamber, though four stained glass windows featuring fighting
dragons and warriors provide colorful light to the interior of the pyramid.
The walls of this chamber shine and sparkle softly during the day with
gold and semiprecious jewels. The placement of the stained glass windows
is within 10 feet of the ground, and they are angled in such a way that
their light plays over a tremendous gold altar. Placed in the center of
the altar is a small box made of ebony, with silver hinges and tiny sapphires
inlaid in arcane patterns on the lid. This is a replica of Zzarka's phylactery,
and it is meant to draw the attention of any adventurers powerful or lucky
enough to get this far.
are not exposed to the cacklefire infection while inside the temple. The
"little things" do not pursue characters into the temple, but
they may wait for up to 3 hours in the brush outside. A character who
touches the replica phylactery suffers the effect of a disintegrate
spell cast by an 18th-level wizard. The character, if still alive, and
the rest of the group also have to contend with the four stained glass
golems that leap out of the windows created for them (see Monster Manual
II, page 116). Two of the golems are human warriors (one male in green-tinted
armor, one female in golden armor), and the other two are dragons (one
red, one blue). Characters also find their sole point of egress, the corridor
through which they entered and the windows, blocked by several walls
Stained Glass Golems
(4): hp 66; see Monster Manual II, page 116.
actual phylactery, when present in the temple, is stored in a secret compartment
beneath the altar.
a party makes it through the jungle, into the temple, and past the golems,
they can attempt to loot the temple's treasure. The jewels embedded in
the temple walls are worth 4,500 gp. The golden walls themselves consist
of steel with gold leaf upon it.
the golems and looting the temple does not dispel the presence of the
cacklefire contagion, and it does not dispel the little things, either.
These creatures attack the characters on their way out of the jungle just
as they did on the way in.
that leads to the Forbidden Jungle is hidden in a graveyard in the city
of Westgate, on the Dragon Coast. It, like the portal described
in an earlier installment, is keyed to allow only undead spellcasters
to activate it. In addition to this, the Westgate portal functions
only at night. This portal opens in the thick jungle a few hundred
yards away from the Temple. It is a pleasant stroll for the undead, but
a potentially deadly one for mortals.
How to Incorporate
the Temple in the Forbidden Jungle Into Your Campaign
- The characters
are part of an expedition organized by an herbalist from Waterdeep,
who hopes to find rare plants within the Forbidden Jungle. He brings
various ointments and potions that he says will help against the disease
that poisons the air in the jungle.
- A series of unexplained
deaths occur in Westgate. People under heavy guard or in seemingly secure
rooms are perishing from a strange "wasting sickness." Wizards
seem particularly vulnerable. In truth, Lars Blackspike has taken one
of the "little things" out of the jungle and is using it to
assassinate enemies his other undead minions could not reach.
- Rumors of a temple
full of treasure guarded by carnivorous plants and terrible dragons
reach the characters. Besides the great riches the temple holds, there
is an even greater reward for those able to find it: Within its very
walls is the secret of eternal life.
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