Cult of the Sun Lion oneshot

The desert can be a dangerous place, even in places of seeming safety like desert towns. The adventurers come into conflict with a dangerous brigand cult when they stumble upon an attempted kidnapping. Should they fail to rescue the victims in time, the cult may manage to lay their hands upon a powerful item which will change the balance of power in the entire region.   After the cultists kidnap their victim, the group must locate the cult's headquarters, make their way past cult members, monsters, and illusions, only to face the leader of the cult, and discover he is not as he seems. If they prevail, they may discover the key to an ancient secret.   This adventure is optimised for five 6th-level characters.
 

Marketplace Banditry

When the characters visit the local bazaar to do some shopping, they are unexpectedly thrust into drama as cultists attempt to abduct an elderly halfling and her family. Here's how the encounter plays out:
  • The shopping trip starts uneventfully, with the party gaining access to a limited number of cheap single-use magic items. Suddenly chaos erupts as the marketplace is attacked. Identical twin cultists drag away the grandmother, while their fellows try to capture the halfling children to serve as leverage.
  • If the characters attempt to intervene, one of the cultists sets a fire to delay them, while the other produces an ebony fly figurine of wondrous power and flies away with her.
  • The cultists will fight to the death unless special efforts are made to subdue them, or they achieve their goal and slip away.
  • The twin riding the ebony fly will most likely escape, fleeing before the characters have time to intervene. If the fly or the cultist riding it are shot down, he should be able to steal a camel and make his escape with his captive before the characters can reach him.
  • The elderly woman will be taken to the cult enclave, a day's travel from the city, where the cult will extract information she bears about the location of a powerful magic item they have been seeking. It's up to the adventurers to rescue her before that happens.
If the characters do not intervene, afterward the townsfolk will eye them grimly and whispers will start about their cowardice, until the captain of the Town Watch hires them to rescue the grandmother.    

M1. Arrival Point

When the characters decide to go shopping, they visit a smaller bazaar in town. Read:
The morning is still crisp from the cold night, and the sun is just beginning to rise above the town walls as you enter the marketplace. This is not the central bazaar, but one of the smaller markets that are frequented by locals, and you hope to find better prices than the busy main square here. Colourful awnings shade the rugs where sellers have already set out their wares, and yawning townspeople are walking the paths between the stalls. Decorations hang overhead, remnants of a recent festival, stirring lazily in the morning air.
The market stalls in the square provide access to commonly available items at normal prices.  

M2. Nashwa's Tokens

Facing the party is a large square awning shading an elderly woman, her nut-brown skin wrinkled from years of exposure to the desert sun. She eyes you, visibly calculating your wealth, before a smile splits her face and she cheerily calls to you.
The woman calls the adventurers over, introducing herself as Nashwa Abboud, a seller of magic tokens. Each token carries a single-use spell bound within it. These tokens are:
  • Death Ward token (10hp false life, requires an action to trigger): 25gp
  • Featherfall token (when worn against the skin, automatically triggers featherfall when the wearer falls more than 15 feet): 25gp
  • Sustenance token (the bearer does not require food for a week after triggering): 50gp
  • Trackless Step token (pass without trace for one day after triggering): 50gp
No more than two tokens per character is recommended. Purchases can be limited by availability of tokens, or the eruption of violence, whereupon Nashwa will grab her wares and flee.  

M3. Halfling Abduction

Shouts and screams begin to come from the north-west corner of the market. Within seconds the stallholders hurriedly start bundling up their wares and fleeing, some simply grabbing up the corners of their rugs to gather their items and running, slinging the bundle over their shoulders.
After the party has been shopping for a few minutes, there is a disturbance. A group of black-clad brigands from the Cult of the Sun Lion have attacked the marketplace, seeking to abduct one of the town residents, a halfling grandmother who is shopping with her grandchildren. Two white-robed twins (see Appendix B) have grabbed the grandmother and dragged her away as she struggles, while two cult fanatics (equipped with scimitars instead of daggers) and three cultists are attempting to corral her grandchildren. The cultist archers in area M5 have partial line-of-sight across the top of the tent awnings.  

M4. Fiery Retreat

The attackers are led by a pair of identical twin men clad in white robes. When they see you approaching, the one not dragging the struggling elderly halfling woman pulls a hand-sized square of fabric from a pouch. He chants something, and fire bursts from his hand across several nearby awnings. The flames start to spread quickly, with the abductor on the far side. His twin puts away the fabric and draws a scimitar, blocking your pursuit.
The white-robed twin acting as rear-guard will fight until his brother has safely escaped with their captive, at which point he will try to escape himself. He will not surrender, fighting to the death or until he is knocked unconscious. If he is captured, he carries a Cult of the Sun Lion spellcloth (see Appendix A) and wears a bracelet of ebony fly location. Any surviving cultists will rally around him.   The twin carrying away the halfling woman bears a shield of missile attraction slung across his back, a necklace of fireballs which he uses only as a last resort, and an ebony fly figurine of wondrous power. As soon as he has space, he will throw down the figurine, mount the giant fly with his captive, and fly away with her back to the cult enclave.  

M5. Archer Overlook

Two cultist archers (use bandit stat blocks) are located on the flat roof of a building to the southwest, using their light crossbows to provide ranged support to their brethren. They have line of sight to area M4 and most of area M3, with only areas directly in front of the intervening awnings providing half cover. If attacked directly they will fight to the death; if their brethren or both the twins are defeated, they will slip away to carry a message to the cult.  

Battle's Aftermath

The twin likely escaped with their captive, the halfling grandmother Apsia Fairkettle. If the characters succeeded in shooting down the giant fly but did not immediately capture the twin riding it, they arrive on the scene to discover the locals abuzz with the news that the fly transformed into a figurine which he picked up, before stealing a camel and riding out of the city gate before anyone could stop him.   The four halfling children are Kallie (the eldest and the only girl), Jabby, Greeby, and Frood (the extremely adventurous youngest, who carries his safety towel everywhere). If the characters saved the grandchildren from abduction, they can learn the following information:
  • Apsia is a retired adventurer, looking after the children while their parents are away on a trading expedition.
  • Members of the cult had visited the family at home, asking Apsia questions and wanting her to give them something.
  • Apsia grew extremely angry and shouted at them before throwing them out of the house. She pulled out a map and spent quite some time staring at it, before destroying it.
  If the characters kill one or both of the white-robed twins, the corpse soon twists and shifts to reveal the small body of a jackal dwarfed inside the robes. His equipment does not transform. The bracelet of ebony fly location provides a means of tracking the escaped twin, once it is identified and worn (wearers attune to it immediately). The patch of cloth with the symbol of the Cult of the Sun Lion cannot be reused, but provides a clue as to the identity of the attackers.   If any of the cultists (including the twins) are captured, they will die before revealing any important information. Spellcasters may recognise this as the effect of a geas, with a DC16 Arcana or DC18 Perception check. Before dying, they boast that the cult cannot be stopped, and the Shining Man will be victorious.   If the characters succeed in stopping the fire in the bazaar before it burns out of control (such as by use of spells like create water or sleet storm), the merchants become friendly toward them and they will receive a 10% discount in future.   Shortly after the attack, a town guard arrives to fetch the party to speak to the Captain of the Watch, Malak Kabir, a knight. After questioning the characters about what happened in the marketplace, he thanks them for stopping the attack (if they intervened), and offers a reward of 150gp for rescuing Apsia Fairkettle. He is able to provide the following information:
  • The Cult of the Sun Lion are based somewhere around a day's ride to the north-east. They have been attacking caravans in the area, but patrols have been unable to locate their encampment.
  • The cult is little more than a group of bandits, but they claim their leader, known as the Shining Man, is able to summon a glowing sun-lion, a lion-like creature with the torso of a muscular man where its head would be, akin to a centaur.
  • The cult are rumoured to have been searching for something, but nobody knows what.
 

Hunting the Cult

The cult enclave is a day’s travel away from the town, and the townspeople can give the characters a direction. If they have captured the bracelet of ebony fly location it will give an accurate direction and approximate distance. The characters can choose to attack at night after travelling all day, or camp partway and attack in the early morning.   Depending on the party’s speed of travel and whether they make any attempt at stealth, they may either be ambushed by a group of cultists sent to deal with any pursuit, or evade them. The group consists of five cultists, three cultist archers (use bandit statblocks) and two cult fanatics. The cultists make Perception checks the GM judge appropriate to spot the characters.  

The Cult Enclave

The cult enclave is visible ahead of you: a huge hexagonal white silk pavilion, one hundred feet from side to side, with ornate golden embroidery patterned across it and pennons snapping in the breeze overhead. From your position slightly above it, you can see a huge rendition of the cult’s lion’s paw symbol across its top. Behind it, two rectangular pools of water glitter as they line the path into a well-tended vineyard. Black-clad cultists are visible, standing guard or vanishing into the depths of the pavilion. Cliffs rise out of the desert behind the encampment, with the vineyard blocking the entrance to a narrow ravine vanishing into the stone bluffs.
  Observation reveals a disturbance beneath the sand in front of the pavilion: two creatures are apparently swimming underground in a regular oval pattern, as if on a racetrack. They appear to be at least ten feet wide and thirty feet long. As the party watches, a tall bearded man in white robes, who appears to glow with an inner light, emerges from the pavilion and carries out a long ritual. It is possibly a spell although no results are visible before he disappears back into the pavilion.  
The pavilion interior is filled with ornate, expensive and tasteful furnishings; rich rugs and tapestries, silk cushions, high-quality metal plates and goblets, all apparently carefully matched, rather than being the result of random caravan raids. It is lit with sparkling light as if from a spinning mirror, and the gentle ringing of pure, perfect crystal chimes shimmers through the air. Figures which do not seem to be quite human are visible moving in the recesses of the tent.
  Succeeding on a DC 18 Perception or Survival check will reveal the underground disturbance is an illusion. A separate DC 18 Perception check reveals the pavilion and vineyard are also permanent illusions; the reality is a ruined temple complex, with the ‘pavilion’ covering one building, and the ‘vineyard’ covering a temple behind it. Disbelieved illusions fade to a layer of colour and a ghostly outline.  

Attacking the Cult

Cult of the Sun Lion enclave
The enclave of the Cult of the Sun Lion, with its illusion stripped away.
The Cult of the Sun Lion has six cultists, three cultist archers, two cult fanatics, and surviving white-robed twin(s) scattered in the main 'pavilion' building. The nonhuman figures are illusions. When the characters attack, the twin will take to the air on the ebony fly and drop fireball beads from his necklace of fireballs.   After the combat has started, the Shining Man will emerge from the rear temple, having cast mirror image on himself. He makes use of illusions to distract and divert attackers, and will save a spell slot for his invisibility spell. If his allies are killed or close to defeat, he will not hesitate to cast invisibility on himself and flee at full speed.  

Dark Ravine

If the characters enter the ravine behind the ancient ruins, read:
The forty-foot wide ravine behind the enclave vanishes around a curve in the stone, desert sand covering its floor. Inside, the crack in the stone widens to reveal a large rock thrusting up out of the rock-strewn sand, with an enormous lizard asleep on top of the warm stone. Its sides move slightly and its tongue tests the air as it dreams.
 
Sun Lion lair ravine
Lair of the Shining Man and his pet sand basilisk
A DC 15 Perception check will reveal that the chunks of sandstone half-buried in the sand are actually the remnants of petrified individuals, turned to sandstone and then broken apart. A DC 18 Perception or Survival check will reveal that the lizard is an illusion: the real threat is the banded sand basilisk lurking beneath the surface.   If the characters defeat the basilisk, they can continue around the curve of the ravine.
The stone curves away before you, revealing the end of the ravine. The head of an enormous purple worm is thrusting out of the rock, jaws open, but unmoving. It appears to be asleep; you can faintly hear a slow, cavernous rushing of air, and the jaws are flexing slightly as it inhales and exhales.
  A DC 19 Perception check will reveal that the purple worm has been petrified, and the semblance of life is only illusory. The lamia made its lair within the stone jaws, and the throat is filled with valuables stolen from caravans. Rugs and wall-hangings have been bundled into a dirty and torn nest. The halfling grandmother, Apsia Fairkettle, is within; she has managed to free herself but did not dare set foot on the sand for fear of the lamia's pet basilisk.  

Rescuing Apsia

Having rescued Apsia and destroyed the Cult of the Sun Lion, the party retrieves the following treasure from the lamia's lair:
  • Two rugs, worth 450gp each, spelled to be permanently clean
  • Cubic chest with a pattern of writhing vines, which inspection reveals are snakes. It contains coins and trade bars worth 2,009gp and 1,610sp
  • Roll of brilliant turquoise silk, worth 300gp
  • A sack containing 4,113 copper pieces
  • 10x 50lb bags of salt
  • 3x vials of delicately-scented jasmine perfume, worth 15gp apiece
  • A cubic foot of sculptural-quality malachite
After being safely escorted back to town, Apsia reveals that she had possessed a map to an enormous hidden secret, which she discovered in her adventuring days. Unable to make use of it, she hid it until the cult discovered clues it was in her possession. After she has had a couple of days to recreate the map, she will give it to the party. This can be the hook for any adventure you want to send the party on next.    

Appendix A: Magic

Bracelet of ebony fly location
This bracelet allows the wearer to identify the direction of the ebony fly to which it is linked, and the approximate distance. Each of the white-robed twins wears one, so they can find their twin no matter which is using the statuette.  
Cult of the Sun Lion spellcloth
Symbol of the Cult of the Sun Lion, on rough cloth. Five-clawed lion's paw, with a flaming sun in the centre.
Cult of the Sun Lion spellcloth by Geoff Hancock
This loosely-woven undyed cloth bears the insignia of the cult of the Sun Lion: a lion's paw with five claws and a flaming sun in the centre. The symbol does not appear to be dyed or woven into the cloth, but somehow created in the shadow between the threads. It stored a single spell, which has been released.  
Figurine of Wondrous Power: Ebony Fly
This ebony statuette is carved in the likeness of a horsefly. It can become a giant fly for up to 12 hours and can be ridden as a mount. Once it has been used, it can't be used again unless 2 days have passed or a special ritual has been carried out, immersing the statuette in the lifeblood of an innocent. This allows the ability to be used again immediately.  

Appendix B: Creatures

Banded Sand Basilisk

Large monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class: 16 (natural armour)
Hit Points: 152 (16d10+64) 16d10+64
Speed: 30ft Burrow: 30ft

STR

20 +5

DEX

16 +3

CON

18 +4

INT

5 -3

WIS

16 +3

CHA

10 +0

Saving Throws: Con +7, Dex+3
Skills: Perception +6, Stealth +5 (only while sand gliding)
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages: -
Challenge Rating: 8
Banded Sand Basilisk attacks by Geoff Hancock

Sand Glide. The sand basilisk can burrow through non magical, unworked sand and earth. While doing so, the sand basilisk will only slightly disturb the material it moves through. (DC18 perception) to notice.   Sand Flurry. As a distracting manoeuvre the sand basilisk may forgo its attacks in that round and cause a disruptive cloud of sand and dust to rise into the air in a rough sphere 20 foot radius. The cloud of sand totally obscures all vision within the area, and lasts for 1d4 rounds.

Actions

Multiattack. The basilisk makes two melee attacks: one with its spray and one with its bite or two bites.   Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (3d6 + 5) 3d6+5 piercing damage plus 10 (3d6) 3d6 poison. The wounds from the sand basilisk's bite often cause lingering stony scars that persist even when healed.   Petrifying Venom (Recharge 5-6). The basilisk spits a spray of petrifying venom in a 30 foot long, 5 foot wide line. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, the creature magically begins to turn to sandstone and is restrained. It must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends. On a failure, the creature is petrified until freed by the greater restoration spell or other magic.

The Banded Sand Basilisk is a cousin to the more common basilisk, but instead of a petrifying gaze, its attack is linked to the spray of venom it can spit. Its ability to disappear beneath the sand, then reappear to strike without warning, has been the downfall of many would-be monster hunters. The venom cloud swiftly converts petrified victims to sandstone.   A sand basilisk is a ruthless and determined predator but is fortunately rarely encountered. It prefers to lie just under the sand basking and waiting for prey on reasonably well travelled routes. If it determines that the prey is an easy kill it will stealthily sand glide up to the target and attempt to kill the prey with its bite alone, however if the prey is large or particularly dangerous, the Sand Basilisk will not hesitate to use its petrifying venom.   In areas where prey is constant and plentiful, a banded sand basilisk can often become aggressive and territorial. A successful hunter will often break up excess petrified prey to dine on at a later date, scattering the chunks of sandstone in the sand where it lairs.   Experienced desert travellers know that a slain basilisk can be butchered and with a successful Survival check (DC16) the stomach juices can be extracted and applied to a petrified victim to restore them back to flesh. A typical sand basilisk's stomach will contain enough juice to apply to 1d2 victims.

Suggested Environments

A sand basilisk prefers desert regions with loose sand it can burrow into, and rocks it can camouflage itself and its victims against. Rocky crevasses and ravines on the edges of the desert are particularly favoured.

DMG p 169

Giant Fly

Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class: 11
Hit Points: 19 3d10+3
Speed: 30ft Fly: 60ft Hover: -17ft

STR

14 +2

DEX

13 +1

CON

13 +1

INT

2 -4

WIS

10 +0

CHA

3 -4

Senses: darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 10
Languages: -

Monster Manual Expanded, p170

The Shining Man

Large monstrosity, chaotic evil
Armor Class: 14 (natural armour)
Hit Points: 136 ( 16d10+48 )
Speed: 40ft

STR

18 +4

DEX

14 +2

CON

17 +3

INT

16 +3

WIS

13 +1

CHA

18 +4

Skills: Arcana +6, Deception +11, Insight +6, Stealth +5
Senses: darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages: Abyssal, Common
Challenge Rating: 8
Lamia by Monster Manual 3.0

The lamia is a 6th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 15, +7 to hit with spell attacks). It has the following sorcerer spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): fire bolt, infestation, mage hand, minor illusion, poison spray
1st level (4 slots): chaos bolt, shield, thunderwave
2nd level (3 slots): hold person, invisibility, scorching ray
3rd level (3 slots): catnap, fireball
Sorcery Points. The lamia has 6 sorcery points. It can spend 1 or more sorcery points as a bonus action to gain one of the following benefits:
Quickened Spell: When the lamia casts a spell that has a casting time of 1 action, he can spend 2 sorcery points to reduce the casting time to 1 bonus action.
Subtle Spell: When the lamia casts a spell, it can spend 1 sorcery point to cast the spell without somatic or verbal components.
Magic Resistance. The lamia has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Innate Spellcasting. The lamia's innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 15). The lamia can innately cast the following spells, without providing material components:

At will: dazzle, major image

1/day: geas

3/day: mirror image, scrying, suggestion


Shapechanger. The lamia can use its action to cast an illusion to change into a Small or Medium humanoid it has seen, or back into its true form. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn't transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.

Actions

Multiattack. The lamia makes two attacks:one with its claws and one with its scimitar or Intoxicating Touch.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 ( 2d10+3 ) slashing damage.
Flaming Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 ( 1d6 ) slashing damage plus 8 ( 2d6 ) fire damage.
Intoxicating Touch. Melee Spell Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: The target is magically cursed for 1 hour. Until the curse ends, the target has disadvantage on Wisdom saving throws and all ability checks.

The Shining Man appears as a tall-bearded man swathed in white robes who seems to glow with an inner light, until his illusion is dispelled. At that point he is revealed as a lamia, with the body of a large lion and its head replaced by the head, torso and arms of a hugely muscled lion-like human, much like a leonine centaur.   He wears a pair of finely made gold and mother-of-pearl Bracers of Shielding, giving him resistance to force damage, and immunity to the magic missile spell. He also wears a gold pectoral necklace, glittering with diamond chips.

Monster Manual Expanded, p162

White-Robed Twin

Medium humanoid (shapechanger), lawful evil
Armor Class: 12
Hit Points: 50 ( 9d8+9 )
Speed: 30ft

STR

11 +0

DEX

15 +2

CON

12 +1

INT

14 +2

WIS

12 +1

CHA

16 +3

Skills: Deception +7, Perception +2, Stealth +4
Damage Immunities: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons that aren't silvered
Senses: passive Perception 12
Languages: Common
Challenge Rating: 2

The twin is a 6th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks). It has the following bard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): minor illusion, thunderclap, vicious mockery
1st level (4 slots): charm person, dissonant whispers, earth tremor, thunderwave
2nd level (3 slots): blindness/deafness, hold person
3rd level (3 slots): catnap, enemies abound, major image

3/day: Psychic Blades. The jackalwere deals an extra 10 ( 3d6 ) damage when it hits a target with a weapon attack.


Shapechanger. The jackalwere can use its action to polymorph into a specific Medium human or a jackal-humanoid hybrid, or back into its true form (that of a Small jackal). Other than size, its statistics remain the same. Its equipment isn't transformed, and it reverts to its true form if it dies.
Keen Hearing and Smell. The jackalwere has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Pack Tactics. The jackalwere has advantage on an attack roll against a creature if at least one of its allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn't incapacitated.
Dark Whispers. The jackalwere can use a bonus action on its turn to target one creature within 30 feet of it. If the target can hear the jackalwere, the target must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute. While frightened in this way, a creature must take the Dash action and move away from the jackalwere on each of its turns, unless there is nowhere to move. If the creature ends its turn in a location where it doesn't have line of sight to the jackalwere, the creature can repeat the saving throw. On a success, the effect ends.

Actions

Bite (Jackal or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 ( 1d4+2 ) piercing damage.
Scimitar (Human or Hybrid Form Only). Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 ( 1d6+2 ) slashing damage.
Sleep Gaze. The jackalwere gazes at one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the target succumbs to magical slumber, falling unconscious for 10 minutes or until someone uses an action to shake the target awake. A creature that successfully saves against the effect is immune to this jackalwere's gaze for the next 24 hours. Undead and creatures immune to being charmed aren't affected by it.

Reactions

Vexing Howl (Recharge 4-6). When a creature within 30 feet of the jackalwere (which is visible to the jackalwere and can hear it) makes an attack roll, but before the outcome is determined, the jackalwere can impose disadvantage to the roll. If the attack misses, the creature must succeed on a DC 13 Charisma saving throw or take 13 ( 3d8 ) psychic damage and is knocked prone.

The two white-robed twins serve the Shining Man as his lieutenants, but are rarely heard speaking by those outside the cult. Both are spellcasters of some ability, and are loyal to the Shining Man until death. They have unusual abilities of unknown source, with their mere gaze enough to knock some victims unconscious.   Only the Shining Man knows that the twins are actually jackalweres.
Art created by & copyright of Nathan Turner & Geoff Hancock. Maps created by Neutral Party & John Stevenson and used with permission.


Cover image: Desert Vista by Nathan Turner

Comments

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29 Apr, 2022 12:34

Well-put together!

Here is my Challenge article! HROKENTORM   Come vist my worlds PANGORIO for exciting tales, world lore, and RPG adventures! HYPNOSIUM is my new historical fantasy world!
30 Apr, 2022 13:31

Thanks! I'm rather pleased with the result, after the great folks over on Discord gave some very helpful BBCode suggestions. :)

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30 Apr, 2022 15:16

A very well crafted adventure, I enjoyed reading it. Your narrative texts and the maps carry the atmosphere quite nicely. I do wonder what exactly the cultists wanted with the map - it is likely to come up in a session, since cultists are known for having quite specific and sinister motivations. The pavillon illusion is an interesting idea, though I did not quite understand its purpose, since it would make a traveller rather more likely to investigate than a ruin. I would also love to have seen more of the Shining Man and his motivations. This is one of my favorite entries so far!

If you have some time, I would much appreciate your feedback on my entry for Adventure April: Carbon Copy Paradise
30 Apr, 2022 17:33

Thanks very much! Although this was created as a oneshot for the D&D 5e world that a friend & I co-DM in, it was designed to allow several hooks for future use if the players were interested in following up. The map would lead them to something hidden in the Sky-Sworn Mountains, a trio of immense floating mountains several weeks' travel away. The pavilion was intended as a lure for the unwary; lone travellers may well find themselves involuntary new members of the cult, if the Shining Man got his hooks into them! There weren't enough words in the challenge to go into detail about the cultists and what was in their encampment to make that clear. The Shining Man was also intended to be usable as a recurring villain if the players weren't quick enough about stopping him, and showed enough interest in him.

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