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.
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.
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.
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
|2||1d2 vampire spawn|
|7||The Master of the Peak*|
|9||1d4 + 1 poltergeists|
|10||2d4 bloodless ones (see Appendix C)|
|11||1d8 + 3 shadows|
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.
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.
|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.
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
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