Trial of Heroes is a Fifth Edition adventure for four characters of any level and of any character class. The adventure takes place on the outskirts of a major city and can be inserted into nearly any campaign.
Before running the adventure, be sure to read the full article in order to gain a firm understanding of the ten scenarios. This ensures the adventure progresses smoothly and will help you adjudicate alternative solutions the players may devise for each challenge.
Trial of Heroes’ format is heavily inspired by the awesome Challenge of Champions series from Dungeon magazine, created by Johnathan M. Richards.
A prominent adventurers guild is sponsoring an event to test the skills of teams of adventurers. Open to parties of all levels of experience, the trial is to be held in three days’ time at the edge of a major city. Teams begin forming and registering days before the event.
To enter, each team must register at the adventurer’s guild headquarters by sundown the night before the trial begins. Team members must provide the guild with their name, character class, and team name. Then, they must also sign a form that absolves the adventurer’s guild in the case of injury or death. However, contestants are given the opportunity to sign up in advance for either a raise dead spell (5,000 gp per character) or a resurrection spell (11,000 gp per character) to be used in the event of their death during the course of the Trial. The guild officials try their best to ensure the safety of the participants, but accidents can (and will) happen. Characters wishing to use this service must pay in advance as a deposit. Should the characters accomplish the Trial without a death, the guild returns the deposit.
There is an entrance fee of 5 gp per character. If the adventuring guild is already a major part of your campaign setting and the characters are members, you may consider waiving the fee.
The prize for success in the Trial of Heroes is 10,000 gp for the winning team, as well as trophies, medallions and the prestige associated with such an honor. Feel free to adjust the cash prize up or down to better suit the party’s average level.
The characters enter the Trial of Heroes, a competition composed of ten scenarios, testing their adventuring capabilities. At the end of the contest, the scores of all contestants are ranked to determine the winning team.
The Trial of Heroes is a pretty big deal in the land. The toughest, smartest, and bravest adventurers from all over travel far and wide to take part. If the glory of winning such a prestigious contest isn’t enough to influence the characters to participate, here a few more reasons they might enter.
Keep Tabs on an Enemy
A member of one of the competing teams is a nemesis of the characters. The characters may have been sent to spy on their enemy, or they may suspect that the villain is up to something.
A Debt is Due
The characters owe a considerable amount of money to someone. This can be a foe or friend. However, the clock is ticking–they have less than a week to come up with the cash. Fortunately, the Trial of Heroes is paying the exact amount that they need.
Impress a Powerful Ally
Earning money isn’t enough for the characters. They need to impress upon a powerful ally–perhaps a king, governor, or powerful sorcerer–how capable they are as adventurers. The ally points them towards the Trial of Heroes. “Win this, and I’ll give you whatever you wish.”
The Trial of Heroes
The contest itself is a series of ten scenarios, each designed to test the resourcefulness and cohesion of the characters. These challenges are level-agnostic, meaning they are just as difficult for a 20th-level rogue as they are for a 1st-level one.
Here are the basic rules for the Trial of Heroes.
- No armor or weapons. Team members must show up in non-magical clothing and nothing else.
- No magic items. Team members may not bring magic items into the contest.
- No tools. No tools of any sort are allowed in the contest, especially thieves’ tools or anything that would give them an obvious edge over the competition.
- No spells. Spellcasters cannot cast any prepared spells; this includes spell-like abilities and cantrips. The only spells used in the contest must be cast using rings of spell storing provided as part of a scenario. This allows all spells to be cast at the same level, negating any advantage high-level spellcasters have over low-level ones.
- No animals. Team members may not bring in familiars, special mounts, animal companions, summoned creatures or any other sidekicks that might provide an advantage.
- Items stay with their respective scenarios. Team members may not transfer items between scenarios.
All contestants are inspected by the guild’s wizards and guards before the contest begins. The guild wizards use detect magic to make sure no magic items are being smuggled in. Anyone caught attempting to smuggle magic items into the contest is immediately disqualified.
Cheating Shouldn’t Be Encouraged. However…
While this adventure expects that the characters use teamwork and ingenuity to solve the scenarios, creativity should always be awarded in Fifth Edition. If the characters find interesting ways to circumvent the Trial of Heroes’ rules and referees and there is no way to detect it–keep in mind that the Trial’s refs are very good at catching cheats–allow them to get away with it.
Furthermore, if the characters are clever enough to outsmart the guild, they’ll probably be seen as a boon to the organization anyway.
At the start of each scenario, a proctor briefs the team on any equipment they can use. Command words to magic items are provided at this time (unless determining the command word is part of the puzzle). Once the team is satisfied that equipment is in place, the official reads the scenario briefing and starts the clock. The briefing consists of the goal the team must try to accomplish, as well as any special rules for that scenario.
Once per scenario, the team can ask for a hint if they are stumped. The decision to use the hint must be unanimous between all active team members. After the hint is given, the team earns half the normal points for completing the scenario. The Hint for each scenario is decided upon by the guild’s wizards in advance. Therefore, the hint may address a part of the scenario that the contestants have already solved.
How to Run the Adventure
Some adventuring parties may have less than four characters. Fortunately, the adventure provides NPCs that the characters can encourage to join their group. See the “Trial Hopefuls” sidebar for more information. On the other hand, parties with more than four characters must choose which four members to enter the Trial. Players who don’t have active characters in a scenario should remain silent; if they provide clues or assistance to active characters, the scenario and any points gained are forfeited (unless they find a clever way to cheat as mentioned above).
Although Trial of Heroes can be played with one GM and one player (with that player running all four team members), that puts the task of solving the solutions on that lone player. Alternatively, the players may decide to make it a contest between themselves, each character running a group of four NPCs.
If there are less than four characters, the players may select one or more of the following NPCs to join their party for the duration of the Trial. Each NPC is helpful and will follow the characters’ instructions.
- Jojo McFee, LG male human acolyte. “I wish to respectfully represent my homeland.”
- Tawny Zenn, LN female half-elf druid. “I’ve been bullied my whole life. This is my chance to prove the bullies that I’m better than them.”
- Jack Eaman, CG male halfling knight. “This looks like a lot of fun.”
- Becky Strongarm, NG female dwarf gladiator. “I’m great at winning contests. This is just another victory waiting to happen.”
- Zoan Un’dorren, N male elf (drow) mage. “I’m interested in the inner workings of the Trial itself.”
- Kaleb Koons, N male human veteran. “I had nothing better to do this week.”
Running the Scenarios
Here is how to run a Trial of Heroes scenario.
- Present Resources. At the beginning, show the players the map or diagram corresponding to that event. Allow the players to read the appropriate spells and magic item entries in their respective sourcebooks.
- Review Starting Equipment. Once each player has had a chance to review their starting equipment, give the scenario briefing. Start tracking the time.
- 15 Minutes per Scenario. Players have a total of 15 minutes for their characters to accomplish the task. This is 15 minutes in real time, not game time.
- Time Constraints. Some tasks the characters must perform to complete a scenario goal take more time in-game than in real time, though, and for these tasks, the approximate completion time is provided, often with a modifier, under the heading “Time Constraints.” Whenever a player announces that his or her character is performing that task, determine the length of time it takes and subtract that from the 15 minutes of the scenario. For example, if it takes 30 seconds to secure a rope properly, tell the players that time has been used.
- Solutions. A “proper solution” is provided for each scenario. This is the way the adventurers’ guild anticipates the goal to be accomplished. Of course, this is by no means the only–or even best–way to accomplish the goal. It is provided so you can see one method to accomplish each goal, in the event the characters fail to accomplish it and the characters don’t think it can be done.
- Safety Measures. The guild is responsible for ensuring the safety of the contestants. Each scenario may place the contestants in danger, but each proctor has the means to counter the danger.
- “Dead” Characters. In any scenario, the official has the power to declare any character “dead”. This happens when a proctor has to save the character or if the character commits a “lethal” act (like falling into a “pool of sharks” represented by a shallow pool of water). Characters declared “dead” are not allowed to participate further in the scenario in which they “died”. Furthermore, they receive no points for that scenario. Once the team moves onto the next scenario, any “dead” characters are restored to “living” status and may continue as before.
- Keep Score. As the characters complete each scenario, record their scores on the score sheet.
The Trial Begins
On the day of the contest, the participating teams are led to an arena where spectators cheer them on. This year, 16 teams compete. Before the contest officially begins, some of the teams pass around a sign-up sheet for a betting pool. Not every team enters the pool. However, those that do are putting up 100 gp pieces per team. The highest scoring team gets the pot. Nine of the 16 teams have put into the pot. Should the characters enter, the pot will be an even 1,000 gp.
Give the characters a few minutes to interact with the other contestants. Once they get to know their competitors, a thin, bookish wizard named Evadimus arrives at the clearing to explain the rules.
Each team’s name is entered on a slip of paper and the names are drawn randomly out of a small chest to determine the order that the teams will compete. The characters are number seven. As the first team is led away to the start of their first scenario, the characters can wander around the arena. Eventually, a pair of proctors scan the characters for illicit magic items. Then, a pair of guards then the characters looking for smuggled items like lockpicks or hidden weapons.
If any of the characters have tried sneaking forbidden items into the contest, they’re probably discovered at this point and ejected from the Trial. There is no reimbursement for entry fees. However, raise dead and resurrection deposits are returned. Assume the guards rolled a 20 on their Intelligence (Investigation) checks.
When the characters ready to begin, read or paraphrase the boxed text for the first scenario.
Scenario #1 – Write This Way
You are led through a door into a large chamber roughly 60 feet wide and 85 feet across. At the center of the room is a 45-foot wide pit. Taking a quick peek over the edge, you can see that the pit is probably 100 feet deep or more. There appears to be no easy way to cross the pit.
At the far end of a pit, there is a door. Otherwise, there appears to be nothing on that side.
On the side of the pit that you are standing on, there is a simple desk with a written letter, an ink bottle, and an ink pen.
A dwarf dressed in the robes of the adventurer’s guild clears his throat and speaks up. “All right, Team S even,” he says, “I hope you can do better than the last team.” The dwarf chuckles, then blows a whistle, starting the clock.
“Here’s what you’ve got to do for this scenario. Across the pit is the door to get out of here. Get through the door within the next 15 minutes and you win the scenario. That’s it! Easy peasy. Just don’t fall in the pit. Fall in the pit and you’re dead. The only items you have to help you are here on this desk.”
He then exits.
The desk is a simple wooden desk. On top of it sits an ink bottle filled with blue ink, an ink pen, and a letter (see the Player Handout for this scenario).
The pit is 45 feet across and 100-feet deep. Walls on either side of the pit are made of smooth, featureless stone, lacking lack footholds, handholds, ledges or anything else to help a character skirt across. The pit itself is a major illusion made to look like it’s deadly. Should a character fall into it, they are automatically teleported outside of the scenario and can’t return to the party until the next challenge. Illumination is provided by continual flame spells cast at regular intervals providing light over both sides of the pit. Only the pit is cast in shadow.
Scoring. 10 points per character that exits through the door at the other side of the pit.
Solution. There are seven invisible platforms made of force energy hovering over the pit as shown on the DM’s Diagram of the scenario. The platforms are fixed in place and can’t be moved.
The characters should ignore the letter and use the ink to find the platforms. However, they should make note of the red “R” on the letter (the R will be in black-and-white when printed, so you might want to color it in for effect). This will be important later. Of course, the characters are free to use other methods to determine the placement of invisible platforms. Each of the platforms are spaced 5 feet apart, so the characters will need to jump to each one.
The Hint. “Ignore the letter.”
Scenario #2 – Don’t Lose Your Bearing
You are met by a halfling that introduces himself as Ob-bob. Ob-bob leads you to a room that reeks of acid–for good reason, too. A huge pool of sizzling, green liquid dominates the majority of the room. At the center of the pool, roughly 25 feet from where you’re standing, is a column with a scale placed atop it. On one side of the scale is a large rock which teeters the other side upward.
Casting your gaze upward, you notice that you are at the bottom of what-looks-like a well, the opening some 100-feet above your head. Painted vertically on the shaft’s walls are the words “WELL, THAT’S ODD” in white, with the exception of the letter “E” which is in red. A coiled rope hangs from the top of the shaft.
“Welcome to scenario 2, Team Seven. You get a piece of equipment for this one: a ring of telekinesis. Also, you’ll notice at your feet three buckets with ball bearings in them.”
Ob-bob blows a whistle, starting the clock.
“To complete this scenario, each one of you needs to get through the door that’s in the room at the top of the well shaft. There is a rope hanging near the top of the well, 100-feet up. Careful with the acid. Touch it and you’re ‘dead.’ You’ve got 15 minutes to escape the room.”
Continual flame spells have been cast all throughout the pool room, well shaft, and exit room providing enough light for the characters to see.
The column with the scale is 25 feet away. The pool itself is shallow, only 5 feet deep. Of course, the liquid isn’t really acid, just enchanted to look like acid. However, if a character sets foot in the ‘acid pool’, they are “dead” and immediately removed from the scenario.
The well shaft above the chamber is 80-feet deep and 20-feet above where the characters stand. The surfaces of the shaft are very smooth, making climbing extremely difficult. The rope near the well’s exit is also 100-feet in the air, just out of reach of the ring of telekinesis’ range. When the correct weight is placed on the scale, the rope drops.
When the characters reach the top of the well shaft, read the following description:
You find yourself in a small room with a door at one end. The words “NOW WE’RE EVEN” are painted in white on the door. Also in the room is a another scale, this time with one side weighted by a rock that looks almost twice as big as the rock on the last scale.
The room at the top of the well shaft is 30 feet by 30 feet wide with 15 foot high ceilings with the well in the center. Naturally, the door is locked. Placing the correct weight on the scale unlocks the door so long as the scale remains balanced.
Scoring. 10 points per character that exits through the door at the top of the well shaft
Solution. The characters should count the number of ball bearings in each of the buckets. One bucket holds 333 ball bearings, and the other two hold 332 ball bearings. The characters should cast telekinesis to lift the bucket with the odd number of ball bearings and place it on the scale. Once balanced, the rope drops, offering the characters a way to climb up the shaft. The characters must then climb up the shaft with the other two buckets of ball bearings. Once at the top, they must set both of the remaining buckets with 332 ball bearings on the second scale, which opens the door. The door remains open so long as the scale remains balanced.
Hint. “You must use all of the ball bearings to win the scenario.”
Time Constraints. Counting the bearings in a single bucket takes 1 minute. Also, for most characters that move 25-30 feet per round, it takes 45 seconds to climb up the rope.
Scenario #3 – A Light in the Dark
A balding half-orc wearing a tunic bearing the insignia of the adventurer’s guild greets you as you enter this chamber. He smiles and speaks with an oddly high-pitched voice, “Welcome to the third scenario, Team Seven! My name is Gil!”
At one end of this odd-shaped room is a door sixty feet in the air, with nothing more than a narrow ledge in front of it. Bright light from a skylight illuminates the door, the ledge, and everything below it. The remainder of the room is cast in shadow. Six feet up the wall to your left are two round holes, each roughly 6-inches in diameter spaced 60-feet apart. At the center of the room is a stone circle that’s 3-feet in diameter, sticking 4-inches out of the ground.
Gil hands you your starting equipment: a cloak of the bat with a red letter “D” sewn into it and a crystal ball. The half-orc also mentions that there is a rope of climbing hidden somewhere in the scenario. Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the items and how they function, he blows the whistle starting the clock.
“The goal is simple,” Gil smiles. He points to the door sixty feet in the air. “All of you need to get out through the door up there in 15 minutes or less. That’s it! Good luck!” He happily claps his hands and exits, giggling. Strange fellow.
The chamber is actually two rooms split by a solid brick wall.
Both rooms are roughly 115-feet long and 10-feet wide. The first room, where the characters start, is the one depicted on the player’s diagram of the scenario. Half of the room is well-lit by a skylight just above the door. The other part of the room is cast in darkness. The two holes in the wall allow the characters to see through to the other side.
The crystal ball‘s scrying sensor offers a clear view of the second room from the far wall. Its ceilings are lower than the first room’s, and dimly lit thanks to specialized castings of continual flame. While scrying, the characters can see the two holes from the other side. Note that the holes appear in reverse order because of the switched point-of-view. There are no obvious ways into or out of the adjoining room beyond the holes.
Directly in front of the hole covered in darkness is a gelatinous cube (see the GM’s Diagram for this scenario). Looking through the hole from the main room, a character is unlikely to notice the cube unless they make a successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check (it’s more difficult to see than usual because of the narrow view and dim light). Anything passing through that hole while the cube is still there is “eaten” by the cube, including characters that use the cloak of the bat‘s polymorph ability. Eaten characters are declared “dead” and removed from the scenario. Two more items of note in the room: to far left of the room is the rope of climbing. And to the far right of the room is a noticeable trap door.
In the main room, the stone circle is actually a button. Placing 50 pounds of weight or more on the button lowers a 10-foot by 10-foot area of floor in the cube’s room (marked “trap door” on the scrying view). The pit it creates is 10-feet deep, and directly in front of the well-lit hole. A character that scries into the room with the crystal ball while the button is pressed will notice the floor lower. Once the weight is removed from the stone circle, the floor returns to its original position along with anything on top of it.
Note that the cloak of the bat and its polymorph effect won’t work in the well-lit area of the main room. It only functions in the dark. Even if a character dons it in the darkened area then moves to the well-lit area, it ceases to function.
Scoring. 10 points per character that exits through the door 60 feet up.
Solution. One of the characters should use the crystal ball to see into the other room revealing the location of the rope and trap door. That character will need to make a Wisdom (Perception) check to notice the gelatinous cube (passive is fine, DC 15) standing in front of the darkened hole. Another character can then stand on the stone button, opening up the trap door to the right side of the gelatinous cube. However, the gelatinous cube will only move if distracted. A character should push the crystal ball through the well-lit hole, allowing it to fall into the pit created by the stone button. The gelatinous cube will move to inspect the clatter, then fall into the perfectly-sized pit. The cube is stuck in the pit so long as the button remains pressed. Then, a character wearing the cloak of the bat polymorphs into a bat, flies through the darkened hole, grabs the rope, and returns to the group. From there, the group uses the rope of climbing to reach the platform and the exit.
Hint. “Be careful sticking objects into the hole cast in shadow.”
Scenario #4 – The Four Friends
You’re teleported into a circular room with eight doors, each with a different animal’s head carved onto it. At the center of the room stands four marble statues on a stone dais depicting a dwarf, an elf, a halfling, and a half-orc. Each statue has its back to the others, crossing its arms, as if the four are in the middle of a feud. At the base of each statue is a nameplate reading: DWARF, ELF, HALFLING, and HALF-ORC, respectively. The “H” in halfling is painted red.
“Welcome!” comes a voice behind you. You turn to see a green-skinned tiefling woman. She introduces herself as June. Without further ado, June blows her whistle to start the clock.
“Meet the four friends: the dwarf, halfing, elf, and half-orc. They were once a party of great adventurers. But now they can’t seem to agree on anything. Because of that, no one can leave this room until they’re able to figure out what the four have in common with each other, thus rekindling their relationship. Once you know what connection the four share, the way out will be obvious. Just don’t choose the wrong door–horrible monsters wait behind seven of the eight doors. You have 15-minutes to figure out the correct door and exit.”
She then teleports out of the room.
The room is 40-feet in diameter and the ceilings are 15 feet high. The entire area is lit by continual flame spells cast on the ceiling. Each statue is the average height for their respective races. Inspecting each statue reveals nothing of importance. They are all very heavy and bolted into the dais.
The animals are (from the topmost door going clockwise): ape, elephant, horse, fox, bull, ram, bear, and lion.
If the characters go through any door other than the door with the fox carved onto it, a wizard dressed like an owlbear grabs them and pulls them through. When this happens, that character is declared “dead.”
Scoring. 10 points per character that exits through the door with the fox.
Solution. Each of the four friends has the letter “F” in their name. The only animal with an “F” in its name is the Fox. Thus, the Fox door is the door through which the characters must exit.
Hint. “The four friends have something in common with one of the animals, too.”
Scenario #5 – Shhh…
Before you enter the next room, a goblin with a purple mohawk stops you. He puts a clawed finger to his lips, “Shhhh.” The goblin introduces himself as Jeth. He hands you a chime of opening and a key ring with 20 nearly identical, plain-looking keys. Once you’ve had a moment to look over the items, he blows his whistle starting the clock.
“Just beyond this door is a room with another door that you need to exit through in order to win the scenario. Of course, the door is locked. Only that chime of opening that you are holding will allow you to get through that door. Also, we’ve cast a permanent silence spell on the room, so the chime won’t work while you’re standing in the its area of effect. But good news: there are also twenty locked chests in the room. Each one of those keys you’re holding opens one of those chests. Pick the right chest and you’ll find your way out. You’ve got 15 minutes”
Jeth opens the door, allowing you to enter the silent room. He then shuts the door behind you.
The room is a perfect dome, 20-feet high and 40-feet in diameter. No matter which part of the room the characters stand in, the silence spell affects it. While their character are in the room, the players are not allowed to talk and must work in complete silence. The door at the far end of the room has a red letter “E” painted on it.
The chests are made out of wrought iron and weigh 100 pounds each. Each is locked and can only be opened with one of the 20 keys. When a character tries a key, roll a d20. On a result of a 20, the key opens the chest. The same key can open more than one chest, so the odds of finding the right key doesn’t improve after any one key opens a chest. Only on a result of a 20 (or running through all 20 keys) will a chest open.
Scoring. 10 points per character that exits through the secret door below the chamber.
Solution. All twenty of the chests are completely empty. However, each chest only weighs 100 pounds and can be easily moved out of the way. If a character moves the chest marked on the GM’s diagram, it reveals a hole in the floor with a ladder leading down 30 feet. At the bottom of the ladder is a small, 10-foot by 10-foot room with a locked door. Once in the room, the characters are removed from the silence spell’s area of effect and can use the chime of opening to open the secret door.
Hint. “You won’t find the way out inside one of the chests.”
Scenario #6 – I Put a Hex on You
Nix, a female gnome wizard greets you in the next room. The room is shaped like a hexagon. At the center of the room is a hexagonal table with seven hexagonal shaped tiles stacked on it. Other than the door you entered through, there is only other door. Above the door is a stone gargoyle carved in the shape of a red dragon’s head.
Smiling, Nix blows the starter whistle.
“All right, Team Seven! Listen up. To win this scenario, you’ve got to get through that door under the dragon in 15 minutes or less. Of course, the big dragon above it ain’t gonna let you just slide through easy. No, sir. Try going through that door without disarming it, and you’ll get blasted with fire ’til you’re nothing but a pile of ash. How do you disarm it you wonder? Simple! Say the right command word and presto–it’s disarmed. Good luck!”
The ceilings in this hexagonal room are 15-feet high, and the room is 40-feet wide at its widest point. The hexagonal table is made of stone and attached to the floor. Everything is lit by a continual light spell cast on the ceiling directly above the table.
Hand the players the cut-out hex tiles from the Scenario 6 Player Handouts.
If a character approaches the door and tries to open it before the command word is spoken, they’re blasted with illusory fire from the dragon trap and declared “dead.” That character may no longer participate in this scenario.
Scoring. 10 points per character that exits through the door without being hit by the dragon’s fire.
Solution. When put in the proper position, the tiles read: COMMAND WORD IS POACH. Saying “poach” aloud disarms the dragon trap and opens the exit door.
Hint. “Command word is…”
Scenario #7 – All The Right Move
The first thing you notice when you enter the room is the giant chessboard laid out before you. Each square on the chess board is 5-feet by 5-feet. Atop the chessboard are 21 pieces, 11 white (which are closest to you) and 10 black. The black king has a red letter “R” painted on it.
Judging by the pieces’ current placements, someone must have been in the middle of a game.
A human man with a bushy mustache greets you, introducing himself as Galan. He hands you a ring of telekinesis. He notes that the ring is faulty, and can only be used to move a single object before it loses all of its power. Galan gives you a moment to examine the ring.
Once you’re ready, Galan blows his whistle, starting the timer.
“Welcome to the seventh scenario, Team Seven. As you can see, there is a massive chessboard in front of you; you’ll be playing white. You must use the ring you hold to telekinetically move a single piece on the board up to 30 feet. Furthermore, the move you make must be a ‘legal’ chess move. For example, the bishops may only move diagonally, kings may only move to adjacent squares, and so on. Remember: after you use the ring once, you can’t use it again. Move the right piece and you will be able to escape through the far door on the other side and win the scenario.
“Oh, and one last thing: do not step on the chessboard. It’s electrified, and will instantly kill you if you do. You have 15 minutes. Good luck!”
Two things will get characters disqualified in this scenario. First, if a character steps on the chessboard, the character is ‘electrified’ and ‘dies.’ Remove the character from the scenario. Second, if the character’s use the single-charge ring of telekinesis to move a chess piece in an illegal way, the entire group is disqualified.
Each chess piece is roughly 3-feet round, 4-feet tall, and weighs 200 pounds. They are made out of plates of steel bolted to a wooden frame and can support up to 1,000 pounds of weight each. Moving a chess piece into another chess piece will not knock out the second chess piece, even if it would be a legal move. Instead, the moving chess piece stops just before entering the target chess piece’s square.
The room is lit by multiple continual flame spells cast above the chessboard.
Scoring. 10 points per character that exits through the door on the opposite side of the chessboard.
Solution. The characters must grab onto the white rook (bottom right corner). There is enough room for each of them to grab the piece as long as they place their feet on the rook’s base. Then, one of the characters uses the ring of telekinesis to move the piece 30 feet forward. From there, the characters can jump off the rook and onto the far side of the chessboard. If the characters weigh more than 800 pounds combined (which would exceed the spell’s normal limits), allow them to continue regardless, citing the faulty nature of the ring.
If the players disagree with this method, they can also arrange the pieces so that they can leap from piece to piece.
Hint. “You can’t win the chess match.”
Scenario #8 – I’ve Got a Crush On You
A long corridor stands before you, 15-feet wide and 160-feet long. At regular intervals, six separate sections of the wall violently smash together with a resounding “CRUNNNGGG!”
It doesn’t take a brainy wizard to realize anyone unfortunate enough to stand between those walls when they close will meet their certain doom.
A half-elf woman enters just behind you, carrying four 5-foot long brooms. She quickly introduces herself as Cara and tells you that the brooms are, in fact, brooms of flying. One of the brooms has a red letter “N” painted on it.
After you’ve had a moment to look over the brooms, Cara blows her whistle. The countdown begins.
“Heya, Team Seven. At the far end of this corridor is the only exit out of here. You’ve got 15 minutes to get through that door. Just don’t get squished!”
If the characters take a moment to watch the crushing walls, they will notice that each section is 20-feet in length. In addition, the walls crush at irregular intervals. If the characters watch the walls, read the following:
If section 1 is the section closest to you, with section 6 being the one furthest from you, the sections’ crushing walls close in the following order: section 1, section 3, section 5, section 1, section 6, section 3, section 2, section 5, section 4. After section 4 closes, the pattern repeats. It would appear that sections 1, 3, and 5 are twice as fast as the other three sections, closing twice per round.
After the players discuss their strategy and are ready to move down the corridor have each player roll initiative as if entering combat. As normal, a character can move up to their full movement speed and take an action on their turn. A character may also take a bonus action if available. The only difference is that each round should be performed in real time, instead of 6 seconds of game time it normally would. This should encourage the players to take their turns quickly.
Be sure to remind the players that mounting and dismounting–even a broom of flying–costs an amount of movement equal to half a character’s speed.
Each section takes one or more turns in a round. A section’s initiative is shown on the Crushing Wall Initiative table (winning any ties). On a section’s turn, its walls slam shut, crushing anything in its path. Then, the walls immediately return to the open position. Any character caught in the section when its walls close is ‘crushed’ unless they’ve discovered a way to stop the walls. Of course, the walls stop just short of dealing any real damage. Still, a character that would’ve been crushed is declared “dead” and removed from the scenario.
Crushing Wall Initiative
|1||20 and 10|
|3||17 and 7|
|5||13 and 3|
Note that some of the walls are faster than others, closing twice per round. For example, section 1 slams shut on initiative count 20 and initiative count 10.
Scoring. 10 points per character that exits through the door at the end of the corridor.
Solution. Here is a play-by-play of how the characters should tackle this challenge:
- Round 1. Holding a broom of flying, the first character runs past section 1–avoiding the crushing walls, of course–into section 2, then holds the broom up horizontally with opposite ends facing the crushing walls. The broom is magical and strong enough to stop the walls when they close, so long as that character continues to hold the broom horizontally. With the first character stopping section 2’s crushing walls, the other three characters use their turns to join the first character in section 2, each carrying their own broom of flying.
- Round 2. The first character continues to hold their broom up, stopping section 2’s wall. The second character then rushes into section 3 and holds their broom horizontally in front of themselves, halting section 3’s crushing walls just as the first character did. The remaining two characters use their turns to join the second character in section 3.
- Round 3. The first character can now remove their broom and join the other characters in section 3. Meanwhile, the second character continues to hold their broom to prevent section 3’s walls from crushing their allies. The third character rushes forward into section 4 and holds up their broom of flying to stop section 4’s walls. Finally, the fourth character joins the third character in section 4.
- Round 4. The first character runs into section 4 and stops. Then, the second character removes their broom and joins the other three characters in section 4. The third character keeps their broom in place while the others get into positions. Finally, the fourth character runs into section 5 and put their broom in place, stopping the walls in section 5.
- Round 5. The first and second character join the fourth character in section 5. Once the first, second, and fourth character are in section 5, the third character removes their broom and joins the other three.
- Round 6. The first, second, and third characters rush past section 6 to the safe zone by the door. When the other three characters are clear, the fourth character removes their broom, then rushes through section 6 to join them.
- Round 7. All four characters exit.
If done correctly, it should take 7 – 10 rounds to get to the other side of the corridor. The character may wish to use a turn to learn their order with respect to the sections’ order. If they do, you may reveal to the players the initiative counts for each section.
Hint. “The brooms are sturdier than they look.”
Scenario #9 – Horse Frog Duck
Before heading to the next scenario, an elf named Noffin approaches you. Out of a sack he pulls three stage costumes: one of a frog, one of a duck, and one of a horse.
“Before we begin the next scenario, three of you must choose one of these costumes to wear. Of course, as I only have three costumes to give you all, one of you will not receive a costume. Instead, you get this leather pouch and everything inside of it.” Although you can’t see what’s in the pouch itself, you can hear its contents clacking around within.
Allow the characters to decide among themselves who gets which costume and which character gets the pouch. Once it’s decided, the three costumed characters are lead away by the Trial’s proctors leaving only the character with the pouch.
At this point, hand the other three characters the copy of the Scenario 9 Player Handout so they understand their roles in the scenario. The remaining character is not allowed to see the handout.
Once the characters have read the note, read the following to the remaining character, from here on referred to as the challenger.
About fifteen minutes after your friends leave, Noffin hands you the leather pouch. Inside are three wooden figurines carved in the shape of animals: one frog, one duck, and one horse. The horse has a red letter “G” painted on the bottom of it. Noffin explains that the figurines are not magical; they are simple, wooden carvings, and nothing more. He then leads you through a door.
The room within is a large square room measuring 75-feet on a side with 20-foot high ceilings.
Immediately, you notice your friends. Much to your shock, each has been bound and gagged, and placed on stone platforms at different parts of the room. They all are wearing the costumes they selected earlier. At each of their feet is an empty wooden bowl. Also, each of your friends has a globe suspended above their head by a chain attached to the ceiling. The globe hung over your friend who is dressed like a horse is currently glowing, while the others two are not. After a few seconds, that globe goes out and the globe hanging over your friend dressed like a frog glows in its place.
Of course, that’s not the worst part. With the exception of the platforms you and your friends are standing on, nearly every square foot of the room explodes with traps. Scythes swoop down from the ceiling. Spikes jut out the floor. Flames spew from the walls.
“Welcome to Scenario 3, adventurer,” Noffin says just before blowing his whistle to start the timer. “To win this scenario you must save your three friends in 15-minutes or less. To save a friend, you must place the figurine that matches their costume into the bowl in front of them. Doing so instantly teleports them away. Once you free your last companion, you, too, will be teleported to the final scenario. YGood luck.”
The room is lit by continual flames cast on the ceiling at regular intervals. Refer to Scenario 9 Diagram’s animal icons to see where each character is positioned in the room.
Since the other three characters are bound and gagged, the challenger must solve the scenario by themselves; the other players should remain silent. With the exception of the four platforms, every square of the trap room is dangerous. Failure to move through it correctly results in the challenger getting hit with a trap. While the trap won’t deal fatal damage, it does render the challenger ‘dead’, and the scenario ends.
Every 6 seconds, a random globe lights up while the two remaining globes go dark. Roll 1d6. On a result of 1-2 the globe over the horse-character lights up. On a 3-4, the globe over the frog-character lights up. And on a roll of 5-6, the globe over the duck-character lights up. It is possible for a globe to stay lit for longer than 6 seconds if the die result comes up the same two rolls in a row.
Scoring. 10 points per “rescued” character, plus an additional 10 points if all three are rescued before the time runs out.
Solution. If the challenger takes the time to watch the globes and traps from the safety of their platform, they will notice that the scythes and spikes stop shortly after the globe over the horse-character lights up; only the fire shoots from the walls during that time. Also, the fire and spikes stop shortly after the globe over the duck-character lights up; only the scythes swing. Finally, the fire and scythes stop when the globe over the frog-character lights up; just the spikes pop out of the floor.
The challenger must act according to whichever globe lights up. If the globe over the horse-character lights up, the character can move up to 30 feet so long as they don’t move along a wall (where the fires spew). If the globe over the frog-character lights up, they must jump in place to avoid the spikes coming up from the floor. Finally, if the globe over the duck-character lights up, they must drop prone in their space to dodge the scythes. If the challenger fails to act accordingly, the challenger is hit by a trap, and the scenario ends.
Note: the challenger can move freely along the walls so long as they move away from the wall when the horse-character’s globe lights up and the fire comes out.
Once the challenger reaches a companion, they must place the appropriate wooden figurine in the bowl; immediately afterward, the respective character teleports to another location. After the challenger saves the last one of their companions, the challenger teleports away, as well, rejoining their friends for the final scenario.
Hint. “Act like the animals would.”
Scenario #10 – Red Herring
You are in a cylindrical room that’s 15-feet in diameter with a 30-foot high ceiling. It appears that the only way out is through the lone door in the room. Hanging from hooks all around you are twenty-six copper keys. Each key has a different letter of the alphabet painted in red upon it.
The wizard Evadimus stands before you. “Congratulations for making it this far, Team Seven. This is the final scenario.”
Evadimus blows his whistle, starting the timer.
“The goal is simple: get through this locked door here. Fortunately, one of the keys hanging on this wall opens the door. All of the others are fakes. One of you must select a key from the wall and place it in the door. If you are wrong, you are removed from the scenario. Then, another one of you may select a key. If that key is the wrong key, then you, too, will be removed. And so on, until you discover the correct key or all four of you are removed. You have 15 minutes.”
The room is lit by a continual flame spell cast over the exit door. Hand the players the Scenario 10 handout.
If a character places any key but the key with the “I” on it in the door, they instantly vanish along with the incorrect key. That character may no longer participate in the scenario.
Scoring. 10 points per remaining character after the correct key is found and placed in the door. If the time runs out or all four characters are removed from the scenario, the team receives 0 points.
Solution. The players should have taken note of each of the red letters found throughout the other nine scenarios. Together, the letters spell RED HERRNG. This should clue them in that the “I” is missing. Thus, the “I” key opens the door.
Hint. “Hope you’ve been paying attention this whole time.”
Once the characters complete the final scenario, one of the guilds’ proctors escorts them back to the arena where they first met the other contestants. The members of the teams that finished the contest ahead of them wait there as well. The other six teams are: Black Carnival, Stagger Lee’s Gang, the Rouge Rogues, Handsome Bill’s Troupe, Crows, and the Jungle Scouts.
While waiting for the other teams to finish, teams compare scores to see who is winning. The winning teams boast and showboat in front of the gathered audience.
Every 15 minutes or so, another team emerges to join the characters and other contestants. No one is allowed to leave the arena until all of the teams have finished.
Once every team has finished, the results of the Trial of Heroes are given. First, the teams that didn’t come in first, second, or third are announced. Those teams stand off to the side. Some act with humility. Others react poorly, screaming “foul play” or calling the entire event “a dumb affair.”
Next, the wizards announce the third-place team and awards the teams bronze medallions. Second-place comes next, handed silver medallions. Finally, the winning team is announced, gifted a golden trophy made in the likeness of the winning team along with individual gold medals. Congratulations are made all around.
In order to determine the first-, second-, and third-place winning teams, compare the point totals gained by the characters to the other groups, as summarized on the Team Results (By Scenario) table. In addition, the winning team is awarded the 10,000 gp promised.
The trophy is worth 50 gp. And each medallion worth 1 gp (first place), 1 sp (second-place) or 1 cp (third-place).
Team Results (By Scenario)
|The Bloody Bunch||40||30||40||30||40||30||40||40||40||40||370|
|Red Right Hand||20||30||40||40||40||30||30||40||0||40||310|
|Stagger Lee’s Gang||40||30||10||30||40||0||40||20||20||20||250|
|Handsome Bill’s Troupe||40||20||40||0||0||0||10||0||0||0||110|
|Peaches and Watermelons||0||10||0||0||0||0||0||0||40||20||70|
|Scenario||Character 1||Character 2||Character 3||Character 4||Total|
|#1||Write This Way||____||____||____||____||____|
|#2||Don’t Lose Your Bearing||____||____||____||____||____|
|#3||A Light in the Dark||____||____||____||____||____|
|#6||I Put a Hex on You||____||____||____||____||____|
|#7||All The Right Move||____||____||____||____||____|
|#8||I’ve Got a Crush on You||____||____||____||____||____|
|#9||Horse Frog Duck||____||____||____||____||____|
There are also other less tangible benefits to having participated in the Trial of Heroes. The characters gain notoriety in the region and are well respected by the adventurers’ guild. Even if the characters didn’t win, they might be approached by members of the guild or spectators of note with further missions that fit their skill set.
The characters may have even made enemies during the event. One of the other teams may be jealous of their success. Alternatively, if the characters did poorly, one of the teams might offer mentorship to the characters, or possibly act as bullies.
The Trial of Heroes adventure is a bit different from most adventures in that the scenarios are somewhat artificial. After all, the characters are never in any real danger.
Each scenario should be assigned a CR equal to the average party level. If the characters completed a scenario, they earn XP equal to that CR award; if they failed a scenario, they earn no XP for that award.
Thumbnail art by Wizards of the Coast.