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The Secret of Forsaken Peak Part 2: The Eyries | New 6th-Level Adventure for Fifth Edition (BroadSword Preview)

This is an editorial version of the adventure. It may still have typos and logic errors.


The second installment of the ongoing Secret of Forsaken Peak series is intended for a party of 4-6 6th-level characters who should reach 7th-level by the adventure’s end. The adventure is set in the Eastern Borderlands setting detailed in the first issue of BroadSword Monthly but can be easily inserted into any existing campaign setting. Certain sections of the dungeon map may lead to areas not yet published. You are free to change the dynamics of these locations to better suit your campaign, or remove them entirely.

Adventure Background

North of the Castle of Chaos, on the other side of Forsaken Peak, are the Eyries, a group of caves that house a variety of nasty creatures. Chaosmen do not venture into these caves unless they are in the southernmost chamber that bridges the eastern and western areas of the Castle. The larger caverns in the northwest belong to a fell, wicked monster, known to the chaosmen as the Master of the Peak. Occasionally, offerings are made to it to keep it placated while excavations are performed on the eastern arm of the mountain.

For years, the Eyries has been the center of necromantic energy within The Forsaken Peak. Since the arrival of the Master of the Peak, humanoids and other creatures that attempt to venture into the network of caves find themselves killed, cursed, maddened, or worse. The Chaos Magi believe that if the Master of the Peak can be destroyed, the curse of the Eyries will lift with it. This would be beneficial to the chaosmen as it would allow them to continue their excavations without issue.

Adventure Hook

There are various ways that the characters can arrive at the Eyries. If you are running the Secret of Forsaken Peak adventure path from BroadSword Monthly #1, then it’s possible that the characters entered the Eyries via the stairs up from the Goblin Mine. Or the characters read Tuuk’s notes in his chambers in the Goblin Mine and discovered another way in. Finally, if the characters saved Alzon of the Chaos Magi, Alzon will introduce the characters to Aliq at the Castle of Chaos.

If the characters need a different motivation or you are running this portion of The Forsaken Peak separate from the first part, then have the characters invited to the Castle of Chaos by Aliq the Arch-magi of the Chaos Magi. When they arrive, they are asked to wait in front of the eastern portion of the fortress.

Read or paraphrase the following:

A chill air sweeps over you. It was an arduous hike up the trail leading to the Castle of Chaos on the Forsaken Peak. Now, standing before you is the massive, black fortress of the chaosmen, the aptly named Castle of Chaos. The chaosmen’s unruly, grim soldiers are everywhere. Many of them throw a curious look your way. Others sneer.

After waiting a while, a man wearing red and black robes with a matching skull cap walks your way. He looks to be in his fifties, with deeply tanned skin and a close-cropped mustache and goatee.

“Well met, travelers. I am Aliq, Lord of the Chaos Magi. Thank you for coming. Before you stands the Forsaken Peak, an ancient, lonely mountain. It has cast a long, dark shadow over the Borderlands since before the Age of Man. Within this impenetrable mount of rock lies many unsolved mysteries. Many who have tried to learn the ways of the mountain have either gone mad or died.

“Recently, I sent an expedition into the northern side of the mountain, into an unsettled region of the Mountain called the Eyries. That was two weeks ago. Only one man returned; he was both maimed and left insane. But in his rambling, he told us that there is a source for the dark power that empowers the dark things that thrive within. We hope that you could find this source and rid The Eyries of it. Were you to complete this task, The Chaos Magi would forever be in your debt.”

Aliq is also prepared to pay the characters a sum of 500 gp each to destroy the dark source known as The Master of the Peak, whatever it might be. He also tells the characters that they may keep anything they find within the Eyries so long as they report anything that may be of historical importance or related to an ancient temple at the eastern portion of the Castle of Chaos.

Aliq (NE male human archmage) is not a friendly person and any line of questioning makes him visibly impatient. Should the characters start questioning, he will agree to up the payment to as much as 750 gp per adventurer if they promise to ask no further questions. Otherwise, he calls the deal off.

Entering the Eyries

There are three main ways to enter the Eyries.

  • The first path is through the Goblin Mine. If the characters cleared the goblin mine (see Broadsword Monthly #1), they may already be familiar with the tunnel that leads from area A15 to B14.
  • The second path is through the rear of the Castle of Chaos. Aliq and a retinue of chaosmen soldiers (NE male human guards) lead the characters through the underbelly of the castle itself through a series of dark corridors and poorly-lit chambers. Eventually, Aliq leads them to a dry, cold cave at the rear of the castle. Roughly 50 feet to the north of the camp is a steep climb that leads into the Eyries (area B1).
  • Finally, if the characters never speak with Aliq, or choose to go a different route, they can enter the Eyries through the north face of the mountain. Climbing the mountain on its northern side is extremely difficult and dangerous. From the highest point the characters can hike, it’s a sheer 250-foot climb along the north side’s face (lower in a few areas), requiring climber’s kits. In addition, all manner of horrible creatures such as giant bats and insects, manticores, and other beasties hunt along the northern side, looking for an easy snack: a handful of adventurers hanging off the side of the mountain would do just fine. Climbing this way places the characters at any of the areas with portals on the northern side: areas B6, B9, B10, B11, B19, or B18.

the-eyries-v2

General Features

Unless otherwise stated in the area descriptions, the eyries have the following features:

  • Ceilings. Being a natural cavern, the tunnels and larger caverns are of variable height. Any place where the ceiling height isn’t listed, assume it is 10 feet high.
  • Floors. All of the floors in the eyries are rough and covered in gravel, mud, and sometimes bones.
  • Walls. The walls are rough and uneven.
  • Light. The majority of the eyries’ tunnels and caverns are without light. Only the natural exits (areas B5, B7, B9, B16, B17, and B18) have natural light from outside during the midday hours and late afternoon. The room descriptions assume the characters have darkvision, torches, or some other way to see through the darkness.
  • Steep Climbs and Cliffs. The Eyries is not a nice and neat system of caverns. Many of the tunnels, passages, and chambers are at odd angles, have varying degrees of height and width, and are often difficult to traverse. Details on moving in and out of these areas and the dangers therein are detailed in each of the area descriptions.
  • The Whistle. Because of the Eyries’ layout, air travels through it creating an odd whistle. To add to the horror atmosphere of the setting, you might have the whistle play tricks on the characters’ minds, making them think they can hear voices in the whistles or even screams.
  • Desecration. The whole of the Eyries is desecrated ground. All undead within the Eyries have advantage on all saving throws.
  • Regional Effects. As long as the Master of the Peak remains within the Eyries, its regional effects continue to function (see Appendix C).

Random Encounters in the Eyries

The Eyries are extraordinarily haunted by the literally hundreds of creatures that have died within its caverns over the last hundred years. Every hour that the characters are within the Eyries, roll a d20. On a roll of 18 or better, the characters encounter a creature. Roll a 2d6 and consult the Eyries Random Encounters table below to determine its nature.

Eyries Random Encounters

2d6 Encounter
2 1d2 vampire spawn
3 1 banshee
4 1 ghost
5 2d6 zombies
6 1 wraith
7 The Master of the Peak*
8 2d4 specters
9 1d4 + 1 poltergeists
10 2d4 bloodless ones (see Appendix C)
11 1d8 + 3 shadows
12 1d4 mummies

The Master of the Peak. The Master of the Peak (see Appendix C) attacks the characters with the intent of draining one of its life, then dragging it back to its lair to consume. However, the Master will not fight the characters until it is destroyed, instead, it flees if it is reduced to 80% of its hit points or less or if it takes any amount of radiant damage. The Master of the Peak will only fight to its destruction if the characters use Rowan’s summoning ritual (see area B25) or confront the Master of the Peak in its lair (area B16). Even if the Master is destroyed before its remains are consecrated, it rejuvenates, returning to its lair in 1 hour.

It is possible for the Master to attack the characters multiple times while they explore the Eyries, frequently checking for weaknesses, trying different strategies, and adapting.

Area Descriptions

All the encounters listed here are keyed to the map of the Eyries (above):

B1 – The Climb

If the players enter through the southern Castle of Chaos entry, read the following description:

Just looking at the climb before you all makes you feel tired. The steep descent rises at a nearly 45-degree angle along the edge of a chasm. As you peek over the edge of the rift, your boot punts a rock over the edge. Four seconds pass before you finally hear it hit water far below.

Turning your gaze back up to the journey ahead, a chill wind sweeps past you. Within this clinging draft, you feel as if you can hear a faint crying. Somewhere distant, maybe, suspended at the dark recesses of your mind.

This place is not natural.

The Eyries is a despicably evil place. As the characters climb into it, be sure to remind them of the chill wind and harsh air; it’s almost as if it’s pushing them away from the entrance.

The Climb Up. The climb into the Eyries along the edge of the rift is one of the most difficult the characters will make. The chaosmen have tied a rope to a stalagmite at the top of the climb to make it easier. Even still, movement is slow and tedious and requires a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) check on each of their turns.

The Climb Down. Going back down is equally as taxing, but does not require Strength (Athletics) checks to perform. The characters need only repel backward using the rope at half their normal movement speed.

Falling During the Climb

If a character fails their Strength (Athletics) check to climb up area B2 into the Eyries, roll a d20 and consult the falling results table below.

Falling Results

d20 Roll Result
1-10 The character catches themselves.
11-18 The character tumbles back down the trail.
19-20 The character falls over the edge of the rift.

The character catches themselves. The character has stopped themselves from falling, but their movement becomes 0 and they cannot perform any actions until the start of their next turn.

The character tumbles back down the trail. The character falls prone in their space and is pushed back 30 feet along the trail, taking 1d6 damage for every 15 feet they tumble. A creature standing behind the tumbling character can use its reaction to make a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check to stop the tumbling creature. If the tumbling character is not stopped, then at the start of his or her next turn, they must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to stop themselves or they will fall another 30 feet towards the chaosmen camp, taking another 1d6 damage for every 15 feet they tumble. This continues until they reach the bottom of the trail (just above the bottom of the map).

The character falls over the edge of the rift. The character falls prone in their space and is pushed 30 feet towards the rift. The character must then make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to catch themselves on the edge. On a failed saving throw, the creature falls over the edge and 300 feet down into the underground lake below (right in front of the Goblin Mine’s area A26, detailed in BroadSword Monthly #1). The character can make a DC 20 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to dive into the water, but makes this check at disadvantage. On a failed check, the character takes 17 (10d6) damage as the water breaks their fall and the character must immediately succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw upon hitting the water, or they begin to drown. On a success, the character takes 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage and does not start to drown.

A creature can willingly jump into the rift to save the character by making a DC 20 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. On a success, the creature takes only 7 (2d6) damage and does not need to make a Constitution saving throw. Otherwise, the creature also takes 17 (5d6) bludgeoning damage and must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to avoid drowning.

 

B2 – The Offering

The ceilings in this cave are nearly 50-feet-high.

This muddy cave splits off in five different directions. To the south is the steep descent leading to the chaosmen camp; you can see the faint glow of their torchlights from where you stand. To the west is a narrow cave that disappears into the darkness. North, just around the huge rock outcropping that dominates this cave is a passage that ascends further upward, the wind violently pushing its way through. The rock outcropping itself is thirty feet high, but there appears to be a platform at the top. Along the side of the cliff is a simple rope and pulley with a worn wooden bucket attached to one end. Finally, to the east, sandwiched between the coarse cavern walls and the dark rift, is a twenty-foot drop leading to a ledge that vanishes into the dark.

All around the base of the rock outcropping, there are shattered skulls and bones. Some even look humanoid.

This is as far as the chaosmen ever go into the cavern. Offerings are placed into the bucket and pulled up to the top of the cliff and left there. The chaosmen never stay around to see the creature arrive.

Area B2’s Exits

Depending on which passage the characters take, they may need to make climb checks. When characters fail climb checks, unless otherwise stated, they fall to the floor below and take 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet that they fall. To determine the difficulty of the climb checks, reference the information below.

To B3/B4. The passage to the west tunnel does not require a check to climb through.

To B10/B12. Moving up the passage to areas B10 or B12 requires a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) check to move at the character’s normal movement speed. On a failed check, the character slips but is able to catch themselves. However, their movement becomes 0 and they cannot take any actions until the start of their next turn. A character can avoid this check if they move at half their normal movement speed.

To B15. Climbing up the rock outcropping (into area B15) requires a DC 14 Strength (Athletics) check. On a failed check, a character falls and takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet that they fall; its 30 feet to the top of the outcropping. A character can attempt to use the rope from the rope and pulley to assist them on their climb. The pulley can hold up to 200 lbs of weight. Any more than that and it snaps. If a character is in mid-climb when it snaps, they must succeed on a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw to catch themselves on the edge of the cliff or fall down to the cave floor below.

To B24. Climbing down to the ledge requires a DC 14 Strength (Athletics) check if done without a rope. With a rope, a character can simply repel down without a check. It is 20 feet down to area B24.

Treasure. Searching through the bones reveals a gold tooth in one of the skulls. It is worth 1 silver piece.

 

B3 – Old Yeti Cave

Climbing up or down into this old cave requires a DC 14 Strength (Athletics) check.

Something lived here. Once. Now, there’s nothing more here than broken bones.

Among the bones, the characters will find a dark, bluish skull with a slight simian cast and large, ram-like horns. It was a yeti.

Beyond that, there is nothing else here of interest. However, if the characters have not yet encountered the leaping mother (area B6) they might hear her weeping down the corridor.

B4 – Slippery Cliff

This low-ceilinged cave splits off in four directions. To the south is a 10-foot drop into a natural mud-covered slide. Just at the edge of that drop, you think you can see something shiny sticking out of the mud.

A successful Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals that the shiny object is nothing more than a crystalline rock. However, any character that makes or aids in the check without saying that they are trying to be careful must succeed on a Dexterity 10 saving throw or fall. The initial fall deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage, then they start to slide (see the description in area #B5).

The crystalline rock is not worth anything.

Area B4’s Exits

To B2/B3. The tunnel to the east is relatively simple to walk through.

To B5. A character can climb down into area B5 with a successful DC 16 Strength (Athletics) check. If they fall, they land prone in area B5, take damage as normal, and begin to slide (see area B5).

To B6. When the characters first appear here, they hear a woman weeping and a baby cooing coming through the small passage to the west; it’s the leaping mother (see area B6). The passage west is narrow and low, requiring the characters to crawl through to the other side.

To B8. The passage leading north is filled with tens of thousands of insects, some of which spill out into this cave (but not enough to attack). See area B8 for details on climbing through.

B5 – Natural Slide

If a character starts his or her turn in this area and did not fall in from area B4, they can move around normally. However, they must make a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to avoid falling prone and sliding down the natural slide. If they move half their normal movement speed, they do not need to make this check.

If a character fell in from area B4, they are automatically prone and begin to slide down the natural slide.

Sliding. If a character falls prone in this area, they immediately start to slide towards the bottom of the passage. A character slides 30 feet per turn, taking 1d6 bludgeoning damage per 30 feet they slide. At the start of the character’s turn, they must make a DC 15 Strength or Dexterity saving throw (character’s choice) or continue to slide. If a character is unable to stop themselves before reaching the end of the passage, they fall out of the hole in the ceiling above area B1 and fall another 30 feet to the ground below, taking 1d6 damage per 10 feet they fall.

Treasure. There is a small cave just to the east of the drop. Inside this cave are the remains of an adventurer that broke his leg falling over the slide that was unable to get out. On his body, the characters will find 35 gp and a +1 mace.

Area B5’s Exits

To B1. If the characters slide down the mudslide, then they automatically exit via the hole in the ceiling in area B1, landing prone on the ground below. The characters can carefully reach the end of the slide and then lower themselves down into area B1 with a rope or similar aid.

To B4. Climbing back into area B4 requires a successful DC 16 Strength (Athletics) check. If they fall, they land prone, take damage as normal, and begin to slide.

 

the-leaping-mother

B6 – The Leaping Mother

When the characters first enter this cave, read the following description:

At the far end of this cave is a natural window leading to the outside. You can see the [day/night] sky beyond and the dark treetops of the Graywood Forest far below. A woman wearing a torn pink dress stands in front of the portal, her back to you. She heaves with sobs, then slowly turns to you, her face a mess of tears. In her arms is a babe wrapped in a blanket, cooing softly. She looks at you with terrified eyes, shaking her head.

“No,” she starts with a whisper that rises to a scream. “You won’t take us back. You won’t!”

If the characters try to approach her, she immediately turns and leaps out the cave and down onto the side of the mountain, screaming as she falls.

The woman is actually a ghost known as the leaping mother. Holding her infant child, she lept from this very same exit nearly three decades prior. The two died instantly on the rocks below, and have haunted the Eyries ever since.

If a character steps to the edge of the portal to look down onto the rocks below to see where she landed, the leaping mother appears behind them in her true form: a blood-splattered specter holding the ghostly remains of her child. If she surprises the characters, she first uses her Horrifying Visage feature. She then tries to shove the character over the edge. Have her make her Withering Touch attack against any character standing within 5 feet of the portal’s edge. If the attack hits, the character must make a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be pushed out of the hole and down the side of the mountain.

If the leaping mother is destroyed, she returns in 24 hours. The only way to permanently destroy her is to find her bones at the bottom of the cliff and burn or consecrate the remains.

Falling Down the Mountain. It is 150 feet down to the side of the mountain. If a character survives the 15d6 damage that they would suffer from the fall, it’s extremely difficult to climb back up, requiring a DC 18 Strength (Athletics) check for every turn they spend climbing.

Area B6’s Exits

To B4. The passage east is narrow and low, requiring the characters to crawl through to the other side.

To B7. It’s a steep 15-foot climb up into the abandoned cave. However, the climb is relatively easy. Any character with at least a Strength of 10 can easily jump up and pull themselves up into the cave.

 

B7 – Empty Cave

The ceiling of this cave is only 5-feet-high. There is nothing of value here.

Exit. It’s a steep 15-foot drop into the cave below. A character can jump down with a successful DC 13 Dexterity (Athletics) check or easily climb down requiring no check.

 

B8 – Insect Tunnel

Thousands of horrible, buzzing, crawling, squirming insects surround nearly every inch of this tunnel. It’s almost impossible to see through the mass.

The swarms of insects do not move towards the characters but will attack if a character is in the swarm’s space at the start of the swarm’s turn. In addition, the swarm of insects counts as difficult terrain. The tunnel has a gradual rise, making it more difficult to get up, especially with the insects there. The characters must succeed on a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) check to climb upward through the tunnel, or risk falling prone (and into a pile of insects).

Should a spellcaster use a particularly destructive area of effect spell such as a fireball or lightning bolt to clear the insects out, it fries their guts, leaving behind a mass of boiling, stinking paste all over the interior of the cave, giving disadvantage to all Strength (Athletics) checks made to climb through the tunnel unless the characters wait 10 minutes or longer for the guts to cool.

 

B9 – Bat Caves

The room reeks of the guano that covers the floor in large piles all around you.

Twenty swarms of bats fill the ceilings of this cave. In the day time, they sleep and won’t disturb the characters. At night, they swarm around the cave, still mostly avoiding the characters. Their focus is on the insects that escape through the tunnel in area B8.

Area B9’s Exits

To B8. Review area #B8’s area description for details on the insect cavern.

To B10. The climb into area B9 is mostly uphill but easy enough that it doesn’t require any checks.

To Outside. The passage out of the bat cave leading to the outside is slippery with bat guano. If a character moves more than half their movement on their turn, they must succeed on a DC 12 Strength (Athletics) check or fall prone in their space. A character that falls prone slides down to the edge of the portal leading to the outside, stopping just before they fall. The cliffside at this portal is 200 feet above the rocks below and very difficult to climb up or down, requiring a DC 16 Strength (Athletics) check either way.

 

B10 – Manticore Cave

When the characters first enter the cave, read the following description:

This cavern is massive, with ceilings nearly 40 feet high. Floating among the stalactites you can make out a pair of insubstantial creatures. It’s hard to make out exactly what they are: they look like ghosts of lions with humanoid skulls and shadowy, torn wings on their backs. One turns its awful face to you. Two points of light spark in its cold, empty eye sockets. “Life,” it croaks as it descends toward you in an unearthly spiral.

This cave is home to a pair of manticore specters (use the specter stat block, except that the specters gain a Tail Spike attack, detailed below). They desire nothing more than to drain life from the living and will fight until destroyed.

Tail Spike. Ranged Spell Attack: +4 to hit, range 100 ft., one creature. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) necrotic damage. The target must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of the specter’s next turn.

Area B10’s Exits

To B2. Moving down this passage to areas B12 requires a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) check to move at the character’s normal movement speed. On a failed check, the character slips but is able to catch themselves. However, their movement becomes 0 and they cannot take any actions until the start of their next turn. A character can avoid this check if they move at half their normal movement speed.

To B9. The climb into area B9 is mostly downhill, but easy enough that it doesn’t require any checks.

To B11. The passage to B11 is via a hole in the ceiling. The lip of the hole is smooth; the characters will need magic or other special abilities to reach it.

To B12. The path to area B12 is relatively flat and wide enough that the characters won’t need to duck or crawl. However, the floor is actually blood quicksand (see area B12 for details).

To Outside. The path leading to the portal outside is easy enough to traverse. However, once the characters reach the portal, the edge can be somewhat treacherous. Any character that stands next to the edge without trying to be careful, must succeed on a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or slip on the rocks. When a character slips, they fall prone in their space and then slide 30 feet towards the cliffside. Once they reach the cliffside, they must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to catch themselves or fall off the edge of the cliff, landing prone 200 feet on the rocks below.

 

B11 – Manticore Hoard

To your surprise, this cave is filled with gold coins, gems, and other treasures. Judging by the condition and dirty covering most of it, a lot of this stuff hasn’t been touched in ages.

The manticores that used to live in the cave below this one stored their treasure here. When they died, the secret of their treasure died with them.

Treasure. The characters discover 311 cp, 5,980 sp, 3,105 gp, and 93 pp. In addition, there are 3 small gold bracelets each worth 25 gp and a potion of greater healing tucked in the mess.

Area B11’s Exits

To B10. A hole at the far end of the cave drops 40-feet down into the manticore cavern below.

To Outside. The passage leading to the outside at the northwestern end of this cave is incredibly tight. Medium or larger creatures cannot fit through it. And Small creatures must squeeze to get through. The portal at the end of the tunnel pokes out of a cliff face some 200 feet above the rocks below.

B12 – Bloodsand Pit

If the characters have an actual light source for this room (and not just darkvision), read the following description:

The floors of this natural chamber are quite flat and oddly red, almost as if the stone, loose sand, and gravel had been painted that way.

Remember that if the characters are relying on solely darkvision to make their way through the cavern, they will not be able to notice the difference in color.

Should the characters avoid or pull themselves out of the bloodsand (see below), all of the exits are fairly easy to escape through. However, a chill air radiates from area B13 and ice covers the walls.

Bloodsand. The floors are a combination of quicksand and blood that covers the low areas of this cavern. The bloodsand works similar to quicksand (see chapter 5 of the DMG), however, in addition to sinking, the creature must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw at the start of each of its turns or take 7 (2d6) necrotic damage on a failed saving throw or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature’s hit point maximum is reduced by the amount of necrotic damage taken in this way. This reduction lasts until the creature finishes a short or long rest. The furthest a creature can sink into the bloodsand is 10 feet before hitting the bottom.

In addition to the bloodsand, there are four skeletons hiding in the bloodsand. The skeletons can move freely through the bloodsand including up and down and have full cover while submerged against creatures that are outside of the bloodsand.

Skeletons that are below sinking characters will use their action to make grapple attempts against partially submerged creatures. If the skeleton grapples the character, it can pull the character down to the bottom with its move.

 

B13 – Doghead and the Cold Children

Once the characters step into this chamber, magical fog fills the area (as the fog cloud spell).

A chill fog sweeps over you, obscuring everything. Within the fog, you think you can hear the scrape of gravel and laughter. For a moment, you believe that you can see what looks like children moving through the fog. Suddenly, there comes a low growl.

At the center of this cavern is a severed dog’s head on a pike. The head is an illusion. It can’t move, but it can take lair actions (see the below). The dog’s head is immune to most damage, but if holy water is splashed on it or it is hit by cold iron, it disappears for 1 minute. The only way to destroy the dog’s head permanently is to destroy the bones of the cold children.

While the characters deal with the doghead, the cold children attack. There are eight cold children in all. They use the shadow stat block except that they are the size of children. If the children are destroyed, they rejuvenate within 1 hour, returning to this area. The only way to permanently destroy the cold children are to destroy their bones (see below).

Doghead’s Lair Actions. Doghead is the vengeful spirit of an old mastiff that died defending these children from chaosmen five decades ago. Its very essence saturates the cave itself. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), doghead takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; doghead can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row.

  • Each creature within 20 feet of doghead must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw as the temperature in the lair plummets. A creature that fails its saving throw takes one level of exhaustion from the cold. Creatures with resistance or immunity to cold damage automatically succeed on the saving throw, as do creatures wearing cold-weather gear.
  • Doghead casts fog cloud, except its duration is 1 hour; although it does not require doghead to concentrate, if doghead is destroyed, even temporarily, the cloud dissipates in 1 round. (Doghead uses this action before the characters enter.)
  • Ghostly hands reach from the ground. Each creature within 20 feet of doghead must make a DC 13 Strength or Dexterity saving throw (target’s choice), or become restrained by the hands. On a creature’s turn, it can use its action to make another saving throw, freeing itself on a success. Alternatively, a creature can use its action to splash holy water on the hands, instantly dissolving them. If doghead is destroyed, even temporarily, the hands disappear.

The Cold Children’s Bones. Tucked into the northern alcove some 10 feet above the rest of this cavern are the bones of the cold children, huddled together just like they were when they died. Noticing the alcove requires a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check. Climbing up is fairly simple. If the children’s bones are buried away from the Eyries, destroyed with fire, or holy water is sprinkled upon them, both the cold children and the doghead are destroyed and do not return.

Exits. The exit to B12 is simple. However, the path to B14 may prove difficult for two reasons. First, the tunnel narrows considerably, sometimes no larger than 2 1/2 feet in diameter. Second, it ascends sharply upward.

Small creatures climbing through the exit to B14 must make a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) check to climb the shaft. A failed check means that the character’s progress is momentarily halted.

Medium creatures make the same check but with disadvantage. If a Medium creature fails its check, it is stuck. A stuck creature is restrained and must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw at the start of each of its turns or it can’t breathe and begins to suffocate. The creature can use its action to repeat its Strength (Athletics) check, freeing itself with a success.

Returning this way is just as difficult, requiring the same checks.

 

B14 – Landing

It’s cold here. Bones litter the ground. Some are animal. Many are humanoid. What is this place?

The ceilings in this cave are 70-feet high near the center. Sounds echo through all of the exits of the horrors that hide throughout the Eyries.

Treasure. Among the bones, there are some discarded items. The characters can find 33 gp, 18 sp, and 22 cp, and a gold ring set with a garnet (worth 150 gp). In addition, there is a silver dagger and a rusted flask containing holy water.

Area B14’s Exits

To B12. There is a narrow shaft in the floor that leads down to area B12. Unless the characters climbed up through the shaft, noticing it requires a DC 11 Wisdom (Perception) check. Read the “Exits” description in area B12 for details.

To B15. Other than a slick spot or two, the passage to and from B15 offers no obstacles to the characters.

To B22. The passage to the south leading towards B22 is easier to descend than the one to the north, but still not simple. It requires a DC 12 Strength (Athletics) check to climb the shaft. Failure causes a character to slip and fall, taking 2d6 damage.

To the Goblin Mine. The natural stairs to the east lead down to area A14 of the Goblin Mine (see BroadSword Monthly #1 for details).

 

B15 – Ledge

This narrow cavern overlooks a large cavern 30 feet below you. At the lip of the ledge is a rope and pulley system, apparently used to pull a bucket to the ledge where you now stand. All around you are bones and animal remains.

This is where the offerings from area B2 end up. There is nothing of value among the remains.

Area B15’s Exits

To B2. The climb down works similar to the climb up (see “Area B2’s Exits”).

To B14. While it’s slightly uphill, the path to B14 is relatively easy-going.

 

B16 – The Lair of the Master

This large chamber is nearly 40-feet squared, however, the ceilings are only 7 feet high. The air is so cold here it feels like ice is forming around your very soul. Literallly thousands of bones cover nearly every inch of this cavern. The only area where bones don’t cover the cavern floor is at the cavern’s center where a 10-foot radius patch of unspoiled soil rests.

When the characters first enter the Master’s lair and every 1 minute afterward, roll a d10. On a result of 10, the Master of the Peak arrives and viciously attacks the characters, fighting until it is destroyed or it kills or incapacitates the characters.

Rowan’s Ghost. If the characters spend more than 1 minute in this area without confronting the Master, read the following:

To the south, you notice a faintly glowing figure: an apparition. The ghost appears to have once been an elven man wearing white and blue robes. It motions to you as if asking you to follow it. It then steps into the rock face at the southern portion of this cavern, vanishing into the wall.

The ghost is Rowan, an elven monk who died trying to destroy the Master of the Peak. Rowan escaped into the chamber to the south but was trapped when the Master brought down the cavern (see area B25). Now a ghost, Rowan hopes that the characters can finish what he started seventy years ago.

It’s impossible for the characters to remove the landslide blocking the way to area B25, but a spell or effect such as etherealness or passwall could help them see what is on the other side.

The Master’s Bones. At the center of the patch of soil at the center of the cave are the bones of the Master of the Peak. It takes at least four character actions to dig the soil (for example one character digging for 4 rounds, two characters digging for 2 rounds, four characters digging for 1 round, etc.) and discover the skeleton of the Master of the Peak.

In life, the Master was an elven monk, its bones reveal this. Similar to Rowan’s ghost, its skeleton is dressed in tattered blue and white robes. To destroy the Master, the characters must burn the Master’s bones or consecrate the remains with holy water. Because the master is so deadly, it is recommended that some of the characters use Rowan’s summoning ritual (see area B25) to distract the Master while the remaining characters dig up its body. Once the Master detects that its body is being tampered with, it returns to its lair as fast as it possibly can, targeting the creature closest to its remains. If you’re unsure of how long it takes for the Master return, the master returns in 1d4 + 1 rounds.

Once the Master’s bones are destroyed, the curse of the Eyries lifts and all of the undead within can finally rest.

Treasure. The Master’s skeleton wears a ring of mind shielding.

Area B16’s Exits

To B15. The path to B15 is the simplest route out of this cavern.

To B17. It takes a little effort to climb up to the alcoves in B17. These paths count as difficult terrain.

To B18. A ledge overlooks the passage to B18. However, it’s only 5-feet above the passage. Treat the ledge as difficult terrain. Beyond that, the passage is easy to move through.

To B23. Loose rubble lines the descent leading to area B23. A creature moving up or down the passageway must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone, taking 1d4 damage as they fall. A creature moving through the passageway at half its moving speed doesn’t need to make a save.

 

B17 – Luzien’s Camp

In this alcove, you find the remains of an old camp, probably decades old. An old tent lies in tatters. Just in front of it is an old fire pit, unlit for many years.

When Luzien died and returned as the Master of the Peak, he left his old camp exactly as it was. Only time has destroyed it. If the characters search the old campsite, they find some of Luzien’s old possessions including the dry-rotted remains of his old notebook (written in the Elven script), a rusted mess kit, 10 torches, and 50 feet of usable hempen rope. Everything else is beyond repair.

A character that can read elven can read through Luzien’s notebook. Luzien wrote in his notebook how he believed he could trap his soul in a ring of mind shielding. Then, once dead, he would re-emerge as an apparition with his mind would still be intact. As a conscious apparition, Luzien could then continue his work, further unlocking the secrets of deathlessness. The last thing he wrote: “The fools seek to stop me. Little do they know that they are only aiding me in my quest for immortality.”

 

B18 – The Stirge’s Nest

This honeycomb of odd passageways, outside portals, and loose debris was once home to a nest of stirges that plagued the homesteads north of the Forsaken Peak. Growing tired of finding livestock drained of blood, a group of mountain climbers banded together to scale the Peak and clear out the stirges once and for all.

What the climbers didn’t realize was that the stirges had become abnormally aggressive, their simple minds affected by the Eyries’ desecration. When the climbers arrived, they were ambushed by the blood-suckers. Those that didn’t die were drained to the point of near-death. Weak and unable to escape the mountain, the climbers eventually died of starvation.

Like any creature that dies in the Eyries, the climbers became undead creatures; they rose as bloodless ones. Bloodless ones are foul creatures that are too weak to stand. They drag themselves around on their arms and use a deathly gaze to weaken their prey. Then, when they can climb onto their victims, they drain them of their blood with a proboscis that extends from within their gaping maws.

There are 4d6 bloodless ones (see Appendix C) and 5d6 stirges hidden throughout this complex. The stirges typically attack first, swarming any living creature they come across. While distracted, the bloodless surround their prey, trying to cut off all escape. Slow-moving, the bloodless ones tend to attack in waves, eventually overwhelming creatures that stay in one place for too long.

Area B18’s Exits

To B16. The only obstacle to B16 is the 5-foot high ledge just before entering B16. It counts as difficult terrain, but no check is needed to climb it.

To B20. The passage to B20 is wide but low. A character must drop prone and crawl on their belly in order to move through the tunnel into area 20.

To the Outside. The portals to the outside look upon hundreds of acres of the Graywood Forest’s treetops. It is a 250-foot sheer drop down the cliffside. See “Entering the Eyries” for details on climbing into and out of the north face of the Eyries.

 

B19 – Signs of a Struggle

When the characters first arrive in this area, read the following:

Fresh bloodstains, broken arrows, and even gashes along the cavern walls–it looks like there was a combat here.

Aliq’s men ran into the bloodless ones from area B18 in this cavern. Half of the men were killed, drained of all their blood, later rising as new bloodless ones. One of his men escaped, leaping from one of the exits down into the forest below, somehow surviving the fall. Two more of his men crawled into the tunnels at area B20, eventually holing up in areas B21 and B22.

Area B19’s Exits

To B14/B15/B22. Beyond a few low-hanging stalactites, the passageway leading south to the four-way intersection between B14, B15, and B22 is relatively easy-going.

To the Outside. Similar to area B18, it is a sheer drop down the north side of the mountain. See “Entering the Eyries” for details.

 

B20 – Pinned Chaosman

As the chaosmen were escaping the bloodless ones from area B18 and B19, rubble came crashing down along the passageway. A falling boulder crushed the legs of one of the two, leaving him pinned. The other chaosman, Weimer (see area B21) sat with his companion for three days, giving him food and water until the pinned chaosman finally succumbed to his wounds. A day later, much to Weimer’s horror, his dead companion rose as a zombie, thrashing at the man who’d cared for him. Weimer then fled to area B21, leaving the undead chaosman behind.

When the characters arrive, the zombie is still pinned there. It is prone and restrained but will try to attack anyone that comes near it.

Treasure. If the characters remove the rock pinning the zombie, they will find that the chaosman’s short sword is still intact. In addition, he carried a coin purse with 20 gp in it.

Area B20’s Exits

To B19. It’s a lot easier to get into B20 than it is to get out. To return to B19, characters must crawl on their stomachs up the narrow passageway. Small characters have no trouble, but Medium creatures–especially those wearing heavy armor–must make a DC 12 Strength (Athletics) check each time they move through the passageway to avoid becoming stuck. A stuck creature is restrained and can’t move until it uses its action to make another Strength (Athletics) check to free itself.

To B21. The path to B21 suffers from the same problem that the path to B19 does; the path is wide but short. A character must crawl prone to get through the passage into B21.

 

B21 – Lone Survivor

As soon as a character enters this chamber, it’s likely that the one surviving chaosman attacks. Unless the characters were cautious, the chaosman (use the guard stat block) catches them by surprise. However, the chaosman has been trapped here for nearly two weeks with very little food and water; he has 4 levels of exhaustion and only 3 hit points remaining.

If the characters avoid killing the chaosman, the chaosman reveals that his name is Weimer. He explains that he and the others were tasked by Aliq to explore the Eyries and discover the source of the evil within. Weimer believes that the rest of his party are dead (he is unaware that the one who lept from the mountain survived).

Weimer wishes to escape, but he’s fearful for the dangers outside of the small cave. Before he leaves this area, the characters will need to convince him that they can protect him. He is easily spooked, too. If Weimer is traveling with the party and undead attack, have him make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw at disadvantage. On a failure, he runs from the party, screaming in terror.

The only way out through this chamber is the way the characters came in.

 

B22 – Rowan’s Sanctuary

Right away you notice that the cool air that pervades the rest of the caverns does not seem to touch this large cavern. Strange, arcane markings cover the walls, painted there long ago. At the center of the cavern are the remains of an old camp, long abandoned.

With two clear passageways in and out of this chamber, this is one of the most defensible locations in the entire Eyries. It is also the location that Rowan hid while studying the Master of the Peak. Rowan protected the area with powerful protective runes that even now forbid evil creatures from entering. The characters can use this location as a place to rest and recuperate without fear of random encounters occurring, including the Master of the Peak.

Treasure. Among the remains of Rowan’s old camp are a usable mess kit, climber’s kit, 50 feet of hemp rope, two daggers carved with Elven runes that read “To my love, Rowan”, and two scrolls of protection from evil and good.

 

B23 – Tunnel to the Temple

This long lost tunnel has not had a living creature move through it in close to 70 years. Characters traveling to the west eventually arrive at the opposite side of the cave-in in the northwestern section of the Lost Temple (to be detailed in a future installment of BroadSword Monthly).

There is nothing else of interest in this cavern.

 

B24 – The Pit

The floor of this pit is slick. You see a trickle of water pouring from the northern rock face, likely rainwater that collects at the top of the peak and makes it way here through the fissures in the mountain. Then, the water drops over the edge at the southwestern corner of the landing into the rift, landing somewhere far below.

If the characters stand in the pit for more than 1 minute, an apparition appears at the eastern side of the ledge. It appears to be an elven man wearing white and blue robes. It beckons for the characters to follow, then steps into the eastern wall and vanishes.

The ghost is Rowan, whose remains can be found in area B25.

Area B24’s Exits

To B2. Climbing up the ledge to area B2 requires a DC 14 Strength (Athletics) check if done without a rope. It is 20 feet up to area B2.

To B25. A natural chute measuring 3 feet in diameter descends 40-feet into area B25. Getting down is easy, requiring only a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to climb down without a rope. It’s getting up that’s the hard part.

 

B25 – Rowan’s Final Resting Place

When the characters enter the chamber, read the following:

At the center of this long, narrow passageway is a skeleton wearing tattered blue and white robes. Its boney fingers clutch an old, leatherbound journal. Scrawled on a boulder a few feet from the skeleton are what-look-like Elven runes.

The runes read “Luzien”, an elven name.

After fighting the Master of the Peak, Rowan retreated to this cave. Then, the Master collapsed the passage leading into the room, trapping Rowan. Too weak to climb up the chute to area 24, Rowan instead spent his last living days writing notes in his journal, which his skeleton now clings onto.

Most of Rowan’s journal recounts how he’d been studying the undead forces of the Eyries. He believed that the haunting started after an elven monk was murdered somewhere within its caverns.

Read aloud Rowan’s final journal entry:

It is obvious now that I am trapped and will spend my last living moments in this cavern. Before I succumb to hunger and thirst, I will write to you, whoever you are that discovered this journal, what I learned before I met my doom.

The source of evil in this cave once had a name: Luzien. Luzien was betrayed by the brothers of the temple and buried here in the eyries. When his spirit rose, it grew in power, becoming the thing that terrorizes these caverns today.

Luzien is very protective of the soil in the room with all the bones, where we fought. I suspect Luzien is buried beneath the soft soil there. This, I predict, is his only weakness; destroy Luzien’s remains, and you destroy Luzien.

In addition, I discovered a way to summon Luzien and bind him temporarily. By writing the runes that make up his name and speaking it aloud with these caverns, his spirit will appear. It won’t attack initially, but will after a few moments. Perhaps it can give you enough time to dispose of Luzien’s remains, thereby freeing the mountain of his damned soul.

Good luck, whoever you are. May you succeed where I could not.

Rowan’s Binding Ritual. The process Rowan describes in the book is a way to bind Luzien. If Luzien’s name is written in Elven (similar to how it is written on the boulder) and his name spoken aloud, the Master of the Peak will appear. When the Master of the Peak arrives (typically in 1d4 + 1 rounds) it is charmed by the speaker for 1 minute or until the speaker or one of its allies attacks it, or its remains are disturbed (see area B16).

Exiting the Area. The only way out of B25 is through the 40-foot long verticle chute leading to area B24. The chute is reachable from the ground but can be difficult to climb up without a rope. A character can make a DC 14 Strength (Athletics) check to climb up the chute.

Concluding the Adventure

Once the characters destroy Luzien/The Master of the Peak, all of the undead within are instantly destroyed, freed of their curse. Aliq is grateful to the characters for freeing the peak of the Master’s desecration and awards them the gold he promised. Should the characters have discovered the tunnel in area B23 leading ot the temple, he may have another mission for the characters.

But that’s a story for another time.

Be sure to read future installments of BroadSword Magazine for further adventures under the Forsaken Peak. Ω

 

BroadSword is Coming!

The first issue of BroadSword Monthly will be out in just a few weeks. Be sure to grab a copy if you haven’t already. Currently, pre-orders get a 10% discount on the cover price.

The book will include 4 new adventures, new campaign settings, new monsters, new magic items, and more!

Get BroadSword #1 now for 10% off the cover price!

Thumbnail Art by unknown (if you know the original artist, please let me know in the comments below)

 

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Welcome to Lantern Falls | New Adventure for Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition

Starting the Adventure

The Goblin Mine adventure assumes that the players have already arrived in Lantern Falls. However, any small-to-medium settlement near a major mountain range will do.

The characters are called to the town of Lantern Falls by Bezzwic Greencloak (LG male human mage). Recently, a group of Greencloak’s students disappeared while performing research north of the Greenstone River, in the Graywood Forest. Rangers combing the area discovered goblin tracks leading back to the Forsaken Peak. Greencloak fears that none of his disciples survived, but remains optimistic. He hopes that the characters can either a) find proof that his students were all killed in the raid or b) rescue any survivors captured by the Peak’s goblins.

Greencloak knows that the goblins operate out of a mine located on the northern face of the mountain and offers detailed directions for the characters.

Roleplaying Bezzwic Greencloak

Greencloak is the town’s most extraordinary feature. He is the Steward’s counselor and a wizard of middling power. He lives in a tower near the Keep. Bezzwic is proud, forgetful, and quick to please the Steward with simple cantrips and stories. The wizard is venerable, but not ancient. He is tall, with meaty hands and a wide girth. His greying black hair and beard are wild about his face and protrude from his voluminous green cloak. Bezzwic thoroughly enjoys scaring the town youth with threats of true and awesome power. He does not brook fools but will bend over backward for the Steward of Lantern Falls.

If the characters ask more questions to Greencloak, he shares what he knows about The Forsaken Peak and the goblins:

  • “The Forsaken Peak is a cursed area. Only the Chaosmen are foolish enough to build a permanent base of operations there, and from what my resources tell me, even they’ve had a hard time there.”
  • “The goblins are known slavers and cannibals. If any of my students are still alive, it won’t be for much longer, I’m afraid.”
  • “Careful in the Graywood Forest. It is full of wolves, bandits, and other unspeakable horrors.”
  • “The Chaosmen of the Peak aren’t aggressive, but they also don’t like others sniffing around their Castle on the Peak. If you absolutely must approach the Castle of Chaos, I recommend doing so under the disguise of merchants whom they accept without too many questions.”

The characters should be somewhat experienced by this point and their deeds may be known even to those living on the edge of civilization, such as those of Lantern Falls. Greencloak is confident in the party’s ability to rescue his students. Greencloak explains that he would offer his support, but the town’s defenses are limited, especially where magic is concerned.

Treasure

Greencloak promises the characters 300 gp apiece if they return with irrefutable evidence that his students were killed by the goblins. He will pay an additional 200 gp each if they find survivors and bring them back alive.

If the character press for coin upfront, Greencloak gives each character 100 gp upfront, with the remainder distributed upon completion of the mission.

10 - Lantern Falls HR (1)

Lantern Falls

Lantern Falls is an independent mining town sandwiched between the Central Borderlands to the west, the very northwestern edge of the Towering Mountains to the east, the elven woods to the south, and the barbarians and Kingdom of Chaos to the north. It’s a sleepy town comprised of hard-working farmers, craftsmen, miners, and fishermen, though there are some merchants and traders that operate within the town walls. A large waterfall thunders down several cataracts to the north of the settlement.

Those few caravans that end up in Lantern Falls arrive in the summer months when the passes and Borderlands are free of harsh weather. The most common traders include merchants from the Valley of Haven in the mountains to the east, or free farmers from the Ancient Hills and lands immediately surrounding the town.

Historically, the town was a simple village comprised only of miners. But as harsh northern weather began taking its toll, marauding barbarians and monsters harried the miners, and passing caravans of merchants and guardsmen wintering with the laborers eventually became farmers, it became clear that more protection was necessary. Walls were slowly built. Mercenaries were paid to watch the town and protect its inhabitants. These soldiers became the town’s first men-at-arms. Eventually, one of these men, Durwin, took power, focusing construction and military efforts for the first time for the beleaguered inhabitants.

A traveling cleric of Law settled in the town 100 years afterward, bringing with him spiritual guidance and offering his god’s protection to travelers heading east or west.

Soon, Lantern Falls, or Iron Falls, as it was called until 70 years ago, became known as the ‘Merchant’s Lantern.’ It offered those few travelers that made the harrowing journey through the Borderlands or the Towering Mountains a safe haven from the hazardous northern realms. Though trade is still not bustling, commerce is greater now than it has previously been.

Lantern Falls’s denizens are mostly lawful. Laws and punishments are strict but fair, and rarely resulting in execution.

Lantern Falls as a Base of Operations

Lantern Falls makes an excellent place for the party to rest and relax in between adventures, especially as part of the ongoing Forsaken Peak adventure series. All of the equipment listed in the Fifth Edition PHB are available for purchase in Lantern Falls. Being a Sword and Sorcery setting, magic items are much more difficult to locate. In addition, Lantern Falls makes a good place to introduce side quests and other plot developments.

Below are details of some of the more important places found in the town, as well as its notable denizens.

The Lonely Delver Inn

The Lonely Delver Inn is one of the oldest establishments in Lantern Falls. Its current innkeeper is Forthwind (LN male human commoner), an argumentative and somewhat harsh man. Miners visiting from the camp to the north are treated exceptionally well by Forthwind, often given discounts on their meals, if not given them for free. The miners fill the common room’s tables where they carouse away the aches and pains brought on by backbreaking labor. Many only visit when delivering shipments of ore, though some visit family and friends they have in town. The cost to stay the night at the Lonely Delver is 1 gp per day and includes three modest meals.

Slinker’s Tavern

If there is information to be had in Lantern Falls, it can be found in Slinker’s Tavern. The halfling, Slinker (N male halfling commoner)  makes it his business to know the gossip and rumors in town. He often likes to bother new arrivals with incessant, but kindly, conversation. Often, he is amiable enough that people end up opening up to him and saying more than they intended, which is just what Slinker wants.

Lorden’s Keep

Lorden, the Steward of Lantern Falls, is descended from the mercenaries that were hired to protect the developing town. Lord (LN male human veteran) is short, stout, and red-faced. He is a combative fellow that loves being involved in forays into the surrounding hills to deal with any threats that might arise. Lately, though, his wife, the Stewardess Gwendolina (LG female human noble), and Lorden’s advancing age, have kept the man upon his carven throne much more often than he would like. Lorden is prone to exploding into fits of rage, though such bouts are mostly bluster, as his wife will be quick to point out. Lorden’s son, Uthric (LN male human veteran), is his pride and joy. He is tall like his grandfather, fierce like his father, and acting constable for the town.

The Lorden family lives in the large keep on the western part of the town. There are old passages beneath the Keep, and many mysteries surrounding them.

The Temple of Law

The Temple of Law is the spiritual center of the town and a resource for those looking for divine protection along the caravan routes east and west. Fenric the Pure (LG male human priest) is the town’s priest is a stick of a man, with a head that bobs around on his bony shoulders, like a scarecrow with no support, when he gets excited or angered. Many say the priest is a boring, fussy, and fastidious fellow, and they are right. Most of the temple’s acolytes and the less pious townsfolk make fun of him for his no-nonsense personality. Despite his conservatism, the man is good of heart, aids the traveling and local poor, and is quick to lend a hand when the moment calls for it, though he might try and control the whole affair. Lorden and Fenric are constantly at odds, though they hold a grudging respect for one another.

 


 

Interested in learning more? Keep up to date with what’s going on in this adventure path as well as BroadSword Magazine. The first issue debuts in Late August/Early September.

For the original map and details of Lantern Falls, check out JD Russell’s Patreon.

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Adventures and Encounters in the Eastern Borderlands | New Campaign Setting for Fifth Edition (BroadSword Spoilers)

This article contains spoilers for BroadSword Magazine #1. If you wish to wait until the release of the first issue in August-September to read this content, please leave now. You’ve been warned!

 

forsaken-peak-eastern-borderlands-regional

Locations in the Eastern Borderlands

This section describes the key locations in the Eastern Borderlands, which are presented in alphabetical order for ease of reference. The Eastern Borderlands can easily exist in the Sword and Sorcery World presented in this issue, or it can fit into any existing Fifth Edition campaign world or even a world of your own design. Feel free to modify any of the locations as you see fit.

Abandoned Stronghold

This stronghold was once an operation center for the Chaosmen. Since the founding of the Castle of Chaos on the Forsaken Peak, it has been abandoned and left to ruin. Numerous bandit groups, adventuring parties, and even the odd cult have used this stronghold as a base of operations over the last few decades.

Ancient Hills

It’s said that everything west of the Greenstone River is best left to the druids and rangers. The ancient hills are no exception. Filled with all manner of strange and deadly beasts, these hills are home to ancient ruins, abandoned mines, and monstrous lairs. The mysterious Wizard’s Tomb is carved into the heart of the hills.

Bonemist Geyser

Powered the ancient magma tubes far beneath the surface of the western portion of the Eastern Borderlands, the Bonemist Geyser erupts scalding hot water 75 to 200 feet in the air once every 30 minutes to an hour. The elves of the Silverwood once called the Bonemist a place of worship. Now, it is the domain of foul undead and wicked forest spirits.

Geyser Glass

A rare material known as geyser glass collects around the bonemist geyser. Geyser glass looks like a cross between obsidian and quartz. When used to make weapons, it can punch through the defenses of creatures with resistance to fire damage. However, it is weak and hard to work with; attack and damage rolls made with geyser glass weapons are made with a -1 penalty.

Of course, getting a hold of the glass isn’t easy. Skeletons and scalded zombies rise from the acidic mud, dragging unsuspecting creatures to their deaths in the mud and boiling water.

Caravan Trail/Road

Once, this route was a poorly maintained road that wound through the mountain pass east of Lantern Falls. Then, it was little more than a cart path that lead into the Central Borderlands. A few years ago, the merchant lords operating in the Harkwind Hills took control of the road. Now, these wealthy traders hire mercenaries to patrol the area and clear it over troublemakers.

Tolls

Reasonable tolls (typically 2 sp) at 10-mile intervals pay for the operation. Some grumble about the cost but know that it’s a small price to pay for the safety of cargo transportation through the Borderlands. The merchant tolls are manned by 2d6 guards lead by a veteran at all hours. Most of the tolls’ guards are lawful neutral, although a corrupt official isn’t totally unheard of.

Castle of Chaos

The Castle of Chaos is described in the Castle of Chaos section.

Forsaken Peak

The Forsaken Peak is described in the Forsaken Peak section.

Frogmire

Named for its nearly deafening chorus of frogs, the Frogmire grasps the bend in the Greenstone and Singing Stream. Rumors of massive frogs and lizardmen living in the swamps persist, but so far no proof has been seen. Of course, that could be because all who have witnessed such monstrosities are dead.

Thankfully, with the Knights of Lantern Falls making regular patrols along the Caravan routes, demihumans dare not push north beyond the river.

Graywood Forest

The ancient, coniferous Graywood Forest swallows the majority of the Eastern Borderlands. The forest provides ample resources for neighboring villages and farms. Naturally, lumber is its biggest offering. But the prickberries that dot the ground cover are necessary for antitoxins and other potent alchemical concoctions, too. Deer are common, as are rabbits and plenty of game fowl. And the ponds and lakes spread throughout the Graywood are fat with fish.

Unfortunately, bandits call the Graywood home, too, terrorizing, pillaging, and robbing the homesteaders living and working among the trees. Sadly, the Chaosmen aren’t much better in their attitude towards those who reside in the forest, either. Bored from their endless missions along the Forsaken Peak in their Castle of Chaos, these grimy warriors descend into the forest to raise hell on all they come across.

Some believe that the Forsaken Peak’s curse bleeds into the forestry; the closer one gets to the Peak, the darker the forest grows. Ghosts and other horrors stalk the woodlands, vanishing those unlucky enough to be lost after dark. Now, rumors persist of slugmen pouring from lost tunnels, emerging from the bowels of that horrible mountain.

Greenstone River

As the longest river in the Eastern Borderlands, the Greenstone descends from the Mountains of Rime to the North and bleeds south towards the Ruined Sea. Along the way, it slinks past Lantern Falls, granting the city its moniker.

Travel by river is difficult, but not impossible. Guides are greatly recommended, as the river is known for its chaotic bent. Many unprepared adventurers have met their fates at the hands of steep waterfalls, jagged rocks, and other dangers of the swift and angry Greenstone.

Rapids

When traveling by the Greenstone River or through the Singing Gorge by raft or canoe (larger boats can’t move through the waterways due to the rapids), have the characters make DC 12 Strength checks using their proficiency in vehicles (water). The greenstone requires checks once every 5 miles and the Singing Gorge requires checks once every 1 mile. A failed check results in the vessel capsizing in the water.

Capsizing

At the start of his or her turn, a character is pushed 30 feet downstream and must make a DC 12 Strength (Athletics) check. On a failed check, the character is restrained, pulled underwater (and starts to drown), and takes 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage as they are dashed against the rocks. On a successful check, a character only takes half damage but isn’t restrained or drowning. A restrained character can use their action to make another DC 17 Strength (Athletics) check to surface the water, ending the restrained condition on a success.

Halfmoon Lake

Then Greenstone’s second major stop is the murky Halfmoon Lake at the edge of the Chaosmen’s Lands. Half-sunk by the black waters rests an old, nameless village. Anyone who sets about on raft via the Greenstone can see the old village peaking up from the mud, swarmed by mosquitos, biting flies, and disease-carrying rats.

Aug the Croc

A giant crocodile named Aug calls the village ruins home. Aug’s grown fat over the years thanks to countless, careless treasure seekers who dive into the ruins searching for lost loot and baubles. In addition to Aug, swarms of quippers hunt the ruins, eating anything the old croc misses.

Harkwind Hills

Once, the Harkwind Hills north of Lantern Falls were abundant with iron. Of course, the wealthy merchants operating the caravan trails grew keen on this. Thousands of hard hands were put to work in the hills, stripping the land of its bounty. In time, the iron dried up. Only a few mines still operate in the Harkwind Hills, but most are long abandoned.

Harkwind Valley

Named for the white eagles (large hawks) that live in the nearby hills and hunt in the valley. On one side of the Valley stands the Towering Mountains and on the other the Ancient Hills.

Centuries ago, the Church of Law took to the valley, attracted by the assets provided by the might Greenstone and the Harkwind Hills to the north. Soon, Lantern Falls sprung up and formed a major trade center.

These days, the natural geography of the valley is one of Lantern’s Falls greatest blessings, especially with the incursion of the Chaosmen to the north. With the assistance of the Merchant Lords’ mercenary companies, Lantern Falls knights keep the valley safe. Hundreds of farms and a handful of villages stay safe under their watched. Of course, the looming shadows and chill air sweeping off the Forsaken Peak have started to worry the Harkwinders.

Iron Mine

One last iron mine dots the Harkwind Hills and its rights are fiercely contested. No less than three Merchant Lords have died laying claim to the operation, poisoned, stabbed, and drowned by “bandits.”

Currently, Marlowe the Rusted (LE male human noble) manages the mine and keeps a small mercenary company on hand to see that it stays that way. The mercenary company consists of 20 guards and 2 veterans.

Lantern Falls

The military seat of power for the Church of Law, Lantern Falls has been a staple of the Harkwind Valley for years.

Monastery of the Sacred Scroll

The old monastery is locally known, but seldom interacted with. This sect of the Church of Law is dedicated to Saint Merek of the Sacred Scroll. The monks continue the work Merek started, studying an obscure text from the ‘Book of Law and Light.’

Morgantha’s Well

Wrapped by 50-foot cliffs on all sides, Morgantha’s Well is a clear lake hidden among the foothills of the Towering Mountains. Water weirds live here. They are prone to drowning adventurers that ignore the warnings of local hunters.

Silverleaf Forest

Once, the elves of the Eastern Borderlands ruled the entire expanse. It is believed that the Silverleaf and the Graywood were also part of the same forest. Then, the curse of the Forsaken Peak swept over the land. The elves retreated from the Graywood and across the Greenstone, reestablishing their domain in the western woodlands. Now, the elves rarely emerge from their homes in the trees. And outsiders are quite unwelcome.

Singing Gorge

Those that brave this winding, cataract-filled gorge swear they hear the faint, alluring song of female voices over the tumbling of the stream that runs through it.

Harpies

The voices are actually those of harpies. The harpies specifically target raft passengers attempting to navigate the falls. Using their song, they lure travelers from their boats and into the water. From there, the crushing rocks and swirling waters do the rest of the work for them (see Rapids above).

Singing Stream

An extension of the Greenstone River, the singing stream takes its name from the famous Gorge it runs through.

Somerlake

Somerlake is a lake northeast of Lantern Falls. Somer Isle is an island at the heart of the lake on which the Monastery of the Sacred Scroll is built.

Slugmarsh

The dismal, black swamp that consumes the Halfmoon Lake is home to Zargol, the slug demon. There, he lives here with a collection of zealous cultists. Not even the Chaosmen dare set foot in the marsh, for fear of capture, torture, or possession (or all three) by the slug demon and its insane minions.

Towering Mountains

This snow-capped range juts from the landscape like a wolves’ teeth, separating the Eastern Borderlands from the remainder of the continent. Were it not for the Caravan Road that cuts through the mountains, travel would be nigh impossible.

The greatest danger of the mountains are the drakes whose eyries pock its peaks. The drakes are known to fly north towards the Harkwind Valley during the Cold Months, lifting livestock–and even the odd farmer–to return to their young. For this reason, Drakehunt is a popular festival, arriving the second week of autumn. Each year, young knights and thrillseekers from all over arrive to the mountains ready to test their new swords on the mighty lizards’ scales. Those who survive consider it a rite of passage.

Wizard’s Tomb

The trap-laden tomb of a lich known as the Stargazer, who once terrorized the Southern Kingdoms, lies hidden within the crags of the Ancient Hills. Word ’round the Harkwind is that the lich’s second phylactery is kept within the hills.

Wyvern’s Lair

Worse than all the bandits, Chaosmen, and wolves of the Graywood Forest are the malicious wyverns. These thorny, flying reptiles live in a sinkhole at the center of the wood. Thousands of skulls and bones–an equal mix of humanoid and animal–litter the surrounding area.

The wyverns of the Graywood forest are vicious and much more cunning than normal. They rarely hunt alone, preferring to travel in packs of three or four. Often, one will pretend to be feasting on a fresh kill in an open area, attracting hunters and would-be adventurers. Meanwhile, 2-3 more hide among the trees. The wyverns then cut off all exits, attacking hard and fast.

Five wyverns live in the burrows pocking the 60-foot deep sinkhole.

Shock

The matriarch of the wyverns is a heavily-scarred beast known as Shock, the smartest and deadliest of the group. She uses the normal wyvern stat block except with the following changes:

  • Shock’s alignment is neutral evil.
  • Shock has 247 hit points and her AC is 15 (natural armor).
  • Her Dexterity score is 14 (+2) and her Intelligence score is 8 (-1)
  • Shock has proficiency in Stealth checks (+6).
  • Using her Multiattack, Shock can attack once with her bite and once with her claws. While flying, she can use her claws in place of one other attack.
  • Shock’s CR is 10, increasing her proficiency bonus to +4 (this gives her a +1 bonus to her Perception skill and attack rolls).

Next: The Castle of Chaos

Cartography by Justin David Russell

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The Secret of Forsaken Peak Breakdown

Heya folks! Been working hard on The Secret of Forsaken Peak today, so sorry I’ve been quiet. Anyways, JD and I just outlined the requirements for this big ol’ book we’re doing.

The format is based loosely on the new Dungeon of the Mad Mage book (not the story, mind you, just seeing how big poppa WotC organizes their stuff). Here is the rough breakdown of what to expect:

Art Requirements Writing Requirements
Book Section Full Page 1/2 Page 1/4 Page Areas Monsters Misc Est Word Ct Page Ct
Cover 1
Intro 4
Overview 8000 8
Part 1: The Forsaken Peak
Castle of Chaos Main Entry + Battlements 1 1 25 4750 5
Castle of Chaos Ridge Entry 1 20 4000 4
The Eyries 1 25 4750 5
Lost Temple + Lost Temple Crypts
1 2 45 7750 8
Goblin Mine 1 1 25 4750 5
Pool of the Mind Slugs 1 25 4750 5
Ruined Dwarven Outpost + Front Gate
1 45 7750 8
The Labyrinth of Yule 1 25 4750 5
Dwarven Road Ruins 1 1 25 4750 5
Beast Man Cave 1 20 4000 4
Mud Man Temple 1 20 4000 4
Fungus Gardens 1 20 4000 4
Southern Caves 1 15 3250 4
Dwarf City 1 1 20 4000 4
Elven Camp 1 15 3250 4
Flooded Caves & Sewers 1 20 4000 4
Labyrinth of Thorns 1 25 4750 5
Slug Palace of Gorgoloth 1 1 25 4750 5
Slug Palace Dungeon 1 25 4750 5
The Bubbling Slug Pits 1 25 4750 5
Gorgoloth’s Prison 1 20 4000 4
Part 2: The Eastern Borderlands 1
Overland Description 20 4000 4
Lantern Falls 1 20 4000 4
Appendix A: Monsters
Monsters 75 150 75
Appendix B: Player Options
Class Options 24
Appendix C: Magic Items/Spells 20
Totals 7 21 78 550 150 113k 241

I expect about a 50% adjustment on the final word count and page count, too, so we’re probably looking at close to 200,000 words and over 300 pages, so roughly the same size as a normal Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition book.

Of course, all of this will change and grow as more and more material comes out and we start pushing for the Gleam campaign.

Let me know what you think down in the comments.

If you haven’t already…

Be sure to sign up for the Secret of Forsaken Peak mailing list. You’ll get the first part of the dungeon, the Goblin Mine, sent to you.

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The Secret of Forsaken Peak Resources

Last Updated: 1/2/2018

What is the Secret of Forsaken Peak?

A shadow falls across The Graywood Forest, cast by the titanic, lonely mountain known as The Forsaken Peak. Its jagged, snow-capped peaks hide many secrets and equally as many terrors.

For years, the mountain has been at the heart of multiple mysteries. Why do the chaosmen have such an interest in the mountain, enough to build an entire castle atop it? What happened to the elves of the old temple, and why can’t the temple be accessed? What are the goblins digging for at its core? And what is The Creature and why do the chaosmen fear to enter its lair?

The Secret of Forsaken Peak is a dark fantasy/horror adventure for characters of level 5-15 using Fifth Edition rules. In addition to the 30+ map adventure offering over 750 areas, chambers, and other places of interest, the book boasts over 100 new original monsters, more than 30 new magic items, new player options introducing subclasses, feats, and backgrounds, full-color illustrations and a whole lot more.

Dare you enter The Forsaken Peak?

 

Adventures

So far, the Goblin Mine has been created for the Secret of Forsaken Peak. The PDF is completely FREE for you to download.

Get the FREE adventure now, The Secret of Forsaken Peak Part 1 – The Goblin Mine.

 

New Monsters

Here are the monsters that have been created for The Secret of Forsaken Peak (so far):

Bloodless One

Darkwind

Doghead and the Cold Children

Goblin Worg-Rider

The Leaping Mother

Manticore Specters

Necrochef

Rolfin the Dragon Priest

Skin Kite

Skulking Cyst

Tuuk

 

The Secret of Forsaken Peak’s Maps

All of the maps of The Secret of Forsaken Peak have been created by Justin David Russell. For high-resolution copies of the maps, become JD’s patron on Patreon.

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Level 1 – The Castle of Chaos and Lost Temple

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Level 2 – The Dragon’s Lake

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Level 3 – Along The Dwarven Road

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Level 4 – The Forgotten City of Urzangor

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Level 5 – Below Urzangor

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Level 6 – Gorgoloth’s Lair

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Cartography by JD Russell.

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Blutgeists | Monsters for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

“I dropped my sword and fell backward into the mud. The thing, whatever it was, pulsed and expanded. Blood flowed from it like tendrils that stretched into the space around it. Those who still stood near it were caught within its web. I watched in horror as they would break free for a moment only to become caught again. Then I could see it on their faces. They were being drained. Their skin turned pale then gray then shriveled into husks until there was nothing left.”

Blutgeists haunt battlefields, murder sites, and other places where blood has been spilled. They are malicious spirits driven by a compulsion to consume blood. Those they drain become bloodless ones.

Undead Nature. The blutgeist does not require air, food, drink, or sleep.

Blutgeist

Medium undead, neutral evil


Armor Class 12

Hit Points 52 (7d8 + 21)

Speed 0 ft., fly 30 ft.


Abilities Str 6 (-2), Dex 15 (+2), Con 17 (+3), Int 6 (-2), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 16 (+3)


Damage Resistances acid, fire, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

Damage Immunities necrotic, poison

Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, unconscious

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages understands the languages it knew in life but can’t speak

Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)


Blood Form. The blutgeist can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there. It can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.

Freeze. If the blutgeist takes cold damage, it partially freezes; its speed is reduced by 20 feet until the end of its next turn.


Actions

Multiattack. If the blutgeist has two or more creatures caught in its Vascular Web it can use its blood siphon once against each creature.

Blood Siphon. Melee Spell Attack: +6 to hit, reach 15 ft., one creature. Hit: 10 (3d6) necrotic damage. The target’s hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and the blutgeist gains temporary hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0. A humanoid slain in this way returns as a bloodless one in 1d4 hours.

Vascular Web (1/day). If the blutgeist has 10 or more temporary hit points, it can remove the temporary hit points and create a web of thick, adhesive tissue that extends 15-feet in all directions around the blutgeist. The web lasts for 1 minute or until the blutgeist moves or uses its bonus action to drop the web. Each creature other than the blutgeist that starts its turn in the web or that enters it during its turn must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is restrained as long as it remains in the mass or until it breaks free (escape DC 14). Regardless of a creature’s saving throw result, the vascular web counts as difficult terrain when moving through it.  If a creature has at least 5 feet of the vascular web between it and a hostile creature, it provides three-quarters cover, and if it has at least 20 feet of avascular mass between it, it provides total cover.

Get the FREE Adventure: The Secret of Forsaken Peak, the Goblin Mine

If you haven’t heard, world-class cartographer Justin David Russell and I are working on a massive megadelve project. And we’re offering the first part of it for FREE in PDF format.

All you have to do is sign up to our mailing list!

Get the FREE adventure, now!

Art from Antics in the Armory.

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10 Things to Know About The Secret of Forsaken Peak

Those of you who’ve been keeping an eye on the blog know that Justin David Russell and I have been hard at work on an adventure setting titled The Secret of Forsaken Peak. I thought I might take today’s Top 10 list to offer some insight into what it’s all about.

#1 – It’s Fifth Edition compatible.

This one might seem obvious (or phrased weirdly), but yes, the game is Fifth Edition compatible. Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition has what’s known as the open gaming license which allows creators like myself and JD to create original material for Fifth Edition so long as it meets certain guidelines. Certain intellectual property is not allowed to be used under the Fifth Edition OGL (like a certain “eyeball monster” or “squid-faced psionic creature”), but for the most part, everything else is fair game. Isn’t that rad of the folks from the Coast?

#2 – It’s a horror/dark fantasy setting.

When I started writing The Secret of Forsaken Peak, I didn’t know it would be a horror/dark fantasy setting, but it sort of just evolved that way. Part of this direction came from JD’s love of OSR and late ’80s fantasy films which tend to have a darker, grittier vibe to them (like Conon, Excalibur, Krull, and Willow). The other part came from my recent interest in Guillermo del Toro’s ghost movies and love of Guy Davis artwork. You can see some of those influences in recent creature designs I’ve made. That’s not to say the thing is a balls-to-the-wall gore fest, but it certainly is lacking some of the “sheen” of modern Fifth Edition adventure settings.

Fun fact: each part of the dungeon is based on the directorial/storytelling style of a famous horror director. I might hold a contest after it’s released where people have to guess which is which.

#3 – This dungeon is HUGE.

There are, no kidding, 6 full levels each with 5-6 maps each. Within each of those maps are 20-25 areas, for a grand total of 750 some areas. Plus, there’s side views of the entire mountain itself, regional maps, maps of local towns, and more. It’s a fully functional world just as it is, but you can easily inject it into any campaign setting you like (we left it pretty “setting agnostic” in that respect).

#4 – There will be 150+ new monsters included in the book.

In addition to the sheer size of the dungeon itself, I’ve been creating new monsters left and right to populate the place. Already, you can see a number of the monsters I’ve created here on the site: bloodless ones, darkwind, doghead and the cold children, goblin worg-riders, and the leaping mother.

#5 – There will be a whole slew of new player options, too.

You can expect at least one new subclass per class. Plus, there’s going to be plenty of new magic items, feats, spells, and other cool things that we’re putting into this bad boy. So even if you’re not a GM, there’s plenty to gain and learn from getting this book. A lot of these player options will have a bit of a “Heroes of Horror” slant to them and sort of go for the “grittier” feeling of old-school D&D. You can expect weird, dark magic, bloodthirsty rogues, powerful barbarians, and more.

#6 – All of the maps are drafted and ready to go.

JD’s knocked out all of the maps already. In fact, they’re all available up on social media accounts as well as his Patreon. If you aren’t already following JD, do yourself a favor and follow his Facebook account where he posts DAILY maps. I can honestly say that I have never seen a cartographer in this business that makes daily maps at his quality. He also offers all of his maps in high resolution on his Patreon. Go check ’em out.

#7 – The first chapter is done and available for FREE, right now!

Part 1, the Goblin Mine, is already up on the site and available to download for free. It’s formatted in typical Fifth Edition format (red headline font, beige background, etc), but that’s likely to change come full print run. Regardless, it’s been peer review and it’s good to go. All you have to do is sign up to the newsletter which reveals details of the book and the Kickstarter as they come out. Get part one, now.

Also, we’ll be doing a competition soon. There will be 10 winners of the competition. Each winner will get a copy of the book once it’s done PLUS have their character, monster, whatever designed and put into the book. Plus, one person out of the 10 winners will get to play a part of the adventure with ME, DMDave, either online or at a convention. How neat is that?

So be sure to join the newsletter to find out how you can win!

#8 – The entire book will be written before the Kickstarter in February.

Pretty much the only thing that myself and JD are working on right now (other than, you know… work, family, etc) is the book and its content. Part 2 is nearly finished and should be up either tonight or tomorrow. It takes place in one of the creepiest parts of the dungeon, too, the eyries. Once the holidays are out of the way, I plan on knocking out one or two parts per day. That way when the Kickstarter gets here, all that will be left to do is format, a little bit of art, and getting the thing printed.

Yep. Come February, when we go to do the Kickstarter, the entire book will be available here on the blog FOR FREE. Is that crazy? Well, yeah. Of course, it’s a lot nicer to own the 500+ page hardcover book that’s going to come out all this work, but we’re not greedy, folks. You wanna play, it’s yours for free. For those who DO back us on the Kickstarter, you’ll get the official “preview” version of the book sent to you right after the Kickstarter campaign ends (this is basically the “rough and tough” PDF version of the entire thing) plus the hardcover once it comes out sometime in the third quarter. And you know, a shit ton of other cool stuff, too.

#9 – Both Justin David Russell and I are experienced professionals.

Justin David Russell is a full-time freelance illustrator and cartographer with years of experience in the business. No “day job” for that guy! Draw draw draw is all he does. And it’s some bomb-ass old school work, too. Not only does he do maps, but he does a lot of cool line work and can even paint his ass off, too. He’ll be supplying the cover art, interior art, and of course, the maps for the whole bloody thing.

And I’m a professional writer (I write over 17,000 words per day). Not only do I do it on the side with this site but also for a major tech company where I’m the ghostwriter for the CEO. In fact, my work has been featured in Bloomberg, New York Times, and even Real Simple. Furthermore, I’m an experienced marketer, web developer, and have had a successful private label manufacturing company for 3 1/2 years.

We’re extremely confident in our ability to deliver our product on time. And even if for some reason the Kickstarter doesn’t work out, we’re STILL going to put the book out in PDF/Print-on-Demand format. How about that?

#10 – A portion of the proceeds will go to help two sick friends of mine.

This last year, two good friends of mine got pretty sick. One of them, a member of my normal Saturday campaign, became ill with kidney failure. As of this writing, he’s still waiting on a kidney. My other friend is a close friend of the family and father of three who contract a mysterious illness that the doctor’s still haven’t been able to figure out (it’s seriously some real Doctor House shit, no joke). A portion of the proceeds from the project will go to help these two get better and take care of their respective families. I’ve got a good job and a couple of successful side gigs. I started this march towards a Kickstarter to help those guys out as much as I can.

Also, I’m totally going to turn them into NPC’s, too. Muahaha…

 

Get the FREE Adventure: The Secret of Forsaken Peak, the Goblin Mine

If you haven’t heard, world-class cartographer Justin David Russell and I are working on a massive megadelve project. And we’re offering the first part of it for FREE in PDF format.

All you have to do is sign up to our mailing list!

Get the FREE adventure, now!

Main image from Shutterstock, used with permission.

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Darkwind | Monster for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

Initial Observations on The Creature of the Eyries of the Forsaken Peak, Its Lair, the Region Surrounding It, and Interviews with Those Who’ve Encountered It

by Brother Roma A’tonel, Chaosmagi Secundus


I am not of the northern lands but instead hail from a small town to the far east across the Lightning Bay named Redstump. Its true name is not Redstump, of course, but in the Common tongue, it is easier to call it that.

Perhaps it is my first publication, The Air Elementals of the Sea of Wheat that drew the attention of Lord Aliq of the Chaosmagi Prime, I do not know, but alas I am here now in the cold, black-stoned camp putting to ink my thoughts on the monstrosity known by many here as “The Creature.”

The first reports of The Creature by the chaosmen of the Castle of Chaos of The Forsaken Peak came shortly after the founding of the original camp some five decades past. Prince Ardanbruk, Golebruk’s predecessor, of course, led a team of some twenty men into the caves that now make up the rear of the Castle of Chaos. Some call this cave system “the eyries.”

Anrdanbruk wrote in his memoirs:

The desecration was immediately obvious. Where things once had lived and thrived now there was only death. The men and I encountered many ghosts in the old eyries. We ventured only to the top of the climb [this is the steep path at the rear of the castle] but turned back once we caught a glimpse of something that we could only dub The Creature.

Those close to Ardanbruk claim that of all the things the Chaos Prince had seen in his fifty-some years, by far, The Creature was the most terrifying.

Ardanbruk was the first to deny access that far north of the Chaos Castle. Rumors tell us that he is also the first that ordered his men to offer up the hands and feet of thieves and runaway slaves to The Creature.

The next most impactful account of The Creature was from Fearmonger Rovio and his doomed coterie. That unfortunate group was commissioned by Golebruk to explore the far side of the Peak and the eyries. Golebruk believed and still believes, a hidden passage into the Lost Temple can be found within the eyries.

It took Rovio and his men three days to reach the brutal, north face of the Forsaken Peak, working carefully to avoid the goblins that live in the mines to the west. They crawled in through a series of holes along the cliff sides where they came against stirges and other horrors.

Later, his men encountered other horrible spirits, including something they called the “doghead” and its “cold children.” Rovio’s men were cut already down by half when they finally came face-to-face with The Creature. In Rovio’s words:

There was a sort of popping. Pop-pop-pop. Aye, as if t’was pressing itself into our world like a screaming newborn.

Light. And darkness. All at once, constantly fighting with its two halves. It swirls like a horrible wind, picking up everything it can touch, mostly skulls and debris and dirt. And my men; the damned souls, smashed to pieces. I lost all control at that point, not that it would matter. My words were lost in the howl of that dark wind.

Tis the evil at the heart of the mountain. The cause of it all. That much I am certain. And as long as it remains within those tunnels, the dead shall ne’er rest.

Before Rovio died a few days later, screaming in his sleep, he swore he saw a way through the eyries into the temple. And he believed that The Creature–this “dark wind”–protected that hidden passage.

Some things of particular interest here. The Creature does not seem to have a physical presence, yet possesses something akin to wind from. Again, this is why I think Aliq sought my expertise. Perhaps, it is an elemental of some sort?

Rovio believed that it affected the environment, too. Only the most unnatural things in existence I’ve ever encountered can affect an area as such. However, it would lead some credence to the unseasonably cold weather that constantly befalls the Peak, as well as the high presence of undead within the desecrated tunnels of the eyries.

As of this writing, Lord Aliq is recruiting another party to find the hidden passage into the eyries. It is not known whether or not this is at the behest of Golebruk. Regardless, I will stay close to the expedition to learn more about The Creature and its role with this Forsaken Peak.

Undead Nature. The darkwind does not require air, food, drink, or sleep.

The Darkwind’s Lair

The darkwind haunts anywhere its shrill wind can torment any who come near it, such as labyrinthine caverns, dungeons, and dark forests. A darkwind encountered in its lair has a challenge rating of 14 (11,500 XP).

Lair Actions

On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the darkwind takes a lair action to cause one of the following magical effects. The darkwind can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:

  • A chill wind moves through the darkwind’s lair. Each creature within 60 feet of the darkwind must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or the creature’s movement speed is halved and it can’t take reactions until the end of its next turn.
  • Creatures within 60 feet of the darkwind must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened by the darkwind for 1 minute. A creature can repeat its saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself with a success. A creature that succeeds on its saving throw or the effect ends for it is immune to this effect for 24 hours.
  • The darkwind calls forth the spirits of creatures that died in its lair. These apparitions materialize and attack one creature that the darkwind can see within 60 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 24 (7d6) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a success. The apparitions then disappear.

Regional Effects

A region containing the darkwind is warped by the creature’s unnatural presence, which creates one or more of the following effects:

  • Weather within 1 mile of the darkwind is unseasonably cold. Snowfall is common and there is always a chill in the air.
  • There are strange whispers and howls in the air within 1 mile of the darkwind’s lair. While these effects are mostly harmless, they do give an eerie atmosphere to the local environment.

If the darkwind is destroyed, these effects fade over the course of 1d10 days.

Darkwind

Huge undead, neutral


Armor Class 15

Hit Points 190 (20d12 + 60)

Speed 0 ft., fly 60 ft.


Abilities Str 16 (+3), Dex 20 (+5), Con 16 (+3), Int 6 (-2), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 16 (+3)


Saving Throws Dex +9, Wis +5, Cha +7

Damage Resistances lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

Damage Immunities necrotic, poison

Condition Immunities exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, unconscious

Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages understands the languages it knew in life but can’t speak

Challenge 13 (10,000 XP)


Cyclonic Form. The darkwind can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there. It can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing. Also, ranged weapon attacks made against the darkwind have disadvantage on the attack roll.

Magic Resistance. The darkwind has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.


Actions

Multiattack. The darkwind makes two slam attacks.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 10 ft, one target. Hit: 18 (3d8+5) bludgeoning damage.

Wind Blast. The darkwind creates a line of strong wind 90 feet long and 10 feet wide. Each creature in the area must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be pushed 15 feet away from the darkwind in a direction following the line. The wind disperses gas or vapor, and it extinguishes candles, torches, and similar unprotected flames in the area. It causes protected flames, such as those of lanterns, to dance wildly and has a 50 chance to extinguish them.


Legendary Actions

The darkwind can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The darkwind regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Move. The darkwind moves up to its full move speed.

Slam. The darkwind makes a slam attack.

Dark Embrace (2 actions). The darkwind makes a slam attack against a creature within reach. If the attack hits, instead of taking damage, the target’s Strength score is reduced by 1d4. The target dies if this reduces its Strength to 0. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or long rest. If a non-evil humanoid dies from this attack, a shadow rises from the corpse 1d4 hours later.

 

FREE Adventure: The Secret of Forsaken Peak Part 1 – The Goblin Mine

The darkwind is the big bad from the second level of the upcoming 30-part adventure series, The Secret of Forsaken Peak. You can get a start on this awesome undertaking by grabbing a FREE PDF copy of the first part when you sign up for the newsletter.

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Art by Shutterstock (used with permission).

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The Leaping Mother | Monster for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

“Don’t worry, child. Sunlight’s coming soon. Sunlight’s coming.”

The young mother wiped away her own tears and stared to the dark west, as she held the playful infant close to her chest. The Graywood Forest rocked gently in the breeze, leaves thick with spring verdancy. Inches away from her bare feet was a sharp drop, nearly 150 feet down onto the rocky outcroppings hugging the side of the mountain top. It was the only way out of this small cave save for the small tunnel she had crawled through to get there.

From that tunnel came the sound of metal scraping against hard stone; someone was coming. The young mother spun on her heel, clutching the infant even tighter than before. She kept her back to the drop.

“Priss,” came a man’s voice as he stuck his head into the small cave. He stood and dusted himself off and surveyed his surroundings. His hand rested on the pommel of his sword. “Let’s be done with this, shall we? Come back to the camp with me. Not safe here.”

“Not safe with you either!” she warned, taking a small step backwards, ever closer to the edge. Immediately, the man threw his hands up in surrender, begging for tranquility.

“Think about the child in your arms, Priss,” warned the man. “That’s the blood of a Prince you have there. He will be someone very important some day. He will be strong like his father.”

Two more soldiers entered the cave taking positions behind the man. The expressions on their faces betrayed that they were a little less patient than he.

“You are honored, Priss. You are honored by the entire Peak and you will be cherished,” the man took a step closer. And she took another step backwards. For a moment, she nearly lost her balance. Gravel loosened by the sudden shift clip-clopped down the cliff face.

“No, I won’t. I know what happens to the women. I’ve heard the stories. And then the children disappear into the ranks of your terrible armies. Not to us,” she pushed back more tears and kissed the top of her child’s head. “Not to this one.”

The two other soldiers started to move forward, but the man kept them back with a glance.

“Listen, Priss,” said the man. “What if I could take care of you? Get you out of the castle. To the north?”

Between her sniffles she looked up at him. Puzzled.

“I know a merchant. In Coldwater. He can get you across the sea. You and the child could have a new life. That could be good, yes?”

She did not notice that he was inching closer.

“Let’s end this all tonight. My men and I are tired. The climb was very difficult. This armor is very heavy, you know,” he chuckled, clanking the chaosmen symbol emblazoned on his breastplate with his gauntlet. “Come now.”

He was within grabbing distance of her.

“No,” she started with a whisper that rose to a scream. “You won’t take us back. You won’t!”

No one could have survived a fall like that. Especially not a young mother and her infant child.

For some time, the man stood at the portal staring down at the broken remains of the woman and her babe far below. He said nothing.

Eventually, one of the soldiers shattered the silence with a whisper, “What do we tell him, my lord?”. With nothing more than a sharp glance, the man pushed past the other two. He then crawled back into the hole from whence he came. And the other two followed.

The Leaping Mother

Medium undead, chaotic evil


Armor Class 13

Hit Points 49 (9d8 + 9)

Speed 0 ft., fly 50 ft. (hover)


Abilities Str 1 (-5), Dex 16 (+3), Con 12 (+1), Int 10 (+0), Wis 10 (+0), Cha 18 (+4)


Saving Throws Wis +2, Cha +6

Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks not made with silvered weapons

Damage Immunities necrotic, poison

Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, unconscious

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10

Languages Common

Challenge 3 (700 XP)


Incorporeal Movement. The leaping mother can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. She takes 1d10 force damage if she ends her turn inside an object.

Innate Spellcasting. The leaping mother can innately cast major image (spell save DC 14), requiring no components. Her innate spellcasting ability is Charisma.

Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the leaping mother has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.


Actions

Forceful Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 14 (4d6) force damage.

Invisibility. The leaping mother magically turns invisible until she attacks, casts a spell, or uses her Telekinetic Thrust action. She can use and maintain her innate spellcasting ability while invisible.

Telekinetic Thrust. The leaping mother targets a creature or unattended object within 30 feet of her. A creature must be Medium or smaller to be affected by this magic, and an object can weigh up to 200 pounds.

If the target is a creature, the leaping mother makes a Charisma check contested by the target’s Strength check. If the leaping mother wins the contest, the leaping mother hurls the target up to 30 feet in any direction, includuing upward. If the target then comes into contact with a hard surface or heavy object, the target takes 1d6 damage per 10 feet moved.

If the target is an object that isn’t being worn or carried, the poltergeist hurls it up to 30 feet in any direction. The poltergeist can use the object as a ranged weapon, attacking one creature along the object’s path (+5 to hit) and dealing 5 (2d4) bludgeoning damage on a hit.

Thanks for reading!

The leaping mother is a specialist specter/poltergeist variant for Part 2 of The Secret of Forsaken Peak adventure, The Eyries. Check out the sneak peek I posted a little earlier on the site.

Feel free to use her in your campaign, too, if you want a particularly eerie ghost story in one of your stories.

And don’t forget to join the mailing list for The Secret of Forsaken Peak to get the first part of the adventure for FREE as well as updates as more material comes out.

Art by Guy Davis.

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An Exclusive Sneak Peek at the Secret of Forsaken Peak Part 2: The Eyries

Hey all! I’ll probably be somewhat quiet this evening because I’m hard at work on writing The Secret of Forsaken Peak.

If you haven’t already seen, my man Justin David Russell is about to finish wrapping up the maps for this megadelve, which is pretty cool. I’m going to post some of them on here so you can see them all once they’re done.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our mailing list. Not only do you get updates on when The Secret of Forsaken Peak has new content, but you also get for FREE the first part of the Dungeon, the Goblin Mine.

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Exclusive Look at Part 2 of The Secret of Forsaken Peak

Here’s a quick look at what to expect from the horror show that is The Eyries:


B1 – The Climb

If the players enter through the southern Castle of Chaos entry, read the following description:

Just looking at the climb before you makes you feel exhausted. Slick with mud and runoff, the steep descent rises at a near 45 degree angle along the edge of the chasm to the east side of it. As you peek into the chasm, your boot punts a rock over the edge. Seven seconds pass before you finally hear it hit water far below.

Turning your gaze back up to the journey ahead, a chill wind sweeps past you. Within this clinging draft, you feel as if you can hear a faint crying. Somewhere distant, maybe, suspended at the dark recesses of your mind.

This place is not natural.

The Eyries is a despicably evil place. As the characters climb into it, be sure to remind them of the chill wind and harsh air; it’s almost as if it’s pushing them away from the entrance.

The Climb Up

The climb into the Eyries along the edge of the rift is one of the most difficult the characters will make. The chaosmen have tied a rope to a stalagmite at the top of the climb (in area B2) to make it easier. Even still, movement is slow and tedious and requires a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) check each turn they climb up it. Should a character fail their check, roll a d20 and consult the table below:

Falling Results

d20 Roll Result
1-10 The character catches themself on the rope.
11-18 The character tumbles back down the trail.
19-20 The character falls over the edge of the rift.

The character catches themself on the rope. The character has stopped themself from falling, but their movement becomes 0 and they cannot perform any actions until the start of their next turn.

The character tumbles back down the trail. The character falls prone in their space and is pushed back 30 feet along the trail and takes 1d6 damage for every 15 feet they tumble. A creature standing behind the tumbling character can use its action to make a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check to stop the tumbling creature. If the character is not stopped, then at the start of their next turn, they must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to stop themselves or they will fall another 30 feet towards the chaosmen camp and take another 1d6 damage for every 15 feet they tumble. This continues until they reach the bottom of the trail (just above the bottom of the map).

The character falls over the edge of the rift. The character falls prone in their space and is pushed 30 feet towards the rift. The character must then make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to catch themselves on the edge. On a failed saving throw, the creature falls over the edge and 300 feet down into the underground lake below (right in front of the Goblin Mine). The character can make a DC 20 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to dive into the water, but makes this check at disadvantage. On a failed check, the character takes 17 (5d6) damage as the water breaks their fall and the character must immediately succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw upon hitting the water, or they begin to suffocate (see the rules for suffocating on page 183 of the PHB). On the success, the character takes 7 (2d6) bludgeoning damage and does not suffocate. A creature can willingly jump into the rift to save the character by making a DC 20 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. On a success, the creature takes only 7 (2d6) damage and does not need to make a Constitution saving throw. Otherwise, the creature also takes 17 (5d6) bludgeoning damage and must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to avoid drowning.

The Climb Down

Going back down is equally as taxing, but does not require Strength (Athletics) checks to perform. The characters need only repel backwards using the rope using half their climb speed (if any).


Savage! Ain’t it?

Hope enjoyed this sneak peak. I sure am having fun writing it. Again, if you haven’t joined the mailing list, do so now. Chances are we’re going to have an EXCLUSIVE contest soon to win this whole thing for free (damn near 30 parts!) and potentially even the hardcover book that we plan to launch on Kickstarter early in 2019.

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Art by LucasArts.