Zoglagomerfn was a grumpy old beholder that mostly stayed out of other folks’ businesses. But unfortunately for the old eye tyrant, someone recently put a pricey bounty on beholder heads. Soon after the news came out, a group of adventurers stormed her cave and put her down.
Of course, those who paid for ol’ Zog’s head were surprised by how swiftly the adventurers were able to defeat her. How could they have possibly defeated a beholder so quickly in her own lair? Sure, she was old, but she had minions, didn’t she? And traps? Not to mention she was a bloody beholder!
Turns out they had a little help on the inside. Zog’s old right hand, Hurztk, an insane nothic made a deal with the adventurers. He would help the adventurers take her down if they promised to leave the cavern, its traps, and all of the other denizens within alone. The adventurers agreed and Hurtztk delivered.
Why would Hurtztk betray his former master?
In his twisted mind, Hurtztk felt that Zog had grown soft over the last few decades. Once one of Nathlekh City’s most powerful crime lords, Zog’s increasing paranoia (or “laziness”, as Hurtztk would say) turned to agoraphobia. Not only was she, herself, afraid of leaving, but refused to let others leave her hideaway as well.
And the effects were obvious. Once upon a time, Zog’s coffers were full with her minions’ misbegotten gains. Now, the group barely has two coins to rub together.
With Zog gone and Hurztk in charge, the nothic has big plans for the old gang. Using a rod of rulership he pilfered from a secret stash of goodies Zog kept away from prying eyes, he’s charmed the crew into doing his bidding.
Better look out, Nathlekh City!
There are a few reasons why the characters might get involved with Zog’s old hideaway. Feel free to use any of these or add your own:
- The nearby Temple of Lathander has been trying to find someone to help them recover precious artifacts stolen from them over a year ago. They don’t have a lot of money but hope they can motivate the adventurers with their friendly, hospitable attitudes.
- Rumor has it that the old beholder that lived in the bamboo forest recently met its demise. Yet, a half-orc has been sniffing around town looking to hire new recruits for the hideaway. If the beholder is dead, who is running the show? This is what the captain of the city guard (could be the Harpers or Lord’s Alliance if you prefer) wants to find out.
- Strange, bulb-like creatures have been seen floating around the forest. They look like beholders but are much smaller. The local arcane guild (possibly the Zhentarim or Emerald Enclave) wants the characters to investigate.
- A young dwarven man named Golch has been looking for his estranged father, Goath. Supposedly, Goath works for a beholder somewhere in the bamboo forest. But rumor has it that the beholder is dead. So what happened to Goath?
- The characters overhear another band of adventurers bragging about how they bagged a beholder recently thanks to a deal they cut with “some other eyeball monster.” Put a few drinks in the adventurers and they’ll reveal that they left much of the remaining hide away intact as part of the agreement.
Zoglagomfern’s Hide Away
Master cartographer Tim Hartin created this nifty little map for his website back in 2015:
Each square represents 10 feet and the top of the image points north.
The entrance to the cave is in the base of a hollow tree surrounded by a dense thicket of bamboo. It’s fairly easy to climb down; DC 10 Strength (Athletics) or automatic with a rope.
Unless otherwise stated, here are the general features for Zoglagomerfn’s Hide Away:
- Ceilings. Tunnels are 10 feet high and caverns are 20 feet high. Towards the front part of the caverns, loose soil and roots droop from the ceiling. Support beams have been placed all around to keep things together.
- Walls. The walls are hewn stone, although much of it has exposed soil.
- Floors. Most of the cavern floor is loose soil, gravel, or even mud, especially towards the entrance.
- Descent. Overall, the cavern descends towards the north. Each line on the map marks a steep decline in height. Passing through these areas requires a successful DC 12 Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Strength (Athletics) check to pass unharmed. Failure results in a character slipping and falling prone in the lower spot.
- Sensitive Structure. Any time there is an explosion from a spell such as a fireball or thunderwave, roll a d20. On a roll of 18-20, a cave-in occurs. Each creature within 15 feet of the cave-in must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 6d6 bludgeoning damage on a failed save or half as much on a successful one.
- Light. There are lit torches and braziers in areas 1-7. Areas 8-14 have no light sources. The boxed texts in those areas assume that the characters have darkvision or light sources of their own.
- Stalagmites. Found in many of the larger natural caverns towards the northern end of the hideaway, these spires of rock rise up from the floor and can be used for cover.
All the encounters listed here are keyed to the map of Zoglagomerfn’s Hide Away (above):
1 – Lookouts
The low ceilings of this cavern are barely 8 feet high and the floors are covered in mud and tangled roots. There are large boulders strewn all about.
Three bored guards wait here at Prot’s command (see area #2). Along with Prot, these three are the only survivors of Zog’s original gang. They are Goath, Moony, and Chim.
Goath is a LE mountain dwarf gladiator with 180 hit points and resistance to poison. He has Strength 20, giving him a +8 to his attack rolls and +5 to his damage rolls with melee weapons. His challenge rating is 6.
Moony is a NE human cult fanatic.
And Chim is a NE kobold spy with 36 hit points. Her Strength is 6 and her Dexterity is 17; she has +5 on her attack rolls with her shortsword and crossbow and adds +3 to her damage rolls. She also has Pack Tactics, which gives her advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of her allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated. Her challenge rating is 2.
Chances are Chim heard the characters approaching (she has passive Perception 16). If so, the three have already made preparations for the intruders, hiding around the cavern. Noticing the three requires a DC 17 Wisdom (Perception) check to notice Moony and Goath, and a DC 19 Perception to notice Chim.
The three have fought together for years. Chim is the leader and she will try to suss out the situation before jumping directly into it, signaling the others. She will signal Goath to take the lead, targeting the strongest melee combatant first. Moony will then use her cunning action and pack tactics to attack those who fight Goath. Meanwhile, Moony will handle casters and ranged fighters by raising a spiritual weapon and casting inflict wounds. The three value their lives but are magically charmed by Hurtzk to defend the cavern at all costs. Therefore, they will fight to the death. If things look bad, they will retreat to the new recruit cavern (area #2) to alert Prot and the bandits there.
The muddy floor of the cavern counts as difficult terrain.
Other than the possessions described in their respective stat blocks, the trio has nothing of value.
2 – New Recruits
Once Hurtzk raided Zog’s stash, he tasked Prot (LE half-orc mage), one of the few survivors of the adventurer raid, with finding new henchmen in town. Problem is, Prot didn’t exactly hire the best he could. Instead, he purchased some cheap weapons and armed a bunch of drunks from a local bar only promising 1/10th of what he should have paid. He then hid the remaining platinum in his quarters (area #6).
Unlike most of the other minions of the cavern, Prot was unaffected by Hurtzk’s rod of rulership. He’s been pretending to be charmed Hurtzk, using the opportunity to sneak gold and magic items away from the compound. He has a bag ready to go in his chambers (area #6). Once he gets the new recruits set up (out of a strange sense of loyalty to Goath, Moony, and Chim), he plans on leaving.
Prot will immediately recognize that the characters are probably too much of a threat. He’ll send the new recruits after the characters then make a hasty exit, casting whatever spells he needs to make his escape. His goal is to reach his stash in area #6, then flee through the main entrance. If cornered, he’ll fight, but his number one priority is survival.
There are 20 new recruits in the cave, all bandits. The moment any of them die, the remaining bandits will surrender and attempt to explain they were paid by Prot to protect the cave. Should their pleas go unanswered, they’ll hightail it to the exit.
3 – Barracks
This relatively flat-floored cavern looks like it has been set up as a barracks. There are 6 bunk beds spread throughout the room, each with a pair of footlockers next to it. At the center of the cavern are a pair of tables with four chairs each.
A thorough search through each of the footlockers (they’re all locked with DC 10 locks) reveals mostly extra blankets, pillows, canteens, and iron rations provided by Prot. Other than that, there is nothing of value in the room.
4 – Meeting Room
An underground stream cuts its way through this massive cavern with a narrow bridge connecting the two sides. The stream’s current moves quite fast, disappearing into a tunnel in the western wall.
At one end where the floors slope upward, a pair of headless statues stand. Both statues look out-of-place, as if though they were imported in from somewhere else. A stone alter rests between the two of them.
On the opposite bank of the stream are tables and chairs arranged to face the other side of the cavern.
This is the meeting room, where Zog used to address her minions. Now, it’s where Hurtzk commands his minions to meet once every 8 hours so he can use the power of his rod of rulership to command them.
a – Audience Seating
The bridge has been rigged with a glyph of warding by Prot. Any who cross it without noticing it with a successful DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) check trigger the glyph. Each creature within 20 feet of the triggered glyph must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 22 (5d8) thunder damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. In addition, the bridge is destroyed. Those on the bridge when this happens take 1d6 falling damage and fall into the water. To make things worse, Hurtzk has trapped most of the stream with sharp implements. This acts as a complex trap as described below.
Trigger. This trap is constantly active but only affects creatures in the water.
Initiative. The trap acts on initiative count 20.
Active Elements. The deadly current includes various swords, spear tips, and other sharp objects at various intervals that it pushes its unfortunate victims through.
- Current (Initiative 20). The current attempts to push any creature in the water downstream. While in the water and not already grappled by the current, a creature must make a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or become grappled. Creatures grappled in this way are restrained. On the current’s turn, each creature the current is restraining is pushed 30 feet downstream. While being pushed, the sharp objects sticking out along the stream’s tunnel attack each restrained creature three times with a +3 bonus to the attack roll (made with advantage because they are restrained), dealing 7 (2d6) slashing damage on each successful hit.
Dynamic Elements. This complex trap has no dynamic elements.
Constant Elements. The current continues to affect any creature that ends its turn in the water. If the creature is restrained, the current pushes the creature 30 feet downstream. While being pushed, the sharp objects sticking out along the stream’s tunnel attack the creature three times with a +3 bonus to the attack roll (made at advantage because the creature is restrained), dealing 7 (2d6) slashing damage on each successful hit.
Countermeasures. A creature grappled by the current can escape with a successful DC 13 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the creature is still in area #4 when it escapes, it can use its movement to swim to shore. If the creature is between areas #4 and #14, it frees itself of the grapple and is no longer subject to the current’s attacks. However, it is still underwater. The creature can then choose to swim upstream which costs 3 feet of movement for every 1 foot it moves, or it can swim downstream which it can do at twice its normal swim speed. If the creature swims downstream, it must succeed on DC 13 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or become grappled by the current. A creature grappled by the current is restrained. Once a creature reaches area #14, the current’s strength subsides, and they can once again move normally in the water.
b – Statue Bank
The statues here were stolen from a nearby temple of Lathander and the heads were removed and buried offsite. They hide nothing of value. If the bridge explodes, the sound alerts the invisible stalkers from area #8 who come investigate.
5 – Prot’s Pacing Cave
This large cave appears to be empty. Someone has hung a beaded curtain over the passage on the left.
There’s really nothing of interest in this cave. Prot uses this cave to think and pace but keeps it free of furniture and decor. The only thing of note is the beaded curtain and the glyph of warding spell between this area and area 6 (see area #6).
6 – Prot’s Quarters
Prot inscribed a glyph of warding spell on the floor between area 5 and 6 (just under a beaded curtain). Any creature that speaks the password “mungo” can pass through unharmed. Otherwise, the glyph triggers. Each creature within 20 feet of the triggered glyph must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 22 (5d8) thunder damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. Noticing the glyph in advance requires a DC 14 Intelligence (Investigation) check.
This small cave has been converted into someone’s living chambers. However, it’s quite tidy and fairly sparse. There is a large sack on the ground right near the door. Looks like it was packed recently.
If Prot fled area #2, chances are he can be found here grabbing his belongings. If he’s on the other side of the glyph, he’ll bait those on the other side to cross. Once the glyph triggers, he’ll try to escape in the confusion, using misty step and greater invisibility to get away, lobbing spells as he goes.
Prot’s bag is mostly filled with books and the contents of an explorer’s pack. However, there’s also 300 platinum pieces in the bag and a ring of telekinesis. He also keeps his spellbook here, which holds all the spells on his character sheet plus glyph of warding. His spellbook is protected by another glyph of warding, this time with a cone of cold cast upon it.
7 – Kitchen
It looks like someone converted this small cavern into a makeshift kitchen. A natural chimney extends upward above a fire pit. There is a small table with chef’s knives resting upon it and three large chests pushed against the wall.
The chests are full of food preserves (locked DC 12). There is enough food here for 10 people to eat for 5 days.
8 – Invisible Stalkers
This small passageway hides two invisible stalkers that wait in the eastern and western nooks. They prefer to fight in a larger space, and will quietly follow intruders either into area #11 or back to area #14 where they can use their flight to their advantage. A battle here will draw the attention of the gazers from area #11.
9 – The Quiet Cave
This large cavern with sloping ceilings is incredibly quiet. There appears to be broken glass everywhere. Also, two seemingly dead humanoids are pinned to one of the walls, caught by some sort of spear trap.
Hurtzk doesn’t like his minions coming into this cave, because any noise made in here echoes into his hole (area #10). There was a spear trap leading from area #4 to here, but two curious henchmen set it off recently; their corpses are still stuck to the wall. Hurtzk is aware of the issue and has tasked Prot with clearing it off and resetting the trap, but Prot’s so far ignored Hurtzk’s orders.
10 – Hurztk’s Hole
This cavern is divided into three separate areas. At the front third, the floor is covered in all sorts of bones: animals, humanoids, and other, bizarre aberrations. Beyond that is a–dare one say–“cleaner” area where an old, rotting feather mattress lies on the slick rock. Finally, at the far end of the cave are stacks of moldy books piled to the low ceiling. Among those books are rusted metal trinkets, bits of armor, and other oddities.
Hurtzk is not here. Instead, he’s left a bone golem to defend his valuables. The bone golem remains motionless until anyone enters the chamber; not even Prot or Hurtzk’s other minions are allowed in here. Once the threshold is crossed, the golem leaps into its full form and issues its haunting laugh. It then immediately attacks any that are stricken with fear and fights until it is destroyed.
Hurtzk’s most valuable treasures are kept on his person. However, he does have a few interesting items hiding in here. Carefully investigating the books reveals a spell scroll of Conjure Celestial. There are also 2 silver ewers, a small gold bracelet, cloth-of-gold vestments, and a copper chalice with a silver filigree (all worth a total of 200 gp). He pilfered all of these items from a local monastery years ago. A successful DC 15 Intelligence (Religion) check will make it obvious that all of these items belong to the faithful of Lathander. Should they be returned to the nearest clergy, the characters will receive a reward of 1,000 gp.
11 – Gazer Cave
The floor of this cavern is at its highest point in the center. From the three exits, the floors slope into darkness. The ceilings are strangely high, too, nearly 30 feet at the center. Floating among the stalactites are a cluster of tiny, brown balls of flesh each with a large central eye and a toothy maw. Four matching eye stalks sprout from the top of each of the things’ heads as well. Once they see you, they charge.
These seven gazers were Zog’s pets, products of her overactive paranoia and egomania. They’ve been commanded by Hurtzk to keep anyone they see from going into any of the other caverns and will attack like vicious dogs.
12 – Zog’s Cave
This broad cave shows the signs of a recent battle. Scorch marks mar the walls, floors, and ceilings. Broken arrows and damaged swords lie all about. There are even fresh blood stains on the floor: red for humanoid, green for… unknown. The battle didn’t just stay here, either. At the far end of a cave, something blasted a hole in the wall. In the resulting debris, you can see footprints leading into and out of the new cave.
This is where the adventurers got the jump on Zog, here in her old chambers. They blocked off her exit route back to area #11. In her desperation, she blasted open the area in 13, where she inevitably died.
Most of her books and possessions have since been moved by Hurtzk to either his own chambers (area #10) or to the room where she hid her secret stash (area #15).
If the characters enter this area without trying to use stealth, Hurtzk can hear them from area #13.
13 – Zog’s Final Battle
This is not a natural cave. Clearly, it was carved out by some sort of magic. And recently, too. In fact, it still smells of burning stone and sulfur. Two shafts branch off from the main cave, both climbing at steep angles into the ceiling.
Hurtzk, a nothic ingester and his “pets”, three giant scorpions that he’s charmed with his innate animal friendship ability, are hiding within in the westernmost chamber. The scorpions stay back out of sight while he watches from afar, attempting to discern the secrets of the characters. If he’s noticed (Perception contested by his Stealth check), he’ll reveal himself and offer to make a deal, covertly using his rod of rulership to charm the characters. Should the characters ignore his offer or just attack (or even come within 40 feet of him), he will defend himself, keeping his distance.
He’ll use the scorpions to run interference while he blasts his opponents from afar with his rotting gaze attack. Should the characters get too close, he’ll retreat up into the northernmost chamber (it’s at 45-degree angle) to allow himself time to recuperate. No matter what, he’s not desperate enough to offer up Zog’s stash; he believes he earned it and he’d rather die than give it up.
In addition to the powers granted by his voracious potion consumption, Hurtzk has three magic items he uses: a rod of rulership (which he’s used to command the other creatures of the hideaway), an amulet of proof against detection and location, and a necklace of adaptation.
In addition to Hurtzk’s three magic items, he is also wearing a bronze crown worth 250 gp.
14 – The Pool
This large cavern hosts a massive pool at one end that’s fed by an underground stream. The ceilings and walls are covered in thick vines, likely from the forest above.
Any character that falls into the water in area #4 and is pushed downstream by the current eventually ends up here.
A successful DC 12 Intelligence (Nature) check should tell careful observers that the vines are, in fact, not from the forest above, but from a terrifying plant creature that eats the dead.
a – Corpse Flower
After the battle between Zog and the adventurers, the cavern was littered with dead hirelings. Instead of taking their henchmen with them, the adventurers left them. This attracted the attention of a nearby corpse flower that crawled into the cave. Instead of destroying the evil plant, Hurtzk saw it a lucky reward. He used his rod of rulership to charm the creature and force it to remain in the cave. From there, Hurtzk started feeding it the remains of minions who stepped out-of-line, keeping it happy. Now the creature willingly guards the water cavern, preventing anyone other than Hurtzk from finding or using Zog’s escape route.
The corpse flower remains hidden, staying motionless against one of the stone columns. It waits until creatures walk under it and catch a whiff of its stench before it attacks. From there, it attacks with its tentacles. It will attempt to retreat into the pool if it loses half its hit points.
b – Zog’s escape route.
Zog kept an escape route hidden in the pond here. While it’s obvious that the water entering the room and feeding the pond exits to the north, not many know that it was actually created by Zog’s disintegration ray. Not only that, but following the waterway north leads to Zog’s “go chamber”, a place where she stored her most prized possessions.
Hurtzk only recently discovered its existence.
15 – Zog’s Go Chamber
Emerging from the water, you find yourself in a cave with a steep slope upwards towards the fall wall, seemingly a naturally formed pocket in the stone.
At the shore sits a small satchel, some of its contents littered on the ground by it. There is a large chain bound to the bag’s strap, its length resting in a pile nearby.
This was Zog’s “go chamber”. In case things got bad, she could flee here through the water tunnel, grab this bag, and exit by the creek a few hundred feet north of the cave.
Hurtzk discovered her go bag and tore it open, consuming all its potions. He also stole some of the magic items she kept in the bag (which he can be found wearing in area #13).
However, he intentionally left behind a few useful items, seeing the value in having a “go bag” of his own. The bag is a bag of holding. Inside, the characters will find an immovable rod, dust of disappearance, a robe of useful items, and a driftglobe, plus 8,500 gold pieces, 875 platinum pieces, an ivory mask (250 gp), a gold ring set with bloodstones (250 gp), and a brass mug with jade inlay (250 gp).
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully, you enjoyed this adventure. I’ll actually be running my own players through it this coming Saturday, so I’ll get to make tweaks where they’re needed.
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Art by Wizards of the Coast and Paizo Publishing.