This is a 5th Edition one-shot adventure module that you can play with any TTRPG world of your choice
, but it is designed to be played in the world of Xardia
as a module following the Milestone System
, but it can be used via the EXP System
if you so desire. It is intended for a GM and 1-4 players
starting at level 1 with the intention of 3-6 hours of gameplay
. As with most creations for Xardia it includes dark themes that may trigger some readers. Please keep in mind this is a work of fiction
while partaking in it.
uring the year 6,131 AR in the lands of Zaria, you have begun traveling, or perhaps were born in, the northeastern continent of the world. Here in the lands ruled by the feared Ceridian Empire, you have found yourselves to the far rocky north of the Empire, in a country known as Dra'Kun. Despite the seasons having turned toward late spring, here within this mountainous land, snow and sleet beat your frame into the slick rocks beneath your feet. Biting cold wind viciously rip through your flesh akin to icy blades wielded by dark spirits, hungry for your warmth.
The reasons you find yourself in this cold, bitter land vary from one to the next. But all now ponder on the choices that led you to such a place. With mountains rising around you, and a great storm forming on the horizon. The wind's speed increases further still, and with it comes the howl of snow, a promise of further frost and suffering in the coming hours. With no choice but to seek shelter, you have located the nearest town through various means. Perhaps stumbling upon it by luck, or through desperate examination of a map against the few landmarks you can make out against the stark white.
Regardless of reasons and method, you and your compatriots find yourselves entering what should have been a small town known as Ardmet
as the early morning sun rises to your left. Though upon closer inspection, it appears to be less a town and something more akin to a ruin. Wary of the great dilapidated buildings of stone and wood, some long-buried by snow and ice, you push deeper toward the center of the ruin. For in the far distance your party can see a glimpse of hope in the form of a trail of smoke flowing into the sky. Here, your story begins.
Game Master's Section
s always, be sure to check with all individuals that are playing for their personal RPG Safety Tools
. Work with everyone to make sure all bases are covered, dark fantasy and horror aren't an excuse to make someone uncomfortable after all. Excited, creeped out, engrossed in the dark tale, certainly. But never truly uncomfortable. Keep in mind the usage of safewords at the table if needed.
Be sure to talk with your players first and make it clear that there are mature elements found in the story, dark themes of some triggering psychological concepts, and horror aspects to the world. If they're alright with that, read them the Player Prologue to see if they're interested in the game!
Keep in mind the optional rules in regards to diseases, traumas, and spell limitations found in "David's Deadly Drawbacks & Diseases". These rules are optional but are assumed to be involved for this adventure and its added difficulty.
If the optional rules are being used, then be sure to warn your players that this world is dark and difficult to live in. Riddled with disease, sickness, war and often the mentally ill. Magic is weaker than you think, and no spell is capable of simply curing an individual.
Spells and potions that provide healing, status recovery or nourishment can easily lead to addiction. Weakening their effectiveness and requiring their continued use to ease it, or forcing an individual to suffer and try to overcome it while suffering penalties. Both Players and Game Master's are encouraged to utilize strategy to compensate and ensure you suffer as little damage as possible. Handle encounters warily and plan ahead, it's key for these situations.
There are various side-quests in this Adventure that can provide the party with numerous options to help balance the tides of battle in their favor. Encourage them to think outside the box, and be open to their ideas as well. Each quest has at least two methods of completion, and all skills can be of use throughout this adventure.
Characters are expected to start at level one, and finish at level three by the end of this module.
Read Aloud Sections
This is an example of a section that should be read aloud. When seen, you're recommended to read it aloud to your players or paraphrase it into something of a similar tone.
For specific information on magic in Xardia, please be sure to read the Magical Arts
article. This will define the specifics of the various types of magic in Xardia. The mechanics are unaffected, however, in summary, spells found in the standard D&D setting are to be roleplayed in this way.
Spells with verbal components are considered to be Incantation
magic. Material components are considered enhancements to spells found in the Alchemy
article. Spells that place wards, runes, or enchantments are based around Runic
magic. In this way spell slots are less represented by 'stamina' or 'slots' in-character, and more represented by the amount of mental focused required to manifest these spells.
A spellcaster that has run out of spell slots isn't 'out of energy' so much as simply being unable to retain the level of higher focused required to release their magic on the world. A caster is capable of forcing this focus, but in doing so will cause strain on themselves. This is an optional mechanic found in Xardia and can be found in the proper adventure book. Without this book, it's up to the DMs to rule this as they wish.
For the various classes that utilize the powers of other entities, such as Clerics and Warlocks, in Xardia these are considered different from other casters. In these cases, it isn't based on their own individual focus but instead is fueled directly by the connection to their being that they follow, or have formed a pact with. This also means they are completely untrained on how to perform magic normally without this enhancement unless they have multiclassed into other casters as well.
Finally, Sorcerers, individuals born with magic innately due to a mana core, are capable of fueling normal magic even further with natural magic, this is the explanation for their "sorcery points". Natural mages are a rarity, referencing this fact through the rarity of the sorcerer class.
Travel & Equipment
Travel within this area is difficult, due to the heavy snows, slick ice, and steep inclines that make up the mountainous lands surrounding Ardmet. This, combined with how time-intensive this one-shot can be in character, means that there's a bit of a guide here at the start of the scenario. Assuming that the session begins in the morning (the recommended setting for this adventure), the party has a full day to complete as many side-quests as they can manage.
Each square located on the town map is considered 50ft. The amount of distance that can be covered in one hour is then based on this, and the current equipment of the party that is being used.
|Method of Travel
||Distance per Hour
|On foot, snowshoes
|On foot, without snowshoes
Keep in mind that spells that enhance movement can change this, but to use this as a guideline to help your players, and you, know how much time has passed and how much longer there is until nightfall.
With this same information in mind, make sure to note to your players that wearing heavy winter clothing, having snowshoes, and even a sled is perhaps recommended for ease of travel through the slopes. Proper winter clothing is considered 4 gold, and separate from travelers' clothing. Snowshoes are considered 5 gold for a pair, and a Sled
for 20 gold, also requiring proficiency in land vehicles to use properly. This requires at least one Sled-dog
to function, with more adding to the resources and proficiency required, but increasing the sleds efficiency.
There are several important individuals found within this town. Due to the small population, each one has a skillset and each is indisposable to the tight-knit community. Any harm coming to them will cause a serious uproar, and similarly, assistance to their friends and family will quickly earn trust and thanks.
|The Reeve of the town, sent here in charge of establishing a foothold by the Lord Deldricon Kilgrave. Full name Kipildus Tiberius, originally a native of far-western Ceridia at the border of Conlis. Well into his senior years, but nowhere near senile he has a shaved head and face with bright green eyes. He is a scholar, merchant, and financial expert that has managed to successfully create and run a town for forty years prior to this. He'd intended to make this his "final job" and retire here. He only chose people he personally knew and trusted for the job, and genuinely cares for the village's well-being. He also is resolute that they cannot abandon the place, and has called for reinforcements as fleeing would open them up to slaughter in the night. He will offer a handsome reward to the party for assisting this place, both for his responsibilities and because he cares for these people. He is in no shape to fight, but he's an expert tactician that dealt with bandit and pale raids in the past. See Section 1: Seeking Shelter, and Section 1, Part 7: Gatehouse for details.
|Quiet and speaking with a stutter. A middle-aged man with blue eyes, a deep brown beard and balding head of neck-length hair. Stands at an average height with a decent physique and pale skin. Missing the pinky on his right hand. Scavenges materials from the ruins, and gathers food and herbs from the forest. Originally a hunter suffering PTSD. See Section 1, Part 3: Alchemist for details.
Innkeeper and brewer.
|A stout young woman with rounded, cute features standing just under five feet. Slightly overweight but curvacious. Curly red hair pulled up in a bun. Loud, boisterous, shameless, and maternal she runs the inn happily. Providing entertainment through song and poetry while she cooks and brews. Originally a merchant that decided to settle here, seeing potential in the ruin and history. See Section 1, Part 1: Treating the Injured for details.
|The head of construction within the village, and the one in charge of everything that has been built up to this point. Commissioned by Kip to assist him in establishing a foothold village. Standing just under six feet tall, he is broad and muscular. Brown eyes and hair cut short with a well-groomed beard, both graying slightly. Most would describe him as ruggedly handsome. He is forward, proud, honest and hard-working. But when met by the players he is panicked and wracked with guilt over his failure and loss. See Section 1, Part 1: Treating the Injured and Section 1, Part 5: Fortification for details.
|If located, she is a slender, tall figure with slightly pointed ears similar to her brother, Gregory. Pale, blue-eyed, with long blond hair coming to the center of her back, she was clearly once beautiful and curvaceous, yet petite. But appears to have become worn down and ragged even in the short stint of her capture. Having moved here with Geoffery when her father was commissioned to help build the village under Kip's authority. Details found in later chapters of this adventure.
|A tall young man, well built with muscle and clearly holds proper training in combat. His ears are slightly pointed, with almond-shaped blue eyes and his long blonde hair travels to his shoulders. If he is healed, he wears this in a thick braid. He shares many sharp features with his sister Marana, but with the physical build of his father. He is kind-hearted and welcoming, wracked with guilt over his failure to protect his family properly. See Section 1, Part 1: Treating the Injured and Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid for details.
Waitress and chef.
|One of the individuals commissioned by Kip due to being educated as a merchant. Originally in charge of the Inn, but when Matilda appeared she gratefully handed the responsibility over. Green-eyed with strawberry blonde hair around her shoulders in length. Young and talented, but severely inexperienced. Likely no older than twenty. Yet humble and eager to learn, charming and polite. Of average height and build, she is a critical support for the village assisting all of them in their daily lives in some way without holding the full responsibility of any one position. She does not make an appearance until Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid, having been out tracking with Charla and Flent.
|The head farmer of the village, working together with her husband Orval and her son-figure, Mark. Commissioned from Kip to come here for long-term food and supplies. Middle-aged with greying brown hair cropped short around her ears, skin weathered from working in the son she has an athletic build and average height. Grey eyes are framed with crows-nest eyes that make her look much older than she actually is from certain angles. She's not much for words but cares deeply about the people here.
|Husband to Linda, Orval is a bright and cheerful man happy to chat. Standing just over six feet with a shaved head and thick black beard coming down to his chest, tinged with grey. Someone well-liked by the entire community for his upbeat attitude, he'll play music, sing and recite poetry happily for those that will listen. See Section 1, Part 6: Arena for details.
|Linda's assistant that she has been training most of his life, Mark was raised on her original farm. Just recently turning nineteen he suffers from a form of mental disability and isn't much for social situations. Despite this, he is a dependable hard worker, and unusually strong for his relatively average frame. Rippling with hard muscle and holding a nasty scar that stems down from his hairline to his upper lip that he doesn't remember how it got there (Linda will tell her theory that he was kicked in the face by a horse, due to its crescent shape and his mind). Though not a skilled warrior, he is trained in self-defense and is the bravest of the villagers, leading to his injury. See Section 1, Part 2: Proper Arms for details.
Smith and miner.
|Gruff but fair. A tall woman appearing to be in her thirties with ear-length cropped black hair, caramel skin, one brown left eye an eyepatch over its missing twin. An original native to the town before Kip came here to revitalize the ruin. With Giant-kin blood she stands closing in on seven feet in height. She does not make an appearance until Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid, having been out gathering with Narina and Flent.
Miner and merchant.
|One of the original inhabitants of the ruins that purchased several cave entrances from the lord that now owns the ruins and land. Flent is a rugged man in his later years, hair more grey than brown. Standing of average height with clear blue eyes. He is well-muscled and strong, a veteran miner and merchant that risked the dangers of the ruins and caves to find rare minerals alongside his friend Charla. With the recent raids coming from his mines, he blames himself for the village's current predicament and is currently not in the village, out with Charla and Narina.
Injured; Guard and hunter.
|Originally a fisherman whose boat was stranded after suffering damage from collision with the ice. Skipper is a recent addition to the village, only having lived here for a seven months, but is well-liked by the village. He's forged several friendships and is one of the few well-trained warriors of the village. Taking on the mantle of head guard. He knows a bit of magic, and is an expert hunter and sailor. Stands six feet even, and is still in his late-prime with short blonde hair, a thick blonde mustache, tanned skin, and bright blue eyes. For details see Section 1, Part 8: Docks.
Priest and doctor.
|Commissioned by Kip after retiring as a Bishop of the Trinity's Church. In his later years, balding grey hair with a clean-shaven face in a constant comforting smile even in these dark times. Dimitris is a kind man and gentle soul, capable of primordial magic and even limited access to the rare healing magic. As a rare cleric, he holds more magical energy than most. With knowledge of basic herbology to create healing poultices and limited surgical knowledge, he's become the makeshift doctor and source of faith for the village. He has been attempting to renovate the old church ruin, but with the attacks, such actions have stopped. He has been given a vision of the old church the night prior to the Party's arrival, however. See Section 1, Part 1: Treating the Injured, and Section 1, Part 4: Church Ruins for details.
Beginning the Adventure
Welcome to the world of Xardia. First, you'll need to set the stage for your players by reading the following base narrative.
our party has found themselves in the far north of the Zarian continent. The landscape is rocky and mountainous, covered in snow and ice. Found within the country of Dra'Kun, a land once dominated by Giant-kin cities and towns, now naught but a source of powerful slaves for the Ceridian Empire for the past several hundred years. Many maps of this land remain outdated, and its population is sparse. Few ever knowing if the town on the map they were reading even existed any longer, or if it had been long since buried under dozens of feet of snow and rubble.
With a raging storm approaching, your party has evacuated to the closest thing resembling a town. Be it by knowledge, map, or luck. This was once the grand Giant-kin town of Ardmet marked as a port-town. Having once used the flowing rivers through the mountains as trade routes with other towns, and even to the sea itself further south-west.
However, as you all approach the grand walls of stone you begin to notice abnormalities. Cracks decorating the rock, chunks having fallen free to the earth as rubble. You all realize that you will have no such luck as a bustling town here. All that greets your gazes as you approach this once great town is the chill of an approaching snowstorm, and a sprawling ruin up the mountains.
Immidiately before you is what was once a grand gatehouse. The yawning mouth where the gate's doors once rested easily thirty feet in height, and half that in width. The wall and gatehouse itself reaching upward of forty feet. But the years have been unkind. Now, chunks of stone have fallen forth, and the great wall is more rubble than a barrier.
Yet, strangely enough, there is a path large enough for two to walk side by side through the rubble comfortably. Offering just the smallest shreds of hope, perhaps you are not alone here after all. This thought is reinforced as your group steps through the ruined gate, and find the sprawling ruin of countless buildings before you.
In the distance up the mountain, past the sprawling ruin of a town you see a thick cloud of smoke rising, forming from several smaller streams combining together.
From this point, your players have two options. The first is to skip through the ruins for now, and follow the "standard" adventure. In this case shift over to Starting in the Village
and begin from this point. If they wish to explore the ruin as they make their way up the mountain despite the blizzard being on their heels, then continue on to Early Ruin Exploration
Early Ruin Exploration
If they wish to begin at the gate, then read the next context of narrative for them as a short excerpt to set the stage.
With the smoke on the horizon, your goal is set. But the curiosity of the surroundings is obvious, drawing your attention.
With the threat of the snowstorm at your back, you begin to make your way through the ruins of the town. Much of the buildings are buried in snow, and it's difficult to push through the feet of snow, resisting you all the way.
Pushing through despite this you slowly make your way through, keeping the one cleared pathway that leads further up the mountain in sight. Noting the iced-over cobblestone that makes it up.
As your party makes its way through this dilapidated ruin, you pass the grand and exotic architecture of the Giant-kin. Spiraling towers, grand inns and massive marketplaces. Beautiful, unique, and forgotten to time.
Now from this point, we must go over a few details based on what the party is trying to do. Are they simply passing through? Or are they doing dedicated searches of some sort through the ruin, all while the blizzard slowly, but steadily approaches them from behind? Should they change their mind, and simply wish to continue on to the village itself, please read the following narration, and then move on to Section 1: Seeking Shelter
on where to begin from this point.
As you continue passing through the exotic architecture, you make your way through the ruins at a steady pace. Fighting through the snow and occasionally using the single cleared trail where needed. You continue this path until reaching the highest level of the town.
Here you spot what could only be described as an organized wall of rubble. Seemingly purposely build though with a hole clearly meant for travel due to a lack of any gate. The snow begins to lessen in this area as if it were traveled relatively often.
If they came from the east:
To your right, you pass a grand Cathedral with a long-broken stained glass window. The few parts that remain depict it as a church of the trinity, long dilapidated in ruin.
If they came from the west:
To your left is a large, dilapidated ruin of what was once a massive Arena. To the right are what appear to be five rough fields that are currently growing some form of foods despite the chill.
With a Intelligence (Nature) check, DC 10, they will know the field is full of onions, radishes, leeks, potatoes, and spinach.
As you approach the wall the winds whip around you. The storm you had been desperately avoiding close on your heels and as you push past the entrance past the wall of rubble, you're greeted by a small, quaint village.
Should they wish to continue with their exploration of the ruins, continue on to the next section at Surviving the Blizzard
Surviving the Blizzard
First, we need to handle the amount of time that your party has before the blizzard hits. Make sure to read the section in regards to travel time, found at the start of this module. This is largely up to you to manage, but keep the time table of about two hours for the blizzard to hit the village. Use this as a guide based on where they're spending their time. If they're all lingering by the entrance of the ruin, the blizzard will be upon them quickly. If they are exploring as they travel toward the village, then base it on their investigation rolls and chosen speed while searching.
Searching DC's are based on the "Typical Difficulty Classes" table on pg. 174 of your Players Handbook. If the characters are doing a visual overlook as they travel, it is considered a Wisdom (Perception) check. If they are actively taking the time to search through the ruins from one building to the next, then this is considered instead an Intelligence (Investigation) check.
The DC for this attempt will raise depending on the speed of their travel. Ask the players exactly how long they intend to search, and use that time to increase the DC by an amount you think is fitting. Be sure to tell them how far off you've decided the blizzard actually is so that the players have a timetable to work with. Never increase the difficulty of this beyond a Hard: DC 20.
||Locate (1d4) 1d4 key locations found below. All suitable shelter.
||Same as Perception, with the bonus of finding the equivalent to (1d6+4) 1d6+4 gold in mixed currency found amongst the ruined buildings.
Each of the key buildings that are found can be explored, and their information is found below for each of their individual side-quests of Section One
. See the Table of Contents
for easy access to this information.
Should the players be caught in this Blizzard, they will suffer 1d6 cold damage per minute spent in direct cold, they are considered traveling through difficult terrain, and have their vision lowered to 10ft regardless of Darkvision as they are rendered snow-blind, suffering disadvantage to all Wisdom (Perception) Wisdom (Survival) and Intellignece (Investigation) checks.
If they enter a ruin that is considered "Suitable Shelter" (see above) then this damage will change to 1d4 per ten minutes. If the characters bundle together this becomes 1 cold damage per ten minutes. If a source of heat is created within this shelter then the damage is totally removed. A fire can be made using the leftover timber found from the ruin via a Wisdom (Survival) check with an easy DC of 10.
This blizzard will last for a total of an hour, before passing over the ruin and allowing your players freedom. This means a total of six rounds of whatever damage they take during that time depending on their choices made.
Starting in the Village
If your players are fine with playing the adventure the "intended way" within the village has come up along the eastern side of the ruined town, then feel free to read the following passage. This will offer them a solid starting point.
With the smoke on the horizon giving your group a goal, and possible shelter with warmth you begin to make your way up the mountainside. Here you travel through recently cleared pathways, carved into the snow to allow for single-file, unhindered travel. The cobblestone streets beneath your feet only lightly iced over.
As your party makes their way through this dilapidated ruin, you pass the grand and exotic architecture of the Giant-kin. Spiraling towers, grand inns and massive marketplaces. Beautiful, unique, and forgotten to time.
Finally, you reach the highest level where you spot what could only be described as an organized wall of rubble. Seemingly purposely build though with a hole clearly meant for travel. The snow begins to lessen in this area as if it were traveled relatively often. To your right, you pass a grand Cathedral with a long-broken stained glass window. The few parts that remain depict it as a church of the trinity, long dilapidated in ruin.
As you approach the wall the winds whip around you. The storm you had been desperately avoiding close on your heels and as you push past the entrance past the wall of rubble, you're greeted by a small, quaint village build close to the side of the cliff-face that rises far above you.
If you're running this at a table that doesn't allow time for some pre-session discussion and they interrupt you through the narrative saying they wish to explore the ruin, then fall back on the following response.
Player Q. "Can we pause and explore the ruin?"
Of course. Keep in mind your characters know from past experience that blizzards within these mountains are barely survivable even with proper shelter and equipment. Some of the ruins here may offer you reprieve from the snow and cold. But you'll be facing intense drops in temperature, and may be snowed in to wherever you seek shelter.
The trail of smoke, however, likely has some sort of already-made source of notable heat judging by the size of the smoke trail. Shelter at the least as good as anything you'll find in the ruins here is also likely, as it's clearly in the ruins as well, simply further up the mountain. Do you still wish to continue?
If they wish to start at the gate, then please see Early Ruin Exploration
, and continue as if they had begun their adventure from this point in the first place.
Section 1: Seeking Shelter
The party has now officially entered the village itself. Welcome to the proper start of the module. Here your party has options for some basic equipment, but the individuals found here are minor to say the least. There isn't a grand market, nor many resources to spare or much use for coin. They are also beset with their own problems, and as the party enters the town you'll want to read the following information.
As your party enters through the large hole in the wall, you're faced with a small village poorly hidden from behind what appears to be an incomplete wall of rubble. The buildings here are reminiscent of what you would imagine the word "patchwork" being applied to a building, would look like. Some parts of the houses and huts are entire sections of other ruins, transferred to a new foundation, and repaired.
Others are clearly made from dismantled parts of the ruins to form proper new walls and roofing. All of these buildings are single-story and appear to be built primarily of wood and stone, there is very little usage of metal in their works aside from nails and similar small prices.
As your party enters the village, the second thing you all notice is the fact the wall doesn't even completely encompass the sides of the village. Marking how incomplete it is, as there's another large hole that separates into a section of the wooden wall that has been built into a proper defensive turret. An unmanned turret.
Examining what you can see of the village, there is no one here. The crude pathways of cobblestone are empty, even the horses have tucked away into their barn to the far south-eastern side of the village. The house's windows are all covered with strong, currently closed storm doors but the brief glimmer of candlelight can be seen through the cracks.
Upon closer inspection, a single home stands out among the rest of the ramshackle buildings. Still a bit patchwork, but of notably better construction than the rest.
Within this small village there are various options for the characters to investigate and examine the area. For specific NPC interactions see the NPC chart as well as the village map found above. This will direct you to the various side-quests and specifics of the interactions with the NPC and the buildings in question.
If the party does head toward the hinted at main building, this will place them at the home of Kip, the Reeve of this village. Effectively the one put in charge of its founding and establishing a foothold here in the ruins to begin reclaiming the land for his lord. For specific details see his information in the NPC chart.
When approached, Kip will be polite, welcoming and kind unless hostility is shown. In which case he will snap into a mode of discipline, authority, and experience that comes with having already founded and run a town from the ground up long before this job. For this reason, intimidating attempts are far more difficult against him. He's aware that they'll all die if they don't help one another, and will make this fact known if violence is raised as an option.
Assuming the party is civil, Kip will be as well. Welcoming, offering tea and refreshment and talking to them about the specifics of the village and ruin. Here you'll want to mention that there is a "Devileye" wandering the mountains in this area. If they were out during the storm, he'll express surprise that they survived. Not due to the storm itself, though that is impressive, but due to luck of not encountering the beast. If they didn't already endure the storm and are fleeing from it to take shelter in his home, Kip will instead comment that the "Devileye" is likely to come out during the storm. So they are wise to seek shelter.
Anyone within the party is welcome to make an Intelligence (Arcana) check, DC 10 to know exactly what the creature Kip mentions is. On a success, they will know that a Devileye is also known as a "Yeti", or "Meh-Teh". A massive white ape-like creature that has suffered from the corruption, and been permanently mutated in a powerful white-furred beast adapted to the high mountains and cold climates of the world. Well known for their gaze which is said to be able to send a man into madness for meeting their gaze.
Kip's home is simple, but well furnished and warm with the roaring fireplace. The tea he offers is simple pine tea with a bit of mint, unsweetened but quick to shake the chill from the characters bones.
After the party has settled in, Kip will move on to inform the party specifically of what he'd like them to do. Explaining that the village was commissioned by the lord that now owned these lands, and things had been going quite well for just over a year. They'd made excellent progress in acquiring a foothill, despite how few were willing to take on the job. Clearing a large chunk of forestry, constructing homes and basic walls, even the defensive turret.
The ruins are well known as a treasure-hunting spot for the brave, and a few that lived in the ruins, including a man named Flent whom owned a local mine had already been surviving here. The future had been brightening and in another year, the Lord had promised to begin sending people ne-masse to help with the next stage of their plan.
But two weeks ago, the attacks had begun. Pale raids. Make sure that the players are fully informed what the Pale are, as though uncommon, their raids are common enough that most know at least vaguely what the creatures are without a need for a check. If you wish to see if they know intricate details of the species, such as the concepts of brood mothers, bulls, and their history, then the characters may make an Intelligence (History) check, DC 15. On a success, they will know the immunities, vulnerabilities and resistances of the Pale.
Initially, they'd managed to drive them off, but minor injuries accumulated, and soon they lost two. One named Methias was their forester and died of his wounds, and another was his wife, whom the Pale had taken. Their home is now abandoned. Then, just the night prior they lost another. Their carpenter, Geoffery's daughter was taken and many of them were injured, some quite injured such as Gregory, Geoffery's son whom is bedridden.
The village won't survive another attack so soon, and for that reason, Kip knows the Pale will come. They seem to smell weakness, fear, and have an unnatural intelligence for mere beasts. Due to this, he'd given up hope in a way. Reinforcements from the lord were on the way, but it would be another week before they arrived. Kip is certain that if the party wishes to survive the night, they must help one another. There isn't enough time to run, the Pale will catch up in the night and ambush them.
At least here, with basic fortification and numbers, the party and the village had some hope of victory. Or at the very least: survival. With this goal in mind, Kip will offer them a deal. A reward of fifty gold base, with an additional five gold per survivor of the village by the time reinforcements, arrive, assuming the party remains until the reinforcements in question arrive. Kip will stress that these people are his friends and responsibility, that he doesn't wish for them to come to any further harm.
The party may attempt to acquire more coin from him, but he's aware he's already being quite generous. The party may attempt to make a Charisma (Persuasion or Deception) check based on the actions, with a DC of 15 for an additional 15 gold each upon the reinforcement's arrival, and an additional 5 gold per survivor. If they attempt an Charisma (Intimidation) check, the DC is raised to 20 however and they will be faced with a realization of how experienced the old man truly is.
He will also include the fact that any treasures they find in the ruin they are welcome to in the meantime, especially if they find anything that may help the village survive in their hands. The ruins have been picked over many times, but there are bound to still be a few secrets. They're welcome to the hand-cart that's outside the inn, the village as a whole share it as required. Kip will offer them a bit of advice to go around the village and talk to the citizens, as they may have ideas on how to improve their situation that he hasn't considered. Especially emphasizing Mildred.
Once the party leaves it's up to them which building they wish to go to next. Use the map found above in Section 1: Seeking Shelter
along with the NPC Chart
, important NPC, and the quests associated with them.
An important note for the following the side-quests below. If you intend to play this based on an EXP system, then you are encouraged to treat the completion of every side-quest as a reward of 50 EXP to each character, to ensure that characters are level 2 by the time Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid
begins. Following this line of thought with each Pale being worth 200 EXP, for a party of 4 characters, each should reach level 3 by the end of this module as well.
Part 1: Treating the Injured (Mildred)
As the party moves through the town to approach the inn, read them through this narrative so they have an understanding of the area.
Before you looms the largest building in the village. The scents of roasted meat, baking bread, and ale caress your noses.
Approaching the inn, though you struggle to call it such a thing at a glance, you find the door easy to push open. A wave of warmth washes over you, surprising you at how well insulated these homes appear to be. As you enter, the smells grow even stronger and the sound of wooden dishes clashing, of hot pans, sizzling with the crackling of open flames. With a boisterous voice full of energy and joy unbefitting the grim situation of the village, a round-faced woman with curly red hair pulled back in a bun steps up the stairs calling out, "Hello there! Just a moment!"
With a barrel of ale carried over one surprisingly muscled arm on her petite frame, the innkeeper offers a broad smile. "Hello dears! I'm Mildred and welcome to my little slice of Ardmet! We've got three rooms for rent, though they're more just beds in a small closet, but they're private at least! We've got warm food, hot cider, and cool ale! We've also got work!"
Mildred is easily described as short, stout, and curvacious. Her attitude is boisterous and energetic, but she is putting on a front. True fear of the situation her home is currently in weighs on her, but as the heart of the community, she must do what she can to help everyone through it. She will offer the party food and drink, as well as the three small rooms to rent if they so desire.
If the party wishes to buy food, drink, or rent a bed then she will be happy to oblige. She has a variety of items on her menu, and will be happy to take the party's money. But likely warn that any sleep they may want to get in the beds they rent should be done before sundown. Once the sun sets, the final raid by the Pale is likely to hit the town and there will be no sleeping at that point.
Inn Menu & Unique Benefits
||Safe location for a short or long rest, and privacy in the village.
||Grants the ability to take a short or long rest.
||Grants advantage to Saving Throws against the diseased and poisoned conditions after consumption, until your next short or long rest.
||Grants 1d4 temporary hitpoints after consumption until your next short or long rest.
||Adds +1 HP healing on your next short rest taken within 8 hours of consumption.
||Add's 1d4+1 HP healing or restores a level 1 spell slot on your next short rest taken within 8 hours of consumption.
||Add's 2d4+2 HP healing or restores up to 2 spell slot levels on your next short rest taken within 8 hours of consumption.
||Grants 2d6+2 temporary hitpoints after consumption until your next short or long rest. Constitution Save, DC 10. Failure causes you to become intoxicated. You suffer disadvantage to all Ability Checks and Attack Rolls for the next 2 hours.
Note: Keep in mind the rule of temporary hitpoints not stacking. These benefits are taken into effect assuming the additional rules of "David's Drawbacks & Diseases" are in use, including rules in regards to "Gorging".
Mildred has a relatively simple job for them, and she'll bring it up as they peruse the options. Explaining that she has herbs that need to be delivered to the local priest, Dimitris, and then the healing poultice that he creates needs to be delivered to the village's various injured. If the party agrees to this idea, she will promise them a reward of a free ale or tea each along with a hearty meal of stew and bread on the house.
If the subject is broached, the herbs were gathered by a man named "Terrance", expressing a degree of pity. Terrance is a man suffering from severe PTSD due to the loss of his wife and daughter to the Pale. The recent Pale appearances has since left him with a stutter and terrible shakes. Mentioning the fact that Terrance is currently one of their best scavengers, gathering herbs and rare items from the ruins. As well as the fact that he was once a master hunter is important however, as it's something that will help the players later deal with Terrance.
A Wisdom (Medicine) check, DC 10 will reveal that the herbs are in fact all medicinal. Primarily of root-based plant life commonly used in healing such as derillin root, vilidi stems and rockroot. With a DC 15, on this check the player will be able to notice that some of the roots are all of the excellent condition and there are even a few rarer ingredients, including Moonroot, which only blooms on a full moon and is said to hold mystical healing qualities. Raising the possible question where the herbs were found, and by whom.
Assuming that the party agrees and takes the basket, Mildred will begin working on the meals and ales or teas while the party is directed toward Dimitri's home. See the specifics of the map found at Section 1: Seeking Shelter
and look into Dimitri found in the NPC chart. As the party approaches the building please see Section 1, Part 4: Church Ruins
for specific interactions with Dimitri and the quests he has to offer the party as well.
After returning from using Dimitri's herbal poultices and holy water, the party will be greeted by an ecstatic Mildred. She will eagerly sit the party down and ask them if they'd like their meals and drinks now or later. Explaining that she saw them through the windows delivering the various remedies to their injured. Depending on the scenario you may even wish to explain that some of the injured have already come in for their own meals and are in the Inn waiting for the party as well.
As a reward for this side-quest, the towns fighting force is now restored with the injured NPC being brought back up to fighting strength, even if they may not be back to a hundred percent. Increasing the chances of victory during Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid
. As well, every character is rewarded a free Ale
or Herbal Tea
, and Stew
that they can eat and drink now, or save for later by asking Mildred to let them have it later that night. Such as before the raid, if the party so desires.
Part 2: Proper Arms (Mark)
If the party approaches Mark's hut, they will find that the man is seriously injured. Enough that one arm is in a sling and one leg is heavily bandaged. When hailed, he will limp to the door and greet them simply. If they don't have any form of healing or don't intend to heal him, Mark won't be of much help. The bite of the Pale unfocusing his mind, though he appears to of avoided corruption. He will simply re-direct the party toward Kip's home if questioned, and return to rest.
If the party has arrived with proper medicine from Dimitris, or have healing of their own they wish to spare for him, then Mark will be ecstatic. Though in order to heal him, a healing potion, poultice, or cure wounds spell must be used. After the healing beings to take effect he will begin contemplating the situation and answer any questions they may have properly. If inquired about ways to help the village, he will lament the fact that they simply lack a proper set of weapons and armor.
They have gambeson, crossbows, spears and daggers. But there are few proper weapons or armor among them due to the environment and daily work rendering metallic armor as more dangerous than helpful. If they could at least be properly armed with more than spears, then he and a few others would have far better chances. Thinking of options, he will have a revelation.
Mentioning that when he went out gathering with Terrance, he recalled a section of the ruin to the far north-west that was what used to be the military district of Ardmet. Offering the idea that even if there may not be much, they may manage to find a few rusted, but proper weaponry. They could rush to get them functional, and at least have a better chance against the Pale.
With this, he will ask the party to let him sleep so that he can fully recover for the night-raid. Answering any other quick questions before showing them out and bedding down to have energy for the fight to come. Should they then follow his instructions, and head toward the Military District, they will traverse through the ruins following the map found in Beginning the Adventure
As they approach the military district, the following will offer a decent description of the area and what is to be done.
Walking through the ruins surrounding you, there is a clear rise to the far northwest of the village. Here the mountain inclines upward, and the building's skeleton's become larger. Expanding upward and outward to fit hundreds of individuals in the preparation for battle. Great armories, smithies and building yards expand out under the snow. Ruined chunks of ancient, long-rotted siege equipment left in shambled beneath the heavy blanket of white.
Within these countless buildings there are beds, ruined chests of rusted weaponry and armor, footlockers and more. As you begin to explore the various buildings you discover various weapons and items, but most are rusted beyond repair. As you dig further, taking your time to pick through the wreckage and ruin you're uncertain just what you'll find here. But at the very least, it's worth a look.
As the party goes exploring through the military district and various buildings, they will need to roll an Intelligence (Investigation) check. Based on the roll they will then get a variety of rewards based on what they manage to locate here.
All rewards are items that are found in sealed containers within well-oiled sheaths and wax protection. Clearly placed for long-term storage when needed during war, primarily in storage extensions of main armory buildings. They aren't in flawless condition even with these protective measures, but they're only slightly rusted or worn making them far better than what most people are capable of acquiring.
||12 2d8+4 various simple and martial weapons.
||8 1d4+2 various sets of medium armor, and 2 1d4 sets of heavy armor.
||A diamond worth 50 10d10 gold, and a pearl worth 100 10d20 gold, found in a smithy.
||2 1d4 rubies, each with their own worth of 50 10d10 gold, a stash of various coins worth a total of 16 3d8+4 gold from underneath a soldier's bed, in a loose floorboard.
After this searching the party will be able to make a Wisdom (Perception) check, DC 15. They may make it as a group and take the average, or allow a single character to roll with advantage from the help action. If they fail, then say nothing and move on. If they succeed, then they notice a hole in the ceiling of a barracks, one of the many they have gone through for resources. In the darkness of the hole, they'll spot a faint twinkle of light from the attic.
If the party acts intending to try and find a way up into the attic, they have two options with the hole being around fourteen feet in the air. Attempting to locate a way up will require a Wisdom (Perception) check with a DC of 15. If they succeed they will locate the remains of a rusty chain hanging from the corner of the barrack's main sleeping chambers. This requires a Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Strength (Athletics) check with a DC of 10 to reach and pull.
If this method is used, then a small trapdoor will be jerked open with the sound of snapping metal. Long-rusted hinges breaking from the sudden force, but this causes a long ladder of relatively solid-looking wood to fall from the new hole. Leading upward, into the attic.
If a character wants to simply try to outright jump to reach the hole, it will require a Strength (Athletics) check with a DC of 15 to reach and pull themselves up. The party may spend time trying to locate objects to stand on if they wish, this will require an Intelligence (Investigation) check, DC 10 to locate a few crates and bed frames that are still sturdy enough to support the character's weight. Doing so will lower the athletics DC to 10.
In either of the above cases, the characters will find their success rewarded. In the hidden attic, there are rotting boxes, old jars of preserved food, rotten bags of grain and rusted weaponry sitting on various racks around them. However, a single weapon seems to reflect the sunlight from the holes in the ceiling. Not a shred of dust or sign of any wear decorating it.
This is a single magical +1 weapon of the DM's choice to reward. It was unknown that the weapon was magical, as it should look identical to a normal weapon of its type aside a single rune etched into the crossguard which reads "Keen". This item will play an important role in future Chapters of "Fathoms Below" if found.
If the party brings the hand-wagon that Kip recommended to them, then they are able to easily carry whatever items they find. Otherwise, they may need to explain how they're effectively carrying the various items they pick up.
When these items are returned to the village after the players take whatever they wish from the arms and armor, the various villagers will also properly arm themselves. This will greatly increase the fighting power of the village, granting them a significant boost to the defense of the village during Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid
Part 3: Alchemist (Terrance)
Should the party seek out Terrance, they will find the man in a state of fear. He will be reluctant to even open the door, especially as he doesn't recognize the voices calling to him. If the party knocks on the door, there will be silence, but if any of them have a passive perception of 10 or higher they will hear the slight creaking of floorboards from someone pacing in the small shack.
If the party insists, calling out or knocking harder, the pacing will stop. The door will not open, but Terrance will communicate through the closed door with the party if they insist. His stutter is apparent, and his answers will be short and eager to end the discussion as quickly as possible. Initially, he won't even offer any form of help to the party.
If the party insists, they must make a Charisma (Persuasion, Deception or Intimidation) check depending on the method used, of 10 or higher. Upon a failure, there will be no response further. If successful they will get a quiet response that will cause Terrance to offer them an idea at least. He will refuse to actually intervene and assist the village in the actual battle, repeating how terrified he is and how he can't. The information offered will refer to a large, purple-roofed building that he calls an alchemist.
After explaining that there may be some valuable materials there, as he's managed to find a few rare herbs there, he will ask the party to leave. Repeating that he can't be of any help, try to hint in the tone or explain his tone that he's clearly remorseful. A Wisdom (Insight) check DC 10 will tell the party that he hates the fact he's so powerless. That he seems to want to be better, but he lacks the ability to act on those feelings.
If the party pressures further, asking him why he won't help the village fight, they must make a Charisma (Persuasion, Deception or Intimidation) check, depending on the method, DC 20. If they succeed, then he will reluctantly say that he'll try. That the village has been good to him, and he wanted to be better, but he promises nothing. If they fail, there will be nothing but silence. This DC is lowered to 15 if the party brings up knowledge of him having originally been a great hunter from Mildred.
If the party succeeds in this high check, they will acquire Terrance as an additional fighter on their side of the battle. He will take to the turret and use a bow in order to help defend the village at a later date. If the party makes a Wisdom (Insight) check, DC 15, they will realize that pushing the man any further may lead to a downward spiral. That he simply needs time to prepare himself.
If the party attempts to push him to guarantee that he will help, then they will instead lose his assistance and he will go dead silent. Later on he will be found dead by suicide with no note in his shack during Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid
Upon following his directions, the side-quest begins. Following the map above in Beginning the Adventure
to the Alchemist
will allow the party to explore the building itself found below. Here is the narrative to speak for the players as they come upon the ruined shop.
As you make your way through the various ruins surrounding the small village, there are numerous locations that attract your gazes. Small buildings that appear to have once been multi-story buildings. The skeletons of homes, stores, and workplaces line the streets. Even the occasional small ruined shrine is overtaken by the flora that had once been a garden of some sort. Now bound in roots and vines hardy enough to endure the chill of these mountainous lands.
The path is slow, as there are no notable pathways here. Heavy with snow that resists your every step, yet you make your way through the ruins despite its complaints. Following the rough directions offered to you by Terrance, until you spot the brilliant purple roof. The vague directions now more clear, as there was no need for details with such an obvious landmark.
Three stories in height, and remarkably well held together in comparison to other buildings within this ruin, the old Alchemist shop still appears quite dilapidated. Sections of beautiful purple roofing have fallen inward. Floorboards have rotted away to reveal the solid stone foundations, making footing as you enter the building a threat to your ankles with a single misstep.
Around you are various pieces of rotting furniture, piles of rubble, old chemistry stations, glass vials and overgrown exotic plants that appear to be in a hibernation of sorts against the cold air. Lacking blooms and leaves, yet too widespread to be dead. They cover much of the sections of wall but are not so widespread as to be impossible to avoid.
An Intelligence (Nature) check of 10 or higher will reveal that these are Moon-root. A unique flower that will only bloom during the full moon and grows exponentially during that time, before retreating back into hibernation. The blossoms that bloom during a full moon are incredibly valuable to make more potent healing potions, but in its current state, it has no use. A character may attempt to make another Intelligence (Nature) check of 15 to dig up some of the plant and keep it for future use.
Making contact with the Moon-root will not harm or awaken anything. Though depending on your tone and asking players to roll a nature check, they may avoid it, or attack it outright. Feel free to make them wary of the plant.
Within the ruin of the Alchemist shop, the party must make Intelligence (Investigation) checks. They may either do so as a group and use their average, or one player may roll with advantage granted through the help action of the party. Based on the roll, the characters will gain a variable amount of loot found within the wreckage of the shop. Most of these items will be found on the upper floor, and in hard-to-reach locations not obvious after a single search.
Part 4: Church Ruins (Dimitris)
As the party approaches the small building that is Dimitris' home, read the following short passage. Based on how they came to this point of the village you then will have a few options on how Dimitris reacts to their presence. Specifically, if Mildred is the one who sent them to see the man.
As you approach the small stone and wood building, you note a small statue of the Trinity Church located at its roof, as well as the symbol engraved into the wood above the doorway. Entering within twenty feet of the building from any direction grants the sensation of calming associated with true hallowed ground
. You feel an unnatural warmth surround you, causing this area of the village to feel abnormally warm compared to the rest.
Starting from Dimitris' home as the center point and extending outward in a sixty-foot radius around it, the land is blessed by the "Trinity". As such the lands are under the effects of the Hallow spell, with the extra effect of granting all creatures non-hostile to the village resistance to cold damage. Note that Pale are considered hostile humanoids, and as such this spell has no effect on them.
If the party attempts to get Dimitris' attention through vocal cue or knocking on the door, then he will react depending on if the party is carrying the herbs from Mildred or not. If they aren't he'll make it clear he has little time, trying to make poultices out of what little materials he has, and send them to see Kip. If they are, he will eagerly welcome them into his home and tell them to sit while he gets to work breaking the herbs down into a proper poultice. As he works, characters may make a Wisdom (Medicine) check, DC 10 to try and follow what Dimitris is doing. On a success, they will know that he is making some form of basic healing poultice that will encourage rapid healing but appears to be enchanting them with a rudimentary healing spell. An incredibly rare magic in Xardia. They may also make a Intelligence (Arcana) check, DC 15, and know that this enchantment will cause the effects of the poultices to perform what they'd normally do in days, in a few hours instead.
During the time that the poultices are being made, the party are welcome to ask Dimitris' questions, talk amongst themselves and so forth while he works. The poultices will take Dimitris only about thirty minutes, so not enough time to take a short rest. Though they may wish to try, they won't manage to complete it.
Characters may attempt to help Dimitris in this, if they are proficient in medicine then he will agree happily. If they are not, then they must make a Charisma (Persuasion or Deception)
check, DC 15 depending on their method. On a success, or if they are proficient, they may assist and roll a Wisdom (Medicine)
check, DC 10. If they succeed, then they add to the potency of the medicine and increase how quickly the process is done from a thirty-minute wait to a ten-minute wait. This enhanced medicine is to be noted for the health of those treated later in Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid
Once the medicine is completed, the characters are quickly given the remedies and asked by Dimitris to deliver them to each of the injured individuals in town. Pointing out each home from his doorway. See the NPC Chart
for details on this. He will then pause, and hesitantly, mention that if they wished for further leads to protect the village he had one. But it was dangerous. He will then explain that he had a vision granted to him by one of the Trinity after his prayers the night before, during his dreams.
He has been trying to restore the old church to the east of the village but after the attacks, has been forced to halt such efforts. The vision showed him the church, and a group of silhouettes entering it. The darkness swallowed them before the darkness suddenly cracked. Shattering with light, revealing a glowing orb-like a sun in one of the silhouette's hands. He thinks there is power in the church that could help them but warns the party that it has long since lost its Hallowed protection.
A warning is offered, that when the power of the gods is broken dark things find such abandoned places of faith to be perfect homes. With this, he will close the door to return to his work.
If the party makes their way toward the Church, then read the following passage to describe the scenario and set the scene for them.
Making your way through the village and heading east, you travel the cleared path with fair easy. The church isn't a far walk from the village, and though the snow is thick, it's clear that someone has come here fairly recently in an attempt to clear out the ruin and make it accessible. There are even a few signs of basic repair having been done.
What was once a beautiful stained glass mural covering one side of the building is now mostly shattered glass, with a simple metal frame depicting the art and beauty that had once filled it. Despite the attempts at repair, the church is clearly just as dilapidated as the rest. Simply more recently cared for, making its dangers clear.
As you approach the building, you all feel a prickling at the back of the neck. As if being watched, yet you see nothing around you.
The party may make a Intelligence (Religion) check, DC 10. If they succeed, then they will know that undead will often haunt forgotten places of worship. At a DC of 15, they will know that many churches found in the old Dra'Kun empire, before the thousand-year blood war, followed the Trinity but specifically the Celestial. Viewing it through a representation of the sun and warmth due to the harshness of the climate in the north. They would often place gemstones that were said to "gather the power of the Celestial" within them, at the tops of their places of worship.
As they enter this area around the church, if they try to notice anything watching them, different, etc. They may roll a Wisdom (Perception) check. At a DC of 10, they will notice that all sounds of creatures, of birds in particular, are completely silent in this area of the ruin. At a DC of 20, they will instantly notice an unnaturally bright glimmer at the peak of the bell tower, adorning the roof of the church.
Scaling the Church
If they attempt to locate a way up the church from the outside, they'll find no particularly safe way. However, with an Intelligence (Investigation) check, DC 15, they will be able to plot out a series of footholds, locations to grab and jump from using various rods of metal and sturdy-looking tiles that with a bit of acrobatic skill it could be feasible to scale the church's roof, to get to the bell tower.
Attempting this will require the character to roll a Dexterity (Athletics) check, DC 15. If they succeed, then they will suffer 1d4 slashing damage from various aspects of the rubble and sharp metal and glass nicking them. But they will make it to the roof and bell tower.
If they fail this DC, then they must perform a Dexterity Saving Throw, DC 10. If failed, they will land prone, and suffer 1d6 bludgeoning and slashing damage from the fall. If successful they will take no damage.
Upon reaching the Belltower they will discover that it's less a tower, and more a turret standing about ten feet above the church's rooftop. The stairs that once spiraled up the turret have long since collapsed, leaving only a rusty chain hanging down from the bell. It looks remarkably sturdy all things considered, though still a bit dangerous. At the top of this turret is the source of the earlier shine, a beautiful, large ruby shining with an inner light (see rewards below).
Entering the Church
As the party enters the Church, please read the following short passage.
You find yourselves entering a once-grand welcome chamber of the church. Here, there resides what appears to be recently made piles of rubbish and ruin. As if someone has been cleaning up slowly over time, though there's still quite a bit of work to do there is a path leading through the entry hall further into the main room of worship.
Here there are dozens of crumbling archways and doors that would take hours to try and dig through even one, if there was anything behind them to being with. As you examine the large chamber of worship around you there is a slight shift in the darkness.
If the character's failed the DC 10 Intelligence (Religion)
check, they must make a Wisdom (Perception)
check, DC 15. On a failure, they will be ambushed
by a single Shadow
from the direction of the belltower's chain, be sure to mention this fact as it's important. It will then target the physically frailest character in the group. If successful or if the prior religion check was a success, the Shadow will lose its ambush round.
Either way, when the Shadow attacks it will scream out in a dark, raspy voice: "We are forgotten! You shall not have our light!"
After the battle has ended, characters may examine the church if they wish but with the rooms closed off through rubble, there isn't much to be gained. They may make an Intelligence (Investigation) check, DC 15 either as a group and take the average, or a single roller may take the help action from another. On a failure, they acquire nothing.
On a success they will find 2 1d4 Holy Water Flasks
inside a small hidden compartment of the podium.
After the search, if the party moves toward the chain they find a crumbling staircase, now reduced to little more than chunks of rotting wood. A single thin, but surprisingly sturdy-looking chain hangs from the tower down toward them from the rusted brass bell far above their heads. When pulled, it doesn't give way, offering a potential method of scaling the church.
Should they attempt to climb up the chain using the footholds of the surrounding tunnel of stone and wood, they must make an Athletics (Strength) check, DC 10. On a failure, they will fall prone, suffering 1d4 bludgeoning damage. On a success, they make their way up to the tower and roof and find that it's akin to scaling the inside of a well. A bit claustrophobic to some, but manageable as they reach the turret itself. The opening giving enough room for them to exit the side, finding themselves on the church's rooftop.
At the top of the turret, the triangular symbol of the Trinity shines with a singular beautiful ruby (see rewards below).
Climbing down from the roof can be done without rolls by whatever path was taken prior. If the character on the roof takes the acrobatic route initially, then tries to climb down using the chain, they will instantly trigger the Shadow ambush early. Requiring one full round before the party can enter the Church to back them up.
Regardless of the process to acquire it, either way the party will acquire the brilliant gemstone that rests in the center of a triangle representing the symbol of the Trinity. Upon close inspection, it's a magnificent ruby that would be easily worth a hundred gold on its own, but a rune is engraved in the gem. If the prior religion check was passed, it's evident what this gemstone is, but in order to know exactly what it's capable of an Intelligence (Arcana) check, DC 10 is required. If successful the characters will know what the gemstone does, and is capable of based on the three runes engraved into its surface and its magical aura.
Gem of Dawn
A beautiful gemstone in the shape of a fist-sized ruby. It has a total of 50 charges, with three separate spells the user is able to cast using them using the command word for each.
- "Quorcugh": Casts the spell Dancing Lights for no charge requiring no material components. Can be cast without requiring concentration for 5 charges instead.
- "Domoka": Casts the spell Daylight for 10 charges.
- "Japashteh": Casts the spell Dawn for 50 charges.
When all of the gem's charges are expended, the gem turns to dust.
Part 5: Fortifications (Geoffery)
Approaching Geoffery's home will lead the party to one of the larger buildings here in the village. Here Geoffery will approach the door quickly at the knocking, clearly expecting medical care for his son. If the party has the medical care he will be welcoming and a bit aggressive to take the medicine and help his son whom, though conscious, is clearly in significant pain from multiple injuries.
If the characters are lacking the healing, then Geoffery will tell them to leave briskly. Far too concerned with his injured son, Gregory, to worry about a group of strangers asking questions.
If medicine or healing is offered and Gregory is given them, both he and his father will be more willing to speak on their current situation. Gregory will explain that he was injured attempting to defend the town alongside Skipper, and that he failed as his sister was still taken in the last Pale raid. Geoffery will be incredibly quiet, clearly blaming himself and in serious distress over his own failings.
Should the pair be broached for what could be done for the town so that it can survive, Gregory will inform the party that he'll be on his feet and fighting by the night. Though he wouldn't likely be at a hundred percent, he'd be able to at least help protect everyone thanks to the healing offered to him. Geoffery on the other hand will be silent, as even with his son healed he clearly feels defeated.
If the party pressures Geoffery, then a Charisma (Persuasion, Deception or Intimidation) check can be rolled based on the method used, DC 15. This can be lowered to 10 if the party mentions the idea of saving his daughter in some way. If they fail, Geoffery will remain silent for a moment before sternly telling them to leave. However, on a success Geoffery will find his determination again as his son eggs him on, saying that they haven't lost yet.
With his son's encouragement, Geoffery will agree stiffly before standing. Explaining that there isn't much he can do, but he can work to reinforce the windows and doors of the houses and turret. If he can get Linda, Mark and Orval's help he may even manage to seal off some of the openings in the wall to force the Pale to attack through one or two entrances instead of several.
As a reward this will allow the above map to change, triggering the following changes so that the village will be more securely protected. Changing the future battle-map for the actual attack in Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid
, as seen above in the "Fortified" option of the Ardmet Village map.
Part 6: Arena (Linda & Orval)
After the party has reached the small home of Linda and Orval, they'll be greeted by the smiling, if a bit fatigued, Orval at the door. Unlike many others in the village, he'll be happy to answer any basic questions that the party may have about the village regardless of whether they have any form of medicine. However, if they do have it he'll encourage them to distribute the poultices before a conversation can continue. Otherwise, he'll answer what he can and direct them to speak with Kip directly.
Should the medication already be delivered throughout the village, then Orval will invite the party into his home, excited as he and his wife Linda had seen them making their deliveries. He'll answer any questions he can while his wife, Linda, continues to sip her tea silently by the fireplace. If directly questioned, she'll be polite but short with the party making it clear she isn't much of a talker herself.
Orval will make up for this in spades, and if asked about any ideas they may have on helping the village survive the night he will first recommend that they speak with Terrance and Mark, as they both tend to go out the most and would have a better idea. But, he will mention that the old arena across from their fields hasn't really been scavenged since it's a simple sandpit. But there were prisoners of war that battled there for their own freedom, so perhaps the party may find something of use there.
Should the party take this advice, when approaching the arena a short distance from the village itself. Now more a ruin than anything, it has two large gates completely rusted shut, with various makeshift stairways of rubble leading up the arena's sides, and into the pit of snow and long-buried sand as well. Making scaling and exploring the arena a bit time-intensive, but harmless.
As the party examines the arena, they may make an Intelligence (Investigation) check, DC 10 or a Wisdom (Perception) check, DC 15. If failed they will find nothing of interest, but find it was at least worth a shot considering how close it is to the village itself as a simple, short walk away. If they succeed, then they will find a mummified corpse in tattered, rusted armor half-buried in the snow, next to one of the gates.
In the body's hand is a simple, smooth key. Completely lacking any form of rust, flawless, seemingly crafted from solid iron and nothing more. Nothing else on the body is worth salvaging, but the key itself is found below as the reward for this.
An old iron key that appears relatively plain, but holds the rune representing the word 'Lock' engraved in its center. The key has no notable prongs or ridges, being a simple bar of metal. When placed into any lock however, it will seamlessly mold into it. Once per long rest this key is able to cast Arcane Lock on the lock it is placed in without costing any material components. However, no password can be set for an Arcane Lock set with this key.
Part 7: Gatehouse (Kip)
As this is a much longer trek, requiring the party to cross the entire mountainside back to the gatehouse once more it may take a bit of time. Upon reaching the crumbling gatehouse that they originally entered from, they will find that most of the bottom floor is a complete ruin. There are a few ruined staircases that are partially scalable, requiring a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, DC 10 to scale normally. This will place them in the ruins of the large wall, and connected tower for the gatehouse itself.
Within the ruins themselves there isn't much to go on aside from a small armory full of long rotted and rusted weapons and papers. However, there is a single room inside the tower itself that has a heavy iron door that, though rusted appears to have maintained its original integrity. This door is locked and will require a Dexterity (Thieves Tools) check, DC 15 to open. Alternatively, the door can be forced open with a Strength (Athletics) check, DC 20. Lowered to 15 if a proper tool such as a crowbar is used.
Once opened, the room will be revealed as a small office. The desk and chest within are covered in dust, and the faint scent of dry rot fills the air, but in comparison to the rest of the ruin, it's remarkably preserved. The desk itself was once locked, but the dry-rotted wood and rust had long since rendered it null. Allowing it to be easily opened.
The room may be searched using an Investigation (Intelligence) check, DC 10. On a failure, only a small vial of rainbow-like liquid is found. This is the spectral ink, found below as a reward. The papers are too rotted and ruined to be of any use from what you can find. On a success, they also find a handful of papers covered in writing that is in Giant. If they are read, they detail the location of an old entrance into the Labyrinth which was found to host a Pale Nest. It's location is a week's travel east along the river, toward a "cove". Details on this found in the next section of this adventure.
This nest was exterminated, and the tunnel system was sealed. It will also mention details in regards to the Pale's vulnerabilities, specifically to light and heat in case the characters failed the earlier checks to know such information instantly.
An ounce bottle of ink that appears to hold a multi-colored, florescent sheen akin to oil. When used to write, the ink will stay visible until the command word found on the bottle as a rune is spoken. The ink with them instantly dissapear, turning invisible. If the word is spoken a second time, the ink will re-appear. After the ink reveals itself, the magical effects dissapear and the writing will remain visible permanently. This is treated as an Invisibility spell for dispelling mechanics.
Part 8: Docks (Skipper)
Upon approaching Skipper's house, the party will hear him call that the door is unlocked. Unable to answer it himself, he is currently bedridden due to his wounds but will chat with the party and tell them any information that he has involving the village. Though like most, he will direct them toward Kip for any specific questions they may have. If they have healing for him, he will perk up quickly and eagerly accept it.
Making it known he is the primary guard for the village, and that he'd assumed he would die in the bed. Thanking the party repeatedly for giving him a chance to at least die on his feat protecting the rest of the village.
When asked about anything he can think that may help the village, he will have a few ideas as he'd been working on things himself. First directing them toward the docks that they passed to enter the gate. Explaining that there was a chest that he'd found sunken within the depths of the icy water that had held enchantment runes on it. Meaning likely whatever was inside it, was still safe from the water.
The docks itself was also a main river port toward the sea, and there may be something there of use as well. He will warn them that the water shouldn't be carelessly entered however, as its temperature and current make it dangerous for even expert swimmers like him to traverse for longer than short dives.
If they approach the docks in question, they'll find it equally as dilapidated as the rest of the ruin. But, examining the surroundings will call for a variety of checks to be made. Searching the area for anything that could be of use, or the chest itself will require a Wisdom (Perception) check, DC 10. If successful they will spot a ship that still looks surprisingly well put-together as well as the chest that Skipper spoke in the depths.
If the characters wish to examine the ship, they may make a Wisdom (Survival)
check, DC 10. If successful they would know that if someone is competent with carpentry tools, and materials were accessible, the ship could be repaired within a few hours to be water-worthy. The ship if repaired would become a Sailing Ship
capable of comfortably housing up to six people, but could, for a short time, fit around 20 people.
At a DC of 15 or higher on the earlier perception check, then they will also locate the loose floorboards underneath the main building attached to the dock. This can similarly be located with a Intelligence (Investigation) check, DC 10. Within this floorboard is a lockbox. It was clearly originally a hidden compartment, but the rotting planks have long since revealed it fairly easily.
The lockbox holds the symbol of a white flower, making it clearly a package of some sort from the Order of the White Flower
. Despite its age, the lock is still functional and will require a Dexterity (Thieves Tools)
check, DC 15 to open. Inside this sealed package is a silk-lined set of three potions, a slim white cloth pouch tied off with a leather band, and a small scroll case. The scroll is a scroll of Water Breathing
, and inside the pouch there is a Ring of Cold Resistance
Attemping the chest is dangerous, but if done has several rules. A Strength (Athletics) check, DC 20 is required to reach the chest. Lowered to 15 if they have some form of feature or ability that grants them normal speed when swimming, or if they have a natural swim speed. This is required to be made again, at disadvantage if they try to haul the chest with them back to shore. For every roll they are in the water, they will suffer 1d4 cold damage unless they have resistance to cold damage, which will nullify this damage.
However the chest is acquired, they will find that it is around a foot long and tall, and incredibly heavy. Unlocking it requires a Dexterity (Thieves Tools) check, DC 20. When opened, they will find the chest containing 200 10d20+100 pearls. These pearls are small, or flawed, each worth 5 1d10 gold and are likely a shipment to be sold during the era of the town's peak trade with the sea. This chest is heavy due to a lead lining, granting the party a small lead-lined chest as well. The chest is 15 lb's and can hold 1 cubic foot/25 pounds of gear.
At the end of this section your characters should all be bumped up to level two! This is also a good time to have a short break if anyone needs it. This will set the players at level two for the night raid and surviving the tense combat encounter.
Section 2: Surviving the Night Raid
After all the various side quests the party intends to complete are done so, the next step of the session begins. During this time, Flent and Charla return reporting that they couldn't get Marana back, but they know the direction the Pale took her. If they survive the night, they're adamant to try and ensure that the young woman is brought back to the village, or she is at least put out of her misery with an arrow from afar.
Now at level two and theoretically far better armed than before. Kip, Charla, and if he is healed, Skipper will all wish to discuss a battle plan with the party. Based on which NPC are healed, and what lair actions are available for the village the discussion will be done to try and maximize the effectiveness of the party in the defense. This combat is based around the party's prior actions giving them various "lair actions" that you, as the DM will control for the players. Each NPC grants a different lair action, and acts on the initiative of 20.
The Village itself has 2 lair actions every turn, and as the DM you must decide what would be most suitable for those NPC to do. Alternatively, you may give the players the actions and have them control the NPC instead, if you and they are both comfortable with such. During the attack, there will be a total of sixteen Adolescent Pale that will attack in groups of four from various angles, specifically each of the four openings that act as entrances into the village itself. Should the village be reinforced, then this will change as twelve will attack from the eastern gate's entrance.
During this time, four others will sneak around to the western side and begin climbing the rubble walls in order to infiltrate and attack the village through stealth. Unless the characters are specifically looking toward the west side of the village for threats via the tower, these Pale's stealth rolls will be made against the player's passive perception.
Adolescent Pale: Statblock
Small humanoid, neutral
Armor Class: 13 (10+Dex Modifier)
Hit Points: 15 (2d8+2) 2d8+4
Saving Throws: STR +3 1d20+3 , DEX +5 1d20+5
Skills: Acrobatics +5 1d20+5 , Athletics +3 1d20+3 , Perception +4 1d20+4 , Stealth +5 1d20+5
Damage Vulnerabilities: Fire, Radiant
Damage Resistances: Cold, Necrotic, Poison; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Attacks that aren't Silvered
Condition Immunities: Poisoned, Blinded
Senses: Blindsight (10ft)
Languages: Undercommon. Additional based on Brood and Hive Mothers.
Challenge Rating: 1 (200 EXP)
Sunlight Lethality. While in sunlight all Pale suffer disadvantage on all attack rolls and saving throws. If they start their turn in sunlight then they instantly take 2d10 2d10 radiant damage.
Heightened Senses. All Pale have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell. Suffer disadvantage to savings throws made against anything that causes them to be deafened.
Pack Tactics. All Pale have advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of the Pale's allies is within 5 ft. of the creature and the ally isn't incapacitated.
Pounce. If the Pale moves at least 10 feet straight toward a creature of medium size or lower and then hits it with a claw attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be considered grappled. If the target is grappled the Pale can make one bite attack against it as a bonus action.
Hive Mind. If a Pale is within 30 ft. of another Pale, or under the influence of a Brood or Hive mother, it will gain advantage on all Charisma and Wisdom saving throws.
Multiattack. The adolescent Pale is capable of either making two Claw attacks, one bite attack, or one weapon attack if armed for its action.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit 1d20+5 , reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) 1d4+3 slashing damage.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit 1d20+5 , reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) 1d4+3 piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw, becoming poisoned and Disease: Corruption on a failed save, or only poisoned on a successful one.
Adolescent Pale are the youngest and weakest stage of the Pale's lifecycle. They are small, lanky creatures with nearly transparent, white skin covering their bodies. Vaguely humanoid in shape they are little more than intelligent animals ruled by a hive-mind or telepathically communicating with their pack.
They will never travel alone unless their hive has been destroyed, and are always at least in a small pack. A pack of Pale are to be feared by even veteran warriors, not for their outright power, but their complete lack of fear, substantial resistances, and perfect pack tactics to swarm and poison their prey.
If a Pale is within a pack without a proper mother controlling them, they will fight similarly to intelligent wolves in a group to kill their prey. A lone Pale is nearly as good as dead. However, if the adolescent Pale is under the control of a mother, they can become infinitely more deadly.
Through a mother's instruction and knowledge, they can become more intelligent, and arm themselves with armor, weapons, shields, and even learn to utilize magic items such as potions and the like. Due to this, the CR of this creature can be fairly fluid as its AC and damage potential, as well as versatility, can jump significantly depending on their hive mind connecting them to a mother.
For further details and lore, see the The Pale
Enviorment. The Pale are generally located within the Labyrinth, deep in the earth and caves. They do occasionally raid villages on the surface however.
Keep in mind rules in regards to mobs of enemies found in the Dungeon Master's Guide
, as this will greatly reduce the issue in regards to rolling for each individual Pale.
The various items that the characters have acquired access to will benefit themselves in obvious ways for them to track. However, when it comes to the NPC this varies based on what was acquired.
All NPC, at base, have 11 AC, and can survive a single
attack if unarmored. Afterward they will be considered unconscious the moment they take a second attack, and an attack after this leads to the NPC being killed. The Pale will ruthlessly kill any males as a priority before attacking other threats due to their pack mentality not caring for their own safety. If there are unconscious females, then the Pale will make kidnapping her its priority above all else instead, exiting the battle. If the NPC were distributed proper weapons and armor via Section 1, Part 2: Proper Arms
then the NPC are granted an AC of 16 to 20 depending on the equipment given, and are able to survive an additional hit before going unconscious, and an additional hit while unconscious to be killed.
Each of these are one of the two options that the village can take at the start of initiative 20. Some of these actions use whichever standard NPC is close by, though most of the non-combatants will retreat to their homes. As well some of these actions can only be done if certain prerequisite quests were completed beforehand.
||Any of the villagers will move up to 30ft, and make a basic attack toward an enemy. Making a standard 13 1d20+3 attack roll, dealing 3 1d4+1 damage. This is increased to 1d6+2 damage, if properly armed via the Section 1, Part 2: Proper Arms side quest.
||Only available if the party manages to convince Terrance that he should assist the fight in the Section 1, Part 3: Alchemist side quest. Terrance, terrified but determined to move forward, takes aim at a pale and lets loose an arrow with surprising skill. This is a standard attack roll of 18 1d20+8 using a Longbow with a range of 150/600 ft, dealing 11 1d8+7 piercing damage with a Silvered arrow.
||Mark & Flent
||Only available if the party heals Mark during the Section 1, Part 1: Treating the Injured side quest. The two men will charge forward, wielding shields and weapons to form a surprisingly sturdy shield wall. This treats them as a 15ft wall, with 22 AC capable of taking 3 attacks before collapsing, not counting toward the individual NPC's hits they can take. Enemies attacking the shield wall are considered Engaged with them.
||Seeing battle rage, Dimitri will offer a prayer to the Trinity, healing up to six creatures for 7 1d4+5 hitpoints that are within 60ft of him. He can only perform this action once during the battle.
||Only available if the party heals Skipper during the Section 1, Part 1: Treating the Injured side quest. Using his basic knowledge of magic, Skipper will unleash a Firebolt spell at a target with an attack roll of 15 1d20+5 , dealing 10 2d10 fire damage to the target, keeping in mind their vulnerability to fire doubling this.
||Charla will storm out into the midst of the Pale, undaunted. Making two attacks with her Silvered Greatsword as a 18 1d20+8 attack roll and dealing 13 2d6+7 damage each hit. Note that Charla is able to endure one additional hit compared to the other NPC before falling unconscious, due to her giant-kin heritage.
After the battle, should they survive it, the party is given the same choice offered by Kip initially. To stay and continue helping them resist the next Pale attacks for the pay promised, or to follow Charla toward the direction that they tracked the Pale in order to try and save, or kill, Marana. They have various options, but regardless of their choices this is the close of the introduction.
At the end of this battle, the characters are raised to third level through the Milestone system! This is the ending of the module, however it can be continued and used as a hook to start a new adventure, or continued on in the full adventure for "Fathoms Below". If this is being used as a one-shot then this level-up is fairly meaningless however.
Whether the party stays with the village to defend the masses, or follows Charla into the depths. Perhaps neither, and they manage to convince Geoffery, or one of their party, to repair the ship and evacuate the village itself onto the river to escape for the time. Regardless of how this ends, it's only the beginning and meant to encourage further play.
From this point the story continues with the next parts of the full adventure for "Fathoms Below". Alternatively, this can be used as a one-shot to build into your own adventure set in the world. Or another, with a bit of creativity including the monsters used into the lore of a different world.