011. Krshmir, the Undead City

Krshmir is a city of undead, untouched for a generation.  It was long walled off by survivors, and lies up in the mountains, a festering sore upon The Cradle.  The party listened to Corvus, hired horses, and rode up the lonely mountain trail to Krshmir.

They reach Krshmir and find the gates closed, and the city overrun with zombies and ghouls.  They scale the wall, drop down on the other side.  They sneak and fight their way east through the town, find a lost Bag of Holding along the way.  They also find the Temple of Embra, surrounded by a a moat of acid.  They head back outside the city walls to bury some treasure next to their horses, and also plant the sapling which they still carry.  

They climb their way past the acid moat in using ropes, and inside the temple they find a hidden chamber where the skeletal remains of Corvus the Red, father of Corvus the Black, now sit.  They find a note:

I regret that my studies have brought doom upon the world.  For we, myself and Lord Krshmir have found the Divine Cube, one of four.  I fear that the power I have wrought will have torn a hole in the world, and I fear for the demons that shall emerge from this gaping wound.  I have seen the Black Heart of the Evil Gods and know that the worst is yet to come.  The prophecy spoke of great power, but I was foolish in thinking I could wield such power.  If you read this note, then please pray that you are virtuous. This stone, in the wrong hands, will end the world.

The party does find their way into a large, twisting labyrinth full of acid and undead and other bizarre creatures.  They spend several nights in the temple, and finally slay the acid elementals within revealing a set of stairs leading down to a lower level.  In the lower level, they find a set of volcanic tunnels covered in ash, but the area feels very cold.  They find a skeleton who is laying prone, his bony hands clutched around a Divine Cube.  Further in, they find a familiar pillar sitting in the middle of the room, a receptacle for the cube.  The room is also covered in a pile of snow on one side.  The party explores a bit further, choosing not to place the cube inside the pillar.  Instead, they head back to Ashvin, hoping to get more information from Corvus in Ashvin.  On their way out of the temple, Monicrunk opens a chest containing a cursed sword of brilliant cobalt.  She grasps the sword and it binds tightly in her hand as a sinister voice whispers in her mind...

As they exit the city gates, they find that someone had uncovered their treasure, let loose their horses, and took the sapling!  A piece of parchment sits on the ground, held there by a dagger with a handle shaped like a snake.  The note simply reads, “you should know that you cannot hide plants from an archdruid.”   The party heads back to Ashvin, now horseless and wondering just what else awaits them...

Map of Temple of Embra, B1

 

009. Druid's Temple

The stags walk through the forest as easily as a fish swims through water.  It takes them only a day to reach the clearing that reveals an ancient druid temple, carved in the stump of a giant, long-dead tree.

They enter the large oaken doors of the temple, carved with figures of stags and elven druids.  The walls, floors, and ceiling are a smooth wood, with no seams in the structure to be seen.  Twisting passages lead to long-abandoned rooms, with centuries-old evidence of the rituals that druids once performance there.

Now, they find lizardmen and other evil creatures have taken it over.  They even find a young poison dragon, which they manage to kill (and take its claws).  

The center of the temple holds the statue of a druidic demi-god, who conceals the hidden entrance to the sapling.  Speaking the name of his one true love (after some research from the party) opens the hidden door, and reveals a room with a floor of thick, dark soil.  A single beam of sunlight shines down upon a small, green sapling.

When they approach the sapling, a carved face in the back wall comes to life and commands the intruders to stop what they are doing!  The party draws their swords, ready to fight what comes, when the face suddently changes expressions...

"The oldest father!  The one who makes the trees grow!  You have returned!"  The party turns to D'Understanding, looking at him quizzically.  The face continues, "you must take the sapling and protect it.  The druidic hierarchy is corrupted by the queen.  Please, please protect it with your life."

The carefully dig out the sapling and put it in a sack.  They leave the temple and waiting for them is Presto, atop a black stag, surrounded by a score of spear wielding lizardmen. Just as the party thinks they are going to be skewered, the white stags bound out of the woods and allow the party to hop aboard.  The stags fly through the forest at an astonishing pace, hardly making a sound.  The stags stop just short of the wooded boundary, where they let the party get off.  The party leaves the sacred woods, not knowing where they are…

Map of the Druid Temple

 

008. Journey to the Sacred Woods (in which exposition happens)

They seek the wisdom of Corvus the Black for D'Understanding's new predicament.  He, incidentally, had no idea where they were since he teleported them to Turbo's keep.  They explain everything that had happened, and he asks them to seek the council of Torus Whitetail, the Archdruid who lives in the Sacred Woods outside of Parthen.  

Not only is Torus one of the few who can break D’understanding’s curse; if druids are involved in the evil act of conjuring spider demons, maybe Torus can help bring the druids back in line.  He also believes that Turbo may have taken up residence in an Old Castle south of Ashvin.  (new adventure hook)  He sent another party to seek intelligence of Turbo’s whereabouts, but all but one was slain.  Barlo the Brave, the cleric of that party, is the only survivor, and he offers to join the party.  Adventuring parties are few and far between, most seeking fame and glory in the Parthen Tournament, which seems safer than chasing demons and zombies.

 

Also, during their time in the tombs, a group of goblins managed to break into the temple and kidnap the boy again!  Corvus the Black tells the party that it is a dangerous time, and that something is leaking evil into the world.  (exposition time)  Turbo seeks the Divine Cubes, which are keys to a place where Turbo believes lies an incredible weapon.  The party must find out who else seeks these cubes, and make sure they do not fall into the wrong hands. (cliche much?)   Corvus the Black also tells the party about his father, Corvus the Red, who was the archmage at Krshmir.  Corvus the Red also believed in the prophecy of the divine cubes, but something evil came from the mountains and slew most of Krshmir.  Corvus the Black and his mother only barely escaped to Ashvin.  The city was sealed off and no one has been to Krshmir and lived to tell about it. (okay enough exposition and adventure hook-setting)

The party needs a new name, so they calls themselves “Team Triple Toss.”  The name comes from our poor interpretation of the rules for missile weapons in the first few sessions. 

The next day, the party takes a ferry southwest to Parthen City the human capital, where they gather intel about the forest.  It is taken over by lizardmen in the north, and a coup in the Druidic Hiearchy has seen a new Archdruid, Presto, take the place of Torus.  They enter the vast Sacred Woods, which spans a 100 miles or more.  It takes them 10 days to find the cabin of Torus Whitetail, who is frail and without friends.  

Torus urges the party to head to the Temple of the Evertree in the sacred woods to take the Sapling of a new evertree before Presto takes it.  The evertree is a powerful thing, and the one who cares for it can raise it to be a mighty forest of mysterious and magical powers.  He offers the party some white stags to take them to the temple.

The Map of the Sacred Woods is Below.  I used it as an overland/hex map.  Each day if they were on a path they could move two hexes, if they were in the woods, they could only move one and there was a % chance they could get lost and go a random direction.


 

007. Tomb Cleaning Time (and other mishaps)

Back safely in town, the party sets up shop at the Inn.  Just when the flagons of ale are poured, a pair of guards rush into the inn, panting.  "A .. a ... thing is attacking the city!  Just come see!"

A giant, Spider Lady Demon Thing is heading for the inn.  The Demon that the Evil Druid was summoning?

A crowd gathers as they fight on and finally defeat the spider queen.   The party stands around, looking for clues on the spider queen while Gunderson, the town Cleric approachs them for help.  "The light in the Tombs of Ashvin has gone out and now the dead are rising!"  Sigh, can we at least eat dinner first?

They fight their way through the tombs under the temple and relight the ever burning torch to quiet the undead.  What is causing the demons and the dead to rise?  Meanwhile, the ring D’understanding is wearing is slowly turning his arm into a tree branch, and his feet into roots...

The party seeks the wisdom of Corvus the Black, who sent them on their first quest (and who they have not spoken to since).  They explain everything that had happened (including the curse on D'Understanding), and he asks them to seek the council of Torus Whitetail, the Archdruid who lives in the Sacred Woods outside of Parthen City, about a week's journey southwest.  

Not only is Torus one of the few who can break D’understanding’s curse, but if druids are involved in demon summoning, perhaps Torus can help bring the druids back in line.  

He also believes that Turbo may have taken up residence in an Old Castle south of Ashvin.  He sent another party of adventurers (what? another party?) to seek intelligence of Turbo’s whereabouts, but they were ambushed by goblins and ogres.  All but one were slain.  Barlo the Brave, the cleric of that party, is the only survivor.  He begs for a chance to avenge their deaths and to kill Turbo himself.

Map of the Tombs under the Ashvin Temple

Ashvin Tombs, B1
Ashvin Tombs, B2
Ashvin Tombs, B3

 

006. When the Party Learns not to Put on Every Ring they Find

The party heads back to Ashvin with Omnikrunc in tow, their 2nd death in as many days...

They find that Gunderson is unable to raise Omnicrunk, because he is out of the necessary materials.  It takes several weeks to gather enough herbs and incense and oils and poultices required to return someone from the dead.

While mourning their loss at the Inn, a mysterious short-statured figure enters.  She is dressed in monk garb and introduces herself as Monicrunk, Omnicrunk’s twin sister.  She eagerly joins the party.

They head back to Joe’s farmhouse, but find the whole house covered in cobwebs.  Inside, they find Joe, dead and entombed in webbing.  They head back to the church, down below to the tunnel.  Inside they find a cave system filled with spiders, badgers, and zombies.  They fight their way down, finding treasure.  One thing of note they find is a wooden ring that appears magical.  D'Understanding eagerly puts it on his right hand.

Toggaf believes the evil druid may have been summoning a demon, but they do not find it.  They head back to town, heavy with treasure.  

On their way back to town, D'Understanding gets an itchy sensation on his left hand, and when he tries to remove the ring, he finds it stuck fast to his finger, and his ring finger's skin is rough as if covered in bark.

Map of the Spider Tunnels is Below! It's in 4 pieces because it was so large I was afraid it would break Roll20.

Spider Tunnels, B1:

Spider Tunnels, B2:



005. Evil Druids and Death

On the way back to town, the party is accosted by a Farmer.  He is raving drunk and yelling for help.  He says that Spiders are coming up through his well and have been terrorizing his farm, and have taken his wife and child.  They take him to town to get help, but the guards complain that Farmer Joe has just been drinking too much, and is making this up.  However, the party has seen enough evil to be curious.  They follow Joe to his farm, and the druid uses his power to determine where a giant spider might be, and he is pointed to an Old Church that is covered in webs.   The party leaves Joe to his devices and enters the church.  There, in the rubble, they find Cultists and Giant Spiders.   They manage to dispatch the cultists and spider, but not without taking wounds.  They head back to Joe’s farm where he lets them stay.

The next morning, they had back to the church, and find a secret entrance under a rug.  Below, they find more cultists, some of them wielding poison daggers.  They fight there way to down to a room where an Evil Druid is finishing a ritual on a young girl over a bloody altar.  The fight is long and bloody.

Omnikrunc dies from a cut from the Druid’s Scythe.  

When the evil druid is killed, a section of the wall collapses revealing an earthen tunnel leading further down.  They decide to first head back to town.


 

004. Turbo's Lair

The party enters the keep, and find it crawling with Kobold guards.  They manage to fight through several of the kobolds, leaving the evidence of their intent strewn about the dungeon.  But, in their lust for treasure, they get distracted and find themselves in a room with Zombies.  

D’understanding, the druid, dies in the ensuing fight.  

The party retreats back to town.  They do manage to find very fine priests vestments and a holy symbol for their trouble.

Back in Ashvin, they meet Gunderson Oakenstaff, the high priest at Ashvin, at the Temple of the Divine Mother.  He is watching over the Dwarf Child.  He agrees to revive D’understanding in exchange for 500 gold and the holy vestments and symbol.  The raising takes 3 days.

After D’understanding is back to life, they head back to Turbo’s Keep, but find it now taken over by wolves, feasting on the entrails of Kobolds.  They fight their way deep into the Keep and find Turbo’s lair, but he is not there.  Instead of a sealed envelope bearing the seal of the Black Raven’s Guild.  The open the envelope but find the parchment is blank.  They decide to head back to town to confer with Corvus.

Here is the dungeon map I used in Roll20.  Feel free to use it for your own game!


 

003. Black Mage's Guild

They rest well that night, holding onto the Black Mage's guild key.

The next morning, they head to the Black Raven’s Guild to inquire about the boy.  The gothic manse set beside a graveyard looks like an ominous site on such a warm spring day, but they enter the iron gates and approach the door.  The door, flanked by carved statues of demons heads, has a large iron knocker.  Toggaf, the magic user, reaches out to grab the iron kocker, but the door flies open on its own.  They cautiously enter the foyer of the house, but as soon as they do, they find their bodies pulled through the fabric of space.

 

They open their eyes, and find themselves sitting in a giant bird cage.  They are greeted by a kind but cold magic user, who warns them that Corvus the Black does not tolerate tresspassing.  A slender wizard with a slick of black hair and a sharp black beard enters with alarming slowness and precision.  He walks with purpose and never breaks eye contact with Corvus as he enters.  His furrowed brow does not deceive his annoyance as he asks, "who gave you that key?"

The party explain the previous night's adventure and how they found the key on a young wizard who was trying to murder a young dwarf boy.

Corvus the Black ponders this information. He weighs his words very careful, and explains, "As you can see, our guild is light on members.  Several months ago, we had a defection in a wizard named Turbo.  He left and took several apprentices with him.   My first impression was that you were working for Turbo, but I see you have been swept up accidentally into his schemes.  Turbo had cockamamie ideas about a prophecy and a 'divine cube.'  I am light on resources but you seem ready for the task.  Bring me turbo or proof of his death and I shall forgive your trespassing.  I know where he is, and can take you there."

The party agrees.

Corvus then teleports the party to a location a few miles from Ashvin, up into the Spider Hills.  There, they see an old keep.  

001. Welcome to the Cradle

"The Cradle" may seem like a strange name for a place to have an epic adventure, but The Cradle is a very important place in the world.  It is where the dwarf, human and halfling civilizations were birthed.  They were forged in the great crucible known as the God War, a great and terrible cataclysm that reshaped the world as we know it.  

However, our story picks up 10,000 years after the God War, when such tales are seen as myth.  The world is a simpler one.  Dragons, demons, gods, and giants are nothing but tales to be told around campfires.  However, a crack is emerging in the facade of peace, and what lurks beneath the surface of the fragile world is waiting to make its return...

Our adventure begins where most adventures do: in a pub.  The OwlBear Inn and Pub, to be precise.  Here, in the sleepy town of Ashvin, in the heart of The Cradle, our adventurers sit around a table, looking for work.  A tomb to loot or a goblin pest to dispel with; it didn't matter to them.  A gold piece is a gold piece.